Wednesday 13 December 2017

Gay-friendly Pope deserves to be praised

The pontiff is not going to suddenly change the rules but he is changing the language, writes Ruth Dudley Edwards

Pope Francis
Pope Francis

Talking to journalists on his way back from Brazil, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, aka Pope Francis, was happy. His visit had been a triumph: a million attended his final mass on Rio's Copacabana beach. He may not be able to stop evangelical Pentecostalism making further inroads into Latin America, but he made a start by being seen to care more about slums and suffering than pomp and pageantry.

The hacks, however, were sniffing scandal. In June, Francis had appointed Monsignor Battista Ricca to sort out the mess that is the Vatican bank, but shortly before the pope left for Latin America, Ricca was publicly accused of having been on the gay scene when he was a Vatican diplomat in Uruguay, claims which have been strongly denied. And this against the background of the rumours earlier in the year about a sinister gay lobby in the Vatican.

Asked about this, Francis was clear. "We must make the distinction between the fact of a person being gay and the fact of a lobby." Lobbies were bad, "but if a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge that person?"

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