When a Pope speaks – considering his role as the designate highest leader of and the supreme authority in the universal Church founded by the Lord Jesus Christ – it is both good and proper to listen to him, to understand what he says, to keep in mind what he teaches. And lately, Pope Francis spoke frankly and sincerely – through long and repeated interviews – about a good number of truths and realities in the Church in the world, i.e., neither about the Church alone as if suspended in thin air and removed from ground facts, nor about the world left alone by itself and to itself without the teaching and guidance of the Church.
The Pope said: “If a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge.” (America, The National Catholic Review, September 30, 2013). From this papal answer to the question if he approved of homosexuality, not few voices were raised saying that the Pope himself thus gave his approval to homosexuality, that it is alright after all, that the Church he heads and leads wherefore has no choice but to likewise approve homosexuality. Whereas such immediate conclusions appear understandable, it is good and providential to forward the following more timely and relevant observations – with all sincerity and candor – that are applicable to other concerns life divorce, same sex marriage and the like:
a. There is a substantial and real distinction between the person and his/her acts. As the acts are not the person, so it is that the person is not his/her acts. Yes, a human agent refers to both the person and his/her acts. But, one is neither the same nor equal to the other.
b. The person does virtuous or criminals, moral or immoral acts. But just the same, the person is neither the virtue nor the crime, neither the morality nor the immorality. Good deeds deserve commendation. Bad deeds merit censure. But neither the commendation not the censure is the person itself.
c. The person is created in the image of God. The person is the subject-object of redemption brought about by Christ. The person is the ultimate concern of the Church. This is why the person has an eternal destiny that only God can and may render judgment upon.
So it is that in the words of Pope Francis, he spoke of a “homosexual person” not only with “good will” but also “in search of God” – concluding with the words: “I am no one to judge,” – the person.
Wherefore, while the acts of a person may be adjudged well or bad, right or wrong – even in the Confessional – the person himself/herself is not judged. Reason: Christ Himself said: “Judge not, that you may not be judged.” (Matthew 7.1; Luke 6.37).