In an interview with the Jesuit publication La Civiltà Cattolica, Pope Francis spoke at length about same-sex attraction and other social issues, such as abortion and contraception.
“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods," he told La Civiltà Cattolica. "This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time."
Following up on comments he made in July, Francis said LGBT individuals had told him they felt "socially wounded" by the Church's oftentimes vitriolic denunciations of homosexuality. He said this was something the Church should not be doing.
"A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality," he told La Civiltà Cattolica. "I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy."
Francis' words do not deviate from official Catholic teachings, but his tone towards LGBT individuals is notably different than his predecessors. Pope Benedict XVI, for instance, said same-sex marriage threatened the future of humanity itself.
The official exposition on Catholic doctrine states that people with same-sex attractions "must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity." However, the Catechism also describes same-sex relations as “acts of grave depravity” and “objectively disordered.”
[Correction: The article originally stated America magazine conducted the interview. The interview was conducted by the Italian Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica in conjunction with America and other Jesuit publications.]