A leader of the Catholic Church in Iowa is reacting to comments made Monday by Pope Francis, who says he’s not in a position to judge people based on their sexuality. Archbishop Michael Jackels, of the Dubuque Archdiocese, says the pope made it clear, no one but God should be passing judgment on others.
“The Holy Father made some comments that really were not terribly surprising,” Archbishop Jackels says. “He just, in essence, repeated what the church taught, has taught for a long time and has written in the catechism of the Catholic Church but he put it in his own, more personal, direct manner.”
Jackels says some of the pope’s comments were surprising, as he said he wouldn’t judge priests for their sexual orientation. Speaking in Italian, Pope Francis said: “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
Jackels notes, that’s a huge departure from Pope Benedict’s comments in 2005 which said homosexuality is “a strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil.” “There is a difference between feeling the attraction and living out that lifestyle,” Jackels says.
“He made a distinction between the two and said that it’s possible for somebody to be a good priest, even a saintly priest, even if he has that attraction.” Pope Francis also said women should play more of an active role in the church, calling for the development of a “theology of women.”
Jackels welcomed the remarks. “I think he was saying there’s a need for more of a presence, that women certainly are important in the church,” he says. “It’s finding ways to better integrate women into the mission and ministry of the church, even if that were to fall short of ordination to priesthood.”
Jackels was installed as archbishop of Dubuque in late May. He is the leader for the 216-thousand Catholics living in 30 counties in northeast Iowa.
By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City