Recently, 19 Catholic clergymen and academics released an open letter to bishops worldwide accusing Pope Francis of heresy, maintaining that his statements and actions clearly indicate he believes that sex apart from marriage is not necessarily sinful, including active homosexuality.

According to church teaching, although the homosexual “inclination” isn’t sinful, active homosexuality is and cannot be approved under any circumstances. The Catholic God requires that homosexuals live lives of chastity.

Nevertheless, the authors demonstrate that the pope has shown favor toward clerics and prelates who advocate the approbation of homosexuality, such as Cardinal Oswald Gracias, who believes it may be a gift of God.

That reminds me of something the pope said in a private conversation last year with a clerical sex abuse victim named Juan Carlos Cruz, who revealed it publicly: “The fact that you are gay is irrelevant. God made you how you are and loves you like that. The pope loves you like that. You must be happy as you are.”

The pope was hardly suggesting Cruz, who remains Catholic, must be happy with a God-given inclination he is forbidden to act on. Nothing he says hints at the obligation of chastity. On the contrary, he was giving him the nod to pursue his sexuality.

Cruz aside, after centuries of condemnation in the name of its God, the church can’t seriously expect gays to believe the same God now loves them as they are.

Truth is, the church has painted itself into a corner with its condemnation.

William LaRochelle, Lewiston

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