Pope sends letter to Fr. James Martin on Homosexuality and Sin

Pope Francis writes a letter to Jesuit Fr. James Martin explained his recent comments in an interview with AP that “being gay is not a crime,” and said he was referring to Catholic doctrine that teaches that any sexual act outside of marriage is a sin.

By Vatican News

“I was simply referring to Catholic moral teaching, which says that any sexual act outside of marriage is a sin.”

Pope Francis wrote those words in response to a letter from Father James Martin, SJ, who is carrying out his apostolate to the LGBTQ community in the United States.

The American Jesuit had written to the Holy Father in response to his recent interview with the Associated Press.

The pope’s handwritten reply in Spanish was posted on Father Martin’s website, along with a translation in English.


It was clear from the context of the interview that the pope was talking about homosexuality, in that case “homosexual acts” and not homosexuality itself.

In his letter, Pope Francis reiterated that his position is that of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as he had said in his first interview with reporters on the return flight from Brazil in 2013 (“If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?”).

Reply to Fr. Martin stressed to the pope that, with regard to sin, “one must also take into account the circumstances, which can reduce or eliminate errors.”

“I should have said, ‘It is a sin, just like any sexual act outside marriage,'” the pope added. “This is to speak of ‘the cause’ of sin, but we know very well that Catholic morality not only considers the cause, but also evaluates freedom and intention; and this for every form of sin.”


Pope Francis reiterated in his letter that being gay is not a crime.

“I would tell anyone who wants to criminalize homosexuality that they are wrong,” he wrote. “In a television interview, where we spoke in natural and conversational language, it’s understandable that there wouldn’t be such precise definitions.”

There are more than 50 countries that offer the possibility of legal convictions for homosexuals and some of these countries even use the death penalty.

The Pope concluded his letter by Fr. Martin that he is praying for him and his work with the LGBTQ community.

“Please do the same for me,” he said.

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