In 2013, Pope Francis made waves when in a press conference he said ‘who am I to judge’ when asked how he deals with LGBTI people. In the upcoming book The Name of God is Mercy, the pontiff offers a fuller explanation of his comment.
‘On that occasion I said this: If a person is gay and seeks out the Lord and is willing, who am I to judge that person,’ the pope says, according to the National Catholic Reporter. ‘I was paraphrasing by heart the Catechism of the Catholic Church where it says that these people should be treated with delicacy and not be marginalized.’
‘I am glad that we are talking about “homosexual people” because before all else comes the individual person, in his wholeness and dignity,’ he continues. ‘And people should not be defined only by their sexual tendencies: let us not forget that God loves all his creatures and we are destined to receive his infinite love.’
‘I prefer that homosexuals come to confession, that they stay close to the Lord, and that we pray all together,’ Francis added. ‘You can advise them to pray, show goodwill, show them the way, and accompany them along it.’
The Name of God is Mercy, set to be released this Tuesday, is an interview between the pope and Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli. The book’s title is taken from an answer Francis offers on why God doesn’t stop forgiving.
‘Because he is God, because he is mercy, and because mercy is the first attribute of God. The name of God is mercy,’ the leader of the Catholic Church says.
The pope’s emphasis on compassion, and forgiveness, does not mean the church is changing doctrine, specifically on marriage equality. Last month Francis urged Slovenia voters to uphold ‘family values,’ and defeat the Catholic-majority country’s referendum on gay marriage.