Yesterday, an interview with recently ordained Pope Francis was published in America magazine, which reveals what many are calling a new direction for the Catholic Church. He is quoted saying,
We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. 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.
Excerpts from the interview can be found in the New York Times, which makes the lengthy interview a little easier to absorb. People are seriously freaking out about the impact of Pope Francis’ statements, particularly about his response to whether he approved of homosexuality…
“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.”
This news has pretty big implications for the messages that Catholics might be getting (at least from this new Pope) about sexuality, and while Catholics make up only 15.6% of the US population, they do have significant cultural influence in the United States. Sexuality educators can use Pope Francis’ statements to highlight how important it is to consider individual worth, and how “we must always consider the person.” This can relate to sexuality in many ways:
– Teaching someone to respect another person’s decision to say no to sexual contact.
– Accepting someone’s sexual orientation as part of who they are, rather than trying to change them.
– Interacting with someone who tested positive for an STI with compassion.
– Maintaining appropriate boundaries, both physically and emotionally.
All in all, it’s not a bad mantra for people to keep in mind as they not only teach about sexuality, but also as they interact with others on a regular basis.