Busted Halo

Mike Hayes and guest authors give insight into the surprises of Pope Francis’ papacy, shedding light on how and why this pope is doing things a bit differently.

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September 25th, 2013
Reactions to the pope's in-depth interview and what it means for young adults

Pope Francis greets the crowd as he arrives for the general audience in St. Peter's Square. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis greets the crowd as he arrives for the general audience in St. Peter’s Square. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Jesuit Antonio Spadaro, S.J., editor of the Italian La Civiltà Cattolica, has created a masterpiece of an interview with Pope Francis, cobbled together from questions from 16 Jesuit journals, including America magazine here in the United States.

What’s the takeaway for young adults? In this initial reflection, I’m going to share my thoughts on that question. Later, and as we continue to see Pope Francis in action, I’ll reflect more deeply on the issues he’s covered in the interview. For now, my thought is that synthesis makes for easier reading.

Be a humble sinner

The interview starts with a simple question and a short answer: “Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?” (Pope Francis’ given name) and his simple yet profound response — “I am a sinner.”

He goes on further.

“Yes, but the best summary, the one that comes more from the inside and I feel most true is this: I am a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon.” And he repeats: “I am one who is looked upon by the Lord. I always felt my motto, Miserando atque Eligendo [By …

January 2nd, 2013

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Below are excerpts from the full conversation captured in the mp3 above. Click the audio link to listen to the audio. The audio includes a moving follow-up call from a fellow listener.

Father Dave: Let’s go to Jason in Boston, Massachusetts. Hello, Jason.  Do you have a question for us?

J: Yes. I hope I don’t make anyone uncomfortable with this. I want you to know: I was raised in the Catholic Church. I had a Catholic upbringing. The thing is — I am a homosexual.  My problem is that I’m juggling keeping my family and my faith because my whole family looks down on my sexuality and they believe that it insults God himself.

FD: So, you’ve come out to your family then, Jason?

J: I’ve come out. Yes. I came out when I was 16.  There was this whole big argument about how homosexuality is wrong, is blasphemy — that I’m going to hell. I’m the scum of the universe. And so, now I’m confused about everything because I know who I am, but I don’t

June 21st, 2012

Of course not! Both the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the U.S. Catholic Bishops recognize that sexual orientation is not a choice and is not sinful: “Generally, homosexual orientation is experienced as a given, not as something freely chosen. By itself, therefore, a homosexual orientation cannot be considered sinful, for morality presumes the freedom to choose” (“Always Our Children: A Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children and Suggestions for Pastoral Ministers,” U.S. Catholic Bishops, 1997).

Being gay is not sinful. It is another part of the great mystery of humankind, created in the image of God. But the Church teaches that sexual relations are reserved for the sacramental union of a man and a woman in marriage, where that intimacy has twin purposes: their union, as a couple, and procreation, expressed as openness to the gift of life. Sexual relations between men or between women cannot fulfill both purposes of sexual intimacy. Thus the Church calls gays and lesbians to celibate chastity. Likewise, the Church calls for respect, compassion and sensitivity to gays and lesbians: “Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2358). Gay or straight, every single one …

December 9th, 2011

(CNS photo courtesy Catholic Communication Campaign)

If you were to read all four gospels thoroughly in search of Jesus’ teachings on homosexuality it would be a futile endeavor. Not only would you come to the end of the gospels without finding anything attributed to Jesus on the subject, you wouldn’t even find a single reference to the issue in any context.

In fact, there are only a handful of references to homosexuality in the entire Bible, but they are found in the Old Testament and Paul’s writings. (To put it in perspective, while there are only seven references to homosexuality, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of references to economic justice and the laws governing the accumulation and distribution of wealth.)

Jesus’ silence on the subject suggests that an issue which can be controversial and/or fraught with emotion these days was simply not a central issue in his lifetime 2,000 years ago in the land of Palestine. The fact that he didn’t address this issue leaves us all to ponder what he might say were he here today. …

April 6th, 2011

Yes, you should. Your presence there is about paying your respects to your deceased friend. It is not about making a statement. Also, remember that it is HIS minister, not yours. Go to the service, be respectful, comfort the family and pray for the repose of his soul. Participate in the service to the extent that you are able to in conscience. Most Protestant traditions do not offer communion at funerals, but if they do, politely decline as it would be dishonest to participate in communion with a church with whom we are not in full communion. The best thing to say to the family is “I am very sorry for your loss.” Remember, at funerals the family will seldom remember anything you said, but they will never forget that you were there. …

October 14th, 2010
The final part in a series of conversations with influential author Brian McLaren


In more than a dozen highly influential books, evangelical pastor Brian McLaren has championed a progressive approach to evangelical Christianity, stressing issues of social justice and rejecting the traditionally conservative politics of the mainstream evangelical movement. But McLaren’s politics are best understood as an outgrowth of his religious thinking. His most recent book, A New Kind of Christianity, published in early 2010, sets out to reread the Bible from a 21st century perspective, deconstructing its Greco-Roman narrative, emphasizing the Jewish context of early Christian belief, and proposing a more open-ended view of Christianity’s sacred text as “an inspired library” rather than a “constitution.”

Novelist Clyde Edgerton and Rev. Eric Porterfield, pastor of Winter Park Baptist Church in Wilmington, North Carolina, went to speak with McLaren at his home in Maryland. In this fourth and last excerpt from their conversation, Edgerton and Rev. Porterfield talk with McLaren about some of the problems Christianity faces in dealing with sex, sexual politics and contemporary sexuality. The entire interview can be found here.

Part 4: Sex and Sexuality

Clyde: Sexuality. Our interview is for 20- and 30-year-olds, and I think your chapter [in A New Kind of Christianity] on sexuality is

September 17th, 2010

Q: Why does the author of John’s gospel use the term “the disciple whom Jesus loved?” Is this a homosexual reference?

One of the more mysterious characteristics of John’s Gospel is his reference to “the disciple whom Jesus loved” or the “beloved disciple.” This reference occurs 5 times in John’s Gospel:


13:23-25 (the disciple reclining next to Jesus at the Last Supper who asks Jesus who will betray him)
· 19:26-27 (the disciple standing at the foot of the Cross to whom Jesus says, in reference to Mary, “Here is your Mother)
· 20:1-10 (the disciple who, along with Simon Peter, hears Mary Magdalene’s account of the Resurrection)
· 21:1-14 (one of 7 disciples who are fishing when the Risen Christ appears)
· 21:20-23 (the disciple of whom Peter asks Jesus, “What about him?”)

Traditionally, it has been assumed that this disciple refers to John the Evangelist, one of the Twelve. This is supported by the fact that this beloved disciple is present at the Last Supper which, according to Matthew and Mark, Jesus shared with the Twelve. Other, less-respected theories, identify the beloved disciple as either Lazarus (whom Jesus raised from the dead) or Mary Magdalene (a follower …

August 27th, 2010

Was St. Paul homophobic? Some people come to that unfortunate conclusion when reading some of his writings about homosexuality such as Romans 1:24-27; 1Corinthians 6:9-10; and 1Tim 1:10. In particular, it must be noted that, in the Greco-Roman world of which Paul was a part, it was not uncommon for boys or young men to be kept for the purposes of prostitution. When Paul refers to “Sodomites” (1Cor 6:9), he is referring to those adults who used such boys for their own sexual indulgence. Likewise, Paul’s references to these types of acts must be seen within his more general warnings against any kind of sexual promiscuity. In essence, Paul is warning about any actions that will lead to sexuality becoming idolatrous – i.e. people seeking their ultimate joy and meaning in sexuality per se.

Paul’s references to homosexual acts were not particularly controversial to early Christians who knew that the holiness code of Leviticus forbad homosexual acts (Leviticus 20:13). Paul was merely reaffirming that which was held by faithful Jews and early Christians. We have no evidence that there was a movement afoot in Corinth to press for wider acceptance of same-sex activity. Paul does not single …

March 30th, 2010

If I have a gay brother am I bound to not attend his “commitment” ceremony if I am Catholic?

You are bound to do what is loving and just.  You are required to follow your rightly formed conscience.  Most importantly, “Ama Deus et fac quod vis” (Love God and do what you will).  St. Augustine, Bernard Lonergan and Matthew Fox all say that.  If you’ve got those three on the same side, it must be Catholic!

It was only in 1972 that the American Psychological Association decided that homosexual persons were no longer to be considered mentally ill.  Society has changed a great deal in understanding of and attitudes toward homosexual persons in recent decades.  The church teaches that homosexuals “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided” (CCC #2358).

Moreover, you will be “losing” your brother if you don’t go to the ceremony and do damage to a relationship that may be impossible to repair.  You need not agree with his lifestyle choice to attend the ceremony.

December 31st, 2009
A traditional nun and her openly gay cousin discuss sexuality and the Catholic Church


Growing up just south of Los Angeles, Sr. Bernadette (Mary) Reis would see her cousin Paul Mages when her family took vacation trips to visit his family in the Milwaukee area. For the first 25 years after she entered the convent with the Daughters of St. Paul at the age of 14, Sr. Bernadette and Paul saw each other only at a couple of family gatherings.

Having reconnected over the past two years while living near each other in New York City, Sr. Bernadette and Paul have developed a deeper friendship. This has forced them to bridge the very different worlds they inhabit: Paul’s as an openly gay man and Sr. Bernadette’s as a member of a traditional Roman Catholic religious order.

During their wide-ranging discussion they confront issues ranging from how Sr. Bernadette reconciles the Catholic Church’s teachings regarding homosexuality with her relationship with her cousin and his longtime partner, to how being gay deepens Paul’s commitment to his Christian faith.

BustedHalo: I’d like to start by asking from both of you, what do your friends think about your relationship with each other?

Paul Mages: Well I know that the first time I invited my cousin Mary [Sister Bernadette]

July 28th, 2009

The teachings of the Church about sexuality come from the same sources that the church consults to develop teachings on other matters like economics or liturgy, i.e., scripture and tradition.  What the church teaches about sexuality is rooted in understandings of what it is to be a human person in relationship with oneself, others and God.  Ultimately what the church teaches about sex is that we should be chaste.  Chastity is “the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man (sic) in his bodily and spiritual being” (CCC #2337).  Jesus became one of us “so that we might become God” (CCC #460).  In loving one another as Christ has loved us, we should realize that all our choices, sexual choices, economic choices, religious choices, are forming us as men and women who are becoming “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).  All our relationships and choices should be integrated with the fascinating transformation we are called to in Christ.

Fr. Rick Malloy, S.J., is a Jesuit priest, fisherman and author.  He is an Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, and serves as a Chaplain at the college.  His …

May 17th, 2006

“What do you think of the Vatican’s pending statement that would supposedly ban homosexual men from being ordained priests? Is there a correlation between homosexuality and the abuse crisis?”…

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