Pope Francis is continuing his informal outreach to gay and lesbian Catholics (hat tip, Daily Dish), and, despite his apparent comfort with modern social media and its dizzying gadgetry, he is apparently still happy to make use of old-school communication tools. Pope Francis turned to pen and paper to respond to a letter from a group of gay and lesbian Italian Catholics sent in June, according to the Italian daily La Repubblica (Note: this account in English relies on a Google translation; it may be imperfect). The group had written to Pope Francis in a personal appeal to to be recognized as people and not as a "category." A leader of the impromptu committee said as gay Catholics they had in the past written to other members of the church leadership in Italy and had always before been rewarded with silence.

In their letter, a group of gay and lesbian Catholics organized into the group, Kairos of Florence, asked for openness and dialogue, noting that closure to discussion "always feeds homophobia." The members were shocked to receive a personal response to their appeal from Pope Francis. One leader of the group told La Repubblica "no one had ever even given a nod of response" before. The Kairos group said they also received a letter from the Vatican Secretariat of State, which informed them that Pope Francis "really enjoyed" their letter to him and the way it was written, calling it an act of "spontaneous confidence."

One Kairos leader said Pope Francis had also assured the group of his blessing, something they could not before have imagined happening. The members of Kairos have decided to keep the rest of the message of both letters private.

La Repubblica's Maria Cristina Carratu writes that the pope receives a mountain of mail each day, sent by people hoping to make a personal connection with Pope Francis, thus bypassing the "obstacle" the Roman Curia. Carratu speculates that this "message in a bottle" from Kairos of Florence, or one like it from other gay and lesbian Catholics may have reached the pope and inspired his "breakthrough" on the church's treatment of gay and lesbian Catholics.

Comments

Michael Cobbold | 11/18/2013 - 10:53pm

"In their letter, a group of gay and lesbian Catholics organized into the group, Kairos of Florence, asked for openness and dialogue, noting that closure to discussion "always feeds homophobia." The members were shocked to receive a personal response to their appeal from Pope Francis."

Excellent - that's much better than neglecting people so that they give up on the Church. How are the Church authorities going to know how to act, if they simply ignore, or misdescribe, or demonise, gay people ? And how are gay people going to avoid doing likewise to the Church, if it seems distant or uncaring, or sounds insulting ? A lot of harm has been done by misunderstanding of the Church's language. This really does seem like a step forward - and not before time.

"A leader of the impromptu committee said as gay Catholics they had in the past written to other members of the church leadership in Italy and had always before been rewarded with silence."

## If true, that sounds very unlike the Good Shepherd, Who goes out looking for the one lost sheep - Christian practice seems often ( or even usually) to be, to stay with the 99 that are not lost. Sad, really.

Tom Wilson | 11/15/2013 - 1:21pm

(Yawn). How many times must it be repeated that the Church does not consider same-sex attraction a sin; it is homosexual acts that are sinful. God doesn't ask us to change that which we feel; but we must change our sinful behavior, which, by the way, includes sinful heterosexual acts, as well.

Based on the recent successes of the global homosexual lobby, a mere 3% of the population, in the legalization of sodomy and so-called gay marriage, it is apparent that they are a well-financed and powerful lobby that even the Pope cannot ignore. Having chosen to blame all of their woes on the Church and unafraid to attack it in the courts, the Pope is smart to call attention to the Church's true teaching on the matter to counter the mischaracterization of the Church's position that the media has disseminated with little opposition.

People with same-sex attraction are welcome in the Church. And if they seek God's grace and resolve to not participate in the sinful acts of the flesh, they can (gasp!) participate in Communion. I wonder how many people with same-sex attraction actually know that.

Patty Flynn | 12/7/2013 - 9:01am

Tom, I am a Catholic mother of a gay son. He is very bright and well read. He understands, as do I and my family, that the Church does not consider same-sex attraction a sin. The catechism states that this attraction is disordered. This is a heavy burden for us to carry, that this attraction he was born with and thus is part of his nature, is in and of itself disordered.

It is not helpful to have a tone that includes sarcasm. It creates a barrier between us Catholics and disrupts respectful dialogue with hurting families. It makes our burden even heavier.

If you sincerely want to know how many people with same sex attraction know the catechism on this topic, it would be much more helpful for you to have a loving dialogue than to post a message with this tone. Perhaps this is what Pope Francis is modeling and we all should be more open to loving dialogue rather than sarcasm from a distance. Thank you for your time and understanding. May God bless us all with a desire to love, listen to and care for each other.

John Steinson | 10/13/2013 - 5:56am

No one could reasonably believe the Pope would ever approve of the homosexual lifestyle which might explain keeping the letter private.

JIM MCCREA | 10/10/2013 - 7:51pm

Kairos would be doing a great favor to the rest of us who are gay and/or lesbian by publishing the private content of both letters, be that content good, bad or indifferent. Nothing is gained by hiding these things.