(CNSNews.com) -- In the wake of news that Pope Francis told a clergy-abuse victim that God made him gay and "loves you like that," several LGBT activists have praised the pontiff, declaring his remarks "tremendous" and revolutionary.
As reported Monday, in his recent meeting with Juan Carlos Cruz, who was sexually abused as a boy by a homosexual Chilean priest, Pope Francis apologized for what happened to the young man and told him, "That you are gay, does not matter. God made you like that and he loves you like that and I do not care. The Pope loves you as you are, you have to be happy with who you are."
It is the teaching of the Catholic Church that persons with same-sex attractions must be treated with the same dignity and respect accorded to all people, but that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered" and homosexuals should seek to live a life of chastity. The Church also offers a program, Courage, to help homosexuals live chastely and, in some cases, return to heterosexuality, marry, and have a family.
The Catholic Church does not teach that God made certain people homosexual. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that same-sex attraction "has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained."
In reaction to the Pope's remarks, New Ways Ministry Executive Director Francis DeBernardo described the comments as "a remarkable shift in official Catholic discourse on LGBT issues."
“Instead of the more passive ‘Who am I to judge?’ the pope is expressing a much stronger affirmation of gay and lesbian people than he, or any previous pope or Vatican official, has ever done," said DeBernardo. "Even if the words reported are exactly as the pope said them, they still do not indicate a change in official teaching, but they do represent a major change in pastoral attitude and practice."
New Ways Ministry is a pro-LGBT organization that wants to see practicing gays fully integrated into the Catholic Church.
Rev. James Martin, a pro-homosexual Jesuit, also praised Pope Francis. "The Pope is saying what every reputable biologist and psychologist will tell you, which is that people do not choose their sexual orientation," Martin told the Associated Press.
Jay Michaelson, an openly gay writer at The Daily Beast, said the Pope's words signified a "revolution" to LGBT Catholics. "[T]he more you know about what the Pope said, the more powerful his statement becomes," said Michaelson.
The Pope's message, according to Michaelson, means that a homosexual's "desires cannot be contrary to God's plan for the universe. On the contrary, they must be part of it."
"Pope Francis' statement is yet another shot across the bow of Catholic traditionalists," says Michaelson. "'God made you this way' is way more than 'who am I to judge.' It's an affirmation, not a negation. And whatever its doctrinal impact, it has already moved many gay Catholics to tears. And answered their prayers."
Having a same-sex inclination is not considered sinful by the Catholic Church, but engaging in homosexual acts is deemed as serious sin. The sinful act, not the inclination or temptation, has always been condemned by the Church.
St. Bernardine of Siena, often referred to as the Apostle of Italy, said of homosexual acts: “This sin has always been detested by all those who live according to God.… Deviant passion is close to madness; [it] brings the mind down from great thoughts to the lowliest…. They become blind and, when their thoughts should soar to high and great things, they are broken down and reduced to vile and useless and putrid things, which could never make them happy....
"Just as people participate in the glory of God in different degrees, so also in Hell some suffer more than others. He who lived with this vice of sodomy suffers more than another, for this is the greatest sin."
St. Peter Damian, a Doctor of the Church and a cardinal, said of homosexual acts: "Truly, this vice is never to be compared with any other vice because it surpasses the enormity of all vices.… It defiles everything, stains everything, pollutes everything. And as for itself, it permits nothing pure, nothing clean, nothing other than filth.…"