On gays in the Church, “we must never forget that every difference is embraced by the love of God, who does not discriminate”, Italian cardinal Matteo Zuppi has said.

– A new book on homosexuality and the Church in the light of Francis’ magisterium

Zuppi, the archbishop of Bologna, contributed the prologue to the new book Chiesa e omosessualità, Un’inchiesta alla luce dela magistero di papa Francesco (“Church and Homosexuality, an Investigation in the Light of the Magisterium of Pope Francis”), which was published May 22 in Italy by Church editors San Paolo.

In the new book, Luciano Moia, the editor of Italian Bishops’ newspaper L’Avvenire, asked specialists and gay Catholics to unpack the issues around homosexuality and the Church, among them Cardinal Zuppi, who received the commission of explaining Pope Francis’ thoughts on the subject.

– “The fullness of God’s will for one person is not the same as for others”

To begin with, Zuppi pointed out that the Pope reaffirms in his 2016 apostolic exhortation on love in the family, Amoris laetitia, that “every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration”.

LGBT+ people, moreover, should “receive the assistance they need to understand and fully carry out God’s will in their lives”, the pontiff also asked in that text.

But for Zuppi, that invitation to gays to ensure their dignity is respected in the Church “is addressed to all, not only to homosexual persons”.

The cardinal went on to explain that Francis wants nothing more and nothing less than for everyone to be able to know the “fullness of God […], that possible fullness inscribed in his or her own nature and especially in his or her own history”.

At heart, Zuppi added, the Pope’s approach “does not consist in relativising the Law of God, but rather in making it relative to the concrete person, with his or her specificity”.

“And the fullness of God’s will for one person is not the same as for others”, the cardinal explained.

– “The diversity of each person is a gift for the community”

In his prologue to Moia’s new book, Cardinal Zuppi lamented a particular neglect the Church has fallen into: that of the lack of a “profound listening to the person in his or her life situation”.

More, then, than adopting specific ministries to gays, the Church must begin to look at all people, including homosexuals, as God looks at them, so that all may begin “to feel themselves […] members of the ecclesial community, on the way”, the cardinal affirmed.

Zuppi added that with that renewed regard for the specific life situations of Catholics, the Church would also live more deeply the truth that “the diversity of each person is a gift for the richness of the community”.

– Nobody’s sexual identity justifies them being banished

Despite his call to the Church to refocus its attention on the specific life situation of the individual, gay or otherwise, Cardinal Zuppi restated traditional Church teaching when he set out that “the Church’s doctrine distinguishes between [a homosexual] orientation and acts”, and “what we cannot ‘accept’ is sin expressed by an act”.

However, the Bologna archbishop also insisted that no one “chooses” their sexual orientation and that one’s orientation does not necessarily entail a sinful act, for which reason nobody’s sexual identity justifies them being banished by the Church.

“And even if a person leads a lifestyle contrary to God’s law, shouldn’t we accept them?”, Zuppi also asked, alleging as justification for that position Christ’s own attitude with ‘sinners’.

If Jesus had had a criterion of exclusion, “before entering the house of Zacchaeus, he would have demanded his conversion. Before accompanying the Samaritan woman to the adoration of God in Spirit and Truth, he would have asked her to regularise her marital situation”, the cardinal observed.

More stories on Novena on LGBT+ rights in the Church:

Swiss lesbian Catholic theologian: “I love my Church too much to leave it in the hands of those who would rather see me gone”

Theologian says “considerable number” of Austrian bishops open to same-sex blessings

German Bishops’ head: “If a gay couple lives with faithfulness, can’t we say their relationship is blessed by God?”

How the Church is spreading a gender “conspiracy theory” across the world


PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.