On Monday's All In show, as MSNBC's Chris Hayes rejoiced somewhat over Pope Francis's recent comments about people who have homosexual "tendencies" becoming priests, the MSNBC host also declared that it was a "heinous teaching" for the Pope to say that it is a "sin" to "violate God's law," referring to acting out on homosexual feelings. Hayes complained:
This is actually basically the Church teaching on exactly this issue. I mean, you know, it is not a sin to, quote, "have the tendency." It is a sin to commit acts that violate God's law. And I obviously deeply, deeply, deeply disagree with that. I find that a heinous teaching, in fact.
A bit earlier, as Hayes described himself as "a lefty, raised in the Church," he admitted that "at least once a week, I find myself saying, 'I really like this guy,'" referring to the Pope's words on "social justice."
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Monday, July 29, All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC:
CHRIS HAYES: But it was on the plane, on the way back from Rio, when Pope Francis proved that he was doing things a bit differently than his predecessor by taking a notably compassionate stand towards gay priests. When asked by a member of the press about so-called gay lobby inside the Church, he said, "When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them? They shouldn't be marginalized. The tendency is not the problem. They are our brothers."
This statement is just the latest rhetorical and symbolic break with Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, who stepped down in February, a man who once wrote a Vatican document that called from banning from the priesthood, men who are actively homosexual, have deep-seeded homosexual tendencies or support the so-called gay culture.
Since becoming pope, Francis has been known for his simplicity and emphasis on progressive calls for more social justice and the dignity of a living wage. As a lefty, raised in the church, myself, I have to say, at least once a week, I find myself saying, "I really like this guy."
HAYES: So, I wanted to talk, I immediately wanted to talk to you about this because you and I have conversations about sort of progressives in the Catholic Church and our interesting, tense relationship with the Church. And were you surprised by these comments by Pope Francis?
FORMER REP. TOM PERRIELLO (D-VA): In many ways, no. I think the two groups you're most likely to hear the word humility from are political leaders and religious leaders, and they're the two groups least likely to mean it. But I think with this Pope, we're constantly impressed regardless of his theological positions that this is someone whose first impulse is to love. His first impulse is to be humble and not judge.
He's someone who actually is quite skeptical of power which is an odd position for a Pope. But having lived through the junta period in Argentina and seeing the realities of what it means to be close to formal power and what you can rationalize, I think we see that throughout. And the fact is compassion is a key Christian precept.
HAYES: Here's what's fascinating to me about this, this statement. I want to talk about some other statements because he gave this entire press conference that was fascinating.
You know, this is actually basically the Church teaching on exactly this issue. I mean, you know, it is not a sin to, quote, "have the tendency." It is a sin to commit acts that violate God's law. And I obviously deeply, deeply, deeply disagree with that. I find that a heinous teaching, in fact.
But I thought it was interesting, too, that, in some ways, it shows that it's not that what Pope Francis is doing is doctrinally different than his predecessor. It is not merely symbolic and rhetorical. There's some force to the symbolic and rhetorical.