Pope's new book doubles down on gay stance

Remember the Pope's controversial "Who am I to judge" statement? That's how he responded to an Italian reporter in 2013 when asked how he might act as a confessor to a gay person

A brand new book penned by Pope Francis hits the market Tuesday, and in it he addresses the controversial comments he made during that interview, signaling that the Catholic position on homosexuality may be softening.

The new book, titled, The Name of God is Mercy, directly addresses the statements he made to the reporter in which he stated: "If a person is gay and seeks out the Lord and is willing, who am I to judge that person?"

In his book, the Pope reiterates his stance, saying:  "I was paraphrasing by heart the Catechism of the Catholic Church where it says that these people should be treated with delicacy and not be marginalized."

Here's more from his book:

“I am glad that we are talking about ‘homosexual people’ because before all else comes the individual person, in his wholeness and dignity. And people should not be defined only by their sexual tendencies: let us not forget that God loves all his creatures and we are destined to receive his infinite love.

“I prefer that homosexuals come to confession, that they stay close to the Lord, and that we pray all together. You can advise them to pray, show goodwill, show them the way, and accompany them along it.”

The LGBTQ media are optimistic, with Think Progress stating that the Pope's book actually reiterates what he said in 2013. The writer painstakingly documents and links the Pope's pattern of embracing and meeting with gay couples:

The new quotes effectively repeat what is often described as Francis’ shift in “tone” regarding LGBT issues. The pontiff has never contradicted the Catholic Church’s official opposition to LGBT relationships, which describes same-sex “inclinations” as “objectively disordered.”

But Francis has dramatically shifted the way the church approaches the issue, articulating a far more inclusive vision while meeting privately with a Spanish transgender man, dining with LGBT prisoners, and openly embracing a gay couple in Washington, D.C. Francis’ attitude contrasts sharply with that of his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI, who was vocally opposed to LGBT relationships and called same-sex marriage a threat to the “future of humanity itself.”

Left-leaning Catholics have welcomed the tonal tweak, but it hasn’t overhauled the Church’s treatment of LGBT faithful. A growing number of Catholic teachers, church staff, and food pantry workers have been fired in the United States over the past few years simply for being openly gay, and several diocese are in heated disputes with Church leaders over their treatment of LGBT staff. Francis even met with controversial American marriage equality opponent Kim Davis, although the Vatican later insisted the encounter “should not be considered a form of support of her position.”

Nevertheless, Francis is indeed asking the church to “talk” more about LGBT issues; he has convened two high-level meetings, or synods, regarding “family issues” that included discussions of same-sex relationships. Neither gathering produced radically different stances on sexuality, but documents produced by attendees at both meetings included language about LGBT people that was arguably more welcoming — relatively speaking — than the statements from years past.