For generations, homosexuality has largely been a taboo topic for the Vatican, ignored altogether or treated as “an intrinsic moral evil,” in the words of the previous pope.I don't want to belittle how big a change this is for The Vatican, especially considering the Times' next paragraph:
In that context, brief remarks by Pope Francis suggesting that he would not judge priests for their sexual orientation, made aboard the papal airplane on the way back from his first foreign trip, to Brazil, resonated through the church. Never veering from church doctrine opposing homosexuality, Francis did strike a more compassionate tone than that of his predecessors, some of whom had largely avoided even saying the more colloquial “gay.”
“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Francis told reporters, speaking in Italian but using the English word “gay.”
Francis’s words could not have been more different from those of Benedict XVI, who in 2005 wrote that homosexuality was “a strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil,” and an “objective disorder.” The church document said men with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” should not become priests.From "a strong tendency ordered toward intrinsic moral evil" to "who am I to judge" is a big step, no doubt about it but I wanted to look deeper into that rhetorical question as well as it's closely related "It's not my place to judge."
While it's entirely possible, I suppose, that when someone uses either phrase to some member in the LGBTQ community that person might mean it to say "there is nothing wrong with being gay (or "L" or "B" or "T" or "Q" and so on..." but if you take a look at the actual words, something else is being said entirely.
"Who am I to judge?" at the very least implies that there is a judgement to be made, doesn't it? We rarely if ever hook that question onto something we approve of, only stuff we disapprove of. For example, would anyone be caught saying "Just like me, Steve thinks the Beatles are better, much better, than the Stones. But who am I to judge?"
See how that works?
Additionally, when someone says "It's not my place to judge" they're also implying that they know what the outcome of whatever that judgement is, whenever it'll be made by whomever would be making it, even if it's not them. They're just not gonna say what they already know in their heart it already is.
In effect, however tolerant sounding the phrase might be (and again however Cardinal Dolan wishes to redefine it, it's still a huge leap forward for The Vatican), it still means:
I know that God will judge it negatively.And so on.