He elaborates in his new book:
Interviewing Pope Francis in July, Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli asked the pope how he might act as a confessor to a gay person in light of his now famous remarks in a press conference in 2013, when he asked: “Who am I to judge?” Francis’ reply appears in a new book The Name of God is Mercy to be released Tuesday. “On that occasion I said this: If a person is gay and seeks out the Lord and is willing, who am I to judge that person?” the pope says. “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.” “I am glad that we are talking about ‘homosexual people’ because before all else comes the individual person, in his wholeness and dignity,” he continues. “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,” says Francis. “You can advise them to pray, show goodwill, show them the way, and accompany them along it.” Asked whether there is an opposition between truth and mercy, or doctrine and mercy, the pontiff responds: “I will say this: mercy is real; it is the first attribute of God.” “Theological reflections on doctrine or mercy may then follow, but let us not forget that mercy is doctrine,” says the pope. “Even so, I love saying: mercy is true.” The Name of God is Mercy is the result of an interview between the pope and Tornielli, the coordinator for the Vatican Insider website. The book is being published in 86 countries and about 20 languages on Tuesday.