"Who am I to Judge?" Confusion!


Good morning:

I am soon to leave on a trip to visit relatives in Germany, and it’s likely there will be discussion about the Pope’s trip to the US, his “Who am I to judge?” line regarding homosexuality, the prevailing secularism there, etc. No one in my family there is Catholic, much less Christian. Most were not baptized or raised in any faith.

Although I am furiously reading up on the Holy Father’s recent speeches, I’m struck by how much ink is generated by others per speech trying to explain his points. I want clarity so I can represent our Faith accurately to some pretty fiercely anti-Catholic people.

At the heart of things, here’s my question: is evaluating something the same as “judging”? Can I as a faithful, reasonably well-formed Catholic, have an opinion based on my faith, about some social or political or ethical issue without “judging” as it is proscribed by Our Lord - and the Pope?

I’m really torn about this! How are we to discuss and “dialogue” with others about the truth and goodness of our Faith when we can’t “judge” things in the world?

I know this is a big topic, but very much appreciate your thoughts.


I think there’s a bit of a mix up. I mean in our way of talking. Because there are two types of judging. There’s the judging that’s used to make a reasonable decision about something. Like whether it’s a good idea to run that yellow light or not. And then there’s the condemning kind. The kind that says Ha. Boy are you in trouble. You’re doomed buddy. And sometimes we secretly add “And I’m not. So I’m glad.”

So yeah. Can we see the pope standing there and saying, “I have no real sense of what we’re supposed to do here. I don’t know if this is right or wrong.” Or is he more likely saying, “It’s not up to me to stamp people with an F. It’s not up to me to announce who’s failed in God’s eyes and who hasn’t. Go in peace. Sin no more.”

Besides all that. On the complete other side of it. His words were taken out of context. And so of course look sorta weird without the other things he said around them. I don’t know. That’s my take anyway.




The basis of our talk about things moral
and ethical is LOVE, love your neighbor
as you love yourself. Three things you
should ask yourself before “judging”
Would YOU want others to tell this to
you? Would Christ want to tell this
to them? and Would they lose their
chance at Salvation if you tell it to


The “you can’t judge me” is often the first line of defense for those committing sexual sins.

Fraternal correction and standing up for the Truth even when it hurts fragile feelings is not judging.


Should we judge a person’s actions as opposed to judging whether they are going to heaven or hell.

Say a loved family member is Catholic and is not going to Church on Sundays. Should he/she be reminded that this is not in accordance to the laws of the Church and is a sin, as opposed to telling them “if you don’t go to Church on Sunday, you are going to hell.”

Is it proper to remind a person that their actions are leading them down a bad path, as opposed to telling them where they are going to definitely wind up going according to a judgement on our part?

This issue has always confused me a bit too.


I would suggest asking your priest/Confessor about specific situations regarding correction.


It is very possible to look at a situation and say objectively “This or that is wrong.” A person can confidently say, for example, “Abortion is wrong” or “Contraception is grave matter” or “Homosexual sex is intrinsically disordered,” etc. These are matters of morals. They are black and white and explained in depth in the catechism and in the various encyclicals,

What we are not able or allowed to do is judge the state of another’s soul. We cannot say (accurately or ethically) “Joe is going to hell” or “This person is in mortal sin.” Even if we see someone committing grave matter, we can’t know whether they are fully culpable or fully realize that their sin offends God. Moreover, we don’t know whether they will be moved to repentance immediately after committing the sin.

If you read the interview the pope gave during which he said his famous “Who am I to judge?” line, you’ll notice he was talking about the homosexual inclination/temptation (not a particular action) and also that the hypothetical person in question was honestly seeking God. This is very different than if the pope had said, “If someone is regularly engaging in homosexual sex and is unrepentant and doesn’t care what the Church teaches, who am I to judge?”


I think you nailed it.

I have a young, non-Christian friend. She a single mom, never married, has a lot of health issues, and is my son’s ex-girlfriend. She knows what I believe. I don’t have to point a finger and say: “This or that sin is going to send you to hell.” Wouldn’t work too well - she doesn’t think her actions are sins, nor does she believe in hell.

So I help her and love her and listen to her. When she asks questions I answer honestly. We pray for her and her daughter as if they were our own. Nothing more I can do.


In Matt 7 & Luke 6 Jesus is telling us not to condemn; He’s not telling us to turn off our brains. So, in John 7:24, He can also say, with the author using the same word for “judge” as in those others verses, “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”


You are required to judge if you are on a jury. The penalty for not serving on a jury can be a jail sentence or a large fine.



That’s the perfect way. That’s the way that lets you help. Straight up. Without anything complicated getting in the way. And years later that little girl might remember you. Even if her mama doesn’t. She might remember and zone in on that. Try to figure it out deeper. I don’t know. You never know where the seeds get planted.

Peace Bonnie. Glad you’re helping like that.



Yes, I would be interested in hearing input from others on this as I may very likely have jury duty on the 23rd of this month. On jury duty is required to judge the motive. Was the death intentional or accidental for example.


Judging means determining (or guessing) whether a person has gone to heaven or hell. So we certainly can’t do that. Unfortunately, people today take the Biblical meaning of judgement and turn it into the modern one where judging means disproval.

It is a spiritual work of mercy to admonish the sinner.


The Pope said “Who am I to judge” because being attracted to the same sex is not the same thing as acting towards those feelings in a way that will put one in a disordered relationship.


When people ask me about Pope Francis with that little gleam of superiority and happiness in their eyes and a voice that belies there question and rewords it to say something like “As a Catholic don’t you love that this Pope is changing your religion to be more in line with what the rest of the world and I think” I just generally ignore it and talk about all the wonderful things about my faith that I love.


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