The influential Cardinal Oscar Maradiaga has acknowledged the presence of a “gay lobby” in the Vatican. In a new interview, he says that Pope Francis has adopted a gradual approach to address it — and that Catholic teaching won’t change.

The Honduran newspaper El Heraldo asked the cardinal whether there actually was an attempted or successful “infiltration of the gay community in the Vatican.”

Cardinal Maradiaga responded: “Not only that, also the Pope said: there was even a ‘lobby’ in this sense.”

“Little by little the Pope is trying to purify it,” he continued. “One can understand them, and there is pastoral legislation to attend to them, but what is wrong cannot be truth.”

Cardinal Maradiaga is the Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras and the coordinator of the Council of Cardinals who advise Pope Francis on the reform of the Curia.

HIs interview, published Jan. 12, also touched on some perceptions about Pope Francis.

The newspaper said some people have interpreted Pope Francis’ other remarks to think there was a possibility the Church would support same-sex marriage.

The cardinal rejected this possibility.

“No, we must understand that there are things that can be reformed and others cannot,” he said. “The natural law cannot be reformed. We can see how God has designed the human body, the body of the man and the body of a woman to complement each other and transmit life. The contrary is not the plan of creation. There are things that cannot be changed.”

A previous report about the Pope working to counter the “gay lobby” was widely read, but its accuracy was uncertain.

In June 2013 the left-leaning Chilean Catholic website “Reflexión y liberación” claimed that Pope Francis had told a meeting of the Latin American Confederation of Men and Women Religious that there is a “gay lobby” in the Church and “we have to see what we can do (about it).”

However, the Latin American Confederation of Men and Women said that this report rested on a summary account that relied on the memory of participants, not a recording. This summary was intended for meeting participants and was not intended for publication. The confederation said the reported assertion “cannot be attributed with certainty to the Holy Father.”

Pope Francis in a July 28, 2013 in-flight interview returning to Italy from Brazil briefly discussed this alleged lobby in the context of penitence, confession and God’s forgiveness.

“So much is written about the gay lobby. I have yet to find anyone who can give me a Vatican identity card with 'gay' [written on it]. They say they are there,” the Pope said.

He said that all lobbies are bad and “the gravest problem for me.” Citing the Catechism’s teaching against marginalizing homosexual persons, he said, “If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, well who am I to judge them?”

Cardinal Maradiaga also spoke to El Heraldo about reform and changes to the Church.

“We should not expect there will be major reforms in the doctrine of the Church,” he said. “The reform is the organization of the Curia.”

He acknowledged resistance to Curia reform, saying there are people who “resist any changes” precisely because “they do not know the life of the Church.”

The Church is “not merely a human institution,” he explained. Rather, it is “humane-divine” and “natural and supernatural.” This means “there are things that do not really depend on what is human.”

The cardinal’s remarks on a “gay lobby” follow years of increasingly prominent agitation for doctrinal change from non-Catholics and some Catholics.

As CNA has reported previously, LGBT activists have backed conferences and advocacy events to counter the narrative of the Catholic Church, especially during its synods on the family. These actions include the formation of a coalition called the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics and an advocacy campaign that targeted synod attendees in hopes of countering the influence of bishops from West Africa.