Most of the Pope's explanations for this were characteristically vague. But there is no doubt he agrees with Cardinal Marx about the pain that the Church has supposedly inflicted on the homosexual community, and about the need for an apology.
Well, hold on Pope Francis. Let's remember that Cardinal Marx went a lot further still. Saying 'sorry' was just the beginning. The "Marxist Cardinal" (as the Pope seems to enjoy calling him, only it doesn't seem to be just a joke) also said that the Church should take a positive view of same-sex relationships, and that the Church can't oppose civil unions.
And that, right there, is really shocking. It is nothing less than a call for change in doctrine, a revolution in the Church. And maybe, schism.
“The history of homosexuals in our societies is very bad because we’ve done a lot to marginalize [them],” he said, adding that as a Church and as a society “we’ve also to say ‘sorry, sorry.’”
The Cardinal, who is the Archbishop of Munich and Freising, said that up until “very recently” the Catholic Church had been “very negative about gay people,” adding that “it was a scandal and terrible.”
...Cardinal Marx suggested in the interview that the Church ought to look favorably on same-sex relationships, but would not go as far as calling those relationships “marriage.”
“We have to respect the decisions of people. We have to respect also, as I said in the first synod on the family — some were shocked, but I think it’s normal — you cannot say that a relationship between a man and a man, and they are faithful, [that] that is nothing, that has no worth,” he said.
He said it was up to the state “to make regulations for homosexuals so they have equal rights or nearly equal . . . but marriage is another point,” adding that the state “has to regulate these partnerships and to bring them into a just position, and we as church cannot be against it.”
If he does, that is huge. It would be hard to see that as anything but a change in the Church's central teaching, the core of her moral beliefs for millenia - something that is never supposed to happen in the Church, which rests under the protection of the Holy Spirit.
In his airplane interview, Pope Francis was silent about the rest of Cardinal Marx's statements. Is the Pope's silence a clue to his concurrence, or is he just being tactful and not publicly challenging the opinions of his friend and trusted adviser?
His silence is not comforting. I find it concerning that he did not, at the very least, seize the opportunity to correct the rest of Cardinal Marx's comments, and to reiterate a bright line that the Church will not cross in its teaching on the nature of marriage.
In fact, the Pope just muddied the waters still further. He said:
I will repeat what I said on my first trip. I repeat what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: that they must not be discriminated against, that they must be respected and accompanied pastorally. One can condemn, but not for theological reasons, but for reasons of political behavior...Certain manifestations are a bit too offensive for others, no? ... But these are things that have nothing to do with the problem. The problem is a person that has a condition, that has good will and who seeks God, who are we to judge? And we must accompany them well...this is what the catechism says, a clear catechism. Then there are traditions in some countries, in some cultures that have a different mentality on this problem. I think that the Church must not only ask forgiveness – like that “Marxist Cardinal” said (laughs) – must not only ask forgiveness to the gay person who is offended. ...Christians must ask forgiveness for having not accompanied so many choices...
The logic of this statement escapes me, at least from the perspective of the Catechism. First of all, obviously the Church does not condemn the sinner - ever. The Pope knows that. What the Church condemns is the sin. But the only time anything is a sin, it is so for theological reasons! Hello, theology of the body. How is that not theological?
So from a religious perspective, the Pope's statement makes NO SENSE at all.
Here is how the Pope's statement would make sense: if the Pope thought that same-sex relationships were not actually sinful (so no theological problems there). He would then mainly be concerned that some homosexual activists get too lewd and exhibitionist at gay pride parades, irritating the sensibilities of the more tight-laced crowd. And that, ladies and gentlemen, would be the main reason to "condemn" homosexual behaviour!
But obviously, that can't possibly be the Pope's opinion of homosexual behavour. Because if it were, then he wouldn't believe the teachings of his own religion...and he's the Pope. So clearly, he must believe that homosexual relationships are sinful...right?
The Pope should have been an acrobat, or at least, his mouth should have been. All of his Papacy long, he has been walking a very precarious tightrope.
He'd better not make the whole Church plummet into the water with him.
|The mouth of Pope Francis|