Editor’s note: Two of the most influential Catholic prelates in Europe have advocated publicly in recent months for the Church to change its teaching on homosexuality.
In February, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, S.J., the archbishop of Luxembourg who serves as president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union and relator general of the Synod on Synodality in Rome, said in an interview that the Church’s teaching that homosexual sex is sinful was “wrong,” arguing that the “sociological-scientific foundation of this teaching is no longer correct.” More recently, in an interview published on March 31, German Cardinal Reinhard Marx, speaking on these same issues, said that the Catechism of the Catholic Church is “not set in stone” and “one is also allowed to doubt what it says.”
The following “open letter” to Hollerich and Marx was written by Father Philip G. Bochanski, executive director of Courage International, a Catholic apostolate for those who experience same-sex attraction and are seeking to live chaste and faithful lives.
As a priest engaged for many years in pastoral ministry to people who experience same-sex attractions, I read your recent public comments about Catholic teaching on homosexual acts with serious concern.
You suggested, Cardinal Hollerich, that “the sociological-scientific foundation of” the Catholic doctrine that homosexual acts are immoral “is no longer correct,” and you called for “a fundamental revision of Church teaching” and “a change in doctrine.” You took the same stance on this issue, Cardinal Marx, and justified your position by remarking that “the Catechism is not set in stone” and that “one may also question what it says” on this important moral teaching.
Yet the paragraph of the Catechism to which you refer presents this teaching in a remarkably firm way. That is, it notes that the teaching is clearly based on Sacred Scripture and consistently taught by the tradition of the Church (no. 2357). This invocation of Scripture and Tradition is unusual in the Catechism, but appears often when the Church explains the charism of infallibility. Its use here clearly means that this teaching, which flows from the anthropological fact of the nature of sexed human bodies, is an infallible teaching of the ordinary universal magisterium.
When each of us was preparing for ordination, like all of our brother deacons, priests and bishops, we made a public Profession of Faith and swore an Oath of Fidelity. When we took that oath, we swore in regard to such teachings that we would “hold fast to” the Church’s doctrine, “faithfully hand it on and explain it, and … avoid any teachings contrary to it.” We invoked the Holy Trinity and the holy Gospels to witness to our honesty and sincerity.
Your Eminences, I beg you, please be faithful to your oath.
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