A Catholic bishop from Malta made a surprising statement on a popular television talk show in that country when he apologized over the airways for the hurt that Catholic leaders have caused lesbian and gay people.
Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna appeared on “Xarabank,” hosted by Peppi Azzopardi, to discuss that nation’s civil unions bill, which the Catholics bishop there oppose, in part because it would allow lesbian and gay couples to adopt children. The Malta Independent reported on the bishop’s words, which were in response to comments from gay couples who were guests on the show who :
“The bishop was confronted by gay couples who refuse to understand why the Church continues to make obstacles for them to have same rights as heterosexual couples.
“Scicluna did not mince his words and, while holding his ground on the teachings of the Church that marriage should be exclusive to the union between men and women, he made a historical statement by asking the gay community for forgiveness for each time those representing the Church made their (gays) life miserable and harder.”
His apology received applause from the gay guests and the studio audience. Bishop Scicluna’s apology, while a good step, is not to be confused with strong support for lesbian and gay people. Just last week, he published a letter opposing the civil unions bill in The Times of Malta. In the letter, he stated:
“In a nutshell marriage is for the family. It is not simply a socially recognised partnership. The proposed bill intends to put all this behind us in the name of the asserted equality of same sex (homosexual) couples to couples of different sex (heterosexual) couples.
“This asserted equality is a no-brainer when we deal with human dignity and the right to freedom from unjust discrimination. It does not stand the test of logic when it comes to the openness to the gift of parenthood.”
You can watch a video of the apology below, however the bishop and the others speak in Maltese.
This is not the first time that Bishop Scicluna has made headlines with statements critical of a doctrinaire approach to lesbian and gay people. In February of this year, he criticized a public letter by a Catholic man who said that lesbian and gay people can only experience lust, and not love. Scicluna refuted the letter writer, saying that was not the teaching of the church.
Bondings 2.0 recently questioned the Maltese bishops’ opposition to the civil unions bill because they did so by quoting Pope Francis’ call for a more open attitude towards lesbian and gay people, which seemed somewhat incongruous.
The question this newer story raises is: can an apology be sincere when the bishop opposes legalizing civil unions for lesbian and gay couples? Can someone authentically hold these two positions? Post your thoughts in the “Comments” section of this post.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry