Malta Bishop Reports Pope Francis “Shocked” by Gay Adoptions – What’s Really Going On?

Bishop Charles Scicluna

Bishop Charles Scicluna

According to an auxiliary bishop from Malta, Pope Francis is “shocked” that adoption for same-gender couples would be legalized in that nation. Given the pope’s largely LGBT-positive reputation and recent accolades as Person of the Year from several publications, including The Advocate, many are wondering what to make of this story and whether there is more than meets the eye.

First, some context. Malta began considering a bill legalizing civil unions this fall. Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna, who is at the center of this controversy, has previously commented on LGBT matters in both positive and negative ways. New remarks by Scicluna during Christmas Mass triggered criticism after he defended heternormative ideas about family using the Holy Family as his example.

Ignoring the non-traditional nature of the Holy Family, which Bondings 2.0 reflected upon last Sunday, the bishop emphasized his belief that children need a mother and a father to be raised properly. Scicluna has premised his opposition to civil unions on this belief that adoption by same-gender couples would be harmful for children, which he has stated in interviews and open letters, as well as in his Christmas homily.

When interviewed about these remarks, he mentioned a December 12th meeting with Pope Francis as his defense. The Advocate reports further:

“In an interview with the Sunday Times of Malta, Bishop Charles Scicluna says that during a meeting on December 12 he told the pope about the bill’s plan to allow same-sex couples to adopt children, and ‘he encouraged me to speak out.’ Scicluna described the pope as ‘quite shocked by the issue of civil unions and gay adoptions.’

“The pope is not yet on record having personally stepped into any country’s policy debate on LGBT equality, instead he’s called on the Catholic Church to spend less time emphasizing these issues. So Scicluna’s claim that the pope told him to ‘speak out’ has grabbed attention.”

Further complicating this story is Pope Francis’ previous support for civil unions and opposition of adoption by same-gender couples when he was a cardinal in Argentina. William Lindsey who blogs at Bilgrimage has one theory for why this Scicluna story appeared:

“And so prediction #2 for 2014: we’re going to see more  and more adroit (and downright cynical) attempts of these interest groups to seed in the mainstream media stories like the recent report by Bishop Charles Scicluna of Malta that Pope Francis is ‘shocked’ by the idea of gay adoption of children. The point of these stories is not so much to inform us that Francis abides by traditional Catholic teachings about homosexuality: it’s to undercut Francis’s effect as a teacher in the economic arena by dividing those inclined to welcome his socioeconomic teachings around issues of gender and sexual orientation.

“As you assess the Scicluna report, keep in mind that Scicluna was a student of Cardinal Raymond Burke, who directed Scicluna’s dissertation, and who was recently displaced by Francis from his kingmaking role in appointing new U.S. Catholic bishops…When you hear Scicluna inform the media that Pope Francis is stalwartly anti-gay, think Burke.”
So far, Pope Francis has not publicly commented on any LGBT legislation or about Bishop Scicluna’s interview. It is unclear what to make of this story right now, but as 2014 begins unfolding, LGBT advocates will keep a close eye on Pope Francis and his bishops to see how committed they are to the positive messages on LGBT issues that the new pope keeps proclaiming.
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry
16 replies
  1. Terence Weldon
    Terence Weldon says:

    Thanks. What’s really going on is not at all clear. All we can say is that “Bishop Charles Scicluna has claimed that Pope Francis is shocked by these issues”. As he has neither confirmed nor denied the claim, we cannot know if it is true that “Pope Francis is shocked by these issues”.

    It’s important to distinguish carefully between what the Pope has said, and the spin put on his words by others.

  2. duckman44625
    duckman44625 says:

    I view these comments and alleged meetings with Francis in which he displays negativity – reported by the Bishop of Malta – and others – with great suspicion. Our own Syracuse Diocesan Bishop felt it necessary to reword Francis now famous “who am I to judge” words so that we would understand what he meant. Francis speaks clearly – to the point. These bishops are gathering the wagons in an attempt to water down his words because they fear loss of status if they continue their “obsession” which Francis advised them to put aside. They are replaceable. Francis has the confidence and will to first get his bishops in line and take action if they do not. The time for the Rod of iron wielded by Benedict is over – besides we sheep no longer heed the harsh words of condemnation used previously.

  3. Friends
    Friends says:

    Indeed, I echo Duckman’s comments about this confounding boondoggle. A recent poll, cited on U.S. National Public Radio, declared that 88% of self-described practicing American Catholics either “approve” or “strongly approve” of Pope Francis’ leadership and pastoral direction of the Church. But the 12% ultra-conservative reactionary element in the Church is doing everything in its power, and is pulling every available string, to discredit our Pope and his increasing global impact. This is especially true where it concerns his progressive (and Gospel-affirming) positions about supporting basic social justice for ALL practicing Christians, and indeed, for all human beings on our planet. At a certain point, I think our beloved new Pope needs to come out more clearly and forcefully and unambiguously about what he really believes, where it concerns contentious social justice issues.

  4. Robert
    Robert says:

    The Pope will not support gay adoption not because there is some identifiable damage done to children with same sex parents, but because the Catholic ideal is for children to have both a mother and father and for this marriage to be the context in which children are procreated and raised. Any other structure does not follow the natural order of sexual reproduction and family creation as the Church considers biblical, Church Tradition and consistent with Natural Law. It is entirely disingenuous to try to make any opposition to gay adoption of gay civil marriage as a reversal to the Pope’s “who am I to judge” statement. Gay activists like your organization have tried to use this statement as evidence of the Pope’s acceptance of the gay rights agenda. His famous statement merely reflects the Churchs historical position that if one has a life in Christ and is attempting to live a chaste life as a homosexual, that person is living in a way that is consistent with Church teaching and as such , even the Pope cannot make judgement on his soul. You cannot read his statement any other way and still believe the Pope is Catholic. While I am proud that most American Catholics believe in treating homosexuals with the full dignity and equality they deserve as children of God, those Catholics who believe gay adoption and gay marriage are simply civil rights issues are simply wrong. Granting adoptions to homosexuals by virtue of their gay “marriage” denies the rights of children to have both a mother and a father over the rights of the desires of adults. While it is commendable that a majority of Catholic have a faith that wants to treat everyone with dignity, they are forgetting the right that you and I had to have a mother and a father in a loving nurturing family. I could never allow someone the right to deny me either my father or mother who I love beyond words. Why do we believe we have the right to deny other children the same gift we had to have both a mother and father in our homes? The family of one man and one woman is the model given to us by the Holy Family even if the Mary and Joseph never consummated their relationship in a physical manner. God gave Jesus an earthly father for a reason. He have the rest of us a mother and father for a reason as well. We are more fully human when man is in relationship with woman and when children are raised to see this modeled. Marriage is the one institution that is meant to socialize parents and children to the fullness of being both man and woman. That is why there is not such thing as gay “marriage” even if it is a legal fiction in some states. While Catholics should be commended in their love for everyone, some are confused about the real nature and significance of marriage to us as individuals and as a society. This is why the Pope was shocked about the efforts to allow gay adoptions in Malta. His being shocked is NOT some spin inspired by Cardinal Burke or due to some other Machiavellian conspiracy by conservative bishops to thwart the real efforts of Pope Francis. The Pope is shocked because supposedly Malta was a devout Catholic country and because …. get this… the POPE IS CATHOLIC!

    • David J. Martin
      David J. Martin says:

      Echoing “Katy” remarks I also dismiss the Maltese’s words as pure claptrap. Pope Francis is not one to mince words and the idea that he is “shocked” by gay couple adoption would lead us that he is like Benedict – a person with no knowledge of the outside world and sheltered all his life by the minutia of Vatican Theological Academia. As To Robert’s comments – the emphasis on being “Catholic” reflects a mindset that holds as “right” and appropriate that Catholicism has the authority and right to dictate to the 5 billion other human beings on this planet that they follow Catholic teaching. There is a pressing need to “defrock” the Church – in the USA especially – of all political power and attempts to influence secular issue. His insistence that all children deserve a “Mommy and Daddy” to grow into healthy loving adults flies in the face of psychological evidence that above all – a child needs a stable loving home – with two parents or one if need be. The key element is loving nurturing. If Joseph and Mary never consummated their marriage – they were never married – so much for growing up in a married parent family. I don’t discount the possibility of this teaching but do discount its importance to my Faith in Christ. My Faith is not rooted in the “Forever Virgin” teaching of the Church – created for what reason is beyond me except for the Church’s inability to deal with its own sexuality – as evidenced by the pedophile crisis. There are MANY created teachings “made up” by the Church which need to enter the trash bin for they exist only to control the Faithful by giving absurd powers over our souls as the hierarchy would like us to believe. The Father is, however, not trumped by man made – even Papal – rules and teachings. I will no fret or give a second thought to concepts such as excommunication for as Paul records – no power has been granted in heaven nor on earth which can cut us off from the love of Christ. As a gay/partnered man of Faith – my Faith is in the Four Gospels of Christ – not in the words but in His promise of unconditional love. Namaste

    • Valerie
      Valerie says:

      You can say what you want, but at the end of the day, the gay couples are the ones adopting crack babies and children with disabilities because your perfect family unit (1man, 1 woman) wants “a perfect” child.

  5. Katy
    Katy says:

    I first read this article about the Pope being “shocked” about gay adoption earlier in the week and I wrote off the article. I think that small article has made its way around the media and becoming bigger. It is hard for me to believe the claims of the article given all Pope Francis has said thus far in regards to LGBT. Until i hear it as a direct quote from the Pope, I’m inclined to not believe a word of it passing it off as a media twist or the bishop incorrectly portraying what really went on.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] LGBT clients. And, according to an unconfirmed report from one of Malta’s bishops, Pope Francis was “shocked” in 2014 to find out that same-gender couples could be granted adoption rights in the island […]

  2. […] clients. And, according to an unconfirmed report from one of Malta’s bishops, Pope Francis was “shocked” in 2014 to find out that same-gender couples could be granted adoption rights in the island […]

  3. […] a civil unions law in Malta that ultimately passed. He has also said that Pope Francis was “shocked” at the idea of gay couples adopting, though this comment was never confirmed. Yet, Scicluna […]

  4. […] ultimately passed in September 2013.  Scicluna, in an unconfirmed report, said Pope Francis was “shocked” at the idea of gay couples […]

  5. […] taken a different route, and unfortunately adoption equality is a new chosen target. In Scotland, Malta, France, and elsewhere, adoptions by same-gender couples have been flash points. In several locales […]

  6. […] to make harsh comments against the LGBT community, including one which said Pope Francis was “shocked” about gay couples adopting. Drachma and its partner organization for parents of LGBT people, […]

  7. […] currently being debated would be a “a gravely immoral act,” and has previously said Pope Francis was “shocked” at the idea of same-gender couples adopting. Undeterred, Drachma, which supports LGBT people and is […]

  8. […] Malta Bishop Reports Pope Francis “Shocked” by Gay Adoptions – What’s Really… […]

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