ROME, Italy–At the synod on Friday, a German cardinal made a plea for recognizing the value and worth of committed same-gender relationships. On the same day, an American cardinal’s comments about gay and lesbian people revealed the prelate’s ignorance more than they revealed any truth about homosexuality.
Munich’s Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who is a member of Pope Francis’ advisory council of eight cardinals, gave support for couples, but also offered a qualification. The National Catholic Reporter carried his comments:
“The church must also take a differentiated view of homosexuality, Marx said.
” ‘One simply cannot say that a faithful homosexual relationship that has held for decades is nothing,’ he said, as that is too ‘forceful’ a standpoint.
” ‘We just mustn’t lump things together and measure everything with the same yardstick, but must differentiate and take a closer look, which doesn’t mean that I endorse homosexuality as a whole,’ he added.”
That final qualification is somewhat curious. How can Marx support committed relationships but not embrace homosexuality as a whole? Without further information, I can only speculate. Does he mean that what is important is relationship, but that non-procreative sexual activity is not approved? Are his remarks calculated to be provisional so that he might appeal to more conservative bishops who might not yet fully agree with him? When he says that we shouldn’t measure everything with the same yardstick, does that mean that he is favor of a separate sexual ethic for heterosexuals and homosexuals?
One or more of these may be true. Or perhaps the cardinal means something entirely. The vagueness of his answer is evidence of the fact that while the discussion of homosexuality at the synod is a welcome change, there still needs to be a more robust discussion of this topic by church leaders. Let’s hope that this synod is only the beginning of such a discussion, and that future discussions will be more in-depth and will include the voices of lesbian and gay people and couples.
If you have any ideas of what Cardinal Marx might have meant by his remarks, please post them in the “Comments” section of this post.
One cardinal yesterday was very clear and forthright regarding homosexuality, but, unfortunately, his statement revealed his own ignorance about gay and lesbian people than any truth about same-gender relationships.
Cardinal Raymond Burke, who used to be the head of the St. Louis archdiocese and now has a Vatican office, bizarrely stated that children should be kept away from gay and lesbian family members. The Huffington Post reported his comments:
“We wouldn’t, if it were another kind of relationship — something that was profoundly disordered and harmful — we wouldn’t expose our children to that relationship, to the direct experience of it. And neither should we do it in the context of a family member who not only suffers from same-sex attraction, but who has chosen to live out that attraction, to act upon it, committing acts which are always and everywhere wrong, evil.”
Michael Sean Winters, who blogs at The National Catholic Reporter, said that Burke was
“. . . appallingly tone deaf. . . If the rumors are true and +Burke is about to be dispatched to the Knights of Malta, I hope the appointment comes with a ban on giving him a microphone. This man’s inability to speak with even a whiff of human compassion is intrinsically disordered if you ask me.”
The ignorance of such remarks by such a high-ranking prelate remind us that while the synod’s discussion of LGBT issues is very welcome, we still have a long way to go in regard to becoming a more welcome church. On the positive side, one bishop here in Rome told me that Burke’s comments may do some good by the fact that they highlight the ridiculousness of anti-gay attitudes and that a number of bishops will probably be turned off by such a statement.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry