SYNOD: Two Cardinals Make Opposite Statements about Lesbian and Gay People

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.

Cardinal Reinhard Marx

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

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 Reportersaid 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

12 replies
  1. Robert Bardni
    Robert Bardni says:

    Marx probably meant to distinguish between monogamous gay relationships – which the Church might approve of – and promiscuous gay sexual relations – which he mistakenly calls ”homosexuality”.

  2. Friends
    Friends says:

    Two key points:

    1. Cardinal Burke has already been DEMOTED by Pope Francis, and thus Cardinal Burke does not speak on behalf of Pope Francis, on any doctrinal issue whatsoever.

    2. In case we have some newbies who missed it a few months ago: behold a folio of the mind-bogglingly gay attire of the Vatican’s most viciously anti-gay Cardinal:

    What can we say except LOL! I believe Lord Jesus Himself had a lot to say about such ridiculous pretense and hypocrisy. Google “Jesus and the Pharisees” for a useful summary.

  3. Barry Blackburn
    Barry Blackburn says:

    Francis, I am continuing to be in awe of your wonderful reporting (and synthesis) of the Synod on the Family. continuing THANKS. Lately, I have been mulling over a lot about Faith and remaining in the Church as a Gay person. It seems to me that we must more and more rely on our own strength and wisdom, trust in God, and continue to work for reform in the Church and in our own little part of the Kingdom of God. It is God who builds the house to paraphrase Sacred Scripture. We must never succumb to cynicism or despair since God is alive and active in our hearts, and lives: our experience. The mustard seed of change is growing in to the bush awaiting the birds! We do have already the seeds of victory–ad maiorem dei gloriam.

  4. Rudy Bullman
    Rudy Bullman says:

    Re: Cardinal Burke. The only one who “suffers” from same-sex ORIENTATION is the one who denies it in himself and fears it in others. I do not suffer from being gay, although there are many in the church and society who would inflict suffering on me. You, dear cardinal, are to be pitied for your refusal to see the divine that resides in each human soul.

  5. Brian Kneeland
    Brian Kneeland says:

    Most of the US Bishops are equally homophobic. Around the world they are closer in touch with their flocks and have seen too many people in committed relationships. In this country (and many others) they must also realize that a civil marriage has no direct affect on faith or the Church.

    Also – non procreative relationships have also been sacramentalized – like for people too old to conceive. Does that mean their relationships should be kept from children? We would say no. So – open your minds and hearts a bit and understand what you are really talking about – and it isn’t about love!

  6. Bob Ruyack
    Bob Ruyack says:

    I saw Cardinal Burke in a rather intense interview with Raymond Arroya on EWTN.. Burke is moving swiftly through the 3rd Century. He neither possesses a Christlike sensitiivity of inclusion, nor is he informed and aware of the wonderful progress psych-theology has made in recent years in addressing our spiritual concerns. He is a terrified cleric who wishes to hold fast the idiology of non-progress on sexual issues. Even his stance on divorced and re-married straight couples is stultified to the point of petrification. He is reactive and not proactive in matters sexual as they relate to the both LGBT and straight communities with regard to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as He moves and refreshes our understanding of modern theology. By his own admission, Burke does not even konw what the Rainbow Family is and he wants to hold us inflexibly cemented to Jesus’ liteal words as they apply to marriage,divorce and re-marriage for straight Catholic couples, “..I tell you, any man who divorces his wife and marries again, commits adultery”. Burke’s position and that of 4 other frightened cardinals as seen in their latest book, is a testimony to their non-intellectual approach to these problems. Burke and the 4 other cardinals were quick to run to the press with their rebutal of other cardinals in matters sexual as they apply to our salvation and pycho-spiritual growth.
    I would suggest intellectual study and serios introspective prayer on his part before continuing on his tirade which which attempts to separate us from the Eucharist.

  7. Will
    Will says:

    Around the blogs and gay news sites it is sad but predictable to see many comments from people enraged by Burke’s ignorance, most of of whom make snarky comments about keeping Catholic priests away from children etc. It is so sad and ironic that it has come this – that priests are now the default ‘paedophile’ bogeymen not the gay people etc. Of course any such generalisations are always greatly mistaken – but so is the linking of homosexuality with paedophilia, which is still being so linked by many in the Catholic church. Is Burke so isolated and distant from ordinary people with families that he can make hurtful comments like this? or is he just stupid?


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  3. […] of the strongest pro-gay voices to emerge at the synod in October 2014 was Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and a member of Pope Francis’ council of cardinal advisers.  Time and […]

  4. […] of the strongest pro-gay voices to emerge at the synod in October 2014 was Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and a member of Pope Francis’ council of cardinal advisers.  Time and […]

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