A U.S. senator has asked Pope Francis to reprimand an anti-gay cardinal who has repeatedly attacked a gay ambassador.
Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois wrote a letter to the pontiff regarding the Dominican Republic’s Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodriguez. The cardinal has made repeated remarks against U.S. Ambassador James Brewster. Durbin explained:
“Even before Ambassador Brewster’s arrival in Santo Domingo [capital of the Dominican Republic] in 2013, Cardinal Rodriguez launched a personal attack against him with public statements quoted in the popular press. The Cardinal used the hateful slur ‘faggot,’ which he continues to use to this day. In a recent interview Cardinal Rodriguez again described the Ambassador as a ‘faggot’ and falsely claimed the Ambassador was setting out to promote ‘faggotry’ in the Dominican Republic. The Cardinal described the Ambassador as a ‘wife’ who ‘should stick to housework.’ “
The senator, who described Brewster as a “personal friend,” also noted the protests against the ambassador organized by officials in the Dominican Republic’s Catholic hierarchy. Durbin said all of this was “inconsistent with that clearly stated value” in church teaching to respect people of all sexual orientations. He concluded:
“Since your selection as Pope, you have shared a message of compassion, tolerance, and love. I remember distinctly when you spoke to us at the joint session of Congress in September and reminded us of our responsibility to ‘defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good.’
“I accept that challenge and I am calling on you to ask nothing less of the hierarchy of the Church.”
Durbin, who is Catholic, challenges Pope Francis to enact more concretely the welcoming and merciful tone set out by the pontiff. While Francis is emphasizing decentralization and synodality, the situation with Cardinal López is severe enough to warrant intervention. Pope Francis should seriously consider Senator Durbin’s letter in light of the Year of Mercy.
Cardinal López’s resignation–or at the very least a strong public apology–would be a good start to the New Year. The cardinal is 79 years old, four years past submitting a resignation letter to the Vatican which has not yet accepted the resignation. An immediate acceptance would remove him from public spotlight in the Dominican Republic, and it would end the unwarranted and homophobic attacks endured by Ambassador Brewster and his husband.
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry