Former Vatican Official: Homophobia Is a “Hoax” that “Serves to Threaten People”

Cardinal Gerhard Müller

Just a day after news broke that Pope Francis told a gay man “God made you like this,” another story came to light that a former top Vatican official said homophobia is a “hoax” and compared the movement for LGBT equality to Nazism.  His remark, as well as those of other bishops in response the news about the pope’s statement, highlights how varied official positions towards LGBT issues have become.

Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, made his anti-gay statements while being interviewed by an Italian blogger, reported Crux. Asked about church leaders who participate in the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia, which occurred May 17, Müller answered at various points:

  • “‘Some bishops today don’t have the courage to speak the truth, and allow themselves to be intimidated…They don’t understand that homophobia is a hoax that serves to threaten people.'”
  • “‘[Homophobia] simply doesn’t exist.’
  • “‘[Homophobia is] an invention, an instrument of totalitarian dominion over the minds of others.'”

Müller said there is a current form of “psycho-terrorism” playing on people’s ignorance that creates such fear. He remarked about movement for LGBT equality:

“‘The homosexual movement doesn’t have scientific arguments, so it’s constructed an ideology that wants to dominate, seeking to construct its own reality. It’s the Marxist scheme, according to which it’s not reality that builds thought, it’s thought that builds reality. . .In the Soviet Union, Christians were put into insane asylums, which are the means of totalitarian regimes such as National Socialism and Communism. . .Today in North Korea, the same fate awaits anyone who doesn’t accept the dominant thinking.'”

Müller’s claim that homophobia is a “hoax” clearly defies not only Pope Francis’ most recent gay-positive remark, but also the pope’s acknowledgement to a former gay student that “there is no place for homophobia” in Francis’ own pastoral ministry. This incident is not the first time Müller has opposed Pope Francis, but it may be one of his most direct refutations of the pope’s vision for the Church.

Archbishop Kennth Richards

Elsewhere, Archbishop Kenneth Richards of Kingston, Jamaica made similarly offensive remarks about lesbian and gay people, reported the Jamaica Observer. Responding to Pope Francis comment of “God made you that way,” Richards said:

“‘If a person is known to have the maladaptive behaviour of stealing, does that mean he was born a thief?'”

But whereas Müller stands firm in opposition and Richards remains gay-negative, some church leaders have taken an ambiguous stance when it comes to Pope Francis’ model for LGBT ministry.

During a radio interview, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York responded to the pope’s most recent comments on homosexuality. The cardinal first praised the pope’s comments, stating: “Jesus would have said that.” Crux reported:

“‘What he says is beautiful,’ Dolan said of Francis’s comments.

“‘That’s sort of conservative, traditional, Catholic, orthodox teaching. The Catechism insists on that,’ he added.

But then Dolan continued on a more negative note, Crux reported:

“Dolan, it seems, was primarily referring to the first part of Francis’s comments and went on to note that neither he – nor Francis, he believed – would be qualified to weigh in on whether an individual was born gay.

“‘Even among professional circles, there’s an ongoing debate whether one is born that way or is it nature or nurture,’ Dolan said.”

Cardinal Timothy Dolan

The cardinal also said that both same-gender sexual activity and the mistreatment of a gay person are “contrary to God’s purpose.”

Dolan’s record on LGBT issues is generally negative, though he has had some positive moments. He once said lesbian and gay people should “wash their hands” before coming to church because there should “no dirty hands.” He said U.S. church leaders were “out marketed” on LGBT rights and remained silent when anti-LGBT hate crimes spiked in New York City. He has defended the inclusion of LGBT groups in that city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade after decades of controversy, and once said to lesbian and gay people, “I love you, too. And God loves you.” When Francis made his “Who am I to judge?” remark back in 2013, the cardinal said it was acceptable to judge people’s actions even if not their person.

Frequent readers of Bondings 2.0 will note the increasing number of posts featuring bishops making LGBT-positive statements.  They are often bishops who were appointed by Pope Francis. But Müller, Richards, and Dolan’s statements are stark reminders that for too many church leaders, a toxic combination of prejudice, ignorance, and/or indifference prevent them from following Francis’ lead.

More reactions to Pope Francis’ recent comments from other Catholic leaders and observers will be posted on Bondings 2.0 in the coming days.

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, May 25, 2018

4 replies
  1. Kris
    Kris says:

    What was it that Paul said about Christians and Jesus?

    ‘For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come…NOR ANYTHING ELSE IN ALL CREATION, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.’

    And this goes for homophobes, like Müller, Richards, Dalton, Chaput, etc…unless any one of us is foolish enough to give them leave.

    DON E SIEGAL says:


    I’d like to explore the ubiquitous use of the term homophobic by the LGBT community and their allies. There are other more accurate descriptors of persons that make anti-LGBT statements such as the ones in today’s post.

    The writer is correct when he uses these terms “…Müller, Richards, and Dolan’s statements are stark reminders that, for too many church leaders, a toxic combination of prejudice, ignorance, and/or indifference prevent them from following Francis’ lead.” The sources of these anti-LGBT statements are much more complex than simple homophobia.

    We get an insight into these influences in Cardinal Müller’s statement, “The homosexual movement doesn’t have scientific arguments…” and archbishop Richards’ disbelief that God made LGBT persons that way. That is not only ignorance and indifference but it is someone who is willfully ignorant. It is a cardinal sign of an anti-intellectual (someone who is perceived as champions of common folk—populists against political and academic elitism.)

    The problem for us in the LGBT community and our allies is how do we encourage persons like Müller, Richards, and Dolan to engage in the dialogue of “Building a Bridge?”

    I’d like to hear suggestions from our bloggers on how to mitigate this problem within a “Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity.”

    • Sarasi
      Sarasi says:

      How do you get a SSPX devotee to accept modernity or Vatican II? You don’t. Small niches of people will never accept lgbtq people because they have too much invested in the old dogma and old paradigms. I think the best approach may be to keep talking to the priests, bishops, and cardinals who are on board with the pope and are willing to expand the conversation. This means that the undecided have the opportunity to listen and “discern.” In every situation, there are early adapters, but in this case, it is vital that they keep talking–in public.

      Homophobia has become something of an umbrella term and I agree with you that there are many things going on here. But one thing that’s going on is the very nature of homophobia . . . because it’s not simple, and has been negatively correlated with psychological well-being or a well-integrated sexuality. So some priests are lashing out in homophobia because they cannot stand themselves.

      I can’t account for Mueller’s statement when the scientific facts speak otherwise; I would be happy to share my kid’s psych textbooks with him if that would help, but we know it wouldn’t because he starts with antique ideas about men, women, and “God-designed sex” and declares any idea that moves beyond this construct as heretical and totalitarian. He clearly has no respect for the sensus fidelium or modern science, and that’s why his views shouldn’t get oxygen. Instead, let’s encourage a discussion with the people who can fill the air with something more loving and just. I think the firing issue could be lightning rod here. Absolutely nothing the pope has said suggests he would support this kind of discrimination.

  3. Friends
    Friends says:

    As always, great comments by all our contributors above. As I’ve said in several different iterations, at this point in our discussions: the crucial conflict amounts to “The Troglodytes Vs. The Contemporaries”. Prelates in their 60s and 70s (or even 80s) will for the most part never understand the deep “living faith” experiences of professing Catholics in their 20s and 30s. The older prelates grew up in a very different cultural milieu. Viewed against the faith experiences of younger Catholics, these elderly prelates might as well be living on a different planet. And I don’t see any easy fix for this disconnection — other than the passage of another few decades, which will leave today’s younger Catholics in control of whatever remains of the Catholic Church. Pope Francis — to his great credit (and to our amazement) — seems able in many ways to bridge this huge generation gap. The most interesting fact is that he’s now in his 80s, and yet he gets far more respect and appreciation from the younger generations than he does from his own age peers. The Holy Spirit often moves in mysterious ways.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *