Archbishop Compares Some Marriages, Including LGBTQ Relationships, to Bestiality

Archbishop Samuel Aquila

A U.S. archbishops compared some marriages, including those of same-gender couples, to bestiality, during a talk he gave at a conference on healthcare.

Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver offered his comments at Converging Roads, an annual conference on Catholic healthcare which has an anti-LGBTQ record and is co-hosted by the Archdiocese of Denver. The Colorado Times Recorder quoted from his talk:

“Once you remove children from the equation you can justify anything, so you get the polyamorous, you get polygamy, you can have your pet dog as your spouse, and it’s insane.”

The news story also reported:

“Aquila was particularly focused on gender identity, saying at one point in his speech, ‘I can identify as 6’ 4” but I still have trouble putting luggage in the overhead bins of airplanes,’ eliciting chuckles from the crowd.

“‘It’s important to note that the conversation around these conflicts is informed by a secular mentality that sees freedom as the ability to do whatever one wants rather than the Catholic understanding of freedom as the ability to do good,’ Aquila continued. ‘When we don’t choose the good as defined by God, we become slaves of the devil and we never realize true happiness.'”

The archbishop also criticized the Equality Act and promoted anti-transgender myths regarding athletics and use of public facilities.

Aquila and the Archdiocese of Denver have longstanding anti-LGBTQ records (the highly conservative Archbishop Charles Chaput, now emeritus archbishop of Philadelphia, was Aquila’s predecessor). Under the present archbishop, the archdiocese hosted ex-gay speaker Andrew Comiskey in 2019 for a conference co-sponsored by the ex-gay-linked ministry Desert Stream/Living Waters Ministries.  In a banner on archdiocesan property advertising the event Comiskey was quoted as saying, “There is no such thing as a ‘gay’ person…That is a popular myth.” At least two speakers at the Denver conference spoke about how they allegedly altered their sexual orientations and became heterosexual.

Aquila appeared in a promotional video for the ex-gay ministry mentioned above, and previously appealed to Catholics in the archdiocese to begin local groups practicing conversion therapy, while also claiming such practitioners would be “persecuted” by the wider society. Several dozen priests in the archdiocese have either undergone trainings by or met with Comiskey.

The family of Alana Chen, a lesbian Catholic who died by suicide at age 24, has blamed the archdiocese for Chen’s death, after pastoral ministers tried conversion therapy practices on Chen who had sought support from the church.

In related news, the Colorado Catholic Conference came out in opposition to a proposed law before that state’s legislature that would add gender identity and gender expression to non-discrimination laws. Brittany Vessely, executive director of Conference, disparaged the bill as “discrimination against anyone with a different belief about human sexuality,” reported CBS Denver. The bill is before the state Senate at present.

Archbishop Aquila’s latest comments which compare certain marriages to bestiality are condemnable. He insults not only same-gender couples, but also heterosexual couples. So many couples of all orientations and arrangements may be childless by choice, have painful issues with the fertility, practice contraception after having some children already, or choose to be adoptive and foster parents. Yet, in other ways, by contributing to the lives of their families and communities, including churches, these couples are quite generative. They simply live out God’s command to be fruitful in relationship by other means than reproduction.

The archbishop is correct that a Catholic understanding of freedom is to choose what is good. He simply misunderstands something essential: relationships that are generative in alternative ways and the choice of transgender people to live as God created them are the goods that we are called to pursue. But if Aquila clings to his dated and erroneous beliefs in spite of this reality, he could at minimum express himself in less extremist, more respectful ways.

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, April 24, 2021

3 replies
  1. Richard Rosendall
    Richard Rosendall says:

    Archbishop Aquila’s statement, “Once you remove children from the equation you can justify anything,” in addition to ignoring childless heterosexual couples as Mr. Shine notes, commits the fallacy of claiming that any change implies all conceivable changes, which is preposterous and ahistorical. As for polygamy, it has more Biblical basis (see Kings and Chronicles) than ex-gay ministry that drives young gay people to despair and suicide.

    I would like Aquila to explain how his cruelty and mockery are remotely consistent with the teachings of Christ. As for his proudly displayed ignorance, both of the diversity of God’s children and the science by which we have come to understand it, he is like the Church authorities who responded to Galileo’s telescopic observations of the heavens by essentially telling him to put down his telescope.

    Here we see the malign consequence of the Church’s hierarchical structure, a vast edifice built on the thinnest of Gospel sourcing. It has led to authority without understanding or compassion, ignoring the example set by Christ. All too often it has been reflected in the cold medieval authoritarianism of Benedict XVI rather than the warm pastoral care of Francis (who, I am sad to note, displays his own unfamiliarity with gender science).

    While I await the scriptural basis for the archbishop’s destructiveness, I point him to Matthew 7:1-3: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”

    Let the leaders of the Church clean their own house.

    As for the false minister Andrew Comiskey, whom Aquila favors, denying our existence erases us neither from God’s creation nor from the protection of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. It is long past time, especially in light of the history of anti-Catholic bigotry in this country, for the leaders of the Church to overcome their smug, facile assumption that the doctrines of one religious sect should be imposed on others using the powers of the state. With the coercive and intolerant politics of evangelical Protestantism, the resulting public policies would be even less recognizably Christian than what Aquila proposes.

    To survive and thrive in a diverse society, the Church must learn to respect the fact that most of us see freedom not as the right to do as Rome dictates, but to follow our own consciences. With all due respect to the Psalmist, we have human brains and not the brains of sheep. The reality of our lives is a source of truth as well. If Aquila found some humility and grace, he could learn a lot from God’s gay and transgender children. In the meantime, he should not be surprised when so many use their freedom to seek alternative ministries.

  2. Tom Bower
    Tom Bower says:

    Perhaps it is just my sense of humor, but it seems that the public promotional images of prelates who are anti-LGBT tend to dress in brighter colors, more gold cords, buttons, lace and the like, while those who are more open-minded tend to wear simple black suits, and a Roman collar with a simple pectoral cross. Simple humble dress is a nice way to walk with Christ and smell like the sheep, as the loafer wearing, Pope Francis says. Why some fully mature men find such satisfaction in anachronistic preening about is a curious way to announce the Gospel. That wearing strident self-announcing colors tends to be a steriotypical characteristic of the same sex loving people the hierarchy loves to hate is a situation that needs to be investigated.


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