Former pope Benedict XVI sharply criticized marriage equality as the result of a “deformation of conscience” that is in “contradiction to all previously successive cultures of mankind.”
In the introduction to a new anthology of his own writings on Europe, the former pope struck against European nations’ movement to expand marriage rights to same-gender couples. That introduction was published in Il Foglio, an Italian publication. The text reads, in part (via Google Translate):
“We are witnessing a distortion of conscience which evidently penetrated deeply into sectors of the Catholic people. To this one cannot respond with some small moralism or even with some exegetical remorse. The problem goes deeper and therefore must be tackled at the bottom. First of all, it seems important to note that the concept of homosexual marriage is in contradiction with all the cultures of humanity that have occurred up to now and therefore signifies a cultural revolution that is opposed to the whole tradition of humanity up to now. . .
“The basic certainty that man [human person] exists as male and female; that the transmission of life is a task assigned to man [human person]; that it is the community of male and female that serves this task; and that in this, beyond all differences, marriage essentially consists – it is an original certainty that until today it has been obvious to humanity.
“A fundamental upheaval of this certainty. . .was introduced when, with the pill, the separation between fecundity and sexuality became possible in terms of principle. This is not about cases, of if and when, possibly, the use of the pill may be morally justified, but of the fundamental novelty that it as such means: that is to say precisely the separation in terms of principle between sexuality and fecundity. This separation means, in fact, that in this way all forms of sexuality are equated.”
Benedict goes on to criticize reproductive technologies that help people, including LGBTQ couples, have children, suggesting procreation becomes not the “occasional passion of the body” but a “planned production of our doing.” He continues:
“In this way, however, it is evident that, with respect to the question of ‘same-sex marriage,’ it is not a question of being a little bit broad and open. Rather, the basic question: who is man? And with it also the question if there is either a Creator or if we are not all only products of [one’s own] making. . .
“Unfortunately, ‘the human ecology’ has not yet materialized. Man too has a ‘nature’ that has been given to him, and to rape or deny it leads to self-destruction. This is precisely what we are dealing with in the case of the creation of man as male and female, which is ignored in the postulate of ‘same-sex marriage’.”
The former pope’s introduction is unfortunate on two levels. First, there is simply the matter of Benedict continuing to publish in the era of Pope Francis. This question of how pope emeriti are to behave, a question not dealt with since the twelfth century, is being figured out in real time so there are bound to be difficulties. But when Benedict’s occasional new writings are so dissonant from the current pope’s emphasis on being pastoral and accompanying people, it is a problem.
Second, when he does write or speak, Benedict seems fixated on LGBTQ people. Last year, he called marriage equality “absurd” and linked it to the Antichrist. In 2019, he linked sexual abuse in the church to a “homosexual clique.” Again, such language and thought is in stark contrast to Pope Francis, who this week made his support for same-gender civil unions undeniably clear.
As both Joseph Ratzinger and as pope, Benedict has been a notable theologian in the twentieth century, even if much of his latter work is regrettable for LGBTQ people, advocates of academic freedom, and others. But with his continued insistence on denigrating some of God’s people, he ensures that anti-LGBTQ work will be a defining part of that legacy. In moments like this, Benedict should recall his promise upon Pope Francis’ election to remove himself from the public spotlight and choose to say nothing at all.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, September 18, 2021
Katholisch.de, “Benedikt XVI.: ‘Ehe für alle’ zeigt ‘Deformierung des Gewissens‘”