Paris Archbishop: Teachings on Homosexuality “Reflected an Era,” Need Review

Archbishop Laurent Ulrich of Paris

Paris’ new archbishop recently gave an interview in which he acknowledged the church needed to reconsider its teachings on homosexuality, and pointed the way forward on how it may happen.

Asked how some people who are marginalized by the church might find their place in it, Archbishop Laurent Ulrich, who was appointed to Paris in April, told La Croix International:

“In his exhortation on the family, Amoris laetitia, the pope asks that we be able to consider all people where they are. This work may not be happening everywhere, but it does exist. It is the pastoral responsibility of all. As for homosexuality…. It was described in 1992 as ‘intrinsically disordered’ acts; that reflected an era. Thirty years later, we must undoubtedly return to it with greater respect. Beyond pastoral care, it is the pope who is master of the evolution of the catechism.”

Ulrich is not the first church leader to identify the need for the church to revisit its teachings on sexuality, specifically the language of “intrinsically disordered,” which is considered disrespectful and pastorally harmful by so many Catholics. Indeed, his neighboring bishops in Germany have joined the Synodal Way in insisting on such evolution.

Less clear, however, have been proposals for how such a reconsideration happens. Ulrich offers an important point about how that review can proceeded: the teachings on homosexuality in the present Catechism “reflected an era.” This recognition that time changes, and that formulations of doctrine in one era may not prove fitting in another, is what has led the church to develop many of its doctrines over centuries.

Today, teachings on homosexuality, and on sexuality and gender generally, should reflect the language and knowledge of the contemporary era. LGBTQ+ advocates and theologians have insisted for decades on the need for such development. It is hopeful to see many church leaders, like Archbishop Ulrich, admitting as much, too.

Robert Shine (he/him), New Ways Ministry, December 17, 2022

2 replies
  1. John Hilgeman
    John Hilgeman says:

    Haven’t LGBTQ+ Christians been pointing out for a long time the development of moral doctrine on other issues in Church history as a justification for reconsidering sexual ethics? Some other Christian churches have been in the forefront of those pointing out this fact. Nevertheless, it seems that only under Francis has it become possible for Roman Catholic bishops to call for the reconsideration of sexual morality without fear of being sanctioned or silenced by a pope. Which is a big step forward.


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