It’s not every day that a prince of the Roman Catholic Church, and a strategic Jesuit ally of the pope, openly rejects centuries of Christian teachings that clash with the fundamental doctrines of the sexual revolution.
“Church positions on same-sex relationships as sinful are wrong,” Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg said in a recent interview with KDA, a German Catholic news agency. “I believe that the sociological and scientific basis of this doctrine is no longer correct. It is time for a fundamental revision of Church teaching, and the way Pope Francis has spoken about homosexuality could lead to a change in doctrine. …
“In our archdiocese, in Luxembourg, no one is fired for being homosexual, divorced and remarried. I can’t kick them out – they would become unemployed, and how can such a thing be Christian? As for homosexual priests, there are many of them, and it would be good if they could talk about it with their bishop without him condemning them.
Cardinal Hollerich’s latest unorthodox proclamations have garnered attention as he leads the European Union’s Commission of Bishops’ Conferences and is also the pope’s choice as “general relator” for the October 2023 World Synod of Bishops, where it will help shape his work to weigh the future of the church.
“This cardinal appears to be claiming a private revelation that is contrary to Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church,” tweeted Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, an outspoken conservative. “Any private revelation that contradicts public revelation must be condemned.”
However, recent “Synodal Way” meetings of German Catholic leaders voted to approve draft texts that affirmed some of Cardinal Hollerich’s beliefs, including an overwhelming endorsement for a document titled “Celebrations of Blessing for Couples Who Marry”. ‘love’. Support was equally strong for a “masterful reassessment of homosexuality” text stating that official Church teachings on chastity and homosexuality “should be revised”.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that people with same-sex attraction “should be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Any signs of unjust discrimination against them should be avoided. However, citing Scripture and Church tradition, he also teaches that “homosexual acts are inherently disordered” and therefore “contrary to natural law.” … Under no circumstances can they be approved.
The crucial question: Was Cardinal Hollerich trying to steer Pope Francis toward change, or was he spreading views he already knew had support within the Vatican?
Pope Francis just last year affirmed the Catechism on these issues – signing a Vatican decree banning priests from blessing same-sex unions because they are “not ordained to the plan of the Creator” and God “ cannot bless sin”.
The Pope also released a letter last December praising the 50-year work of Sister Jeannine Gramick, a leader of ministries seeking change on behalf of LGBTQ Catholics. In 1999, Pope John Paul II signed a declaration by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – the future Pope Benedict XVI – prohibiting Gramick and his New Ways Ministry colleague, the late Father Robert Nugent, from any “pastoral work involving people homosexuals”.
But Pope Francis praised Gramick for his 50 years of ministry carried out in the “style of God”, offering “closeness, compassion and tenderness” while “suffering” with others without “condemning anyone”.
Now, Cardinal Hollerich has openly called for the kind of doctrinal changes that Catholic progressives have been seeking for decades.
“We have to change the way we look at sexuality. Until today we have had a rather suppressed view of it,” he said in another recent interview – this time with La Croix, a Catholic newspaper in France. “It’s obviously not about telling people they can do anything or abolishing morality, but I think it should be said that sexuality is a gift from God. We know it, but are we saying it? I am not sure.”
The upcoming Synod of Bishops, he stressed, is the time for flexibility on difficult issues.
“It’s a synod. It must be open. As the pope says, it is the Holy Spirit who is the master builder. So, we must also leave room for the Holy Spirit. … This change of decision goes hand in hand with a real change of civilization that we are facing.
And the Church, as it has always done throughout its history, must adapt to it.
Terry Mattingly runs GetReligion.org and lives in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is a principal investigator at the Overby Center at the University of Mississippi.