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Pope Francis’ declarations on gay marriage are his ‘simple private opinions’ – Cardinal Burke

An influential prelate of the Catholic Church has said a recent declaration by Pope Francis on gay marriage can best be described as his private opinions, not an official position of the church.

According to Cardinal Raymond Burke, the context within which the Pope made the comments make them “devoid of any magisterial weight”.

Global news networks like the CNN, Reuters, and the New York Times have reported that Pope Francis has declared support for civil unions for same-sex couples.

Reuters reports that he made the comments in a new documentary “Francesco” by Oscar-nominated director, Evgeny Afineevsky, which was on Wednesday, October 21, 2020.

The Catholic Church has for centuries considered homosexual act as grave immorality.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which contains the centuries-old traditions of the church, teaches that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”

Since the news about Pope Francis’ declaration broke on Wednesday, Catholics in Ghana and other parts of the world have been seeking clarification.

In what is a clear response on the confusion created by the news report within the Catholic community, Cardinal Burke states on his personal blog that: “it is a source of deepest sadness and pressing pastoral concern that the private opinions reported with so much emphasis by the press and attributed to Pope Francis do not correspond to the constant teaching of the Church, as it is expressed in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, and is guarded, protected and interpreted by the Magisterium.”

The Vatican is expected to issue an official response soon.

Read Cardinal Burke’s full explanation on the Pope’s comment below:

Statement on the Declarations of Pope Francis Regarding Civil Unions

ON OCT 22, 2020

The worldwide communications media have reported with strong emphasis, as a change of course, the news that Pope Francis has declared that persons in the homosexual condition, as children of God, “have a right to have a family” and that “no one should be thrown out or be made unhappy because of it.” Moreover, they write that he has declared: “What we have to create is a civil union. In this way they will be legally covered. I have defended this.” The declarations were made in an interview with Evgeny Afineevsky, director of a documentary, “Francesco,” premiered on October 21, 2020, on the occasion of the Rome Film Festival (Festa del Film di Roma).

Such declarations generate great bewilderment and cause confusion and error among Catholic faithful, inasmuch as they are contrary to the teaching of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, and of the recent Magisterium by which the Church guards, protects and interprets the whole deposit of faith contained in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. They cause wonderment and error regarding the Church’s teaching among people of good will, who sincerely wish to know what the Catholic Church teaches. They impose upon pastors of souls the duty of conscience to make fitting and necessary clarifications.

First of all, the context and the occasion of such declarations make them devoid of any magisterial weight. They are rightly interpreted as simple private opinions of the person who made them. These declarations do not bind, in any manner, the consciences of the faithful who are rather obliged to adhere with religious submission to what Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, and the ordinary Magisterium of the Church teach on the matter in question. In particular, the following are to be noted.

1. “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, Tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2357; Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Persona humana, “Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics, no. VIII[1]), inasmuch as they are contrary to the natural law, closed to the gift of life and void of a true affective and sexual complementarity. Therefore, they cannot be approved.

2. The particular and sometimes deep-seated tendencies of persons, men and women, in the homosexual condition, which are for them a trial, although they may not in themselves constitute a sin, represent nonetheless an objectively disordered inclination (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2358; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Homosexualitatis problema, “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons,” no. 3[2]). They are, therefore, to be received with respect, compassion and sensitivity, avoiding any unjust discrimination. The Catholic faith teaches the faithful to hate sin but to love the sinner.

3. The faithful, and, in particular, Catholic politicians are held to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Considerations Regarding Proposals To Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons,Diverse questioni concernenti l’omosessualità, n. 10[3]). The right to form a family is not a private right to vindicate but must correspond to the plan of the Creator Who has willed the human being in sexual difference, “male and female He created them” (Gen 1, 27), thus calling man, male and female, to the transmission of life. “Because married couples ensure the succession of generations and are therefore eminently within the public interest, civil law grants them institutional recognition. Homosexual unions, on the other hand, do not need specific attention from the legal standpoint since they do not exercise this function for the common good.” (Ibidem, no. 9[4]). To speak of a homosexual union, in the same sense as the conjugal union of the married, is, in fact, profoundly misleading, because there can be no such union between persons of the same sex. In what regards the administration of justice, persons in the homosexual condition, as all citizens, can always make use of the provisions of law to safeguard their private rights.

It is a source of deepest sadness and pressing pastoral concern that the private opinions reported with so much emphasis by the press and attributed to Pope Francis do not correspond to the constant teaching of the Church, as it is expressed in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, and is guarded, protected and interpreted by the Magisterium. Equally sad and concerning is the turmoil, confusion, and error they cause among the Catholic faithful, as is the scandal they cause, in general, by giving the totally false impression that the Catholic Church has had a change of course, that is, has changed its perennial teaching regarding such fundamental and critical questions.

Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke Rome, October 22, 2020

[1] “… suapte intrinseca natura esse inordinatos.” Sacra Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei, Declaratio, Persona humana, “De quibusdam quaestionibus ad sexualem ethicam spectantibus,” 29 Decembris 1975, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 68 (1976) 85, n. 8. English Translation, p. 5, VIII.

[2] Cf. Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei, Epistula, Homosexualitatis problema, “Ad universos catholicae Ecclesiae episcopos de pastorali personarum homosexualium cura,” 1 Octobris 1986, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 79 (1987) 544, n. 3. English Translation, pp. 1-2, no. 3.

[3] Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei, Nota, Diverse quaestioni concernenti l’omosessualità, “De contubernalibus eiusdem sexus quoad iuridica a consectaria contubernii,” 3 Iunii 2003, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 96 (2004) 48, n. 10. English translation: English Translation, pp. 5-6, no. 10.

[4] “Poiché le coppie matrimoniali svolgono il ruolo di garantire l’ordine delle generazioni e sono quindi di eminente interesse pubblico, il diritto civile conferisce loro un riconoscimento istituzionale. Le unioni omosessuali invece non esigono una specifica attenzione da parte dell’ordinamento giuridico, perché non rivestono il suddetto ruolo per il bene comune.” Ibid., 47, n. 9. English translation: Ibid., p. 5, no. 9.