Cardinal Tobin: Catechism language ‘very unfortunate’ on homosexuality

Newark, N.J., Apr 18, 2019 / 10:54 am (CNA).- The Archbishop of Newark said Wednesday that the language used by the Catechism of the Catholic Church to describe homosexual acts is “very unfortunate,” adding that he hopes the Catechism will use different language in its discussion of homosexuality.

“The Church, I think, is having its own conversation about what our faith has us do and say with people in relationships that are same-sex. What should be without debate is that we are called to welcome them,” Cardinal Joseph Tobin said April 17, during an interview with NBC’s Anne Thompson on the “Today Show.”

“But how can you welcome people that you call ‘intrinsically disordered?’” Thompson asked.

“Well I don’t call them ‘intrinsically disordered,’” Tobin answered.

“But isn’t that the Catechism of the Catholic Church?” Thompson asked.

“That is,” Tobin said, adding “it’s very unfortunate language. Let’s hope that eventually that language is a little less hurtful.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered,” a phrase it also uses to describe other sexual acts taught by the Church to be immoral.

The Catechism does not describe homosexual persons themselves as “intrinsically disordered,” though it does say that homosexual inclination, along with other inclination toward sexual sin, is “objectively disordered.”

In a prior paragraph, the Catechism says that “sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes.”

The Catechism adds that “men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies…must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.”

Tobin endorsed a 2017 book, “Building a Bridge,” by Fr. James Martin, SJ, which has also called for the Church to amend the language with which it discusses homosexuality.

Tobin said of the book that “in too many parts of our church LGBT people have been made to feel unwelcome, excluded, and even shamed. Father Martin’s brave, prophetic, and inspiring new book marks an essential step in inviting church leaders to minister with more compassion, and in reminding LGBT Catholics that they are as much a part of our church as any other Catholic.”

Tobin was also asked during the April 17 interview about the approach of the U.S. bishops to immigration, a point on which he explained that “humanity has to be recognized. It doesn’t mean that we don’t control our borders. Sure. Every nation does. But we do it in a comprehensive manner that respects also the human dignity of people who are fleeing scenes of great violence.”

Speaking of his own archdiocesan investigation into the sexual abuse and coercion perpetrated by former Newark archbishop Theodore McCarrick, Tobin said that he would is still speaking with “the Attorney General and the authorities of the state of New Jersey. I would like to get it out as soon as possible.”


If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!

Click here for more information on donating to CWR. Click here to sign up for our newsletter.


16 Comments

  1. So. A cardinal of the Holy Roman Church can’t even properly interpret the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Cardinal Muller was right. These guys are third-rate theologians.

    • This is why faithful Catholics are leaving; some to Orthodoxy; others to evangelical churches. This cardinal along with other cardinals and bishops, and Pope Francis, are destroying the Church for this generation and the upcoming generation.

  2. And doesn’t “intrinsically disordered” offend the “human dignity” of each person…just like the death penalty (which for a practical purposes can be justified almost never?) …and the refusal to allow “death with dignity” for the terminally ill?

    IMO, this shift started with JPII’s provisos for capital punishment…despite Veritas Splendor…a kind of workaround, a supra-Good in “the person” which makes little reference to particular goods such as “justice” really…but presents a card in moral theology that trumps natural law and Scripture…and ends all discussion?

  3. What world does Cardinal Tobin live in that he thinks Catholics mistreat gay people? In the presence of our Lord, we are encouraged in the CCC to worship with proper disposition and decorum. Do you think that unmarried heterosexual couples, who also have a disordered attraction, and same-sex couples should display their relationships in the house of our Lord? It is unfortunate that a apostolic descendant cannot stand by the Church of the God he took an oath to completely obey.

  4. “Tobin said of the book that “in too many parts of our church LGBT people have been made to feel unwelcome, excluded, and even shamed.”

    Anybody who is committing a mortal sin *should* be ashamed.

    “Father Martin’s brave, prophetic, and inspiring new book marks an essential step in inviting church leaders to minister with more compassion, and in reminding LGBT Catholics that they are as much a part of our church as any other Catholic.””

    “LGBT” is an evil term, identifying a person with the sins he is tempted to commit and acting as if he has no will and no self-control. Catholics who are committing those sins are indeed as much a part of the Church as any other Catholic, and like any other Catholic who is committing mortal sin is called to repent and to stop sinning, not to celebrate his sin.

  5. Unfortunately the reasons for calling anything immoral or intrinsincally evil are not addressed in any article I have ever seen. The reason is, it takes ones soul away from love and union with its creator which is what it even exists for and HIS truly holy and wholesome purposes. One stops off at the wrong station and becomes involved deeply and may never move on with eternal consequences. Who knows what lies ahead if you love God and HIS WORD which the catechism beautifully teaches. Personally I would not trust the one who says differently. (It has been tried so boringly often.) Careful what you give your power into. I stand with St. Michael who says “Who is like God?” I would seek union with HIM. Biology doesn’t lie either.

  6. No matter how you slice it, it always comes down to the homosexual act. Tobin and Martin choose to look away. But as long as the homosexual community is unwilling or unable to separate the state of temptation and the conscious choice to act on that temptation, the Church has nothing more to say.

  7. The best thing I can say relative to Archbishop Tobin is that he is at least not in the Indianapolis Diocese any longer.

  8. It’s disturbing, to say the least, how the “LBGT” acronym is now being bandied about in the highest places as if it’s spumoni in relation to a *vanilla* Church teaching.

    Has any Catholic moral theologian given a cogent argument as to what it means to “welcome” someone who practices B[isexuality], for example, other than to direct them to the confessional?

    Too many prominent prelates have allowed themselves to be led into an intellectual sinkhole, unable to perceive today’s popular falsehood that opposes the clarity found in both the natural sciences and the Bible: that various and sundry sexual behaviors occur because people have/develop “identities” different from what’s evidenced by the obvious functional design of their God-given anatomies.

    Perhaps the term “disordered” is not “unfortunate” but inadequate. Unnatural, irrational, hedonistic, self-destructive, are more fitting.

    No one ever said that fighting for the truth would be easy.

    St. Athanasius, pray for us.

  9. Every time a member of the clergy makes a statement like this, they are effectively stating that they no longer believe in Christ, His teachings, the Bible or the Church. When it is coming from a Cardinal during Holy Week, we can be pretty assured of their lack of faith……. In this case, another of Pope Francis’s new Cardinals, it only enforces the thought that Francis too has walked away from the Lord. He can kiss all the feet he wants to, but as long as he is stacking the deck with his cadre of homosexual clergy, he cannot be believed as one who follows Christ. May the Lord have mercy upon their souls.

  10. So I think the fundamental problem is that our Holy Father and company in their sentimentality have already ‘blessed’ contraception which opens the door to all the other sexual sins. Sex is no longer restricted to the procreative act.

  11. Who is really surprised that Cardinal “Nighty Night Baby” Tobin does not believe same sex relationships are intrinsically disordered?

  12. This is why faithful Catholics are leaving; some to Orthodoxy; others to evangelical churches. This cardinal along with other cardinals and bishops, and Pope Francis, are destroying the Church for this generation and the upcoming generation.

  13. Could there be anything more hurtful, harmful, and demeaning, than identifying persons according to sexual desire/inclination/orientation in order to justify the engaging in of sexual acts that are hurtful, harmful, and demeaning no matter who is engaging in said acts, including a man and woman united in marriage as husband and wife? How can identifying persons according to sexual desire/inclination/orientation justify the engaging in of sexual acts, that by their very nature deny the inherent Dignity of the human person as a beloved son or daughter? How could anyone who Loves their child, dismiss the physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual harm, that occurs, when engaging in demeaning sexual acts, that can never serve for the Good of one’s beloved or oneself? Apathy is always the result of a failure to Love; what is unfortunate is how apathetic a multitude who profess to be followers of The Christ have become because they no longer believe that Christ’s teaching in regards to sexual morality, serves out of respect for the inherent Dignity of all persons.

Leave a Reply to Leslie Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.

All comments posted at Catholic World Report are moderated. While vigorous debate is welcome and encouraged, please note that in the interest of maintaining a civilized and helpful level of discussion, comments containing obscene language or personal attacks—or those that are deemed by the editors to be needlessly combative or inflammatory—will not be published. Thank you.


*