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CDF official: Anthropology and Scripture document is not ‘open’ to same-sex unions

The book-length report, titled “Che Cosa E’ L’Uomo? Un itinerio di antropologia biblica” (“What is Man? An Itinerary of Biblical Anthropology”), was written over several years by the Pontifical Biblical Commission.

(Image: Patrick Schneider | Unsplash.com)

Vatican City, Dec 20, 2019 / 03:00 pm (CNA).- The secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Giacomo Morandi, said Friday that a new document by the Pontifical Biblical Commission does not give an “opening” to the validity of so-called same-sex unions.

Morandi referred to the book-length document “Che Cosa E’ L’Uomo? Un itinerio di antropologia biblica” (“What is Man? An Itinerary of Biblical Anthropology”) published by the Vatican as an Italian-language book Dec. 16.

The report was written over several years by the Pontifical Biblical Commission, which is a part of the CDF, and aims to provide a study of the whole of scripture on the topic of human anthropology, aimed as a resource for scholars and students.

One nine-page section of the book studies the Bible’s treatment of homosexuality.

In that section, “there is no ‘opening’ to unions between people of the same sex, as some people erroneously claim,” Morandi said in an interview with Vatican News published Dec. 20.

Morandi’s interview came after some media reports and commentators suggested that the book affirmed homosexual relationships, or appeared to downplay the significance of sexual sin in Scripture.

A report this week from InfoVaticana misattributed a quote from the book in order to suggest it argued in favor of homosexuality.

On Dec. 19, a tweet from American priest Fr. James Martin noted that the book argued the Biblical story of Sodom was not about “a sexual transgression,” but about aggression toward strangers. The tweet did not reference the study’s comprehensive treatment of homosexuality and homosexuality unions.

Morandi quoted a passage in the text which states that “the institution of marriage, constituted by the stable relationship between husband and wife, is constantly presented as evident and normative through the entire biblical tradition. There are no examples of legally recognized ‘unions’ between persons of the same sex.”

The passage which directly follows in the study has been the source of controversy for some commentators, who saw the inclusion of arguments in opposition to Church teaching as a kind of implicit affirmation of them.

The paragraph states that “for some time now, particularly in Western culture, there have been voices of dissent with respect to the anthropological approach of Scripture, as understood and transmitted by the Church in its normative aspects.”

Some even hold Scripture’s position to be an “archaic, historically conditioned mentality” or “outdated” in regard to the biological and social domain, the text notes.

It also notes that “it is deduced by some” that the “exclusive enhancement” of the heterosexual union should favor “a similar acceptance of homosexuality and homosexual unions as a legitimate and worthy expression of the human being.”

Because “it is sometimes argued” that the Bible says little or nothing against same-sex unions, the document states, it “seems therefore necessary to examine the passages of Sacred Scripture in which the homosexual problem is discussed”

The text then conducts an “exegesis,” an assessment of the places in the Bible which reference the subject.

Exegesis, Fr. Michael Kolarcik explained, is “bringing out to the surface the meaning of the text.”

Kolarcik is rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. He told CNA exegesis is “a certain type of interpretation. It means that you begin with the text and you try to understand from the text what it is trying to say.”

This is opposed to eisegesis, which is “reading into the text” or reading “into the text what you want it to say,” he explained.

He said in Catholic exegesis “we try to use every tool available to help us to understand what the meaning of the text was when it was written, and its movement through history – how a text was interpreted previously – and also, what application it has today.”

The Biblical Commission’s study notes at its beginning that the Bible does speak directly about “the erotic inclination of a person towards the same sex, but only of homosexual acts.”

It examines the Old Testament stories of Sodom in Genesis 19 and of Gibeah in Judges 19, stating that the story of the sin and destruction of Sodom has become almost “famous for the question of homosexuality.”

Examining the Biblical passages, the book notes that the Sodom passage “is not intended to present the image of an entire city dominated by irrepressible homosexual cravings; rather, it denounces the conduct of a social and political entity that does not want to welcome the stranger with respect, and therefore insists on humiliating him, forcing him to undergo an infamous treatment of submission.”

That interpretation of the destruction of Sodom, Kolarcik explained, is “a completely reasonable interpretation,” and has been taught in theology courses for decades.

“That doesn’t mean that the other element, of any sort of sexual depravation is not there as well,” he added.

The study next examines the Book of Leviticus, in which “we find a precise list of prohibitions regarding immoral sexual acts and among these is listed homosexual relations between males.”

In Leviticus “the gravity of the perpetrated act, as well as the qualification of ‘abominable thing,’ is highlighted by capital punishment. There is no notice that this sanction has ever been applied; however, it remains that such behavior is considered to be gravely inappropriate by the Old Testament law,” the text states.

The law in Leviticus, it continues, is “intended to protect and promote an exercise of sexuality open to procreation, in accordance with the Creator’s command to human beings, taking care of course that this act is inscribed within the framework of a legitimate marriage.”

The study then examines the references to homosexual acts in the New Testament, in particular, Romans 1:26; 1 Corinthians 6: 9-10; and 1 Timothy 1:10.

Looking at these three texts, the report points out that the “unrelatedness” of homosexual acts to the “Christian way of living is accentuated by St. Paul’s introductory rhetorical question in 1 Corinthians 6:9: ‘do you not know that…?’”

This, the report states, is “to point out a truth that should be evident to its audience.”

Like the Decalogue of the Old Testament and other Old Testament lists of unlawful actions, the actions referenced by Paul come at the penalty of “exclusion from the Kingdom,” it notes.

The study also examines the list of the “lawless” in 1 Timothy 1:9-10, which includes “sodomites,” concluding that “for Christians, homosexual practice is considered a grave fault.”

Looking at Romans 1:26-27, the report says that for St. Paul, there are some “consequences of an anthropological nature, first of all in sexual distortions … which are seen as ‘dishonor of their very bodies’; and all this is highlighted, almost emblematically, in the feminine and masculine homosexual practice.”

At the end of the section, the document states its conclusion that “the exegetical examination carried out on the texts of the Old and New Testament has revealed elements that must be considered for an evaluation of homosexuality in its ethical implications.”

“Certain formulations of the biblical authors, as well as the disciplinary directives of Leviticus, require an intelligent interpretation that safeguards the values ​​that the sacred text intends to promote, avoiding therefore repeating to the letter what that carries with it, also the cultural traits of that time,” it continued.

The document closes the section on homosexual relations by noting that “the contribution of the human sciences together with the reflection of theologians and moralists, will be indispensable for an adequate exposition of the problem, only sketched in this document.”

It also advises that the Church provide pastoral care on this topic, in order “to implement that service of good that the Church must assume in its mission on behalf of mankind.”

Kolarcik said the book of the Biblical Commission, with which the Biblical Institute often partners, is trying to understand and present “what understanding of humanity comes out of the Bible?”

“Che Cosa e’ l’Uomo” is divided into four chapters: the human being created by God, the human being in the Garden, the human family, and the human being in history.

The forward is written by Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the CDF and president of the Pontifical Biblical Commission.

This project of the Biblical Commission, he said, is fundamental “for the mission of the Church in the contemporary world” in which are manifested “new needs, new problems, and new challenges” related to the history of man in the light of the mystery of the Kingdom of God.

“In the last decades the change mentioned above has accelerated further, with questions and behaviors of an anthropological nature that demand to be subjected to serious discernment,” he continued.

Ladaria writes that the desire of the Church is to be faithful to the commandments of God and place herself at the service of humanity, bringing the elements of truth “that favor authentic progress, according to God’s plan.”

“And it is by resorting to the divine Revelation, documented in the Holy Scriptures, that the Church fulfills its mission, bringing to the questions and the search for men that light which comes from the Word inspired by God, capable of shining in the heart of all the value and vocation of man, created in the image of God,” he says.


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13 Comments

  1. We read that “there is no ‘opening’ to unions between people of the same sex, as some people erroneously claim” (Morandi said in an interview with Vatican News published Dec. 20). BUT then: “The document closes the section on homosexual relations by noting that ‘the contribution of the human sciences together with the reflection of theologians and moralists, will be indispensable for an adequate exposition of the problem, only sketched in this document.’”

    A question from this writer as a back-bleacher non-specialist—-Is there now another shoe to fall? Is the later and more “adequate exposition” of moral theology to be a blurred hybrid magisterium shared equally with, what, “the human sciences”?

    Perhaps some new alchemy of still-indefinite “accompaniment”? As with Archbishop Paglia’s recent guidance for priests to simply (simplistically?) hold hands even while Physician Assisted Suicide is being administered? (Ironically, it was Martin Luther who distrusted the potential vagrancy of human reasoning as a wax nose capable of being bent in any direction.)

    So, to “not give an ‘opening’” (yet?) is one thing; while to clearly prohibit an opening as has been understood until now from reason and Scripture, is reduced to another.

    No focus here, for example, on either the natural law or the meaning of the actual and historical Incarnation as distinct from scriptural/textual/gospel testimony, and as more than an idea, and as more than any of “the human sciences”, and as elevating human nature to be in communion with the divine nature.

    Maybe good news so far, this partial report, but as a “sketched” milestone does it insert an apparently new “opening” of ambiguity? We read that in Scripture “there are no examples of legally recognized ‘unions’ between persons of the same sex.” Does this wording (“legally recognized”) possibly anticipate a future where two kinds of marriage unions are enabled by the Church itself–
    those that are valid sacramentally and coherent under natural law, and those that are simply legal in civil society, as in same-sex “marriages.”

    How will an alliance with “the human sciences” preserve and proclaim any difference? What is to be the perennial and formal teaching and pastoral practice, both, of the Church?

    • Excellent analysis, Mr. Beaulieu! There’s nothing more unambiguous and stronger than the Bible when examined humbly, respectfully, prayerfully and with a thirst for Truth. That’s why the Bible is the ONLY Sacred Scripture that severely confronts, judges and sometimes condemns even those that were the top representatives of the very Jewish culture that gave it context and expression. One of the most powerful elements of the Bible is that it is unambiguous and does not kiss the posterior of any sinful egos, no matter how high the position or rank of any individual ever. That’s why the “white old Jewish patriarchy”, who according to revisionists, “created”, “molded” and “influenced” the Bible to fill it with their total cultural bias, are indeed frequently judged by the Bible itself and the Prophets, who were killed for standing for Bible Truth against them.

      Only Satan seduces, kisses up, pampers and cuddles us into “conversion” to his evil kingdom. The Bible never does such a despicable thing.

      The Bible stands very high above any culture, time, human or personal limitations or self-serving bias. The Bible kisses up to no evil and judges severely and directly, as that is the only way to make the giant Exodus from sin to holiness in God’s Saving Power. You are right in pointing out that this “good” report, that sounds like a big relief aimed maybe at “consoling conservatives”, also directly opens the door to the cultural, anti-cultural, human sciences, hybrid, good-and-evil-as-one BIAS of TODAY. It’s now our turn, in such a time as this, to use the Bible to challenge the Ambiguous-Evil-Enabling-Patriarchy that, like back in biblical times, raises their evil pontificating heads once again to come against biblical Truth and against the One who is the Way, the TRUTH and the Life, the Eternal One, Jesus Christ, who kisses up to no one, including hyper-entitled spiritual homosexual false fathers, but calls us “out of darkness and into his Wonderful Light” (1 Peter 2:9).

      • Thanks, Phil. Why is it that such halfway-house subterfuge is obvious to even such un-credentialed Peasants as myself?

        The Pygmies are in charge, and Pachamama, and now the Pseudo-scientists… Where Archimedes said “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world”, today too many red-hatted and purple-hatted readers of goat entrails now tutor thusly: “Give me a fancy enough Vatican letterhead, and a polite enough clergy and stupid enough laity, and I can move God.”

        But then, this–2 Tim 2-4: “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”

  2. Lot offered his daughters to allay the Lust of Sodom’s men for angels they thought men. They refused Sodom destroyed. As retribution for refusing to believe in God despite evidence in Nature God withdrew from gentile Roman men and women “leaving” them to their lusts men sexually impassioned for men women for women (Rm 1). Sacred Scripture reveals in these two segments that homosexuality is not at all comparable to heterosexual sexual sin, the latter always understood to be within the confines of natural law as ordained by God. They are far worse because they distort nature and human sexuality. ‘What is Man’ indicates in several examples a tendency to equalize homosexual sin with sinful acts between a man and a woman. “The Sodom passage is not intended to present the image of an entire city dominated by irrepressible homosexual cravings; rather, it denounces the conduct of a social and political entity that does not want to welcome the stranger with respect, and therefore insists on humiliating him, forcing him to undergo an infamous treatment of submission”(Fr Michael Kolarcik rector Pont Biblical Inst). Here Fr Kolarcik gives prime example of this equalization tendency compared to his presumed distinction between exegesis and eisegesis. If we are to agree with Kolarcik’s exegetical interpretation of Sodom there is none. Zero. And similar is found in current belief of many including clerics who believe, write and preach that the gravity of deviate sex is no different from normal sex [Fr James Martin SJ’s constant argument]. It appears if change of doctrine on homosexual behavior follows from the Pontifical Biblical Commissions study it will begin with formally equalizing homosexual sin with heterosexual sexual sin the former then subject to the same mitigating conditions for the latter found in Amoris Laetitia.

  3. One reason the Holy Father has asked for renewed focus on the manger scene could be related to this as well – the manger with animals , animals whose body , in them being mostly not bipedal, unlike man , have a body language that speaks of their carnal instincts for survival of species being more or less in the same plane as their upper body parts of the head and the heart .
    Humans , OTOH, have those areas placed beneath the head and the heart to thus give right order of using our will that is informed by love of truth ,to serve the sacred function of helping to bring forth holy adopted children , in The Lord ..
    That He came to help us in same , by accepting His love as holiness , through the merits He earned for us , to help subordinate the carnal passions that can be inflamed enough to burn down the temples , instead for The Spirit to help put down such fires , bringing the warmth and light of greater love of the truth of the dignity of human nature , in gratitude , to be in adoration with the holy angels .
    May the hearts that are inflamed by carnal lies and its passions and fears that rule nations and persons , plotting evil against The Truth be esp. touched , to trust that Christianity is about restoring the God ordained dignity and its blessing that was lost through the lie of the bestial spirit , in The Garden .
    May the holy angels powerfully help us all , to be of good will , willing what is good , holy and true .

  4. They are tilling the soil. We’ve been through this before. Double talk. Ambiguity. Forked tongue.
    Credence abandoned is not easily regained.

  5. The document states that some dissidents feel that the biblical view of sexuality is “archaic, historically conditioned.”

    Regarding being historically conditioned, this is true — but for good reason. Eating, avoiding danger, and desiring shelter are also historically conditioned. Are these also outdated?

    Regarding being archaic, dissidents have this reversed. Sodomy is archaic and serves no biological purpose other than self-gratification. Sexual intercourse, on the other hand, is progressive and has the biological and social purpose of generating and promoting life.

  6. St Paul comfortingly reminds us: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13).

    So no homosexual can say that it is impossible to overcome the temptation of homosexuality. It is possible if one prays, denies oneself, avoids the occasions of sin, receives the Sacrament of Confession regularly, attends at Mass often and receives the Holy Eucharist.

    Conversion does not mean that one changes one’s sexual orientation but changing one’s habit of indulging in homosexual acts.

  7. Another Roman paper weight that few non-Catholics would consider reading.

    The exercise of bureaucracy will not reform the Church, nor will it convert non-believers.

  8. What is wrong with these people?

    What is so hard to understand about : ” But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house; 5 and they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.”

    The test is quite clear: young and old TO THE LAST MAN wanted to sodomize the visitors.

    2) There is nothing in the text that says it has anything to do with hospitality and subjugation. Homosexuality does not only seek tolerance, it wants not just acceptance, it seeks hegemony. It seeks to corrupt and pervert everyone else. And this is what we witnessed at Sodom. It is such a perversion that this is the only time in Biblical history that God destroy and entire city in such a catastrophic way.

    Enough of this rubbish from the Vatican.

    • You make an excellent point about the attempted gang rape of the angelic visitors. In Sodom there were zero righteous people. It’s amazing how seldom this point is brought out when the Biblical dialog between God and Abraham is presented.

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