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Priest sends open letter to German cardinal begging him to uphold Catholic teaching on homosexuality

CNA Staff   By CNA Staff

Cardinal Reinhard Marx marks ‘20 years of queer worship and pastoral care’ at St. Paul parish church, Munich, southern Germany, March 13, 2022. (Image: erzbistummuenchen/Facebook.)

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Apr 6, 2022 / 09:25 am (CNA).

Editor’s note: Two of the most influential Catholic prelates in Europe have advocated publicly in recent months for the Church to change its teaching on homosexuality.

In February, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, S.J., the archbishop of Luxembourg who serves as president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union and relator general of the Synod on Synodality in Rome, said in an interview that the Church’s teaching that homosexual sex is sinful was “wrong,” arguing that the “sociological-scientific foundation of this teaching is no longer correct.” More recently, in an interview published on March 31, German Cardinal Reinhard Marx, speaking on these same issues, said that the Catechism of the Catholic Church is “not set in stone” and “one is also allowed to doubt what it says.”

The following “open letter” to Hollerich and Marx was written by Father Philip G. Bochanski, executive director of Courage International, a Catholic apostolate for those who experience same-sex attraction and are seeking to live chaste and faithful lives.

Your Eminences,

As a priest engaged for many years in pastoral ministry to people who experience same-sex attractions, I read your recent public comments about Catholic teaching on homosexual acts with serious concern.

You suggested, Cardinal Hollerich, that “the sociological-scientific foundation of” the Catholic doctrine that homosexual acts are immoral “is no longer correct,” and you called for “a fundamental revision of Church teaching” and “a change in doctrine.” You took the same stance on this issue, Cardinal Marx, and justified your position by remarking that “the Catechism is not set in stone” and that “one may also question what it says” on this important moral teaching.

Yet the paragraph of the Catechism to which you refer presents this teaching in a remarkably firm way. That is, it notes that the teaching is clearly based on Sacred Scripture and consistently taught by the tradition of the Church (no. 2357). This invocation of Scripture and Tradition is unusual in the Catechism, but appears often when the Church explains the charism of infallibility. Its use here clearly means that this teaching, which flows from the anthropological fact of the nature of sexed human bodies, is an infallible teaching of the ordinary universal magisterium.

When each of us was preparing for ordination, like all of our brother deacons, priests and bishops, we made a public Profession of Faith and swore an Oath of Fidelity. When we took that oath, we swore in regard to such teachings that we would “hold fast to” the Church’s doctrine, “faithfully hand it on and explain it, and … avoid any teachings contrary to it.” We invoked the Holy Trinity and the holy Gospels to witness to our honesty and sincerity.

Your Eminences, I beg you, please be faithful to your oath.

To violate your oath over this teaching would do great harm to the very people you sincerely want to help. “Neglect of the Church’s teaching prevents” these brothers and sisters of ours “from receiving the help that they need and deserve,” as the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith wrote in 1986. To claim that this definitive teaching can change raises false hopes among our brothers and sisters, and is sure to leave them feeling more overlooked and resentful each time the Church faithfully restates it. By reinforcing this misunderstanding of the divine ordering of sexuality, you encourage them to seek happiness in relationships that ultimately cannot satisfy, rather than to seek fulfillment in chaste friendships.

To violate your oath would also wound our brothers and sisters who strive to live chastely in harmony with the Church’s teaching, or to encourage their loved ones to do so, at the cost of great personal sacrifice. They look to the bishops of the Church as their spiritual fathers, and seek from you affirmation and support for the commitments to chastity they have made, as faithful Catholics. When they hear you suggest that such commitments are unnecessary, they feel unseen and disrespected by the very people whose love and care they seek the most.

To violate your oath would certainly harm the moral credibility of the Church, in the eyes of the faithful and in the opinion of the world. On the eve of His Passion, Our Lord’s sincere prayer was for unity among his apostles, “so that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21). You stand in the place of those apostles and have undertaken the awesome responsibility of closely advising the successor of Saint Peter. Your public dissent from the Church’s teaching can only create confusion and division among the faithful, and be a scandal to the secular world.

To violate your oath would, I fear, also create great harm for you. As a brother priest and collaborator in the sacred ministry, may I be so bold as to remind you, with great respect and fraternal concern, of the solemn significance of the oath we have taken? To break an oath is to commit the sin of perjury, and to deliberately persist in such a grave sin puts one’s eternal salvation in jeopardy.

It has been my privilege for almost half of my life to serve Christ’s Church as a priest, and an immense joy for more than half of my priesthood to serve Catholics who experience same-sex attractions and their loved ones. It is a great consolation to carry out this ministry with the support and encouragement of the universal Church and its eminent pastors.

Your Eminences, I beg you, please be faithful to your oath.

With sincere respect,

Father Philip G. Bochanski

Executive Director, Courage International

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  1. We read: “When we took that oath, we swore in regard to such teachings that we would ‘hold fast to’ the Church’s doctrine, ‘faithfully hand it on and explain it, and… avoid any teachings contrary to it.'”

    Small matter, apparently, that the doctrine also contains the baked-in natural law–reasonably knowable even apart from revelation. And, about which, the Church is neither the “author” nor the “arbiter” (Veritatis Splendor, n. 95). The acrobat cardinals might parse their oath with exemptions, or even turn it on its head, butt natural “courage” can still tell the difference between our head and a hole in the ground, or wherever…

    As Thomas More said to the perjuring Sir Richard, “Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world…But for Wales!” But for a synodal bubble!! And earlier to daughter Meg: “When a man takes an oath, Meg, he’s holding his own self in his own hands. Like water. And if he opens his fingers then–he needn’t hope to find himself again.”

    When Pope Francis rejected Cardinal Marx’s recent resignation, could Marx have rejected the pope’s rejection? But, instead, Marx remains center stage standing erect on a rainbow banner, and his resume remains inflated with strategic membership on the kitchen cabinet C-7.

    St. Peter, who probably doesn’t traffic in layered deceptions, will be really impressed.

  2. ‘Tis the pity and the scandal that Francis hasn’t written such a letter. Or excommunicated the purple dinosaur.

  3. Hollerich and Marx have apostatized from the Catholic faith, and should therefore be removed from all offices they hold in the Church. End of story.

      • #1. I sent a note of thanks to Fr. Bochanski at Courage. I ask that others here do the same.

        #2. To those bishops like Marx, Hollerich and those who recently met in secret in Chicago I say this: “And they were like shepherds without any sheep.”

    • Absolutely true, but who in the Church has the spiritual integrity and moral authority to take that necessary step? I just hear crickets chirping.

  4. We all go astray in one area or another. The church should be a place of cleansing and renewal. When God admonishes us not to do something, it is for our uppermost good.The church should not reflect the evils of the world, instead it should be a beacon of light.

  5. A Spiritu sancto ordinatus, Fr Bochanski true to his allegiance to Jesus Christ in the tradition of the Apostles, takes to task those of superior rank, men invested with the office of defenders of the faith, Cardinals Marx, Hollerich who not only do not defend the faith, they repudiate it.
    May a mere presbyter challenge, however submissively the greater in the Mystical Body’s chain off command. Instituted by Christ. We might ask can an Athanasius, Paul challenge the supreme pontiff? Yes. Though these possessed authority as defenders of the faith. What of presbyter Fr Thomas Weinandy OFM, Cap? Yes. Although he lacks Apostolic authority by ordination, he possesses by the laying of hands the priesthood of Christ in the tradition of the Apostles. He’s obliged to teach the truth, and repudiate it’s violation – wherever it occurs.
    The question is why don’t more priests defend and witness to the faith on the key issues tearing faith in Catholicism apart? Partly cowardice, partly ignorance, and the most common factor ambiguity regards all and every aspect of Catholic doctrine from adultery, homosexuality, the permanence of sacramental marriage that found in the most paradigmatic document in the history of Catholicism Amoris Laetitia.
    No one is exempt from challenge on faith and practice of Apostolic tradition. Nor is the supreme pontiff. What we find in Amoris is appeal to conscience and mitigating conditions that presumably absolve the person living in manifest adultery, or in irregular union [referencing adult homosexual relationships] that omits reference to grace, to sacramental reconciliation and repudiation of sin – based on sentiment driven discernment.
    Priest both presbyter and bishop are disarmed, inwardly ambivalent. Compromised in conscience floating in a sea of ineffectual ministry like so much flotsam. Why we have laity crying out some evident in response to the article Things Worth Dying For. Why don’t priests address what really matters form the pulpit, especially the indoctrination of schoolchildren in diabolically inspired perverse sexual liceity? Moral cowardice has many forms, and today the most prevalent is fear that faithful witness to Christ will inevitably be painful.
    Reasonably, however, is it not infinitely better to suffer in a limited time frame now than to suffer afterwards for eternity?

  6. Isn’t it pathetic that a priest has to write a letter like this when Bergoglio, Marx, Hollerich, Scicluna Tobin, Cupich have all been silent and in fact have confirmed and encouraged active homosexuals? Get rid of the whole pack of these pseudo-Catholic Judas bishops, I say.

  7. Some with the grace of God hear the cries of the sheep, the plaintive baa of the lambs. If we dare come close to the heart of Jesus Christ, even those of us the less worthy cannot but help hear. Whether in prayer or not it stays with you. We hear it visually at every Mass, we read it on the internet.
    They graze impoverished vales ridden with poisonous weeds. We’re compelled to feed them the unvarnished, fragrant Word of life.

  8. It was necessary for the Pontiff Francis to orchestrate the idolatry in Rome in 2019, to groom “the Church” into silently accepting the Church-sponsored violation of the 1st Commandment, so that when his “Psycho-Sexual-Synod” dismantles the God’s Sixth Commandment, “the Church” will also silently accept the Church’s outright rejection of the Christian sexual morality.

    As St. Paul warned, the violations of the 1st and 6th Commandments go hand-in-hand, per his letter to the Romans, “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man…. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves….Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural…and the men likewise…consumed with passion…committing shameless acts with men….” Do you not know that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Rom 1:22-23, 26-27; 2:4)

    To repentance…

  9. #1. I sent a note of thanks to Fr. Bochanski at Courage. I ask that others here do the same.

    #2. To those bishops like Marx, Hollerich and those who recently met in secret in Chicago I say this: “And they were like shepherds without any sheep.”

    • I took your advice and sent a thankful and encouraging letter to Father Bochanski. There are over 5000 Bishops in the world. If only half of them read this and can stir themselves into action, perhaps it might even awaken the Bishop of Rome.

  10. I would appreciate a real debate w knowledge from scripture. I simply do not believe we cannot challenge teachings created by men given the history of politics influencing our teaching. But I love and respect the use of scripture to reinforce teaching. I found the letter mostly opinion. It would be more valuable if it actually taught

    • We are second-hand readers of a letter written to Cardinal Marx from Fr. Bochanski. Only Fr. Bochanski knows why he doesn’t quote Scripture. I would guess that Fr. Bochanski inferred that the cardinal’s position exposes him to requisite scripture. A priest’s study and job require that he pray and read scripture in his daily Divine Office and Mass Lectionary.

      Are you Catholic? Catholics believe in scripture. They also believe in reason. Both reason and scripture are clear that homosexual behavior is neither ‘natural’ nor ‘good.’ Homosexual sex is sterile, so it breaks the first command God issued to his first man and woman: “Be fruitful and multiply.” Two men cannot propagate the species. The purpose of the rectum is to carry waste out of the body. The mouth, lips, and tongue are for eating, speaking and expressing emotion.

      Are you familiar with these scripture verses?

      1) Genesis 18:20-21 – “Then the Lord said, ‘The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.’”

      2) Jude 1:7 – “Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.”

      3) St. Paul says more at 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.

    • Addendum: Earlier I had only skimmed the OP. After fully reading, I have to add:

      The basic idea of the letter was not to engage in debate for/against Church teaching. Membership in Christ’s Catholic Church calls each member to assent to her teaching. So it seems the basic theme of the letter is to call the cardinals is to recall, reconsider, and honor the fact and nature of the VOWS these men took at their ordination/consecration as men of God in His Church. There ought be no doubt or debate about keeping a sacred vow. NONE. Jesus commanded at Matthew 5:37 and elsewhere about our speech. We are not to bear false witness. We are to have no idols. Etc.

  11. I think priests teaching that homosexuality is ok goes against the Christian faith. The photo of the priest on the rainbow rug made me sick to my stomach. Two people of the same sex laying together is not what they are taught. It’s not what we’ve been taught is right. It goes against scripture. It seems the devil is hard at work. In this case he’s winning. Why would the Church allow this? My deceased husband use to say he was a recovering Catholic. This is the type of thing that drove him away from the Catholic church.

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