Sparring continues as Catholic bishops prepare synod’s final report

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Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, Germany, arrives for the morning session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 16. Photo by Paul Haring, courtesy of Catholic News Service

Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, Germany, arrives for the morning session of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family at the Vatican Oct. 16. Photo by Paul Haring, courtesy of Catholic News Service

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VATICAN CITY (RNS) Even as work on the synod's final report continued, German Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich put homosexuality back on the agenda telling reporters “exclusion” was not part of the Catholic Church.

  • Kevin

    Tertullian, the great apologist of the Church in the second century, writes: “All other frenzies of lusts which exceed the laws of nature and are impious toward both bodies and the sexes we banish … from all shelter of the Church, for they are not sins so much as monstrosities.” (Tertullian, De pudicitia, IV, in J. McNeil, op. cit., p. 89)

    Saint Basil of Caesarea, the fourth century Church Father who wrote the principal rule of the monks of the East, establishes this: “The cleric or monk who molests youths or boys or is caught kissing or committing some turpitude, let him be whipped in public, deprived of his crown [tonsure] and, after having his head shaved, let his face be covered with spittle; and [let him be] bound in iron chains, condemned to six months in prison, reduced to eating rye bread once a day in the evening three times per week. After these six months living in a separate cell under the custody of a wise elder with great spiritual experience, let him be subjected to prayers, vigils and manual work, always under the guard of two spiritual brothers, without being allowed to have any relationship … with young people.” (St. Basil of Caesarea, in St. Peter Damien, Liber Gomorrhianus, op. cit. cols. 174f.)

    Saint Augustine is categorical in the combat against sodomy and similar vices. The great Bishop of Hippo writes: “Sins against nature, therefore, like the sin of Sodom, are abominable and deserve punishment whenever and wherever they are committed. If all nations committed them, all alike would be held guilty of the same charge in God’s law, for our Maker did not prescribe that we should use each other in this way. In fact, the relationship that we ought to have with God is itself violated when our nature, of which He is Author, is desecrated by perverted lust.”
    Further on he reiterates: “Your punishments are for sins which men commit against themselves, because, although they sin against You, they do wrong in their own souls and their malice is self-betrayed. They corrupt and pervert their own nature, which You made and for which You shaped the rules, either by making wrong use of the things which You allow, or by becoming inflamed with passion to make unnatural use of things which You do not allow” (Rom. 1:26). (St. Augustine, Confessions, Book III, chap. 8)

    Saint John Chrysostom denounces homosexual acts as being contrary to nature. Commenting on the Epistle to the Romans (1: 26-27), he says that the pleasures of sodomy are an unpardonable offense to nature and are doubly destructive, since they threaten the species by deviating the sexual organs away from their primary procreative end and they sow disharmony between men and women, who no longer are inclined by physical desire to live together in peace.

    The brilliant Patriarch of Constantinople employs most severe words for the vice we are analyzing. Saint John Chrysostom makes this strong argument: “All passions are dishonorable, for the soul is even more prejudiced and degraded by sin than is the body by disease; but the worst of all passions is lust between men…. The sins against nature are more difficult and less rewarding, since true pleasure is only the one according to nature. But when God abandons a man, everything is turned upside down! Therefore, not only are their passions [of the homosexuals] satanic, but their lives are diabolic….. So I say to you that these are even worse than murderers, and that it would be better to die than to live in such dishonor. A murderer only separates the soul from the body, whereas these destroy the soul inside the body….. There is nothing, absolutely nothing more mad or damaging than this perversity.” (St. John Chrysostom, In Epistulam ad Romanos IV, in J. McNeill, op. cit., pp. 89-90)

    Saint Gregory the Great delves deeper into the symbolism of the fire and brimstone that God used to punish the sodomites: “Brimstone calls to mind the foul odors of the flesh, as Sacred Scripture itself confirms when it speaks of the rain of fire and brimstone poured by the Lord upon Sodom. He had decided to punish in it the crimes of the flesh, and the very type of punishment emphasized the shame of that crime, since brimstone exhales stench and fire burns. It was, therefore, just that the sodomites, burning with perverse desires that originated from the foul odor of flesh, should perish at the same time by fire and brimstone so that through this just chastisement they might realize the evil perpetrated under the impulse of a perverse desire.” (St. Gregory the Great, Commento morale a Giobbe, XIV, 23, vol. II, p. 371, Ibid., p. 7)

    Saint Peter Damian’s Liber Gomorrhianus [Book of Gomorrha], addressed to Pope Leo IX in the year 1051, is considered the principal work against homosexuality. It reads: “Just as Saint Basil establishes that those who incur sins [against nature] … should be subjected not only to a hard penance but a public one, and Pope Siricius prohibits penitents from entering clerical orders, one can clearly deduce that he who corrupts himself with a man through the ignominious squalor of a filthy union does not deserve to exercise ecclesiastical functions, since those who were formerly given to vices … become unfit to administer the Sacraments.” (St. Peter Damian, op. cit., cols. 174f)

  • Joe

    Whichever cardinal it was who threatened to walk out unless changes were made in the synod draft (to harden the tone) — I wish he would have walked out and kept on walking. It is shameful that he is in a leadership position in the church. What’s the matter, Jesus is too soft for this guy?

  • Joe

    Your learning is clear, but your point is not. If you are holding this up as support for being tough on homosexuals, you are living in an alternate universe. If you are listing all that stuff to show how far we’ve come since ancient times, then thanks.

  • Fmr Cath

    What does the Bible say about homosexuality?
    Rom. 1:24-27: “God, in keeping with the desires of their hearts, gave them up to uncleanness, that their bodies might be dishonored among them . . . God gave them up to disgraceful sexual appetites, for both their females changed the natural use of themselves into one contrary to nature; and likewise even the males left the natural use of the female and became violently inflamed in their lust toward one another, males with males, working what is obscene and receiving in themselves the full recompense, which was due for their error.”
    1 Tim. 1:9-11: “Law is promulgated, not for a righteous man, but for persons lawless and unruly, ungodly and sinners, . . . fornicators, men who lie with males, . . . and whatever other thing is in opposition to the healthful teaching according to the glorious good news of the happy God.” (Compare Leviticus 20:13.)
    Jude 7: “Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them, after they . . . [had] gone out after flesh for unnatural use, are placed before us as a warning example by undergoing the judicial punishment of everlasting fire.” (The name Sodom has become the basis for the word “sodomy,” which usually designates a homosexual practice. Compare Genesis 19:4, 5, 24, 25.)
    What is the attitude of true Christians toward those who have a history of homosexuality?
    1 Cor. 6:9-11: “Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men kept for unnatural purposes, nor men who lie with men . . . will inherit God’s kingdom. And yet that is what some of you were. But you have been washed clean, but you have been sanctified, but you have been declared righteous in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the spirit of our God.” (Regardless of such a background, if persons now abandon their former unclean practices, apply Jehovah’s righteous standards, and exercise faith in his provision for forgiveness of sins through Christ, they can enjoy a clean standing before God. After reforming, they may be welcomed in the Christian congregation.)
    True Christians know that even deeply rooted wrong desires, including those that may have a genetic basis or that involve physical causes or environmental factors, are not insurmountable for persons who truly want to please Jehovah. Some people are by nature highly emotional. Perhaps in the past they gave free rein to fits of anger; but knowledge of God’s will, the desire to please him, and the help of his spirit enable them to develop self-control. A person may be an alcoholic, but, with proper motivation, he can refrain from drinking and thus avoid becoming a drunkard. Likewise, a person may feel strongly attracted to others of the same sex, but by heeding the counsel of God’s Word he can remain clean from homosexual practices. (See Ephesians 4:17-24.) Jehovah does not allow us to go on thinking that wrong conduct really makes no difference; he kindly but firmly warns us of the consequences and provides abundant help for those who want to “strip off the old personality with its practices, and clothe [themselves] with the new personality.”—Col. 3:9, 10.

  • LWC

    Appears to me these guys had serious issues with self-loathing latent homosexuality.


  • LWC

    @Kevin, it would appear to me these guys had serious issues with self-loathing latent homosexuality.

    A Pity.

  • LWC

    @Fmr Cath, would that be the ‘new’ or ‘old’ covenant?

    Maybe you can help, what exactly did Jesus say about homosexuality. That might be a good starting point for a Christian faith, you think?

  • Ken

    What did Jesus say about rape?

  • LWC

    The topic is of an immutable characteristic. Not crime. (though indeed I wouldn’t be overly surprised if you advocated homosexuality as a crime).

  • Judy

    Check out Matthew 5:17.

  • LWC

    Would that be fulfilling the ‘old covenant’ or the ‘new covenant’? If the former, we Christians oughta’ likewise get busy protesting Red Lobster and tattoo parlors.

  • Pingback: German Bishops Are Isolated, Going No Where with the Gay Agenda | The Catholic Legate()

  • Billysees

    @ Joe

    “If you are listing all that stuff to show how far we’ve come since ancient times, then thanks.”

    An excellent response. We have come a long way. The ‘Spirit’ is responsible for that, and we should be very thankful that is so.

  • Billysees

    @ Fmr Cath

    Your scripture selections are simply not applicable or good enough for most, and few there are who know or pay any attention to them.

    We can thank Paul for his honesty when he appraises his own writings and probably those of other scripture contributors —

    1. …our knowledge is partial and incomplete…
    2. …we see things imperfectly…
    3. All that I know now is partial and incomplete…
    (1 Corinthians 13:9,12)

    The above is the evidence needed to show
    that in his narratives, there is no infallibility or accuracy and there is no divine stamp of approval.

    Therefore, it is necessary to judge and evaluate a matter based on all reasonable, ‘current’ attitudes, experiences and knowledge. The ‘Spirit’ allows and encourages that to occur.

    The Spirit is all that really matters to us. It quickens and makes all things possible and thank God for that.

  • Steve-O

    You misread 1 Corinthians 13:9-12: This paragraph announces “Love never fails” then develops the permanence of love in contrast to the charisms (1 Cor 13:9–12), and finally asserts love’s superiority even over the other “theological virtues” (1 Cor 13:13).

    The Bible is the inspired Word of God. It is inerrant. You obviously don’t believe this, so go ahead and be your own god and make up anything you like.

  • guest

    we do a disservice to Jesus when almost everything the Church talks about these days in one way or another revolves around sex and/or murder, in some form. i had to quit listening to local Catholic radio a while ago because without exception the conversation always circled around to sex. people like me who truly don’t have any interest in this topic don’t find it offensive, more pitiful and boring than anything else. unless we get back to basics, like not showing up for Mass in short shorts and tee shirts, i don’t see how any attempts at human dignity can prevail. what we have at the moment is a very small remnant trying desperately to preserve the truth, while Satan and his minions continue to try to destroy from within. Lord have mercy on us all.

  • Marietta

    Everything that St. Paul says [especially in Romans] he got from Jesus Christ.

  • Marietta

    You got it all wrong. What Paul is saying is that as long as we’re on earth, we are incapable of comprehending the wholeness, beauty, and immensity of God’s Truth. [The complete picture we will see when we meet God face-to-face in Heaven.]
    But we do get glimpses of it by observing the natural law and believing in Divine Revelation – i.e., the teachings of Jesus Christ.
    Paul preached what Jesus Christ revealed to him. It is the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ that Paul tells us and anyone who preaches another “gospel,” be it an angel or Billysees, is anathema.

  • Marietta

    It is unthinkable that a sexually active homosexual can live without the Gospel. The Church never rejects anyone. It is the sexually active homosexual who rejects the Church and the Gospel.

    It is the sexually active homosexual who chooses to live outside the Church by defying Gospel truth and Church teachings. He must be gently led back to the Church, like every other sinner. He must not be given special treatment, like absolution without repentance. He must be shown the evils of sodomy and the danger to his soul, not condone them. He must be led back to the Church because outside of the Church there is no salvation.

    Cardinal Marx, do try and learn your catechism, please. Popes come and go [and there will come a time when your dear Pope Francis will be gone] but the Word of God stays forever.

  • Marietta

    Guest, you are right. Holy Mass is the source and summit of our Catholic Christian lives. Unfortunately, this Pope shows no interest whatsoever in correcting liturgical abuses. In fact he calls those who celebrate a proper liturgy and ritualistic prayers, “promethean, neo-pelagian, restorationists, rigid Pharisees and mindless rosary counters.” He’d rather talk about homosexuals and “who is he to judge?” Can you believe this Pope?

  • Ken

    I’m not sure about immutable characteristic, but I’ll play along-pedophiles and ephebophiles?

  • Laura V

    Excellent reply Marietta. Thank you and God Bless you.

  • William

    No Christian should dismiss Paul’s Letters.

  • Kathryn

    It is amazing to me that people can live in the current world and still see remarriage and homosexuality as sins. This week, the Catholic Church had an opportunity to right their exclusive practices, and once again, they have failed.
    In biblical interpretation, we must take into account the historical context. In the time of Jesus, homosexuality was seen as a grave sin, so of course, that is what the authors interpreted in their writings. Biblical authors also practiced animal sacrifice as a way to atone for sin, but I don’t see you Catholics out slaughtering your livestock for God. The bible should be used as a guideline, not ultimate doctrine. It is important to take into account the world in front of the text as well. Just as we no longer practice sacrifice, there is no need to practice exclusion of faithful believers.
    If you want to exclude gays and the remarried from the church, then go right ahead. That will be on you when you try to get into heaven and God knows how you have not treated others with any ounce of human dignity. Plus, I believe that those of us not in the church out of solidarity will be a hell of a lot better off without your judgment.
    Homosexuals and remarried do not live without the gospel. There is a difference between living without the gospel and living without the Church. Those of you that argue you need to go to Mass to live out the gospel are sorely mistaken. In John 4:21, “Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem.” Jesus himself says that a house of worship is superfluous. Believing in the gospel is a matter of living out the gospels teachings. As long as we believe in God and in Jesus as the Son of God, then we (including homosexuals and remarried) shall all have eternal life. No one needs a church to believe in Jesus. Therefore, by banning gays and remarried from the church, you are only doing yourself a disservice as you may lose some of the most instrumental community members.

  • Fran


    I totally agree with you that homosexuality and same sex marriage is not condoned by God (1 Corinthians 11:6:9-11; Romans 1:24-27, and individuals in that lifestyle should make the necessary changes in their lives, through the help of God’s Word, the Bible, prayer to God and God’s Holy Spirit, to live their lives in a way that is approved by God.

    Unfortunately, Catholicism still does not teach the truth about God (He is not a trinity, and his name is Yahweh (Jewish) or Jehovah; Psalm 83:18, King James Version; his son, Christ Jesus (Yeshua, Jewish), in a position immediately below his Father (John 14:28), is the Messiah and King of God’s kingdom; the holy spirit is God’s active force and not a person; and God’s purpose for meek mankind is to live forever on a paradise earth and enjoy the rule of God’s kingdom or heavenly government (Isaiah 11:1-9; Psalm 37:10,11,29; Revelation 21:1-4).

    Both my parents were born and raised Catholic in France until they moved to the United States and they learned what the Bible really teaches.

    There is also no burning place of fiery torment forever; only the common grave, where both the good and bad are asleep in death (Ecclesiastes 9:5,10), and not conscious of anything at all.

    Also, those we have lost to death, for whatever reason (sickness, old age, accident, etc.) have the resurrection hope of soon being reunited with family and friends on a cleansed earth, just as Jesus resurrected Lazarus back to life on earth (Acts 24:15; John 5:28,29; John 11:1-44).

    All these blessings will be accomplished by God’s kingdom and none of man’s kingdoms or governments (Daniel 2:44), because they don’t have the love or power to completely get rid of all man’s problems we face now.

    All this is the good news of God’s kingdom that is being preached worldwide before the end of this wicked era soon comes! (Matthew 24:14). 😀

  • LWC

    Indeed. Because clearly the zenith of fidelity is rubrics.



  • The same book which says, “love thy neighbor”
    Also says,

    “Punish Them”

    The Bad in the Bible far outweigh’s the good.
    A superstitious cauldron of hogwash.

    We must have more respect for ourselves than to buy this drivel.

  • Al

    Kathryn: By trying to interpret the bible to fit your agenda is pretty silly. However you wish to make it read, it is the word of God, and the Truth will always remain the Truth.

  • Al

    Laura V: Ditto

  • Al

    Laura V: You are absolutely correct!