By Jonathan Ekene Ifeanyi
On May 29, 2015, not long after the controversial Private Rome Meeting organized by liberal members of the German, French, and Swiss Bishops' Conferences, one of its participants and speakers, prof. Schockenhoff, gave an interview in Germany to the radio of the Archdiocese of Cologne, called domradio.de. In it, he made two important statements. First, he is cautious about the possibility of bringing about a liberal reform at the upcoming synod of bishops on the family; secondly, he restated his revolutionary position concerning the acceptance of same-sex relationships, reports LifeSiteNews.
When asked what his expectations about the upcoming synod are, Schockenhoff said:
“As a theologian, I do not expect that everything will be expressed in a fundamentally different and new way. For me, a positive [sic] outcome of the Synod would be of course desirable, because it would show that the Catholic Church is able to reform itself, and that the following principle is also important for it: namely, that the search for more adequate forms of expression of its faith will continue. But, for me as a theologian, the substantial reasons for positions which I represent are the ones that count. For example, concerning the question as to how to deal with remarried divorcees; the reasons for a respectful, accepting treatment also of those people who live in same-sex living partnerships. If this would now lead to an official recognition by the Synod, then that is good. But, if that fails, then the reasons are not thereby devalued. They, of course, are still valid. And that is the reason why I look forward to it [the Synod] with a certain detachment.”
When asked about Ireland's recent referendum and approval of same-sex “marriages” and its criticism by some prelates, speaking of “defeat for humanity,” the “theologian” responded:
“That would not be my language. This matter is to be considered in a differentiated way. First of all, one has to say that those people who have same-sex feelings have the right [sic] to be recognized in their lives – and that includes the fact that they are sexual beings, just as all people are. That includes also their form of living. The church's position – that one does not discriminate against them as persons and that one respects them, but that one considers their acts as intrinsically disordered – that is in itself not a convincing position.”
Of course the position that one does not discriminate against homosexuals “as persons and that one respects them, but that one considers their acts as intrinsically disordered” is in no way the position of the Catholic Church (the true Church simply anathematises homosexuals) but that of John Paul II, well embedded in his false “Catechism of the Catholic Church.”
In Schockenhoff's eyes, to declare a conduct as sinful or immoral implies immediately an unjust discrimination. One wonders, how, then, one could claim any conduct as sinful any more. According to this German “theologian”, the Church should unconditionally accept homosexual couples and their immoral conduct.
In the wake of this interview, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, one of the organizers of the Private Rome Meeting of May 25, 2015, had the following to say on June 5 at the German Protestant Church congress: To find a consensus within the Catholic Church concerning the question of how to deal with homosexual couples is “extremely difficult,” since there are vast differences between European, African, and southern American Catholics. With respect to the upcoming synod of bishops, the liberal prelate promised the audience, speaking this sentence in English: “I'll do my very best.”
These comments from the liberal group of “Catholic” leaders in Germany are countered by an interview that the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, gave the Catholic newspaper Die Tagespost for its June 6 edition. Cardinal Mueller rebuked the German lay organization central committee of German Catholics (ZDK) for their recent liberal demands concerning marriage and the family, namely a church's blessing of homosexual couples and an acceptance of second civil marriages. “One does not have there [at the ZDK] competence – instead of the magisterium – to interpret essential contents of revelation, nor to empty them out.” The ZDK cannot, in Mueller's eyes, refer to a democratic backing when it comes to the mission of the Catholic Church in the world. The claim to bless something that God Himself does not call good and which is a violation of the sixth commandment, is a “stunning contradiction against the word of God.”
Cardinal Mueller, in the same interview, also supported Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin's now-famous claim that Ireland's referendum is a “defeat for humanity.” Mueller congratulated everybody “who did not bend their knees in front of the idols of self-creation and self-redemption, both of which will lead us with certainty into the self-destruction – just as other political ideologies have done it, too.” And Mueller assured the readers that a majority (of a vote) in itself had nothing to say about its truthfulness. “The truth will prevail, even if with great sacrifices!”
Similarly, the grave effects of Ireland’s May 22 referendum in favour of same-sex “marriages,” not only for the secular world, but also especially for the Catholic Church, are showing themselves already.
None other than the leading cardinal who has promoted the liberal agenda for the two-part Synod of Bishops on the Family, Cardinal Walter Kasper, has now come out publicly and with force, telling the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that the Church needs to address more fully the question of same-sex couples. This topic was at the last Synod “only a marginal topic, but now it becomes central,” Kasper said on Wednesday.
Kasper also defended the vote of the Irish in favour of homosexual “marriages,” saying: “A democratic state has the duty to respect the will of the people; and it seems clear that, if the majority of the people wants such homosexual unions, the state has a duty to recognize such rights.”
On the contrary, scripture refers to the vice of homosexuality with special severity:
“Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind, because it is an abomination” (Lev. 18:22). “If any one lie with a man as with a woman, both have committed an abomination, let them be put to death: their blood be upon them” (Lev. 20:13).
Again, we read: “And the Lord said: The cry of Sodom and Gomorrha is multiplied, and their sin is become exceedingly grievous” (Gen. 18:20). The angels arrived at Lot’s house, under the appearance of two handsome men. “But before they went to bed, the men of the city beset the house both young and old, all the people together. And they called Lot, and said to him: Where are the men that came in to thee at night? Bring them out hither that we may know them. . . . And they pressed very violently upon Lot; and they were even at the point of breaking open the doors. And behold the men [angels] put out their hand, and drew in Lot unto them, and shut the door. And them that were without, they struck with blindness from the least to the greatest, so that they could not find the door” (Gen. 19:4-11). “And they [the angels] said to Lot: Hast thou here any of thine?…all that are thine bring them out of this city, for we will destroy this place, because their cry [of their crimes] is grown loud before the Lord, who hath sent us to destroy them” (Gen. 19:12-13). “And they brought him forth, and set him without the city: and there they spoke to him, saying: Save thy life; look not back, neither stay thou in all the country about, but save thyself in the mountain, lest thou be also consumed” (Gen. 19:17). “And the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrha brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven. And he destroyed these cities, and all the country about, all the inhabitants of the cities, and all things that spring from the earth. And his wife looking behind her, was turned into a statue of salt. And Abraham got up early in the morning, and . . . looked towards Sodom and Gomorrha, and the whole land of that country, and he saw the ashes rise up from the earth as the smoke of a furnace” (Gen. 19:24-28).
Again, on the punishment that God prepared for the Jews, we read: “And I will give children to be their princes, and the effeminate shall rule over them . . . the shew of their countenance hath answered them: and they have proclaimed abroad their sin as Sodom, and they have not hid it: woe to their souls, for evils are rendered to them. . . . The Lord standeth to judge the people” (Is. 3:4-13). Vague references to sodomites, without special interest for our exposition, are found in 1 Tim. 1:8-10. For other references to Sodom and Gomorrha, without express mention of the vice of homosexuality, see: Deut. 29:23; 32:32; Jer. 23:13-14; 49:18; 50:40; Ezech. 16:55-56; Matt. 10:15; Rom. 9:29; Apoc. 11:8.
In the New Testament, Saint Paul indignantly castigates this vice against nature: “Do not err: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor the effeminate, nor liers with mankind [sodomites] . . . shall possess the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10). In the Epistle to the Romans, the Apostle of the Gentiles threatens perverts with punishments even on this earth: “Wherefore God gave them up to the desires of their heart, unto uncleanness, to dishonor their own bodies among themselves. Who changed the truth of God into a lie; and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God delivered them up to shameful affections. For their women have changed the natural use into that use which is against nature. And, in like manner, the men also, leaving the natural use of the women, have burned in their lusts one towards another, men with men working that which is filthy, and receiving in themselves the recompense which was due to their error” (Rom. 1:24-27).
Saint Peter, the first Pope, stresses the infamy of the sin of sodomy and the chastisement God reserves for it: “For if God . . . reducing the cities of the Sodomites, and of the Gomorrhites, into ashes, condemned them to be overthrown, making them an example to those that should after act wickedly, and delivered just Lot, oppressed by the injustice and lewd conversation of the wicked . . . [then] the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly from temptation, but to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be tormented” (2 Peter 2:4-9).
Saint Jude is no less severe: “As Sodom and Gomorrha, and the neighboring cities, in like manner, having given themselves to fornication, and going after other flesh, were made an example, suffering the punishment of eternal fire, in like manner these men also defile the flesh, and despise dominion [of Christ], and blaspheme majesty” (Jude 7-8).
Of course the Bible, as any good historian knows, is a product of the Catholic Church. From the above quotations therefore, one can see the Church’s severe stance on the sin of homosexuality. The first statement of a Church council on homosexual practices was issued by the Council of Elvira (305-306). The decree excludes from communion, even in articulo mortis (at the moment of death), the stupratores puerorum (defilers of boys). The decree of the Council of Ancyra, held in Asia Minor in 314, strongly influenced the Western Church, and it was often cited as authoritative in later enactments against homosexual practices. Canon 17 speaks about those “who . . . commit [acts of] defilement with animals or males.” The Council of Ancyra established for these crimes a series of punishments according to the age and state of life of the infractors: “Those who have committed such crimes before age twenty, after fifteen years of penance, will be readmitted to the communion of prayer. Then, after remaining five years in that communion, let them receive the sacraments of oblation. However, let their lives be analyzed to establish how long a period of penance they should sustain in order to obtain mercy. For if they unrestrainedly gave themselves over to these crimes, let them devote more time to doing penance. However, those aged twenty and over and married who fall into these crimes, let them do penance for twenty-five years and [then] be received in the communion of prayer; and, remaining in it for five years, let them finally receive the sacraments of oblation. Moreover, if those who are married and over fifty years of age commit these crimes, let them obtain the grace of communion only at the end of their lives.”
Pope Saint Siricius (384-399) issued norms for admission into the priestly state. They apply indirectly to homosexuality: “We deem it advisable to establish that, just as not everyone should be allowed to do a penance reserved for clerics, so also a layman should never be allowed to ascend to clerical honor after penance and reconciliation. Because although they have been purified of the contagion of all sins, those who formerly indulged in a multitude of vices should not receive the instruments to administer the Sacraments.”
In the opening speech of the XVI Council of Toledo in 693, Egica, the Gothic King of Spain, exhorts the clergy to fight against homosexual practices: “See that you determine to extirpate that obscene crime committed by those who lie with males, whose fearful conduct defiles the charm of honest living and provokes from heaven the wrath of the Supreme Judge.”
The most complete set of norms against homosexual practices in the medieval era is contained in the canons approved at the Council of Naplouse, assembled on January 23, 1120 under the direction of Garmund, Patriarch of Jerusalem, and Baldwin, King of the same city. On that occasion, a sermon was preached about the evils that had befallen the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Earthquakes, plagues, and attacks by the Saracens were judged as a punishment from Heaven for the sins of the people. As a consequence, the Council issued twenty-five canons against the sins of the flesh, four of which related to homosexual practices. Death at the stake was decreed for those convicted of those specific crimes.
The Third Lateran Council (1179) establishes: “Anyone caught in the practice of the sin against nature, on account of which the wrath of God was unleashed upon the children of disobedience (Eph. 5:6), if he is a cleric, let him be demoted from his state and kept in reclusion in a monastery to do penance; if he is a layman, let him be excommunicated and kept rigorously distant from the communion of the faithful.”
Such was the horror that surrounded the sin against nature that, by the late twelfth century, sodomy was a reserved sin for which absolution was reserved to the Pope and, in some cases, to the Bishop.
Nevertheless, with the Renaissance this vice surfaced again. Homosexuality was a matter of grave concern to Saint Pius V. As the well-known historian von Pastor narrates, “In the first year of his pontificate, the Pope had two preponderant concerns: zeal for the Inquisition and the struggle against ‘this horrendous sin whereby the justice of God caused the cities contaminated by it to be consumed in flames.’ On April 1, 1566, he ordered that sodomites be turned over to the secular arm. . . . The various imprisonments of sodomites . . . impressed Rome and frightened especially well-established people, for it was known that the Pope wanted his laws enforced even against the powerful. Indeed, to punish for vices against nature, the torment of the stake was applied throughout the pontificate of Saint Pius V. . . . An earlier papal Brief mandated that clerics who were guilty of that crime be stripped of all their posts, dignities, and income, and, after degradation, be handed over to the secular arm.” The Holy Inquisitor promulgated two Constitutions in which he castigates and punishes the sin against nature.
In the Constitution Cum Primum of April 1, 1566, Saint Pius V solemnly established: “Having set our minds to remove everything that may in some way offend the Divine Majesty, We resolve to punish, above all and without indulgence, those things which, by the authority of the Sacred Scriptures or by most grievous examples, are most repugnant to God and elicit His wrath; that is, negligence in divine worship, ruinous simony, the crime of blasphemy, and the execrable libidinous vice against nature. For which faults peoples and nations are scourged by God, according to His just condemnation, with catastrophes, wars, famine and plagues. . . . Let the judges know that, if even after this Our Constitution, they are negligent in punishing these crimes, they will be guilty of them at Divine Judgment and will also incur Our indignation. . . . If someone commits that nefarious crime against nature that caused divine wrath to be unleashed against the children of iniquity, he will be given over to the secular arm for punishment; and if he is a cleric, he will be subject to analogous punishment after having been stripped of all his degrees [of ecclesiastical dignity].”
Saint Pius V is no less rigorous in the Constitution Horrendum Illud Scelus of August 30, 1568. He teaches: “That horrible crime, on account of which corrupt and obscene cities were burned by virtue of divine condemnation, causes Us most bitter sorrow and shocks Our mind, impelling it to repress such a crime with the highest possible zeal.
Quite opportunely the Fifth Lateran Council [1512-1517] decrees: “Let any member of the clergy caught in that vice against nature . . . be removed from the clerical order or forced to do penance in a monastery, so that the contagion of such a grave offense may not advance with greater audacity, taking advantage of impunity, which is the greatest incitement to sin, and so as to more severely punish the clerics who are guilty of this nefarious crime and who are not frightened by the death of their souls, We determine that they should be handed over to the secular authority, which enforces civil law. Therefore, wishing to pursue with the greatest rigor that which We have decreed since the beginning of Our Pontificate, We establish that any priest or member of the clergy, either secular or regular, who commits such an execrable crime, by force of the present law be deprived of every clerical privilege, of every post, dignity and ecclesiastical benefit, and having been degraded by an ecclesiastical judge, be immediately delivered to the secular authority to be executed as mandated by law, according to the appropriate punishment for laymen plunged in this abyss” (chap. 4, X, V, 31).
The Code of Canon Law undertaken at the initiative and encouragement of Saint Pius X, and published in 1917 by his successor Pope Benedict XV, says this: “So far as laymen are concerned, the sin of sodomy is punished ipso facto with the pain of infamy and other sanctions to be applied according to the prudent judgment of the Bishop depending on the gravity of each case (Can. 2357). As for ecclesiastics and religious, if they are clerici minoris [that is, of a degree lower than deacon], let them be punished with various measures, proportional to the gravity of the fault, that can even include dismissal from the clerical state (Can. 2358); if they are clerici maiores [that is, deacons, priests or bishops], let them ‘be declared infamous and suspended from every post, benefit, dignity, deprived of their eventual stipend and, in the gravest cases, let them be deposed’ (Can. 2359, par. 2).”
So many saints and doctors of the Church such as St Augustine, Saint Basil of Caesarea, Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Peter Damian, Saint Albert the Great, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint Bonaventure, Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint Bernardine of Siena and Saint Peter Canisius have denounced the sin of homosexuality.