Sometime -- was it this summer when I was away? -- homosexual acts lost their sinful character according to the Roman Catholic Church.
Surprised? So was I when I read an article published on Sept 15, 2014, in Brazil’s largest daily newspaper Folha de São Paulo.
True, the article Mais tolerante igreja cobra compromissos de candidates is in the paper’s Elections 2014 section. It looks at the interplay of politics and religion in the forthcoming presidential elections and not at the moral doctrines of the church. However, some of the assertions made by Folha de São Paulo presume that change is in the offing, if not already here.
Folha de São Paulo is not unique in assuming that a change is in the air.
From the beginning of his papacy Francis has had an unusual amount of support from journalists in the secular press, who have contrasted his comments on morals with his predecessor. However, comments to reporters in the back of airplanes do not define doctrine and not everything a pope says or does is assumed to be without error.
While it is appropriate for opinion pieces or news-analysis stories to speculate on change, the teaching of the Catholic church as stated in its catechism remains unchanged.
Basing itself on sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2357).
It goes on to say:
Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection (CCC 2357– 2359).
For Folha de São Paulo that statement is no longer operative.
The lede in this story reports the Brazilian Catholic Church will be sponsoring a debate between the presidential candidates. The bishops will ask questions of the candidates in such a way as to balance past concerns over issues such as abortion and homosexuality with Pope Francis’ “more tolerant” stance.
Continue reading "Catholic church now backs gay unions?" by George Conger.
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