Did the Pope just ‘blow a hole into Catholic moral theology’?
When I read numerous reports at the weekend that Pope Francis had told a gay man, Juan Carlos Cruz, above, that ‘God made you that way and loves you as you are’ I immediately thought there would be trouble ahead. Big trouble.
It wasn’t long in coming. The American Conservative‘s Rod Dreher wrote:
If the Pope means that homosexuality is a matter of moral indifference, then Catholics have a very serious theological problem on their hands with this Pope, who has just blown a hole into Catholic moral theology with regard to sexuality.
According to the Los Angeles Times and a myriad of other media Francis told the Chilean victim of priestly sexual abuse:
‘Juan Carlos, I don’t care about you being gay. God made you that way and loves you as you are and I don’t mind. The Pope loves you as you are, you have to be happy with who you are.’
A spokesman at the Vatican on Sunday declined to confirm or deny Francis’ comments, stating:
We don’t normally comment on the Pope’s private conversations.
Referring to a passage in the Catechism of the Catholic Church which says that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered”, Dreher asked:
As a theological matter, can God affirmatively will someone to be gay? To be ‘intrinsically disordered’ in his sexual desire?
Perhaps the Pope is saying that God, in His infinite wisdom and with his permissive will, allowed Juan Carlos to be born with homosexual desire. There is no question that God loves all His creatures, including all of us sinners, but if the Pope has been accurately quoted here, then he is telling Juan Carlos that God affirms his homosexuality (God ‘loves you like that’).
If the Pope means that God loves Juan Carlos despite these sinful passions, that’s undeniably true, according to Catholic theology. If the Pope is saying that God affirms the goodness of homosexual desire, that is not remotely compatible with what the Catholic Church teaches, and with what Scripture makes clear.
He went onto to say:
If Juan Carlos Cruz has distorted or misunderstood what Francis said to him, then Francis has a grave obligation to clarify the public record. This is hugely important.
If he follows his usual pattern, Francis will decline to do that, and allow the public sense of what the Church teaches to change, while maintaining plausible papal deniability. We’ll see.
If the Pope has said that homosexuality is morally neutral and/or willed by God, then that is a massive thing … On the single issue dividing Christian churches in our time more than any other, the Pope will have taken the side of the modernists and progressives, against 2,000 years of consistent Christian teaching based on the clear meaning of Holy Scripture.
A conservative Evangelical pastor friend of mine told me some time back that whatever his differences with the Roman church, he was grateful to be able to count on Rome being a solid rock on pressing questions of moral theology. Under Francis, he told me, he has come to believe that Rome cannot be counted on to hold the line. The rock is crumbling under repeated blows from the Bergoglian wrecking ball.
Hat tip: AgentCormac