Cardinal Rodriguez on Homosexuality and the Church

Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga during the Q&A following his January 20th talk on “The Meaning of Mercy” at Santa Clara University.

INTERLOCUTOR: Given the emphasis on a “Church of Mercy”, how might that emphasis affect the pastoral response of the Church to gay and lesbian Catholics?

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[Starts with comments on how the feedback from last October will be used for the coming Synod.]

...[At the Synod on the Family], There was a big noise I would say in the press because three or four propositions did not gain the two thirds of approval in the votes. But they were approved. Not that kind of majority, but they were approved.

And one of them is how to treat gay persons. It is very clear and very pastoral, I would say. It is not a matter of saying marriage, because marriage is different. It’s another thing. But of course this doesn’t mean that gay Christians or Catholics are going to be excluded or even going to be sent who knows where. No. The approach is the approach of the Christ, but of course, you have to see that in the Gospel you see two attitudes of Christ. Regarding that lady that was found in adultery, what did Christ say? “Did anyone else condemn you?” “Nobody, Lord.” “Okay, neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

These are the attitudes of the Lord—understanding the situation, but always giving a little turn to the key—Yes, go and sin no more. It means that in the Church we are not making the Church a la carte, as some of the other denominations do—“You want this, you got it. You want this, you got it.” No, we have to follow what Christ says in the Gospel.

And so, this is why it is never going to be approved, a marriage between persons of the same sex. This is not the plan of God. We read it clearly from the first pages of Genesis, marriage is the union of a man and a woman.

Okay, but that doesn’t mean that we are going to be excluding persons who live their faith and would like to be parts of the Church. One thing is defining marriage, another thing is pastoral care. This is what I believe will make road in the Synod.

Why didn’t they get all the approval of all the votes? Because for instance the situation is very complicated in Africa. In some places, it’s the death penalty to be homosexual. I didn’t understand that until I was listening in the Synod to the interventions of many African bishops. They would say, Okay, we have been teaching something and now you want us to go against what we have been teaching. The situations in different continents, it’s very different. And so it is necessary to think globally and of course, these are not simple problems.

And the purpose of the Synod, and the wish of the Holy Father, is not to change doctrine, this would be crazy. It’s to heal those who suffer, it’s to go with pastoral approaches and trying to do what can be done. Not to go against the Gospel, the Word of God or the Catholic doctrine. We are not pleasing the desires of the world. We are in the world but we are not the world.

And it doesn’t mean that especially moral attitudes come from the majority of voting. This is wrong, this is wrong. Many times there are things that will go against the majority of voters because the Gospel is like that.

And so I say, this is complicated, but the purpose is to look, how to heal wounds, how to approach the sheep that went out and what can we do in the limits of the Gospel. 

(Again, his full talk can be seen here. This particular response begins at 67:30.)

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
G Miller
3 years 2 months ago
Congratulations to the Cardinal on his classic example of doublespeak. He expresses his pastoral concern while confirming that change is not possible for the Church. If the Church is really going to meet the pastoral needs of its people, then change, including change to doctrine, is necessary. A classic example of this is the Church's refusal to deal with divorced Catholics. They haven't had to wait for Limbo in the next life, they have been stuck in Limbo since their marriage ended. And the Church hasn't walked with them, it has avoided dealing with this situation for decades if not centuries. How long can the Church keep kicking the can down the road on these issues? Not dealing with these issues undermines Church teaching and prevents the Church from speaking with authority.
Roberto Blum
3 years 2 months ago
I don't find any condemnation of homosexuality or homosexuals in Jesus' words. Where does in the gospels the Cardinal finds support for his position?

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