Top Catholic Cardinal Calls for Changing Church Teaching on Homosexual Relationships

Michael W. Chapman | February 3, 2022 | 12:26pm EST
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Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the EU.  (Getty Images)
Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the EU. (Getty Images)

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the EU, said the Catholic Church's 2,000-year-old teaching on homosexual relationships was wrong and needed to be changed.


In an interview with the German Catholic News Agency KNA, the cardinal was asked, “How do you get around the Church’s teaching that homosexuality [behavior] is sin?"

The Cardinal replied, "I believe that this is false. But I also believe that here we are thinking further about the teaching. So, as the Pope has said in the past, this can lead to a change in teaching."

"So I believe that the sociological-scientific foundation of this teaching is no longer correct," said Cardinal Hollerich.  "What one formerly condemned was sodomy. One thought at that time that in the sperm of the man, the whole child was kept. And one has simply transferred this to homosexual men."

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

"But there is no homosexuality at all in the New Testament," he said. "There is only discussion of homosexual acts, which were to some extent pagan cultic acts. That was naturally forbidden. I believe it is time for us to make a revision in the foundation of the teaching."

The Catholic Church does not teach that being homosexual or having homosexual tendencies is sinful. However, it says that to engage in homosexual practices is sinful. 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, "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." (2357)

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The Catechism further states, "The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition." (2358)

In a 1986 letter to all Catholic bishops, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, made it clear that the church's teaching on homosexuality is based on the Bible (Old and New Testament) and cannot be changed.

The future pope also made clear that any clerics or organizations that suggest this teaching should change must be rejected. "All support should be withdrawn from any organizations which seek to undermine the teaching of the Church, which are ambiguous about it, or which neglect it entirely," reads the letter. "Such support, or even the semblance of such support, can be gravely misinterpreted."

Pope emeritus Benedict XVI (R) and Pope Francis praying in Castel Gandolfo. (Getty Images)
Pope emeritus Benedict XVI (R) and Pope Francis praying in Castel Gandolfo. (Getty Images)

"We encourage the Bishops, then, to provide pastoral care in full accord with the teaching of the Church for homosexual persons of their dioceses," wrote Card. Ratzinger. "No authentic pastoral programme will include organizations in which homosexual persons associate with each other without clearly stating that homosexual activity is immoral."

In March 2021, the Vatican was asked, "Does the Church have the power to give the blessing to unions of persons of the same sex?" The Vatican office that explains and defends the Catholic faith replied, "negative."

It also said, God Himself "does not and cannot bless sin."

In the KNA interview, Cardinal Hollerich was asked about changes in the church and he replied, “we cannot give the answers of the past to the questions of tomorrow.”

“The change in civilization we are witnessing today is the greatest change since the invention of the wheel,” said the cardinal. “The Church has always moved with the times and has always adapted. But one always had much more time to do that. Today we must be faster. Otherwise, we lose contact and can no more be understood.”


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