Pope Francis’ mixed signals on gay and transgender issues have allowed a noxious culture of freelance morality to overwhelm the clergy.
A prominent parish in the Archdiocese of Seattle is holding an interfaith Zoom event this weekend with the Santa Marta Center, an Anglican emergency shelter for LGBT youth and young adults in El Salvador. The shelter is funded by the United Nations and a New York-based LGBT nonprofit that gets most of its funding from New York state and the federal government.
The “cultural exchange,” hosted by St. Joseph Catholic Parish together with St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, will celebrate LGBT stories and discuss the work of the Anglican Diocese of El Salvador in advancing LGBT rights. The encounter welcomes all “bi, trans, straight, and cis” participants, and will feature a half-hour segment on “queer liturgy and commemorative activity.”
According to its website, the Santa Marta Center, founded by the Sexual Diversity Ministry of the Episcopal Church of El Salvador, provides support and shelter for vulnerable LGBT youth and young adults in a country that remains “very hostile to LGBTIQ+ people.” The center is named for Saint Martha, who in Luke’s gospel “provides hospitality to Jesus while her sister Mary challenges gender roles and … cis-heteronormativity.” The ministry team cites the story of Martha and Mary as an example of how “Jesus liberates us from society’s expectations of gender.”
St. Joseph’s, a parish run by Jesuit priests, is also throwing an “after Mass pride picnic” on the last weekend of June for all families, friends, LGBT folks, and allies.
Contrary to Scripture
The parish’s messaging defies Holy Scripture, the express teachings of Saints Peter and Paul, and 2000-plus years of Catholic Church doctrine. It violates the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which explains that the sixth commandment encompasses “the whole of human sexuality.” The catechism states that “everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity,” explaining that “in creating men ‘male and female,’ God gives man and woman an equal personal dignity… though in a different way.”
The document clarifies that men and women with deep-seated homosexual tendencies should be “accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.” It insists, however, on the church’s biblically founded teaching that homosexual acts themselves are acts of “grave depravity,” “intrinsically disordered,” “contrary to natural law,” and “under no circumstances can they be approved.” The catechetical tradition also recalls that “the sin of Sodom” is one of the four sins that, according to the Bible, cry out to heaven for vengeance.
The morally fluid Jesuits and their episcopalian companions don’t have to like the church’s teaching on human sexuality, but it’s catholic, biblical, immutable, and unequivocal.
Pope Francis’s History of Mixed Signals
Unfortunately, fellow Jesuit Pope Francis has had a strong hand in muddying what should be pristine waters. In 2021, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a statement confirming that the “Church does not have, and cannot have, the power to bless” same-sex unions, as God “does not bless sin.” The Congregation’s response was consistent with the body’s 2003 conclusion against approval of or legal recognition of homosexual unions, in which it emphasized that “no ideology can erase from the human spirit the certainty that marriage exists solely between a man and a woman.”
Yet last year’s increasingly rare display of clarity and orthodoxy must be considered amid a decade of mixed signals and confusion on gay and transgender issues. This has allowed a noxious culture of freelance Catholicism on matters of morality to take root and overwhelm the Church hierarchy.
In a 2013 press conference, Francis infamously responded, “Who am I to judge?” when asked about Monsignor Battista Ricca, an Italian cleric and former Vatican diplomat appointed by Francis to a position of oversight at the Vatican Bank. While stationed in Uruguay between 1999 and 2004, Ricca was allegedly living with a man, a former Swiss Army captain, and reportedly got into a number of scrapes involving homosexual encounters.
In 2020, Francis made comments seemingly in support of civil unions for same-sex couples in an interview for “Francesco,” a documentary about his life. Last year he praised the work of pro-LGBT New Ways Ministry, an organization that promotes “an intersectional understanding of gender identity and sexuality.” He penned a personal letter to co-founder Sister Jeannine Gramick, who in 1999 was disciplined by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then led by Cardinal Ratzinger, for “doctrinally unacceptable” positions on homosexuality, and the “promotion of errors and ambiguities inconsistent [sic] with a Christian attitude of true respect and compassion.”
Promoting LGBT Allies
Francis also has a conspicuous record of rewarding prominent pro-LGBT prelates with cushy gigs. In 2019 he promoted then-Archbishop of Atlanta Wilton D. Gregory to the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., the old haunt of the disgraced serial predator, former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. The year before, a group of concerned Catholics in the archdiocese of Atlanta had launched a petition demanding that Gregory disassociate the archdiocese and its institutions from organizations and events that openly endorse the LGBT behavior and politics, and reinforce and uphold church teaching on marriage, family, and human sexuality. Gregory was elevated to the college of cardinals in 2020.
LGBT sympathizer and Archbishop of Chicago Cardinal Blase J. Cupich was similarly just bestowed a membership position in the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Cupich had no problem with the city’s openly gay, non-Catholic mayor receiving the Holy Eucharist at a funeral service for a slain police officer.
Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell, McCarrick’s former roomy in Washington, D.C., who endorsed Jesuit Priest Father James Martin’s book on the church’s relationship with the LGBT community, was in 2016 made prefect of the newly established Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, subsequently made a cardinal, and this week appointed to chair a new committee overseeing Vatican investments.
Schism over Sexuality
Then there’s the Vatican’s failure to rebuke the German bishops, who are in open rebellion against the church over its teaching on sexuality. In February this year, Archbishop of Luxembourg Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich (another Jesuit) stated that “the sociological-scientific foundation of this teaching is no longer correct.”
In March, Archbishop of Munich and Freising Cardinal Reinhard Marx celebrated a Mass marking “20 years of queer worship and pastoral care.” Chairman of the German Catholic bishops’ conference Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg argued that sex outside marriage and same-sex relationships are permissible, the catechism should be updated to reflect this, and that in any case “how someone lives their personal intimacy is none of his [sic] business.”
Australian Cardinal George Pell called on Rome “to intervene and pronounce judgement on the wholesale and explicit rejection of the Church’s teaching on sexual ethics.” German Cardinal Gerhard Müller supported Pell’s demand that the Vatican take action, insisting that “heretical bishops must not be obeyed, and every Catholic is called upon to bear witness to the truth against them.”
In April, more than 70 bishops from around the world, 49 of them U.S. bishops, signeda letter warning of schism. They argued that the German so-called Synodal Path “displays more submission and obedience to the world and ideologies than to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.”
Well may these well-intentioned bishops exhort, as Cardinal Pell put it, a rediscovery of the promises of Jesus, and an embrace of the “undiminished deposit of faith.” But as long as Pope Francis persists with his mischievous “God doesn’t disown anyone” guilt trips, instead of urging, in adherence to the Catechism, self-mastery, chastity, prayer, union to the Cross of Christ, and sacramental grace, the heresies will multiply, deceiving countless Catholics along the way.
To describe this as a top-down problem that requires a top-down solution doesn’t begin to convey the sort of invasive surgery required to remove this malignant growth. In the meantime, it’s no wonder that a notoriously woke Seattle parish is organizing — presumably while Seattle Archbishop Paul D. Etienne looks the other way — LGBT-affirming ecumenical encounters, pride picnics, and rainbow cookies for its deluded parishioners.
After all, when defiant U.S. bishops are promoted, and German prelates face no consequence for their full-fledged heresy, the pernicious “love wins” message is heard loud and clear by the clergy — faithful and apostates alike.
Reporting by The Federalist.