This morning the “Wall Street Journal” published in its editorial and opinion section the following article by Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Vatican congregation for divine worship:
In it, the cardinal criticizes the ideas of Fr. James Martin, a leading author for the magazine of the New York Jesuits, “America,” and a consultant for the Vatican secretariat for communication, the author of a book published this year that upends the teaching of the Church on the subject of homosexuality, legitimizing relations between persons of the same sex. A book that was promptly contested, in the United States, by the archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput, but also publicly hailed by other prominent representatives of the American Church, cardinals Kevin Farrell and Joseph Tobin.
Here are the essential passages from the article by Cardinal Sarah.
HOW CATHOLICS CAN WELCOME LGBT BELIEVERS
by Robert Sarah
The Catholic Church has been criticized by many, including some of its own followers, for its pastoral response to the LGBT community. […] Among Catholic priests, one of the most outspoken critics of the church’s message with regard to sexuality is Father James Martin, an American Jesuit. In his book “Building a Bridge,” published earlier this year, he repeats the common criticism that Catholics have been harshly critical of homosexuality while neglecting the importance of sexual integrity among all of its followers.
Father Martin is correct to argue that there should not be any double standard with regard to the virtue of chastity, which, challenging as it may be, is part of the good news of Jesus Christ for all Christians. For the unmarried — no matter their attractions — faithful chastity requires abstention from sex.
This might seem a high standard, especially today. Yet it would be contrary to the wisdom and goodness of Christ to require something that cannot be achieved. Jesus calls us to this virtue because he has made our hearts for purity, just as he has made our minds for truth. With God’s grace and our perseverance, chastity is not only possible, but it will also become the source for true freedom.
We do not need to look far to see the sad consequences of the rejection of God’s plan for human intimacy and love. The sexual liberation the world promotes does not deliver its promise. Rather, promiscuity is the cause of so much needless suffering, of broken hearts, of loneliness, and of treatment of others as means for sexual gratification. As a mother, the church seeks to protect her children from the harm of sin, as an expression of her pastoral charity.
In her teaching about homosexuality, the church guides her followers by distinguishing their identities from their attractions and actions. First there are the people themselves, who are always good because they are children of God. Then there are same-sex attractions, which are not sinful if not willed or acted upon but are nevertheless at odds with human nature. And finally there are same-sex relations, which are gravely sinful and harmful to the well-being of those who partake in them. People who identify as members of the LGBT community are owed this truth in charity, especially from clergy who speak on behalf of the church about this complex and difficult topic.
It is my prayer that the world will finally heed the voices of Christians who experience same-sex attractions and who have discovered peace and joy by living the truth of the Gospel. I have been blessed by my encounters with them, and their witness moves me deeply. I wrote the foreword to one such testimony by Daniel Mattson’s book, “Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay: How I Reclaimed My Sexual Reality and Found Peace,” with the hope of making his and similar voices better heard.
These men and women testify to the power of grace, the nobility and resilience of the human heart, and the truth of the church’s teaching on homosexuality. In many cases, they have lived apart from the Gospel for a period but have been reconciled to Christ and his church. Their lives are not easy or without sacrifice. Their same-sex inclinations have not been vanquished. But they have discovered the beauty of chastity and of chaste friendships. Their example deserves respect and attention, because they have much to teach all of us about how to better welcome and accompany our brothers and sisters in authentic pastoral charity.