Cardinal Robert Sarah speaks with courage and charity about the Catholic Church’s pastoral care of persons who experience homosexual attraction in his column in Thursday's Wall Street Journal. His main point is that “to love someone as Christ loves us means to love that person in the truth.”
The truth about homosexual inclination and homosexual activity is that they are not in accord with God’s created order, his plan for mankind. A desire to commits acts of sodomy is a bad desire that should be resisted because those acts are gravely disordered misuses of the sexual faculty. Sex is about begetting children in the lifelong, loving commitment of marriage. Cardinal Sarah reminds us that the misuse of the sexual power by committing homosexual acts is “gravely sinful and tremendously harmful to those who partake in them.”
Cardinal Sarah’s remarks are prompted by criticism by Jesuit Father James Martin, among others, of the Church’s pastoral response to the challenge of guiding those who identify themselves as members of the LGBTQ community to live in accord with Christian truth.
Father Martin’s recent book Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity has caused great harm with its contention that the Church’s teaching on the disordered nature of the homosexual inclination as set forth in the Catechism of the Catholic Church is cruel.
Cardinal Sarah responds that accepting the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and living chastely is liberating for those who experience homosexual inclination:
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.
Cardinal Sarah recommends that we read one such testimonial by Daniel Mattson entitled, Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay: How I Reclaimed My Sexual Reality and Found Peace, for which he wrote the preface.
The accusation that the Church is cruel and un-Christlike in teaching that the homosexual inclination is an objective disorder (and hence should not be acted upon) is regrettable, but not surprising, when coming from those who do not embrace Catholic truth—especially the Church’s moral teaching on sexuality. That such a group includes Catholic priests such as Father Martin is a scandal. Cardinal Sarah writes:
Those who speak on behalf of the church must be faithful to the unchanging teachings of Christ, because only through living in harmony with God’s creative design do people find deep and lasting fulfillment.
The faithful can be easily misled when prominent priests claim that their opinions on this or that doctrinal matter are correct and that the Church’s teaching must change. Cardinal Sarah’s column today is a most welcome response to this misleading line of thought. The truth of Christ taught by his Church on human sexuality has not changed, and cannot change. Leading people to believe otherwise is a serious error.
Cardinal Sarah further writes in his Journal column:
As a mother, the church seeks to protect her children from the harm of sin, as an expression of her pastoral charity.
Peace and joy are the fruit of embracing and living Christ’s truth. Anything else is a recipe for spiritual disaster.
Pastoral charity demands that we steer the faithful away from the disaster of sin and error, and into the peace and joy of Christ.
Father Gerald Murray is the pastor of Holy Family Church in New York. He is a frequent guest on EWTN’s The World Over.