Head of Europe’s Largest Archdiocese Criticized for Remarks on ‘Experience of Love’ and Homosexual Attraction

Archbishop Mario Delpini of Milan has alarmed some observers with the approach he set forth in a new pastoral document, released shortly before the start of the global Synod on Synodality.

Archbishop Mario Delpini of Milan processes into the Duomo June 9, 2018, for the ordination of 29 new priests.
Archbishop Mario Delpini of Milan processes into the Duomo June 9, 2018, for the ordination of 29 new priests. (photo: Emanuele Cremaschi / Getty Images)

The archbishop of Europe’s largest archdiocese in terms of number of Catholic faithful has been criticized for releasing pastoral guidelines that appear to define homosexual attraction as love, and equating them to heterosexual relationships with respect to pastoral care. 

In a pastoral proposal for 2023-2024, Archbishop Mario Delpini of Milan wrote that “particularly delicate attention given modern-day sensibilities must be devoted to accompanying and understanding the experience of love and the different nuances of attraction, both to people of different genders and to people of the same gender.”

The archbishop’s words are made in the context of assigning great importance to “accompaniment,” a term that figures prominently throughout the document, and he underlined that the Christian community must “assume the responsibility of teaching about love” in all its “sexual dimensions.”

Riccardo Cascioli, writing in the Catholic daily La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, which he edits, believes that through such guidelines, the archdiocese of Milan “fully embraces the line drawn by the gay lobby that has now taken command of the Catholic Church.”

Accompaniment is the “watchword,” he said, but to where “is not clear.” 

“Certainly, everyone must discover ‘his or her own vocation of love,’ but this love is such a vague concept that anything can be put into it. And all adults must listen, engage in dialogue, but never — it seems to be understood — must they affirm what is good and what is evil, what is true love and what are lies.” Instead, he pointed out, the guidelines insist that no one must be “allowed to be led to think of ‘being wronged,’ of ‘being wrong.’” 

This phrasing is not about welcoming those with homosexual tendencies, Cascioli added, but rather “legitimizing homosexual acts, starting by considering attraction to persons of the same sex as one of the possible variants of sexuality.”

The guidelines are timed to be a contribution to next month’s Synod on Synodality in Rome, Cascioli believes. Noting that his newspaper “has been saying for some time now that one of the main objectives of the Synod will be to normalize homosexuality,” he said that “Milan is in the front row right away.” 

The archdiocese also caused alarm about its approach to such issues earlier this year. 

In May, the head of a pro-life group accused the archdiocese of endorsing gender ideology after it allowed a vigil against “homo-transphobia” to be held in a Milan church during the city’s Pride event. 

“How can a Catholic church host an event that, while understandably praying against all discrimination, endorses theories that the Church rejects and that have no scientific basis?” said Antonio Brandi, president of Pro Vita & Famiglia, adding that he found within the church a liturgy booklet and some videos contrary to the Church’s doctrine. 

“As if that were not enough,” he said, when a few cases of “homo-transphobia” were listed at the vigil, “the case of a nun who had expressed her indignation at two girls kissing for a photo shoot” was given as an example. 

Brandi said that although “the concerns and alarm of our supporters turned out to be well founded,” Archbishop Delpini, through his episcopal vicar, said he considered his group’s actions “excessive and overstated.”