A former cardinal has called on the Vatican to correct two fellow prelates who expressed support for changing Church teaching on homosexuality.
Cardinal George Pell, a former senior adviser to Pope Francis and also former head of the Archdiocese of Sydney in Australia, told Catholic media that the Church must reject society’s “shifting dictates” (sic).” He then called on the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to chastise two European bishops. Node reported:
“Pell was referring to recent comments on sexuality by Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, President of the Commission of Episcopal Conferences of the European Union, and [Limburg’s Bishop Georg Bätzing,] the head of the conference of German bishops who arose within the framework of the “synodal way” of debate and dialogue with the laity of the German Church. . .
“Pell, who was the Vatican’s top finance minister before he left in 2017 to stand trial in Australia [for alleged sexual abuse, for which he was acquitted], called on the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to intervene and pass judgment on the “total and explicit rejection” of Church teachings on homosexuality and monogamous marriage, in an unusual bashing of a fellow cardinal and bishop. . .
“‘The Catholic Church is not a loose federation where various synods or national gatherings and prominent leaders are able to discard essential elements of apostolic tradition and remain unfazed,'” a statement summarizing Pell’s points said. “This must not become a normal and tolerated situation.”
Collages 2.0 previously reported on the comments of the two bishops.
Cardinal Hollerich said he was open to changing the teachings on homosexuality “because I believe that the sociological and scientific basis of this teaching is no longer correct.” He therefore called for a “fundamental revision of the doctrine”.
Bishop Bätzing said he was in favor of “changing part of the catechism” because “sexuality is a gift from God, not a sin”, and the church must recognize that LGBTQ couples “living in fidelity and responsibility “were in order. Bätzing has been a strong advocate of the German Synodal Way, which has presented increasingly LGBTQ-positive proposals.
In connection with Pell’s comments, the Nordic Bishops’ Conference, which represents the dozen Catholic bishops from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland, wrote an open letter to the German episcopate with its own concerns about the synodal way.
According to National Catholic Journalistthe letter says that the process should not touch “immutable parts of the teaching of the church” and that the church should not be transformed “into a project, into an object of our actions, by a reflection centered on the process and a structural change”.
There was no response from the Vatican, Hollerich or Bätzing to Pell’s criticisms. Batzing responded to the Nordic bishops saying that “open letters irritate me”, and there would be an answer “in an objective way”.
Before his trial for sexual abuse, Cardinal Pell had been a strong voice against LGBTQ equality. He has been quieter on these issues until this interview, which clearly shows that he still desires the church of Francis’ two immediate predecessors. Fortunately, this church is disappearing. The cardinal must realize that in the years between his departure from the Vatican and today, much has changed. Since Pope Francis, there is a new openness to open discussions about gender and sexuality, as well as greater recognition that doctrine is developing. Instead of condemning, he should now try to listen and learn.
—Robert Shine (he/him), New Ways Ministry, March 22, 2022