The media is abuzz once again regarding a couple who gave a rather controversial advice in the ongoing Synod for the Family in Vatican. I am only going to tackle here what they said about the topic of homosexuality. If you wish to read the whole text of their speech, you can find it here. The following text is an excerpt from Ron and Mavis Pirola, co-directors of the Australian Catholic Marriage and Family Council.
"As the Instrumentum Laboris suggests, the domestic church has much to offer the wider Church in its evangelizing role. For example, the Church constantly faces the tension of upholding the truth while expressing compassion and mercy. Families face this tension all the time.
Take homosexuality as an example. Friends of ours were planning their Christmas family gathering when their gay son said he wanted to bring his partner home too. They fully believed in the Church’s teachings and they knew their grandchildren would see them welcome the son and his partner into the family. Their response could be summed up in three words, ‘He is our son’.
What a model of evangelization for parishes as they respond to similar situations in their neighbourhood! It is a practical example of what the Instrumentum Laboris says concerning the Church’s teaching role and its main mission to let the world know of God’s love."
After reading this part I said to myself, "Here we go again!" There are other controversial topics raised in the Synod for the Family but we will just limit ourselves on the topic of homosexuality. Fortunately, a sacred servant of God faithful to the Magisterium of the Church in the person of His Eminence Cardinal Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, has responded to the issue with pastoral sensitivity and clarity. Below is the full transcript of this exclusive interview conducted by LifeSiteNews.com:
LifeSiteNews: How should Catholic parents deal with a difficult situation like this:
When planning a Christmas family gathering with grandchildren present, parents are asked by their son, who is in a homosexual relationship, if he can come and bring with him his homosexual partner?
Applying these principles, how should parishes deal with open homosexual couples who approach to receive Holy Communion and who seek leadership roles within the parish?
Cardinal Burke: This is a very delicate question, and it's made even more delicate by the aggressiveness of the homosexual agenda. But one has to approach this in a very calm, serene, reasonable and faith-filled manner. If homosexual relations are intrinsically disordered, which indeed they are — reason teaches us that and also our faith — then, what would it mean to grandchildren to have present at a family gathering a family member who is living [in] a disordered relationship with another person?
We wouldn’t, if it were another kind of relationship — something that was profoundly disordered and harmful — we wouldn't expose our children to that relationship, to the direct experience of it. And neither should we do it in the context of a family member who not only suffers from same-sex attraction, but who has chosen to live out that attraction, to act upon it, committing acts which are always and everywhere wrong, evil.
And so, families have to find a way to stay close to a child in this situation — to a son or grandson, or whatever it may be — in order to try to draw the person away from a relationship which is disordered.
And we know that with time, these relationships leave the person profoundly unhappy. And so it's important to stay [as] close as one can. But, that particular form of relationship should not be imposed upon family members, and especially upon impressionable children. And I urge parents or grandparents — whoever it may be — to be very, very prudent in this matter and not to scandalize their children or grandchildren.
There's so much in our society today which is giving the message that any form of sexual relationship, if it somehow pleases you — or you’re attracted to it — is alright, is correct. And we don't want our children to get that impression, by seeming to condone gravely sinful acts on the part of a family member.
It certainly is a source of great suffering, but striving to do what is right and good always involves suffering. And in this case, it surely will. But that suffering will indeed be redemptive in the end.
LifeSiteNews: Applying these principles, how should parishes deal with open homosexual couples who approach to receive Holy Communion or who seek leadership roles within the parish?
Cardinal Burke: Now with regard to parishes, the situation is very similar because the parish is — I believe it was Saint John Paul II who once said — a ‘family of families.’ And so, if you have a parish member who is living in public sin in a homosexual relationship, well, the priest should try to stay close to that individual — or to both the individuals if they’re Catholic — and try to help them to leave the sinful relationship and to begin to lead a chaste life. The pastor [should] encourage them also to pray and to participate in Sunday Mass and other appropriate ways of trying to overcome grave sin in their lives.
Those people [who] are living in that way certainly cannot have any leadership role in the parish, because it would give the impression to parishioners that the way they are living is perfectly alright. Because, [when] we lead in a parish, in a certain way, we are giving witness to a coherent Catholic life. And people who are not coherent with their Catholic faith aren’t given leadership roles. They are not asked, for instance, to be a lector at the Holy Mass — or [to] assume some other leadership position — until they have rectified their situation and gone through a conversion of life and then are ready to give such leadership.
On the one hand, it certainly gives scandal to parishioners with regard to a very essential part of our life, our sexuality, [and] what it means. On the other hand, it's not good for the two people involved in the disordered relationship because it also gives them the idea that the Church somehow approves of what they're doing.
Cardinal Burke has nailed it on the head. True compassion is always grounded firmly on truth; otherwise, it is really just a 'misguided' form of compassion. The Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly makes the distinction on homosexual acts, homosexual inclination, and the homosexual person. The Catechism describes homosexual acts as "acts of grave depravity and intrinsically disordered". These acts are against the natural law and under no circumstances can they be approved. On the other hand, the Catechism describes homosexual inclination as "objectively disordered" meaning they are not sinful in and of itself and that they constitute for people struggling with it a trial, a cross. Furthermore, the Catechism acknowledges that there are many men and women who are struggling with same-sex attraction and that they must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.
In a separate interview with Aleteia, Rev. Fr. Paul Check, Executive Director of Courage International, offers this piece of advice full of pastoral wisdom:
We can never be more pastoral than Jesus. Good God that He is, He knows well the weaknesses to which we are prone, especially in matters relating to love and affection. But He also sees the dignity in every human heart, because He placed it there. And He sees the potential for great nobility in each heart, too, because He knows the transforming power of His grace. The Communion of Saints bears witness to the goodness of God at work in the humble and trusting human heart.
“Only in truth does charity shine forth, only in truth can charity be authentically lived,” writes the Pope Emeritus in his last encyclical. “Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality.” God is both Agápe and Lógos, Pope Benedict reminds us.
To love people with same-sex attractions is to love them for their God-given and Christ-redeemed dignity. They are not less than any of the Father’s children. Like everyone, they deserve more than sentimentality. They deserve compassion … compassion founded on the truth of their humanity.
In light of the ongoing confusion in the Synod, let us recite this Prayer to Uphold the Holy Word of God
O Dear Lord, my beloved Jesus Christ,
Keep me in the Light of Your Face, as my persecution intensifies, when my only sin is to uphold the Truth, the Holy Word of God.
Help me to find the courage to serve you faithfully at all times.
Give me Your Courage and Your Strength, as I fight to defend Your Teachings against fierce opposition.
Never desert me, Jesus, in my time of need and provide me with everything I need to continue to serve You,
through the provision of the Holy Sacraments and Your Precious Body and Blood, through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Bless me Jesus.
Walk with me.
Rest in me.
Stay with me.