Vatican rebuke for cardinal over anti-gay comments

 

IN A most unusual move, senior Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi this week distanced the Holy See from highly controversial, anti-gay and anti-transsexual comments made by retired Vatican curia figure Cardinal Javier Barragán from Mexico.

In comments carried by the Italian news website Pontifex News, Cardinal Barragán, former president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Workers, said: “Transsexuals and homosexuals will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven, it’s not me who says it but St Paul. People are not born homosexual, rather they become homosexual and for different reasons – education issues or because they did not develop their own identity during adolescence. It may not be their fault, but acting against nature and the dignity of the human body is an insult to God.”

In response to questions from journalists, Fr Lombardi was quick to distance the Vatican from the cardinal’s comments, quoting the catechism of the Catholic Church and saying in an e-mail: “First of all I would like to point out that the site, pontifex.roma.it, lacks authority and is not a good source for understanding with objectivity the church’s thoughts on complex and delicate issues like evaluating homosexuality.

“It would be better, for example, to refer to the catechism of the Catholic Church, which does talk about homosexual acts as “disordered”, but takes into account the fact that “the number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible”. Homosexuals must be welcomed with respect and sensitivity, and “every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided”, he wrote, quoting the catechism.

The catechism goes on to say that “these persons” are called to fulfil God’s will, uniting to the “sacrifice of the Lord’s cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition”.

The church has long taught that the practice of homosexual acts is sinful while homosexuality is not, calling on homosexuals to lead a life “of chastity”.

Aurelio Mancuso, president of leading Italian gay rights group Arcigay, dismissed the cardinal’s remarks as part of the “church’s ridiculous theories about sexuality and the dignity of the person”.