From Fr. Neely
Like many of you who expressed concerns to me in recent days, I was troubled by the news regarding quotes from Pope Francis from the documentary,
, which appear to reflect his support for civil unions. While many commentators say the Pope was misquoted, we have not received any clarification from him.
Until such clarification is given, we must first and foremost remember that Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church, the heavenly Bridegroom of His Spouse, the Church. Our Lord promised never to leave His disciples abandoned (cf. John 14:18) and to give them the Holy Spirit to teach and remind them what He has said (cf. John 14:26). He gives His grace to Saint Peter and his successors so that they teach the rest of the Church clearly and strengthen the brethren (cf. Lk. 22:32).
When one of those successors expresses his opinion in interviews, in social media, or in similar ways, we ought to listen carefully and respectfully to what he has to say as our Holy Father. However, such comments are not the same as the Church’s official Magisterium —the authority and responsibility to teach definitively on matters of faith and morals that the Lord Jesus entrusted to the pope and the bishops in communion with him. Our faith is firm that, when the pope and the bishops exercise the Magisterium and teach definitively, the Holy Spirit always guides them and prevents them from teaching erroneously. This is as true on the subject of sexuality, marriage, and family as on any other topic of faith and morals. If and when the pope chooses to speak clearly and definitively on these issues, we rely on the Holy Spirit to ensure that he shares the truth clearly and consistently.
That truth — that God has established a unique context for the total gift of self that is reflected in sexual intimacy — is rooted in the nature of the human person, in the sexual complementarity of man and woman, in the revealed Word of God, and in the consistent teaching of the Church since the time of Christ and the Apostles. The truth that sexual relations are only morally good in the context of a permanent, faithful marriage between a man and a woman whose relations are open to having children cannot and will not be changed by anyone. The moral consequences that flow from this truth are clearly enunciated in the sections of the
Catechism of the Catholic Church
that speak of the creation of man and woman (
), the sacrament of matrimony (
), and the sixth and ninth commandments (nn.
The Church also has a principled, clear rationale for its judgment about civil arrangements to bestow legal rights on people who live together in a same-sex relationship. These principles are expressed concisely in the
2003 letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
, which is the office of the Roman Curia entrusted with the responsibility of assisting the Holy Father in teaching the faithful and responding to questions or doubts about the truths of faith. This document, which was prepared by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI), was approved by Pope St John Paul II. In this document, the Church clearly teaches:
There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law. Homosexual acts
close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved
’” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,
Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons
, n. 4).
We should not overlook, however, that the Holy Father began his remarks by insisting that people who experience same-sex attractions must never be rejected or excluded by their own families. As the chaplain for the Nashville chapters of Courage and Encourage (see
), I can attest to the witness of parents and friends who faithfully pray for their loved ones who experience same-sex attractions and who strive to keep their faith and their families intact in the face of a hostile culture. Likewise, there are the members of Courage themselves, who make so many sacrifices as they strive for chastity, prayerful fellowship, and authentic friendship. These individuals give heroic witness to the world that a person doesn't need to be in a sexual relationship in order to give and receive love that is sincere, loyal, and fulfilling.
Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever
” (Heb. 13:8). He has entrusted His Gospel of salvation to the Church and “
the gates of Hell will not prevail against it
” (Mt. 16:18). We are built on firm foundations, and we need not fear the storms that come from the world around us.
Please join me in praying earnestly for the Holy Father, for the bishops who share the teaching office with him, and for all. May God bless you and your loved ones with a deep knowledge of His love and a deep commitment to Him and His Church.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Jayd Neely
on Thursday, October 29, 2020 at 2:37PM