Philip G. Bochanski, executive director of Courage International, an apostolate of the Catholic Church that helps homosexuals, pleaded with Cardinals Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich, Germany, and Jean-Claude Hollerich, Archbishop of Luxembourg, be faithful to catholic doctrine.
Courage International is an apostolate of the Catholic Church that offers help to people with same-sex attractions who have decided to live chastely. It has 150 chapters distributed in 14 countries around the world and also provides support to friends and family with the Encourage apostolate, formed in 1987.
In an open letter titled “Your Eminence, please keep your oath”, Fr. Bochanski expressed his “serious concern” as a “priest engaged for many years in pastoral ministry for people experiencing same-sex attraction”, for some recent statements by both cardinals regarding “the Catholic teaching on homosexual acts”.
The priest referred to the words of Cardinal Hollerich, for whom “the scientific-sociological basis” that indicates that homosexual acts are immoral “is no longer correct”; and to the Cardinal’s call for “a fundamental revision of the Church’s doctrine” and “a change of doctrine.”
Cardinal Hollerich, president of the Commission of Episcopal Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) and general rapporteur of the Synod of Bishops, made these claims in February in an interview with the German news agency KNA.
“You took the same position on this issue, Cardinal Marx, and justified your position by specifying that ‘the Catechism is not set in stone’ and that ‘what it says’ about this important moral teaching ‘can be doubted,'” said Fr. Bochanski.
The Cardinal made this claim in an interview with the weekly magazine Stern on March 31, responding to a question about “how should homosexual, queer or trans people be accommodated in Catholic teaching.”
Cardinal Marx is one of the most influential Catholic leaders in Europe. He is a member of the Council of Cardinal Advisors to Pope Francis and president of the Vatican Council for the Economy.
As former president of the Episcopal Conference of Germany, he is also one of the promoters of the controversial Synodal Path, a multi-year process that brings together bishops and laity, in which changes in the doctrine on sexual morality, the abolition of priestly celibacy, the ordination of women and the blessing of homosexual couples.
The director of Courage International told Cardinal Marx that “the paragraph he refers to in the Catechism presents this teaching” on homosexuality “in a particularly strong way. That is, it highlights that the teaching is clearly supported by the Holy Scriptures and it has been consistently so taught in Church Tradition (No. 2357).”
Numeral 2357 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church presents four biblical citations to specify that homosexual acts “are intrinsically disordered”, in addition to being “serious depravities”. This document was published in 1992 during the pontificate of Saint John Paul II and when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, today Benedict XVI, was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Fr. Bochanski specified that “this invocation of the Scriptures and Tradition is unusual in the Catechism, but it appears frequently when the Church explains the charism of infallibility. Its use here clearly means that this teaching, arising from the anthropological fact of the sexed nature of human bodies, is an infallible teaching of the universal ordinary magisterium”.
The oath of fidelity
In his letter to the cardinals, Fr. Bochanski recalled the public oath of fidelity they took on the day of their ordination, in which they pledged to defend the Church’s doctrine “faithfully”, avoiding “any teaching contrary to it”. “Your Eminences, I beg you, please be true to your oath,” the priest wrote.
“Violating your oath on this teaching would seriously harm people who sincerely want to help.. ‘Denying these Church teachings prevents’ these brothers and sisters of ours from ‘receiving the help they need and deserve,’ as the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith wrote in 1986,” he noted.
The document to which Fr. Bochanski refers is the “Letter to the bishops of the Catholic Church on pastoral care for homosexual people”, published on October 1, 1986 and signed by then Cardinal Ratzinger.
“To affirm that this definitive teaching can change, raise false hopes among our brothers and sisters, and it surely leaves them feeling more overlooked and resentful each time the Church faithfully remembers her,” the priest continued.
Bochanski warned Cardinals Marx and Hollerich that “by reinforcing this misunderstanding regarding the divine order of sexuality, they encourage” homosexuals “to seek happiness in relationships that ultimately cannot satisfy them, instead of seeking fulfillment in chaste friendships”.
The executive director of Courage International reminded the cardinals that people with same-sex attractions “look to the bishops of the Church as their spiritual fathers and look to you for affirmation and support for the commitments of chastity they have made, as faithful Catholics”.
“Violate the oath you have taken certainly damages the moral credibility of the Churchin the eyes of the faithful and in the opinion of the world”, stressed the priest.
Bochanski also reminded Cardinals Marx and Hollerich that, as successors of the apostles and close advisers to the Pope, “their public dissent from Church teaching can only lead to confusion and division among the faithful, as well as being a scandal for the secular world.” “Violating your oath, I am afraid, also causes you great harm,” he stated.
The priest also warned that “breaking an oath is committing the sin of perjury, and deliberately persisting in that serious sin is endanger one’s eternal salvation”.
The director of Courage International said that he has had the “privilege, almost half of my life, of serving the Church of Christ as a priest, and the immense joy of serving, for more than half of my priesthood, Catholics who they experience same-sex attraction and their loved ones.”
“Your Eminences, I beg you, please be true to your oath,” he said.