ROME — Australian Cardinal George Pell has called on the Vatican’s doctrinal office (CDF) to reprimand two outspoken bishops for their rejection of Church teaching regarding homosexuality.
In a statement released by his office on Tuesday, Cardinal Pell urged the CDF to “intervene and pronounce judgment” on the public position taken by Jesuit Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, president of the European Bishops’ Conferences (COMECE), and Bishop Georg Bätzing, president of the German Bishops’ Conference, both of whom have challenged the Church’s teaching on the immorality of gay sex.
“Not one of the Ten Commandments is optional; all are there to be followed, and by sinners,” Cardinal Pell said in his statement. “We cannot have a special Australian or German version of the Ten Commandments.”
Cardinal Pell’s statement references an interview he gave on March 11 to the German Catholic television agency K-TV.
The heterodox position taken by Cardinal Hollerich and Bishop Bätzing represents a “wholesale and explicit rejection of the Catholic Church’s teaching on sexual ethics,” Pell said.
“This erroneous teaching not only rejects the ancient Judaeo-Christian doctrines against homosexual activity, but undermines and rejects the teaching on monogamous marriage, the exclusive union of a man and a woman,” his statement reads.
On February 1, Cardinal Hollerich declared that Catholic teaching on the sinfulness of homosexual relations is wrong and needs to be corrected. “I believe that the sociological-scientific foundation of this teaching is no longer correct,” Hollerich stated, adding that “I have homosexuals among my priests.”
The Catholic Church teaches that same-sex attraction is “is objectively disordered” and that homosexual acts are immoral.
“Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered,’” states the Catholic Catechism, adding that under no circumstances “can they be approved.”
For his part, Bishop Bätzing declared last week that the Catholic Church must change its teaching on sexual morality, insisting that gay sex does not harm a person’s relationship with God.
Same-sex relations are okay, Bishop Bätzing told the German magazine Bunte in its March 4 issue, “as long as they are carried out with loyalty and responsibility.”
“It doesn’t affect one’s relationship with God,” the bishop added.
No one follows Church teaching on sexuality anymore, the bishop said, and so “we have to partially change the catechism. Sexuality is a gift from God. It’s not a sin.”
Last year Bishop Bätzing made similar statements when he publicly opposed a Vatican declaration forbidding the blessing of same-sex couples.
“I believe that we have to assess homosexuality and lived partnerships outside of marriage differently,” said Bätzing at the time. “We can no longer proceed solely from natural law, but have to think much more in terms of care and personal responsibility for one another.”
“In this regard, I would like to see a further development of Catholic teaching on sexual ethics,” the bishop said.
Bätzing said that people in homosexual relationships want the blessing of the Church, and the Church must “address this desire.”
“We can no longer answer these questions simply with a ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ That is not possible,” he said.
According to Cardinal Pell, the stance taken by Hollerich and Bätzing “is a rupture, not compatible with the ancient teaching of Scripture and the Magisterium, not compatible with any legitimate doctrinal developments.”
What is needed is “a clear Roman reprimand,” Pell declared.