Cardinals uphold Vatican statement on same-sex unions

Cardinal Turkson Cardinal Peter Turkson. / Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk

Two cardinals on Thursday upheld the Vatican's recent statement that the Church cannot bless same-sex unions.

At an online panel hosted by Georgetown University, Cardinal Peter Turkson-prefect of the Vatican's Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development-and Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston-a member of Pope Francis' Council of Cardinals-were both asked to respond to people "who are disappointed" by the Vatican's recent statement on same-sex unions.

The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on Monday said that the Church does not have the power to bless same-sex unions. The document was approved for publication by Pope Francis.

On Thursday, Cardinal O'Malley said that Pope Francis has been both "sensitive and pastoral" with others, while upholding the Church's teachings.

Pope Francis has made clear he wishes "to be close to people, in the reality and the challenges of their lives, no matter what that may be," O'Malley said. "At the same time, the Church has a very clear teaching about marriage that needs to be proclaimed," he added.

"And I think the Holy Father tries to be very sensitive and pastoral in his outreach to people, and to show his concern about individuals, and at the same time, his commitment to fidelity to what the Church's teaching is about the Sacrament of Marriage," Cardinal O'Malley said.

Pope Francis has emphasized the dignity of all including those with same-sex attraction, Cardinal Turkson said, adding that the Pope is "calling on families to welcome their children who may have some such tendencies."

"So the sympathy is there. The concern and the solicitude of a pope," he said.

The Church's teachings on marriage are from God and not men, he added.

"The Church as the path to salvation, first and foremost, needs to recognize that the path to salvation is not constituted by the leadership of the pope or the pastors or anybody in the Church, but by what Scriptures and Revelation have always provided about the path to salvation," he said.

He remarked that he had once met two Catholics who led a "gay parish" in London with the approval of "the Cardinal Archbishop of London."

"But out of respect for the sacrament, for what marriage is as a sacrament, they've decided not to ask for marriage. So you can have this coming from the gay community itself, recognizing the nature, the sacredness of that as a sacrament."

"It's not to say that those who do not recognize it are not on the path to salvation," he added. "But it's to recognize that whatever state of life we live in, at a certain point we need to bring it all to the Lord, and have the Lord evaluate it for us."

"It's not calling anything sinful or anything evil," he said. "But whatever state or situation we live in, every now and then, it's good to bring it to Revelation, to the Word of Scripture, and have the Lord, as it were, scan it all for us."

The cardinals were also asked about the new Biden administration. Cardinal O'Malley said that some areas of common ground between the Church and the administration could include the United States rejoining the Paris climate accord, as well as immigration.

Cardinal Turkson said that President Joe Biden and Pope Francis both share an appreciation for a "culture of encounter." 

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