Cardinal Confusion

Cardinal Reinhard Marx made headlines again last week by suggesting that the Catholic Church and society as a whole should apologize for the institutionalized scandalous and negative treatment and marginalization towards individuals with same-sex attraction.  This proclamation from the notoriously heterodox German episcopal leader coincidentally came at the same time Pride celebration events were taking place across the globe.

If he meant by these words that the negative treatment was discrimination, disrespect or uncivil conduct directed at homosexuals, he may have legitimate point.  We as Christians are called to treat all others with respect and love – as in the saying “love the sinner, hate the sin.”  But if he meant that the Church stating the Truth that homosexual acts are intrinsically evil would be considered as negative treatment, then there is a much different and concerning issue.

Moving quickly from the shame of sins past to his vision of the future, Marx stated:

“We have to respect the decisions of people. We have to respect also, as I said in the first synod on the family — some were shocked, but I think it’s normal — you cannot say that a relationship between a man and a man, and they are faithful, [that] that is nothing, that has no worth.”

“Up to now we have this difference — some are against it; some are for it. There was an open discussion. We [the church] have our moral position [on marriage] and that is clear, but the secular state has to regulate these [same-sex] partnerships and to bring them to a just position and we as church cannot be against it.”

Pope Francis, when asked about the Cardinal’s comments, added little to clarify Marx’s statements.  Instead, he expanded the list of those needing apologies: “[Christians] must not only ask forgiveness to the gay person who is offended.  But she must ask forgiveness to the poor too, to women who are exploited, to children who are exploited for labor.  She must ask forgiveness for having blessed so many weapons.”

It is a very strange list indeed when you its implications.  Why ask for forgiveness from the poor and the exploited?  Because Christians have not done enough to remove them from their deplorable condition.  Did Francis mean that Christians should apologize in the same way to gays – for not doing enough to remove them from their lifestyle?  That would certainly be charitable if it were the case.  Unfortunately the media and all others were left to ponder his sentiments and took the more secular interpretation.  It is more certain that Cardinal Marx probably didn’t mean it in that sense either, based on his quoted statements above.

Admonish the sinner is one of the spiritual works of mercy.  While it is very easy to act in self-righteousness when doing so, to counter this tendency we can take a lesson in humility in imitation of our Savior.  When done in this spirit, Christians should not be expected to apologize to those who are offended by being presented the Truth in love.

Admonishing the sinner – From USCCB website.

  • Do not judge, but be supportive in helping others find their way and correct their mistakes.  Together we can learn to walk more closely with Christ.
  • In humility we must strive to create a culture that does not accept sin, while realizing that we all fall at times
  • Don’t judge, but guide others towards the path of salvation (see Mt 7:1-2)
  • When you correct someone, don’t be arrogant. We are all in need of God’s loving correction.
  • We should journey together to a deeper understanding of our shared faith
  • “Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye” (Mt 7:5)


  1. Spaniard says:

    One way to approach this (the problem of truly evangelizing to homosexuals and those with same-sex attraction) is more from-the-pulpit homilies on other sexual sin, of which the pool of sinners is much larger. The strategy is to point out that disordered desires and the act of the will to give in to those temptations exist across a broad spectrum of carnal desires and the Church’s teaching on homosexuality is consistent (that we’re not just “picking on” gay people). I don’t know if I’ve seen a deliberate or effective attempt at this.

    As for the Marx/Francis exchanges: SSDD

  2. Didymus says:

    “…the secular state has to regulate these [same-sex] partnerships and to bring them to a just position and we as church cannot be against it.”

    Does he mean that same-sex marriages are just, and that by opposing them the church is being unjust? Or does he mean that the church needs to just support whatever the state decrees? Please pray for this man. It were better for him to tie a millstone round his neck and throw himself into the sea than to continue to lead his sheep astray.

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