Rorate Caeli

The Romans and Barbarians had some bizarre "families" as well - no reason to dilute the Christian message

Main excerpt of Antonio Socci's latest column on the papal declaration that seemed to leave the door open for the "normalization" of "same-sex parents" in Catholic schools:

Jesuit Antonio Spadaro intervened in “Corriere della sera” to explain that “the Pope ‘is not open to homosexual couples’ as some agencies headlined. The Pope is not legitimizing anything at all: not any law nor behavior that does not correspond to Church doctrine.

Finally, some clear words. In fact, it is Jesus, Himself in the Gospel, Who teaches His apostles to say yes if something is yes, and no if it is no: “all the rest comes from the Evil One” (Mt. 5,37).

However, if continuous precisions and denials are needed, it means that the yes and the no are vague and something has to be adjusted. Also because many are ‘are attaching themselves to the cassock'* of our dear Pope Francis (Scalfari for example) and too many are distorting the message.

Spadaro, after having given the salutary denial, tried to give his own interpretation of the Pope’s teaching in order to avert other misunderstandings. Did he succeed? No, he didn’t. Here is why.


He said that the most urgent matter at the present time is “the educational challenge” - an old story. Then he indicated a precise target which should be at the heart of the Church’s attention: “the children of divorced parents and the children who find themselves living in a domestic situation with two people of the same sex.”

The first instance in effect, includes many boys and girls. The second instance is statistically minimal and only a subordinate (fashionable at the moment) culture, would consider it an urgent matter. It would be more sensible to say that the Church has to have special care for all youth. All of them.

But, according to Spadaro – with those two types of youth - the Church would be faced with a fresh challenge and should devise new pastoral strategies.

In my view it is superficial to present the existence of non-traditional families as an absolute novelty: they were present in early Christian times, under the Roman Emperor and among the barbarian peoples, as they have been present in mission lands over the course of the centuries up until today (where polygamy has always been in use as well).

Even marriages between people of the same sex existed 2000 years ago for the imperial elite. Nero had two public marriages with men, once as wife and once as husband (according to Suetonius, he took the slave Sporus as his wife after having him castrated). Also the Emperor Elagabalus, according to Historia Augusta, married a man, becoming his wife.

Confronted with ancient customs, it does not appear that the apostles devised pastoral strategies for each and every situation and neither did they ask themselves “who am I to judge?”

On the contrary, Paul used very harsh words and put Christians on their guard against conforming to fashions and worldly culture. He wanted to know one thing only: “Christ crucified”, which was considered as “foolishness” by the pagan world.

Christ was despised from the beginning, not only today as Spadaro believes. But this did not induce the apostles and St. Paul to mute the “the principals” as Spadaro seems to suggest. In fact, it was exactly with that “foolishness” that Christians won the world over to the Gospel.

*trying to adapt the Pope’s words to their views

[Translation: Francesca Romana]