Rorate Caeli

The Church Today: The grave risk of a way of looking at things that is merely sociological and immanent

In ruins
Mario Faverzani
Corrispondenza Romana
January 7, 2015

In the aftermath of the statement of the bishop of Antwerp, Msgr. Johan Bonny, in which he declared himself in favor of a “formal recognition” of homosexual and bisexual relationships, we have a new little morsel to chew on, with respect to the upcoming Synod on the Family, in an interview published in the on-line edition of the weekly Paris Match,  given by Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, Archbishop of Tegucigalpa in Honduras.  Maraiaga is considered by observers as sort of a “vice-Pope”.  He is hardly a protagonist who takes positions that are outside the official box, and he is squarely with those who see the possibility of granting the Sacraments to the divorced and remarried, even at the cost of aligning himself against Cardinal Müller without any seeming anxiety on his part.  He found himself at the center of a cyclone after the press charges raised by the American Life League of the United States which showed that the powerful organization managed by him, Caritas International, turns out to be providing leadership to the World Social Forum, which is actively involved in the promotion and protection of the so-called “civil and sexual rights” based on gender ideology, the agenda of the LGBT alliance, a push to end discrimination against homosexuals, a universal liberalization of access to abortion and to various reproductive technologies, global control over population growth, Marxism, feminism, environmentalism, and so forth.

This time, in his interview with the French periodical, Cardinal Maradiaga chose a more diplomatic path, playing with “I say—I do not say”.  After talking about the Pope, poverty, the peace of the world, the reform of those who run the Soccer League and of the Roman Curia—in the context of his being one of the so-called C9 group that has the task of the latter reform--he then affirms explicitly an openness to a Palestinian state “with borders respected by Israel.”  Then he reaches the “inevitable” topic of gay marriage.  The tone is that this has nothing to do with a question of doctrine, there is no question of opposing Scripture or magisterial pronouncements, not even pastoral judgments.  Instead, it is limited to a sociological snapshot:  “we are dealing with a recurrent theme at the international level”, he said, “as political leaders of many countries are afraid of the homosexual lobby, who represent a real important element in the context of the electorate.  The most troubling thing is that the United Nations, whose primary vocation should be to keep the peace and international security, is aligned with those who favor abortion and gay marriage.”  In reality, incidents like that cited above of the Bishop of Antwerp show that not only men in politics do obeisance to certain lobbies.

Then the interview moves on to another “inevitable” topic for the “politically correct”, that of sexism in the Church against women.  Even here His Eminence does not want to show any sense of imbalance.  He limits himself to wishing for a greater presence of women—even lay—in the Vatican dicasteries, especially those dealing with family matters.  And even if they are not the heads of these dicasteries,  he would prefer that more women would work “in the international Catholic system”.  But it was clear that this transition would be for Paris Match only the forward, the pretext for another great passageway that Modernism seeks to open within the Sacred Walls, that with respect to priests being allowed to marry, about which Cardinal Maradiaga reaffirms that it is a closed matter, even if—and this passage is not insignificant—the reasons he gives are merely economic and sociological, never theological.  He says:  “I would not be able to support 150 diocesan priests if they had a family.” This is what he limits himself to speaking about in the interview, offering an explanation that is weak, unsatisfying, and in some ways even petty, as if he were a labor organizer, especially when compared to how much more rich, satisfying, grounded and complete is that given in the Code of Canon Law (277.1), where one reads:

Clerics are obliged to observe perfect and perpetual continence for the sake of the kingdom of heaven and therefore are obliged to observe celibacy, which is a special gift from God, by which sacred ministers can adhere more closely to Christ with an undivided heart and can more freely dedicate themselves to the service of God and humankind.

One sees when reading between the lines a serpentine movement to lower the level of discussion of these issues:  to level out, to become more “mainstream” within a perspective that is merely and exclusively that of the world, to reduce every question to its immanent nature, blotting out explanations that are more true and more full, that is, explanations that deal with the transcendent.  What this means is a process of reducing the presence of the Church in the world to a sort of philanthropic version of the United Nations.  It was Benedict the XVI who warned us about this in his encyclical Deus Caritas Est (31a): 

  Those who work for the Church's charitable organizations must be distinguished by the fact that they do not merely meet the needs of the moment, but they dedicate themselves to others with heartfelt concern, enabling them to experience the richness of their humanity. Consequently, in addition to their necessary professional training, these charity workers need a “formation of the heart”: they need to be led to that encounter with God in Christ which awakens their love and opens their spirits to others.

But, evidently, there are those who consider Benedict XVI no longer “in fashion”.

[Original in Italian - Rorate translation by Fr. Richard Cipolla]