Rorate Caeli

Synod: Swiss Bishops' Conference's Website Floats Idea That Confessor Should Ignore Church Teaching on Morals

[Translator's Note:, the official website of the Swiss Bishops' Conference, recently published on 21 August 2015 ( a short comment and summary of an objectively scandalous interview with Dr. Markus Arnold, a Swiss Catholic lay theologian and a professor of Theological Ethics at the University of Lucerne ( After this comment, the Swiss Bishops' Conference's website permissively gives the link to the entire original interview.]

Excerpts below:

Question: The Catechism [of the Catholic Church] says one should treat homosexuals with compassion.

Dr. Arnold: The Roman moral teaching on sexuality was created in the 19th century because of an ideologized concept of nature: accordingly, it is part of the nature of man to marry, and sexuality is only there for procreation. In 1930, there was an opening, since sexual commerce became possible on infertile days. The encyclical Humanae Vitae by Pope Paul VI in 1968 turned the wheel back, and it poisoned the discussion on sexuality. In the last years, there has been some movement. The desire to catch up comes more and more into the open. The Catechism of 1992 participated in this half-way through: the homosexual practice remains a sin, but one should not condemn the persons. [Bishop Vitus] Huonder went back behind the [1992] Catechism. Theologically, this is nonsense. On the basis of the Bible, one cannot simply condemn homosexuality.

Question: What are the chances that the Catechism itself will be further adapted?

Dr. Arnold: That is open. Last October, the majority of the bishops went against the Doctrine with regard to the remarried divorcees. Concerning homosexuality, nothing has yet happened. In the Catholic Church, it always takes a little longer. But Pope Francis has moved the pastoral care, not anymore doctrine, back into the center.

Question: How do parishes deal with homosexuals?

Dr. Arnold: It happens often, namely what the pastor has done in Bürglen – to give a blessing to female homosexuals. [For which action Bishop Huonder removed him from his office.] I myself as the parish leader in Oberrieden [as a layman] have celebrated worship services with remarried [divorcees]. That is not a wedding, but it is to be understood analogously. Homosexuals or divorcees who intend to marry always find someone who will perform a Church celebration. The pastor of Bürglen was so stupid to write down the blessing and to put it into the bulletin. Because the gentlemen in Chur [i.e., Bishop Huonder and his diocesan staff] have not so much to do, they check the bulletins as to whether or not they are kosher [sic]. Much happens which is forbidden from above. One just should not shout it from the housetops.

Question: How should one deal with this discrepancy as a Catholic?

Dr. Arnold: Here applies the rule: strong in the principles, mild in the individual case. From the pulpit, one preaches that contraception is forbidden. To the woman in the confessional, however, one says: if it is necessary, preferably not so often. In the South of Europe and in the Third World, this is normal. Only here [in Europe], one has to live up to the laws. If, in the parishes, one would keep the Church's law accurately, that would be the collapse of the pastoral care. For the sake of the Church, one sometimes has to dismiss the Church.

Question: Will homosexuality become the main topic at the [2015] Synod on the Family?

Dr. Arnold: Most probably, it will not be the major topic. But it would be possible that the ideology concerning the remarried will be broken up. That could have long-range effects, so that other things start moving, too. But Vitus Huonder and his people are fighting bitterly over each sentence. Additionally, the homophobia of the homosexual Churchmen themselves is the greatest problem.

[Kindly translated by Dr. Maike Hickson]