Does ‘America’ have ‘dubia’ about Pope’s remark on homosexuality?

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Dec 07, 2018

Evidently caught off guard by the Pope’s expression of concern about widespread homosexuality in the clergy, America magazine has rushed to reassure readers that the Pontiff’s remarks must be understood in the proper context. Father James Martin, the editor-at-large of the Jesuit magazine, regrets that the Pope’s words were “confusing,” and require clarification (which he is quite willing to provide).

Hmm. Doesn’t this sound familiar? Questions about a provocative papal statement? Requests for clarification? Reminders that any such statement should be read in the context of previous magisterial statements? Perhaps the editors of America should submit dubia, asking whether the Pope’s thoughts on this subject, published in a new book-length interview, indicate a change in the Church’s teaching on the subject.

But wait. The Pope’s latest remarks are fully in accord with previous authoritative statements from the Holy See, most notably the 2005 instruction against admitting homosexual men to priestly training. So when he tries to provide “context” for the Pope’s concern, Father Martin and his allies restrict themselves to previous statements by Pope Francis; no other Pontiff and no formal Vatican document provides any reason to dismiss the Pope’s worries.

Still the flurry has produced some noteworthy results. Father Martin has interrupted his crusade for a change in Church teaching long enough to lament the Pope’s “imprecise language” and to recognize that confusion can demoralize Catholics. He observes that “when you’re the Pope those off-the-cuff remarks are more likely to cause damage.” And doesn’t that line sound familiar?

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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