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Cardinal McElroy commits ‘a most serious and dangerous error,’ Kansas City archbishop warns

February 13, 2023

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City (KS) has joined Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver in critiquing Cardinal Robert McElroy’s recent call for “radical inclusion”—a call that includes a change in the Church’s teaching, rooted in the New Testament, on non-reception of Holy Communion for those who have not repented of mortal sins against the Sixth Commandment.

“The effect of the tradition that all sexual acts outside of marriage constitute objectively grave sin has been to focus the Christian moral life disproportionately upon sexual activity,” the San Diego cardinal wrote. “Sexual activity, while profound, does not lie at the heart of this hierarchy [of truths]. Yet in pastoral practice we have placed it at the very center of our structures of exclusion from the Eucharist. This should change.”

“I have been saddened that in the preparation for the Synod on Synodality, there has been a renewed effort by some in Church leadership to resuscitate moral confusion on human sexuality,” Archbishop Naumann wrote in an archdiocesan newspaper column. “The German Synodal Way is a striking example. The leadership of the German bishops’ conference has rejected correction from Pope Francis.”

“Most troubling has been statements by Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, who asserts that Church teaching related to homosexuality is false because he believes the sociological-scientific foundation of this teaching is no longer correct,” he continued. “Cardinal Hollerich’s statements are particularly concerning because of the leadership role that he has been assigned as relator general for the Synod on Synodality.”

The Kansas prelate continued:

Most recently, Cardinal Robert McElroy’s article in the Jesuit journal America magazine has charged that the Catholic Church “contains structures and cultures of exclusion that alienate all too many from the church or make their journey in the Catholic faith tremendously burdensome.” Cardinal McElroy champions what he terms radical inclusion that embraces everyone into full communion with the Church on their terms.

The mandate of Jesus given to the apostles to make disciples of all nations is construed to mean to enlarge the tent of the Church by accommodating behaviors contrary to Our Lord’s own teaching. Cardinal McElroy appears to believe that the Church for 2,000 years has exaggerated the importance of her sexual moral teaching, and that radical inclusion supersedes doctrinal fidelity, especially in the area of the Church’s moral teaching regarding human sexuality.

In my opinion, this is a most serious and dangerous error ... Proponents of radical inclusion cite Our Lord’s association with sinners. In the face of harsh criticism of religious leaders, it is true that Jesus manifested great concern, compassion and mercy to sinners. In every instance, Jesus also calls those who wish to become his disciples to repentance and conversion. Are we to understand Our Lord’s call for repentance to be fostering a culture of exclusion? Was the clear and challenging teaching of Jesus regarding marriage or the consequences of lust intended to alienate, or was it an invitation to liberation and freedom? Was radical inclusion Our Lord’s highest priority, when many disciples walked away after his Bread of Life discourse?

“In listening to those on the peripheries, we should include hearing the pain suffered by adult children of divorce, young people raised without the presence of a loving father, those addicted at a tender age to pornography and those emotionally scarred by the hookup culture,” Archbishop Naumann added. “I pray that the Synod on Synodality will not unintentionally resurrect and breathe new life into moral confusion. If we truly listen to the Holy Spirit, I am confident that it will not lead us to abandon our moral teaching in order to embrace the toxic spirit of an age oppressed by the dictatorship of relativism.”


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  • Posted by: feedback - Feb. 17, 2023 10:59 AM ET USA

    In the past, it usually took many years before the promotion in the hierarchy of bad actors, such as Weakland or McCarrick, became visibly harmful to the Church. Which indicated the existence of a network of corruption working to mislead the Vicar of Christ in his decisions to promote. Something completely different is happening now, under Francis, when clearly harmful promotions abound.

  • Posted by: rfr46 - Feb. 16, 2023 7:31 AM ET USA

    The real news here is not that what Cardinal (!) McElroy said, but that PF appointed him at all and that PF is now giving silent approval. Of course, promotion of homosexual acts is not the biggest problem in the Church. It is the traditional Latin Mass!!! Very discouraging, but as the Apostle Peter said, Lord, where should we go. John 6:68

  • Posted by: dcnmthompson7484 - Feb. 15, 2023 9:17 PM ET USA

    I like the Abp comments that we need to be radically inclusive to the casualties of the sexual revolution, not the worldly victors.

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Feb. 15, 2023 3:12 AM ET USA

    Note that the lack of comments here has little to do with apathy, but much to do with repetition. We have been decrying McElroy's dissent from orthodox Catholicism for many years now. However, repetition of the same complaints by the same commenters is generally not practiced in this forum. We are as much put out by McElroy's moral relativism as we always have been, but are constrained to not keep harping on the same theme. This same restraint also applies to several other relativist clergymen.

  • Posted by: B. Hammer - Feb. 13, 2023 9:01 PM ET USA

    It saddens me that there are no comments here. That only two bishops are standing for the faith. I’m a sinner and I look to the church to bring me to holiness, lead me on the narrow path. Is there truly only a handful of us left that have not lost all sense of morality? Only a handful that will stand against the tide? Have so many forgotten that with the Lord, nothing can defeat us?