Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic World News

Father Fessio explains Cardinal Schönborn’s remarks on homosexuality

May 12, 2010

Father Joseph Fessio, the publisher of Ignatius Press, has written a column defending and clarifying remarks made by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn during a meeting with journalists.

The cardinal had been characterized as saying that an enduring same-sex union is preferable to a series of encounters, telling the journalists that “a stable relationship is certainly better than if someone simply indulges in promiscuity.”

Father Fessio commented:

The Church attempts to lead men to their ultimate happiness, which is the vision of God in his essence. Moral norms are meant to do that; they have that as their end or purpose. The norms themselves are unchanging. However, our approach to obeying them is gradual and our efforts are a mixture of success and failure. This means that while certain moral norms are absolute, that is, they hold in all circumstances without exception, our approach to obeying them may be halting and imperfect.

This is commonly referred to as “the law of gradualism” and is opposed to “the gradualism of the law,” as if the law itself were somehow variable.

This is the context for the cardinal’s saying: “We should give more consideration to the quality of homosexual relationships,” adding: “A stable relationship is certainly better than if someone chooses to be promiscuous.” This does not at all mean that the cardinal was advocating or even suggesting that the Church might change her teaching that homosexuality is a disorder and homosexual activity is always a grave evil. It is always grave, but there can be gradations of gravity—or, to call it by its true name, objective depravity.

This is also the context of the Tablet’s statement: “The cardinal also said the Church needed to reconsider its view of re-married divorcees ‘as many people don’t even marry at all any longer’.” This “reconsideration” does not mean a change in the Church’s teaching that a valid marriage is indissoluble, and that someone who is validly married cannot remarry validly. It means that perhaps—but only perhaps, because this is an opinion that does not have the authority of a magisterial pronouncement—the Church should find new ways of leading the weak and confused to the difficult but liberating challenge of Christ’s demands.


For all current news, visit our News home page.

Further information:
Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a current donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - May. 12, 2010 9:47 PM ET USA

    didn't Charles Curran get kicked out of CU for saying this???

  • Posted by: Anselm - May. 12, 2010 5:41 PM ET USA

    Not really adamah, just read the article in it's entirely and not the badly edited AP version.

  • Posted by: Contrary1995 - May. 12, 2010 10:26 AM ET USA

    One wonders if Cardinal Mahoney had made the same remarks as Cardinal Schonborn would Fr. Fessio defend him in the same way?

  • Posted by: adamah - May. 12, 2010 8:26 AM ET USA

    Talk about mental sumersaults trying to defend the Cardinal's statements. Quite pathetic, actually.