Ever since St. John Paul II created the World Meeting of Families in 1994, the tri-annual event has served as a powerful celebration of the Catholic Church’s teachings on the nature and value of the family. That’s why I was so distressed to hear about the confusing information included in the newly-released parish program for the 2018 World Meeting of Families (WMF), scheduled to take place in Ireland.
One page of the program includes a photo of a lesbian couple embracing (with their heads cropped out), with a painted rainbow flag prominently displayed on one of the women’s hands. Right above this photo, the text reads:
While the Church upholds the ideal of marriage as a permanent commitment between a man and a woman, other unions exist which provide mutual support to the couple. Pope Francis encourages us never to exclude but to accompany these couples also, with love, care and support.
Adding to the atmosphere of moral confusion, at around the same time as the release of the program Most Rev. Brendan Leahy, the bishop of Limerick, gave an interview to Independent, in which he said that “Everyone must be made feel welcome” at the WMF – including, it seems, an ambiguous “diversity”of families.
“We’ve had the referendum in favor of same-sex marriage,” Bishop Leahy said, “and a lot of people voted in that referendum and all are equally welcome to join in this celebration of family.” He added that he hopes the WMF will be for “all families,” including “people divorced and remarried, people of great faith and no faith, people of other faiths, people who agree with the Church and those who disagree.”
As you might expect, the combination of the program and the bishop’s remarks is causing massive confusion in Ireland about the Church’s teachings on the intrinsic evil of homosexuality. One Irish homosexual news site, Gay Community News, even published an article entitled, “Irish Bishops Welcome Same-Sex Families at Catholic Conference,” with a large photo featuring two women in wedding dresses embracing.
Cardinal Ratzinger’s forgotten warnings
In the late 1980s, Cardinal Ratzinger, as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), wrote an extraordinarily prescient, but sadly almost completely forgotten letter to the bishops “On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons.” In that letter, he warned about a growing movement, even from within the Church, that was “bringing enormous pressure to bear on the Church to accept the homosexual condition as though it were not disordered and to condone homosexual activity.”
The future pope was deeply disturbed by the short-sightedness of this movement, in part because of how it abandons homosexual persons to the myriad dangers of the homosexual lifestyle. Cardinal Ratzinger lamented: “Even when the practice of homosexuality may seriously threaten the lives and well-being of a large number of people, its advocates remain undeterred and refuse to consider the magnitude of the risks involved.”
“The Church,” he stated simply, “can never be so callous.”
But if Cardinal Ratzinger was concerned about how the push to accept homosexuality abandoned those suffering from same-sex attraction, so too was he profoundly concerned about what it might do to society in general, in particular future generations who were being trained in an erroneous and damaging conception of sexuality.
In another strongly-worded letter in 2003, the cardinal responded to efforts to formally recognize same-sex relationships in law, which laws, he said, “would obscure certain basic moral values and cause a devaluation of the institution of marriage.” Laws recognizing same-sex unions, he said, “would result in changes to the entire organization of society, contrary to the common good,” and would “tend to modify the younger generation’s perception and evaluation of forms of behavior.”
The future pope made no bones about the non-negotiable task of Catholics in jurisdictions where same-sex “marriage” had been legalized, where “clear and emphatic opposition is a duty.”
In this, the future pope was simply reaffirming 2000-year-old Christian teaching. This teaching has been crystallized in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which clearly states that, while homosexual persons must be treated “with respect, compassion, and sensitivity,” nevertheless homosexual acts “are contrary to the natural law” and, “[u]nder no circumstances can they be approved.”
Cardinal Ratzinger vindicated
While the world scoffed at the two letters by the future pope, and labeled them “hateful” and “homophobic,” the evidence has continued to pile up of the damages, not just to the social order, but also to homosexual persons themselves.
Here, I could mention countless studies pointing to the grave physical and psychological harms of the “gay” lifestyle. But for brevity’s sake I’ll simply point to the brand-new report from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) on the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). That report found that in 2016, there were over two million new chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis infections in the U.S. However, homosexual or bisexual men accounted for a staggering 47.7% of all gonorrhea infections, despite the fact that they only account for an estimated 2% of the population. The numbers are even worse for syphilis, while another recent CDC report found that, in 2014, homosexual and bisexual men accounted for approximately 70% of the new HIV infections.
In other words, in the United States a homosexual man is thousands of percent more at risk for gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV than the general population. Meanwhile, the Church is accused of “bigotry” for warning homosexuals of the verifiable risks of the homosexual lifestyle, while the perverse sex educators and media like Teen Vogue, who gleefully send young children to their doom by encouraging and educating them in the finer aspects of sodomy and other deviant sexual practices, are lauded for their open-minded “tolerance.”
Sadly, the risk of STD infection is only one of the many proven serious physical and psychological consequences of the homosexual lifestyle that affect both men and women, including significantly increased risks of various forms of cancer. And this is to say nothing of the spiritual risks.
The tragedy of the confusing WMF program
It is profoundly tragic that an event founded by the “Pope of the Family,” St. John Paul II, whose own teaching on life and the family have inspired a whole generation of faithful Catholics, should be hijacked by ideologues in the Church in this way. There is simply no need for the bishops of Ireland to even mention same-sex couples in their materials on the WMF. Instead, they should simply and courageously re-affirm the beauty and sacredness of marriage between man and woman and highlight the great treasury of Church teaching, which even Catholics in the pews so rarely hear these days.
The 2018 WMF presents a timely opportunity for the Irish Church to push back against the recent legalization of same-sex “marriage” in their country, presenting a holistic and life-affirming conception of marriage. Instead, organizers of the 2018 WMF are allowing promoters of a secular vision of marriage and family to direct the conversation.
The Gospel lives in conversation with culture, and if the Church holds back from the culture, the Gospel itself falls silent. Therefore, we must be fearless in crossing the threshold of the communication and information revolution now taking place. –– St. John Paul II
The truth is that the homosexual lifestyle is not in conformity with the Gospel and teaching of Church. It is an intrinsic evil. To call this lifestyle good, or in any way suggest that it is equivalent to the true family, is to deny the evil it promotes. There is a proper place to “dialogue” with people struggling with this lifestyle. It is not the World Meeting of Families.
The Church cannot call good what is evil and evil what is good. The WMF provides a venue to elevate the sacred institution created by God and support it. This sacred institution, the building block of society, is under assault by the state and LBGT community. The open invitation for homosexual “families” to participate in the WMF is a confusing message that risks losing souls, and furthering Irish society’s precipitous descent into secularism and moral relativism.