After meetings that ended on Nov 25 with Belgium’s Catholic bishops, Pope Francis will have the opportunity either to reaffirm or negate Catholic doctrine concerning one of civilization’s most contentious issues: same-sex marriage.
But those liturgies could lead to sacramental recognition of same-sex marriage. That would mark a pivotal, and possibly permanent, theological and moral shift, especially as secular authorities increasingly support exposing children to LGBTQ sexuality.
For centuries, the Catholic Church taught that same-sex marriage was sacramentally invalid. The catechism defines homosexual sex as “acts of grave depravity” and “intrinsically disordered,” and urges homosexuals to practice chastity.
The catechism reflects biblical teaching. Leviticus included homosexuality among other sexual behaviors considered “detestable” and punishable by death. In the New Testament, Jesus defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman. The Apostle Paul, a former Pharisee, described homosexual acts as “shameful” and practicing homosexuals as unable to “inherit the Kingdom of God.”
In March 2021, responding to a similar challenge from German bishops, the Vatican’s leading theological body, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, declared that the church had no authority to bless same-sex unions. The congregation’s written response pointedly mentioned that Francis himself approved that decision.
Years earlier, Francis restated Catholic teaching on marriage. He even described gender theory as “ideological colonization.” But the Belgian bishops cited Francis as their inspiration.
Quoting from Francis’ Amoris Laetitia, which addresses family love, the bishops expressed their goal to use the “discernment, guidance and integration” the pope advocates to “give a concrete response and fulfilment to the desire to give explicit attention to the situation of homosexual persons, their parents, and families in their policy making.” The bishops concluded with a proposed “prayer for love and loyalty.”
Though Francis defends traditional marriage in words, his actions reveal an apathetic tolerance for LGBTQ advocacy and behavior. That apathy extends to his appointments.
One is Cardinal Vincenzo Paglia, whom FrontPage Magazine discussed concerning his tolerance for abortion. Francis named him in 2016 to be president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, which Pope John Paul II founded to combat abortion. But before moving to the Vatican, Paglia showed his support for homosexuality in a dramatic way.
As the archbishop of a small diocese north of Rome, Paglia commissioned a painting dominated by homoerotic images for his cathedral. It includes a scene showing the semi-nude archbishop, wearing his skullcap, embracing a semi-nude male.
Paglia and another priest supervised every aspect of the work.
“There was no detail that was done freely, at random,” said the artist, Ricardo Cinalli. “Everything was analyzed. Everything was discussed. They never allowed me to work on my own.”
From 2012-16, Paglia served as president of the Pontifical Council for the Family. During his tenure, he released a sex-education course for teens that Dr. Rick Fitzgibbons called “the most dangerous threat to Catholic youth that I have seen over the past 40 years.”
“As a professional who has treated both priest perpetrators and the victims of the abuse crisis in the Church,” he said, “what I found particularly troubling was that the pornographic images in this program are similar to those used by adult sexual predators of adolescents.”
The Rev. James Martin represents another dubious appointment. The editor-at-large of the Jesuit magazine America became one of Francis’ communications advisors in 2017. Using his various platforms, especially Twitter, Martin positions himself as an LGBTQ ally, even contradicting established teaching.
Martin not only posted tweets implying support for the Belgian bishops. In 2019, he admitted on Twitter that the Bible “clearly condemns” homosexual sex. “The issue,” the Jesuit continued, “is precisely whether the biblical judgement is correct.”
That statement repudiates the fundamental Catholic doctrine that Scripture is divinely inspired.
In 2017, Martin expressed his opinion unequivocally. That August at Villanova University, he told a gay man who refrains from kissing his partner during the Sign of Peace at Mass, “I hope in ten years you will be able to kiss your partner or, you know, soon to be your husband. Why not? What’s the terrible thing?”
Martin has substantial influence in Rome. On Nov. 11, Martin met Francis for two private audiences “during which we spoke about the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties, of LGBTQ Catholics,” he tweeted. The time was “indeed punctuated with smiles and laughter, and after which I indeed felt elated,” he added. “It was a warm, inspiring and encouraging meeting that I’ll never forget.”
Another indication of Francis’ indifference is the art designed for an upcoming international synod on church governance. One panel, “Exclusion to Inclusion,” disparages “Scripture” and “Catholic identity” as exclusionary but ranks “LGBTQ+ identity” with inclusive terms. Another features a figure wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the word “Pride” in rainbow colors and saying:
“We are the young people of the future, and the future is now.”
If Francis’ attitude toward abortion offers any indication, his stance toward same-sex marriage might be more accommodating — and troubling — than anybody realizes.
The pope’s verbal opposition to abortion is as strong as his verbal support for traditional marriage. Francis even equated procuring an abortion to hiring a “hitman,” he said. But FrontPage Magazine twice exposed the Vatican’s current tolerance of abortion. Despite expressing support in August for Italy’s law legalizing the practice, Paglia remains the Pontifical Academy for Life’s president.
Seven weeks after Paglia’s comments, Francis appointed Mariana Mazzucato, an economics professor at London’s University College, to the academy. As the Supreme Court deliberated and overturned Roe v. Wade, she tweeted various comments supporting abortion. One was a video from left-wing commentator Ana Kasparian, who said:
“I don’t care that you’re a Christian. I don’t care what the Bible says. I feel like it’s a clown show trying to decipher what your mythical little book has to say about these very real political issues. … I don’t believe in Christianity, which means that you do not get to dictate my life based on your religion. … I don’t care about your God-damned religion….”
Mazzucato’s response? “So good!”
Of course, Americans know about Francis’ refusal to hold the nation’s two most visible Catholic politicians, Joe Biden, the virtual president, and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the soon-to-be former Speaker of the House, accountable for publicly supporting abortion.
Damian Thompson, who covers religion for Britain’s Observer, believes Francis uses indifference to indicate approval. Thompson cites such examples as the case of German Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, who refused to resign despite tolerating clerical sex abuse.
“If Bishop Bode is allowed to remain in office despite admitting very serious failures relating to sex abuse, then that’s because Pope Francis is happy for him to do so,” Thompson said on his Sept. 27 podcast. “By the same token, if the bishops of Costa Rica can get away with suspending a priest from his ministry for the crime of celebrating Mass in Latin … that’s because Pope Francis is happy for them to do so.
“Why are the bishops of Germany and Belgium proposing fundamental changes to Catholic teaching? Because Francis has invited them to do so … ”
Given the contrast between Francis’ words and actions — and, in some cases, inactions — the Catholic Church risks jettisoning centuries of teaching for post-modernist intellectual fashion.