From the Tablet, Wednesday 11th March:
A leading cardinal has said that same-sex relationships should be respected and recognised in law amid signs of a change in church thinking on the subject.
Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the Archbishop of Vienna, made the remarks in a lecture at the National Gallery evening titled “Christianity: Alien Presence or Foundation of the West?” on Monday.
“There can be same-sex partnerships and they need respect, and even civil law protection. Yes, but please keep it away from the notion of marriage. Because the definition of marriage is the stable union between a man and a woman open to life,” Cardinal Schönborn said.
“We should be clear about terms and respect the needs of people living in a partnership together. They deserve respect,” he added.
Two other cardinals, Colombian Ruben Salazar and Theodore McCarrick have recently suggested the Church should not oppose same-sex civil unions.
I’ve not yet found too much more detail than that contained in the Tablet report – but I’m sure more will surface shortly. There is an informal blog report by a priest who was present, noting that he was writing from memory, not a formal text of the address (and that a formal text in any case would have been unreliable, as much of the Cardinal’s remarks were off the cuff, or in response to questions. Here’s Fr Hugh, writing about the Cardinal’s words on gay marriage and civil unions, reported in “An Evening With Cardinal Schonborn“
He felt that same sex-relationships were a fact in modern European and deserved “respect”. That seemed a little too generous. Certainly in civil terms they should be conceded tolerance: there is no room in Catholic teaching for what could legitimately be called ‘hate crimes’ (in contrast to the expression of an opinion which questions such relationships on moral grounds, so often illegitimately lumped in with ‘hate crimes’ and ‘homophobia’). However tolerance does not equate to respect, and in Catholic terms it is hard to see how to respect something that is more often than not contrary to Christian morality. That said, the Cardinal did mention that when visiting schools he is often asked why the Church opposed “gay marriage”. His reply is always to tell them that the Church does not oppose “gay marriage”, for it cannot oppose something that does not exist! The Cardinal was clear that while civil protections might be accorded same-sex relationships, there can be no question of same-sex marriage. On that point he was unequivocal.
This is of a piece with a series of bishops who have been making similar statements in recent years – most notably Pope Francis himself, when still Cardinal Bergoglio in Argentina. Cardinal Schonborn himself spoke a few years ago on the need for the church to shift its emphasis from an obsession with. gay genital acts, to greater concern for the quality of the relationships. He did not then extend that principle to acceptance of legal protection for civil unions, but this is a logical development
For the record, this is what Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, said over the Easter weekend – when his remarks were overshadowed by those of Cardinal Dolan’s on the need to lend more support and welcome to LGBT Catholics – and the storm that followed illustrating how in his own archdiocese, an openly gay Catholic has in fact been excluded from ministry.
Appearing on Bloomberg’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” retired Archbishop of WashingtonCardinal Theodore McCarrick said he has “no problem” with civil unions for gay couples that confer the same rights as marriage.”
“I certainly would prefer that” to what I could call ‘a marriage,’ in quotes,” Cardinal McCarrick said.
“Same-sex marriage is not at this point prevalent in our society, and probably won’t be” because gays are a minority, McCarrick told Bloomberg. Children whose parents divorce or are born out of wedlock, he said, “find themselves out on a limb,” which “is a serious problem in our society”
- Another Bishop Supports Legal Recognition for Same – Sex Relationships (queeringthechurch.com)
- On Easter Talk Shows, Cardinals Call for Pastoral Outreach, Religious Liberty, and Civil Unions (newwaysministryblog.wordpress.com)
- An Exciting Time to be Gay and Catholic? (queeringthechurch.com)
- Cardinal McCarrick Sees Church Press for Immigration, Gun – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- “Records Show Pope Francis Supported Gay Unions” (news.queerchurch.com)
- Catholics: A shifting tone on gay issues? (mysanantonio.com)