Cardinal Errázuriz on the Church, Homosexuals and Priesthood

Acceptance, Yes; Ordination, No, He Says

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SANTIAGO, Chile, DEC. 9, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The president of the Chilean bishops' conference says that the Church has the duty to accept homosexuals, but that experience teaches it is inadvisable to ordain them priests.



In an interview on Radio Cooperative, reproduced on the Web page of the Chilean episcopate, Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz acknowledges that homosexuals must be respected by society, that they suffer discrimination, and that they are regarded in a strange way or as if they were sinners.

Cardinal Errázuriz was commenting on No. 2358 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states that homosexuals "must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided."

These persons, the catechism continues, "are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition."

For this reason, the cardinal said, "I think that they cannot feel discriminated against in regard to the pastoral care they receive."

He said that in homosexuality there is a compulsive tendency, which incites to active homosexuality.

"In the priesthood, where there is much contact with boys, to put a person with them who might have this compulsive tendency is a great problem for him and for the boys," Cardinal Errázuriz continued. "If one asks a family with seven children in the house, if they would like the 'mozo' [domestic] to be a homosexual, the person would probably say no."

In this way, the cardinal explained implicitly the letter of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, in which the Holy See concludes that a person "with a homosexual tendency is not, therefore, fit to receive the sacrament of holy orders."

In the interview, the cardinal explained that celibacy forms part of the discipline of the Church (not of the deposit of faith); hence, in theory, it could be revised. However, he added, the Church keeps it because it is a "a very great treasure."

In fact, many evangelical pastors tell leaders of the Catholic Church "not to think of putting celibacy aside," the cardinal added.