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Pope’s former auxiliary bishop in Buenos Aires: Gay civil unions will ‘dechristianize’ society

Archbishop Héctor Aguer, the former Auxiliary Bishop of Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio, made the remarks in an essay for InfoCatolica.
Wed Oct 28, 2020 - 3:32 pm EST
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October 28, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – In an essay published today at InfoCatolica, and translated and published with permission at LifeSiteNews, Archbishop Héctor Aguer, the former Auxiliary Bishop of Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio when he became the Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998, has distanced himself from the Pope’s own comments about the need for homosexual civil unions.

Both Bergoglio and Aguer were appointed Auxiliary Bishops of Buenos Aires in 1992, and both were named archbishops of dioceses in 1998, Bergoglio to Buenos Aires and Aguer to La Plata a month later.

I wanted to share some reflections about just some of the crucially important points he raises in his article. Here’s the first that stood out:

In my opinion, ecclesiastical approval for “civil unions” will favor the dechristianization and dehumanization of society. 

With all the respect and affection that I profess for the Vicar of Christ, I would venture to think that the expressions he has made on the topic covered in the film “Francis” are not part of the magisterium.  

The same point was made today by Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, who said that there are moments where Catholics “have to criticize many ideas and actions of individual Popes.”

More from Archbishop Aguer:

I would compare it to conversations that the popes have with reporters in the aisles of airplanes during their trips; they may be interesting, but they lack the specificity that is proper to a magisterial act; although they are issued by a relevant person, they don’t pass beyond the status of a private opinion.  

Papolatry is not healthy behavior for Catholics.  

To learn more about the question of papolatry, watch this 2018 interview with Cardinal Raymond Burke.

Archbishop Auger continues:

This has already resulted in a backlash, which raises concerns about an increase in divisions among the faithful, a deepening of the ecclesiastical “fissure,” which exists without a doubt.  

His Excellency is spot on. We can clearly see a split in the Church over this issue, as Cardinals Burke, Müller and Archbishops Viganò and Schneider have sounded the alarm about the Pope’s latest remarks, while other clergy thought to be “conservatives” such as Cardinal Sean O’Malley have said there is nothing to see here.

What’s worse is that several of the new cardinals Pope Francis just appointed are totally supportive of homosexual civil unions, which, again, are contrary to Church teaching.

More from Archbishop Aguer:

In conclusion: It is very painful to contemplate the spiritual damage that would be experienced by those faithful who suffer from their disordered inclination if the Church were to endorse the recognition of civil unions, approved by the State as a right to have a family; this would place an obstacle to the possibility of healing described in the Catechism.  

Chaste same-sex attracted Catholics, feeling betrayed by Pope Francis, are speaking out and urging him to repent.

Indeed, those who heroically reject homosexuality and chose day in and day out to live chaste lives are now offering poignant commentary on the harm inflicted by Pope Francis’s remarks. One wishes the Holy Father would only listen to them.

One last comment from Archbishop Aguer:

Because the mercy of truth is owed to these people, a scandal, to which is added the promotion of clergy who have a consistently bad reputation (‘if you know what I mean’) which is known with certainty by many people, they do not seem to be calumnies. 

Just this week Pope Francis appointed 13 new cardinals, some of whom are pro-LGBT and support communion for adulterers. Bishop Aguer is right. It is a scandal of the highest rank! May God have mercy on us all.

Below is Archbishop Aguer’s article, which has been translated into English by LifeSite’s Matthew Hoffman. The original can be read by clicking here.

“The family: wife, husband, children. Regarding a papal declaration”

When he was the archbishop of Buenos Aires, the then-Cardinal Bergoglio, in a Plenary Assembly of the Argentine Episcopal Conference, proposed giving approval to civil unions for homosexual persons provided by the State, as a possible alternative to what was called – and is called – “marriage equality.”  The plenary session of the Argentinean bishops rejected that proposal with a vote against it.

Héctor Aguer, Emeritus Archbishop of La Plata 

October 28, 2020

The recent declaration of the Supreme Pontiff, in which he supported civil unions for people of the same sex (in other words, proposing the creation of a legal framework for them), has caused a stir, both within the Church and outside of it. He did it in a biographical documentary, “Francesco,” made by Evgeny Afineevsky, a Russian filmmaker of Jewish origin, which debuted in the Rome Film Festival, and given the “Movie for Humanity” award. It was then stated that there is no reason at all to be surprised, because the Holy Father had already expressed that opinion in an interview given last year to the Mexican television network Televisa. I understand that this provoked a debate, and questions arose that have not been clarified sufficiently. In reality, when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, the then Cardinal Bergoglio, in a Plenary Assembly of the Argentine Episcopal Conference, proposed the approval of civil unions for homosexual persons provided by the State, as a possible alternative to what was called – and is called – “marriage equality.”  At that time it was argued against him that this was not a merely political or sociological issue, but that it involved a moral judgment, and therefore one cannot promote the approval of civil laws that are contrary to the natural order. It was recalled as well that this doctrine was declared repeatedly in the documents of the Second Vatican Council. The plenary session of the Argentinean bishops rejected that proposal by voting against it.

In 2003 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith declared that the respect owed to homosexual persons, which the Church upholds, “cannot lead in any way to the approval of that conduct or to the legal recognition of their unions.” It isn’t an act of suspicion to think that such unions, for which legal recognition has been proposed, are not “platonic”; therefore, it would be to implicitly approve giving the protection of the law to sodomy. The teaching in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 2357-2359) is something very different. It presents a careful exposition on the topic in the context of its study of the Sixth Commandment, and on the virtue of chastity. Far from condemning people who are attracted to the same sex, it states that they must be “accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity,” but that the exercise of that objectively disordered tendency is contrary to the natural law, is closed to procreation – the primary end of sexual relations – and lacks the necessary affective and sexual complementarity. 

The Catechism does not encourage such behavior.To the contrary, it proposes to Christians who experience that unnatural inclination a way of spiritual progress aimed at arriving at chastity, through the practice of “the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom,” prayer, and sacramental grace; moreover, it is affirmed that they can and must “gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.” Among the aids that they can offer to these people is “the support of disinterested friendship” (amicitiae gratuitae auxilio, 2359). These principles could inspire initiatives to effectively accompany and give aid to those brothers who find themselves in that sort of difficulty. Unfortunately, the so-called “sexual revolution” has perversely influenced the mentality of new generations; many pastors of the Church disregard the value and importance of Christian anthropology,and do not make an effort to bring about its dissemination. Thus the forgetting about and denial of the metaphysical concept of nature becomes ever more culturally prevalent, and brings about confusion and a pernicious tolerance of the fact and the practice of homosexuality. Individualism and subjectivism induce people to think that each person may choose according to his preference the “gender” in which he wishes to live. People in the Church are not aware that this mentality destroys the faith.This is the “evangelization of culture”? In my opinion, the ecclesiastical approval of “civil unions” will favor the dechristianization and dehumanization of society.

With all the respect and affection that I profess for the Vicar of Christ, I would venture to think that the statements made on the topic in the film “Francesco” are not part of the magisterium. I would compare them to then conversations that the popes have with reporters in the aisles of airplanes during their trips; they may be interesting, but they lack the specificity that is proper to a magisterial act; although they are issued by a relevant person, they don’t pass beyond the status of a private opinion. Furthermore, given that in this case there exists a certain Catholic doctrine on the subject, if the Holy Father had the intention of introducing a change, it is reasonable to hold that it would make a clear and authoritative statement to that effect, using good arguments. Papolatry is not healthy behavior for Catholics. I have read that some victims of sexual abuse by priests have celebrated the above-mentioned pontifical declarations as if they are a desirable modification of Church teaching. This has already resulted in a backlash, which raises concerns about an increase in divisions among the faithful, a deepening of the ecclesiastical “fissure,” which exists without a doubt. I hope that theologians, cardinals, and bishops with greater wisdom and authority than I have will shed light on these dark moments. 

In my brief reference to true Catholic doctrine I wanted to allude to a very long standing tradition to which the most recent are applicable: numerous interventions of the great Pius XII, above all his beautiful discourses to those who were recently married, and to the no less abundant interventions of Saint John Paul II, his catechesis of the years 1979 and 1980 regarding love, the body, and sexuality, and his encyclicals Mulieris dignitatem and Familiaris Consortio, and the statements of such philosophical, cultural, and theological rigor of Benedict XVI regarding gender ideology. But even before, beginning with the encyclical Arcanum divinae sapientiaeof Leo XIII (1880) and Casti connubii of Pius XI (1930), the pontifical authority reacted successively against what was merely civil marriage, divorce, and the practice of living together outside of matrimony. Homogeneity, which is the most fundamental aspect of the development of Catholic doctrine, now suggests aclear pronouncement against the liceity of homosexual civil unions, which will never be the foundation of an authentic family. 

At the foundation of this tradition in its rough outline we find the very Word of the Lord, which refers to the revelation of the Old Testament. Jesus responded to the sophistry of the Pharisees: “Have you not read that the Creator, from the beginning, made them man and woman (ársen kai thēly), and that he said: For this reason a man (ánthrōpos) will leave his father and mother to unite himself to a woman (gynaikí), and the two will be but one single flesh (sárka mían)?” (Mt. 19:4, cf. Mk. 10:6). Certainly, neither in the perspective of the texts of Genesis (1:27, and 2:24) nor in the Gospels, is there found the possibility of a union of people of the same sex. The divine Word, in its objectivity, has a formidable value for today. Something that is neither conceivable in the order of natural reason, nor in the order of Revelation, has been made into a concession of modern culture:  the mysterious deformity that affects Adam exiled from paradise.

 I write “mysterious” because the Catechism notes with respect to homosexuality that “its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained” (2357).

 The reason that has been given in support of the novel formulation regarding civil unions, is that homosexual persons have the right to a family; in effect this states – if I do not misunderstand – that a family is constituted through a civil union of two persons of the same sex. They could, therefore, if they so wish, become the “guardians” of a child, whether through adoption or by means of producing one through [sperm or egg] donation or by purchasing the necessary gametes and, when necessary, the renting of a womb, analogically to what is permitted to an “equal” form of marriage. Can this construction be called a family? In common language, the list of meanings that are given by the dictionary of the Royal Academy of Spain begin with this broad definition: “a group of people related to one another who live together.” For Catholic doctrine, in contrast, the family is constituted through a marriage, and it is made up of the husband (man), the wife (woman), and their children. If it is affirmed that homosexuals have the right to constitute a family, it will be necessary to recognize that, in effect, a change has been made in the Catholic doctrine on the subject. I will express it symbolically: on the dismasted ship that is the Church of our day, the topsails are no longer moved by the blowing of the Holy Spirit, but rather are pushed by the wind of the secular culture. I resist accepting this.

 But it turns out that the Second Vatican Council, to which abusive appeals have been made so many times, aligns with that tradition and it continues it: the family proceeds from the matrimonial relationship (connubio); in it new citizens of human society are born (Lumen gentium,11). The family is “the first and vital cell of society”; its rights must be preserved in civil legislation (Apostolicam actuositatem, 11). In the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et speswe read: “Public authority should regard it as a sacred duty to recognize, protect and promote the authentic nature of marriage and the family, to shield public morality and to favor the prosperity of home life” (n. 52). In the conciliar perspective the approval of a civil union of people of the same sex is unthinkable, and it is much less conceivable that it could be considered a “family”; in the same paragraph of that document it is made clear that the family is constituted of the spouses – father and mother – and their children. Perhaps someone might consider that Vatican II, after more than half a century, is out-of-step with the current reality. Well, let them say so openly!

The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, published in 2004, addressing an agnostic and relativist conception of democracy, recalls that, according to the teaching of the Church, a “family” is that which is founded on the monogamous marriage between people of different sexes (n.569). In the same text, which contains an ample spectrum of topics regarding the family, a passage of Pope Wojtyla’s encyclical Centessimus annusis taken up, which includes among human rights “to live in a united family and in a moral environment conducive to the growth of the child's personality” (47). I do not believe that one can correct these statements to include a presumed human right to have a family for homosexuals united in a civil union. According to the Compendium, “Making ‘de facto unions’ legally equivalent to the family would discredit the model of the family”; a fortiori...The basis is in a completely private notion of these social relations (227). Subjectivism and relativism justify any combination, harming the Church and secular society as well. “Human ecology” would appear to be disrupted if the structure of what has always been considered “family” is altered; the intimate communion of life and love founded on marriage between a man and a woman is not the same as the legal fiction of a civil union between people of the same sex (cf. n. 211 s.). Does it now turn out that the concern, even an overwhelming one, for safeguarding the physical oikosis compatible with the unscrupulous destruction of the moral, cultural, and social oikos? 

The academic study of the reality of the family has been amply developed, and it recognizes the influence of disunifying factors that operate powerfully in modern culture. The characteristics of an ideal family are always clear; one of those scholars notes: “Monogamy, united by the indissoluble sacrament of marriage, under paternal leadership and maternal collaboration;  the recognition of the dignity and rights of parents and children – given in a gradual way to the latter –; offspring of both sexes; reasonable freedom for the children to choose their state and profession; the presence of the grandparents and other relatives; sufficient income and the existence of a family patrimony...” The ideal description that I have chosen has been elaborated upon for more than thirty years; simultaneously, moral treatises that circulated in Catholic universities offered a sociological and historicist conception of the family, at the conjuring of a Freudian concept of sexuality. These contrasts accompanied the accelerated process of family disintegration derived from the development and progress of various forms of feminism, that have brought about the cultural imposition of gender ideology, in whose propositions bring about the dissolution of the very foundation: the necessity of two sexes, man and woman, to constitute a family. In the opinion of the Church, the description that I have offered in the first citation was losing consistency, despite the excellent magisterium of those years. We finally arrived at the culmination of the decadence of Catholic culture, progressively perforated for decades. Modern revolutions and the totalitarian systems of the 20thcentury, Nazism and communism, have subjected the family to the power of the State; however it has been the developed democracies, in the period following the Second World War, that have made the most profound advance in the alteration of the nature of the order of the family. A little-known fact: the dissolution of matrimonial ties and of the community of the family sanctioned by the revolutionary Soviet doctrine, had to be corrected in 1936 by legislation destined to halt abuses that are corrosive for society. In reality, until very recently an argument in favor of unions of people of the same sex was unthinkable in Catholic circles,and even more unthinkable was the idea that they could be considered to be a family.

According to Revelation and the Christian tradition that follows from it, the family is a natural institution,the closest to human nature, because it proceeds from the instinctive love that unites a man and a woman, and it is projected in the culture, constituting the foundation of society. It is now necessary to repeat these fundamental truths: the notions of nature, natural order, and natural law; over these are built the properly Christian conception that provides the faith, the charity, and the sacramental grace of marriage, which correct possible defects, elevate the primary reality, and constitute the elemental cell of ecclesial society.

Doctrine and acts. In the Pauline epistles we find the affirmation of the ethical and religious unity of the relationship of man and woman, which is not added exteriorly to the natural dimension, but assumes it and transforms it from within. The Church has intervened always to defend the authentic reality of the institution of the family in the face of historical alterations, persuaded of the pedagogical and pastoral importance of the corrections that it proclaimed as necessary to conform to the design of God. What is in play is this alternative: a life lived in grace or in sin, and therefore, eternal salvation.

In conclusion: It is very painful to contemplate the spiritual damage that would be experienced by those faithful who suffer from their disordered inclination if the Church were to endorse the recognition of civil unions, approved by the State as a right to have a family; this would place an obstacle to the possibility of healing described in the Catechism. Because the mercy of truth is owed to these people. A scandal, to which is added the promotion of clergy who have a consistently bad reputation (if you know what I mean) which is known with certainty by many people; they do not seem to be calumnies. 

What can the Catholic faithful do today? Above all, pray, invoking the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, and of Saint Joseph, its Patron. But, furthermore, to tirelessly disseminate, with exactitude and serenity, the teaching, which is unchanging, maintained by the great ecclesial tradition, to dissipate confusion with its light; because it’s about saying “yes” to what is, and “no” to what is not, and in this way to thwart the plans of the Father of Lies (cf. Jn 8:44), and to not lose hope, which lights up suns in our night.


  civil unions, gay civil unions, pope francis, same-sex civil unions, vatican

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