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Cardinal Cristoph Schönborn at a Vatican press briefing, October 23, 2023Michael Haynes/LifeSiteNews

VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) –– Vienna’s Cardinal Christoph Schönborn has argued that changing the Catechism’s teaching against accepting LGBT issues was a matter for the Pope, but added that the Catechism’s passages on the death penalty had already been changed.

Speaking to journalists at a press briefing for the Synod on Synodality, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn fielded a number of questions regarding the synod’s process and the possible future for the Catholic Church. In particular, he was asked if he anticipated any changes to the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s teaching condemning homosexuality, since LGBT individuals find the catechism’s words “hurtful.”

READ: Cardinal opposes Church’s ban on blessing same-sex unions: ‘I was not happy about the declaration’

“The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a work of the [C]hurch, promulgated by the Pope,” he said, about the text whose completion he helped to oversee. He noted that there has been one change to the catechism since its promulgation: “when Pope Francis intervened on the death penalty.” Francis declared in 2018 that the death penalty is “inadmissible,” which he has since repeated numerous times, despite theologians arguing that he is contradicting “Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium of the Church.”

“It is no secret that John Paul II already wished that the death penalty would be explicitly condemned,” argued Schönborn, adding that “Mother Teresa explicitly asked John Paul II for this change.” 

This he posited as an example of the kind of change which could perhaps take place in the future. 

So in the debate on doctrine on the faith there are now two saints who wanted change. Further changes? I don’t know. Only the Pope is the one who can decide.

But while he shied away from directly stating there would be change, Schönborn offered an insight into his thoughts. He urged people to “read the texts as a whole,” noting that Pope Francis speaks about the aspects of “objective order and human beings.” 

In light of this, Schönborn suggested that the Church has to accept individuals, regardless of the life decisions, such as actively living an LGBT lifestyle:

Human beings always have right to be respected even though they sin, which they all do. We have right to be respected. We have a right to be accepted. 

The 78-year-old cardinal continued, highlighting a call for accompaniment. Schönborn argued: “So a person is accepted by God, then this person’s journey, well, it depends on this persons’s history, and a person has to be accompanied.”

Schönborn previously expressed his strong opposition to the Vatican’s 2021 ruling prohibiting same-sex “blessings,” arguing that the judgment “hurts many people to the core.” He added that “a blessing is not a reward for good behavior, but a plea for help from above.”

READ: Vienna Cardinal Schönborn to host ‘blasphemous’ pro-LGBT benefit concert in Cathedral again

But the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, in line with Sacred Scripture and Tradition, that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered” and “contrary to the natural law.” Referencing homosexual acts, the text states:

They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

The catechism further teaches that “[h]omosexual persons are called to chastity,” adding how “by the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.”

Arguments are currently increasingly being made for more “inclusion” of LGBT individuals, rather than affirming the Church’s condemnation of homosexual activity, with such arguments also being raised and discussed at the Synod on Synodality.

READ: Synod on Synodality discusses ‘pastoral’ approach to ‘love among gay couples’

But the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s (CDF) 1986 document On the pastoral care of homosexual persons clearly states that a “truly pastoral approach will appreciate the need for homosexual persons to avoid the near occasions of sin.” 

Such an authentic pastoral approach would “assist homosexual persons at all levels of the spiritual life: through the sacraments, and in particular through the frequent and sincere use of the sacrament of Reconciliation, through prayer, witness, counsel and individual care,” the CDF stated.

When LifeSite questioned synod officials if this text was underpinning discussions on the topic at the synod, the official was unable to give a clear affirmation. 

Instead, Dr. Paolo Ruffini wavered between hinting that the CDF’s text was not being followed, and then suggesting it was. “We are speaking about the way the Church is one, the way in which it is a welcoming church, the way in which it is inclusive,” he said.

“Sometimes we place ourselves on a pedestal,” Ruffini admonished, before closing by arguing “everything is based on the Gospel and based on the Tradition of the Church. We are all faithful and believers.”