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Pope Francis meets Yayo Grassi, left, and his homosexual partner, Iwan, at the Apostolic Nunciature on Sept. 23, 2015.Marisa Marchitelli

November 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – In light of the recent remarks by Pope Francis in support of same-sex civil unions, LifeSite reached out to Dr. Christian Spaemann, a Catholic psychiatrist who works in Austria and the son of famous Catholic philosopher (now deceased), Professor Robert Spaemann. We asked Dr. Spaemann, an expert on the topic of homosexuality, to comment on these papal remarks, the effects on homosexuals, and on the Catholic Church and society at large. 

LifeSite: What was your reaction to the news about the documentary film in which the Pope proposes civil unions for homosexual couples?

Professor Christian Spaemann: At first I was a little speechless to hear such a thing from the Pope's mouth. A civil union especially for homosexuals is nothing new. I reject this concept. In principle, sexuality as such is a private matter. Sexuality is a matter for the state only when it relates to the public interest, e.g. when it comes to protection against abuse or about the growing up of children under optimal conditions. The “gold standard” for this is, and this has been proven in countless studies, the natural, biological family in the context of a marriage for life between a man and a woman. For the sake of its own continued existence, a society should have enormous interest in the promotion of this family structure. The demand for a civil union or “marriage” for people who have a homosexual inclination is usually part of a cultural Marxist agenda, which wishes to dissolve all substantial differences between people and human bonds as an expression of discrimination, whatever the cost. It surprises me when representatives of the Catholic Church give their voice for such matters. They should know that such statements are always primarily seen as a consent to the present expanding diversity agenda. This smells more like pandering to the spirit of the times, rather than a true concern for the people concerned.

Some say that the pope would still be against same-sex marriage, and therefore his words would not change the teaching of the Church.

The teaching of the Church cannot be changed anyway, no matter what was meant with these words. That the reigning pope is neither for a social or ecclesiastical-sacramental equalization of homosexual relationships with marriage between man and woman seems undisputed to me. It is about something

What is it about?

The Church teaches that the union between man and woman, which is based on a yes that is valid for life and which is fertile is the only for of a sexual union which corresponds with the dignity of man – in relation to his body, his soul, and his spiritual dimension – and in which the meaning of sexuality can unfold.  For this there is only one alternative, and that is sexual abstinence. In this respect, all other sexual acts violate in one way or another against the dignity of the human being and are objectively sinful. Under the influence of a moral theology that is heretical and that has been repeatedly condemned by popes like Paul VI or John Paul II and others, today representatives of the Church present the Commandments of God regarding sexuality in an abstract way as a sort of “ideal,” and sexual acts outside marriage are being justified on the basis of subjective intentions, yes even seen in a positive light. Accordingly, one thinks that one can soften the Catholic sacramental order. These representatives of the Church follow here in a tragic way an anti-Christian, gnostic concept of self-exaltation of man over his creaturely, body-soul constitution.

Exactly this view is regarded by many as hard-hearted and as unrealistic in light of the complexity of the life of many Catholics.

Concerning the complexity of life, I like to refer to a statement of the old Konrad Adenauer: “If you only look at the surface of things they are not easy, but if you look into the depths, you see the reality, and that is always easy.” Through the affirmation of various sexual behaviors, the reasonableness and clarity of the Christian faith is being diluted. The Church thereby loses her radiance and becomes superfluous in modern society, except for the icing on the cake of religious ceremonies. If we Christians do not strive to help the injured person by example and by proclaiming the healing image of sexual purity, then we are hard-hearted. Actually, we then betray Christ Himself, Whom we meet in our neighbor. Of course, the proclamation in these areas must be without condemnation, with sensitivity, understanding, patience and humility. But this seems to me to have long since become a matter of course. Loudly recited accusations of Phariseeism and a lack of mercy addressed to those who insist on representing the Catholic moral doctrine seem to me but rather to come from the moth box of “agitation and propaganda.” Such an agitation causes confusion among the faithful and instrumentalizes their trust in the teaching authority of the Church for one's own intentions. It is a kind of trick to not having to provide the explanations for the questions they themselves have raised.

Where do you see the most need for an explanation?

There is a need for explanation on many levels. I would like to present here a very clear and lively aspect. According to the universal teaching of the Old and of the New Testament and the Church Fathers, divine wisdom is inscribed in the created things. They carry, as it were, the watermark of God within them. This applies in a special way to humans. Paul speaks of the body as a temple of God that does not belong to us (1 Cor 1:19). The bodily dimension of man is it, which also is called to holiness and to eternal life (Phil 3:21). Dignitaries of the Church, who think that homosexual actions are not sinful under certain circumstances and that homosexual couples can receive a church blessing for their partnership without any vow to abstinence raise should explain to believers the meaning and significance of homosexual acts and explain how these actions can be at all performed physically so that they can be pleasing to God. I would be interested in their response. Not those who adhere to Catholic doctrine, but those who quite obviously claim something that is contrary to the previous teaching of the Church have an obligation to deliver. That we hear barely anything on the part of the church hierarchy is of course a big scandal. There is talk of new “findings in human sciences,” whereby one never learns what findings are actually involved. I, as one who knows the data of human sciences on homosexuality quite well, would also not know which “findings” one could mention here.

Do you see here a connection to the abuse scandals in Catholic Church? 

This connection exists quite obviously. One is currently trying, by implementing the normalization of homosexuality as a way of life within the Church and by consistently concealing facts, to cover up the fact that the Church has a massive problem with homosexuality. 80 percent of the cases of abuse in the Catholic Church were of a homosexual nature. The connection between homosexuality, clerical network building, ephebophilia and pedophilia becomes systematically swept under the carpet. The temptation to get out of this situation by adapting to the spirit of the times is of course great for many representatives of the ecclesiastical hierarchy. After all, there is almost no media pressure on the Church to face this problem. On the contrary, there is rather the fear to be accused by the media of being homophobic should one start to deal with the whole catastrophe.

What will be the consequences of the Pope's statements for the Church and for believers with homosexual inclinations?

The statements of the Pope concerning a civil union for homosexuals refer to the secular realm and already there highly problematic. In the larger context, they represent a fatal and more complex building block in the weakening of church teaching and in the promotion of the spread of illegal liturgical practices, which have not been challenged with the help of disciplinary measures for a long time. Mention must also be made here of the numerous appointments of bishops and cardinals, which promote the intrusion of the secular diversity ideology into the Church. The faithful and the whole world are being deprived of the possibility to receive an essential orientation about the meaning of human sexuality. From those homosexual believers who strive for an abstinent life, the church support and the backing of the hierarchy is gradually being withdrawn. There are among these Christians ecumenical networks, which in an admirable way support each other. They are marginalized and ostracized. With their experience, their knowledge, and their spirituality, they are the real pioneers and guide for the positioning of the Church in today's society.

What would be a good reaction of the Church to the situation with homosexuals today?

Of course, church teaching and discipline must be fully restored, liturgical, partly sacrilegious practices ended and many seminaries completely reorganized. In essence, however, it is about the fact that the Church again concentrates on the mystery that she herself is. That she learns to withdraw from the Gnostic subjectivism of the world, that she once again radically turns to Christ and in Him to the mystery of the Trinity, creation and redemption, thereby calming down. Only in this peace the Church can be fruitful. Only in this way can we Christians again be servants of peace, of freedom and a joy for the people.