The Editors


English cardinal’s advice to new pope: don’t condemn in realm of sexual morality

The Editors

ROME, February 13, 2013 ( – With the eyes of the world fixed on the 125 cardinal electors who will be voting in the upcoming conclave, the former Archbishop of Westminster has advised the next pope not to “condemn” anything in the realm of sexual morality, but to focus instead on the positive. 

“I think that the Church would be wise actually to focus on that in her teaching, rather than saying ‘we condemn this, we condemn that, or the other’. No – focus on what’s good and what’s true,” Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor told the BBC today. 

“I think that every Pope will face what needs to be faced and with regard to contraception I think the Pope won’t say the Church has been wrong the whole time. He’ll be saying there are ways.”

“I think the Pope will be, as every other Pope has, particularly Pope Benedict, understanding that the fundamental teaching on sexuality is concentrated on marriage, on family life.”

Cormac Murphy O’Connor, at 80, is too old to vote in the conclave, but will be in Rome to advise and discuss the papal succession.

Under his rule, the archdiocese of Westminster instituted the notorious “gay Masses” that were the focus of heavy criticism by faithful Catholics until late last year when his successor, Vincent Nichols, moved the Soho Mass community to a local London parish.

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John Smeaton, the head of the UK’s Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, which has been leading the campaign against the government’s proposed “gay marriage” law, told that he believes the cardinal’s suggestion is absurd according to common sense.

“It would be a grave disservice to the pro-life movement if the next Pope fails to reiterate frequently the wrongness of contraception. As Popes Benedict XVI and his predecessors made clear, contraception is the gateway to killing of unborn children,” Smeaton said.

The cardinal’s advice appears to run counter to the longstanding teaching of the Church on the duties of pastors in teaching the moral law. The 2006 Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church tells pastors they have “the task of proclamation, but also of denunciation” of evil. The social doctrine of the Church, in which the moral teachings are included, “also entails a duty to denounce, when sin is present.”

In one clear example of this teaching in practice, a document dated 1986, signed by then-Cardinal Ratzinger, says that persons suffering from the temptations of same-sex attraction are not helped by the silence of their pastors. The “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church
on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons,” says bishops are instructed to offer pastoral services “in full accord with the teaching of the Church”.

“Departure from the Church’s teaching, or silence about it, in an effort to provide pastoral care is neither caring nor pastoral… Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral. The neglect of the Church’s position prevents homosexual men and women from receiving the care they need and deserve.”

The letter goes on to say, “No authentic pastoral programme will include organizations in which homosexual persons associate with each other without clearly stating that homosexual activity is immoral. A truly pastoral approach will appreciate the need for homosexual persons to avoid the near occasions of sin.”

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