Exclusive: Cardinal Burke responds to Australian couple’s Synod presentation on family’s gay son
In an exclusive interview with LifeSiteNews, Cardinal Raymond Burke has responded to a controversial presentation by an Australian couple before 191 of the Catholic Church’s leading bishops and cardinals at the ongoing Extraordinary Synod on the Family this week.
During their intervention, which has turned out to be one of the most widely reported interventions at the Synod, the Priolas asked and answered a question about what parents should do in the case where their son wants to bring his homosexual partner to a Christmas dinner where their grandchildren will be present.
The Pirolas’ response, which they held up as a model for the manner in which the Catholic Church should deal with same-sex relationships, was that parents should accept the participation of the son and his homosexual partner knowing “their grandchildren would see them welcome the son and his partner into the family.”
Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols revealed afterwards that some Synod fathers responded to the short intervention by the couple “very warmly, with applause.”
Speaking to LifeSiteNews on a short break from the Synod yesterday, Cardinal Burke, the Prefect of the Vatican's Apostolic Signitura, called the Pirolas’ question a ‘delicate’ question that needs to be addressed in a “calm, serene, reasonable and faith-filled manner.”
“If homosexual relations are intrinsically disordered, which indeed they are — reason teaches us that and also our faith — then, what would it mean to grandchildren to have present at a family gathering a family member who is living [in] a disordered relationship with another person?” asked the cardinal.
Burke added, “we don't want our children” to get the “impression” that sexual relationships outside God’s plan are alright, “by seeming to condone gravely sinful acts on the part of a family member.”
“We wouldn’t, if it were another kind of relationship — something that was profoundly disordered and harmful — we wouldn't expose our children to that relationship, to the direct experience of it. And neither should we do it in the context of a family member who not only suffers from same-sex attraction, but who has chosen to live out that attraction, to act upon it, committing acts which are always and everywhere wrong, evil.”
He added, however, that “families have to find a way to stay close to a child in this situation — to a son or grandson, or whatever it may be — in order to try to draw the person away from a relationship which is disordered.”
Cardinal Burke’s concerns were shared by Voice of the Family, a coalition of 15 major pro-life and pro-family groups from every continent, who called the Pirolas intevention “damaging.”
“The unqualified welcome of homosexual couples into family and parish environments in fact damages everybody, by serving to normalise the disorder of homosexuality,” said Voice of the Family spokesman Maria Madise in a press release.
In an interview with Aleteia, Fr. Paul Check, the head of Courage, the Catholic group that works to assist those with same-sex attraction to live chaste lives, responded to the question, noting, “We can never be more pastoral than Jesus.”
He added, “To welcome people into the Church, into our homes, into conversation … to ‘accept them’ in an authentic Christ-like way would never call for a compromise of the truth.” An example of that comprise he said, would be to “say to someone in some form, ‘Well, that’s the best you can do.’”
The full question and Cardinal Burke's response follow:
LifeSiteNews: How should Catholic parents deal with a difficult situation like this:
when planning a Christmas family gathering with grandchildren present, parents are asked by their son, who is in a homosexual relationship, if he can come and bring with him his homosexual partner?
Applying these principles, how should parishes deal with open homosexual couples who approach to receive Holy Communion and who seek leadership roles within the parish?
Cardinal Burke: This is a very delicate question, and it's made even more delicate by the aggressiveness of the homosexual agenda. But one has to approach this in a very calm, serene, reasonable and faith-filled manner. If homosexual relations are intrinsically disordered, which indeed they are — reason teaches us that and also our faith — then, what would it mean to grandchildren to have present at a family gathering a family member who is living [in] a disordered relationship with another person?
We wouldn’t, if it were another kind of relationship — something that was profoundly disordered and harmful — we wouldn't expose our children to that relationship, to the direct experience of it. And neither should we do it in the context of a family member who not only suffers from same-sex attraction, but who has chosen to live out that attraction, to act upon it, committing acts which are always and everywhere wrong, evil.
And so, families have to find a way to stay close to a child in this situation — to a son or grandson, or whatever it may be — in order to try to draw the person away from a relationship which is disordered.
And we know that with time, these relationships leave the person profoundly unhappy. And so it's important to stay [as] close as one can. But, that particular form of relationship should not be imposed upon family members, and especially upon impressionable children. And I urge parents or grandparents — whoever it may be — to be very, very prudent in this matter and not to scandalize their children or grandchildren.
There's so much in our society today which is giving the message that any form of sexual relationship, if it somehow pleases you — or you’re attracted to it — is alright, is correct. And we don't want our children to get that impression, by seeming to condone gravely sinful acts on the part of a family member.
It certainly is a source of great suffering, but striving to do what is right and good always involves suffering. And in this case, it surely will. But that suffering will indeed be redemptive in the end.
Now with regard to parishes, the situation is very similar because the parish is — I believe it was Saint John Paul II who once said — a ‘family of families.’ And so, if you have a parish member who is living in public sin in a homosexual relationship, well, the priest should try to stay close to that individual — or to both the individuals if they’re Catholic — and try to help them to leave the sinful relationship and to begin to lead a chaste life. The pastor [should] encourage them also to pray and to participate in Sunday Mass and other appropriate ways of trying to overcome grave sin in their lives.
Those people [who] are living in that way certainly cannot have any leadership role in the parish, because it would give the impression to parishioners that the way they are living is perfectly alright. Because, [when] we lead in a parish, in a certain way, we are giving witness to a coherent Catholic life. And people who are not coherent with their Catholic faith aren’t given leadership roles. They are not asked, for instance, to be a lector at the Holy Mass — or [to] assume some other leadership position — until they have rectified their situation and gone through a conversion of life and then are ready to give such leadership.
On the one hand, it certainly gives scandal to parishioners with regard to a very essential part of our life, our sexuality, [and] what it means. On the other hand, it's not good for the two people involved in the disordered relationship because it also gives them the idea that the Church somehow approves of what they're doing.