Cardinal Claudio Hummes, the former head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy, as well as a close personal friend of Pope Francis, has clarified a controversial statement he made in a recent interview in which he said that he could not know whether Jesus would oppose gay “marriage.”

Cardinal Hummes gave the lengthy interview to Brazil’s ZH news on the occasion of his 80th birthday, during which he was asked: “If Jesus were alive today, would he be in favor of gay marriage?”

The cardinal sparked a firestorm when he replied simply: “I don't know. I formulate no hypothesis on this.”


“Who must answer this is the Church in its entirety,” he continued. “We must take care not to raise issues individually, because this ends up creating more difficulties for us to reach a valid conclusion. I think we must get together, listen to people, those who have an interest, the bishops. It is the Church that must indicate the ways, and there must be a way for all.”

Before serving as the prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy at the Vatican, a post which he left in 2010, Cardinal Hummes served as Archbishop of Sao Paolo, Brazil. However, he is perhaps best known for his close friendship with Pope Francis. It was Cardinal Hummes who Francis chose to accompany him on the loggia of St. Peter’s following his election, and who he credits with inspiring him to choose the name Francis.

LifeSiteNews contacted ZH News, which stood by the interview offering it for republication.

In an email to LifeSiteNews, Cardinal Hummes also did not dispute the accuracy of the quotations. “What I said was that it is the Church that gives the answer [to this issue] and not any individual,” he said.

He added, “Now as you said correctly, the Church has already given the answer.”

‘Who am I to judge?’

During the interview with ZH News, which centered on Pope Francis, Cardinal Hummes was asked three times about homosexuality.

Asked if a homosexual couple at a parish could receive the sacraments or become godfathers, Cardinal Hummes replied, “The pope has said something very important ‘If a homosexual seeks God, who am I to judge him?’ People must be respected.”

He noted that someone with a homosexual orientation must “live his life in a dignified way.” Regarding the question of whether children being raised by homosexual couples should be baptized, he said, “I don't know how the bishops are applying that, because, in and of itself, it has nothing to do with that, unless it is a public sinner.” He added that someone with a homosexual orientation, “if he lives the gospel within his conditions, can be a saint.”

In answer to a question about the “possibility of changes (in the Catholic Church) regarding matters like “celibacy, divorce, homosexuality and the ordination of women” the cardinal noted that with abortion there is no possibility of change.  He also noted that celibacy was open to reconsideration. 

The cardinal then added, “What is now in process is the matter of the family, and there are factors that enter into it like second marriages, the problem of the types of family and what the laws are starting to call ‘family.’”

Experts respond

LifeSiteNews approached several noted Catholic theologians and experts to see how they might answer the same question: “If Jesus were alive today, would he be in favor of gay marriage?”

Princeton Professor Robert P. George author of What Is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense, said, “Jesus IS alive today.  He speaks through the Church and, in particular, her magisterium.” He noted that the Church looks to how marriage was “from the beginning” and sees it as a conjugal bond “not a mere form of sexual-romantic companionship or domestic partnership.” 

Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro Doctor of Dogmatic Theology and the Director of the Rome office of Human Life International, responded to the question briefly, stating, “In accordance with the constant doctrine of the Church we have to answer that Jesus would consider homosexual marriage (let us not call it gay) to be totally against Divine and Natural Law.”

Janet E. Smith professor of moral theology at the Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan, said that just like Jesus was guided by the Holy Spirit, so too is the Catholic Church.

“The Church is guided by the Holy Spirit and on the basis of the natural law and the strong condemnation of homosexual acts, the Church has every confidence that it teaches what God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit would have it teach about the morality of homosexual acts and gay marriages.”

Prof. Smith added that there is surely much to learn about how to pastorally care for those who experience same sex attractions.


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