(LifeSiteNews) — Father Gerald Murray delivered a scathing rebuke of Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, SJ, for disputing Catholic teaching on the priesthood and homosexuality, saying the Vatican cardinal and papal adviser should “resign” if he does not accept the doctrine of the Church.
On EWTN’s The World Over on Thursday, Murray, a canon lawyer and priest of the Archdiocese of New York, blasted Hollerich for his recent claims that Catholic teaching against female ordination is not infallible and that the Church’s doctrine on homosexuality is “dubious” and “impossible” for some people to live by.
Fr. Murray: Denying Church teaching on female ordination is ‘heretical’
In an interview on Monday with Croatian newspaper Glas Koncila, Hollerich, the archbishop of Luxembourg, said that “with time” a pope could “decide against” Pope John Paul II’s apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.
John Paul II taught in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis that the Church cannot ordain women to the priesthood and “that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.” The inability of the Church to confer priestly ordination on women is an infallible teaching that “requires definitive assent,” the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith later affirmed in a responsum.
Hollerich, who also serves as the relator general of Pope Francis’ Synod on Synodality and a member of the Pope’s Council of Cardinals, said that he was “not sure you could call” Ordinatio Sacerdotalis infallible, however, and claimed that “there might be some space to expand the teaching – to see which of the arguments of Pope John Paul II could be developed.”
If the Church gives more “pastoral responsibility” to women, “then we can perhaps see if there still is a desire among women for ordination,” he said.
It is Pope Francis “who has to decide” whether the Church can ordain women to the priesthood, the cardinal further stated. “But for the moment, if Pope Francis tells me it is not an option, it is not an option.”
Murray slammed Hollerich’s comments, stressing that rejection of Catholic teaching on the all-male priesthood is “heretical” and urging Pope Francis to “rebuke” him.
“It’s a solemn teaching of the Church that only baptized males can be ordained priests because that’s the will of Christ as expressed in what He did at the Last Supper,” the priest explained.
“To say opposite is a heretical statement.”
He added that “it would be invalid to ordain a woman a priest,” as reflected by canon law. “In fact, it’s a canonical offense to do that, with an automatic excommunication.”
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Hollerich’s comments, moreover, signal that the Synod on Synodality is turning into a “free-for-all,” Murray lamented.
“Cardinal Hollerich is doing exactly what we were afraid was going to happen, with the Synod on Synodality being turned into a free-for-all,” he said. “This isn’t the Church. The Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ with doctrines and practices that don’t change when the calendar changes.”
“So Cardinal Hollerich has done something very gravely damaging to the unity of the Church, and I hope the Holy Father will rebuke him,” he said.
Hollerich ‘should resign his office’ if he rejects Catholic teaching on sodomy
Murray also took Hollerich to task for comments that he made about homosexuality.
In his interview with Glas Koncila, the Luxembourg cardinal said that he finds “the part of the teaching calling homosexuality ‘intrinsically disordered’ a bit dubious” and suggested that it is impossible for some people not to commit sodomy.
“For some of them it is possible to be chaste, but calling others to chastity seems like speaking Egyptian to them,” he said. “If we ask impossible things of them, we will put them off.”
“If we say everything they do is intrinsically wrong, it is like saying their life has no value,” he continued, apparently equating sodomitic acts with a person’s “life.” “We can only charge people with moral conduct they can bear in their world,” he added.
But Hollerich “completely misses the Catholic truth on this,” Murray responded.
“God’s law is not impossible to observe, so God’s law forbidding sodomy is not impossible for anyone to observe,” the priest said. “You simply refrain from doing that evil act.”
The Council of Trent declared as a dogma that the commandments of God are not “impossible to keep,” which various popes have reaffirmed, including Pope John Paul II in Veritatis Splendor and Pope Pius XI in Casti Connubii.
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Murray noted that Hollerich “uses the ‘LGBT’ language – homosexuals, transsexuals, bisexuals.” The Church, however, “doesn’t believe that there is such a thing as transsexuals or bisexuals. You have heterosexual people who engage in deviant behavior. This is sexual immorality,” he said.
He also cited the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which teaches that homosexuality is “intrinsically disordered,” “meaning it’s a misuse of the body in a way not intended by God, and that’s revealed both in revelation and in nature,” Murray explained.
Using language that signals infallibility, the Catechism states, “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.’” It adds that the homosexual inclination is “objectively disordered.”
If Hollerich does not accept Catholic teaching about homosexuality, “he should resign his office and leave,” Murray declared.
“To tell people sin is not sin, and you’re not expected to follow ancient rules, this is destructive,” he said. “Why is this man, as a cardinal, doing this? Doesn’t he understand he’s a subversive?”
“If he doesn’t believe the teaching, he should resign his office and leave, because this is not how Catholic cardinals are supposed to behave themselves.”
Hollerich previously claimed last year that Catholic teaching on the sinfulness of homosexual acts is “no longer correct,” prompting the late Cardinal George Pell to accuse him of heresy and call for the Vatican to censure him.
On The World Over, Murray additionally rebuked Cardinal Robert McElroy of San Diego for saying that the word “disorder” should be stripped from the Catechism in reference to homosexuality.
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“It’s a terrible word and it should be taken out of the catechism,” McElroy said in an interview last month with America magazine. Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago and Bishop John Stowe of Lexington have made similar comments in recent weeks.
“No, Cardinal McElroy is wrong,” Murray retorted. “The Church put that in the catechism because it’s the truth.”
Synodal leaders promoting ‘heretical, immoral ideas’
Returning to the Synod of Synodality, Fr. Murray warned of “heretical ideas” promoted by Synod leaders and described the initiative as fundamentally “political.”
“Essentially, this is a political process in which people who favor one thing are in charge of the process, and they promote all kinds of bad ideas, heretical ideas, immoral ideas, and then we’re supposed to sit there and say, ‘I guess this is what we need to be talking about.’ This is not at all what we need to be talking about,” he said.
“It’s remarkable, you know, as a Catholic priest here in New York City, I went to the synodal meeting that we had for our area, and largely the concerns were, how can we make our parishes more vibrant?” he related.
“Well, I guarantee that’s not going to be the first topic at the Synod in Rome,” Fr. Murray said.
The basic topic is going to be, we want to ordain women deacons and then maybe priests. We want divorced and ‘remarried’ Catholics to have free access to the sacraments. We want to affirm the homosexual lifestyle as something that’s good and should be blessed. It’s going to go on and on from there. We want priests to be able to get married, and where does this end?
“This is nothing but the ‘60s liberal agenda being served up as if this is the Holy Spirit’s movement in the Church,” he said. “It is not.”
“This is sad to say – and I most regret this – this is a huge waste of time, but worse than that, it’s disorienting the faithful.”
Several prelates have spoken out against the Synod on Synodality in recent months, criticizing synodal documents for conflicting with the apostolic tradition and condemning top Synod officials, including Hollerich, for contradicting Catholic teaching.
A working document for the Synod unveiled by the Vatican in October uncritically cited calls for female ordination and “a more welcoming space” for “people in living in a polygamous marriage,” married ex-priests, and “LGBTQ people.”
In May, the official Vatican website for the Synod shocked Catholics by praising same-sex adoption, which the Church teaches is gravely immoral and actually a form of “violence” against children.
Cardinal Mario Grech, the secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, which oversees the Synod on Synodality, last year suggested that the Church could change its teaching on same-sex “blessings” and Communion for divorced and “remarried” Catholics, earning him a strong rebuke from Cardinal Gerhard Müller.
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