Interview With Top Vatican Communicators on How to Address Homosexuality in the Modern World

By John-Henry Westen

TORONTO, June 5, 2008 ( - At the Catholic Media Convention in Toronto last week, communications experts from around the globe gathered to address relaying the ‘Good News’ in a secular world.  One of the areas of greatest difficulty is the issue of sexuality.  How does one communicate positively the Church’s teaching on the hot button issue of homosexuality, and sexuality in general? spoke with the director of the Holy See press office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, Archbishop Claudio Celli President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and Cardinal John Foley who was the President of the same council until 2007.

Fr. Lombardi, who also heads Vatican Radio and Television, told that he understood the problem very well.  "The problem is that the mainstream culture today says you are conservative, you are past the centre, you have only a negative answer against freedom and rights," he said. 

Lombardi stressed that the Church tries "to cope with the disintegration and with the world of today, in an intelligent and positive way".  "My point," he said, "is to try to let the people and the world understand that the Church is preoccupied with the good, the well-being and the future of humanity, of mankind."

"You can say everyone has to be free to do whatever," said Lombardi, "but in the end I see our young people are unhappy, committing suicide, taking drugs - not all, but there are so many negative consequences."  The Vatican spokesman said that he would like the world to understand that the principles of the Church, of Christ, in these matters related to homosexuality, are not about "fighting against them but for their good, for the good of their families, of their children of the men and women of tomorrow."

Cardinal Foley suggested applying modern science and modern reflection on homosexuality.  "It would seem to me that any valid assessment of the situation shows you run into great social problems ultimately," he said.  We have to look, he suggested, at "the long view too, not only the effects on the individual’s concern but on society itself." 

Foley compared the view on homosexuality to that of abortion.  "Certainly an attitude that human life in the womb is not really human life is ultimately destructive of human society.  And the fact that human love in the sexual sense is not destined to the continuation of the human race is also destructive of the human family in the long run."

He answered the common objection regarding recourse to artificial procreation.  "Technology is no substitute for human love, the idea of test tube babies or other ways of procreating children, those ways not in keeping with what we would call God’s design, are mechanistic, and are so often not reflective of true human love, dedication and family commitment."

Archbishop Celli noted "we must fight for human values, we must protect them, we must promote them", adding that it should not only be in the news media but also be concerned about what’s presented in "television, movies and novels."

The President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications concluded with the very important point that any communicator trying to present the values of the Church on sexuality, must himself be "well grounded in those values."  He quoted from Pope Benedict XVI’s May 23 message to members of the Pontifical Council on communications in the modern world.  The Pope said that in communicating truths it is important to recall, "Cato the Elder’s sober definition of the orator; vir bonus dicendi peritus - a good or honest man skilled in communicating."

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