KANSAS CITY, Kansas (LifeSiteNews) — Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, has joined a growing number of bishops publicly condemning Cardinal Robert McElroy’s push for “radical inclusion” of unrepentant homosexuals and adulterers.
In a strongly worded rebuttal on Friday, Archbishop Naumann rebuked the left-wing San Diego cardinal for attacking Catholic teaching on sexuality and accused him of committing “a most serious and dangerous error.”
McElroy sparked outrage last month with an essay in Jesuit-run America Magazine that criticized Catholic tradition for focusing “disproportionately upon sexual activity.” He also demanded what he called “radical inclusion” of divorced and remarried couples and “LGBT persons,” including those who practice sodomy, that would allow them to receive Communion without repentance, in blatant contradiction to the teachings of the Church.
Writing in his archdiocesan newspaper, Archbishop Naumann remarked that “Cardinal McElroy appears to believe that the Church for 2,000 years has exaggerated the importance of her sexual moral teaching, and that radical inclusion supersedes doctrinal fidelity, especially in the area of the Church’s moral teaching regarding human sexuality.”
“In my opinion, this is a most serious and dangerous error,” he charged.
“Our understanding of sexual morals significantly impacts marriage and family life,” he added, stressing that the significance of marriage and the family “to society, culture, the nation and the Church cannot be overestimated.”
Archbishop Naumann further noted that while supporters of so-called “radical inclusion” often cite Jesus’ compassion toward sinners, Jesus insists on conversion and rejection of sin.
“In the face of harsh criticism of religious leaders, it is true that Jesus manifested great concern, compassion, and mercy to sinners,” he wrote. “In every instance, Jesus also calls those who wish to become His disciples to repentance and conversion.”
While the Gospel was indeed “offered to everyone,” he explained, “included in Our Lord’s invitation was always a call to repentance, not that all are welcome on their own terms. Were Paul’s epistles or Peter’s sermon on Pentecost about radical inclusion, or were they a call to conversion?”
Jesus’ command to repent and his strict prohibition of impurity are liberating, not exclusionary, Archbishop Naumann also suggested.
Are we to understand Our Lord’s call for repentance to be fostering a culture of exclusion? Was the clear and challenging teaching of Jesus regarding marriage or the consequences of lust intended to alienate, or was it an invitation to liberation and freedom? Was radical inclusion Our Lord’s highest priority when many disciples walked away after His Bread of Life discourse?
“We respect others enough to invite them to become free from enslavements to sin,” he said.
And the Church should not try to appease criticism of Catholic teaching from those outside of the Church, he advised.
Should any of us be surprised that when we listen to those on the peripheries — those not in our Churches, those who are not Catholic and even those who do not believe in Jesus — that many will disagree with our counter-cultural moral teaching? Does this mean that we should repent for creating structures of exclusion and embrace the spirit of the secular culture?
“If we are striving to be true disciples of Jesus, does this not require us to be counter-cultural?” the archbishop asked.
What attracted people to the Church in the early Christian era wasn’t so much “radical inclusion,” but “the radical love that characterized Christian marriages and families” and “the witness of the virgin martyrs,” he observed.
Abp. Naumann: Top cardinal’s pro-LGBT heterodoxy is ‘most troubling’
Archbishop Naumann additionally spoke out against “moral confusion on human sexuality” promoted by Church leaders in the context of Pope Francis’ Synod on Synodality.
He singled out the German bishops and Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, the relator general of the Synod, who claimed last year that immutable Catholic doctrine against sodomy is “no longer correct.” The late Cardinal George Pell condemned Hollerich’s stance on sexual morality as “explicit heresy.”
“I have been saddened that in the preparation for the Synod on Synodality there has been a renewed effort by some in Church leadership to resuscitate moral confusion on human sexuality,” Archbishop Naumann wrote, pointing to the German bishops’ “Synodal Way” initiative as a “striking example.”
Cardinal Hollerich’s repudiation of Catholic teaching on homosexuality is “most troubling,” he added.
Most troubling have been statements by Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, who asserts that Church teaching related to homosexuality is false because he believes the sociological-scientific foundation of this teaching is no longer correct. Cardinal Hollerich’s statements are particularly concerning because of the leadership role that he has been assigned as Relator General for the Synod on Synodality.
“I pray that the Synod on Synodality will not unintentionally resurrect and breathe new life into moral confusion,” the Kansas archbishop concluded. “If we truly listen to the Holy Spirit, I am confident that it will not lead us to abandon our moral teaching in order to embrace the toxic spirit of an age oppressed by the dictatorship of relativism.”
Archbishop Naumann was one of several prelates who signed a letter of fraternal correction to the German bishops in 2022, warning that the Synodal Way risked causing a “schism.”
The Church should listen to ‘casualties of the sexual revolution’
In his Friday reflection, Archbishop Naumann also wrote extensively about the consequences of the sexual revolution, including within the Church.
“The unparalleled happiness that proponents of so-called sexual freedom promised never materialized,” he said, noting that he “came of age in the 1960s.”
“The rate of divorce rose dramatically within the society and the Church,” he recalled. “The virtue of chastity was mocked. Influential voices within the Church sought to use the ‘Spirit of the Council’ to change Catholic sexual moral teaching and practice.”
Endemic impurity has left young adults today with “alarmingly high levels of anxiety, depression, and loneliness. Pornography and other forms of sexual addiction have become rampant and enslave many at a young age,” the archbishop deplored.
Public morals have collapsed to the point that homosexuality is now considered “healthy and normal, just another lifestyle choice,” which Archbishop Naumann denounced as one of many “cultural fallacies.”
Confusion about sexuality has even produced gender ideology, which has “tragically” resulted in many young people permanently mutilating their bodies, he added.
In recent years, our cultural confusion has now spawned gender ideology, asserting that human beings can deny their biological gender. Tragically, many young people have been pressured to undergo gender transitioning hormonal regimens and to mutilate their bodies by ‘gender re-assignment’ surgeries.”
The Church’s outreach to “those on the peripheries,” a common theme of Pope Francis, should include such victims of the sexual revolution, the archbishop argued.
In listening to those on the peripheries, we should include hearing the pain suffered by adult children of divorce, young people raised without the presence of a loving father, those addicted at a tender age to pornography, and those emotionally scarred by the hook-up culture.
He noted that the Archdiocese of Kansas City is hosting a healing retreat this month for adult children of divorce, whom he termed “a massive group of casualties of the sexual revolution.”
Growing backlash against Cardinal McElroy
Archbishop Naumann’s criticism of Cardinal McElroy follows similar comments from several other bishops in recent days.
Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver rebuked McElroy in a powerful essay earlier this month, stressing that inclusion “does not and cannot mean that we remain in our sins.”
“The Church recognizes that someone who lives a particular way, whether it be in willing violation of natural law or some other moral category, is not in communion with the Church,” he wrote. “The presentation of some bishops and cardinals sadly fails to preach the radicality of the Gospel and obscures the true eternal love of the Father for the sinner.”
McElroy’s claim that conscience “has the primary place” over doctrine is “very dangerous,” he warned.
Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, also denounced the San Diego cardinal’s push for “radical inclusion” in an interview Thursday with EWTN host Raymond Arroyo.
Trying “to include people” in the Church regardless of whether they are “actively sinning” “is a travesty, in my belief,” he told Arroyo. “We need the truth in Jesus Christ as Truth Incarnate, and He has called us away from sin.”
On Friday, Archbishop Charles Chaput, archbishop emeritus of Philadelphia, urged the Vatican to censure McElroy in blunt comments to ACI Prensa.
Many of McElroy’s convictions “are wrong and contrary to the faith of the Church,” he said. “I’m surprised — and what’s worse, many good people are confused and scandalized — that he hasn’t been publicly corrected by the Holy See.”