Earlier this week there was much furor in the press about comments attributed to Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan stating “transsexuals and homosexuals will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Fr. James Martin S.J. posted on this twice in America Magazine first “instructing” the Cardinal on what the Catechism says and then later posting another response to the Cardinal’s comments.
When I first saw this story I immediately figured it was typical medial slice and dice of the Cardinal’s comments taking them deliberately out of the full context of what he had said. Twice I responded in the comments with this suggestions. Though the comments were mostly full of people angry with the Cardinal’s comments. I had commented that this was likely media distortion, which is so common, and really should be the charitable reply to the story. To think that the Cardinal believed that those with same sex attraction can not be saved is a rather silly conclusion. Yet of course this is what the news stories asserted and this is the conclusion that Fr. Martin replied to. I figured I would only have to wait a day or so for the real story.
On Wednesday, the Pontifex.roma Web site published comments attributed to Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán that state “transsexuals and homosexuals will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”
The cardinal, however, said in a statement sent to ZENIT on Thursday that his words were taken out of context. The cardinal said he was referencing the Bible, specifically St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, 1:26-27, which says (in part), “Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity.”
“This is what the Word of God says, it isn’t what I said,” Cardinal Lozano Barragán affirmed. “Now, I have never said that a particular homosexual cannot be saved, because he can be saved.”
“Many times one is not a homosexual through one’s own fault; it all depends on one’s education and environment,” the prelate clarified.
Cardinal Lozano Barragán reiterated the Church’s teaching on grave sin: “The only thing I can say is that for grave fault to exist, in addition to needing grave matter, one needs full knowledge and full consent: Where one of those three conditions is lacking, there is no grave fault.”
Above all, the cardinal stressed that he is not the one who judges people, since God is
Some of the original stories even mentioned the Cardinal’s point on only God judging. Yet somehow they still inferred that the Cardinal meant all homosexual go to heaven. It is simply the teaching of the Church that all those who continue in grave sin and meet the conditions of mortal sin and never repent of this can not be saved. There are plenty of caveats to the original statement and it seems obvious to me that the Cardinal had mentioned them and the media just picked up on St Paul’s words and excluded any nuances not germane to their characterization.
So will Fr. Jim Martin, S.J. reference the ZENIT piece (if it comes to his attention)? I have no way to contact Fr. Martin directly, though I did leave a link to the ZENIT article on his last post on the subject. His posts previously on Church teaching on homosexuality seemed at odds to me with him lecturing the Cardinal on what the Catechism teaches. He seems to infer when he wrote his last piece on homosexuality that the Church has something wrong in it’s theology in that those with same-sex attraction can not participate fully in the life of the Church. I would just like some clarity from him as to whether he fully agrees with all aspects on the truth of the Church’s teaching on homosexuality. But being just another pundit on in the internet i won’t expect one.
This story is also a cautionary for all Catholic pundits in responding to stories. We often jump to uncharitable conclusions where more charitable answers are possible. Unless you see a full transcript of someone’s comments we should be prudentially skeptical. Certainly we can respond to something that is reported, but we should also be careful to throw in caveats about what was reportedly said with some implied skepticism. What annoyed me about Fr. Martin’s post is that there was no such caveats and it was totally assumed that this is what the Cardinal meant.