Sorry, New Vatican Book Is Heretical

December has been a rockier month than normal for the Catholic Church, which is saying a lot, given the general rockiness of the past twenty years. Back-to-back headlines have shocked prominent Catholic pundits and academics into silence. It started earlier this month with the announcement of a German apostasy by the German bishops’ conference. And, now, for the cherry on top, the Vatican appears to be seconding the German motion. Both have released official statements that call into question the Church’s teaching on sexual morality. (See the links above for details.)

While no one can deny what the German bishops are up to, there have been reasonable questions raised by some about the meaning of a new Vatican book that calls for a scientific reappraisal of the Church’s sexual ethics. The book is not yet available in English translation, which is an obvious handicap. Edward Pentin published his own translation, and the translated excerpts are setting off heresy alarm bells. But some readers of the texts are suggesting that the questionable passages are merely expressing the viewpoints of pro-homosexual dissenters and not the views of the authors themselves. The following explains why I reject that theory.

“Homosexuality”—The Pentin Translation

Pentin tells us that his translation came from a sub-section of chapter three entitled “Homosexuality.” Here is Pentin’s translation of the controversial passage.

For some time now, particularly in Western culture, voices of dissent have been heard about the anthropological approach of Scripture, as it is understood and transmitted by the Church in its normative aspects; in fact, all this is judged as simply reflecting an archaic, historically-conditioned mentality. We know that many biblical statements, in the fields of cosmology, biology, and sociology, have gradually been considered outdated with the progressive establishment of the natural and human sciences. Similarly — some people conclude — a new and more adequate understanding of the human person calls for a radical qualification of the exclusive value of the heterosexual union, in favor of a similar acceptance of homosexuality and homosexual unions as a legitimate and worthy expression of the human being.

Explanation of the Passage

The above passage clearly states at the beginning that it is describing the argument of dissenters in the Church. And if you have been a reader of NewWalden you should know this argument by heart—I’ve been critiquing it for a couple of years now. It says that the sexual morality of the Church is outdated and primitive because it comes from the Bible, which is—outdated and primitive. Notice that the argument does not acknowledge the Bible to be the inerrant Word of God. Instead, we are told that the Bible is “historically conditioned.” That means that the Bible is expressing the cultural viewpoint of a particular historical period in ancient history. Thus—the argument goes—Christian sexual morality, since it is derived from the Bible, is similarly historically conditioned. It has no moral weight because it merely repeats the cultural biases and prejudices of an ancient culture. In other words, “the ancient Jews were a bunch of homophobic bigots, so our sexual morality shouldn’t come from them.” Instead—they say— we need to update our morality with better information from the sciences. And when we do that—they say—the sciences will demonstrate that homosexuality is as “legitimate” as heterosexuality.

Now, if that was all there was to the excerpt, I would agree with those who say that the above passage is merely summarizing a dissenting opinion. There is little there to justify ascribing those views to the Vatican authors themselves.

But that wasn’t all there was!

The original excerpt at la Repubblica included the conclusion of the sub-section on homosexuality. Here is Pentin’s translation:

The Conclusion of the Section— Pentin Translation

The sub-chapter ends with the following words:

In conclusion, the exegetical examination conducted on the texts of the Old and of the New Testaments has made it appear elements that must be considered for an evaluation of homosexuality in its ethical implications. Certain formulations of biblical authors, as well as the disciplinary directives of Leviticus, require an intelligent interpretation that safeguards the values that the sacred text intends to promote, thus avoiding repetition to the letter that which carries with it cultural traits of that time. The contribution provided by science, together with the reflection of theologians and moralists, will be indispensable for an adequate exposition of the problem, only sketched out in this Document. In addition, pastoral care will be required, particularly with regard to individuals, in order to implement the service to the good that the Church has to assume in her mission for mankind.

The Conclusion Agrees with the Dissenters!

Now, what should be uncontroversial is that conclusions are typically the place where you find—conclusions. More to the point, it is where you find author’s conclusions. So, what we should expect to find here is the author’s viewpoint on the Church’s moral teaching about homosexuality. And here is what we find:

  • Unlike in the paragraph that summarizes the dissenters’ view, there is no explicit approval of homosexuality or gay marriage. On the other hand, it accepts every other heretical judgment of the dissenters:
    1. Science is “indispensable for an adequate exposition of the problem”—the “problem” being the “ethical implications” of homosexuality.
    2. And science is necessary because Scripture is tainted with the cultural prejudices of the Biblical authors.

So, the Vatican text concludes its section on homosexuality by saying that we need science to teach us about the morality of homosexuality because the Bible is hopelessly tainted by “archaic” cultural prejudice! An official Vatican document teaches that the Bible is not a reliable authority on sexual morality. Who’s okay with that? What does that do to the Ten Commandments? The Sermon on the Mount? St. Paul’s Epistles?

Since the initial Vatican press release, and the giant brouhaha that ensued, the head of the CDF has come out to reassure everyone that the book does not endorse gay marriage. Yes, that’s technically true. But what it does endorse is still heresy.

As Pope St. John Paul the Great declared in Veritatis Splendor 81, and as the “dubia” Cardinals reaffirmed, it is the constant teaching of Scripture and Sacred Tradition that sexual immorality—including adultery and homosexuality—is, always and everywhere, gravely immoral—No Exceptions! As such, this teaching on sexual morality belongs to the deposit of faith and divine revelation, which means it is not open to review or “dialogue.” Not by anyone. Not by any scientist. Not even Albert Einstein.

And certainly not the Jesuits.

And definitely not this Jesuit pope.

Confronting the Pope of Suspicion

See Reviews

As my book Confronting the Pope of Suspicion documents, the Jesuits have been denying the sexual morality of the Bible for more than fifty years now. They have been calling for a new sexual morality based on science rather than Scripture. At one Northern California conference, they concluded that priests didn’t need to get married. They could just have sex. It was called the “Third Way,” and it was based on “science.” Jesuit historian Joseph Becker documented the impact of the new science-based sexual morality on the order. Here is his assessment:

By the end of the 1960s, little of the traditional lifestyle remained. . . . [M]ost traces of the previous lifestyle had been obliterated.

My book is a short intellectual history of the theological impact of the sexual revolution. And what my book reveals is a very dark history indeed. Heretical theologians were calling for sexual morality to be based on “science” rather than Scripture. For, just like the new Vatican book, they declared that the Bible was tainted by the prejudices of a primitive culture.

One of these heretical efforts came from the theologian Andre Guindon. Here are a couple of illuminating selections from his writing. Like the Vatican’s new book, Guindon advocated for an anthropological approach to sexual ethics:

Andre Guindon: The Sexual Language

Contemporary North American Catholics have some serious reasons for being perplexed in the field of sexual ethics.  Even a minimal acquaintance with updated sexual information has been enough to familiarize them with the new sexology emerging from a century of anthropological studies.  In the very literature expounding this new knowledge, their own alleged “tradition” is constantly referred to as a solid block of obscurantism.

Source: Guindon, p. 1

And here is Guindon’s “scientific” analysis of pedophilia:

It should also be pointed out that most recent studies tend to disprove that lasting harm results from the pedophiliac contact itself.  Rather, the trauma comes from the familial panic which is the usual response to the incident. Nobody seems to care that children are exposed to violence, greed, social injustice, and family wars.  But let a man kiss a young boy or touch his genitals—usually a meaningless gesture for the child, by the way—and the incident is blown up into a national tragedy.  Many parents and citizens who pose as do-gooders should consider carefully whether they are not making a scapegoat out of the defenceless pedophile for their own sins.

Source: Guindon, p. 374

“Dusting Off Old Folders From the Seventies”

An apt description of the Francis regime—Anonymous

What my book shows is that we have been down this road before. The heretics have been trying to replace the Bible’s sexual morality with their own propaganda and pseudoscience for decades now. And both John Paul II and Paul VI condemned these efforts.

But Pope Francis has revived these condemned heresies. As I pointed out in my book, Amoris Laetitia denied that the magisterium was essential for deciding doctrinal issues ( AL3), and it taught that science was essential for sex education (AL 280). Now, with the publication of this new Vatican book, these heresies are even more transparent and explicit.

Dubia, Round 2

I conclude that the CDF’s reassurance on gay marriage was grossly inadequate, given the contents of the published excerpts. The CDF needs to come clean. We need to hear from the Vatican in clear, unequivocal language that the Church’s perennial and Biblical teachings on sexual morality are true and not subject to verification from any outside authority. But don’t hold your breath.

I leave you with a golden nugget from America Magazine, perfectly timed to coincide with the German and Vatican Sexual Revolutions: