This post is aimed at comparing two different opinions about homosexual marriage, the first one emerging from an inter-religious conversation between Jorge Mario Bergoglio then-archbishop of Buenos Aires (now pope Francis), and rabbi Skorka, and also from an interview with Monsignor Juan Vicente Còrdoba, secretary of the Columbian episcopal conference, and the other coming from the legislative solutions definitively adopted, on April 23, 2013, by the French National Assembly.
The comments in square brackets used inside quotations are by the author of this post.
Bergoglio and Homosexuality
On March 13, 2013, the day of the election of Pope Bergoglio, GayProject published a letter addressed by Cardinal Bergoglio to the Buenos Aires Carmelite nuns in 2010, when the same-sex marriage law was going to be approved in Argentina. https://gayproject2.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/pope-bergoglio-and-homosexuals/ .
In 2010 a book by Jorge Mario Bergoglio and Abraham Skorka, titled “Sobre el cielo y la tierra” was published by Editorial Sudamericana, Buenos Aires.
This book is a compilation of the conversations between the then-archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis and Abraham Skorka, rabbi and rector of the Latin-American Rabbinic Seminary in Buenos Aires. The inter-religious conversations are about different topics, such as God, fundamentalism, atheists, death, holocaust, homosexuality and capitalism and took place alternatively in the bishop seat and in the Jewish community Benei Tivka.
In the sixteenth chapter, “Sobre el cielo y la tierra” deals with “marriage between people of the same sex”. So rabbi Skorka opens the conversation: “In my opinion, same-sex marriage has been considered in a very partial manner, compared to the depth that the topic deserves. Cohabiting same-sex couples are matter of fact and are entitled to legal solutions to problems such as pensions, inheritance etc.. (which may be part of a new juridical figure), but equating homosexual couples to heterosexual ones is something totally different. It’s not just a belief question, but we must be aware that this problem concerns one of the most delicate elements our culture is based on.”
Bergoglio replies: “Religion, being at the service of the people, in entitled to express its opinion. And if somebody asks me for advice, I have the right to give it to him. Sometimes the religious minister calls attention to certain points of the private or public life because he is the mentor of the faithful.” Up to this point we can find the usual reaffirmation of the duties and obviously also of the consequential rights that religions are entitled to claim, nevertheless Bergoglio introduces a new element pointing out what “is not for religious minister, as he doesn’t have the right to interfere with anybody’s private life, and that’s for sure. If, during the Creation, God faced the risk of making us free, who am I to interfere? We condemn the redundancy of spiritual influence, which occurs when a minister imposes the guideline, the behaviour to follow, depriving people of freedom”. These statements, however, are not intended for possible approval of choices different from those suggested (not imposed) by the church because Bergoglio is quick to point out that “God let us free even to commit a sin. Talking clearly about values, limits, commandments is something absolutely necessary, of course, but spiritual or pastoral interference is not allowed”.
Skorka reminds that in Judaism there are some currents in which prescriptive approaches prevail, but he underlines that in Jewish Law there’s no place for homosexuality, and he adds: “On the other hand, I respect any individual who maintains a reserved and intimate approach to the theme”, then he refers to the Argentinian law of 2010 about civil marriage between same-sex people and access to adoptions by same-sex couples; he reminds the worth that scientists like Freud or Lévi-Strauss attribute to the prohibition of incestuous relationships and to sexual ethic, and he admits to be worried about the consequences for society that laws like that approved in Argentina in 2010 can produce.
Bergoglio considers the Argentinian law approved in 2010 as an “anthropological regression”, since it weakens “an institution millennia old, created in accordance with nature and anthropology”; this way the rejection of homosexual unions considered as equivalent to marriage loses the quality of religious precept, in the name of which church is not allowed to deprive anybody of his freedom, and assumes the meaning of safeguard of the natural law in opposition to anything unnatural, and also of safeguard of a principle of anthropology, which affirms that heterosexuality is an intrinsic characteristic of the man as such.
Bergoglio then states something apparently open-minded: “Fifty years ago, co-living before marriage was not as common as nowadays. It was something degrading. Then things changed. Today, co-living before marriage, although it’s not right from a religious point of view, does not have any more the extremely negative social weight it had fifty years ago. It’s a sociological fact that clearly is not comparable to the completeness and greatness of marriage, an institution millennia old that has to be defended. […] We too consider very important what you have just highlighted, that is the base of the Natural Law mentioned by the Bible: the union between a man and a woman”. Shorly, Bergoglio underlines that Bible recognizes the “real” Nature Law, which is identified, in sexual matter, as heterosexuality.
Bergoglio continues: “homosexuality has always existed. The island of Lesbos, for example, was well known for having homosexual women. But it had never happened in history that somebody tried to give it the same status as marriage. It was tolerated or not tolerated, it was appreciated or not appreciated, but never considered equal.” Bergoglio doesn’t even conceive that homosexuality can be considered equated with heterosexuality, because he said it doesn’t embody the Natural Law (strange concept of nature!).
Bergoglio continues with a statement: “We know that during some epochal evolutions the phenomenon of homosexuality sensibly increased”. Actually, in those periods of changing the repressive power of some institutions like Catholic Church weakened, that’s why homosexuality became more visible.
Bergoglio adds: “But in our age, it is the first time we face the problem of assimilating it to marriage, and I consider this as a bad value and an anthropological regression”.
Immediately after, Bergoglio presents the most convincing argument, according to him,: “A private union doesn’t hurt anybody nor the society. Instead, if this union is considered under the category of marriage and the right of adoption is allowed, there is the risk of damaging children. Each individual needs a male father and a female mother who help him shaping his own identity”. The idea of homo-parenthood as something dangerous is taken for granted, though many serious studies about the issue have demonstrated that those are only prejudices.
Bergoglio adds: “I insist: our opinion on marriage of same-sex people does not have a religious basis but anthropological”, and for this reason the limitation of the sphere of the individual freedom would be justified as well as the non-equalization of homosexuals with heterosexuals.
Bergoglio reminds that, for the first time after 18 years of being bishop, he had to draw the attention of a public officer when the major of Buenos Aires, Mauricio Macri, refused to appeal against a first grade judgement that had authorized a homosexual marriage. But Bergoglio points out, twice, that he never talked about homosexuals or used derogatory terms against homosexuals and remarks that he confined himself to the legal issue.
Skorka then widens the subject on the natural law and he reminds that “in the discussion before the approval of the law, somebody invoked the “natural law” thanks to which Nature has in itself the rule leading the human behaviour. So, God himself infused this rule in the Creation. Now, a homosexual may rightly object it was God or Nature that made him that way. On the other hand, somebody declared that love between homosexual people has a multiple nature, because female love and male love co-exist together, although this does not implies a suitable condition to create a family”. These last statements of the rabbi, related to a generic “somebody”, are in fact quite curious.
Skorka introduces the question of the parental figures in the educative field and Bergoglio answers that “generally, people say that it would be better for a kid to be grown by a same-sex couple rather than living in an orphanage or in an institute for minors. Of course, neither of these situations is optimal”.
Bergoglio searches for a different solution which could allow to avoid adoption by same-sex couples. He states that “the problem is that the State does not do what it should, […] We have to consider the situations od children who live in public structures or institutes where everything is done but recover those children. NGOs, the different religious confessions or other kinds of organisations should take care of those minors”, but Bergoglio concludes: “a mistake from the State’s side [the excess of bureaucracy and corruption] does not justify another mistake by the same State [the legitimation of adoptions for same-sex couples]”. In this sense, if regulations and procedures for the adoptions were speeded up and bureaucratic rules “whose actual application encourages corruption” were eliminated, there would be no justification for adoptions by same-sex couples.
Skorka goes on quoting Bible and Maimonides, looking for images that compare the relationship between God and men to the matrimonial relationship between a man and a woman, then he concludes: “A homosexual person loves somebody he knows, a fellow. It is easy for a man to know another man, on the contrary it is much more difficult to know a woman, because he needs to decode her. A man perfectly knows what another man feels, and a woman perfectly knows what happens in the body and in the mind of another woman. Discovering the other sex, instead, is a true challenge”.
Bergoglio ends up this way: “Usually, in the homily for a marriage I tell the groom he must make her more woman, and I tell the bride she must make him more man”.
Monsignor Juan Vicente Còrdoba and the adoptions by homosexual people
Here below you can read, translated into English, an article appeared on the Columbian newspaper “El Tiempo”. The article is titled: “Monsignor Juan Vicente Còrdoba thinks that entrusting two boys to a homosexual man was a mistake”. http://m.eltiempo.com/gente/iglesia-rechaza-adopcin-de-homosexuales/10913132
The secretary of the [Columbian] Episcopal Conference, Juan Vicente Còrdoba, a professional psychologist, questioned the adoption of two little brothers authorized by the Columbian Institute for Family Wellness (ICBF) to an American homosexual man. It’s the case of the journalist Chandler Burr, who has taken back with him the two brothers after a long dispute, consequent to the fact that the adoption had been suspended when his sexual orientation was known.
What do you think about this case?
“I don’t want to judge that man or the ICBF, and I imagine there was a good intention behind. But what kind of investigation was carried out on the personality of the future dad? You have to be sure the adopters are a couple, a man and a woman, or a single man or a single woman with a stable psychology, if you want to entrust a child to somebody”.
Is homosexuality a psychological problem?
“It is not an illness, but a gender identity disease, about the identification of the gender. This is what universal psychiatry says”. [Homosexuality objectively has nothing to do with diseases or with gender identity problems, as World Health Organization confirmed many times.]
What do you know about Chandler Burr?
“I don’t know him and I’m not accusing him of anything, but one thing is clear: he has a homosexual tendency and a ten-year old boy and a thirteen-year old boy will be entrusted to him, among them there is a father-son relationship, they entrust him two boys of an age in which they can be attractive for him and so they can be a temptation”.
Do the children risk something?
“One says: why not giving him two girls? Why right two boys to a homosexual man? He wouldn’t feel any attraction towards two girls, if heterosexual fathers abuse of their daughters and even of their sons, then there’s more to worry about a homosexual man. It would have been better to give the children a father and a mother”.
So a homosexual man can’t house an orphan?
“He can, but he has to be a person with an internalized ability of controlling his tendency, his drives, his passions. It’s very hard not to fall in temptation if somebody has diabetes and he lives in a candy shop”.
What is you proposal?
“I believe that things have been made in a hurry, but it is possible to invert the trial as there was a fundamental fact nobody knew. Thus, revising the trial and bringing it back to a previous phase is something absolutely necessary. It will be very difficult for this man to be impartial and give a pure and transparent affection. Colombia cannot supply its citizens to another country like if they were just goods”.
The Prosecutor’s office investigates Chandler Burr’s couple life. The control authority expressed a negative opinion on Burr’s case, “especially about the psychological valuation test, according to which there are some evident inconsistencies about the existence of relationships with same-sex people”.
The control authority confirmed its request to ICBF for obtaining the revision of the adoption requests by mono-parental families or singles and announced that the case will be followed and this proceeding of adoption will be contested.
The choices of the French Republic
On March 24, 2013, Gay Project published an article: GAY MARRIAGE IN FRANCE AND STATE SECULARITY
The French law has finally closed the phase of the double track: marriage only for heterosexuals and other forms of cohabitation also for homosexuals. Without giving any “definition of marriage” was adopted simply a new text of art. 143 of the Civil Code which now reads:
“Art 143 – Marriage is contracted by two persons of different or of the same sex.”
All contrary provisions must therefore be considered amended accordingly. So the secular France has honoured the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity.