The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith intervened on December 20, 2019 to dissipate outrage caused by the publication, a few days earlier, of a document by the Pontifical Biblical Commission. The debate centers on the vision of homosexuality in Sacred Scripture.
On December 16, the Pontifical Biblical Commission, which reports to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, published a long document of more than 300 pages entitled: What is Man? An Itinerary of Biblical Anthropology. The authors engage in a systematic study, on all the sacred books, of what the Bible teaches about man, his nature, his origin, the way he acts, the values and the destiny which are his.
But this publication was not without creating a certain outrage by its treatment—in nine ambiguously worded pages—of the question of homosexuality. Especially since Fr. James Martin, an infamous Jesuit and author of a book advocating the integration of homosexuals into the Church, welcomed the reflection carried out by his confreres of the Pontifical Biblical Commission.
In particular, the American Jesuit evokes the exegesis that his colleagues have made of the punishment of Sodom, which was not the consequence of unnatural acts, but of an aggressive and discriminatory behavior by the inhabitants “who did not want to welcome the foreigner with respect.”
Several major international media outlets have not hesitated to say that the Roman document came down “in favor of homosexuality.” In this context, the fact that the preface to the book was signed by Cardinal Luis Ladaria Ferrer, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, only added to the displeasure.
The affair therefore upset the former Holy Office, which, a few days later on December 20, tried to clarify the text without disavowing the Commission’s work: “the institution of marriage, constituted by the stable relationship between husband and wife, is constantly presented as evident and normative through the entire biblical tradition,” Archbishop Giacomo Morandi, Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said. Then he added, “there are no examples [in the Bible] of legally recognized ‘unions’ between persons of the same sex.”
However, two questions remain which must be examined with the text in hand: does the Biblical Commission document in any way lend itself to the interpretation that some have wished to give it? At the very least, are its considerations not reckless in the current context?
When voices are raised from various parts of the Catholic world, or worse practices are put in place, which more or less want to admit homosexuality, the duty of the authorities is to teach without any ambiguity. And it should not be a simple congregation secretary who speaks.