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The Archbishop of Newark said Wednesday that the language used by the Catechism of the Catholic Church to describe homosexual acts is “very unfortunate,” adding that he hopes the Catechism will use different language in its discussion of homosexuality.
“The Church, I think, is having its own conversation about what our faith has us do and say with people in relationships that are same-sex. What should be without debate is that we are called to welcome them,” Cardinal Joseph Tobin said April 17, during an interview with NBC’s Anne Thompson on the “Today Show.”
“But how can you welcome people that you call ‘intrinsically disordered?’” Thompson asked.
“Well I don’t call them ‘intrinsically disordered,’” Tobin answered.
“But isn’t that the Catechism of the Catholic Church?” Thompson asked.
“That is,” Tobin said, adding “it’s very unfortunate language. Let’s hope that eventually that language is a little less hurtful.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered,” a phrase it also uses to describe other sexual acts taught by the Church to be immoral.
The Catechism does not describe homosexual persons themselves as “intrinsically disordered,” though it does say that homosexual inclination, along with other inclination toward sexual sin, is “objectively disordered.”
In a prior paragraph, the Catechism says that “sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes.”
The Catechism adds that “men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies…must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.”
Tobin endorsed a 2017 book, “Building a Bridge,” by Fr. James Martin, SJ, which has also called for the Church to amend the language with which it discusses homosexuality.
Tobin said of the book that “in too many parts of our church LGBT people have been made to feel unwelcome, excluded, and even shamed. Father Martin’s brave, prophetic, and inspiring new book marks an essential step in inviting church leaders to minister with more compassion, and in reminding LGBT Catholics that they are as much a part of our church as any other Catholic.”
Tobin was also asked during the April 17 interview about the approach of the U.S. bishops to immigration, a point on which he explained that “humanity has to be recognized. It doesn’t mean that we don’t control our borders. Sure. Every nation does. But we do it in a comprehensive manner that respects also the human dignity of people who are fleeing scenes of great violence.”
Speaking of his own archdiocesan investigation into the sexual abuse and coercion perpetrated by former Newark archbishop Theodore McCarrick, Tobin said that he would is still speaking with “the Attorney General and the authorities of the state of New Jersey. I would like to get it out as soon as possible.”