In a book recently published in Italy, Sheep and Shepherds, the archbishop emeritus of Bologna, Giacomo Cardinal Biffi, denounces the “homosexual ideology.”1
In a scholarly but clear and accessible chapter on chastity, the Cardinal points out that, while keeping the respect due to persons, one must have a “necessary repudiation of any exalted ideology of homosexuality.”2
Basing himself primarily on the writings of Saint Paul, the Cardinal deals with homosexuality from the broader standpoint of a Christian vision of human sexuality and the need for practicing chastity to elevate one’s mind to God the Creator and be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Let us give a brief overview of this chapter’s reasoning.
Chastity at the Root of the Christian Message
Together with the precept of charity, which evoked the admiration of pagans, the nascent Church also presented the ideal of chastity. This shocked the same pagans immersed as they were in their erotic and permissive culture.
However, just as Christianity could not abandon the precept of charity, neither could it turn lax on the duty of chastity. Both are reflections of the love of God. Hence, from its earliest days, the Church was clear and categorical and avoided any form of ambiguity or compromise regarding chastity.
The Cardinal presents the text of Saint Paul listing the vices that prevent souls from entering the Kingdom of Heaven as an example of that clear and courageous attitude: “Do not be deceived; neither the immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor the depraved nor sodomites nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the Kingdom of God.”3
Unlike the Gnostics, who despised the human body and procreation, Christianity always extolled marriage. According to the same Apostle, it is in indissoluble marriage that the sexual act finds its legitimacy:
“Let marriage be honored among all and the marriage bed be kept undefiled, for God will judge the immoral and adulterers.”4
The human body discovers its full dignity as the temple of the Holy Trinity, in the practice of chastity, as a means of sanctification:
“This is the will of God, your holiness: that you refrain from immorality, that each of you know how to acquire a wife for himself in holiness and honor, not in lustful passion as do the Gentiles who do not know God.”5
“God did not call us to impurity but to holiness. Therefore, whoever disregards this, disregards not a human being but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.”6
Our Lord Jesus Christ presented purity as something that comes from the “heart,” that is, from the innermost part of man, from his soul:
“For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, unchastity, theft, false witness, blasphemy. These are what defile a person.”7
This is why he who consents to impure desires sins against chastity: “Everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”8
The Homosexual Ideology
Cardinal Biffi notes that the “homosexual ideology” fits right into the present context of pan-sexuality, an idolatry of sex ‘liberated’ from any objective moral norm. It is at the same time a symptom and a consequence of both the abandonment of God and the theoretical and practical atheism of our times.
According to Saint Paul, aberrant practices are a punishment for that abandonment, which leads people to a kind of mental imbalance: “They became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened. While claiming to be wise, they became fools.”9
This type of madness causes a degradation of the body as well:
“Therefore, God handed them over to impurity through the lusts of their hearts for the mutual degradation of their bodies.”10
Man thus becomes dominated by the most violent and degrading passions:
“Therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God handed them over to their undiscerning mind to do what is improper.”11
Acceptance of vice eventually leads man to try to justify it from a doctrinal standpoint, thus creating an ideology. Hence Saint Paul concludes his analysis: “They [who practice such things] not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”12
One Cannot Compromise with the Homosexual Ideology
Cardinal Biffi concludes that this inspired doctrine authentically presented by Saint Paul cannot be contested by any human authority. Nor can we, as Catholics, abandon it to avoid the “politically incorrect” label, as we would forfeit our duty.
- Giacomo Biffi, Pecore e pastori. Riflessioni sul gregge di Cristo, Cantagalli, Siena, 2008, pp. 256, euro 13,80.
- The Challenge of Chastity, transcribed by Sandro Magister in his article, “Shocking News: A Cardinal Sings the Praises of Orthodoxy,” Nov. 24, 2008, at http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/209817?eng=y.
- 1 Cor. 6:9.
- Heb. 13:4.
- 1 Thess. 4:3-5.
- 1 Thess. 4:7-8.
- Matt. 5:19-20.
- Matt. 5:28.
- Rom. 1:21-22.
- Rom. 1:24.
- Rom. 1:26-28.
- Rom. 1:32.