ROME — The Vatican issued a hasty denial Thursday after a number of news outlets published stories suggesting that the Church was reinterpreting the Bible to allow the possibility of homosexual unions.
Many newspapers and online outlets published stories this week after the release of a 300-page book by the Pontifical Biblical Commission titled Who Is Man? An Itinerary of Biblical Anthropology, which dealt with, among other topics, the issue of homosexuality in the Bible.
Italian papers such as La Repubblica suggested that the Biblical Commission, which falls under the authority of the Vatican’s doctrinal office (CDF), was finally catching up with modern society by recognizing that homosexual unions are comparable to the union of a man and a woman.
The Pontifical Biblical Commission acknowledges dissenting opinions that demand acceptance of “homosexuality and homosexual unions as a legitimate and worthy expression of the human being,” La Repubblica declares, often blurring the lines between the voice of dissenters and the voice of the document itself.
“It is indeed a clamorous document, in which the official Church scholars seem to want to change the whole doctrine on homosexuality,” wrote Massimo Battaglio in another outlet Thursday. “And, given that the one who commissioned the work is the pope himself, many are commenting on it as Francis’s definitive opening to modernity.”
In the face of these and other similar readings, Vatican News released an interview with Archbishop Giacomo Morandi, the secretary of the CDF, who sought to correct what he described as misinterpretations of the text.
The archbishop said that in recognizing a number of heterodox opinions that are commonly heard regarding homosexuality and the Bible, the Commission was trying to distinguish itself from certain strains of thought rather than aligning itself with them.
“For some time now, particularly in Western culture, there have been voices of dissent with respect to the anthropological approach of Scripture, as it is understood and transmitted by the Church in its normative aspects,” Morandi said. “All this is often judged as the mere reflection of an archaic, historically conditioned mentality.”
Some suggest, Morandi continues, that as certain biblical affirmations have gradually been considered outdated, perhaps something similar could happen in the Christian understanding of homosexual unions.
This is not the understanding of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, Morandi insists.
Citing the new volume, Morandi said:
The institution of marriage, consisting of the stable relationship between husband and wife, is constantly presented as evident and normative throughout the biblical tradition. There are no examples of legally recognised same-sex ‘unions.’
Therefore, he concluded, “there is no ‘openness’ to same-sex unions, as some mistakenly claim.”
The official teaching of the Church, as stated in the authoritative Catechism of the Catholic Church, is that homosexual acts are gravely sinful.
“Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered,’” the text reads. “They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”