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Archbishop Piero Marini’s veiled swipes at Benedict XVI show how urgent Curial reform is

Perhaps the archbishop has been mistranslated. What exactly was he hoping to achieve?

By on Monday, 22 April 2013

Archbishop Marini: 'The Council is not behind us. It still precedes us'  (PA)

Archbishop Marini: 'The Council is not behind us. It still precedes us' (PA)

Years ago I remember Alice Thomas Ellis, fabled columnist for this paper and the Spectator, putting aside the newspaper and saying “I get so cross!” Indeed reading the papers can cause you blood pressure problems. Luckily for Anna, as we all knew her, there were other things in the papers that could induce a mood of almost seraphic calm. “I love that man,” she once told me. And when I asked who, I was surprised to see her pointing to a picture of the then Cardinal Ratzinger. “I just love him,” she said. The only other person who approached the cardinal in her fervent admiration was the actor Charles Dance, though perhaps for not entirely the same reasons.

Anyway, back to reading the papers. Sadly, while I try to read as many papers as possible, I do not read La Nacion, which is published in Costa Rica. This I am sure is my fault, not the fault of La Nacion. And if it had not been for the editor of the Catholic Herald flagging it up in his essential Morning Catholic must-reads, I might quite have missed its interview with Archbishop Piero Marini, which can be read here, as reported by the National Catholic Reporter.

The archbishop, you may remember, used to be the master of ceremonies to the Blessed Pope John Paul II; he now is charged with organising Eucharistic Congresses around the world, which is doubtless a very important job. His comments about civil unions do not bother me overmuch. What does bother me is the way his comments can be interpreted as not very veiled sideswipes at Benedict XVI.

But perhaps the archbishop has been misquoted, or his remarks taken out of context? Or is he the victim of poor translation? The following sentences suggest that English is perhaps not the first language of whoever translated this: “I remember we were at World Youth Day in the Philippines, when John Paul II celebrated my 52nd birthday. I had never before blown the candles on a cake, and he brought together a number of people for me to celebrate.”

The original interview is published here and those whose Spanish is better than mine can perhaps see if the archbishop’s original words are more measured. Otherwise, one would really like to have some clarification from the archbishop. What exactly was he hoping to achieve by these remarks?

It is universally agreed that the Curia Romana needs reform. To my mind, this interview is proof of how urgent that need for reform is.

  • Francesco Forgione

    I fear that if that doesn’t change, he’ll be head of the Congregation for Divine Worship. Tbh, of the two, I’d rather he was responsible for the liturgy in a Roman Basilica than of the Roman Catholic Church.

  • We are church

    “Talking about positive things”, eeh?!
    It was not archbishop Marini who did anything about the (mainly) homosexual scandals in the church. It was BENEDICT XVI!
    Interesting; does this mean that Marini wishes to avoid a continuation of the necessary discussion of these avalanche like scandals?
    Should we interprete this as a reproach against Benedict XVI, who was THE FIRST POPE who really tried to combat the sex abuse scandals?
    Should we just ignore and push these scandals under the carpet?
    What is the archbishop’s real motive for giving the impression of not wishing to continue talking about the scandals?
    If anything has given me a “bad smell”, it is the scandalous remarks on a registration of same sex relations and his odious and, surely!- envious attacks on Benedict XVI!

  • John F

    So you seem to be claiming that a so called ‘gay gene’ exists? Where is the evidence for that, pray?

    There has been a massive search for this gene in recent years – it is far more elusive than the Higgs boson. It is highly unlikely that it exists.

    Studies of twins have found that where one is homosexually active, the chance of the other being likewise is about 49%. That would probably point to nurture rather than nature as a root cause.

    If there were a ‘gay gene’, surely natural selection would have weeded this out thousands of years ago. A ‘gay gene’ has no particular genetic advantage, and those inclined to homosexuality would have a lower tendency to consort with women and beget children.

    I accept that there are unfortunate people who are born with ambiguous sexual organs and they are to be pitied and helped.

    By the way, people with paedophile tendencies are now claiming they were born this way and they must be accepted. Are you going to bring them into your big tent as well? Will paedophilophobia be another of your Church heresies?

  • We are church

    Archbishop Marini is an excellent representative of “the enemies within”.
    What is his true aim?
    This is how it all started in the protestant church; at first, the militant “progressives”, leftists, were competing with one another to express their promises and assurances that they would never, ever, change their view on traditional marriage; women priests would not mean that opponents to this would not be tolerated. And so on. Of course, they knew exactly, from the very beginning, that their intention was an attack on tradition and family values. My friend, a deacon in a protestant church, hardly dares to open her mouth in the prescence of a homosexual deacon, a colleague, who openly brags about his sexual inclination, living in a partnership with a man. All the colleagues agree with him, whatever he happens to say. He openly scorns my friend, since he knows that she has great sympathy for the catholic church and its dogmas on this subject, as well as in many other cases. He can get away with anything. Almost 70 % of the priests in the whole country are women. My friend knows that she could never, ever, isnce at least 25 years, apply for a job as a deacon in most cities, because of her firm conviction that marriage is for one man and one woman. Since she is a very honest person, she would not be able to deceive the eventual employer as for her position. The bishop is a lesbian, living together with another woman and bragging proudly about this. Once, the bishop was the one who inaugurated the Gay festival in the country. Practically nobody in the protestant church would have dared to oppose this;very few protestants would consider it as a deviation from the norm.

    My friend is seriously considering converting to the catholic church, when she retires, but interviews like the one by Marini makes her very sad and confused, wondering what is going on in the catholic church.
    This won’t attract any converts, that is at least for sure.

  • We are church

    A most devious and unsympathetic attack by Marini on the church’s dogma on the true meaning of marriage.
    The archbishop should also know that his most uncharitable remarks on Benedict XVI, tells us much more about himself,, than offering any insight to Benedict’s personality and leagacy.

  • We are church

    We are immensely SICK TO DEATH with having to listening to bishops and cardinals who seem to compete with one another in demonstrating their seemingly endless sympathy for same sex unions and, and…!
    We want representatives for the church to openly and fearlessly defend traditional marriage, sympathy for the poor, the lonely, the abused, the sick, the elderly!
    Archbishop Marini is definitely not speaking on behalf of a majority of catholics in the world!

  • We are church

    What’s really behind Marinis comments on talking about “positive things”? Seems to us, he wishes to eliminate a further discussion on the homosexual abuse scandals in the church.
    He wishes to manouvre our attention away from this fact.
    Mnay people are quick to buy comments like “caring for the poor”, talking contemptously about “gold and paintings”, “fresh air”, a pope who was “chatting” with people.
    It all sounds so nice…or?
    In our view, cheap talk only! Very non commital!

  • Benedict Carter

    In all your earlier posts you DID NOT talk about an “attachment to material possessions”, you talked about pound notes.

    Changing goalposts is what we call it.

  • We are church

    In the article, Marini is, reportedly, happily proclaiming that pope Francis does not wish to have “gold and paintings” around hiim.

    WHAT’S WRONG WITH BEAUTIFUL ART? Many old, precious paintings are framed in “gold”.

    In what way would it help the “poor” to get rid of them?.

    I have admired innumerable, lovely “paintings” in the Vatican museum. Does Marini wish to sell them off?
    Doe he wish to throw out and tear down the marvellous columns by Bernini in S:t Peter’s?
    Why not substitute them with plastic columns instead?
    And maybe the most beautiful statue of all; the Pieta, by Michelangelo; also too beautiful for Martini?
    Men who clamp down on beauty, trying to mask it as “compassion and love for the poor” usually have a problem.

  • NatOns

    It may well be what the Catholics of the UK and Ireland say, affirm and even believe, that does not mean they are being faithful to Faith of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, that is Jesus Christ, in person, as one body with one Spirit.

    Yet, yes, I agree with your basic point: how one deals with other souls must always extend beyond their behaviour – whether good, bad or even damnable. There are a great many things in the life of every soul that must be considered as relevant to the way they live, think, believe. Notwithstanding, it is the salvation of souls that must prompt our care .. not resolving personal issues (as if the cross where not to be embraced).

    ‘Explicit treatment of the problem was given in this Congregation’s “Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics” of December 29, 1975. That document stressed the duty of trying to understand the homosexual condition and noted that culpability for homosexual acts should only be judged with prudence. At the same time the Congregation took note of the distinction commonly drawn between the homosexual condition or tendency and individual homosexual actions. These were described as deprived of their essential and indispensable finality, as being “intrinsically disordered”, and able in no case to be approved of (cf. n. 8, $4).’ Josef Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, On the Pastoral Care Of Homosexual Persons.

    Note well: Here ‘intrinsically disordered’ relates to a shortfall in the purpose of the divine gifted act. Short-sightedness is an intrinsic disorder in the purpose of created sight, it is not a sin – however driving a care without remedial action (suitable glasses, surgery etc) would be a sin (and could be a crime). I could go on, but I feel sure you understand my point – and thank you for getting back with a reasoned response .. I do appreciate it.

  • Francesco Forgione

    This basic rundown on the subject says that research is not as disparate in its conclusions as one might assume. So whilst it’s not as simple as a “gay gene”, that is part of it. Citing Perrin’s influential 2002 study, it says ‘Sexual orientation probably is not determined by any one factor but by a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences’ and sources which conclude that ‘sexual orientation is usually established during early childhood’, ie once environmental factors have taken hold. The authors of the report are a fairly hefty bunch of academics and practitioners in the field. I’m inclined to take their word for it. I’m not a psychologist (evidenced by the fact I had to look up the spelling for that) and they are.

    The Catechism, written in 1997 and includes a description of its contemporary ignorance as to the genesis of homosexuality. I find it difficult to believe that 1997 was a long time ago, but apparently some time has actually passed since then and in that time research has uncovered some important developments since. The scientific community not conclusive yet, but we’re getting a better idea. One is that of Dawkins et al’s “Selfish Gene” in which paradigm the success of a gay gene would be explained. It is not so simplistic as the survival of the fittest and adds a level of complexity which is in line with what we see in the rest of God’s creation.

    Paedophilia is intrinctly and demonstrably harmful. I’m very happy to welcome the poor unfortunates who struggle with that but they are capable of controlling their actions and therefore there are consequences associated with that. I think Jesus is pretty clear on what we need to do with regard to social outcasts. The reason paedophilia is wrong and criminal isn’t because it’s subjectively foul (which is how you and I both experience it), but because it is objectively rape. Relatavists do argue that even crimes such as these are subjective, but I think that this is bunkum. If you can know that you are causing harm then you know what you are doing is wrong and therefore ought not to have done committed your crime and thus there are consequences. If you can’t know that you are causing harm you need to be locked up for the protection of society. The law imposes a hard and fast rule so that there is no doubt as to what is criminal, but sex with anyone with limited ability to consent is the same moral evil. Incidentally, I think if our society were more Christian then there would be a more open discussion about this which might lead to less repression, a process which is like forcing down the lid of a boiling saucepan only for spurts of water forcing their way out to become far more dangerous.

    Incidentally, I think the comparison between paedophilia and homosexuality is a poorly judged one. I don’t think you’ve thought about the issues in play. I’m very willing to entertain the idea that you find the concept of homosexuality subjectively foul but I think you’d be hard pushed to find an objective criterion to label it objectively evil. I think if you think that homosexuality is something people chose, you should ask yourself when you chose to be heterosexual.

    Do you disagree that the Catechism is very clear on whether homophobia is morally wrong? Do you disagree that ideologies which run against the clear teachings of the magisterium are heretical?

    Ultimately, I would challenge the very notion of a binary dichotomy of sexuality since it relies on a binary dichotomy of gender and indeed sex, something we know not to be an accurate representation of reality. The essentialism inherent in such an opposition is destabilizingly problematic.

    Again, I battle with an unchristian distain for wishy washy liberals and this is not in their line of argument which amounts to “let’s just be nice to everyone”. I hope it is founded on decent evidence and reasoning.

  • We are church

    So, archbishop Marini, after the horrendous, mainly homosexual scandals in the church, now wishes to embrace exactly the gay community. He talks about their “suffering”. i do not deny that they may suffer, I,too, love and respect them, but:
    old, the sick, the lonely, the abused, by members in the church, the unemployed, the many families, struggling to live a catholic life.
    WHY NOT A WORD, archbishop Marini about these groups?

  • We are church

    Dear archbishop Marini, may I strongly advise you to read pope Franci’s recent tallk on “CALUMNY AND ENVY”. He does not hesitate one moment to say that these heineous feelings and acts originate from Satan himself, the evil one. People need to hear and be reminded of this.
    Francis says that “where there is calumny, there is Satan himself”.
    The swipes at Benedict was sth that should never have been allowed to happen. It causes a scandal in the church.
    Attacking an old and aged man like pope Benedict, known for his great humility, will only result in more and stronger support and sypmpaty for Benedict.
    i like Francis frequent mentioning of the devil. He is, apparently, a reality.

  • John F

    I have just looked at the catechism 1997 and there is no mention of the word ‘homophobia’. You also question the validity of the catechism saying it is out of date. The question of whether I agree or disagree about a word that is not in the catechism is not a valid one.

    Article 2357 however says clearly
    “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. 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”

    The conclusion is clear. Homosexuality is evil – it is against natural law.

    Article 2358 refers to those with deep seated homosexual tendencies and states.
    “This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided…”

    The homosexual activists who parade themselves on TV and celebrate the gay lifestyle do not consider their sexuality a trial – quite the opposite. in fact they very aggressive about it.. Frankie Howard for example would try to seduce anyone of any gender and sexual inclination if he got them alone in a room.

    It would be very difficult to treat people like these with respect, compassion and sensitivity as this implies a dialogue with them of some sort.which could not exist. In any case, it would be interpreted by them as condoning their attitude.

    I personally try to treat all people with courtesy as far as I can.

    The so called debate on the causes of homosexuality is rapidly being closed down by the homosexual lobby. They wish to force the assertion that they are born that way and will shout louder and louder until they get it. Any questioning of this hypothesis is howled down with cries of homophobia.

    There is anecdotal evidence that homosexually abused children can end up with homosexual tendencies themselves. But research is well nigh impossible on such a subject today – a researcher would risk character assassination by the homosexual lobby if he even suggested a study.

    So I guess we will keep shouting at each other until society falls apart – and it is well advanced down that route. I suppose that governments may start to think again when the cost of AIDS and HIV care goes through the roof. Studies indicate that it costs the exchequer over £1B per annum now. .


  • Portillo

    Those ” new reformers ” need to be reformed themselves, inside and outside, ( piety, healthy doctrine and private life ) before starting the reform of the Curia, The Church or whatever…

  • Francesco Forgione

    Well, the catechism does simply describe. “It [homosexuality] has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained.” Catholic doctrine isn’t that homosexuality is largely unexplained, it is only a description of the state of events when it was published. Neither is it a Catholic doctrine that homosexuality is widespread, it is a description of the historical and social situation.

    If you fail to show homosexuals respect, compassion, and sensitivity or discriminate unjustly against them you defy Mother Church. She doesn’t say anything about a difference between those who are open with their sexuality and those who keep it quiet. The Church knows too well what sexual repression does. Our dioceses have being paying through the nose for it. Simply because the word doesn’t appear doesn’t mean the concept isn’t specifically referenced.

    How do you explain homosexuality if not by birth? There’s a huge amount of evidence to suggest it is in fact as described in the article I linked you to earlier and you have only annecdote. Are you suggesting that all homosexual people were abused by people of the same sex as children? What about bisexual people? Were they abused by both men and women or just by their own sex but not very much? I also contest utterly that it’s hard to study this area, there is a wealth of research out there on it and just because you dislike what it says doens’t mean your truth has been suppressed by the homosexual bogey man. Most people when they look at a broad body of information that says very similar things would say “oh, they’re probably right then if so many emminent academics in the area agree” rather than “oh, all these emminent academics must have been bullied into submission by a political lobby”. This isn’t naïvity, it’s just good common sense.

    I think that if you look at the selfish gene concept a bit closer you might find that homosexuality is in fact positive for society and the family because it creates stable uncle figures.

    I fail to see the relevance of Frankie Howard. Are you saying that because one bisexual man had a lot of sex with both sexes (something which appears to have been exaggerated by both himself and other, but I digress) therefore all non-heterosexual people are wildly promiscuous? Do you think that your attitude of ghettoization might have given the extremists within the LGB movement an opportunity to hijack the movement and transform it into what you describe? There seems to be a degree of essentialism bound up in your thoughts on this issue too.

    You seem to be conflating the concepts of “homosexual” and “gay” too. In decent academic literature a distinction is made between the two terms: the former being people who are predominantly or entirely attracted to members of the same sex as them and the latter being the social constructs around, but far from inherent, in that. It’s similar to “man and woman” versus “male and female” where the former refers to the biological sex and the latter to the associated social constructs.

    But again, I digress.

    Look at the Gospels a minute.

    When Jesus finds himself in a quandry he talks. He talks to people around Him. Asks them questions. In Matthew he asks 31 questions, Mark 32, Luke 68 and John 42. He engages in dialogue. Why bother when he knows everything? To teach us how to deal with situations when we find ourselves puzzled by what we see around us.

    There is no point pretending that we’re not in a quandry now. We see as widespread for the first time homosexual relationships in which we can all see God’s love reflected. Their relationships are ones filled with truth, goodness and beauty. They are not limited to the ad intra but turn their love outwards ad extra. How can this be if homosexuality is evil?

    I would echo Fr Tim Radcliffe OP in saying that the way to solve this problem is to engage in dialogue. See what people in love with people of the same sex think about the issue. Dialogue is possible and Our Lord encourages it. He even gives us guidance if we’re worried about being seen to condone immoral practices: go and have dinner with the people committing them. Have a chat with them. Find out what they’re about. Engage view dialogue as preparation for the dialectic reasoning in which we can engage once we’re informed of the issues.

    If I can momentarily quote Fr Tim again, “you can’t understand sex with a rulebook”.

  • Anton L. Seidl

    You are exactly right, Kevin. Sodomy is sodomy. No civil unions shoud ever be sanctioned by the church. They are intrinsically evil, no matter how they are sugar-coated by being called “loving relationships” by the progressives.

  • Pope BXVI fan

    Thank goodness the old order is dying out and a new fresh breeze is blowing through the church. Beloved Pope Benedict XVI may not be here to enjoy it, but from heaven he will see the wolves get their just reward. Still, much cleansing is needed before Pope Benedict’s vision will come to fruition. There will be a grinding of teeth…

  • Guest

    How I miss Miss Thomas’ writing! I hope she hasnt forgot to pray for us all still caught up in this mortal coil.

  • aenid

    How I miss Miss Thomas Ellis’ writing and observations! I hope she hasnt forgotten to pray for all of us still caught up in this mortal coil.

  • Irenaeus of New York

    Piero is a disciple of Bugnini. Very few things could be worse than his appointment. He will likely be made a cardinal too.

  • Benedict Carter

    The root problem in the Church is NOT organisational, it is one of faith and doctrine.

  • Benedict Carter

    Wicked comments by Marini, really wicked. We’re not going back to the awful 1970′s, we’re already there.

  • Isabel

    And since April, Marini has contiued his slippery slope down the road, demonstrating anew his strong support for same sex unions.
    Id didn’t takt long after Benedict’a resignation before the traitors in the Vatican and elsewhere skowed their true faces openly.
    People despise traitors, especiallly when it is direcetd at somoeone so Holy as Benedict XVI WHO has given all his life to serve the church.. One day, catholics, ot only his many supporters, will recognize what a giant we were given through his pontificate; intellectually,(BRILLIANT), pastorally(incredibly HUMBLE). LITURGICALLY ABSOLUTELY GREAT. According to experts on this, Benedict saved the Latin to the church and with that also the great tradition of Gregorian chant, to the church’s tradition. He introduced more beauty, more serenity , more true style, for all catholics to enjoy. Beauty is for everybody and upllifts everybody’s mind and soul.

  • Benedict Carter

    The old order may well die out, but it is they who appoint like-minded successors.

  • Benedict Carter

    ” … finally Benedict can be free of them and their “innovations”.

    Yes, but we can’t be free of them, can we?

  • Simon James Perry

    How on earth Curial reform has anything to do with this interview is quite beyond me, unless Curial reform means silencing anyone who speaks honestly and openly about things. This would only encourage Papal Sycophants, and God knows hoe dangerous they are!
    I see nothing controversial at all. Even the comments on the Gold and Paintings could be understood in many different ways. Sounds as though he may just be reporting that Pope Francis doesn’t like living in opulent surroundings. Nothing wrong with that. It would be a mistake to interpret all praise of Pope Francis and talk of simplicity as a veiled criticism of Pope Benedict.

  • Agnus

    I’m sorry but this is outright Blasphemy!

    All God creates is spiritually perfect – We are made in HIS image and likeness. Thus to say that He creates Gay people – and then punishes them for being so, is akin to calling Him evil. The Bible states clearly that Same sex relationships are an abomination to Him in 15 different places, to try to say that it is all His fault for making people that way to start with – is a very grave sin. To say that He created a gay person in His image and likeness, is to say that He is “gay Himself” That is outright evil and you are deluding yourself

    Repent quickly for Blasphemy is a grave sin. You are putting a mirror up in front of your eyes, and creating a false god to fit your beliefs. Idolatry? Perhaps. Blasphemy and gross impertinence Definitely.

    I would not even go there if I were you. The Devil must be laughing.

  • St Bosco

    Yeah, and that lovely statue of Jupiter in St peters, dont sell that.