On March 8, feast of St John, patron saint of those suffering from mental disorders, Fr Kevin Schembri, an “accredited canon lawyer”, argued on Xarabank that homosexuality is not a disorder because God made it “and saw that it was good’’. 

A stamp printed at the Vatican dedicated to the anniversary of the birth of Dante.A stamp printed at the Vatican dedicated to the anniversary of the birth of Dante.

This theory deserves consideration, not for its merits – it has none – but because his views have gained significant traction among Catholics.

Schembri’s theory is threefold. Firstly, God makes you gay.  Secondly, homoerotic intimacy is not objectively disordered.  Thirdly, since the Catholic Church bases itself not just on the Bible but also on tradition it reinterprets those Sacred Scripture texts that at prima facie condemn homosexuality. 

I’ll start from the third premise.  It is clear that Fr Kevin does not have an inkling of what the “development of doctrine’’ and “tradition’’ mean.  

In Chapter 5 of his ‘An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine’  (1845) John Newman proposes seven criteria to distinguish between authentic and false change, i.e. a corruption of a doctrine and a legitimate development of it. 

Fr Kevin’s arguments fail Newman’s test. He has no continuity of principles (2nd criterion) and does not actively conserve the past (6th criterion).  For while Fr Kevin trumpets the Tridentine slogan Traditio et Scriptura, which Catholics directed against the Protestant Sola Scriptura, he himself dismisses the Catholic tradition accumulated through the ages and synthesised in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, sections 2357 – 2379, published during the pontificate of Saint John Paul II. 

The catechism shows that “tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered, are contrary to natural law, are not genuine and under no circumstances can they be approved’’.

The placing of the sections dealing with homosexuality in the catechism is noteworthy for they follow the condemnation of lust, masturbation, fornication, pornography, prostitution and rape in the second section of article six dealing with the transgressions against the sixth commandment.  The discussion of love between husband and wife is found in an entirely new section.

All this lays bare that Fr Kevin’s opinions are diametrically opposed to the Catholic tradition he is boasting to preserve, develop and expand.  What a sham.

The teaching which Fr Kevin in point of fact is actually proposing harks back to the first centuries of Christianity.  It is ultimately an ancient heresy in a Lady Gaga’s kinky outfit.  It is the Pelagianism of despair. 

Pelagius was a British monk (355-425) who affirmed that a soul can perform good actions without the aid of  divine supernatural grace.  According to Pelagianism, when Adam committed original sin, he wounded only himself.

The catechism shows that tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered, are contrary to natural law

This heresy does away with the necessity of God’s help to heal fallen nature. Augustine strongly contested Pelagius because he discovered from bitter personal experience that he could not be chaste without the help of “amazing grace how sweet it sounds that saved a wretch like me’’.

In our times nothing is more common than eliminating grace with  a “do it yourself salvation’’.  Today we identify the sinners with their sins and teach them to persevere in sin.

“Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”(Romans 1,32).

Gay affirming clerics by preaching sugary coated slogans like “God loves you the way you are’’, “all you need is love’’ and “if it feels good, do it’’,  are initiating our young into homosexuality...  and perdition.

All this is the ancient heresy of Pelagianism reasserting itself with a vengeance... with Beelzebub idly stroking his goatee in Xarabank’s studios. 

But will Pope Francis really modify the catechism?   

Since Fr Kevin is so keen about tradition, why don’t we help the Pope by seeing what many a patristic and medieval author like St Catherine of Siena have to say.  (Another standard principle Newman suggests.)

Perhaps Dante’s Divina Commedia (which makes the horror laden Game of Thrones episodes depicting human passion in all its crudeness look like nothing more than the Teletubbies) helps, for it depicts popes and bishops – including part-timers –  in the anguishes of hell.

 If only Dante were around today in the midst of the current sex scandal storm afflicting the Church.

Indeed, in the Inferno Dante provides us with an image of what Christians since the Apostolic age have always believed.  He places sodomites in the fiery seventh circle of hell reserved for the “Violent”, where mass murderers like Alexander the Great are drowning in boiling blood.    

It is not surprising for even the Italian slang term for gay – frocio – is etymologically derived from the Latin ferox, meaning violent and ferocious from the Proto Indo-European term meaning a savage predator beast. 

That’s how the notorious gay Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, recently defrocked, was described by an ex-seminarian who was one of his victims. 

Dante finds sodomites running in a group of poor souls who hate each other with a passion.   One may easily deduce from this image that same-sex “marriage” is actually an open relationship.

By placing them accompanying murderers, Dante is suggesting that homosexuality is worse than gluttony, greed, anger and heresy of the third, fourth, fifth and sixth circles respectively.

He not only places sodomy far below heterosexual lust – found in the second circle – but just one circle, that of fraud that separates them from Lucifer in the icy ninth circle. 

Having reflected on all this please join me in praying for the conversion of priests like Fr Kevin who not only defies Catholic teaching but labels conservative Catholics as closeted homosexual bigots unable to accept themselves.   

Pray also for those obtuse priests like Fr Joe Borg who refuse to admit that the sex scandal crisis afflicting the Church is a gay mess. 

Being fond of conspiracy theories, they  imagine droves of evil Tridentine traditionalists entrenched in the Vatican  preparing the Albino Luciani cocktail to poison Pope Francis before he reforms Catholic sexual ethics.

The situation is desperate.

This is a Times of Malta print opinion piece

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