daily biblical sermons

Pope Francis' approval of homosexual civil unions continues to rock the Church and the world
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, Th.D.
Homily of Saturday, 29th Week of the Year, October 24, 2020
Ephesians 4:7-16, Psalm 121, Luke 13:1-9


Biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted




“There were some present at that very time who told him [Jesus] of the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And he answered them, ‘Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered thus? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen upon whom the tower of Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.’ And he told this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vine dresser, “Lo, these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down; why should it use up the ground?” And he answered him, “Let it alone, sir, this year also, till I dig about it and put on manure. And if it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.”’” (Luke 13:1-9).



Today’s gospel is clearly about genuine repentance. Jesus is told about “the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices,” and he responds, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered thus? I tell you, No! But unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:2-3). In other words, if we do not sincerely and genuinely repent of our sins and leave them behind us, we will perish.



Finally, Jesus tells a parable about a fig tree that after three years still bears no fruit, and the owner wants it to be cut down, but the gardener begs for one more year to manure and dig around it, and if it does not bear fruit, then he will cut it down. The point is that if we don’t bear good fruit by living a moral life according to God’s biblically revealed moral law, we will be cut down by God. God in his mercy keeps giving us new chances to genuinely repent, but ultimately those that do not sincerely repent will be cut down and eternally punished.



It is important to stress genuine repentance today, because there are some Catholics that claim that repentance isn’t always necessary and that if you are accompanied in a process of discernment and think that you hear the voice of God in your conscience telling you that in your case, since you have a difficult life, God will give you a lower, easier moral law and allow you to continue in your favorite sin, whether it be fornication, adultery, or a homosexual relationship. This is clearly false teaching that totally contradicts the Scriptures.



“The necessity of repentance to salvation, will be evident to all that search the Scriptures, and consider the nature of the subject. Without repentance, there is no forgiveness of sins. There never was a pardoned man – who was not also a penitent. There never was one washed in the blood of Christ – who did not feel, and mourn, and confess, and hate his own sins … Let these things sink down into your hearts. We must repent as well as believe, if we hope to be saved” (JC Ryle, 1858, emphasis added).



“There is a plain warning here to all professing churches of Christ. If their ministers do not teach sound doctrine, and their members do not live holy lives – then they are in imminent peril of destruction” (JC Ryle, emphasis in the text).



This teaching has tremendous importance today, for the Church and the world continues to be rocked by the scandalous statement of Pope Francis in a new film premiered at a Rome film festival on October 21, 2020, where he approves of homosexual civil unions, saying, “What we have to create is a civil union. In this way they [homosexuals] will be legally covered. I have defended this” (see here).



Worldwide reaction is now coming in both in the secular press and in the Church as well as among Protestant Evangelicals in response to this shocking statement of the Pope that directly contradicts both Scripture and Tradition. Even evangelicals are joining us now in expressing their shock and disapproval of this statement of Pope Francis, because they had felt covered and protected by the largest Christian denomination (the Catholic Church), but now fear that they will have to stand alone against the secular world’s approval of homosexual behavior (see here).



Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan released a statement on October 23, 2020, saying, “Every true Catholic, every true Catholic priest, every true Catholic bishop must with deep sorrow and a weeping heart regret and protest against the unheard-of fact, that Pope Francis, the Roman Pontiff, the successor of the apostle Peter, the Vicar of Christ on earth uttered … his support for civil same-sex unions. Such support of the Pope means support for a structure of sin, for a lifestyle against the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue.” (Bishop Athanasius Schneider, October 23, 2020).



Bishop Schneider continues, “The advocating of a legal union so that a lifestyle against the explicit Commandment of God, against human nature and against human reason will be legally covered, is a new doctrine … a doctrine which is evidently [clearly] against Divine Revelation and the perennial teaching of the Church of all times. Such a doctrine is scheming with sin, and is therefore a most anti-pastoral measure. To promote a juridical lifestyle of sin is against the core of the Gospel itself, since persons in same-sex unions through their sexual acts grievously offend God” (Bishop Athanasius Schneider).



So, Bishop Schneider calls on the Pope to convert and formally retract his erroneous statement, “All Catholics … should weep and cry to God that, Pope Francis may convert and retract formally his approval for the civil same-sex unions, in order to confirm his brethren, as the Lord has commanded him (Luke 22:32)” (Bishop Athanasius Schneider).



Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, the former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, released a statement on October 22, 2020, saying, “The present statement [of Pope Francis] is a purely private expression of opinion, which every Catholic can and should freely contradict” (Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, emphasis added).



Cardinal Raymond Burke, the former head of the Signatura (the Vatican Supreme Court), stated on October 22, 2020, “Such declarations generate great bewilderment and cause confusion and error among Catholic faithful, inasmuch as they are contrary to the teaching of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, and the recent Magisterium by which the Church guards, protects and interprets the whole deposit of faith contained in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition” (Cardinal Raymond Burke).



Cardinal Burke continues to say, “First of all, the context and the occasion of such declarations make them devoid of any magisterial weight. They are rightly interpreted as simple private opinions of the person who made them. These declarations do not bind, in any manner, the consciences of the faithful who are rather obliged to adhere with religious submission to what Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, and the ordinary Magisterium of the Church teach on the matter in question” (Cardinal Raymond Burke).



Then Cardinal Burke says, “It is a source of deepest sadness and pressing pastoral concern that the private opinions reported with so much emphasis by the press and attributed to Pope Francis do not correspond to the constant teaching of the Church, as it is expressed in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, and is guarded, protected and interpreted by the Magisterium. Equally sad and concerning is the turmoil, confusion, and error they cause among the Catholic faithful, as is the scandal they cause, in general, by giving the totally false impression that the Catholic Church has had a change of course, that is, has changed its perennial teaching regarding such fundamental and critical questions” (Cardinal Raymond Burke).



So, what do we do with this earth-shattering statement? First of all, the way it was expressed in a documentary film shows that it has no magisterial weight whatsoever and binds no one. All magisterial documents are published in a specific form, such as an apostolic exhortation, an encyclical, an apostolic letter, or an apostolic epistle. This is simply an oral, nonwritten statement in a documentary film.



Nonetheless, it is causing serious damage, because it shows the mind of Pope Francis to be in direct conflict with the clear teaching of Scripture and Catholic Tradition on fundamentally important issues of faith and morals. Doctrinally it shows that Pope Francis does not accept the Scriptures as authoritative divine revelation, and morally it shows that he rejects the teaching of Scripture and Tradition that homosexual acts are gravely sinful and offensive to God (Romans 1:26-27).



So, we must simply accept the fact that we have a Pope that has such aberrant beliefs about Catholic doctrine and morality and expresses them in a popular film that reaches everyone and causes tremendous confusion, especially among those that have little theological background, including Protestants and non-Christians.



We should follow the advice of Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, who tells us, “Every Catholic can and should freely contradict [this statement]” (Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, emphasis added). We should treat it as the mistaken opinion of the reigning Pope that we should speak against for the good of the Church and for the good of people afflicted with same-sex attraction lest they be falsely encouraged by this statement to live in an objectively mortally sinful way that will jeopardize their eternal salvation.


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