EWTN's Fr. Murray: Pope Francis is 'Becoming an Advocate of Decriminalization of Anti-Sodomy Laws'

Fr. Gerald Murray, a priest with the Archdiocese of New York and a frequent contributor on EWTN, strongly criticized Pope Francis’s recent remarks about homosexuality as confusing and contrary to Church teaching in some respects. He also said the Pope, “unfortunately,” is “becoming an advocate of decriminalization of anti-sodomy laws.”

On EWTN’s The World Over with Raymond Arroyo, Fr. Murray said, “There’s imprecise language here [by the Pope] and confusion. Sodomy is a sin. The misuse of the sexual organs to seek venereal pleasure in a way that’s not natural intercourse between a husband and a wife, that’s what the sin is.”

“It’s clearly taught in the Bible and the natural law,” said Murray, also a Canon (Church) lawyer. “Sodomy is a mortal sin.”

On Jan. 24, Pope Francis was interviewed by the Associated Press. When asked about homosexuality, the Pope said, “It’s not a crime. Yes, but it’s a sin. Fine, but let’s distinguish between a sin and a crime.”

The Pope also criticized some bishops who support laws or discrimination against homosexuality. “These bishops have to have a process of conversion,” he said.


In reference to the Pope’s interview, Fr. Murray said, “Now, laws against sodomy are designed to warn people not to commit that sin and to protect society where, if that sin were tolerated, it might become more widespread. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Bible is a warning to us.”

“The Pope, unfortunately, is becoming an advocate of decriminalization of anti-sodomy laws,” said Murray. “And it’s hard to believe we would say that.”

In the Pope’s interview with AP, Murray continued, “he’s quoted as saying that he knows African bishops who are against changing those laws. He said they have to undergo a process of conversion. And I’m shaking my head.”

“The people that have to undergo conversion are those who want to commit sodomy, not the bishops who are telling them this is a sin, it’s wrong, and the state should not legitimize it,” said Fr. Murray.

He went on to explain that the Catholic Church does not teach that one has a right to do what is morally wrong. A person is free — free will — to engage in sinful behavior, but the person does not have a right.

“What is the basis where you would decriminalize sodomy?” said Fr. Murray. “Do people have a right to commit sodomy? Is this somehow now a human right? That’s what the left claims. The Catholic Church doesn’t say that.”

He then asked, “What about people who engage in prostitution? They’re going to say, ‘Well, I don’t like being stigmatized by laws that criminalize prostitution.'”

“Incest is against the law,” added Fr. Murray.  “People might say, ‘Well, that’s consensual among adults, why can’t they do it?  So, a lot of confusion here.”

“I mean, who’s going to be happy with this decriminalization of sodomy?” he asked. “It’s not the people who support Church teaching. They’re stunned.”

“The Pope, if anything, should be saying laws that lead people into sin should never become law,” concluded Fr. Murray. 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “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.”

On marriage, the Catholic Church further teaches, “Marriage is the only institution that unites a man and a woman together and any children that come from their union. But proposals to legally redefine marriage to include other types of relationships are using the term ‘marriage’ to mean a more or less intense form of companionship and emotional bond between any two consenting adults. This difference is decisive.

“Marriage does not change according to adult desires, and even if childbearing opportunities inherent in marital union are sometimes unrealized, this does nothing to undermine the immense societal value of a law recognizing the unique status of such unions. No one has a right to eliminate from marriage’s fundamental core the sexual difference and complementarity of man and woman. When marriage is properly understood, then it is possible to see why it needs to be recognized and protected as such by the State, not deconstructed and redefined.”


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