Cardinal Justin Rigali, the Archbishop of Philadelphia is always ready to answer questions, even the hard ones.
He spoke last week at the International Eucharistic Congress about the Church's teaching on sexuality, in the context of the current attack on the traditional definition of marriage.
Asked why it has become more common to see some elements within the Church promoting what is contrary to official Church teaching on homosexuality, Cardinal Rigali was quick to point out that it is not 'the Church' but members of the Church which do so at times.
"This goes back to the time of St. Paul," explained the Cardinal, "St. Paul says they will be teachers with itchy ears."
He added: "They will come up with all kinds of doctrines and this is what's happened in the history of the Church and the history of the world and this will continue to happen."
Cardinal Rigali said however that it was an "aberration" to justify "homosexual conduct and worse than that homosexual marriage."
"The Church accepts people as they are," he said.
"Jesus says the church is like a net, it pulls in everybody, everybody belongs to the church, there are sinners, there are saints, there are people with wrong ideas. But the Church continues to proclaim what Jesus taught."
"There is no room in the Church for the acceptance of aberrational ideas," he said.
"There is room in the church to accept, to understand and to love people whoever they may be. Not to tell them that what they are advocating is right, not to justify it. That is quite different. That is totally, totally different."
Cardinal Rigali, who is also the President of the Pro-Life Committee of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, suggested that no amount of pressure would get the Church to alter its position.
"There are some people that say the church is intolerant - no! We accept people but we cannot be unfaithful to Christ. We will not accept gay marriage. The church has explained this over, and over and over again and she will have to continue to explain it."
Addressing people with same sex attraction he said, "these are good people and our way of treating them is very important. The respect we show them and even the understanding of their personal situations. But just because someone is in a personal situation does not mean we can change our teaching to accommodate the person."
On getting the teaching of the Church across in today's culture, Cardinal Rigali said "The Church has to continue, St. Paul says, ‘praedica verbum’, preach the word in season and out of season and that's what we do."
However, he added, "This is something we have to teach in the most effective way possible, with clarity yes, with fidelity yes, with sensitivity. We can't take people and choke them and say you're going to be doing it and you're going to follow the teachings of the Church and this is the teaching of the Church. No. St. Paul says in omnia patientia doctrina, speaking to Timothy, ‘with all patience and following the teaching’, following the teaching, these are the two elements."
"We present the beauty of human sexuality," he said, "we explain God's plan. We try to understand people who have the same sex attraction we try to help them; try not to speak platitudes to them but tell them what God's plan is and how they are to face their life."
The Philadelphia Archbishop concluded: "That's why we have organizations like Courage and Encourage because for parents it's a very, very difficult thing. But God's plan is to be presented in all its beauty, all its power with fidelity."
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