An Australian Catholic bishop appointed by Pope Francis says he is simply following the pope’s lead in calling on the Church to end “oppression” against gays and lesbians caused by “defin[ing] their sexuality as ‘intrinsically disordered.’”
“It seems to me that the Pope has more than moved away from the
approach of condemnation and judgment,” stated Bishop Vincent Long Van
Nguyen of the Catholic diocese of Parramatta during a lecture in western Sydney on August 18.
“[Pope Francis] has refocused on the proclamation of God’s love for
the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalized; […] he has committed the
church to the way of engagement, affirmation, and compassion, which is
at the heart of the Gospel,” he added.
Bishop Long called being “inclusive” “one of the greatest challenges the Church faces today.”
“[T]here must be space for everyone, especially those who have been
hurt, excluded or alienated, be they abuse victims, survivors,
divorcees, gays, lesbians. … The church will be less than what Christ
intends it to be when issues of inclusion and equality are not fully
addressed,” he said.
Specifically, Bishop Long said that for the Church to be more
inclusive and more attractive to young people it must put away
discriminatory and judgmental language.
“We cannot talk about the integrity of creation, the universal and
inclusive love of God, while at the same time colluding with the forces
of oppression in the ill-treatment of racial minorities, women, and
homosexual persons,” he said, adding: “It won’t wash with young people,
especially when we purport to treat gay people with love and compassion
and yet define their sexuality as ‘intrinsically disordered.’”
But Catholic life-and-family leaders have stressed that it is
precisely because of love that the Church warns people of the biological
and spiritual dangers associated with genital activity between two
persons of the same sex.
St. Peter Damian, an 11th century Italian Catholic reformer and
Doctor of the Church, described homosexuality in his famous Book of
Gomorrah as a “diabolical” corruption of God’s plan for sexuality
between a man and a woman. Homosexuality must not only be not tolerated,
but it must be condemned and stamped out, he wrote.
“This vice is the death of bodies, the destruction of souls, pollutes
the flesh, extinguishes the light of the intellect, expels the Holy
Spirit from the temple of the human heart, introduces the diabolical
inciter of lust, throws into confusion, and removes the truth completely
from the deceived mind. … It opens up hell and closes the door of
paradise. … It cuts off a member of the Church and casts him into the
voracious conflagration of raging Gehenna,” he wrote.
Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, the Church teaches that homosexual
acts are “acts of grave depravity” and are “intrinsically disordered”
because they are “contrary to the natural law” in that they “close the
sexual act to the gift of life.”
“Under no circumstances can they be approved,” states the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
In his lecture, Bishop Long lamented that the Church with its “old
stereotypes” has not been a “shining beacon and a trail-blazer in the
fight against inequality and intolerance.”
He stressed that the Church has much to “learn” from the world where
the “identities and rights of the marginalized are accorded justice,
acceptance, affirmation, and protection.”
Bishop Long slammed faithful Catholics who uphold Catholic teaching
on marriage and sexuality, stating that it is the “holders of the
tradition who are often guilty of prejudice, discrimination, and
He urged Catholics to adopt the “seamless garment approach” to the
“victims of injustice,” stating that the Church “cannot be a strong
moral force and an effective prophetic voice in society if we are simply
defensive, inconsistent and divisive with regards to certain social
Bishop Long concluded his lecture by stating that the Church under
Pope Francis is “on the threshold of renewal and transformation.”
“Pope Francis has unleashed a new energy, he has poured a new wine
which cannot be contained in old wineskins. He has challenged us to move
in concert with him and bring about the rebirth of the church. I am
endeavoring to follow the pope’s lead,” he said.
When The Australian published a report on Bishop’s Long’s
lecture earlier this week titled “Catholic bishop calls on church to
accept homosexuality,” the bishop issued a statement the same day calling the headline “inaccurate and misleading.”
“It appears my lecture has been completely misrepresented,” he said.
“It is disappointing that despite requests to have the inaccurate story
amended, no changes have been made by the journalist or the