Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Is Pope Francis Backing Down From the Church's Teaching Against Homosexuality?

“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and his good will, who am I to judge?” - Pope Francis on board the papal plane while returning from the World Youth Day in Brazil.

The media are quick to take the Pope’s remark above to mean that the Church is showing signs of backing down from its position against homosexuality; that after the election of a new Pope the Church is now back paddling on this very touchy issue; and that unlike his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI who taught that people with homosexual inclination should not be allowed to become priests, the new Pope is reaching out to the gay clerics. This is a typical example of how people are inclined to hear the way they want to hear.

It’s no secret that the media and the secular world dislike the Church’s teaching against homosexuality, i.e. its teaching that the homosexual acts are "acts of grave depravity" and that they are “intrinsically disordered” (CCC #2357). They also believe - in a very ignorant and naïve way, I must add - that given the pressure and momentum of the worldwide gay movement, which has won battle after battle in the courts of law and legislatures, the Roman Catholic Church and its “bigoted view” against homosexuality will eventually buckle. As a result, anything that the new Pope says that bears the remotest resemblance of a friendly comment on the issue of homosexuality will immediately be reported - or misreported - as the Church changing its position.

If one reads the Pope’s remark more closely, one will realize that what he says is really nothing new. Following the Scripture, the Church has always maintained that God, who is merciful and kind, will always forgive a sinner if he truly repents his sins and opts to follow God’s will (cf. Mt. 4:17, 1 John 1:9). What the Pope is saying is that if someone repents the sins of his gay behaviors and chooses to follow the will of God, which is for the homosexual persons to exercise self-mastery and live in chastity (CCC #2359), who am I – Pope Francis – to say that God will not forgive?

One pro-gay National Post reader was smart enough to pick up another comment that the Pope said in the same breath, namely, that “when someone sins and confesses, God not only forgives but forgets.” The pro-gay reader expressed dissatisfaction that in spite of the soft tone, the Pope saw homosexuality as a “sin”. But that’s exactly what the Pope is saying, just as the Church has always been saying: homosexuality is a sin, a grave sin that is intrinsically disordered. The Pope is also saying, just as the Church has always been saying, that if the sinner – the homosexual person in this case – is prepared to repent and follow God’s will (stop the homosexual behaviors in other words), how can we say or judge that God will not forgive him?

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Living in the Holy Tradition《活在聖傳中》on Dominus Iesus, Fall 2013

In the coming fall (September 2013 to December 2013 inclusive) Living in the Holy Tradition《活在聖傳中》 will study Dominus Iesus (Declaration on the unicity and salvific universality of Jesus Christ and the Church). This important Church document was released in August 2000 by the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which was headed by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger who subsequently became Pope Benedict XVI. For those interested in Ecclesiology (Church studies), this is a landmark document that simply must be read carefully and properly understood. It touches on many practical issues that continue to baffle many Catholic faithful including:

- Are all religions the same? Is one religion just as good as another?
- Can non-Christians be saved?
- How do we see the sacred writings, historical figures, and rituals of other religions?
- Is Jesus' salvation the only salvation available to all mankind?
- How do we explain the "good elements" contained in other religions' teachings and traditions? Aren't they just as good, or even better, than those in Christian teachings?
- Can salvation be achieved outside of the Church?
- What is the Church? A collection of Christian churches?
- If there is only one Church of Christ, who is that Church?
- If the Church is one, how do we explain the existence of so many churches? Is the Body of Christ shattered?
- What is the "Kingdom of God"? Where is it?
- Is it OK to say that the Church of Christ is just "one of many ways that lead us to heaven"?
- If salvation is possible in other churches/religions, why bother to preach the Gospel?
- Is it wrong to encourage the members of the reformed churches to join the Catholic Church?

I can go on and on, but you get the idea. This is a Church document that answers all of the above questions and more with authority and convincing biblical explanations. I think this is a study all of us will find thoroughly enjoyable and beneficial.

The document can be printed from the internet free of charge (about 26 pages including footnotes):
Dominus Iesus

Copied below is the time schedule for 《活在聖傳中》Fall 2013 - Dominus Iesus. Please help us spread the word and invite more people to join. If you are interested in joining us, just email me ( to let me know and you are in!

Look forward to meeting with you come September! In the meantime, have a safe and wonderful summer!

Time Schedule for Living in the Holy Tradition
Ref: Dominus Iesus (Ecclesiology)

September 29, 2013 to December 29, 2013
9:15 to 10:45 a.m., Sundays, at St. Vincent De Paul School

Sept 29, 2013 Introduction and the Fullest and Definitiveness of Jesus’ Revelation, paragraphs 2-8

• Introduction: The Church must preach the Gospel. How to do so in connection with the religious traditions of the world.
• The danger of religious pluralism, i.e. all religions are the same.
• Reassert the definitive and complete character of Jesus’ revelation.
• Difference between faith and belief
• How the Church sees other religions’ sacred writings.

Oct 13, 2013 (in room 203) Unicity and Universality of the Salvific Mystery of Jesus Christ para 13-15

• The unicity (the only one) and salvific universality of the mystery of Jesus must be firmly believed as a truth of Catholic faith.
• How do we view the historical figures and positive elements of other religions?
• Jesus has a significance for the human race and its history, which is unique, proper to him alone, universal and absolute.

Oct 27, 2013 Unicity and Unity of the Church, paragraphs 16-17

• Christ and Church are inseparable = whole Christ; just as there is one Christ, so there exists a single body of Christ, i.e. the Church.
• There is a historical continuity – rooted in the apostolic succession - between the Church founded by Christ and the Catholic Church.
• The single Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church.
• How do we view the other churches?
• The Church of Christ is not deprived of unity in spite of the lack of unity among Christians.

Nov 3, 2013 The Church: Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Christ, paragraphs 18-19

• The Church is the seed and beginning of the kingdom of Christ.
• Kingdom of Christ is not identified with the Church in her visible and social reality.

Nov 24, 2013 The Church and the Other Religions in Relation to Salvation, paragraphs 20-21

• The Church is necessary for salvation
• Non-Church members can also have salvation in Christ by virtue of a special grace.
• The Church is NOT just one way of salvation alongside other ways
• Prayers and rituals of other religions have no divine origin or ex opera operato salvific efficacy.

Dec 1, 2013 The Church and the Other Religions in Relation to Salvation, paragraphs 22-23

• It is not true that “one religion is as good as another”.
• Therefore, the Church must be missionary.
• Conclusion

Dec 15, 2013 TBD

Dec 29, 2013 (in room 203) TBD

Topics and contents may be changed or adjusted in accordance with actual progress and delivery needs. For further information, contact Edmond Lo, email: