Father Fessio’s take on the Instruction

Father Fessio’s take on the Instruction

Father Joseph Fessio, SJ, (publisher of my magazine, Catholic World Report), was on PBS’ “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” last night debating Fr. James Martin, SJ, on the Instruction.

Fr. Fessio scored all body blows, rhetorically speaking, on Fr. Martin and came out way ahead. The transcript shows Fessio’s skill at explicating the Church’s teaching. He even went into some explication of the Trinitarian significance of human sexuality.

MARGARET WARNER: Father Fessio, explain the reasoning here. If a man, a young man or a middle-aged man, for that matter, has been celibate for some time and is vowing to remain celibate as the Church requires to be a priest, why does it matter to the Church if in his heart he is homosexual or heterosexual?

REV. JOSEPH FESSIO: Margaret, that’s a wonderful question. First of all, it should be clear to people that the Catholic Church has taught from the beginning that homosexual acts are intrinsically immoral, against God’s plan, against the natural law and are serious sins, and that, therefore, a tendency to indulge in those acts, or desire for them, is an objective psychological disorder.

Now that is a hard saying. It’s something that goes against what a lot of people think but that’s what the Church teaches. Now the reasons for that are very deep and more than we can go into here but they go to the very Trinity itself of God as being both union and fruitfulness and Christ incarnate, the Son of God being the bridegroom of His Church.

The Church has a very, very high view of sexuality in marriage. Paul expresses that in his epistle to the Ephesians that it’s a great mystery, a man and a woman, Christ and the Church. And so the document at the very beginning says that when a man is ordained, he doesn’t just perform the functions of a priest. He actually becomes united with Christ, the bridegroom of the Church, and, therefore, to have a relationship to the Church’s bride, which is an ordered relationship, you have to have someone who has got that kind of affective maturity who also has an ordered relationship as a man to the bride which is his Church. So those are the fundamental reasons for it.

MARGARET WARNER: Meaning he would be heterosexual in orientation, though celibate?

REV. JOSEPH FESSIO: Yes, because that’s the normal orientation that corresponds to the finality of human sexuality.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli