Source: Edward Pentin’s blog (NCRegister)
German Vatican Radio Gets “Wild Verbal Slap” For Article
BY EDWARD PENTIN 07/07/2015 Comment
An article published last Friday on the German edition of Vatican Radio’s website headlined “Moral Theologian: Church’s Sexual Morality is In Motion”, together with an accompanying picture featuring two lesbians kissing, has caused consternation on the blogosphere and in social media.
Many took to Twitter to say they couldn’t believe such a headline and photo would appear on Vatican Radio’s website. One called it a “disgrace”, another described it as a “shocking piece.” A third tweeted: “Dear God, please help us!”
The article and photo, which contained a close-up of two lesbians kissing with a rainbow wristband on one arm, were posted on Friday, then pulled on Saturday, only to be reposted on Monday. Today, the article remains, but now the offending photograph has been removed.
The director of the German edition, Jesuit Father Bernd Hagenkord, told me today that publishing the photograph, a stock photo from the news agency AFP, was a “technical error”, and that it is “electronically impossible to separate the article from the photo.”
“I did not know that,” he said. “Neither does our technical support staff have a solution. That is why the photo appeared again and is now gone again.” He added that the discussion “has shown that this picture is not fulfilling this purpose” and that “journalistically it was wrong to put it there.”
The article the photo accompanied summarized the view — without any counter-argument — of South Tyrolean moral theologian Martin Lintner who asserted that the Church’s sexual morality “is in motion”.
The German text is somewhat complex, but from what I can clearly make out, he suggested, in an interview with Die Furche, a Christian weekly, that sexuality will be perceived in theology and the magisterium “more and more in its personal and holistic dimension.”
He seemed to say that there’s a shift away from the natural law regarding certain acts, and that despite concrete sexual ethical standards not changing much, he said the synods on the family show a “rethinking” in dealing with homosexuals.
“The Church will become more sensitive to the sufferings of victims and families in which homosexuals live,” he predicted. This development, he said, is significant, even if the Church “emphasizes that a homosexual partnership remains different to that of a marriage.”
This last sentence appears to imply support for what many German bishops are also criticized for proposing: that the Church should recognize same-sex unions (though not same-sex ‘marriage’).
Father Hagenkord said he knew “nothing” about the article and was unable to comment further as he had been away in Germany and had just returned. He later said he did not want to enter into the debate about Catholic teaching as mentioned in the article. “There are a lot of things that could be said about it, but a simple photo is not worth the bother. The real issues should be addressed and that is exactly what the synod will do.”
But in a July 6th blog post on the Vatican Radio German website, an anonymous radio employee revealed some of the reasoning behind the post and at the same time showed his incomprehension as to why many Catholics would find such a picture and article offensive.
He wrote that the article “wasn’t really a scandal” but admitted the photo “wasn’t a wise choice” because it “didn’t really fit with the report.” The backlash took the author “completely by surprise”.
Using what some might consider inappropriate language for Vatican Radio, he added: “It wasn’t a sh*t storm [out of control situation], but it went in that direction.” He described those who were shocked as people who are “unhealthily fixated” and “cannot tolerate that some people out there are different.” He added: “And we, as in community, and we, as in churches, wonder why homosexuals feel discriminated against? Even today.”
He described the reaction as a “wild verbal slap”, as if words had “no reality nor effect, all in the name of teaching truth and church.”
The anonymous author said it was significant that “among us, and especially in the U.S. where there are very many super-Catholic-denouncing-Christians, a single image is enough to get oneself so excited.” What such “artificial excitement” has to do with “love of neighbor or even normal interpersonal behavior escapes me,” he added.
He ended by saying the tone in the Church is harsh, and has been for some time. “But even if we make mistakes here and there sometimes, we’re not prepared to join this game,” he wrote.
The blog post made no mention of sexual morality.
German Catholic commentator Mathias von Gersdorff said the interview with Lintner twists the words of the Vatican, “deliberately disorientating the faithful.” He added that it portrays the Second Vatican Council as allowing everything and leaving all subject to interpretation. Vatican Radio, he added, illustrated the text of the article with “a shameless photo that should never have appeared in a Catholic news service.”