IT is a miserable time when a man’s Catholic profession is no voucher for his orthodoxy, and when a teacher of religion may be within the Church’s pale, yet external to her faith. Such has been for a season the trial of her children at various eras of her history. It was the state of things during the dreadful Arian ascendancy, when the flock had to keep aloof from the shepherd (from Newman’s ‘Idea of a University’)
The Vatican announced on Monday that Heiner Koch would be the new archbishop of Berlin. He was one of the bishops who participated in the ‘Shadow Synod’ in Rome the other day which according to one of its participants (and the fact is well-known, in any case, and denied by no 0ne), sought “a pastoral opening on issues such as communion for the divorced and remarried, and the pastoral care of homosexuals”.
In a February interview with a German newspaper, Bishop Koch called for changes in the pastoral care of homosexuals, saying that to “portray homosexuality as a sin is hurtful,” adding that the Church “needs a different language when it comes to homosexuals … I know gay couples who value reliability and commitment and live these in an exemplary manner.”
The archbishop of Berlin knows ‘gay couples’ who live their ‘commitment’ to each other in an exemplary way? Clearly we are not talking here about people who suffer from but resist temptations to unnatural lust, or how could he speak of ‘couples’. I don’t see how any reasonable person can think that Koch accepts the Church’s teaching about the intrinsic evil of homosexual acts. Yet this teaching is infallible in virtue of the ordinary and universal magisterium, and whoever denies it is a heretic.
So, what should Berlin’s Catholics do now? If we read in a history of the Church that some Catholics of the mid 4th century had blockaded the door of a cathedral so that the Arian bishop appointed to that see might not take possession of it, we should admire their initiative and determination. I suggest that it would be a good idea for Berlin’s Catholics to do the same. Not to stand to one side and hold placards; to keep him out. They are soldiers of Christ, in virtue of their confirmation. Let them fight for Him, and against Sodom.