Vatican Condemns Jesus’ Silence On Abortion, Homosexuality

Following a rigorous historical investigation of Jesus Christ and a careful analysis of the Gospel narratives, the Vatican has released a report criticizing Jesus for focusing on poverty and social justice while remaining silent on abortion and homosexuality, calling his silence on these issues “grave and a matter of serious concern.”

The report, released on Wednesday, acknowledges that Jesus never explicitly contradicted Church teaching on either issue. Nonetheless, officials argue, the Son of God’s failure to address these questions at all “seriously undermines our attempts to present opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage as central to the Gospel.”

“We have been trying, for several years now, to make vociferous, blood-spitting opposition to gay marriage a litmus test for Catholicism,” Vatican officials write. “While we of course admire Jesus’ ministry to the poor and marginalized, his teachings on sexual ethics are almost totally limited to his sayings against adultery and his qualified opposition to divorce and remarriage.”

A spokesman for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which released the Vatican report on its website, conceded that Jesus’ silence on abortion, like his silence on homosexuality, does not necessarily mean Christ supported it. “But,” he said, “it’s not really clear that Christ opposed it, either. On an issue this difficult and complicated, it would be really nice to have a pat answer–no doubts, no nuance, no exceptions. Would it have killed him to give us one? Would it?”

Jesus could not be reached for comment.

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9 responses to “Vatican Condemns Jesus’ Silence On Abortion, Homosexuality

  • Katie Grimes

    You guys are the best.

  • Nartsey

    If social justice (correct me if I’m wrong) is about defending the vulnerable against injustices; and unborn children are the most vulnerable. Then, how can you begin to talk about social justice when the most vulnerable is neglected?

    Jesus also remained silent about slavery, beastiality, incest, nuclear warfare, etc. Are we to assume that these things are permissible according to circumstances? Are these issues too complicated that making exceptions would seem ridiculous?

    “Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” Jn 21:25

    It’s ridiculous (and unclever) to use Jesus’ silence to defend silence on issues such as abortion. Pastoral care is needed in this matter, but the Church’s teachings need to be taken seriously and presented with clarity.

    • Dykeus Tecum

      Hi Nartsey,

      The post actually wasn’t arguing for or against abortion rights, which I had thought was clear from the final paragraph. My point, actually, is similar to yours: if Jesus doesn’t mention something, we can’t presume to know with certainty what he thought about it. My criticism is aimed at church leaders’ tendency to present black-and-white opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage as though such positions had emerged, fully formed, with no ambiguity or nuance whatsoever, from the Gospel. Meanwhile, many of the same leaders acknowledge that other issues–economic policy, war, and the death penalty, for example–are legitimately complicated, and that intelligent people of good will can disagree with the bishops on how to apply Christian principles to such concerns without being anathematized.

      I think people should be able to disagree without being anathematized. It is really difficult to apply Gospel principles to most major ethical and political concerns–including abortion. Some people argue, like you have, that advocating for the unborn is a matter of social justice. Others argue that advocating for women facing difficult, dangerous, or unwelcome pregnancies is a matter of social justice. Still others argue for some middle position that balances both these concerns. The principle–defending the poor, vulnerable, and marginalized–may be clear, but the right ways of applying the principle are not obvious. I have no interest in getting into debates over which position on abortion better reflects the Gospel. My point is simply to say: Jesus gave us no pat answers to most contemporary problems, including abortion and same-sex marriage, and we should not pretend that he did.

      Finally, I should note that I was parodying the reasoning employed in the Vatican’s recent condemnation of U.S. women religious. The CDF claims that the LCWR’s emphasis on poverty and social justice, and its silence on abortion and same-sex marriage, shows evidence of a “doctrinal” problem. Of course, it shows no such thing–any more than Jesus’ emphasis on poverty and silence on homosexuality can tell us anything about his stance on same-sex marriage.

      Thanks for your reply!

  • Nartsey

    Thank you for your thoughtful reply. My point is that just because Jesus didn’t mention it doesn’t mean we can’t have some certainty about it, not that we can’t be certain. Also, you seem to presume that if Jesus did mention it there would be certainty, which as you know is not the case either. This is why we have a teaching body in the Church. Of course, I agree that Church leaders at times do fail to listen to the faithful.

    I understood that your last paragraph (in the parody) suggested that there are issues that are too complicated to have clear answers, but I was hoping to convey the message that beastiality, nuclear warfare, killing the unborn, segregation, slavery are not issues that we can be wishy washy on. There are clear answers, not just in principle but also in application, in certain circumstances. Murder is always wrong, but killing out of self-defense isn’t. Abortion is always wrong no matter how you spin it. Killing a fetus, one who can’t defend himself/herself, can never be justified. To reiterate my point, defending women’s rights, or anyone’s rights, doesn’t make sense when even the most vulnerable, the unborn, are neglected. When does life become sacred and defendable at all?

    What the Church teaches come from it’s 2000 years of history and development. It’s slow but it eventually gets there. It does not claim to have full understanding of what it means to be a homosexual (nor does psychology and biology understand it fully), and it makes pronouncements on what it knows at the time. It is often in hindsight that parents realize that they should have done some things differently. I agree with you, some nuances are required at times. With other issues such as abortion (sorry, I feel very strongly about this) there is no room for nuances. People need to stop equating the good will to save an unborn human being with misogyny. Just because there are many opinions doesn’t prove that the Church is wrong on its clear position, though it could be wrong because of other reasons.

    Finally, the CDF’s claim that there are doctrinal problems should not be misunderstood to be an anathema as you suggested in the first paragraph of your second reply. The way the situation with LCWR should not have been handled in the way it was, but the CDF’s concerns are legitimate.

    • Dykeus Tecum

      I appreciate your response, Nartsey. I’m not suggesting that if Jesus has mentioned something, then the way we should apply his teaching will be certain. I don’t think it will be, in many, if not most, cases. And I think it’s even less certain–and less central to Jesus’ message–if he never talks about it, period.

      This, it seems–the level of moral ambiguity around some of these important questions, and the level of disagreement that is acceptable–is our major, fundamental difference, so it may be best for me to leave it here, as I don’t know how much further we can take it. But thank you, again, for your reply.

  • Nartsey

    Thanks for indulging my rambling. Your comments are so concise and well composed.

  • twinkles

    A most relevant editorial cartoon in the Star Tribune. Let’s just stay Steve Sack, a finalist in 2004 for the Pulitzer for cartooning does, indeed, read Good Catholic Dykes. http://www.startribune.com/opinion/149438215.html

  • rain

    Funny blog, Dykes!

    I would like to say that Jesus spoke very specifically about being a douche bag. It can be applied directly to all situations in all times and places. He said don’t be one.

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