Statement Against Confusion

During the past week or so there has been great unrest and confusion within the Church, and much discussion and even more confusion created in the international media, regarding comments our Holy Father purportedly made in a documentary called “Franceso”, and parts of which have been pre-released by its director.


In our functions as Rector and Vice-Rector of the International Theological Institute, a pontifical theological faculty with a special mission where it regards the spread and strengthening of the Church’s Teaching on marriage and the family, we feel it imperative to state some important points that might help make sense of this situation.


  1. The Holy Father did not endorse, directly or indirectly, now or in the past, the redefinition of sacramental marriage. He is also not advocating that the Church's definition or practice of marriage as the union between one man and one woman be changed, or that the Church herself would introduce some sort of recognition of alternative partnerships to marriage;


  1. A theological reminder obvious to us all: neither the Pope, nor the Church or the State for that matter has the authority or even the ability to change God's Law, the moral law, as handed down through Scripture and the Magisterium. No Pope has ever done that (even if some in history were tempted) and none will ever be able to do so. We can rest fully assured of this as Christ himself says when assuring Peter that the gates of hell will not prevail. This is not an interpretation, it is a fact based on Holy Scripture;


  1. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2003 published a document, formally approved for promulgation by Pope John Paul II, on the theme of legal recognition of unions between homosexuals. It states: “The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behavior or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behavior, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity. The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself.” You may find the full text here:  


  1. What becomes increasingly clear is that the documentary in which the topic of “civil unions” and family settings for homosexual people were discussed, seems to have been deliberately edited and cut in such a way as to create a misleading context in which the Holy Father says and intends to say things that were different from what is now being suggested in the media. We still do not know, since various translations are circulating of the Spanish term “convivencia civil”, what the Holy Father wanted to say exactly. We do know that he, as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, like other bishops in the world, felt compelled in the past to avoid the legal redefinition of marriage in his country by not opposing the so-called civil partnership law for homosexual couples.


  1. This is what a papal nuncio wrote us some days ago: 'On June 26, 2016, during the press conference on the plane returning from the apostolic journey to Armenia, the Pope said. ‘I will repeat the same thing: that (homosexuals, ed.) (..)  must be respected, accompanied pastorally. We must accompany well, according to what the Catechism says’.(..). The Church's teaching on the subject is very clear and has not been contested by Pope Francis in any magisterial type document that he has written. On the contrary, on January 22, 2016, meeting the judges of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, (..) during the public discussion of a law on civil unions in the Italian Senate, the Pope said: "The recent Synod on the Family has indicated to the world that there can be no confusion between the family wanted by God and any other type of union. The family, founded on indissoluble, unitive and procreative marriage, belongs to the dream of God and his Church for the salvation of humanity ".


  1. In times of obviously deliberately created confusion like with this highly sensitive issue that needs to be handled with much compassion and care for all involved, it is very important that the Christian laity stands up like the great Saint Thomas More did, and defends the Church and the wisdom she passes on from generation to generation. We are at such a critical juncture now and all of us would do the world much good when with love and clarity we uphold - irrespective of discussions and opinions on other types of human relationships - the uniqueness and beauty of marriage, which the Creator gifted us to build life-giving families and schools of life that are the cornerstones of society, as the great Saint John Paul II always said and who is the founder and patron of the ITI. 


  1. In this regard we as Catholics are also faced with the challenging reality that each generation of Catholics and other Christians have known all too well: how do we deal with the fact that we live in societies where unjust laws and laws that go against nature and reason are promulgated and acted upon? We cannot accept such laws, and yet most of the time we cannot stop them. What is our answer then? We in any case cannot remain silent and passive and merely complain in our own parochial circles about “the evil world out there”. Instead, each one of us is called, in accordance with one’s talents, to speak and act, be it in academia, the media, law, politics, culture or education. Only when we prayerfully and consistently engage with society and the confusion it creates, can we hope to come closer to overcoming in our lands what does not correspond to nature and reason. This is the time to take responsibility.


Let us pray fervently for our Holy Father, for the College of Cardinals, and for the Church as a whole, that the confusion created might be overcome.


Dr. Christiaan Alting von Geusau, J.D., LL.M

Rector and Professor of Law and Education


Dr. Bernhard Dolna

Vice-Rector and Dean, Professor for Ecumenical and Jewish Studies