In mid-90s, Pope connected marriage crisis with homosexuality

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Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Credit: Grzegorz Galazka-Getty Images News/Getty Images.

A newly republished 1995 commentary of then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger linked the breakdown of marriage to the rise of the acceptance of homosexuality, warning of the rise of “pressure groups” that could manipulate public opinion on such issues.

The future Pope Benedict XVI said it is not a coincidence that the growing social acceptance of homosexuality should be “accompanied by a serious crisis in the area of marriage and the family.”

Societal changes in the wake of the 1960s “sexual revolution” resulted in sexuality being more detached from marriage, and rejection of Catholic teaching on homosexuality made the pastoral care for homosexual persons “more difficult.”

“The satisfaction of the sexual impulse was propagandized as the way to happiness and to the true development of the personality,” he wrote. “Values like self-control and chastity were accepted less and less.”

The Pope’s comments came years before the Netherlands became the first country to recognize “gay marriage.”

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to voice support for recognizing “gay marriage,” while voters in North Carolina approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

Then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s commentary concerned his Oct. 1, 1986 letter from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith sent to all Catholic bishops under the title “On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons.” Both the letter and the commentary have been published in a new edition in the Vatican Library series “Documenti e studi.” Previous editions have sold out and are unavailable in stores.

The Pope's 1995 comments blamed the moral crisis on the loss of a “metaphysical conception of nature.”
 
He criticized an understanding of nature that is only physical or empirical, in defense of views that reject sexual immorality as “unnatural.”
 
From the Christian perspective, he explained, an act is considered natural when “it is in harmony with the essence of man, with his being as intended by God.” In creation man can recognize a meaning and purpose which lead him to “true self-realization and to his happiness.”

“If human duty, in fact, is no longer seen as anchored in the being and therefore in the wisdom of the creator, there remains only the alternative that is derived from human wisdom. But then it is the work of man, subjected to the change of time, able to be reshaped and manipulated,” the Pope warned.

“Good and evil, then, would ultimately be decided by the majority. Then ‘pressure groups,’ which are able to guide mass opinion, have great prospects of success.”

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