Bible, homosexuals and theology. The substantial difference between those who speculate and discuss and those who want to introduce a dangerous Trojan horse into the Church


«Today an increasingly large number of people, even within the Church, they exert very strong pressure to bring her to accept the homosexual condition, like it wasn't messy, and to legitimize homosexual acts" (Joseph Ratzinger, 1986)

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Homosexuality has always been a thorny topic, generates destined discussions and polarizations, like the famous parallel lines, to never meet. To give an example, I could cite the fuss raised last year by the publication of a book written by a General of the Italian Army containing decidedly clear positions on this aspect.. Of course homosexuality, During the years, it was also a debated chapter in the Catholic Church, more and more; escaped from fleeting mention in old manuals of moral theology and has become the subject of magisterial pronouncements, with specific dedicated documents, which denote how much the topic is felt in society and in the Christian communities that question themselves on this. Various meanings are found in the same documents, decisive or timid openings and closures which can also be ascribed to the sensitivity or position of that ecclesiastical representative or pontiff in office in a particular historical moment.

The Second Vatican Council he also asked that Sacred Scripture be given back the veneration it deserves as the source of divine Revelation and to it and to Sacred Tradition he dedicated one of the four dogmatic constitutions issued from that meeting, with the name of God's word. Since then every magisterial pronouncement, but one could say any theological or pastoral reflection, every single act of the Church cannot ignore the reference to the Bible. Even a topic that would seem delicate like that of homosexuality. Now, what sometimes emerges in many who want to refer to the Bible when speaking or writing about this topic, it's that they can hardly put aside the desire to polarize or necessarily emerge victorious from controversies, as we already noted at the beginning of this speech. Like this, the Holy Scripture, in debates or writings, it ceases to be that source that nourishes to become a weapon brandished by those who condemn short homosexuality, and by those who would instead like the Church to apologize to homosexuals for its closures and for the suffering it has caused them. How can you get out of this impasse? I think, first of all, recognizing the right value of the Holy Scripture which is evidently not a weapon to be used at will or a handbook and leaflet to be opened to comfort one's ideas and positions in the world. I read some passages of the voluminous commentary published last year under the name of Bibbia queer for the types of the Dehonian editions (WHO), where among other things, in the Gospels there is fear of a homosexual relationship between the Roman centurion and his sick servant for whom the former asks Jesus for healing, only because the Evangelist Luke says that "he was very dear to him" (LC 7, 1-10). The same interpretation was recently relaunched by a blog that is usually very polemical towards the current Pontiff and the leaders of the Church, but decidedly lenient on the subject of homosexuality, so much so as to state in an article dedicated to the relationship between this topic and Sacred Scripture that:

«Reading these texts carefully, so, there is nothing against homosexuality".

For real? Why leafing through the documents of the ecclesiastical Magisterium, the Catechism of the Catholic Church to cite an example, and of course those sites or blogs with a more conservative orientation, so to speak, it seems instead that for these the Bible is decidedly positioned on an attitude against homosexuality.

What I want to remember here it is how the Council wanted the Bible to be interpreted and it talks about this in nr. 12 of the Dogmatic Constitution God's word:

«For God in the Holy Scripture spoke through men in the human manner, the interpreter of the Holy Scripture, to better understand what he wanted to communicate to us, he must carefully research what the hagiographers really wanted to say and what God was pleased to demonstrate with their words. To obtain the intention of the hagiographers, among other things, literary genres must also be taken into account. In fact, the truth is proposed and expressed differently in historical texts in various ways, or prophetic, or poetic, or even in other genres of expression. It is therefore necessary for the interpreter to seek the meaning that the hagiographs in certain circumstances, according to the conditions of his time and his culture, through the literary genres in use at the time, he intended to express and has in fact expressed. In fact, to understand exactly what the sacred author wanted to assert in writing, due attention must be paid to both habitual and original ways of feeling, to express oneself and tell stories in force in the time of the hagiographer, both to those and in the various places they were then in use in human relationships. Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by which it was written, to derive the exact meaning of the sacred texts, care must be taken with no less diligence the content and unity of the whole Scripture, taking due account of the living tradition of the whole Church and the analogy of faith. It is the task of the exegetes to contribute, following these rules, to the deepest intelligence and exposition of the meaning of Sacred Scripture, so that through their studies, somewhat preparatory, let the judgment of the Church mature".

This is important and in some ways the passage of the passage is still not fully understood God's word reminds us, in its first part, the sacramental quality, as it were, of the Holy Scripture. Since the Word of God is presented in the form of human writing that is subject to the conditions of time and culture of the writers and to the original way of organizing that literary genius that every biblical author possesses. Just as it underlies their "ways of feeling, to express oneself and tell stories... which were in use in human relationships". In the second part, instead, there is an invitation to further excavation that goes in the direction of searching for the deeper meaning or meaning of the same Scripture. A spiritual sense, it is no coincidence that the Spirit is mentioned with a capital letter, and theological, in accordance with the entire deposit of faith, for an ever fuller understanding of the text and because the Church, in particular that part of it predisposed to driving, can express a judgment on the things that concern the Christian experience in accordance with the Word of God and its tradition. In light of this, we understand that we are facing a long and patient job, quite another thing than unsheathing the sword of the Bible and brandishing it to assert, or worse to impose their ideas.

Returning to our topic, it is clear that the Church's judgment on homosexuality has undergone progress, as well as maintaining some considerations. This can be seen in the documents, it gives Human person the 1975 to the recent Begging for Confidence the 2023, passing by Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the pastoral care of homosexual people the 1986, issued by the Congregation, now Dicastery, for the Doctrine of the Faith. This last document is the one that more than the others makes explicit reference to the biblical passages that condemn homosexuality, he lists them all and on this basis and on that of Tradition and the Magisterium, that document states that the Church:

«He maintains his clear position on this matter, which cannot be modified under the pressure of civil legislation or the fashion of the moment" (no. 9).

Shortly before the same text mentioned that:

«Today an increasingly large number of people, even within the Church, they exert very strong pressure to bring her to accept the homosexual condition, like it wasn't messy, and to legitimize homosexual acts" (no. 8).

Even the most recent document Begging for confidence it relies on Scripture, tradition and the Magisterium, in particular of the last Pontiff. This grants the possibility of giving the blessing under certain conditions to irregular couples and to those of the same sex because in this way:

«The Church is thus the sacrament of God's infinite love. Therefore, even when the relationship with God is clouded by sin, you can always ask for a blessing, holding out your hand to him, as Peter did in the storm when he cried out to Jesus: "Man, save me!” (Mt 14, 30). Wishing for and receiving a blessing can be the best thing possible in some situations." (no. 43).

Without forgetting the Catechism of the Catholic Church, published in 1992, what he says about homosexual people:

«Homosexuality refers to relationships between men or women who experience sexual attraction, exclusive or predominant, towards people of the same sex. It manifests itself in very varied forms over the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychic genesis remains largely unexplained. Relying on the Holy Scripture, which presents homosexual relationships as serious depravities, Tradition has always declared that "acts of homosexuality are intrinsically disordered". They are against natural law. They preclude the gift of life from the sexual act. They are not the fruit of true emotional and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved." (cf.. 2357). «A non-negligible number of men and women have deeply rooted homosexual tendencies. This inclination, objectively disordered, constitutes a test for most of them. Therefore they must be welcomed with respect, compassion, delicacy. In their regard, any sign of unfair discrimination will be avoided. Such people are called to carry out God's will in their life, e, if they are Christian, to unite the difficulties they may encounter as a result of their condition to the sacrifice of the Lord's cross " (cf.. 2358). «Homosexual people are called to chastity. Through the virtues of self-mastery, educators of inner freedom, through support, sometimes, of a disinterested friendship, with prayer and sacramental grace, they can and must, gradually and resolutely, getting closer to Christian perfection" (cfr.2359).

What about all this? Evidently these are not schizophrenic visions of the same reality. Rather, in the aforementioned documents there is a desire to maintain anchoring in the Word of God, seen precisely as a source. It is clear that the different writers wanted to press a certain type of register instead of another. Thus the most recent document relied on the teaching of mercy, so dear to Pope Francis and prefer biblical passages that underline God's welcome rather than condemnation. It is probable that the texts most decisive in condemning homosexuality have been interpreted in light of that "sense that the hagiographer in certain circumstances, according to the conditions of his time and his culture, through the literary genres in use at the time, intended to express and has in fact expressed", of which the Council spoke. Thus some expressions of Saint Paul and already of the Book of Leviticus which condemn homosexual relations for some exegetes are such because "the notion of homosexuality did not exist, that is, the normal attraction that a person can have towards another of the same sex, Paul saw this behavior as a deviation, based on what he believed was the "natural relationship". His opinions on the matter have the same value as when he states that it is "nature itself that teaches us that it is unseemly for a man to let his hair grow" (1 Color 11,14) (WHO). Likewise the Old Testament prescriptions of Leviticus, they are not related to sexuality, but rather to procreation, as it contravened the divine commandment "Be fruitful and multiply" (Gen 1,28) (WHO). The biblical text par excellence, then, on which every openness towards the homosexual condition is based and, lately, it is also used for the request for female ordination and is the Pauline passage from the Letter to the Galatians:

«There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is no slave nor free; there is no male and female, because you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3,28).

Text variously interpreted and sometimes forced to say what he really doesn't want to say. Yet all the documents, and the more closed ones, is the last one that presents some openings regarding the blessing of homosexual couples, you have to say it and accept it, they do not declare themselves openly Gay-friendly, as they say today; quite the opposite. Also Begging for confidence, which speaks of mercy, he does not withdraw from traditional doctrine nor does he wish to create confusion between the marital union and other types of union:

«This belief is founded on the perennial Catholic doctrine of marriage. Only in this context do sexual relations find their natural meaning, adequate and fully human. The doctrine of the Church on this point remains firm." (no. 4).

There is yet another aspect that needs to be mentioned. Joseph Ratzinger who drafted the aforementioned Letter the 1986 he spoke of very strong pressures, even manipulation, to ensure that the Church accepted the homosexual condition. The document clarified the Church's position on this matter. Yet it must be admitted that in that document and in the others the Church's attitude towards homosexuals had already changed a lot and this, it cannot be denied, because the sensitivity and opinion of contemporaries in this regard has profoundly changed, at all levels. Thus the Church today also deplores the oppression of homosexual people, as expressed by the Catechism of the Catholic Church cited above, therefore the use of violent language and actions. We appeal to the "proper dignity of every person". The term sodomy has disappeared and instead of "against nature" we are instead talking about a tendency, even if the "orientation" used by the World Health Organization is not adopted. Homosexual people are Christians like everyone else and invited to live chastity. there, Homosexual acts are not accepted, but that document, in the final part, it is all a promotion of the welcome and pastoral care of homosexuals who are not denied the Sacraments, under the appropriate conditions.

But as always happens with the topics that interest us In the Christian life, discussions are never closed, the reflection continues. The same Letter by Joseph Ratzinger invites bishops to solicit "the collaboration of all Catholic theologians" (no. 17). This aspect is probably the most difficult, the most tiring, what we miss most and also the most delicate as I will mention shortly with an example. But also what we need most, precisely because the Bible, to return to the heart of our discussion, is not used as a handbook. There is a further and decisive step. So that people, immersed in contemporary culture, can appreciate the intelligence of faith, we need the continuous effort to hermeneutically re-understand the data of faith and translate it into coherent organizations of thought. The Bible must retain its character as a source, but we need theological reflection for which the Holy Scripture, according to a beautiful expression of God's word, it is like the soul that keeps it always young:

«Sacred theology rests as if on an everlasting foundation on the written Word of God, inseparable from sacred Tradition; in it it is vigorously consolidated and always rejuvenated, scrutinizing in the light of faith every truth contained in the mystery of Christ. The Holy Scriptures contain the Word of God and, because you are inspired, they are truly the Word of God, let the study of the sacred pages be the soul of sacred theology" (no. 24).

I come to the example I wanted to refer to: the known theologians who have reflected on the topic of homosexuality almost all belong to the Anglo-Saxon area, often with decidedly open-minded positions in this area. Yet in Italy we had a theologian, a priest, who has thought a lot about this topic, but few know it. I am referring to the presbyter Gianni Baget Bozzo who many know for his orbiting vocation, that is, capable of making choices and expressing opinions first in one direction and then in the opposite direction. Embodying a controversial character alive he is now almost forgotten, Unfortunately. But according to him "in God the opposites are not contradictory" and "there is nothing more fascinating for the human imagination than seeing the two sides of a contradiction at the same time"[1]. He had Giuseppe Siri as a professor of religion in Genoa, future archbishop and cardinal of the same city who ordained him as a priest, he will want him to be a professor of theology in the seminary, he will entrust the magazine to him Renewal, he will take away these two tasks and suspend him peep. He changed his mind about everything, but on a subject he never changed his opinion: about homosexuals. His comments on the matter, which date from 1976 until the 2008, so that they do not fall into oblivion, they were collected by the Vatican expert Luigi Accattoli in a book entitled: For a theology of homosexuality [2].

These are texts that appeared in newspapers, magazines or speeches at conferences in which he tenaciously made his claims, for over thirty years, the rights of those who live in the homosexual condition. And as a theologian he encouraged Christians to rethink the theology of sexuality and to develop within it the unprecedented chapter of homosexuality. With his extraordinary aptitude for speaking about God in the language of his time, he wondered and asked what the divine intention is regarding the existence of homosexuals. He did so with sharp arguments and learned quotations, to the point that in the end he even had to repeat in more than one interview that he was not homosexual. Defended homosexuals, but also virginity and celibacy and did not spare criticism of the movement gay, to the organization of Pride, in particular that of the Holy Year of 2000, jubilee year, which caused such a sensation in the city of Rome. He advised homosexuals to have stable partners, instead of variables and also accused the European Union of using i gay as a weapon against the Catholic Church. He considered chaste homoeroticism not incompatible with sanctity and wrote things like this:

«Homosexuality, anyhow, it can never be considered by society as a model. It cannot be so first and foremost for biological reasons. A society that is biologically aseptic is incompatible with the teachings of Christ. This should not be forgotten. The Church cannot accept the equalization between the heterosexual and homosexual conditions. This is valid on the level of social morality. To be clear, on the political level. But on the level of individual morality, the discussion is still open and will need to be addressed" (The Gazette, June 2020).

What I want to underline here it is not so much defending Baget Bozzo's opinions, although it is nice that they are not forgotten and that there was an Italian intellectual who was not afraid to expose himself in this debate, but that we need such a cultural and theological effort, of sharp minds that help us think about difficult issues and therefore deal with those who don't think like us, but with the same diligence. Let's leave the shortcuts of those who take the Bible and read it like a medical handbook to the dear fundamentalists from overseas or to some blog of little fortune. The Catholic tradition that has never made use of shortcuts, much less the intellectuals, has always invited us to think, after meditating on Holy page, to quote Thomas Aquinas, what it was magister.

From the Hermitage, 3 May 2024


Gianni Baget Bozzo, Genoese presbyter (1925 – †2009)



[1] Baget Bozzo G., Vocation, Rizzoli, 1982, pg 68 e 142).

[2] Baget Bozzo G., For a theology of homosexualityat, edited by Luigi Accattoli, Ed. Months, 2020.



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