Ex-Archbishop Speaks About Catholic Church and Homosexuality [NYT]

Archbishop Weakland is quoted in the New York Times as questioning the Church teaching regarding homosexual activity:


“If we say our God is an all-loving god,” he said, “how do you explain that at any given time probably 400 million living on the planet at one time would be gay? Are the religions of the world, as does Catholicism, saying to those hundreds of millions of people, you have to pass your whole life without any physical, genital expression of that love?”

The article then mentions his role in writing a pastoral letter:
“Archbishop Weakland … also led American bishops in a two-year process of writing a pastoral letter on economic justice…”

As of today, his sermons are promoted by the Milwaukee Archdiocese website:

There are years and years of his teaching in the name of the Church.

As far as I can tell, he is not suspended, silenced or disciplined in any way.

So my question is:
What is the teaching authority of a bishop who openly questions Church authority, yet whose teachings are promoted by that same authority?

So my question is:

  • What is the teaching authority of a bishop who openly questions* Church authority, yet whose teachings are promoted by that same authority?

Short answer:

  1. When not in communion with the Pope and Magisterium…on faith and morals…his teaching authority on faith and morals no longer exists…at least on this issue. You used the words “openly questions”…but the article says that Bishop Weakland says that the:"…Catholic teaching on homosexuality is wrong."
    Significant difference (“questions” vs “wrong”)…and also, remember that we are reading a reporter’s report on “what he said”…however, given Bishop Weakland’s past activities, indiscretions and duplicitous behavior on this issue…I would tend to believe the reporter’s report…on the bishop’s statements. My general perception is that Laurie Goodstein (NY Times reporter) is pretty fair and accurate…not an ideologue against the Church or its teachings…but does not shy away from inconsistencies and scandals withing the Church in America…such as this one.

  2. You use the words “**whose teachings are promoted” by [Church] authority. **I don’t believe that is the case…the Church is not promoting his dissident views on homosexuality. If the old (Bishop Weakland’s) homilies (2001 & 2002 latest years that I saw on the diocese website) were not in accordance with the teachings of the Church…on any faith and/or moral issue… I would bet that Bishop Weakland’s successor…Archbishop Burke (now New York City’s Archbishop)…would have deleted them. He is a “straight (faith and morals) shooter”…but he is also a brother bishop to Bishop Weakland…and would only do what is necessary to protect his flock from error.

The Good news:

  1. Since the Catholic Church/Catholicism is the only true “heavy lifting” version of Christianity (it has the fullness of all the Our Lord Jesus planned for and wanted in his Church…and requires of his disciples to faithfully follow/obey him…and thus do the will of the Father) Even the Orthodox Churches, although valid in many important aspects of the Christian faith,…they all fall quite short given that they are “State (geographical centered) and/or culturally dominated Churches” with no universal connections and almost “zero” universal evangelization activities. No other Christan Church would have this problem with Bishop Weakland…because all views are tolerated…and there is no Supreme Pontiff teaching authority on all faith and all morals issues…like the Pope. Also, there is no central teaching authority for the Universal and Particular Churches like the Magisterium with all the Bishops in communion with the Holy Father.

The Bad News:

  1. When there is a perfect “model” – Our Lord Jesus himself “…the Way …the Truth…and the Life…” (John 14:6)…the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Divine (Roman) Catholic Church…led by and filled with flawed (weak & sinful) human beings (I am clearly first in that line)…will always have “bad examples”…and just the fact that faithful Catholics recognize Bishop Weakland’s pronouncement against the Church’s teaching on homosexuality/gay lifestyle…that it is not in accordance with the Church’s teaching for 2000+ years…is really good news in itself. Thank God we know a “bad example” of apostolic succession when we see/hear it.

  2. Lastly, even though Bishop Weakland may be right on target with a high 90+ % of all the Church’s other teachings on faith and morals…we (faithful disciples) can clearly see that he is missing (not on target) in one critically important aspect…and it is not his feelings or pronouncements about homosexuality and the Church’s teachings on it…it is his lack of faithful OBEDIENCE to the Holy Father and the Magisterium! Bad news…yes…but thank God that faithful Catholics know “disobedience” when we see/hear it…we simply don’t follow him on this issue!

Pax Christi

Why, oh why, can’t people accept the fact that there are other ways to express love??

Not only that, but the Archbishop is asking a very basic question. For example…“how could a loving God allow things like disease and genetic disorders?” Has he really not progressed beyond basic apologetics? :confused:

Scraping the bottom of the barrel . . .

Selfish hedism = express love

In response to your question, the bishops’ teaching authority is valid on those statements that are in communion with the college of bishops and the pope.

If the Archbishop says that the teaching on homosexual activity is wrong, that is his opinion. That is not to be subscribed to as the teaching authority of his episcopacy.

On the other hand, that alone does not take away from his episcopacy or his teaching authority. Any statement that he makes that is in communion with his brother bishops and the pope is to be obeyed.

As to why he remains in active ministry without a suspension, there are two reasons that actually make sense, even though may sound strange to the man in the pew.

  1. Pope Benedict XVI likes his positions on social justice and considers him an asset in this area.

  2. His position on homosexual activity is his personal position and the Church has never said that her position on this subject is infalible. There is room here for him to make this statement. I’m not saying that he is right. I’m simply saying that this is the way that our Holy Father functions. He is very strict on logic and unity. As long as there is logical room for a statement, he will prefer to debate it until he can bring the Archbishop to see the point of view of the Church rather than take a punitive stance. Until the Holy Father believes that his statement is in violation of canon law, he will most likely reproach him in private through a letter or at his Ad Lumina visit, rather than make a public issue of it.


JR :slight_smile:

That is a strange comment, JR. Here is the excerpt of Persona Humana referenced in the Catechism:


At the present time there are those who, basing themselves on observations in the psychological order, have begun to judge indulgently, and even to excuse completely, homosexual relations between certain people. This they do** in opposition to the constant teaching of the Magisterium **and to the moral sense of the Christian people.

A distinction is drawn, and it seems with some reason, between homosexuals whose tendency comes from a false education, from a lack of normal sexual development, from habit, from bad example, or from other similar causes, and is transitory or at least not incurable; and homosexuals who are definitively such because of some kind of innate instinct or a pathological constitution judged to be incurable.

In regard to this second category of subjects, some people conclude that their tendency is so natural that it justifies in their case homosexual relations within a sincere communion of life and love analogous to marriage, in so far as such homosexuals feel incapable of enduring a solitary life.

In the pastoral field, these homosexuals must certainly be treated with understanding and sustained in the hope of overcoming their personal difficulties and their inability to fit into society. Their culpability will be judged with prudence. But no pastoral method can be employed which would give moral justification to these acts on the grounds that they would be consonant with the condition of such people. For according to the objective moral order, homosexual relations are acts which lack an essential and indispensable finality. In Sacred Scripture they are condemned as a serious depravity and even presented as the sad consequence of rejecting God.[18] This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and can in no case be approved of.

I realize it doesn’t say “this is infallible teaching,” but where is the wiggle room here? If it has been the “constant teaching of the Magisterium” and “Scritpture…does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and in no case can be approved of,” I would be interested to hear how Church teaching could change due to the infallible nature of the current “constant teaching of the Magisterium.” Could the Church all of a sudden find that Scripture doesn’t “attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered?” How does this happen? Will the Church reject Scripture at some future date? :confused:

I don’t know if I would call it wiggle room. Please understand that I am not of the saem mind as the Archbishop. But the argument that can be used is that it is not an infallible statement. The Church recognizes this.

That’s why I said before that the Holy Father prefers to deal with these situations through dialogue, persuasion and logical debate. Because these are situations that allow for such dialogue and persuasion. Therefore, he is not going to come down on them as hard as on those who violate dogma or canon law.

That’s all that I’m trying to say. I hope that clears up my poor explanation of the matter.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

Before considering any questions from this disgrace I would like an answer on why he thinks it’s ok to turn a blind eye to preists in his diocese that repeatedly molested children. Does this fall under his description of “Genetal expression of love”?

Slow down . . . that’s a separate issue. It has nothing to do with his teaching authority.

If he does turn such a blind eye, he is dead wrong to do so. End of story. There is no justification, period.

On the other, if he teaches something that is in conflict with what his brother bishops and the Holy Father teach, he has no teaching authority on that point. But only on that point.


JR :slight_smile:

Hi JR, It has everything to do with his credibilty and helps us understand where he’s coming from.

You may be right, Michael, but the question of the thread is about teaching authority. That’s why I said the two are not in the same league. His statement on homosexual sex is something that he teaches. The point that you bring up, is something that he allegedly does. Do you see where I’m making the distinction?

If the point of the thread were his credibility, there can be many things said for and against, like most people.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

You cannot faithfully dissent from the teaching of the Church. You can give faithful assent, be ignorant of the teaching, or persist in a state of heresy. I don’t think the Archbishop can credibly plead ignorance.

JR, I disagree. He has a laundry list of scandal and was deceptive and dishonest with the diocese under his authority. His credibilty has everything to do with how his “teaching” is received.

I also disagree with saying there are things for and against. I do not believe he could have done enough “for” to make up for the things that can be held “against” him.

But it’s not too late, he can repent and be forgiven. From his comments I don’t suspect there is any repenting going on.

You may want to read the history of how this Bishop enabled child molestors and sexual deviency thoughout the diocese.

I respect your disagreement. I’m just being very black and white here by saying that what he does and what he says are not the same thing and should not be judged the same way, that’s all.

If the man says that he disagrees with the teaching on homosexual sex, that is his position and people must understand that it is not representative of the teaching of the Curch. Therefore, this position carries no authority. If he says that Mary is conceived without sin, this does carry authority, because it does represent Church teaching.

On the other hand, if he is guilty of serious violations concerning cover ups, even if everything that he has preached is true, these actions are unacceptable and shameful.

Personally, I do not know what he is guilty of doing or is not. At this time, it sounds like a moot question.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

The bishop is not pleading ignorance. He is saying that he disagrees and that the current moral position is wrong.

Where we, the laity, have to be careful is that Pope Benedict does allow the bisops certain latitude to express a dissenting opinion as long as that opinion is not against Vatican II, dogma, ecumenism, religious freedom, canon law, or any teaching outside the field of moral theology.

In other words, he allows some discussion from bishops and theologians on moral issues. There are parameters to those disagreements. I believe that the bishop making the statement in public may violate one of those parameters. It is one thing to make the statement at a meeting of bishops when the topic is under discussion and quite another to make it in a public setting.

I would have to say that in that context, the bishop was wrong to make this statement. There is no teaching authority that can be applied to it.

In the public forum there is no dialogue. It’s a statement and the statement is in conflict with Church teaching. That’s unfortunate and a poor way to do things

He must researve such disagreements for settings behind closed doors when bishops, theologians, pope and the right persons are gathered for the discussion. In that situation you can hammer out why you disagree and the other side can respond.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:


What an embarassment Weakland is to the church. If he doesn’t have an explanation of such basics as “Original Sin” how could he ever take on the responsibilities of an Archbishop? Not only are the folks in the pews not properly cathecized but neither are many priests and bishops. This has come out with Mr. Cutie only recently. Either they are openly defying church teaching or they never learned it growing up and in seminary.

The originator of the thread does not limit the question to the scope of what the Church teaches regarding the Archbishop’s authority. While I admit that I read the question that way, I think Michael brought up a valid point, and that is, not what his objective authority is in the eyes of God, or the eyes of Rome, but the subjective authority that a non Catholic, or most Catholics, who are weak in faith, would view hs teaching with. Because of his scandal, the teaching authority, not only his as a bishop, but of the entire Church, sustains damage.

Certainly he should be very generous in his forgiveness of the sins of priests under his charge, but to not take measures to stop wrongs from happening in the future, it gives the appearance that this is the result of his inability to deal with his own condition.

Not knowing him pesonally, I can’t refute or sustain your hypothesis. You may be right.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

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