The Vatican on Nov. 4 reacted almost immediately after a Catholic priest in Rome stated on a radio talk show that he believes two earthquakes that struck central Italy this year and claimed the lives of nearly 300 people were caused by “human sins such as civil unions” for gays, the Italian news service ANSA reports.
The priest, Fr. Giovanni Cavalcoli, was referring to a civil unions law approved by the Italian Parliament in May that provides some of the protections and rights of marriage to committed same-sex couples, according to ANSA.
“They are offensive statements for believers and scandalous for non-believers,” ANSA quoted the Vatican’s Assistant Secretary of State Monsignor Angelo Becciu as saying.
Becciu added that such statements “date back to the pre-Christian era and do not correspond to Church theology because they are contrary to the vision of God offered to us by Christ,” ANSA reports.
“Christ revealed the face of God as love, not as a capricious and vengeful God,” ANSA quoted Becciu as saying. “That is a pagan vision, not a Christian one.”
The Vatican official went on to express hope that the earthquake stricken population “will forgive us,” and said Pope Francis was in solidarity with them, ANSA reported.
“I think these statements from the Vatican show a major shift because of Pope Francis,” said Francis DeBernardo, executive director of the LGBT Catholic advocacy group New Ways Ministry.
“The rhetoric of John Paul II and Benedict XVI allowed priests to make such ludicrous and offensive statements, with no fear of being reprimanded,” DeBernardo said. “Pope Francis still has a long way to go in understanding gender identity and marriage equality, but these statements show that his Vatican will not tolerate anti-LGBT language propagated by Church leaders.”