UPDATED: Is the Vatican Tinkering With the Online Catechism to Remove Catholic Teaching on Homosexuality?

PLEASE NOTE: This post has been updated (see below). After further digging, it looks like the language we found was from the 1994 Catechism. We’ve updated our story. But why is a 24-year-old version of the Catechism that needed to be updated for theological clarity still on the Vatican servers and publicly accessible?

A version of the Vatican’s online Catechism removes the language about homosexual inclinations being “objectively disordered” & replaces with language about “choice”.

We were warned this was coming. Now it looks like it may already be underway.

In a unlisted URL, there have been changes made to CCC paragraph 2358 — removing the words “intrinsically disordered” from the Church’s teaching on homosexual inclinations. This is what the two look like side by side. The changed version is on top, the original on the bottom:

In light of recent warnings about exactly this kind of attack on the Catechism, is the Vatican preparing to take this version of the Catechism live? See the video below for the full explanation of where to find this on the Vatican website:

Background links:

UPDATE: On Twitter, Michael Giedraitis says that this language — “they do not choose their inclination — appeared in the original 1994 version of the Catechism.

I have a copy of the 1994 Catechism, but it’s in storage on the other side of the country. If this is so, why is it still online? Are these arguments taking us full circle?

UPDATE 2: More digging. Multiple people with copies of the 1994 Catechism now confirming the above. And this 2005 article from the Los Angeles Times notes the change:

Look up “homosexuality” in the English version of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” and you will read that people with “homosexual tendencies” must be accepted with “respect, compassion and sensitivity.” While they are “called to chastity,” they “can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.”

If the reports are true and the church is about to bar even celibate homosexuals from ordination as priests, then the position would seem to be that homosexuals can attain Christian perfection if they remain chaste but cannot aspire to the priesthood — which for many Catholics is the epitome of Christian perfection.

That isn’t the only incongruity. The 1994 edition of the catechism says: “The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial.” That seems to align the church with the conventional psychological wisdom that sexual orientation is inborn, or at least established early in life, and is, in either case, resistant to change.

Not so fast. Conservative Catholics point to the fact that a 1997 revision in the catechism replaces the reference to a lack of choice with phrasing that is more equivocal. The revised version says: “The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial.”

Where does this leave us?

Is there really a 24-year-old web page of an old version of the Catechism still sitting there on the server? With better formatting than the current one? It seems so.

I was 16 when that version of the Catechism was published. 19 when it was amended. This is, to the best of my knowledge. the first time I’m seeing that language. For Catholics like me, what is old appears new again.

Interestingly, in 1997, the Catechism was also updated to include more restrictive language about the death penalty:

The 1992 edition of the catechism allowed for the death penalty in some cases, saying, “Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime.” However, following public outcry, a 1997 update to the catechism — spearheaded by the pope as well as by his top aide Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, later to become Pope Benedict XVI — clarified that the death penalty should be permissible only in very rare cases.

The 1997 version of the catechism now reads: “Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor. If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means. … [In today’s society], the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”

The word is that Pope Francis wants to change the Catechism again on the death penalty. And as the report from NBQ last month indicated:

They have also been sharpening their weapons on this strategy: drawing their inspiration from the “revision” of the Catechism proposed by Pope Francis on the death penalty and his pronouncements about the past concerning [the teaching of the Church about] the abolition of slavery. Arguments which are completely different, but useful here to justify a method of dismantling [the Catechism] that can now be useful for the homo-erotic cause.

Although some oddities yet remain, it appears that this was a false alarm, and the Catechism is not being tinkered with — quite yet. But that doesn’t mean that such a change isn’t coming.

This post has been updated.

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