Monday, June 2, 2003

John Allen in The Word from Rome describes a brief conversation with Cardinal Arinze:

I had the pleasure of attending a reception on the terrace of a Rome hotel on Monday, May 26, hosted by Georgetown University’s President John DeGioia for alumni and friends of the university. I was especially struck by the presence of Cardinal Francis Arinze, since the Nigerian prelate’s last experience of Georgetown was a bit rocky. Arinze had been invited to speak at Georgetown’s May 17 commencement ceremony on the subject of Christian-Muslim dialogue. In the course of his remarks, Arinze spoke about threats to the family in modern culture, triggering protest.....I jokingly said to Arinze at the reception that he was brave to show up at another Georgetown event. He smiled graciously and said, in effect, that the affair was no big deal. “Had I known what effect it was going to have, I would have used another word,” he said.

Though I didn’t press him, my guess is that Arinze did not mean to attack homosexual persons. In Vatican parlance, when one mentions homosexuality in connection with the family, the reference is usually to issues such as same-sex unions and the definition of marriage. One can debate whether they amount to “mockery” of the family, but this is not hate speech.