Angelo Cardinal Scola on marriage

Among those said to be strong contenders to succeed Benedict XVI is Angelo Cardinal Scola, the Milan archbishop, who is described as a conservative theologian with an interest in bioethics and Catholic-Muslim relations, and is known for his media skills and intellect even if his writings are often opaque.Well set aside the horserace and point to some of that writing: Luke Timothy Johnson reviewed Angelo Cardinal Scolas book The Nuptial Mystery for Commonweal in 2006. You can read the full review here; some excerpts follow.

It demands a bold step beyond Scripture to understand humans to represent the divine image precisely in their gender difference -- thereby coming close to ascribing sexuality to God. But it is much bolder still to extend the notion of the divine image to parenthood, so that the child fills out the image of the Trinity -- with no explanation of what happens if there are two or more children. But Scola blithely follows John Paul II down this uncharted and uncertain path, taking as demonstrated what has only been asserted. Consequently, the concept nuptial mystery gets extended to include both the family and also dedicated virginity in its embrace. The concept can be so extended, because nothing of real human marriage intrudes into the discussion, certainly nothing having to do with actual, embodied sexuality.[E]nthusiasts will be further cheered to find John Paul IIs lead being followed by Scola as well in the condemnation not only of abortion and of genetic engineering (cloning), and of birth control, but also of feminism, of homosexuality, and of cultural traits Scola associates with feminism and homosexuality, namely individualism, libertinism, relativism, narcissism, and even nihilism. The cardinals logic, in fact, seems to be that feminism is responsible for homosexuality, because the more women act like men, the more men are likely to want to have sex with other men. [Scola] praises the familys sovereignty over the incursions of the state, invoking the principle of subsidiarity, and declaring the family to be a subject of fundamental rights. But he fails to see that the same recognition would work to locate fundamental rights of decision making within the family also with respect to the sexual relations of spouses against the incursions of the church -- as in the case of birth control -- or that the church might have been a trifle more aware of the sovereignty of the family during the extended period of time that children were abused by priests (in disregard of the sovereignty of actual Christian parents) and the abusers were protected by the hierarchy (with contempt for the sovereignty of very specific families). Such lapses of clear thinking do not inspire confidence in the magisteriums capacity to speak coherently or convincingly on the subjects about which it claims to have much of worth to say.


Dominic Preziosi is Commonweal’s editor. Follow him on Twitter.

Also by this author
Deciding not to have children

Please email comments to [email protected] and join the conversation on our Facebook page.

Must Reads