Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino – one of the undisputed pro-life titans of the Catholic Church over the last quarter century – has recently been named by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò as one of three cardinals that are part of a “homosexual current in favour of subverting Catholic doctrine on homosexuality” in the Roman Curia. He names the other two as Cardinals Francesco Coccopalmerio and Edwin O’Brien.
Cardinal Martino has served as Honorary President of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute for the last eight years.
In all this time, I have been in almost daily communication with the Cardinal and never once has he said anything to me that supports the accusation that he is part of the “homosexual current” in the Church.
In fact, quite the opposite.
In 2012, Italian academic Roberto de Mattei was being called upon to resign as Vice President of the National Council for Research because he had claimed that the Roman Empire collapsed due to a “contagion of homosexuality”. The DHI put out a statement in response to these calls for Professor de Mattei’s resignation.
We took a controversial stand on a contentious issue. Like many others, we could have easily said nothing in defence of Professor de Mattei and looked the other way. But Cardinal Martino and I went through the DHI’s draft statement word by word, line by line, making changes and amendments. He finally – and very courageously – authorised the statement for publication. This is not the action of a man who is part of the homosexual current within the Vatican.
I have also spoken over the last few days with a number of people who worked very closely with His Eminence in New York, where he was papal nuncio to the United Nations for 16 years. Everyone is bewildered by this bizarre accusation, and many have similar anecdotes to share.
It is in large part thanks to his leadership that the UN has never adopted abortion as a method of family planning. It is no exaggeration therefore to say that millions of people are alive today who would otherwise have been killed in the womb had the population-control lobby at the UN been victorious.
To me and to many, Cardinal Martino’s credentials defending the fullness of the Catholic Church’s teaching on human sexuality are unimpeachable.
Until any evidence is presented to the contrary, Archbishop Viganò’s allegation has to be seen as a smear against an 85 year-old innocent man, as well as undermining the Cardinal’s historic pro-life, pro-family legacy. Hence the need to clear the record.
I very much like Archbishop Viganò on a personal level and share many of his concerns regarding some of the political positions taken by the Holy Father. But on this issue he is mistaken, and I challenge him to corroborate this slur against the DHI’s Honorary President with evidence backing up his claim or to apologise publicly and unreservedly withdraw it.
Should he fail to respond, it would indeed be entirely legitimate to question Archbishop Viganò’s wider credibility.
*Benjamin Harnwell, President of the Board of Trustees