Cardinal Janis Pujats, Archbishop of Riga
Cardinal Pujats, the Archbishop of Riga, capital of Latvia, sheds light on the question of homosexuality, indicates the best means to fight against this sinful practice, and expounds the reasons why he combats it.
In 1984, when still a simple priest, Cardinal Janis Pujats was declared persona non grata by the KGB and transferred to a parish in the countryside of his motherland, Latvia, then dominated by a communist regime. This alone is enough to show how he is today a person dearly beloved by Catholics.
Born at Navireni in 1930, he was ordained a priest in 1951. He taught history of the arts and liturgy at the seminary of Latvia’s capital. From 1979 to 1984 he was vicar-general of the Archdiocese of Riga. In 1988 he received the title of Honorary Prelate to the Pope and in 1991 he was designated archbishop. Seven years later, Pope John Paul II appointed him Cardinal of Riga – “in pectore” at first, and three years later his nomination was made public.
His Eminence Cardinal Pujats has been a leading figure in the struggle against the spread of homosexuality. He carries out a public action against the so-called “homosexual parades” and calls on the Latvian government to forbid such demonstrations. The Cardinal has granted an interview to reporter, Mr. Valdis Grinsteins, also of Latvian descent, during his recent trip to Latvia. This interview was published in the Brazilian magazine Catolicismo.
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Catolicismo — What favors the expansion of homosexuality?
Cardinal Pujats — On the one hand, homosexuality is favored by the rampant idolatry of sex propagated through the modern media and also by the fact that this vice has been promoted in some countries in the name of ill-understood “human rights.” On the other hand, the lack of faith and the hardening moral decay in much of society paves the way for homosexuality.
Catolicismo — Why are so many people indifferent to the expansion of homosexuality?
Cardinal Pujats — Those who do not believe in God, and Christians who do not consider their faith important, are the ones most indifferent to this problem.
Why do they act in this way? Let me give an example with the situation in my country. A whole group of persons in the government depend financially or administratively on only one individual. Feeling pressured, they either take the side of their superior or – in the best of cases – they just keep quiet and show indifference, though deep in their souls they do not agree with that individual. In the State apparatus, even a small group of homosexual functionaries can easily attain the desired effect. This question gets worse in the judicial sphere. The repressive regime of the Soviet Union was maintained by a mutual dependence of its functionaries.
However, all that remains to those who believe in God with all their hearts but do exert real influence in society, is to organize and courageously bear witness to Christ with the example of their lives, based on the fulfillment of the Commandments. The various systems change and fall, but “divine truth remains through the ages,” as the Book of Psalms says (Ps 116:2).
Catolicismo — In their writings on homosexuality, many prestigious authors, supported by Holy Scriptures and the Church’s Magisterium, categorically condemn this sinful practice. They are seldom quoted and, as a consequence, many Catholics assume a position of tolerance toward this problem. How can one protect the faithful from this danger?
In order to dispel darkness, one needs light. We must live according to the dictates of the faith: "Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God" (Matt. 5:8).
Cardinal Pujats — The clergy has the obligation, quoting the Bible, to remind the faithful that Holy Scriptures condemns all kinds of impurity. Based on the Bible, they can draw preliminary conclusions to better orient the faithful on what can and what cannot be tolerated. We must preach that divine law and natural law are stable and immutable. What changes is the position of peoples and parliaments and the laws they create. For this reason, no legislative body can eliminate the Decalogue, for it is supported on natural law, guaranteeing the existence of society. We must say that one is not allowed to erase the limit, clearly established by divine law, between good and evil, between that which is permitted and that which is forbidden. Finally, we must assert that homosexuality is an acquired vice that can be likened to addiction to drugs, alcoholism, tobacco smoking, etc., so that those who practice it cannot be treated as a “minority.” We must say that sexual perversion cannot be tolerated in the public sphere so that this disorder is not turned into a bad example for all society. If someone has inclinations to vice, vice must be reined in and treated. It cannot be legalized or protected, erroneously invoking the notion of human rights. Homosexuality is not a sexual orientation; it is a sexual perversion.
Catolicismo — Every time the Church protests against laws that favor homosexuality, the objection is raised that she is getting involved in politics. What would Your Eminence say about this accusation?
Cardinal Pujats — The Church has a right to protest if the State imposes homosexuality. Religion and morals constitute a sphere specifically within Her competence. By condemning homosexuality, the Church does not go beyond the limits of Her competence. On the contrary, governments and parliaments are the ones who extrapolate from their competence by trying to alter the divine commandments and the concept of virtue and vice.
Furthermore, accords signed by the Holy See with governments in many countries guarantee freedom of expression for the Church. They also grant the faithful “the possibility to freely create and disseminate social, cultural and educational initiatives originating from principles of the Christian faith” (Concordat of the Holy See with Latvia, item 9).
The principle of separation between Church and State only indicates the competence of both parties. In some countries, members of the Catholic Church constitute a majority of the citizenry. Can the State exist if those citizens are separated from it in an artificial way? Both the faithful in general as well as the bishops are citizens of their respective countries, with all the rights derived thereof. And they also have the right to protest against immoral laws.
Catolicismo — As a reaction against pressures by the homosexual lobby abroad, a law was s approved in Latvia establishing marriage as the exclusive union between a man and a woman. How do Latvians protest against pressure from the European Union favoring the propagation of homosexuality?
Cardinal Pujats — Facing the growing pressure of homosexual propaganda, in 2005 the Latvian Parliament approved an amendment to the law, which establishes that the State “protects marriage – the union between one man and one woman” – thus excluding legal recognition of homosexual cohabitation. The common voice of everyone in these moral issues is an important factor in the struggle against this sexual perversion in Latvia. Precisely because of that, on February 13, 2007 the Prime Minister abrogated the projected bill introduced in Parliament by homosexuals.
In 2005, the Latvian Parliament approved a Constitutional amendment establishing that the State “protects marriage – the union between one man and one woman”.
Attempts to organize “homosexual parades” in Riga have practically disappeared. In their places, Christians have organized the Family Feast in summer, with a solemn march through the streets of the capital. There is also a concert and the granting of rewards to families that have stood out. Christians also use television, radio and the lay press, which is friendly with the Church.
When homosexuals prepared and introduced a bill into Parliament, teachers from 200 schools sent the Prime Minister a letter of protest. For a whole month, the faithful in various parishes gathered over 17,000 signatures asking for Parliament to reject the projected bill favoring homosexuals.
Catolicismo — Articles favoring homosexuals have been appearing in the media, but nothing has been written about the part of society that decisively opposes homosexuality. Can Your Eminence explain that?
Cardinal Pujats — There is nothing new about the statement that an absolute majority of society favors the normal family. Hence the position of the majority does not attract the interest of the press. Since homosexuality is linked to [the notion of] scandal, it is a pretext, from time to time, for the media to place it at the center of attention.
In this matter, there is a curious fact: analyzing this question, they do not look for its essence but announce, a priori, that homosexuals are a discriminated-against “minority”. In that case, the condition of “minority” would automatically justify receiving in all ambiences persons who practice some vice such as drug addiction and alcoholism.
Catolicismo — A few months ago the liberal Polish press criticized the way Your Eminence combats homosexuality. Opinions also appeared in the sense that it is better to keep silent, since silence avoids making it popular. What does Your Eminence think of that?
Cardinal Pujats — The situation is different in each country. The fact is that remaining silent was an error in countries where homosexuality had already obtained rights. The silence tactic was also inappropriate in Latvia. Homosexuality was not successful here because it met with resistance, as I mentioned earlier. Obviously, the Church condemns violence, but she is not responsible for what happens in the streets when parade organizers meet with opponents. Ensuring order in the streets is up to the police.
Catolicismo — In the United States a movement has appeared which promotes chastity, above all among youths, as a response to the expansion of diseases such as AIDS. Active groups in universities promote abstention from pre-marital relations. Unfortunately, due to EU guidelines, Europe is “forced” to promote immorality. How can we fight against this?
Coat of Arms of Cardinal Pujats
Cardinal Pujats — In order to dispel darkness, one needs light. Above all, one needs to follow this ideal: “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). We must live according to the dictates of the faith, practicing it if only for a day. Then the light turns on. After a second day… a third day, and so on…. The greatest good one can offer spouses is the custody of chastity. It is also very important for the conviction to be dominant in society that pre-marital relations are an evil, just as no one needs to be convinced today that stealing is an action that should be repudiated.
God reserved sexual pleasure for the spouses to beget children and strengthen their family. People who cohabitate before marrying are mere thieves of sexual pleasure. They take advantage of that which God destined exclusively to spouses. In so doing, they hurt themselves and their family, for no sin remains without negative consequences. This sin also damages society. If someone commits it before marriage, he is revealing that he can later break the law of matrimony. One needs to fight for purity before marriage in every country, for this is in the interest of the entire society.