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VALLETTA, Malta (ChurchMilitant.com) - A priest in Malta has spoken out in approval of homosexuality, with apparent approval from his bishop.
On an episode of Maltese talk show Xarabank that aired March 8, a Catholic priest trumpeted the idea that gays are born that way. On the Friday night talk show, Fr. Kevin Schembri said about being gay, "It cannot be something bad, because He created it. God created it, and He created it in His plan."
Xarabank apparently received a lot of backlash, with concerned Catholics wondering whether Church leaders knew that a priest was speaking this way on television. Xarabank put out a short statement on social media to clarify that they originally invited Abp. Charles Scicluna of the Malta archdiocese to speak on the show, but Abp. Scicluna sent Fr. Schembri to speak instead.
Father Schembri has numerous Church degrees in Catholic theology and canon law. He is listed online as a professor in theology at the University of Malta.
Pro-gay pundits in Malta are celebrating Fr. Schembri's remarks, with one online article calling him a "refreshingly progressive priest."
A source in Malta who wished to remain anonymous provided Church Militant with a complete translation of Fr. Schembri's interview. Church Militant proofread the translation and compared it with the original Maltese to ensure accuracy.
The priest's comments were in response to Matthew Grech, a former contestant on the Maltese version of The X Factor who says he left homosexuality for a life of chastity. A week previously, Grech and Kylie Delia were on the show, representing an Evangelical Protestant group called River of Love Christian Fellowship.
Both Grech and Delia said on the March 1 broadcast that when they left behind homosexuality, they felt their feelings of same-sex attraction diminish over time and even started experiencing heterosexual attraction. The host of the show, Peppi Azzopardi, got into a fiery debate with Grech and Delia over a law in Malta banning reparative therapy for those with unwanted same-sex attraction.
The next week, Azzopardi opened the show by playing a clip from the previous week's interview with Grech and Delia.
After playing that clip, Azzopardi turned to Fr. Schembri and asked him for a Catholic response, saying, "So let us start, to try to understand what the Church is saying, and what you are saying. First of all, Father, who created gay people?"
"Who created gays? Surely they did not fall from the sky," Schembri replied, "which means God created them. At least that's what we believe, that God created everything."
Azzopardi followed up by asking, "And that He created them gay?"
"And that He created them gay," the priest affirmed, adding:
God, in His creation, wanted to make diversity. He created different races, He created people with different skin color. He also created people with different sexual orientations. And He also created the different sexes: He created men and He created women. So God created us. God created everyone, and God saw that everything was very good when He created.
As the discussion continued, it was revealed that Fr. Schembri has a brother who "came out" as gay.
The host asked Fr. Schembri if the Church supports reparative therapy for those with unwanted same-sex attractions, and the priest condemned reparative therapy. Schembri mentioned that Abp. Scicluna had spoken against reparative therapy, adding, "If God created you this way, how can the Church go against God? The Church exists to serve God, not to tell Him that He made something wrong and I am going to change it for you."
Next in the interview, Azzopardi brought up 1 Corinthians 6: 9–10, which reads: "Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers — none of these will inherit the kingdom of God."
Azzopardi noted that the previous week's guests had cited this passage. He asked Fr. Schembri how he would interpret it, and the priest replied by noting last week's guests were Protestant: "Something important that I would like to say is that last week ... there were persons over here who are not coming from the Catholic tradition. Even the way they look at the Bible, they do not look at it the same way we look at it."
We in the Catholic Church don't only look at the Bible solely as what is written, but also how the teaching of the Church developed, even as it formed throughout the centuries. After all, the Bible did not fall from the sky. Even the Bible used by other churches like "River of Love" is a Bible that came out of the tradition of the Church, as it was developed.
Now in that context, we need to see first of all, the translation of the word that is being used for the word "homosexual" or "effeminate" sometimes, because you find very different translations. But also, St. Paul was not writing there to the Corinthians about "gays" as we understand them today — when we are talking about persons who acknowledge that they had a different sexual orientation, or persons who for example, are living an experience of love which is sincere, and who are authentic toward themselves.
In this case, St. Paul, like in many other passages — there are others where you think he is talking about persons who are gay as we understand them today — he was talking more about persons who were involved in promiscuity. And therefore, he was saying more that this should not take place, when there isn't sincerity. Remember, the idea of relationship didn't develop a long time ago.
Later in the interview, Schembri claimed that a homosexual relationship is "the same" as a heterosexual one. He opined, "Yes, they can have a relationship of love when it is a sincere relationship and one of love, as much as it would be good when it is sincere and of love between heterosexual couples."
Father Schembri seemed hesitant to say that a gay couple could still be good Catholics.
He doubled down on the idea that God makes people gay, saying:
But [the fact] that God created them man and woman, for me, after all that I told you, it creates for me no difficulty to even say it. Why? Because I think no gay in the world denies the fact that the absolute majority of human beings are heterosexual couples. However, God also created this variant, this is how I like to call them, the gays, a variant in His creation.
Schembri offered some concluding remarks in which he called the Church "a people on a journey" and compared the Church to "a mother with a new reality that she is understanding more and more."