"Italian Bishop Nunzio Galantino, a personal appointee of the pope... is coming under criticism after delivering a homily to young people at World Youth Day in which he rewrote the story of God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
While the clear meaning of the text is to emphasize God’s hatred of sin, in the bishop’s telling the message of the story is about Abraham’s willingness to emphasize 'positive possibilities' and 'signs of hope' despite the 'misdeeds' of the people of Sodom.
It’s an interpretation that fits less with Catholic tradition than with the grievous admonition from the Extraordinary Synod on the Family that the Church should emphasize the “positive aspects” of mortally sinful lifestyles.
Here is what Bishop Galantino said, according to a translation provided by author and commentator Rod Dreher:
The intense dialogue between God and Abraham in the first reading tell us about prayer. And it’s about prayer that Jesus is asked in the Gospel. A prayer which is not an escape from troubles and responsibility, but a live experience made of listening and answering, through which God creates an authentic relationship and pushes us to be daring. As daring as Abraham’s intercession prayer in favor of Sodom. A city upon which nobody would have bet a dime. His intercession prayer and his will to dare save Sodom. The city is saved because some righteous ones are there, even though a few of them. But the city is saved above all because Abraham, a man of prayer, is not a relentless accuser, he doesn’t speak against but in favor. Abraham, man of prayer, doesn’t point to the misdeeds, but he announces the possibility for something new. Abraham, man of prayer, announces and invites to look at the positive possibilities. Abraham, man of prayer, is a tireless searcher for sign of hopes to present to the Lord for Him to give them value.
Bishop Galantino is talking about the dialogue between God and Abraham recorded in Genesis 18. God was planning to destroy Sodom for its wickedness, but Abraham pleaded with God to spare the city. God agreed that if ten good men could be found there, he would spare Sodom.
Had the story ended there, Bishop Galantino might have had a point. But in Genesis 19, two angels enter the city, and Lot has to barricade them in his house because men from all over Sodom, both young and old, surrounded it and demanded that Lot turn them over to be raped. The angels order Lot and his family to leave the city, because they are going to destroy it on God’s orders. And that’s what happens. The clear implication is that there were not even ten righteous men in Sodom, aside from Lot’s family. Sodom was not saved, as Bishop Galentino preached, but was in fact destroyed."
Sign up for our free e-mail list to see future vaticancatholic.com videos and articles.