The new Spanish cardinal appointed by Pope Francis has begun his tenure by describing homosexuality as a deficiency and suggesting the need for gay people to undergo corrective treatment.
So said Fernando Sebastián, the archbishop emeritus of Pamplona, in an interview with the Málaga newspaper Sur.
Asked about the attitude of the new pope regarding homosexuals (Francis said “Who am I to judge them?”), Cardinal Sebastián replied: "It is one thing to be welcoming and kind to a homosexual person and another to morally justify the exercise of homosexuality. I can tell someone that they have a deficiency - which is what it is - but this does not justify not appreciating or helping them. I think that this is the pope's position, and the same with regard to homosexual marriage or divorce. We will be by their side, but the Church cannot change the demands of morality."
Later in the interview, the cardinal insisted on the notion of deficiency. "With all due respect, I say that homosexuality is a deficient way to manifest one's sexuality, because the latter has a structure and a goal, which is procreation. Our bodies contain many deficiencies. I have high blood pressure, but should I get angry because someone tells me so? It is a deficiency I need to correct any way I can."
With regard to pedophilia in the Church, an issue which came up at the United Nations last week, Sebastián stated: "In the Church we need to provide a good education in the seminars, be discerning, select candidates to priesthood as best we can, always with the fear that people are not machines and can fail. It is admirable to see the courage of Benedict XVI and Pope Francis in addressing this problem, recognizing the existing deficiencies and providing a remedy in as far as it is in the Church's hands to do so."
The Spaniard is part of the first round of new cardinals appointed by Pope Francis.