Don’t Get Excited: The Homophobic Cardinal’s Resignation Was Nothing But Routine Housekeeping

Jim Burroway

July 5th, 2016

Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez

Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez

The Washington Blade picked up a report that has played out all over Spanish-language media but hasn’t made much of an appearance in the English language news outlets:

The Vatican announced on Monday that Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez of the Archbishop of Santo Domingo.

The Holy See said in a statement that the pontiff has named Monsignor Francisco Ozoria Acosta of the Diocese of San Pedro de Macorís as López’s successor.

LGBT media and blogs are, rightly, very interested in this development. López Rodríguez’s extreme homophobia is pretty notable in the Catholic Church, which is really saying something. When President Barack Obama named Wally Brewster, an openly gay and married man, Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, López Rodríguez called him a maricón (faggot) and pajaro (bird, another Spanish perjorative for a gay man) in an interview. After Ambassador Brewster criticized corruption in the Dominican Republic, López Rodríguez said, “That man needs to go back to his embassy. Let him focus on housework, since he’s the wife to a man.”

So when we see a report about a Catholic Cardinal — whose powerful position influences the future direction of the Church, in part, by deciding who the next pope would be — it’s tempting to try to examine Pope Francis’s accepting López Rodríguez’s resignation for signs of a push-back against the Church’s more anti-gay elements. The Blade article makes no attempt to draw any such inferences, but a number of high-profile bloggers have, naturally, juxtaposed this development against Pope France’s comments last week acknowledging that the church “must apologize” against gay people.

Now maybe Pope Francis did choose to accept López Rodríguez’s resignation because he saw in it an opportunity to push out one of the church’s worst homophobes. And maybe Pope Francis did it for other reasons that had little to do with López Rodríguez’s open anti-gay bigotry.

But the way I see it, there are far more reasons to interpret this as simply ordinary housekeeping and not one scintilla more. The official Holy See statement announcing López Rodríguez’s resignation says it was tendered “in accordance with canons 411 and 401 § 1 of the Code of Canon law.”

Canons 411 and 401 deal with the mandatory retirement age of 75 for all bishops in the Church. Upon turning 75, bishops are required to tender their resignations to the Vatican. The Vatican, however, is under no obligation to accept those resignations, and if it does decide to accept a resignation, there’s no requirement that says it has to do so in any kind of a timely manner.

In fact, it’s not at all unusual for there to be a delay of several years between a bishop’s resignation and the appointment of his successor. According to Canon Law, the bishop’s office ends immediately upon the Pope’s accepting the resignation, and so it is standard practice to hold off doing so until a successor can be named. That successor then is the acting bishop until his formal consecration.

López Rodríguez was born in 1936, which means he turned in his resignation four years ago in 2011 (He was born October 31). If he had turned 75 yesterday and the Pope accepted his resignation today, then you could definitely read something into it. But this resignation and naming of a successor has been years in the making, which makes it all perfectly routine and normal. The other thing that’s normal: when López Rodríguez turns eighty in October, he will still be a Cardinal, but he won’t be able to participate in any future conclave after that to select the next pope.


July 5th, 2016

Hi. May I make a request? This blog was the first place to take apart the Regnerus study. Well, there is another one that just came out from a guy named Paul Sullins who is making the claim that kids of gay parents become depressed after they grow up and become young adults. This same guy did about 3 studies last year claiming that kids of gays get ADHD and other problems. This has already started to get coverage in Christian media. I’d like to hear your take on this:

Julia Soler

July 6th, 2016

I’m surprised that statistically children raised by gay couples do as well as they do.

I remember the late 90’s and early aughts when “unadoptable” kids (i.e. those that straight couples did not want to adopt) were given to gays to adopt. These would be children who were older, had behavioral problems and worse histories (environmental and, likely genetic)

I can’t tell from the study whether adoption status was controlled for. He seems to compare depression rates with “the general population”

Maybe a reader who knows more about these types of studies could enlighten me.

Ben in Oakland

July 5th, 2016

Tood, I can help a little bit with this. It took about three minutes.

In his notes, he quotes Regnerus a couple of times. bad idea.

He misquotes Sarantakos. The study is specific in not attributing the difficulties of children of same sex parents to anything but homophobia.

Ben in Oakland

July 5th, 2016

BTW, a one minute google search shows that Sullins has also DEFENDED Regnerus.

In short, another ideologue.


July 5th, 2016

Sarantakos…another study that has long been discredited. (As I recall, all lesbian parents were divorced, meaning the same-sex aspect of the family structure was not an isolated variable.)

Sarantakos and Regnerus should be code words to not take a study seriously.

Thanks for Lettie know about this Sullins study, Todd. It’s always good to keep track of these things.

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