Homosexuality and Roman Catholicism
In Roman Catholicism, homosexual acts are contrary to natural law and sinful while homosexual desires are disordered (but not themselves sinful). The
Roman Catholic Churchconsiders human sexual behaviorto be sacred, almost sacramental in nature, when properly expressed. Anal intercourseand homogenital "acts" are considered sinful because sexual acts, by their nature, are meant to be both unitive and procreative (mirroring God's inner Trinitarian life). The Church also understands the complementarity of the sexes to be part of God's plan. Same-gender sexual acts are incompatible with this framework:
" [H] omosexual acts are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved" [ [http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a6.htm#2357 Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 2357 Catholic Church] ] .These teachings are, of course, not limited to the issue of homosexuality, but form the philosophical underpinning for the Catholic prohibitions against, for example,
fornication, all other forms of unnatural sex, contraception, pornography, anal sexand masturbation.
A minority of individual priests within the Catholic Church, including ordinaries, most notably
Bishop Jacques Gaillotof France, have criticized the Church's position. Such dissent is carried out in direct defiance of the constant Catholic teaching on human sexuality.
On May 15, 2008, the Roman Catholic bishops of California issued a statement explaining their opposition to the state supreme court ruling of the same day which effectively legalized same-sex marriage. [ [http://www.cacatholic.org/docs/GayMarriageDecisionStatement.pdf Statement by the Catholic bishops of CA] ; for views by individual Catholics opposing the ruling on moral as well as legal grounds see, for example, Patrick J. Buchanan, [http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?pageId=65070 “Post-Christian America: Marriage ruling another streetlight on our ‘darkening path to perdition,”] "WorldNetDaily", May 22, 2008; [http://www.tell-usa.org/articles/calcourt08.htm "Judicial Usurpation, California Style,"] by Robert Struble, "TeLL", June 2008.]
Acceptance and compassion
The Church has stated that homosexual "desires" or "attractions" themselves are not necessarily sinful. They are said to be "disordered" in the sense that they tempt one to do something that "is" sinful (i.e., the homosexual act), but temptations beyond one's control are not considered sinful in and of themselves. For this reason, while the Church does oppose attempts to legitimize same-gender sexual acts, it also officially urges respect and love for those who do experience same-sex attractions, thus the Catholic Church is also opposed to persecutions and violence against the
"The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition." [ [http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a6.htm#2357 ibid., para. 2358] ]For those who do experience same-sex attractions, the Catholic Church offers the following counsel:
"Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection" [ [http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a6.htm#2357 ibid., para. 2359] ] .It should be noted that the Church considers the call to
chastityto be universal to all persons according to their state in life.
ocial and psychological support
Terence Cardinal Cooke as
Archbishopof New York City, saw a need for a ministry which would assist same-sex attracted Catholics to adhere to Vatican directives on sexual behaviour. Cooke invited John Harvey to New York to begin the work of Courage Internationalwith Benedict Groeschel, of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. The first meeting was held in September, 1980 at the Shrine of Mother Seton in South Ferry.
1997, the USCCB came out with a tract called "always our children" which some might find helpful. It articulates the most recent stance on homosexuality, especially as it relates to parents of homosexual children.
However, some practicing homosexuals might be denied
Holy Communiondue to advocating or performing gay sex, although this varies depending on the stance of the local bishop and the presiding priest.
The Catholic Medical Association has stated that same-sex attractions are preventable and a symptom of other issues. The goal of therapy should be "freedom to live chastely according to one's state in life." [cite web
title=Homosexuality and Hope
publisher=Catholic Medical Association
As has proven to be the case within most Christian denominations, the official teachings regarding homosexuality have been disputed by lay Catholics, prominent theologians, and ordained clergymen of high stature. Frequently, any such individuals promoting a form of dissent or disagreement with the documented church stance have been removed from positions of influence, if ordained, and even, in some circumstances, excommunicated. Generally, there is considerable debate within the Roman Catholic Church regarding the relevance of the current stance on homosexuality, some seeking to reform, others seeking to preserve.Fact|date=October 2007
However, the Roman
Curiamaintain no intention of considering a revision of the current teaching of the Church and consider the promotion of any other viewpoint to be a dissent from the acceptable religious understanding. On the contrary, in an official brief called Rescriptum ex audientiaof May 19 2008 made by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertonethe cardinal secretary of state reaffirmed once again the norms established by the Congregation for Catholic Education in the 2005 document as of universal value and without exceptions. [ [http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=12677 Vatican says prohibition against gays in seminaries is universal] ]
Dissent from official position
Several notable individuals have challenged the Church's position or promoted different understandings of the compatibility of the Roman Catholic faith and homosexual identity/lifestyle. Notable examples of theologians who have been sharply critical of the church's proclamations regarding homosexuality include the former Roman Catholic priest, Professor Charles Curran who was subsequently removed from the faculty at the
Catholic University of America. Curran contended that it was inappropriate to analyse the morality of actions from a physical perspective, writing that:
I had come to accept the moral legitimacy of a union of two gay men or lesbians... I rejected, as not going far enough, the pastoral understanding of something being objectively wrong but not subjectively sinful. ["Loyal Dissent", (Curran, 2006) pg. 72]
Curran also comments that the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faithsystematically attempted to silence authors also critical of teachings on homosexuality, citing the 'highlighting' of errors in Dr. John J. McNeill's "The Church and the Homosexual".
Roman Catholic priest Dr. James Alison argues that the understanding proposed by (then) Dr. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in "On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons" is "incompatible with the Gospel" and summarises that "it cannot in fact be the teaching of the Church", expanding upon his view Alison contends that"
This teaching is interposing itself between the regard of Christ and our own sense of being, in a way which tends to pervert the simple regard of one [God] who loves us as we are, and as loved we will find ourselves becoming someone different. It is teaching us instead that God will only love us if we start from somewhere else. ["On Being Liked", (Alison, 2003) pp. 106 - 106]
Furthermore, in "a Question of Truth", the Dominican priest Gareth Moore criticises the church for obsessing over sexual matters and their supposed moral 'meaning', arguing that it can actually mean what we want it to. Moore concludes that: "... there are no good arguments, from either Scripture or natural law, against what have come to be known as homosexual relationships. The arguments put forward to show that such relationships are immoral are bad." ["a Question of Truth", (Moore, 2003)]
There have also been academics who have produced publications challenging the manner in which homosexuality is treated by Roman Catholicism, arguably the most notable of these is Professor John Boswell's book "Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality", in which Boswell employs philosophical argument and historical research to attempt to counter the contemporary teaching of the Church regarding homosexuality. ["Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality", (Boswell, 1976)] In the book's sequel, "Same Sex Unions in Pre Modern Europe" Boswell even argues that
Jesushimself attended a same sex union ceremony. ["Same Sex Unions in Pre Modern Europe", (Boswell, 1994)]
As well as academic disagreement within the Church, there have also been practical and ministerial disagreements within the clergy and hierarchy of the Church. One notable example of ordained Catholics who have attracted controversy because of their actions and ministry to homosexuals is that of Fr. Robert Nugent and Dr. Jeannine Grammick who established
New Ways Ministry, and were both disciplined strongly by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faithbecause of their perceived eagerness to dissent from official church teaching, and even mislead homosexual individuals. Similarly, the American Bishops Dr. Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit and Matthew Clarke of the Diocese of Rochester were condemned for their association with New Ways Ministry, and promotion of the theological concept of Primacy of Conscienceas an alternative to the actual teaching of the Church. [" [http://www.cwnews.com/news/viewstory.cfm?recnum=4547 Bishops Lead Assault on Church Teaching] ", (Catholic World News, 20 March, 1997)] Furthermore, the willingness of Bishop Jacques Gaillot, a French bishop forcibly removed from duties within his diocese, to preach a message about homosexuality contrary to that of the official stance of the church, is largely considered to be one of the factors that led to him being removed from his See. [" [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/816332.stm Bishop's gay conference ban] ", (BBC News, 2 July, 2000)]
Dr. Robert Zollitsch the Archbishop of Freiburg im Breisgau and Chairman of the Conference of German Bishops said in an article with the german magazine "
Der Spiegel", that he accepts civil unions by states but he is against Same-sex marriage. [ [http://wissen.spiegel.de/wissen/dokument/dokument.html?id=55854225&top=SPIEGEL&suchbegriff=robert+zollitsch&quellen=%2BBX%2CWIKI%2C%2BSP%2C%2BMM%2CALME%2C%2BMEDIA&vl=0 Spiegel: Es wäre eine Revolution (german)] ] Likewise, Dr. Diarmuid Martin the Archbishop of Dublin has promoted similar viewpoints following calls for the introduction of civil unions in the Republic of Ireland. [ [http://www.independent.ie/national-news/archbishop-backs-legal-rights-for-gay-couples-143493.html Archbishop backs legal rights for gay couples] , (The Independent, 16 November 2004) ]
Defense of official position
It is probable that the majority of Church officials and Catholic laymen defend and promote the official understanding of homosexuality of the Church and criticise those who are willing to consider revising it, believing revisions to be contrary to God's plan as evidenced in the story of the creation of Adam and Eve, i.e. an understanding enshrined in
Natural Law; also possibly supported by various apparitions warning against not allowing compromise on certain stances, and it may be interpreted that this is one of them.
The vast majority of bishops have not expressed any disagreement with Church teaching regarding homosexuality, and some have obtained a reputation for an impassioned defence of it. Two notable examples would be Dr. George Cardinal Pell and Dr. Francis Cardinal Arinze, who have insisted that the family as a unit is "mocked by homosexuality" and "sabotaged by irregular unions". [" [http://www.thehoya.com/news/102403/news1.cfm Arinze Address Provokes Faculty Reaction] ", (The Hoya, 24 October, 2003)]
Furthermore, after taking pontifical office, one of the more controversial decisions of
Pope Benedict XVIhas been the decision of the Congregation for Catholic Educationto further prohibit any individual who has "present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called "gay culture", or any individual having had such "tendencies" within the past three years, from entry to seminary, and thus from joining the priesthood. [" [http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccatheduc/documents/rc_con_ccatheduc_doc_20051104_istruzione_en.html Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders] ", (Vatican Website, 4 November, 2005)] This is a departure from the Church's traditional position that it is homosexual "acts" that are sinful, and is evidence of the fact that change of the official position is deeply unlikely as of now. However, some bishops continue to knowingly ordain gay priests despite the Vatican's pronouncement and individual religious orders sometimes vary in their level of tolerance.Fact|date=December 2007
Homosexuality and Christianity
Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination
Roman Catholic Church
On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons
Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders
Homosexuality in the Roman Catholic priesthood
* [http://www.ewtn.com/library/humanity/homo.htm Christian Anthropology and Homosexuality]
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