The National Catholic Review
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Two days after live footage of Tyler Clementi’s intimate encounter with another man in a Rutgers University dorm room was streamed online, he updated his Facebook status. It read: “Jumping off the gw bridge. Sorry.” A week later the body of the 18-year-old was found floating in the Hudson River, not far from the George Washington Bridge. The footage of the encounter was broadcast on Sept. 22, without Mr. Clementi’s knowledge, by his roommate, Dharun Ravi, 18, who now faces charges of invasion of privacy along with Molly Mei, 18, who allegedly allowed Mr. Ravi to use her computer. Charges of hate crimes may be added.

Near the end of his life, Mr. Clementi felt isolated; but in his victimization and suicidal feelings, he was not alone. In fact, more than 3.2 million young people are victims of bullying each year, and one study shows that victims of cyber-bullying have higher rates of depression than those bullied in other ways. The problem seems particularly acute among gay and lesbian teens. A Harris poll in 2005 found that 90 percent of teens who self-identified as gay said they had been bullied in the past year.

While gay marriage, the adoption of children by same-sex couples and the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy are hot-button issues, particularly around election time, the right of gay teens to attend school without being harrassed and to live lives without fear ought not to be up for debate. How can Catholics best respond to this timeless issue in an era when one poll states that two-thirds of Americans believe that the attitudes of churches and other places of worship contribute to suicides among people who are gay?

Most Catholics are familiar with one aspect of church teaching on homosexuality, but in the lines following the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s condemnation of same-sex activity, a less-known message can be found: Homosexual persons “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…” (No. 2358).

To live out God’s will is difficult for anyone, at any age, but it can be particularly difficult for teenagers who feel isolation, rejection and the threat of violence, some of whom are struggling with their sexuality. Bullying is the last thing they need. In a recent online video, President Barack Obama said, “We’ve got to dispel this myth that bullying is just a normal rite of passage.”

The shoals of high school life are rocky and young people need to know where to turn for support. Web sites like those run by Pacer’s National Center for Bullying Prevention (pacerkidsagainstbullying.org) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov/kids) are working to raise awareness of the problem and give support for victims of bullying. For gay and lesbian teens, there is also the “It Gets Better Campaign,” a series of videos on YouTube in which adults, many of them gay or lesbian, tell stories of having endured and survived tough times, from responding to teasing to surviving suicide attempts.

Today, 45 states have anti-bullying laws on the books, and some states are considering additional regulations. But support for teens facing bullying and cyber-bullying must move beyond legislation and into classrooms, churches and homes, if it is to truly make a difference. Catholics know well that they are called to protect human life from conception until natural death. But they cannot ignore the issues that threaten the lives of the young people struggling to exist between those two points. Suicide is a life issue, too.

At a city council meeting in Fort Worth, Tex., on Oct. 12, Councilman Joel Burns, who is gay, used part of the meeting to make sure struggling teens knew they were not alone. In a heartfelt speech he lamented that “teen bullying and suicide reached an epidemic in our country.... “Our schools must be a safe place to learn and to grow. It is never acceptable for us to be the cause of any child to feel unloved or worthless….”

Parents need to be aware of the new dangers and pressures encountered by teens. Bullying is no longer confined to the playground. Teenagers can be harassed through Facebook, Twitter, text messaging and e-mail (to name only a few venues). Digital bullying contributes to the feeling among many teens that harassment is inescapable. All religious communities must ensure that no child or adolescent experiences the isolation and hopelessness that flows from bigotry. All young people, especially those who feel rejected in any way, should know they will be accepted and cared for.

Comments

Sues Krebs | 5/15/2012 - 4:48pm
We learn more from difference than similarity, but bullies attack difference instead of learning from it.
Alyssa Moirano | 2/9/2011 - 6:22pm
Bullying is a huge issue, one that is not going away anytime soon. It is sad to see how cruel children, and even adults can be to one another.  Bullies, however, come of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds; it is important to remember that gays are not the only targets.  Children find reason to bully when someone doesn't fit the norm.  If a child is too short, too tall, too black, too white, too smart, too dumb, too skinny, too fat...all of these types of children and prospects for bullies as well. When it comes to bullying, I do not believe that this is the government's battle to fight.  The two prime influences are parents and school teachers.  Children take to heart what they learn at home.  If parents are sexist or racist, children will take on these qualities.  In addition, it is important that schools enforce the zero tolerance policy.  There should be no if, ands, or buts.  Bullying, in ALL cases is wrong, and it is important that beginning at a young age, children come to learn this.
James Murck | 11/7/2010 - 11:44am

Overcoming Gay Bullying


 


As someone gay who went to both Catholic and Public high schools as will as Junior College Minor Seminary in the early to mid 80's, I can tell you all from personal experience that bullying is a real and devastating experience.  It was psychological, it was physical and it was relentless.  The only thing that I found to mitigate it, (much to my chagrin - and to that of my perpetrators), was that I just snapped one day in the library, picked up a 12 foot long library table, lifted it over my head and through it across the room at the whole cabal of them, left the room and walked 12 miles home to get away from the whole situation. (do not try this at home.) They left me pretty much alone after that, mostly because they then thought of me as a loose canon.  By the time I was in junior high, I can tell you from personal experience that my sexual orientation was not "in flux".  It was set quite firmly and I only awakened to what had been there probably my whole life.  What got me through all this was my loving and compassionate family. My mother would come to my room some days and see me lying there all sad and caress my back and console me in my lonely confusion.  She knew what was going on.  She was also a very devout and faithful Catholic. Finally in my senior year, a wonderful nun cajoled my secret out of me and informed me that mine was a Gift to Love in a special way.  Perhaps some would deign to call her a heretic.  But in that moment, I was filled with such overpowering Love that it could only have come from the Lord of Life.  I have since lived, however feebly, to progressively embody that Love to all I encounter and will not give up on the Gospel imparted to me that day.


More and more studies are indicating that homosexuality is an evolved behavioral trait that commonly exists in many species as an adaptation employed for the purposes of social cohesion, and to garner a wider swath of support in the raising of the young. (How ironic is that!)  This evolved adaptation appears to become more prevalent as one moves up the primate chain towards humans.  A study in Italy shows that women who were raised with a gay male sibling are more fertile (i.e. have more children) than women who do not have a gay male sibling. The mechanism for this phenomenon is unknown at this time.


All this indicates to me that homosexuality exists in humans for a positive reason that perhaps we do not yet understand.  Homosexuality has been around for a very long time indeed, much longer by far than the institutional Catholic Church.  Homosexuality is not going away.  Not even 1500 years of near genocidal suppression under the auspices of both Church and State has been able to extinguish its prevalence in about the same % in which it has always prevailed. Heterosexuals just keep popping out gay people in every generation at a rate between 4-10%.  The biological imperative to reproduce has not been affected by any of this and could even be enhanced.


The magisterium of the Catholic Church can continue put forth its doctrines as they stand now.  Indeed, perhaps, it must.  Would it be the Catholic Church if it didn’t hold fast to its authentic magisterium?  However, as time goes on and the evidence continues to mount that her teaching is based on antiquated and anachronistic models of sexuality that in the long run do actual damage to the dignity of human persons, the Holy Spirit will goad Her kicking and screaming into a new and more compassionately relevant reality.  For now, I must stand with Galileo and say –“Still, She Spins…”


 

Frank Bergen | 11/6/2010 - 7:47pm
I was a member of the New England Province of the Society of Jesus from 1955 to 1972, when I left in order to be married.  In retrospect I think I began my departure from the Roman communion in August 1968, upon reading Humanae Vitae.  I've just read your editorial, for the most part excellent, and then Nos. 2357-9 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  And I remind myself that Ratzinger's election led directly to the resignation of Tom Reese as editor of this marvelous publication.  As a product of a pretty good Jesuit education and a priest active in the ministry of the Episcopal Church, I cry scandal and I cry hypocrisy that the Roman Church continues to propagate such nonsense as that contained in the above-mentioned paragraphs of its official catechism.  As Jesuits we chose celibacy freely, some for a lifetime and others for what has turned out to be shorter terms.  We chose.  For those who "

experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex",



the Church imposes.  And this imposition is justified by misunderstood and misinterpreted verses of Scripture, and by centuries of carefully chosen tradition, with not a glance at human reality.  "Just accept your trial, my beloved sons and daughters" is no answer.  The official hierarchal 'teaching' Church appears neither to know nor to want to learn anything valid about human sexuality.  And so very many in the ranks act justly, love tenderly, walk humbly with our God, while 'the church' continues to contribute to the pain and even destruction of the lives of women and men loved just as they are by that inclusive God of ours.


Chastity and homosexuality


2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,140 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."141 They 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.


2358 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.


2359 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.


 
JIM MCCREA | 11/6/2010 - 6:04pm
Bert M and others:

It is not anyone's "fault" that they are born LGBT.  We are who we are - fault has NOTHING TO DO WITH IT.

Until religionists get it in their heads that fault is a meaningless term to use when it comes to talking about us, we will continue to ignore most if not all of what they have to say about us.
Colleen Baker | 11/3/2010 - 2:49pm
Mr. Pengel, the teaching from Benedict's 1986 letter most certainly can be interpreted to read that gays are disordered in their very nature.  He may have meant to use this term in a philisophical manner as regards natural law, but the fact is he used this term and in direct reference to homosexual persons, not their acts

The letter itself states one reason it was written was to counter act the perception that the homosexual condition itself, as opposed to homosexual acts,  was too often seen as neutral or even good. 

There are no doubts, if you read this teaching, that Benedict sees gay people as intrinsically disordered in their very person.  I choose to see this attitude as Benedict's personal problem, not the Church's.  But that's just me.

Please, if you truly wish Benedict held veiws other than his stated views, write him and tell him to change them.  Don't accuse other Catholics of distorting the teaching.
Ann Engelhart | 11/3/2010 - 3:39am
Mareczku and others...Please stop distorting Catholic teaching to comply with your idealogy.
The RCC does NOT label homesexual PERSONS as "disordered"...or defective! It views sexual ACTS "not ordered" to reproducing as "disordered" (it says that contraception is disordered too!) It does NOT deny Holy Communion to homosexual persons (it was denied because people were hijacking the Eucharist for a political statement)...It demands compassion, respect and sensitivity for people with same sex attraction. 

You are either ignorantly or willfully being dishonest in your criticisms.

Recently, in Malta,a young man who spoke on behalf of those marginalized in society including those with a different sexual orientation, asked Pope Benedict what can be their place in the church...what is Jesus' call for them?

 Pope Benedict responded: "Maybe some of you will say to me, Saint Paul is often severe in his writings. How can I say that he was spreading a message of love? My answer is this. God loves every one of us with a depth and intensity that we can hardly begin to imagine.  And he knows us intimately, he knows all our strengths and all our faults. Because he loves us so much, he wants to purify us of our faults and build up our virtues so that we can have life in abundance. When he challenges us because something in our lives is displeasing to him, he is not rejecting us, but he is asking us to change and become more perfect.'


That is what he asked of Saint Paul on the road to Damascus. God rejects no one. And the Church rejects no one. Yet in his great love, God challenges all of us to change and to become more perfect."

Mark Davenport | 10/31/2010 - 11:04pm
William Lindsey made good points.  The Church's labeling of homosexual persons as disordered is a problem.  What does it do to young gay Catholics when they find out that the Church views them as defective human beings?  What does it do when they are denied communion or hear of others denied communion as happened recently in one Archdiocese?  It is good to hear people speaking out against bullying, including bullying of young gay people.  But have any Catholic Church leaders spoken out on the bullying issue?  Have any Catholic bishops offered their support to young gay people who have been the victims of bullying?  Do any of our Church leaders care about these young people?  I would like to hear of any bishops who have spoken out against this bullying.  Our young gay Catholics need to know that they are supported, that they are precious, that they will not be discriminated against or put down. 
David Smith | 10/30/2010 - 6:15pm
"How can Catholics best respond to this timeless issue in an era when one poll states that two-thirds of Americans believe that the attitudes of churches and other places of worship contribute to suicides among people who are gay?  What role does Catholic church teaching on homosexuality play in this tragedy?  What are we to do about it?"

Well, the subject of the editorial was bullying, not bullying of gay teens.

Gay teens are just one tiny group of people who are apparently likely to be targets of bullies.  They're a lot in the news now - gay is cool - but they're only one of many.

Of course, the Church should teach understanding and tolerance.  But I assume they already do that, so I guess you're saying that they don't do enough of it.  Why do you think so?

Those of us who aren't parents can probably do very little.  Parents should probably add this to their already long list of things to talk over with their kids.
William Lindsey | 10/30/2010 - 3:12pm
Fran, thank you for refocusing the discussion.  You ask what role Catholic teaching might play in the tragedy of suicides of gay youths, and what we can do about it.

Here's what I have heard in some comments above: it's good that our religious leaders are decrying bullying.  Well, at least the editors of America are doing so, though I'm not aware of a single top Catholic pastoral leader who has spoken out, as Bishop Mark Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America did recently.

But I'm also hearing this in the comments above: Catholic teaching is definitely part of the problem, and to decry the bullying without critically engaging Catholic teaching about homosexuality is not honest or constructive.  The problem is precisely rooted in the magisterium's definition of gay and lesbian human beings as disordered.

I realize that it takes courage for people to challenge magisterial teaching, particularly when their lives can be made hellacious if they do so.  When those who are clerics speak out critically, they are often punished.  When journals like America speak out, they are targeted by vicious watchdog groups that have the ear of powerful Vatican officials, and they are punished, too.

But if people do not muster the courage to speak out when the teaching of the magisterium is plainly wrong, how can it develop and more adequately address various issues?  If some courageous people of faith had not spoken out to call on our pastoral leaders to rethink the teaching on slavery, how would that magisterial teaching have been altered for the better?

I welcome this editorial.  At the same time, when those who write pieces for America and its blog express concern about the situation of gay and lesbian Catholics while defending magisterial teaching that is right at the center of the problems gay and lesbian people encounter, it is hard to take the expressions of concern seriously.

The teaching about disorder is a huge part of the problem.  It is indefensible.  It is hurtful.  And it has to change, if the church wants to be part of the solution and not part of the problem, where gay youth and their self-esteem is concerned.
Fran Ferder | 10/30/2010 - 1:53pm
As I read the 9 responses this morning, it appears that the comments have drifted away from the central topic of the article-specifically the bullying of gay and lesbian teens that becomes so painful that a significant percentage of them commit suicide.  I decry bullying in any form, by any person, for any reason.  I have a family member who was bullied terribly because of muscular dystrophy.  Most likely, many, if not all readers can identify someone they love who was bullied.  Perhaps it is harder to explore how many religions, and the Catholic church in particular, inadvertently contribute to the bullying of homosexual teens.  The author of the timely article asks a question that I thinks deserves more attention-rather than a general discussion other forms of bullying (as important as that might be in another forum):  How can Catholics best respond to this timeless issue in an era when one poll states that two-thirds of Americans believe that the attitudes of churches and other places of worship contribute to suicides among people who are gay?  What role does Catholic church teaching on homosexuality play in this tragedy?  What are we to do about it?
Marie Rehbein | 10/30/2010 - 12:01pm

Sperry,

If I were you I would not be so quick to assume that none of my children has ever been bullied.  My older son experienced it in one school, but not others.  My younger son experienced it last year in Catholic school.  My boys are outgoing and friendly, and they were still targeted.  However, the prepetrators were individuals who needed help.  They were emotionally disturbed and possibly suffering from learning disabilities.

My son decided to change schools after last year's incident because of how the administration handled the situation.  (One administrator saw to it that the bully was expelled, but then another one reinstated the boy, and the school board did nothing.)  This year the bully decided to change schools, too, to the one my son chose to attend.  Two weeks ago, the bully decided to pick on someone who was not so tolerant as my son, and he found himself with a broken nose. 

I don't believe that I am excusing bad behavior by pointing out that it is not a black and white situation, and that approaching it as if it's about time something were done about it is not likely to lead to a very satisfying solution.

Shannon Perry | 10/30/2010 - 11:21am
The statements made when I addressed the bullying in the school was that they had to actually catch the offenders in the act.  They also said that the child had to report it.  When it happened to my daughter, who has the learning disability, we were dealing with a communication disorder as well as the peer situation.  Girls also don't bully the same way guys do.  It was very deliberate.  Stunts like inviting her to do stuff then standing her up, or agreeing to an invite then backing out at the last minute over and over and then there were the parties everyone except her were invited to, where school policy is either everyone in the class or everyone in the gender is invited.  It didn't happen.  The club where she's told you can only be our friend if you have beanie babies, then a specific beanie baby and a specific notebook, and specific clothing or shoes, or or or- the prank calls at all hours- and yes we even dealt with cyber-bullying through facebook where at least the public school teachers were more proactive than the private catholic school to stop it.

One incident that stands out clearly in my mind and is a defining aspect of it all- One youth told on another to her about a tape device that had been stolen that she used to record lectures in the classroom. He did not want it known that he told and did not want it to go to the school because of retaliation fears.  When it happened to my son, I saw it and stopped the child where he made as if he did it accidently.  It was that it happened so often and then another child thought it was funny because he knew exactly where my son's feet were injured, and to wake him up pinched them hard in front of myself and his mother.  When he was confronted about it, he did not recognize his behavior was innappropriate because "everybody does it to (my son) and the teachers don't care."  By the time I found that information out, it was summer.  Boys also, just don't tell on each other, especially if they have any hope of any sort of acceptance with their peers. 

I feel having watched it happen not only to my child but to many other children as a volunteer both with the church, and the schools.  I stop it where I can, but the adults that bully as well, or don't see anythng wrong with the behavior, or excuse it like Marie did, is why it continues.  When this behavior is turned towards the ones who are acting this way in the first place, they scream and howl about how bad it is, but until people like Marie recognize that society DOES condone bullying by action or inaction- may it never be her child or someone dear to her heart that dies.
Marie Rehbein | 10/30/2010 - 9:09am
I certainly hope that Sperry, above, has seen to it that those who damaged the boy's feet have been brought to legal justice.  Unlike the emotional scars that do not garner sufficient sympathy in our legal system, physical injury is often compensated.

I think many people have difficulty knowing where good natured teasing ends and bullying begins.  This is why it is important to learn how to indicate to people when they have crossed the line in reference to oneself.

I do not mean to criticize people who have been victimized by bullies, because I know that some bullying is nothing but mean-spiritedness.  However, out of fairness, it is incumbent upon people to do a little more than take it when they are offended by it.

Since I am probably not alone in thinking there is give and take in all social situations, it would surprise me if the roommate and computer owner in the Rutger's case ended up being assigned full blame for the young man's suicide.  In light of that, people will jump to the conclusion that society condones bullying. 

However, the appropriate conclusion is that people need to be made more aware that not everyone has the inner resources they may have to withstand what they feel they could tolerate or might find amusing.  Sometimes all the bully intends is to socially engage the object of their attention.  Perhaps, they need some instruction in how to do that more appropriately.
David Smith | 10/29/2010 - 11:36pm
This editorial alternates between "should" and "must", as though they were the same thing.  They're very different.  "Should" is teaching and "must" is using force.  Do you really want to advocate making all undesirable behavior illegal?
Shannon Perry | 10/29/2010 - 6:17pm

I've had to deal with bullying growing up, then again with some of my own kids, and as a volunteer - and as an employee- directly or indirectly- the fact is that nobody wants to get involved or they take the attitude that the target brought... it on themselves...Whether or not it was brought on by the individual being bullies, the fact is, until people do more than just talk about how bad or terrible or sinful it is, it's not going to stop. The fact that it is "funny" as part of media and entertainment in comedy is why it's going to continue to be perpetuated. Almost always it's not some big poor kid who has a crappy home life. It's often the "pretty people", because they can or because someone wants power or control, or is afraid of people who are "different". My oldest daughter was suicidal because she was bullied in junior high by the girls in her class. My son had his feet mangled because they thought it was funny to step on them deliberately over and over to where he was having trouble walking. Have I addressed this? yes. Has it changed anything? nope. Even now there are people who bring up stuff that happened when I was a child, that they used then to harrass and embarrass me. Bullying continues in the workplace, and in organizations where they have policies to protect a person but it doesn't happen. Anyone that stands up to them that isn't important enough is ejected. It's all a nice thought but until more people actually stop themselves and stop others it won't go away.

I have read the responses to this article by others.  The point is that using power or position to humiliate hurt or discriminate against anyone  for simply being born different, is wrong.  The flaw in the article is they focussed on just the gay issues.  My beautiful gifted daughter who happens to have a type of autism that causes her to not recognize the usual social boundaries, was bullied.  She was shoved down stairs, she was punched by a girl from her class, while at the movies with the few people who would tolerate her eccentricities, she was hassled while on staff at scout camp for not understanding gender boundaries and accused of being a slut and called names that I even heard through the phone by the supervisor when she had called to calm down and sort out things. She has had people dump her schoolwork out in front of even teachers for fun on the steps of her school.  She was getting ready to go to the girls catholic high school, and the girl who had bullied her most of grade school was on the tour, and walked on the back of her shoes making her trip while the other girls just made jokes about how close my daughter and the bully were.  Her younger sister was hassled even just for being her younger sister.  These two left catholic schools because of this.  We thought we were safe, but then it started with my son and the younger sibling of one of the kids that bullied my oldest.... and now he is being homeschooled because his feet were so mangled he was having problems walking.    Then there's what I see as a youth minister, and as a scout leader where the adults teach the youth to be this way to anyone who isn't good enough... It really isn't just a gay issue.  It really is a life issue.  Those people grow up to be the sorts that bully in college with hazing, or workplace, sexually harrass women for fun, or men for that matter, use their power to humiliate and control others because they can and because, well the economy sucks, so if you want a job you either ignore it if you aren't the target or you suck it up until you die from it, or they find a way to fire you -
Bert Monster | 10/29/2010 - 5:14pm
Several years ago, while my wife and I were still actively involved in a Catholic prayer group, we were confronted by the story of a tragic death involving the son of one of our oldest members. Emotionally torn and upset, Fred (not his real name) shared how this death had deeply affected him on several conflicting levels. Tearfully our eighty plus year old friend and father, revealed how his son’s grief had shown him for the first time how much his son had loved his partner who had now suddenly passed away. Wiping away his tears, Fred admitted to us how guilt and church teachings had taught him that love between two members of the same-sex was wrong. He even expressed how these negative feelings had strained the relationship between him and his son for many years. Perhaps, it was his fault that he had raised a child with homosexual tendencies. Or, maybe God was punishing him for his past sins. He had led quite a rugged life, indifferent to others, and so on. But his son’s grief was so real, so honest and so revealing of a relationship that consisted of a love between two caring and giving individuals.

Roman Catholics and several other religions do not seem to understand the difference between LOVE and SEXUAL PERVERSION particularly as it applies to gays. People opposed to a gay lifestyle will quickly point out various scripture passages, such as Romans 1:26-32, that convinces them that God condemns such behaviour. Such individuals apparently believe that St. Paul’s warning about sexual perversions does not apply equally to heterosexual persons. This distorted view is not only held by some but endorsed by numerous institutional religions. When these messages are espoused by religious institutions, they take on a whole new level of unjustified hatred and condemnation. The recent suicide by the gifted Rutgers University student is but one example of the ongoing message of hate.

In a Christian context it remains a complete mystery why religious institutions have been unable to grasp the simple message from Jesus when he said, “Don’t judge!” The Catholic Church, in my opinion, has been unrelenting under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI in their unchristian attitude towards gays. What most Catholics don’t seem to know today is that prior to their election, the Catholic Church held a completely compassionate opinion on the matter. The New Catechism – Catholic Faith for Adults (1973) had this to say about ‘The Homosexual’: It is not the fault of the individual if he or she is not attracted to the other sex. The causes of homosexuality are unknown . . . .” Furthermore the text goes on to say: “The very sharp strictures of Scripture on homosexual practises (Gen. 1; Rom. 1) must be read in their context.” This Catechism received an official Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur in September 29, 1969. This understanding changed dramatically under both John Paul II and especially Pope Benedict XVI. The present Catechism takes a most inhuman and therefore unchristian attack on homosexuality by calling such unions a perversion. This claim is endorsed with the warning that those who are in opposition with Church teachings shall be proclaimed heretics and anathema. These threats are identical with the commands issued by Pope’s hundreds of years ago when they launched religious persecutions such as the Crusades, Inquisition, burning of witches, etc.

However, with the power these institutions knowingly wield, they could easily and immediately bring Christ’s healing to this shameful issue. How? By reversing their present stance on homosexual unions and recognizing the bond of love and conferring God’s blessing on that union. It is really no different than for two heterosexual people. Think of what this could mean to Fred, his son and thousands, perhaps millions of others Finally, I ask readers does a Christian perspective have anything to do with hatred?’

NOTE: As of 2008 the Vatican has refused to sign a UN Declaration to Decriminalize Homosexuality - Canada and many other countries, except USA (under Pres. Bush) did.

NOTE: During April, 2010 Pope Benedict's number two man, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, called homosexuality a "pathology" and linked it directly to sexual abuse of children.

In view of these facts, I accuse the Pope Benedict XVI of wrongfully holding and promoting homosexuality as being ‘sinful’ and an’ intrinsic moral evil’ and as being contrary to God’s nature. Accordingly he must accept full responsibility for any bullying, pain and suffering homosexuals receive as a result of the present Church teaching.    
Helena Loflin | 10/29/2010 - 5:12pm
Saw this the other day...

"Guns don't kill people.  Religion kills people."

Fran Ferder | 10/29/2010 - 2:58pm
I totally agree with Mr. Butler.  Dealing with homophobia in the Church is at least as important as helping persecuted gay folks cope.  They should not have to "cope" with being bullied!  Yes, the Catholic Church teaches that homosexual persons must be treated with respect, compassion and sensitivity.  But in teaching that homosexual behavior is sinful, the Catechism uses language that many gay and lesbian persons find extremely disrespectful, insensitive and lacking in compassion: Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life.  This is harsh language!  It not only uses a medieval understanding of natural law, but it is also based on a more fundamentalist interpretation of scripture-one with which many Catholic biblical scholars today would disagree. I believe that one place to address homophobia is in the language the Church uses to form its teaching about it.  The Catechism also teaches that human sexuality "affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of his body and soul. It especially concerns affectivity, the capacity to love and to procreate (give life), and in a more general way the aptitude for forming bonds of communion with others" (#2332).  If human sexuality really does concern affectivity, the capacity to love, and to form bonds of communion, which I believe it does, how can the Catholic Church shape its teaching on homosexuality in a way that honors and incorportates the expansive meaning above?  If human sexuality "affects ALL ASPECTS of the human person, how can gay and lesbian people express their homosexuality?
Christopher Butler | 10/29/2010 - 1:59pm
As a gay man, I heartily concur with this editorial, as far a it goes, and will pass over in silence the complicity of the churches in the bullying problem.
I would like to see more emphasis on attending to the character development of the bullies, however. They are the problem here.  The persecuted gay kids are victims.  Focusing on the victims' ability to cope does not address the root causes: homophobia is alive, well and thriving among our young people.  If the church wants to address the problem of bullying, it needs to address the bullies and the false values and insecurities that lead them to treat their fellow teens with such disrespect. 

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