Gays and Lesbians and the Catholic Church: News

The place of gay and lesbian Catholics in the church and in society has once again come to the fore, during the furor over the status of same-sex marriages and civil unions, both here and abroad.  (Just today, for example, Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, weighed in, saying that Proposition 8, the recently approved California measure banning same-sex marriages, was about "restoring the traditional definition of marriage."

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This week, the Catholic bishops of England released a pamphlet entitled, “What is life like if you or someone in your family is gay or lesbian in their sexual orientation?…and what can your parish family do to make a difference?”  Exhorting both clergy and laity to remember that “parishes can take a number of steps to ensure that individuals and families feel welcome,” the pamphlet offers several suggestions, including:

"--Be aware of how marginalised some families facing these challenges feel within the Church. Form links with other parishes to share information and build networks of mutual support. Try to establish or promote support groups for parents and family members.

--Try not to assume that everyone is heterosexual; reflect this in language and conversation. When speaking publicly, use the words "homosexual," "gay," and "lesbian" in honest and accurate ways. Avoid stereotyping and condemning. Do not presume that all homosexual persons are sexually active.

--Remember that homophobic jokes and asides can be cruel and hurtful; a careless word can mean another experience of rejection and pain."

At least one “gay rights activist” in the UK, Peter Tatchell, has praised the bishops’ document, calling it "sympathetic" and "understanding."

At the same time, the Vatican has voiced its strong opposition to a UN-sponsored document that would “decriminalize” homosexuality, something that supporters contend is a necessary message to send to certain countries, particularly ones under Islamic shariah, where homosexuality is punishable by death.  Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican’s nuncio to the United Nations, said the Vatican opposed the resolution because it would “add new categories of those protected from discrimination’ and could lead to reverse discrimination against traditional heterosexual marriage.”

’If adopted, they would create new and implacable discriminations,” Archbishop Migliore said. ’For example, states which do not recognise same-sex unions as ’matrimony’ will be pilloried and made an object of pressure.”

This move drew a storm of protests from gays and lesbians, as Reuters has reported here.  (The Italian newspaper La Stampa called the comments “grotesque.”)

In response, today Federico Lombardi, S.J., the Vatican spokesperson, said, “[N]o one wants the death penalty or jail or fines for homosexuals.”  He defended Archbishop Migliore’s comments, adding that the Vatican was in the majority on the issue.  "It’s not for nothing that fewer than 50 member states of the United Nations have adhered to the proposal in question while more than 150 have not adhered. The Holy See is not alone," said Father Lombardi.

James Martin, SJ

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8 years 11 months ago
I meant to write: The Vatican's comment that they don't believe gay people should be executed or jailed or fined for being gay gives us a hint of just how well Vatican functionaries understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
8 years 11 months ago
I have been in a same relationship for over 42 years. People do not stay in relationships for that length of time unless the motive is love. I hope people are not trying to persuade homosexual family members and friends that they can become heterosexual. If they are , they are doing them great harm.
8 years 11 months ago
Mr. Miller and Mr. Saunders, well put. What some people don't realize (or perhaps don't want to consider) is that the hierarchy's premise that sexual activity of any kind that doesn't result in procreation is morally wrong (or mortal sin, or whatever they're currently saying) is incorrect. From the perspective of a lay person, this teaching has no basis in reality, and is itself 'unnatural.' Why is it God's 'plan' that gay people, or straight divorced people, be denied the intrinsically human experience of a loving, committed relationsip with another that is more than mere friendship? Sexual activity is an expression of that love, and as people in such relationships know, it's not even the biggest part of a relationship. Mr. Miller, I'm glad you realized early in life that no institution should cause you needless suffering. What saddens me is that countless others have suffered, and are still suffering.
8 years 11 months ago
Anne, I hope you make this distinction between lust and love paramount in your dealings with heterosexual young men. The attraction maybe to females, but the testosterone is the same.
8 years 11 months ago
These debates about sexual relations are instructive, in that they relate to not only ones idea about morality but indicate how one feels about God. The question arises as to whether God has an interest about human sexuality and why? Does God have a self interest in any of these issues beyond human happiness (by happiness, I mean people living fully integrated lives that do not damage others)? Aside from love for his creatures, is there any other external standard for human sexual conduct? Is there a natural order that must be satisfied? I would answer no to these questions. The natural order resides in human happiness. God is perfect and is not affected by other than his desire that we be happy and treat others with love. Anything less would be codependent on God's part. When Jesus said he was humble of heart, his yoke is easy and his burden, light and that the Sabbath was for man, not man for the Sabbath, this is what he meant. Of course, it takes a bit of faith to believe this way - faith in God rather than in some of the teachings of the Church (which should be repudiated).
8 years 11 months ago
My 28-year relationship with my partner is based on love, not lust. Everyone who knows us says the same thing; it is obvious we are deeply in love with one another. Our lives are complete because of each other. We also are the caregivers for our parents, serve with a wide variety of nonprofit community organizations, help our neighbors, and mentor young people who credit us with helping their careers and become close friends. I also served my country as a military officer. I am an active Catholic in my parish. My partner is not Catholic. He does not understand how I can remain in a church whose leadership shuns me, despite the fact that they are probably dealing with their own sexual identity issues. Others on this board have explained why I remain in the Church much more eloquently that I can. We make no apologies for who we are and I would not confess to a priest that I am gay. God created me gay for a reason -- to find the one person whom He destined as the one with whom I should share my life; to make me a more compassionate and empathetic person; and to be more accepting of others who face the same threats, discrimination and misunderstanding that I have faced in my half century on His earth. At the Final Judgment, will God truly say to people who have tried to dehumanize gay men and lesbians, especially those who profess love for Him and His Son and most notably, those in political and ministerial positions, 'Welcome home my good and faithful servant. You put those gays and lesbians in their place.' I believe He will ask, 'Why have you persecuted me by persecuting my gay sons and daughters?' Eleanor Roosevelt once said, 'No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.' My relationship with my partner IS Holy and I hope it will be allowed to develop into Marriage, offering me the same protections given to those who so believe in the sanctity of this legal contract that they have sought such sanctification on numerous occasions.
8 years 11 months ago
'Homosexual sexual acts are an intrinsic disorder [1], a behavior pattern that is not ordered by the desire to Love but rather by lust [2]. Homosexual sexual acts do not respect the Sacredness and Dignity of the Human Person [3].' An interesting excerise would be to change the above phrases so that they now say the opposite. So, let's start with the dignity of the person then discuss how this will be expressed (and reflected) in one's daily life. It might be re-read as follows - (3) A healthy homosexual identity that reflects the Dignity and Sacredness of this Human Person is expressed through one's homosexual sexual acts. (2) A meaningful homosexual relationship will contain a behaviour pattern that is socially ordered by (a moral of) love rather than lust. (1) Homosexual sexual acts are part of the extrinsic (social) order. [The purpose of marriage is to regulate the social order of these human relationships.] Now, if one was to replace the word 'homosexual' with 'heterosexual', then my own re-writtern arguements would look rather familiar to many Catholics. So, what does this tell us? Historically, the inspired language of the Bible usually reflects the realities of a God of unlimited (unbounded) love and concern for the oppressed (ie righteousness). However, many of these anti-gay and anti-lesbian sentiments as recently expressed by some of the Catholic church's leadership tend to further promote oppression of the Human Person (ie abortion of the gay/lesbian foetus) as opposed to freedom and liberation from social injustice (ie death penalty of gays/lesbians in some countries) and oppression (ie marginalisation of gay / lesibans in society). Perhaps we will be judged for how we (as Christians) have promoted the Gospel of love in our own time.
8 years 11 months ago
Just a little note to our readers. On this post in particular we have been receiving a few 'ad hominem' and mean-spirited comments. Any comments that attack another person or engage in name-callling won't be posted. (Also comments without email addresses are not posted either.) Let's remember the old dictum: In the essentials unity; in differences dialogue; in all things charity.
8 years 11 months ago
Dingo, the Word of God is not oppressive. When you change the phrases so that they now say the opposite, they contradict themselves. Now, only one statement can be true unless both statements are false. We know that Christ Has revealed Himself to His Church in the Trinitarian relationship of Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the teachins of the Magisterium. We know that Marriage is a Sacrament and that Sexual Love only exists between a Man and Woman within a Holy Marriage. God desires that ALL relationships be Holy. Here is what Sacred Scripture reveals about God's intention for the unity of Sexual Love from the start: 'Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator 'made them Male and Female' and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his Father and Mother and be joined to his Wife, and the two shall become one Flesh'? So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.'- Jesus Christ Christ Has revealed God's intention of Sexual Love from the Start. It is Christ who is the Truth of Love and the very definition of Love, God. It is the Truth of Love that will "set you free."
8 years 11 months ago
Michael, the only way to teach the truth about Love is to tell the truth about the Truth. Once you introduce a false statement about the Truth, the Word Made Flesh, you are no longer teaching about the Truth.
8 years 11 months ago
I am gay. I also am a 63 year old cradle Catholic who has been in the same relationship for over 42 years. I learned long ago to make up my own decisions about homosexuality. I have never been inclined to let institutions cause me unnecessary suffering. I have always been Catholic and I never have left the Catholic Church. Fortunately, my 19 years of Catholic education gave me the confidence and tools I needed to make decisions for myself. The tools, the structure and words I use to understand and speak about Christianity have been gifts given to me by my Catholic faith. These gifts have made it possible for me to discover my dignity as a gay man and to share it with others. I am not angry at many things. This in includes the Roman Catholic Church. If anything I am flabbergasted by the Catholic Church and the nonsensical position it has taken about homosexuality. I have learned a great deal from theologian James Alison on the subject. When I discuss being gay and Catholic, I am not sure if I am talking about being Roman Catholic or simply Christian. When I talk about the 'Church,' I am not sure if I am talking about a 'juridical structure' or 'od's faithful people.' I also don't know if 'straight' is also included. The Catholic magisterium teaches that gay people are okay but that gay acts are 'intrinsically evil.' This teaching of the magisterium is not true. It is what James Alison calls a double back somersault. The Vatican's comment that they don't believe gay people should not be executed or jailed or fined for being gay gives us a hint of just how well Vatican functionaries understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
8 years 11 months ago
As long as gays and lesbians follow the teachings of the Catholic Church, then there is no problem. Its not a sin to be gay, it is however a sin to engage in homosexual acts. Therefore it is not a matter of inclusion or exclusion, it is a matter of conformity to the teachings of Christ and His Church. -Glenn
8 years 11 months ago
From the Gospel of Jesus Christ: 'You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery'. But I say to you, everyone who looks at a women with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.' (Mt.5:27-28) We are to look at one another not with lustful desire, the desire to possess, but with Love. We are to see one another as God desires, as Men and Women created in the image of God. To define oneself according to sexual attraction from the start, is to define oneself according to lust not Love.
8 years 11 months ago
I cannot imagine anyone desiring or choosing to be reviled by the majority of other people, to seek exclusion from society except at the expense of pretending to be something the person was not born to be. A 'defect,' an 'intrinsic disorder' - how can being left-handed rather than right- handed be that? As children, some were taught to use their right hands to write when using their left hands was natural to them. Should a gay man pretend attraction toward a woman, marry, raise children and commit sexual sin with other men? Certainly not. Would God ordain the only option lonely, unfulfilled, frustrated 'obedience' to the Church's decrees in these matters? One consequence was perhaps the clergy abuse scandal of horrendous proportions... If one's ignorance is invincible, then not only is absolution unnecessary, it is impossible. The experience of being gay and following Christ, within the Catholic Church is outside the scope of canon law. How could a heart be so stony as to condemn two who faithfully commit and love one another according to their natures? The argument from natural law, that the species would die out, is specious because the scientific fact is that 10% or less of humans have homosexual orientation. Why that is, or how it came to be are unanswered questions. That it is the case, is irrefutable. So why all the furor over a small fraction seeking happiness at no harm to others?
8 years 11 months ago
Lust is a disordered desire. Homosexual sexual acts are an intrinsic disorder, a behavior pattern that is not ordered by the desire to Love but rather by lust. Homosexual sexual acts do not respect the Sacredness and Dignity of the Human Person. God desires that all our relationships and friendships be Holy. Some of these relationships will develop into Marriage. This is what God intended.
8 years 11 months ago
Colleen, lust is lust. To refer to someone according to sexual desire is to refer to someone according to lust.
8 years 11 months ago
Let me put a few questions which may be used as a barometer for this issue. Is it licit for a married priest (Episcopal, Orthodox, Catholic converted from Episcopal) to have marital relations in the morning, shower and then go celebrate the Eucharist? Is it licit for a married couple to have sexual relations, shower and go to Mass and receive the Eucharist? How you answer these question determines whether you should be involved in teaching about sexuality, particulary to me and my child (when she is old enough). If you answered no to either one of these questions, please let me know and put down the text book and leave the classroom and the confessional. Your attitude about sex is unhealthy and I don't want you teaching my child, speaking for the Church about sex or morality of any kind. I would even suggest consulting a therapist. Not only are such attitudes unhealthy, they are not in line with non-Roman Christianity. They are heterodox, which is the orthodox term for heresy. For the sake of Christian unity,, they must be abandonned as such.
8 years 11 months ago
Michael, what does it mean to Love someone? Who defines Love? It is Christ who is the Way, the Truth, and the Light of Love, God. The Word Made Flesh defines perfect Love, God. 'Be perfect, as my Father in Heaven is perfect.'- Christ
8 years 11 months ago
May I just correct this article, please. The leaflet referred to is part of a series covering various categories of people who might feel excluded in different ways in the parish community. In fact it was published well over one year ago. The process leading to its publication included input from LGBT Catholics and their parents. It is not a 'teaching document'as such but intended as a pastoral resource. It only appears to have hit the headlines recently because fundamentalist Catholics have only just noticed its existence and have completely misrepresented it on their various blogs and websites. Their economies with the truth are yet more evidence of their seeking to undermine the policies of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England & Wales. The leaflet is entirely consistent with "An Introduction to the Pastoral Care of Homosexual people" authorised by our Bishops in 1979" and the late Cardinal Hume's 1993/1997 "Note on Church teaching ..." These other documents can be downloaded on the everybody's Welcome website. Here in the Archdiocese of Westminster we have a practical example, of the kind of welcoming community envisage in the Masses welcoming LGBT Catholics, parents and families at the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption & St. Gregory, Warwick Street, Soho. Details of these can be found on the Soho Masses website.
8 years 11 months ago
When Jesus said to be perfect, he was not referring to the Decalog or the observance of the law, but to the commandment that we love one another. To tell gay teens that they are intrinically disordered is not love, especially when they are driven to suicide.
8 years 6 months ago
The Church says they are open to gays but yet they say to live like a hermit and never truly love. We deserve the right to be married under the church it is how God wants it can't you see that. The old ways are crumbling we must fight to see it destroyed. The time has come.

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