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Michael J. O’LoughlinOctober 25, 2010

The Public Religion Research Institute released a poll that shows four in 10 Americans say that their churches present a negative view of homosexuality, and finds that, "Catholics were the most critical of their own churches' messages on  homosexuality." Further, "Only five out of 100 people gave churches generally an A for their  handling of 'the issue of homosexuality' in the Public Religion Research Institute survey, while 28 percent said their own church handled it well."

It is interesting to note that Catholics are the most critical of how our church deals with this sensitive issue, as church leaders often try to walk prudently in the middle, affirming the dignity of all individuals while admonishing gays and lesbians for their actions. The "love the sinner but hate the sin" approach does not seem to be effectively winning over the faithful. On issues of marriage, employment rights, and nondiscrimination laws, Catholic laity, both white and Latino cohorts (which tend to be polled separately) are more accepting than church leaders would like them to be (see the recent New Yorker column). But what does this poll tell us? It asks participants what messages the church sends about gay and lesbian people (see my post about messages). Catholics hear the second part of the church's formula-hate the sin-loudly and clearly it seems,  but what about the first directive, love the sinner? Is that getting lost in the heated rhetoric? Might we strive as Catholics to remind people more often that we are called to love all, that we all are worthy of respect? Even if the hate-the-sin remains teaching, we can choose to focus more intentionally, if not exclusively, on the former.

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13 years 9 months ago
Is there nothing whatsoever of interest to the staff at America Magazine apart from homosexuality?
William Lindsey
13 years 8 months ago
Maria, when I was in first grade, one of my classmates reported to the teacher that another girl had her eyes opened when we said our morning prayers.  And the one reporting was astonished when the teacher punished her instead of the miscreant with her eyes open.

Because she had given no thought to the point the teacher immediately made when she tattled on her classmate: "And how did you know her eyes were open if yours were shut?"

Robert Burns puts the same point in his poem about the louse on bonnet iof the lady in church: "O wad some Power the giftie gie us/To see oursels as ithers see us!"
Stanley Kopacz
13 years 8 months ago
I don't care about the media.  I don't know if gays are cool, but they are human beings.  I try to empathize with human beings that are unlike myself, otherwise, I can end up killing them.

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