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James Martin, S.J.February 06, 2010

Francis Cardinal George, archbishop of Chicago and president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, has denounced New Ways Ministry, a national organization based in Mt. Rainier, Maryland, which reaches out to gay and lesbian Catholics, runs conferences on issues concerning gay and lesbian Catholics, and sponsors regular retreats for that same population.  (It also offers a variety of resources on its websites, such as a list of Catholic parishes where gays and lesbians would feel welcome.)  Valued among the gay and lesbian Catholics, the organization and its founders (Sister Jeanine Gramick, SL, and Father Robert Nugent, SDS) have often found themselves at odds with the Catholic hierarchy.  Sister Gramick and Father Nugent have been for some years officially barred "from any pastoral work involving homosexual persons," as the USCCB statement affirms.  New Ways Ministry, which includes on its board and advisory board both priests and religious, said in a statement today that it was not contacted by the USCCB to explain its positions before the bishops' statement was released.  Here is part of Cardinal George's statement, dated yesterday.

New Ways Ministry has recently criticized efforts by the Church to defend the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman and has urged Catholics to support electoral initiatives to establish same-sex "marriage." No one should be misled by the claim that New Ways Ministry provides an authentic interpretation of Catholic teaching and an authentic Catholic pastoral practice. Their claim to be Catholic only confuses the faithful regarding the authentic teaching and ministry of the Church with respect to persons with a homosexual inclination. Accordingly, I wish to make it clear that, like other groups that claim to be Catholic but deny central aspects of Church teaching, New Ways Ministry has no approval or recognition from the Catholic Church and that they cannot speak on behalf of the Catholic faithful in the United States.  The full text of Cardinal George's statement is here.

Today Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways, responded, in part: 

We are astonished that Cardinal George released such a statement, since New Ways Ministry has never been contacted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to discuss the nature of our work. We were not even extended the basic courtesy of being informed of the statement as it was being released to the press. Instead, we learned about it only by reading a press account.

When dealing with such a sensitive topic as homosexuality, it is not surprising that questions will arise from individual Church leaders. Yet, for more than three decades, New Ways Ministry has had its programs reviewed by scores of Catholic bishops, theologians, and pastoral leaders, and we have always been found to be firmly in line with authentic Catholic teaching. If the USSCB had concerns about our ministry, why didn’t they contact us before a judgment was made? Why was New Ways Ministry not given an opportunity to explain our positions?  The full text of their statement is here.

James Martin, SJ



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William Lindsey
13 years 10 months ago
Thanks, Maria, you're right, we have different ecclesiologies.  I have to say that I simply don't recognize the version of church you're defending, in the Catholic tradition: all the unchanging truth locked up inside the church, indeed!  What hubris (and, frankly, ignorance) lies underneath that assertion.
You say, "When the Magsiterium, i.e., the Pope, tells me the practice of Homosexuality is no longer sinful, I am all ears."
Well, good-good that you listen to the pope.  I find so many of those attacking their gay brothers and sisters listening selectively to the church's social teachings, with their obsessive focus on the sole "sin" of homosexuality, when the church's teaching about exploitation of the poor is so explicit and so longstanding.
And so deeply rooted in the gospels, which is, after all, where we all go for ultimate guidance about how to follow Jesus.  We do so because it's Him we'll meet at the end of our lives, not the pope.
And the words by which we'll be judged then won't be from a papal teaching.  They'll be his words from the gospels-words that tell us love is the center of the spiritual life, and words that tell us what we do the least among us, we do to Him.
The way in which many Catholics now attack their brothers and sisters who are gay, in the name of church teaching, is scandalous.  It causes inestimable harm to a minority already subject to violence and discrimination.  And it makes it very difficult for many of us to see the face of Christ in the church you claim as your sanction while you attack.
S Bond
13 years 10 months ago
''Denied in the sense of being unable to find a partner?''
I meant, denied in the sense of being forbidden to marry in the church.  Are they allowed?  Forbidden?  Under what circumstances? An AI person should marry - a male, since she looks female?  A female, since he's genetically male?  If the answer is ''no one'', under what justification?  If we don't have an answer, why not?  Intersex people, as you mentioned, have always been with us.
These folks are very inconvenient!  They really skew our neat little model of gender and sexuality, worse than gay people do.
If we don't have an answer for whether intersex people can marry and whom they can marry, if we don't have an answer for everyone, then we don't have an answer for anyone.
John Raymer
13 years 10 months ago
Cardinal George's statement that sexual orientation is "a central aspect of the Church's teaching" is quite amazing and must be an unfortunate overstatement. I would have said that central aspects of the Church's teaching included the incarnation, suffering, death and resurrection of God in the person of Jesus Christ, or True Presence of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, or even the forgiveness of sins and the comforting of the poor and oppressed.

Exaggerated statements on relatively minor matters do nothing but confuse the world about the Church and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Making such statements intentionally might also be a mortal sin, since the Church is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit ("I believe in the Holy Catholic Church") and using the Church's name in vain is tantamount to taking the name of God in vain.
Jeffrey Miller
13 years 10 months ago
Who cares if they were contacted or not.  They are an openly dissident group that has never believed what the Church believes on same-sex attraction and have damaged countless individuals by encouraging a disorder instead of helping them to live what the Church believes and to live a chaste life.
Organizations like New Ways Ministry cooperate with evil by not teaching that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and thus encourage sin.  It is a spiritual work of mercy to help your brother repent, it is an evil act to tell them they don't need to repent.
Jim McCrea
13 years 10 months ago
Jeffrey:  I hereby encourage you to repent:
“The Pharisees’ sin has come to be called ’scotosis,’ a deliberate and willful darkening of the mind that results from the refusal to acknowledge God’s presence and power at work in human stories. If the neglect of Scripture is a form of sin, John suggests, a blind adherence to Scripture when God is trying to show us the truth in human bodies is also a form of sin, and a far more grievous one. Both our own sense of integrity as Christians, and our hope of entering into positive conversation with those who disagree with us, obligate us to engage Scripture with maximum devotion, love, and intelligence. If it is risky to trust ourselves to the evidence of God at work in transformed lives even when it challenges the clear statements of Scripture, it is a far greater risk to allow the words of Scripture to blind us to the presence and power of the living God.” 
Luke Timothy Johnson, Commonweal, June 15, 2007 http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/article.php3?id_article=1957
And it is even worse to allow the words of a very fallible, defectible and historically indefensible human church to do the same.
S Bond
13 years 10 months ago
PS Maria, thank you for engaging in this part of the thread.   You alone stepped up to the plate.
13 years 10 months ago
The definance of Fr. Nugent and Sr. Gramick has been obdurate and persistent over decades. They show our Holy Mother Church no deference, no courtesy. THE TWO STANDARDS come to mind-from St. Ignatius:

"Listen, in spirit, to Lucifer addressing his ministers, and ordering them to lay snares on all sides for men, in order to their perdition: " Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood, let us hide snares for the innocent without cause. Let us swallow him up alive like hell. We shall find all our precious substances; we shall fill our houses with spoils". (Poverbs 1 11-13). Remark his artifices, and the THREE ORDINARY DEGREES OF TEMPTATION ;-how, first, he catches souls by the love of riches; next, how he throws them into the paths of ambition; the, from ambition to pride-a bottomless abyss, from whence all vices rise rise as from their fountain".

It is about overweening pride.
13 years 10 months ago
“All of you practice humility towards one another, for God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in the time of visitation. Cast all your anxiety upon Him because He cares for you. Be calm, be vigilant, because your enemy, the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same suffering befalls your brethren all over the world.” 1 Peter 5:5-9
13 years 10 months ago
William and Stephanie:

Just to let you all know...

Thomas J. O'Donnell SJ, in a book called Medicine and Christian Morality, "comprehensively treats law and morality, the basic principles of moral decision-making, human life, surgery and suppressive surgery, pregnancy and delivery, marriage, and professionalism in medicine. He dialogues extensively with the writings of Catholic moralists and medical experts and in several appendices gives the texts of five key papal and episcopal documents [THIS IS INTERESTING, HUH?] This edition is probably as scientifically accurate, issue topical, principle precise, and magisterium faithful as any volume its length could be in areas where health care procedures posing crucial ethical questions are increasing exponentially". He specifically addresses “intersex” matters.

You have to love the Catholic Church. Five papal and episcopal documents. Who knew?? So, it would seem that there are answers. I would be interested to know what they are. Stats indicate that 0.1% and 0.2% of live births are ambiguous enough to become the subject of specialist medical attention. Perhaps this explains why answers to your questions are not readily available in the way that clarity is more readily accessible with regard to such issues as abortion or homosexuality. I suppose that this is an example of our differences. I look to the Church for illumination and guidance on such complex matters.

William: You state:” The notion that all truth exists solely in the church and comes to us solely through the magisterium of the church - and the belief that the pope is the magisterium - seems to me fatuous beyond belief. And dangerous". The CCC tells us: "The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him". And, 892 Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles, teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and, in a particular way, to the bishop of Rome, pastor of the whole Church, when, without arriving at an infallible definition and without pronouncing in a "definitive manner," they propose in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium a teaching that leads to better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals. To this ordinary teaching the faithful "are to adhere to it with religious assent"422 which, though distinct from the assent of faith, is nonetheless an extension of it. And, 882 The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter's successor, "is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful."402 "For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered."403 And, 937 The Pope enjoys, by divine institution, "supreme, full, immediate, and universal power in the care of souls" (CD 2).And, 2034 The Roman Pontiff and the bishops are "authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach the faith to the people entrusted to them, the faith to be believed and put into practice."76 The ordinary and universal Magisterium of the Pope and the bishops in communion with him teach the faithful the truth to believe, the charity to practice, the beatitude to hope for.

William: I don't think your remarks were curt. Really, you have been very civil. Stephanie, you have as well. There needs to be a way of dialouge with those with whom we disagree. Charity must prevail. I cite the above statements with reagard to the Supreme Pontiff, in detail, to demonstrate that that we may not, of our own accord, determine what constitutes Truth. Either we believe these things or we do not. I guess I am a simple girl. In the end,as you say, we will be judged on Love, right?
Stephen SCHEWE
13 years 10 months ago
Mr. DeBernardo’s statement that “we have always been found to be firmly in line with authentic Catholic teaching” seems disingenuous; I wish he would have acknowledged his organization’s long history of differences with the Catholic hierarchy, including the disciplining of Sr. Gramick and Fr. Nugent.  This is all old news.  So why did Cardinal George let loose with his condemnation this week?  Could it have anything to do with the testimony by U.S. military leaders in the Senate advocating a process to end DADT, and the relatively calm public response to their testimony?  A rising tide of tolerance towards gays and lesbians continues; it will be interesting to see how the attempt to overturn Proposition 8 in California turns out, particularly since one of the lead attorneys for the plaintiff, Ted Olson, is a leading conservative with impeccable credentials.
Cardinal George has often exhibited a strong need for control.  Perhaps his shot at such an easy target is meant to warn the rest of his flock, particularly chaplains in the armed forces.  Anyone who might help craft a post-DADT policy or aid with the transition is on notice that they may be attacked.
Given the growing national acceptance of gays and lesbians in secular society and among people of faith, Cardinal George’s attack brings to mind the late Jaroslav Pelikan’s quip that “heresy may be the result of poor timing.”
Stephen SCHEWE
13 years 10 months ago
Of course, the explanation for Cardinal George's timing might be a lot simpler.  New Ways' web site says their next ministry workshop will be in the Chicago area in March.
S Bond
13 years 10 months ago
William, you're right, I only meant that those who are so certain of the church's current teachings on sexual morality are, except for Maria, unable or unwilling to answer my question about, as you so nicely put it, the ''wild diversity of nature''.
Thank you for your thoughts, you are much better versed in this area than I am.  I only know that the way we treat sexual minorities is unjust, un-Christian - just flat our wrong.  It's so clear to me, and I can't fathom adopting a blind acceptance of a teaching of our church - or any church - that is so counter to God's greatest commandment.  When the church changes its interpretation of its teachings on homosexuality, etc. - and it's only a matter of time - there is going to be a lot of anger among those who have been marginalizing gay and transgender people in Her name.  And rightly so.
Thank you for continuing to visit this blog and speak.  It takes courage.  I hope you meditate or something?  Some of the comments I've read here over the past few months have really spiked my blood pressure a time or two...
S Bond
13 years 10 months ago
Maria - it looks like an interesting medical ethics book.  Not clear that it, or the papal documents cited, address the question at hand - though one chapter looks as though it may.   If I can get my hands on it through the library, I'll find a way in a future thread to let you know.
Eugene Pagano
13 years 10 months ago
Marriage is both a sacrament and a civil contract in this country.  Whatever one thinks of same-gender sexual relationships, how is it contrary to a central aspect of the Church's teachings — in a word, heretical — to favor civil same-gender marriages?  
Robert Mickens
13 years 10 months ago
The timing of the cardinal's letter is curious.  He states that New Ways had ''recently criticized efforts by the Church to defend the traditional definition of marriage'' and had ''urged Catholics to support electoral initiatives to establish same-sex 'marriage'.''
However, the last ''electoral initiative'' took place over three months ago and the last time New Ways put out a press release on the issue (according to its website) was in September 2008.
Is it possible that the cardinal's real objective is to oppose efforts currently underway to repeal the ''Don't Ask, Don't Tell'' policy on gays serving in the US military?  Or is it aimed at influencing the court case currently reviewing the legality of Proposition 8 (which repealed same sex marriage) in California?
Either way, one must question why Cardinal George decided to issue his statement at this time.
By the way, the cardinal's note was published in this Sunday's edition of L'Osservatore Romano under the following headline:  ''The United States bishops and the correct teaching on marriage'' (I vescovi degli Stati Uniti e la giusta dottrina sul matrimonio).
Marie Rehbein
13 years 10 months ago
This comment of Maria's caught my eye: "Hermaphrodite is used in botany to describe a flower that has both staminate (male, pollen-producing) and carpellate (female, ovule-producing) parts. This condition is seen in many common garden plants. So, what goes awry in plants goes awry in humans."
I'd like to contrast that with what I found in a rather scholarly Wikipedia entry regarding plant sexuality.  In this article it says, "Bisexual - or perfect flowers have both male (androecium) and female (gynoecium) reproductive structures, including stamens, carpels, and an ovary. Flowers that contain both androecium and gynoecium are called androgynous or hermaphroditic.  Examples of plants with perfect or bisexual flowers include the lily, rose, and most plants with large showy flowers, though a perfect flower does not have to have petals or sepals. Other terms widely used are hermaphrodite, monoclinous, and synoecious. A complete flower is a perfect flower with petals and sepals."
Clearly, there is nothing going awry in the plant world.  If only we were as non-judgmental about people; then, we might say, examples of perfect people include Lily and Rose.
13 years 10 months ago
Stephanie: I am now intersted in reading it myself. I am also interested in the year it was published. I read, in several places, that it does address inter-sexuality. Who knows? I am not a moral theologian, I just play one on blogs. LOL. If you get to it before I do, please let me know. This has been a fascinating topic for discussion.

Marie: That is intriguing. You know, Fr. Hardon SJ says that everything in nature is a symbol. Everything. Another way of looking at the Lily and the Rose is the power of God to bring Beauty and order out of what might, at first, appear to be their opposites. He brings everyting to Himself, don't you think?
PJ Johnston
13 years 10 months ago
What are the implications of this?  It was my understanding that positions such as Paul Griffiths' in Commonweal (that one may advocate civil as opposed to sacramental same-sex marriage on the basis of a prudential judgment that it is more harmful to constrain non-Christians' consciences with regard to marriage by using state power to limit same-sex marriage than to let non-Christians simply follow their consciences on the matter) were 100% Catholic and orthodox.  But that seems to be the position under attack here?  (I can't entirely tell from the statements what exactly is the nature of the New Ways Ministry position being criticized).  What is the regulative force of George's statement?  Is it a matter of simply declining groups and theologians the right to describe such a position as "Catholic" or is it a condemnation of the position as materially heretical?  And if one dissents from this judgment, is it a legitimate exercise of individual conscience, or does the judgment require obsequium religiosum?
William Lindsey
13 years 10 months ago
Maria, thank you for your reply.
It seems we have very different ecclesiological presuppositions.  Where I hear you speaking of a truth that is already completely established and definitive, I find myself (and the church) on the journey to that same truth-which transcends us and won't be completely fulfilled until the end of history.
I certainly accept and fully believe that Jesus is the Truth of God incarnate.  But in my understanding, his revelation of God sets us on the path of pilgrimage to a truth none of us fully owns-including the church.  And as we journey, it's important to pay attention to truth that comes to us from every source, including science, the culture at large, the arts, and so forth.
God help us if the church has all the truth locked up inside its boundaries.  If so, it's doing a poor job of communicating (and respecting) the fullness of truth these days, in my opinion.
13 years 10 months ago
Stephanie: Thanks for your remarks. Please understand that these are not "my" ideas. The Catholic Church was founded by the Son of God to preserve the Truth, not only in faith, but also in morality. Genetic anomolies have always been with us, as has ammbiguous sexuality. Remember Hermaphroditus? AIS is just a new term for hermaphrodites. Interstingly, Hermaphrodite is used in botany to describe a flower that has both staminate (male, pollen-producing) and carpellate (female, ovule-producing) parts. This condition is seen in many common garden plants. So, what goes awry in plants goes awry in humans. God is the author of life in all of its glorious and inglorious forms. So you are quite right. Creation is much more complex.

You state: "I'd like an actual answer to my question, and I think one should be forthcoming since so many folks here seem so confident in their opinions on sexual morality". The Cross is my answer to your question; however, it is the only answer and an answer no one wants to hear. I am not a medical geneticist, moral theologian, or a pyschiatrist. It might mean that individual is denied marriage and children. For whatever reason, that person was given a heavy Cross to carry, a perhaps nearly unearable suffering. They deserve our love, compassion and acceptance; however, we must never question that in the mystery of God's providence He permits all manner of suffering. God brings good out of all suffering. This we take on Faith.

Bill: I think we do come at this from distincly different "ecclesiological presuppositions", as you say. I do believe that "the church has all the Truth locked up inside its boundaries". The Truth is given us. It does not change. Science? Art? Culture? These things change. Our interpretation is guided by the Light of Faith, reason and the Truth, not the other way around, so says the Church.When the Magsiterium, i.e., the Pope, tells me the practice of Homosexuality is no longer sinful, I am all ears.
Janet Baker
13 years 10 months ago
One commentor wrote, "Cardinal George's statement that sexual orientation is 'a central aspect of the Church's teaching' is quite amazing."
On the contrary. What is astonishing is how simple and consistent the Church's teaching on these issues has been over the two thousand years of its existence. From its beginnings, the clearest contrast between Christians and the pagans they were challenging was in sexual matters. The exercise of sexuality is central to both Church and society because of the magnitude of the effect. The writings of the early Church focus strongly on sexual behaviors and condemned homosexuality as well as promiscuity, infidelity, and infanticide in no uncertain terms, the writings of St. Paul being exemplary.   Life-long, faithful marriage for the purpose not of personal pleasure but for the formation of strong families is not 'natura'l to the human species, but it is beneficial to society, leading to favorable behaviors in economics and ethics. The Church's marriage is a sacrament, meaning that God's grace descends and assists those who contract it. Included in this teaching is the belief that the practice of celibacy is possible and desirable for some, with the help of God, another behavior with favorable effects on society. Faithful marriage for the purpose of family, not sexual gratification, was the constant metaphor for the Church for man's relation with God. It is the visible sign on Earth for God's love for us and it cannot be undone within the Church without destroying the Church. As long as the Church continues, it will call for faithful, fruitful love between man and God, and man and wife, for in all the Church's teachings these are identified.
Beginning with protestantism the Church's conception of marriage and the human possibility of celibacy has been under constant attack, with continual attempts to replace it with what the great Norweigian writer Sigrid Undset called 'slave marriage,' that loose licensing procedure among pagans which bond may be dissolved and re-formed at the whim of mere sexual desire. The call for homosexual "marriage" is the latest  campaign, and there is nothing better the Church has to do than defend the institution.
William Lindsey
13 years 10 months ago
I apologize for posting the following twice.  The first posting showed paragraph formatting when I previewed it.  But since the paragraphs did not come through, I've reformatted and reposted.
When I follow this conversation, I'm struck-as always-by the parallels between this contemporary Christian conversation and the defense of slavery by my own churched ancestors during the 19th century.  Here's what strikes me:
1. The use of lies to defend the indefensible: it was always this way.  The future of civilization and Christianity depend on maintaining this practice.  The bible is unambiguous and has always been clearly understood to support what we're dong. Question the practice of slavery and you're questioning the scripture itself
2. The hypocrisy of the defense of the indefensible: we're doing it for your own good, to bring you to salvation.  If we seem to constrain your body, think of the good we're doing your soul.  God has ordained authority in the world to keep each of us in his/her place, for our salvation.  Rebellion against that authority is rebellion against God.
Christian people were wrong to defend slavery.  They were grievously wrong to do so.The defense of slavery (and ''scripture'' and ''tradition'') was not at all about the defense of longstanding Christian tradition and of the truth of the scriptures.  Nor was it about defending the religious authority that had long read the scriptures to countenance slavery.
It was about the self-interest of those using tradition and scripture to continue holding some human beings in slavery.
History has proven this ''moral'' stance to have been anything but moral.  History has proven the self-interest that makes other lives miserable in order to make mine secure and comfortable to be a violation of the central Christian teaching: God is love.  (And yes, a huge proportion of those opposing full inclusion of LGBT persons in church and society are doing so because rubbing shoulders with the "disordered" challenges their security and comfort levels).
And history will do the same with the claims of those who believe they are defending scripture, tradition, and the church now, as they make the lives of their gay brothers and sisters miserable, while proclaiming that they are engaged in spiritual works of mercy as they do so.
Dennis Malone
13 years 10 months ago
The defense of homosexuality is, in itself, indefensible. Those who defend homosexuality not only ignore the bible but science and natural law as well.

Take a look at Protestantism today. The American Lutheran Church of America and the Anglican faith communities are imploding over the appointment of gay clergy and approval of homosexuality. The bible is clear on this subject but sola scriptura seems to lead these faith communities to different conclusions.

From a scientific and natural law point of view my athiest friends, and others who defend homosexuality, often point to homosexual behavior amoung animals as proof that homosexuality (including human homosexual behavior) is natural. While it is true that animals engage in homosexual behaviors what homosexual proponents always fail to point out is that animials are instinctually drawn to the opposite gender of their species for purposes of procreation and so cannot, in the same sense as man, be homosexual. Since humans are self aware and have free will we are not slaves of instinct as are animals. Therefore when man chooses to totally reject the opposite sex in order to engage in homosexual activity, this choice makes man's homosexual behavior both unique and disordered from scientific, natural law and biblical perspectives.

Mike Malone
William Lindsey
13 years 10 months ago
Mike Malone, you say, "Those who defend homosexuality not only ignore the bible but science and natural law as well."
I'd be very interested in hearing your defense of the way in which a handful of ambiguous (and exegetically problematic) biblical texts have managed to become the center of Christian moral concern for our time.  While the abundant texts that unambiguously condemn things like economic greed, violence, and self-righteous oppression of vulnerable minorities go ignored . . . .
I'd also be very interested in hearing your defense of the claim that science supports the current Christian-right oppression of gay folks.
Re: the claim that the ELCA and the Episcopal church are "imploding," where you see implosion, many others see signs of life-with the growing pains that accompany life.  It also strikes me as strange when so many of my fellow Catholics want to advance the argument that a church's success or failure is to be measured by numbers-when our central story is the story of a savior whose life ended in the failure of the cross.
And if we're going to play that numbers game, shouldn't we be at least fair-minded and wonder why the Catholic church, with its adamant anti-gay posture now, has lost one in three of its adult adherents in the U.S., and why 10% of American adults are now former Catholics?  It seems the adamant anti-gay stance is paying off so well for us, judging by the standards of the numbers game, is it?
S Bond
13 years 10 months ago
Perhaps one of the commenter's here who is so certain that homosexuality is indefensible can answer this for me - Someone with Androgen Insensitivity has male chromosomes but outwardly female anatomy.  Whom should such a person marry?   And by what logic?
13 years 10 months ago
Stephanie: I do not know how to answer this question. The Cross is a mystery. The wound of sin leaves us with illness, deep suffering and questions we cannot answer. What we do know is that He does loves us in our suffering. He comes to us in our suffering:

Our participation in Christ's sacrifice CCC

618 The cross is the unique sacrifice of Christ, the "one mediator between God and men".452 But because in his incarnate divine person he has in some way united himself to every man, "the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery" is offered to all men.453 He calls his disciples to "take up [their] cross and follow [him]",454 for "Christ also suffered for [us], leaving [us] an example so that [we] should follow in his steps."455 In fact Jesus desires to associate with his redeeming sacrifice those who were to be its first beneficiaries.456 This is achieved supremely in the case of his mother, who was associated more intimately than any other person in the mystery of his redemptive suffering.457

Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.458
William Lindsey
13 years 10 months ago
Maria, as I understand the Catholic way of thinking about moral issues, faith and reason go hand in hand.  I hear Stephanie asking a valid and good question about how the findings of science affect our conclusions about sexual morality.
And that was one of the points I was getting at in my response to Mike Malone, who states, ''Those who defend homosexuality not only ignore the bible but science and natural law as well.''
What science has to say about sexual orientation has shifted strongly in recent decades.  The American Psychological Association quite a while ago stopped classifying homosexuality as a psychological disorder-though the language of disorder continues to appear in Catholic ethical discussions of homosexuality, as this thread abundantly illustrates.
The APA declassification of homosexuality as a mental disorder is one among many scientific findings that alter how many people look at sexual orientation today.  And if the Catholic tradition is to be true to its historic roots, it has to take scientific findings into account.
When someone asks a question that is about the relationship of scientific data to a discussion of ethics, and we respond with a theological statement about the Cross (or the devil), it seems we're thwarting rather than promoting helpful discussion of these issues.  I'm certainly not rejecting theological analysis in this and other ethical discussions.  I'm simply noting that it should take sound scientific data into account-and that's the point I believe Stephanie was making. 
13 years 10 months ago
William: Don't you think that science can lead us to many wrong moral conclusions? Don't we look to the Magisterium to guide us in these matters? The Truth is eternal and not subject to change, right?
13 years 10 months ago
William: I have been a psychiatric social worker/psychotherapist for many decades. What many people do not know if that the DSM IV R, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, is often, a tome of absudity. Nomeclature of suffering and its categories is driven more by politics than it is science. Diagnostic categories are for the pupose of providing the means within which to conceptualize illness. Something often not understood by those not "in the business".
William Lindsey
13 years 10 months ago
Maria, I'm responding to both of your comments in response to me.
First, I didn't say that science in and of itself provides all the answers to moral questions.  I said only that our tradition has, at its best, always said we have to take accurate, sound scientific data into account as we engage in moral reasoning.
And I don't think that we're taking accurate, sound scientific data into account as we engage in moral reasoning, when we conclude that the consensus of a scientific discipline, as represented in something like a diagnostic manual, is a "tome of absurdity."
To my way of thinking, that is simply an attempt to impose what we prefer to believe on what science tells us, when we don't like the scientific data we've been presented.  The consensus that sexual orientation is neutral-is innate and not chosen by people, and is not in and of itself immoral or disordered-is not represented today only in the APA's diagnostic manuals.
It's a broad, widely accepted consensus held by a large percentage of those in many fields of science.  The attempt of some religious groups unhappy with that consensus to cling to the language of disorder seems to me to suggest that we in the communities of faith don't have a very sound basis for the condemnations we want to keep heaping on those who are gay and lesbian.
There's a desperation about arguments that try to ignore scientific data in this area, and to substitute for scientific data theological language about the cross and the devil.  The latter language is becoming very popular among some Catholics now in discussions about their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, seemingly in direct proportion to the shift in cultural attitudes (reflecting scientific shifts) re: LGBT persons.
13 years 10 months ago
Sorry for the typos-cleaned up:

William: Diagnostic categories get invented with each new addition of the DSM. When I say that the DSM is a tome of absurdity I whereof I speak. These fluid diagnostic categories are such because they are driven by financial concerns. Insurance companies drive reimbursement or non-payment. The APA is very clever is working around these constraints by developing "new illnesses" and dropping others.

So. Science says In Vitro Fertilization, Embryonic stem cell research, sex re-assignment are valid "procedures". That these things are possible does not make them morally correct. "The consensus that sexual orientation is neutral-is innate and not chosen by people, and is not in and of itself immoral or disordered". Let us assume by some reasoning that this is correct. Homosexuality is still disordered according to teach teaching. No effort of Science can deform Truth. We are given the freedom to disbelieve the teachings of the Church; however, we are to look to Christ, not science, for our Faith. Christ is the "scientific foundation" for our Faith, if you will. Homosexuality is not new. Human nature is immutable. So is the teaching of Jesus Christ.
S Bond
13 years 10 months ago
I'd like an actual answer to my question, and I think one should be forthcoming since so many folks here seem so confident in their opinions on sexual morality.
Say I am a person with Androgen Insensitivity.  I don't know this.  I marry a man.  We adopt two children because, naturally, I can't have any.  Subsequent to this, I learn of my condition.  Do I annul my marriage?  What if, upon learning that I'm a male in terms chrosomes, I find myself attracted to women?  Is it OK for me to marry a woman?  Why or why not? 
It would be so much easier for the anti-gay people if sexuality were as black and white as they propose.  It's not.  God's creation is much more complex and messy than we make it out to be. 
And there are real people living with these issues, and they deserve proper consideration.
S Bond
13 years 10 months ago
Maria, why would the person I described be denied marriage?  Under what teaching of the church? 
13 years 10 months ago
Denied, in the same of being unable not in the sense of forbidden.
13 years 10 months ago
Denied in the sense of being unable to find a partner?
William Lindsey
13 years 10 months ago
Stephanie, I'm happy to try to reply to the questions you raised.  I have not done so thus far because your posting posing those questions said it was addressed to the commentators who are ''so certain that homosexuality is indefensible.'' 
Since I have defended the opposite position in the thread, I assumed you weren't addressing me.  At the same time, I certainly don't want your good comment to fall on deaf ears, and so my own thoughts:
I think you're pointing to one of the central shortcomings of the natural-law tradition, as if is often applied in some sectors of the church today.  Natural law and the ''reason'' it claims to defend work - in the way some of us want to use these concepts nowadays - only if we ignore the wild diversity of nature, as viewed through objective eyes.
We find heterosexuality ''natural'' and ''reasonable,'' for instance, by ignoring the abundance factual evidence that demonstrates that homosexuality is natural and reasonable, as well-if we look at how nature behaves dispassionately and do not impose our intepretive grid on it to predetermine what our reason and analysis of nature will discover there.
You're right to point to the well-documented fact of intersexuality in nature, as something that should make us pause and think about the neat way we wrap everything up with our ''truth'' about sexual morality. 
I would argue that we have an exceptionally strong moral and spiritual obligation to seek the truth wherever it approaches us, because God is Truth, and in rejecting any truth at all - including the truth of the natural world that comes to us from scientific and other disciplines - we are rejecting God.  The notion that all truth exists solely in the church and comes to us solely through the magisterium of the church - and the belief that the pope is the magisterium - seems to me fatuous beyond belief.  And dangerous.
Maria, please forgive me if my last comments to you were curt.  I did not intend them to be.  Like many Catholics, I have a great deal personally invested in these discussions, and the pain of what some of my fellow Catholics (and our pastoral leaders) sometimes do and say may make me touchy.  I find Stephanie's question significant because it points to the pastoral challenges the church faces when it tries to deal with real people living real lives in real places - and does not choose simply to write off those real people.  As it has largely chosen to do, in its institutional sector, with LGBT persons, in my view.
13 years 10 months ago
USCCB President Cardinal George’s statement opposing New Ways Ministry is as disingenuous as NWM’s claim that it supports Catholic sexual morality. As documented in my book, The Rite of Sodomy, New Ways is only incidentally religious, i.e., it uses religion solely for the political ends of the Homosexual Collective within and without the Church. Yet it has never lacked for support from the American hierarchy including Bishops Gumbleton, Sullivan (Walter), Clark, Povish, McRaith, Costello (Thomas), Buswell, Symons, Untener, Weakland, Quinn (Francis), Wuerl, Mattheisen, O’Keefe, Imesch, McNamara, Hughes, Morneau, Lucker, Friend, Cummins, Murphy (Francis), Rodimer and Rosazza. NWM could never have survived without the active support of the Salvatorians, the School Sisters of Notre Dame, and numerous other Catholic religious orders. The NCCB/USCC (USCCB) of “The Many Faces of AIDS” fame, has long been the object of clerical homosexual colonization and has worked closely with NWM in the past. NWM Exec. Director Francis DeBernardo himself was a reporter for The Tablet, the diocesan paper of the Brooklyn Diocese.  Finally, why does Cardinal George claim that the CDF put Sr.Gramick out of commission when she continues her pro-lesbian/homosex propaganda under the auspices of the Sisters of Loretto and their “Gay Ministry Fund?” PS For the record, the USCCB statement is not only misleading, it’s also 32 years too late.  
13 years 10 months ago
I went to your site and am very eager to read The Rite of Sodomy. Thank you for your remarks. Fr. Hardon remarked in a conference somewhere ( can't find citation @ present) that he tried to find 20 Bishops who were faithful to the Magisterium and and its teachings, and couldn't. That there is homosexual activism from within the Church is all but indisputable. Gramick is w/ Sisters of Loretto. George's remarks are indeed far too late as the damage to the Church has been done. Those deemed faithful to the teaching of the Church are "bigots who lack charity". Odd sort of cultural imperialism. God only knows how this the wound will ever heal.
William Lindsey
13 years 10 months ago
Thanks for your reply, Stephanie.  I probably try to meditate more than I actually meditate.  My prayers lately seem to be more crying out to God than finding peace in God's presence . . . .
I have to admit, it's a hard slog sometimes.  Hard just to keep on keeping on in a world (and, sometimes, church - sad to say) where hate seems so prevalent.  I have periodic spells in which hope just seems ungraspable. 
And now is one of those times, with Cardinal George's statements and the vicious (to my way of thinking) attacks on Mr. Carr and the USCCB, which seem orchestrated by well-funded right-wing groups trying to set Catholics against each other to neutralize our witness in the social sphere.  At times like this, I feel like entering a monastery - but none would have my partner and me!
On another topic, I don't know if you've read the book "Middlesex," or not.  If not, it's a spectacular novel that makes readers think about the theme of intersexuality.  It's one of the best novels I have read in a decade or so.
Thanks for your encouragement.

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