USCCB Staffer Who Linked Homosexuality to Satan Resigns

Adviser resigns following column linking same-sex attraction with devil  By Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A policy adviser to the U.S. bishops has resigned following a controversy over an opinion piece he wrote suggesting that same-sex attraction could be the work of the devil.

Daniel Avila, policy adviser for marriage and family to the U.S. bishops' Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage since June 20, offered his resignation Nov. 4 and it was accepted, effective immediately. Avila's opinion piece was published in the Oct. 28 edition of The Pilot, Boston's archdiocesan newspaper. It also was posted online before being removed Nov. 2 and replaced with an apology by Avila who previously worked as associate director for policy and research at the Massachusetts Catholic Conference in Boston.

Terrence Donilon, spokesman for the Boston Archdiocese, told Catholic News Service the column was pulled because Avila "retracted it and apologized and because it simply should not have been printed/published in The Pilot."

"It is not the position of the archdiocese or the church and is simply wrong," he said in a Nov. 3 email.

Avila has written several columns for The Pilot during the past year and has been a contributor to the newspaper for at least seven years, according to Donilon. The most recent column, which generated reaction in the blogosphere was titled: "Some fundamental questions on same-sex attraction." In the column, Avila attempted to answer the question about what causes same-sex attraction. He pointed to possible explanations such as "random imbalances in maternal hormone levels" which he said could have "disruptive prenatal effects on fetal development."

But he said Catholics need to look for spiritual answers to this question. And as he sees it, "the ultimate responsibility, on a theological level, is and should be imputed to the evil one, not God," he said. "Applying this aspect of Catholic belief to interpret the scientific data makes more sense because it does not place God in the awkward position of blessing two mutually incompatible realities -- sexual difference and same-sex attraction."

In Avila's retraction and apology statement he said his column did not represent the position of the USCCB and was not authorized for publication. "The teaching of sacred Scripture and of the Catechism of the Catholic Church make it clear that all persons are created in the image and likeness of God and have inviolable dignity. Likewise, the church proclaims the sanctity of marriage as the permanent, faithful, fruitful union of one man and one woman." He continued: "The church opposes, as I do too, all unjust discrimination and the violence against persons that unjust discrimination inspires. I deeply apologize for the hurt and confusion that this column has caused."

The Pilot also issued an apology on its website for "for having failed to recognize the theological error in the column before publication." Mercy Sister Mary Ann Walsh, director of media relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a statement: "While the general population has debated whether it's nurture or nature that leads to a homosexual inclination, the church has not posed any theory in that regard."  --CNS


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david power
7 years 2 months ago
St Ignatius would have diagnosed this in pretty much the same way.Davila is maybe a victim of the fact that he comes from a latin background and runs into problems when faced with the more sophisticated and far from God Anglo-saxon mentality. 
The Church does not have the courage of it's convictions.
On the one hand they demonize homosexuals knowing full well that most of them are of that persuasion but are embarrased to give a spiritual account of the same.
Davila did exactly what Ignatius did in the 16th century when everybody was falling in love with explanations that excluded the divine.
Blessed Pope John Paul called it an "ideology of evil".Evil!!!!
The US bishops need a little cathechism.   
Jim McCrea
7 years 2 months ago
Sic transit gloria fatuitas.
7 years 2 months ago
Mr. Power's coments are way to broad, fatuous  and lacking in both knowledge and charity.( and the man's name is Avila.)
Alessandro Bresba
7 years 2 months ago
It's interresting that Daniel Avila tried to find a scientific basis for homosexuality, and from this science, derive the existence of Satan. (The evil one).

He writes that ''random imbalances in maternal hormone levels'' could have ''disruptive prenatal effects on fetal development,'' and from this concludes that, as God could not possibly have ordained such an ''imbalance'', it must come from Satan. 

But for the random maternal hormone levels to be considered an ''imbalance'' rather than a mere variation of a woman's possible hormonal balance, wouldn't the resulting effects of the hormone levels have to have some scientifically diagnosable disorder?  Chronic illness perhaps, or some congenital disease?  But there is nothing particularly unhealthy about same-sex attraction in and of itself, just as there is nothing particularly unhealthy about opposite-sex attraction.  Would the presence of EYCL1 on chromosome 19 be considered a genetic ''imbalance'' by scientists because it causes blue eyes?  Or would one merely say that it is a genetic variation, a rare one, perhaps, but nothing more than that.

Avila clearly presumes the presence of evil in homosexuality, and from this idea derives the conclusion that the random maternal hormone levels must be ''imbalanced''.  Does he feel that the science gives his theological position some credibility?

It's good to know that the USCCB accepted his resignation.  It's hard enough trying to be a faithful Catholic without having to have the additional worry that we are proof to the world of the existence of the devil.

As an aside, Father, Eugene Pagane referenced an old entry of yours entitled ''What Should a Gay Catholic Do?'' in a related post. You asked what sort of Catholic life can a gay or lesbian live if they are proscribed romantic love, marriage, adoption, the priesthood and work within the church.  It was a very thoughtful article and it meant much to me.  I wonder if all the negative things that are said about gays and lesbians by the church (we do violence to a child if we adopt them!) is because we are abstracted.  And this tendency happens not only with church authorities, but we the lay as well.  I have read many shocking things in the comments section over time in this very blog, including the most recent posts defending Avila despite the fact that even the highest authorities of the Catholic Church in America have denounced his ideas.  How can one possibly say that millions of random people across the world of all ages and cultures are proof of the ''evil one'' unless one has refused to engage with them, converse with them, enter into a relationship with them that acknowledge that they are our neighbour by virtue of the fact that they are equally children of God.   What brings Evil into the world is not the scary otherness of the homosexual, or a woman's hormones during pregnancy, but rather humanity's willingness to let the I/Thou relationship Martin Buber spoke of breakdown and be replaced with an I/It relationship.  Once someone is no longer a person but an idea they can suddenly and effortlessly be dismissed.  Ecclesial voices such as yours that acknowledge the humanity of the ''Other'' are so important and so needed and so appreciated.  You are a good pastor to many.

So thanks.
Robert Killoren
7 years 2 months ago
Pope John Paul II did not say that homosexuality was part of an ideology of evil, but the politicking surrounding it. It was said in relation to political actions of the European Parliament attempting to leagalize gay marriages and adoption by gay couples.  

Ratzinger's 1986 letter on homsexuality has been commonly referred to as the Halloween Letter.

I continue to find it incredible how unreliable Bishops can be. One minute they can be so wise when it comes to things I agree with and the next they become such fools when they disagree with me.

Robert Killoren
7 years 2 months ago
Please delete the post above. It was posted on the article that appeared in the Pilot by the USCCB employee.
david power
7 years 2 months ago

Coments is spelled comments.
I was wrong in tying the statement "ideology of evil" to homosexuals in general.The party line was and is "intrinsically disordered".Art is right in saying it was about the politicking.
Lacking charity?Not really.Not at least on this occasion.I was trying to point out that there is an incredible amount of confusion around the entire business.Nothing against homosexuals .
St Ignatius would have grappled with it in a spiritual manner I am sure and then shown a lot of discretion.Avila does the same but without any discretion.
Many catholics of a self-consciously orthodox nature tend to start spouting the doctrine of the Church in a fatuous way without seeming to be aware that they are speaking of human beings and not simply the raw material for a dogmatic statement.


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