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Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, is pictured at the Vatican in this Oct. 9, 2012, file photo. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Cardinal Robert Sarah, a frequent defender of Catholicism’s teaching on human sexuality, rejected arguments presented in a book by a popular Jesuit writer that the church must be more respectful toward gay and lesbian Catholics. Instead, he said, Catholics have a duty to remind gays and lesbians that homosexual acts are sinful.

The cardinal, who serves as the Vatican’s chief liturgist, wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that L.G.B.T. people “are always good because they are children of God.” But, he continues, homosexuality is “at odds with human nature” and sexual relations between two people of the same gender are “gravely sinful and harmful to the well-being of those who partake in them.”

The essay directly addresses a new book by America editor-at-large James Martin, S.J., called Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter Into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity.

The essay directly addresses a new book by America editor-at-large James Martin, S.J., called Building a Bridge.

In his book, which was approved by Jesuit authorities prior to publication and which received an endorsement from Cardinal Kevin Farrell, the head of the Vatican’s office on the family, Father Martin argues that church leaders and the L.G.B.T. community are often at odds because of a failure to respect one another. He does not challenge church teaching on homosexuality, but instead he calls for dialogue between the two sides.

In comments to America, Father Martin called Cardinal Sarah’s column “a step forward,” noting that the cardinal used the term “‘L.G.B.T.,’ which a few traditionalist Catholics reject.” (Part of Father Martin’s book urges church leaders to use the more colloquial phrase “gay and lesbian” rather than antiquated phrases preferred by some Catholics, such as “persons with same-sex attraction.”)

But, Father Martin said, the essay “misses a few important points,” including a failure to acknowledge “the immense suffering that L.G.B.T. Catholics have felt at the hands of their church.”

Father Martin called Cardinal Sarah’s column “a step forward.”

He also urged the cardinal to consider why the church’s teaching on homosexuality has been widely rejected by L.G.B.T. Catholics and their families.

“The only way that the church will be able to answer that question is by listening to them, which is part of the bridge building I am calling for in my book,” Father Martin said.

The cardinal describes Father Martin, who was appointed by Pope Francis to a Vatican communications commission earlier this year, as “one of the most outspoken critics of the church’s message with regards to sexuality,” a designation the Jesuit rejects.

“Cardinal Sarah’s op-ed inaccurately states that my book is critical of church teaching, which it is not. Nor am I,” Father Martin said. “Building a Bridge is not a book of moral theology nor a book on the sexual morality of L.G.B.T. people. It is an invitation to dialogue and to prayer, and I’m sure that Cardinal Sarah would agree on the importance of both.”

Father Martin: “Cardinal Sarah’s op-ed inaccurately states that my book is critical of church teaching, which it is not. Nor am I.”

Cardinal Sarah emerged from a contentious 2015 Vatican summit about family life as a defender of traditional Catholic morality, during which he lumped together homosexuality and Islamist terrorism as major threats to humanity.

He said that “gender ideology,” in which he includes homosexuality and radical Islam, were “two major threats to the family,” calling them “demonic” and saying they are both “destroyers of family.”

“What Nazi-Fascism and Communism were in the 20th century,” he continued, “Western homosexual and abortion ideologies and Islamic Fanaticism are today.”

In his essay, the cardinal said that Father Martin “is correct to argue that there should not be any double standard with regard to the virtue of chastity, which, challenging as it may be, is part of the good news of Jesus Christ for all Christians.”

“For the unmarried—no matter their attractions—faithful chastity requires abstention from sex,” he continued.

But he said the church must not soften its preaching when it comes to homosexuality.

“People who identify as members of the LGBT community are owed this truth in charity, especially from clergy who speak on behalf of the church about this complex and difficult topic,” he wrote. “To love someone as Christ loves us means to love that person in truth.”

Pope Francis has made several overtures to gay and lesbian Catholics, including perhaps his most famous utterance as pope—“Who am I to judge?”—when asked about gay priests in 2013. During his 2015 visit to the United States, he met with a former student and his partner during a private audience, and in 2016 he said he has provided pastoral care to gay people, even as pope.

For his part, Cardinal Sarah argues in his op-ed that the church should hold up the stories of Catholics with “same-sex inclinations” who refrain from sexual relations in order to live in accordance with church teaching.

“Their example deserves respect and attention, because they have much to teach all of us about how to better welcome and accompany our brothers and sisters in authentic pastoral charity,” he wrote.

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Michael Barberi
6 years 9 months ago

Fortunately, many people who have studied the issue of homosexuality and the Church's teaching disagree with Cardinal Sarah. He is like many other traditionalist Cardinals who also have campaigned against Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried under certain conditions per Amoris Laetitia. While there is room for such disagreements in the Catholic Church, it is the treatment of gays and lesbians by the Church who have made them feel unwelcome and disenfranchised. Denying them marriage while also requiring them to live a lifetime of sexual abstinence puts them in almost impossible circumstances when you consider that they were born that way. Even priests who have taken a vow before God can get a dispensation and get married. Yet, there is no dispensation for a gay or lesbian Catholic. The requirement of celibacy is an imposed requirement for their salvation, not a voluntary choice they have because they have no choice such as marriage or lifetime sexual abstinence. The Church considers homosexuality an innate distorted condition that leads such persons into sin. I hope the Church can find some answers to our brothers and sisters who did not choose to be homosexual. The sexual inclination of homosexuals is natural to them as the sexual inclination of heterosexuals.

Andrew Eppink
6 years 9 months ago

Cardinal Sarah is an exemplary bishop, thus reflexively disliked by 'Pope' Francis and his ilk. No surprise there.
Re - sexuality
Reality rears its ugly head. It's a very strong drive, analogous to a boiler drum full of hot, pressurized steam. Capable of great good if properly harnessed, hugely destructive if not. I know from my own faults.
'Gay' men are some of the most distressed individuals I know of. It's a difficult burden. I was watching tv with another guy in the lounge aboard ship a few years ago (retired marine engineer). We were talking, not really watching the tv when the other man spontaneously gave me a big hug. I pushed him away firmly, telling him I was happy to be his acquaintance, maybe even his friend as time progressed. It obviously hurt him but that's life. It can be difficult. He, me, you, you do what you can. Pray, try, persevere. Life's usually not all that difficult, sometimes it is.

The men I have no understanding of are those who freely choose the 'gay' lifestyle, largely because of our current social permissiveness, (the nearly exclusive majority, the remaining fraction vanishingly small). As Jesus said (with so very many others), men should (obviously) love each other. Obviously. But equally obviously, not sexually. In an obvious masculine way. It's only very recently anyone has had any difficulty whatever with that simple observation. That's how far and fast we've devolved.

Td Segall
6 years 9 months ago

One does not "choose" a sexual orientation. One is probably born with it.

Steve Thompson
6 years 9 months ago

We are all "born with it" under the title of original sin. Thus, we are all disordered. For anyone, most especially a priest or bishop, to affirm or even downplay the fact that we must overcome the effects of original sin by grace through struggling and suffering is a most hateful and cruel act and attitude.

And, while we may not "choose" to be conceived and born in sin, it most certainly is always a choice to commit a sin, no matter how strongly we are attracted to it.

Robert Lewis
6 years 9 months ago

The real problem with your comments, Cardinal Sarah's and those of other so-called "religious conservatives" commenting here is that you do not--possibly cannot--understand that the issue for most "same-sex-attracted" persons who are disputing the Church's ban on "gay marriage" is not deprivation of genital sexual contact with the bodies of those whom they physically desire (if I may be allowed to be blunt and graphic); it is, instead, the implicit condemnation to a life of loneliness. This life of loneliness was once exacerbated by the Church's unwillingness to acknowledge that the world is actually full of homosexual people--that they are our brothers and sisters, cousins, fathers and nephews--and that they need affectionate relations with others, but particularly with those, like you, who may not be attracted to them. For centuries, the Church condemned them to a life of solitary existence, in a sort of "closet." The "marriage" that the Protestants and the secularists indulge themselves in here in modern America is not a "sacramental marriage," to which it has no theological similarity. It is, instead, nothing more than an eminently dissoluble "civil marriage," and, as such, the "gay" minority are as entitled to it as any other citizen is. Under American law these people need not go to their graves unaccompanied by partners, or, as they used to be, even unaccompanied by their own families, as was often the case, It is up to the Catholic Church now to decide whether or not they must be unaccompanied to the grave by their parishes and fellow Catholics. In any case, the Catholic Church has, for all practical purposes, lost the argument against this in most Western societies, as it deserved to lose it, because of its past cruel shunning of gay folks and its designation of their God-given and quite natural peculiarity as an "intrinsic disorder."

Lisa Weber
6 years 9 months ago

The ship of Christianity is what Jesus taught. Much of church doctrine is barnacles attached to the ship. If you look at what Jesus did in response to issues related to sexuality, he indicated that sexuality is private. Adultery is not an issue for the community to judge and which to kill women over. Jesus ended ritual impurity for menstruation and after childbirth. This made it possible for women to take part in public life at all times. It also made the beginning of pregnancy private. Jesus said nothing about homosexuality. The Catholic Church would do well to follow what Jesus taught and treat sexuality as a private matter. What a relief it would be to have these futile and endless discussions of sexual matters go away!

bob mc
6 years 9 months ago

I really want to say, "You must be joking", but sadly it appears you're not. "Much of church doctrine is barnacles"? That is absolutely false! Absolutely false. Church doctrine is what has been revealed to us by the Holy Spirit, and that includes the Church's teaching on sexuality. Comparing the timeless moral law regarding fornication to ceremonial laws such as ritual impurity for menstruation which no longer applies to us living under the New Covenant shows a lack of understanding of what Christ's coming into the world meant. For He said, "Do not think that I have come to do away with the prophets and the law." You also fail to understand what Christ promised the Church, His Bride. Christ is one with the Church, the Head, so anything the Church teaches as doctrine comes from Christ HIMSELF. If you deny that, how can you call yourself a follower of Christ and His Church.

So what did He promise? That he would send a Counselor: W]hen the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; ...I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. (Jn. 15:26, 16:12-13)"

Sorry Lisa, but that includes teachings on sexuality. It is not as private as a matter as you think. When we open the Bible and read we see how true this reality is. Was St. Paul lying when he said, "But God has so adjusted the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior part, 25 that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. (1 Cor. 12:24-26)"? Was St. Paul mistaken? We all suffer with the breakdown of the family brought on by free sexual license following the Sexual revolution. Just ask all the fatherless children out there and all those that suffer from STDs. The entire Body of Christ suffers when one sins, even what you call "the beginning of pregnancy", i.e., sex.

So you really think Jesus taught sexuality as a private matter? Yea, to an extent. Don't be looking over your friend's shoulder as they engage in the sexual act with their spouse. But have you forgotten what the spiritual works of mercy are? We need to help our brothers and sisters in life on the path to holiness. Sexual activity outside of marriage does not lead one on to the path of holiness, that narrow gate our Lord talks about.

So what if Jesus said nothing about homosexuality? Is that your argument for finding nothing wrong with same-sex sexual acts? Because that's a really weak argument, and is a logical fallacy, the argument from silence.

Jesus also said nothing about polygamy. Jesus also said nothing about incest. Jesus also said nothing about rape. By your logic, since Jesus remained silent on these matters, it means he also saw nothing wrong with a man raping a woman. thus, the section in the Catechism that calls rape an "intrinisic evil" is just a barnacle that has attached itself to the "Ship", right?

This is what happens when we follow your wrongheaded claims to their logical conclusions.

We as catholics would all do well to listen to what Christ has taught us through His Church, and stop acting like active dissenters, and put our trust in Him and pray that we may more deeply understand His teachings.

Lisa Weber
6 years 9 months ago

Church doctrine is not nearly as important as what Jesus taught. Church doctrine is often heavily biased toward a masculine point of view without even a thought for how it looks from a feminine viewpoint. Women are not allowed to speak in this church. The Church needs to speak the truth about sexuality and that includes what women think and how women evaluate sexuality from their own experiences. The one-sided, masculine-only perspective tends to be more barnacle than ship because it is not entirely true. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. If something is not true, it is not from God.

I did not say that Jesus meant that everything he did not talk about was okay - that is your conclusion. He did indicate that sexuality is private. When we deal with issues related to sexuality, privacy is a concern in all of them - even the issues that are crimes. Obviously, there is such a thing as sexual crime - molestation of minors and rape are two of the most prominent types. Any decent society has a responsibility to address sexual crimes. Consensual sexual activity between adults? Perhaps privacy is the greater concern there. Another consideration is that it is impossible to legislate morality. It might make busybodies happy to think morality can be legislated, but it cannot.

Stuart Meisenzahl
6 years 9 months ago

Please provide some guidance on your statement that Christ " indicated sexuality is private"......and just what does that mean, justify or imply respecting the topic of Father Martin's essay.

Lisa Weber
6 years 9 months ago

I mentioned the things that Jesus did to indicate that sexuality is private in my first comment. With regard to Father Martin's essay, and Cardinal Sarah's critique of it, both would be quite different if they approached the subject with the idea that sexuality is private. The Catholic Church would be quite different if it approached its teaching with the idea that sexuality is private with the exception of the times that a crime is involved.

Jesus is very logical and it makes sense that he would teach that sexuality is private. These endless discussions of abortion, contraception and gay marriage tear the Catholic Church apart - for what good?

Stuart Meisenzahl
6 years 9 months ago

Really...that's it ??.....you mention the stories of Old Testament ritual purification and the woman caught in adulty and from those two you divine the conclusion that Christ taught "sexuality is private"?
The mere existence of both public and religious laws,proscriptions and admonitions over recorded history would seem to indicate the fallacy of your position. For the last 2000 years the Church and public institutions have been well aware of both of the Gospel events you mention with no evidence that during that period that anyone thought those stories meant "sexuality was a matter private enough" to prohibit such comment, laws and regulation.
I readily grant that science, psychiatry, and shared experiences etc have led to an appropriate sea swell change in public attitude. But I suggest to you that the acceptance of these scientific findings is far more attributable to the sexual revolution of the late 1960s/1970s than any sudden recognition that Christ taught "sexuality is private".
What science is suggesting is that Natural Law on which the Church and public institutions have relied Is rife with physical and genetic exceptions to the perceived norms; That the collective experience of the 99% may no longer be sufficient to dictate what is natural for the entire 100%.
As for your observation that "the Church tearing itself apart" over these issues I can only observe that progress is generally made by tearing down and reconstructing.
You state that.... "[both ]Cardinal Sarah's and Father Martin's essays would be quite different".. if they simply viewed the matter as "private". I think it is fair to say that you simply posit that since these issues are "private" they shouldn't have even written those essays. That is just wishing away an actual problem with the "magic word 'Private'"

Lisa Weber
6 years 9 months ago

You are making assumptions, attributing them to me, and then arguing that they are wrong - that is why I seldom reply to what you say. I think it is easy to see that, when matters related to sexuality were brought forth, Jesus took actions that made those matters private. This move toward making sexuality private has many ramifications - one of which is that women in Christian societies are able to take part in public life because they are not under threat of being stoned for accusations of adultery. Perhaps the freedom to take part in public life because of Jesus' action is apparent to women more than to men because it is women who die over accusations of adultery in many societies. The ramifications of the other stories are similar - women can see the ramifications because they directly affect the lives of women now.

If the Church has been blind to how the teachings of Jesus affect women's lives, the likely cause is that women have not been allowed to speak in this church for centuries. Women see things differently than men. Women experience reality differently than men. The Church is and has been blind in one eye for a long time because it refuses to carry on any dialogue between the church hierarchy and women. We lose 70% of the young people who are raised Catholic. I would argue that a big part of the problem is that the Church is unable to speak a compelling truth because it cannot speak the whole truth. The feminine aspect of the truth is missing.

If the Church wants to have a worthwhile discussion of anything, particularly of sexuality, a new look at the teachings of Jesus would be helpful. If the Church approached the discussion of sexuality with the idea that sexuality is essentially private, it might be able to have a fruitful discussion. Jesus is never wrong. It would be nice if the Church started trying to discern what Jesus taught instead of trying to correct it to suit the human desire for power.

Stuart Meisenzahl
6 years 9 months ago

I made no assumptions concerning your comments.
It is clear to me that you believe that there is an ingrained anti feminine sexist bias in the Church which is responsible for all you perceive as wrong headed in its positions. Worse yet you indicate women have been silenced and are being stiffed by not beinginvited to the dialogue . Yet, ..... here you are dialoguing!
Christ's actions in the case of the woman about to be stoned for adultry is not just about adultry ...it's about the perceived mote in your neighbors eye being the beam in your own. Christ didn't let the woman off the hook....He didn't condemn her BUT he still admonished her ...."to go and sin no more". It certainly was not about changing the status of women in Jewish society.
How can you possibly contort this event into your claim that it creates a door "to allow women to participate in public life? That is a total non sequitur, divorced from any known interpretation.
Your statement that sexuality is "private" is simply an argument that the Church has no business being involved in any way. ......in short that the Church should be silent.
You are entitled to take that position but you are not entitled to state that is Christ's stated position.

Lisa Weber
6 years 9 months ago

Please note that I am dialoguing in an unofficial way. Women are not allowed to speak from the pulpit.

I think you do not understand the consequences of Jesus defending the woman caught in adultery from being stoned to death. Being stoned to death is far different than being told to go and sin no more.

That the interpretation that this allowed women to take part in public life may be new, but it is not wrong because it is new. Men often do not see the consequences of actions and policies as they fall on women. If Jesus did not defend the woman caught in adultery, Christians would probably be stoning women for adultery in much the same way that happens in some Islamic countries. To be under threat of a death penalty for being accused of adultery would tend to keep most people at home. To say that defending the woman caught in adultery is a non sequitur is just your view. It would be more accurate to say that you do not see the connection.

Jesus did not say that sexuality is private in so many words. His actions indicate that sexuality is private. Everything he did with regard to sexuality was to make it more private.

I think men want to claim that sexuality is a public matter for the Church because they want to control reproduction. Men do not have much control over reproduction. Wanting the Church to rule on sexuality and reproduction is mostly a bid for power.

Stuart Meisenzahl
6 years 9 months ago

Your non sequitor is leaping from "an admonition to sin no more and a reprove of the Scribes for hypocrisy " to the conclusion that Christ meant "sexuality is private".
Christ did not outlaw stoning, nor any punishment for adultery.....he retaught his lesson against hypocrisy to the Scribes and Pharisees who sought to confound him into contradicting Mosaic Law. Turning the tables on them he answered their question with a question and by some unknown comment he wrote in the sand.
If as you say ......"everything He did with regard to sexuality was to make it more private", then you need to explain how that fits with His pointed public exposure of the Samaritan woman at the well for not being married to her current live in companion.
Your controlling philosophy appears to be an unalterable view men have acted and are acting through the Church to control women as a power play. That really doesn't credit the Holy Spirit with any overall guidance of the Church.


Brian Sellers
6 years 9 months ago

Lisa Jesus founded His Church which came before the New Testament. In fact, it is the Church, through the power of the Holy Spirit, that collected, preserved and defended Sacred Scripture.
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the Church; and if they refuse to listen even to the Church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector."
This is another passage indicating that Jesus expected His Church to be visible, active and obeyed. Jesus told His apostles that those who reject them, reject Him and the One who sent Him. The bishops are the successors of the apostles. If you believe Jesus is the Son of God and that He established His Church and that Church is the Holy Roman Catholic Church then as a matter of faith you must obey the teachings that the Church has declared to be infallibly revealed by the Holy Spirit. The infallibility of the Church is the belief that the Holy Spirit, not man, preserves the Church from errors that would corrupt its doctrines. If you do not understand a particular Church doctrine then you need to study and pray about it, but ultimately you do not get to pick and choose what you will accept or reject and remain in the Body of Christ, at least not according to Jesus. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. " The cross is doing the will of God, just as Jesus did, and not our own will. We all have a cross to bear, none of us were born perfect. Our contemporary culture seeks, even demands an easy life without suffering, without sacrifice, without renunciation, without judgement or consequences. That is not "The Way." Christ established His Church and sent the Paraclete to guide and protect His Church. I was once where you are now, but once you truly accept that Jesus is the only Son of God, and this is His Church, God will provide the graces necessary to carry any cross.
God bless you +++.

Andrew Eppink
6 years 9 months ago

"...happy to think morality can be legislated, but it cannot."

News to me. All societies attempt to do precisely that (with varying degrees of success) in various legal proscriptions, e.g. against murder (except abortion here in the US), rape, robbery etc., all proceeding ultimately from God's Natural Law.

bob mc
6 years 9 months ago

"Church doctrine is not nearly as important as what Jesus taught. "

Right from the outset, it's clear that your understanding on Jesus Christ's relationship to the Church is flawed. This isn't about "the patriarchy" being against women. This is about what is right and what is wrong. Brian Sellers had a fine post above. Your view on Church doctrine makes it seem as if you are not in union with the Catholic Church, that you have set yourself apart from the Barque of Peter just as Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, and the others did 500 years before. Instead of Lutheranism, we now have "Lisa-ism". If you do profess to be Christian then, are you aware of the relationship Christ has with His Church. The Church is His Bride; that means they are ONE. Jesus and the Church are the same thing, and they cannot be separated. The reality you must face is that the "Church doctrine" you reject is synonymous with what Jesus taught. Both are important, because they both come from the same divine source. To reject Church doctrine is to reject our Lord Jesus. To believe that a bunch of men in the Church make up stuff so that they can be "busybodies" trying to "legislate morality" is to call Jesus Christ a "busybody"; that our Lord dare have the audacity to tell us how we should live our lives (even in private!) so that we may be in union with Him in Paradise one day!

I hope that you open up your Catechism to learn more about this intimate relationship Jesus has with the Church, so that you may see that there is NO SEPARATION between the two. In particular, read CCC 795-796. It sums everything up beautifully.

"Christ and his Church thus together make up the "whole Christ" (Christus totus). The Church is one with Christ. The saints are acutely aware of this unity:

"[from St. Augustine:] Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God's grace toward us? Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ. For if he is the head, we are the members; he and we together are the whole man. . . . The fullness of Christ then is the head and the members. But what does "head and members" mean? Christ and the Church.

"[Pope St. Gregory the Great] Our redeemer has shown himself to be one person with the holy Church whom he has taken to himself.

"[St. Joan of Arc] About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they're just one thing, and we shouldn't complicate the matter.

"The unity of Christ and the Church, head and members of one Body, also implies the distinction of the two within a personal relationship. This aspect is often expressed by the image of bridegroom and bride. The theme of Christ as Bridegroom of the Church was prepared for by the prophets and announced by John the Baptist..."

Again, St. Augustine sums things up perfectly, in direct contradiction of your erroneous view of what the Church's doctrine is: "This is the whole Christ, head and body, one formed from many . . . WHETHER THE HEAD OR MEMBERS SPEAK, IT IS CHRIST WHO SPEAKS.

"He speaks in his role as the head (ex persona capitis) and in his role as body (ex persona corporis). What does this mean? 'The two will become one flesh. This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the Church.' (Eph. 5:31-32) And the Lord himself says in the Gospel: 'So they are no longer two, but one flesh." (Matt. 19:6) They are, in fact, two different persons, yet they are one in the conjugal union,…as head, he calls himself the bridegroom, as body, he calls himself 'bride.'"

To have faith in Jesus is to have faith in His Church.

Lisa Weber
6 years 9 months ago

Sometimes the Church gets it wrong because it refuses to follow everything Jesus taught - including that women are allowed to speak. The Church ignores whole swaths of what Jesus taught. The Church ignores the parts of Jesus' teaching that give women a leadership role in the church community.

Unquestioning obedience is for automatons and docility is for milk cows. People are allowed to think and to question and to make up their own minds - and they do, regardless of whether they have asked for permission. It is part of being an adult. And Jesus call us to adulthood.

Arnoldo Miranda
6 years 9 months ago

Lisa, you make absolutely no sense and make claims without demonstrating how you arrived at these positions. How you claim these positions to be valid is beyond the pale. If you want to convince someone of something, please offer a thoughtful and logical response that helps the person come to the conclusion you're advocating. So far I've seen nothing in what you've written.

Lisa Weber
6 years 9 months ago

I do not reply to much of what is written in response to my comments because it fails to interest me. Musty old arguments about how the Church is always right and should never be questioned do not allow room for progress. We need some progress in this church.

Arnoldo Miranda
6 years 9 months ago

Well, then it's difficult to understand what you're writing. You're making claims I'd like to follow through some sort of thought process in order to see your point.

Lisa Weber
6 years 9 months ago

You may have to wait for the book. All of this writing takes time, and time is limited. I appreciate your response, though.

Michael Barberi
6 years 9 months ago

Just to be clear theologically, a voluntary human action that is natural and in accordance with their human nature does not mean that such actions are automatically licit and moral. However, in a civil, Christian (non-Catholic) or Jewish marriage where both spouses of the same gender come before God or civil authorities in a permanent, faithful and loving marriage also does not mean that the expression of sexual acts are automatically sinful and immoral. In ancient times all people were assumed to be born heterosexual and homosexual acts were assumed to be a form of idolatry and against Divine and Natural Law. I agree that for heterosexual, homosexual acts are an abomination.

While this is a complex issue, to impose on gay and lesbian individuals a lifetime of sexual abstinence without the choice of marriage assumes that God's grace is sufficient for them to voluntarily choose and stay faithful to lifetime sexual abstinence. This is an unreasonable burden. It is also significantly different from the requirement of lifetime sexual abstinence for those that are not married and single because every single person has a choice of marriage even though for some finding the right partner is difficult. I wish I have the answer but until we can find a solution to this question, the Church must adequately address this issue instead of doing nothing but repeating its teaching. To that end, Fr. Martin's call for effective and on-going dialogue and compassion is most appropriate.

bob mc
6 years 9 months ago

I'm not sure if you are a Catholic Christian, Michael, but for the purposes of this reply I'll assume that you are. If you are Catholic, you have completely misunderstood what conversion to Christ entails, as well as what it means to take up and bear one's own cross.

"in a civil, Christian (non-Catholic) or Jewish marriage where both spouses [are] of the same gender... [this] does not mean that the expression of sexual acts are automatically sinful and immoral."

Where is your proof for this assertion? The Church, instituted by Christ, teaches otherwise. Homosexual acts are sinful whether or not someone identifies as heterosexual. The Church absolutely must repeat her teaching, because that is exactly what she is entrusted to do. Dialogue and teaching (the very duty of the Magisterium of the Church) are not mutually exclusive. If we are to be a light of the world by transmitting the Gospel message, we can't leave some of it out because it's inconvenient; we have to present the whole truth, as Cardinal Sarah mentions. You have to prove that fornication and/or adultery is not sinful. Cardinal Sarah was right on; any sexual activity outside of marriage is simple. Scripture makes that clear, not to mention Sacred Tradition. But let's see what exactly St. Paul has to say:

" But fornication and impurity of any kind, or greed, must not even be mentioned among you, as is proper among saints. Entirely out of place is obscene, silly, and vulgar talk; but instead, let there be thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure person, or one who is greedy (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient. (Eph. 5:3-6)

As two persons of the same-sex can not contract a marriage, sexual activity between persons of the same sex cannot be anything else but fornication. In order to convince me that your statement above is true, you have to tell me why your words are not empty, and why anyone should dismiss the constant teaching of the Church through Sacred Scripture or Sacred Tradition.

"While this is a complex issue, to impose on gay and lesbian individuals a lifetime of sexual abstinence without the choice of marriage assumes that God's grace is sufficient for them to voluntarily choose and stay faithful to lifetime sexual abstinence. This is an unreasonable burden."

It is a complex issue. But nothing is being imposed on such individuals. If Christ calls us to conversion, sometimes that conversion may be more difficult than our neighbors due to our circumstances. Did Jesus ever say conversion of the heart would be easy? No. But it is not impossible. To say that a person must refrain from sexual activity outside of marriage is not an unreasonable burden. It's not any more unreasonable than asking an alcoholic to stop drinking. It's not any different from asking a sex addict to stop cheating on his wife. These are difficult things because we were born into the flesh. But if we have experienced that new birth, in baptism, then we have so many graces available to us, that we can rightly say with Jesus that His "yoke is easy, and [His] burden is light.” (Matt. 11:30)

So YES, we as faithful Catholic Christians DO assume that God's grace is sufficient to help us stay faithful to sexual abstinence, even if it is lifetime because the male who is attracted to males does not wish to take a woman as his wife. This is the teaching of the Church, and I'm happy to proclaim it, because it proves that nothing, absolutely NOTHING is impossible with God:

"No one, how ever much justified, ought to think himself exempt from the observance of the commandments; no one ought to make use of that rash saying, one prohibited by the Fathers- that the observance of the commandments of God is impossible for one that is justified. For God commands not impossibilities, but, by commanding, both admonishes you to do what you are able, and to pray for what you are not able (to do), and aids you that you may be able; whose commandments are not heavy; whose yoke is sweet and whose burden light. For, those who are the sons of God, love Christ; but they who love him, keep his commandments, as himself testifies; which, assuredly, with the divine help, they can do.

"If any one says, that the commandments of God are, even for one that is justified and constituted in grace, impossible to keep; let him be anathema. (Council of Trent, Session 6, Chapter 11; Canon 18)"

If we truly are Christians, we can never lose faith in the grace of God. His grace is sufficient in all things. Our Lord does not, and will never, give us unreasonable burdens.

Michael Barberi
6 years 9 months ago

I have studied moral theology for 7 years now and I am a published author. There is much theological debate in the Catholic Church about etiology of homosexuality and moral acts following from a permanent, faithful and loving marriage between two gay or lesbian couples. I completely understand the Church's teaching here. I simply believe that the Church teaching about homosexuals and their acts in a marriage (e.g., non-Catholic) should be the subject of a re-thinking. The Church may not ever change its position on what a marriage is and is not, but there is room for other changes in its teachings on this subject.

If you want more details, I suggest the book "Sexual Ethics" by Todd Salzman and Michael Lawler. These two prominent moral theologians have done great scholarly work on this subject. If you read the chapters on homosexuality et al, it will provide a solid basis for my position.

While the truth never changes, our understanding of truth does change. As you probably know, many teachings were taught as truth for centuries but were eventually reformed. Even in the New Testament there are exceptions in Paul and Matthew to what Christ said. Let's pray that God will grant all of us the courage and enlightenment to understand the truth and His Will.

bob mc
6 years 9 months ago

Thank you for the reading suggestion, Michael. While I am not familiar with this particular work by Salzman and Lawler, I am familiar with them both and their positions. If their position on this topic mirrors your own, then unfortunately, despite your study in the area, my original assessment at the beginning of my first post still stands. If by "great work" you mean that these two theologians have led many people astray in their pursuit of understanding the truth and our Lord's Will, then sure, I guess I agree.

If Sexual Ethics is in the same line as "The Sexual Person" (and from an Amazon search, it would appear so), then we find ourselves expressly going against what God has revealed to us in terms of orthodox sexual ethics. You failed to mention that both Salzman and Lawler incurred a censure by Archbishop Elden Curtiss about 10 years ago for their "serious error ... [that] cannot be considered authentic Catholic teaching." These are really the people that should be held up as a paragon of Catholic Christian orthodoxy? No thank you. I will defer to the authentic Magisterium of the Church instead of these men. That doesn't mean I won't try to read what you suggested me, though.

But for the benefit of others that may be reading this, I encourage all to stay far away from Salzman's and Lawler's work, unless you are looking to refute their dissident and heterodox positions. They are "prominent moral theologians" only in the sense that they (at best) hold the timeless teaching of the Church on sexual morality to be highly suspect and that they believe there is "a disconnect between many of the Church's absolute sexual norms and other theological and intellectual developments..." That is, "developments" that are, as Archbishop Curtiss put it, in "serious error.

About 3 years after their censure, Salzman and Lawler were admonished by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Doctrine in a 24 page report which in part read:

"[By] applying a deficient theological methodology to additional matters, the authors reach erroneous conclusions on a whole range of issues, including the morality of pre-marital sex, contraception, and artificial insemination.

"...the authors insist that the moral theology of the Catholic tradition dealing with sexual matters is now as a whole obsolete and inadequate and that it must be re-founded on a different basis. Consequently, they argue that the teaching of the Magisterium is based on this flawed 'traditional theology' and must likewise be substantially changed. The fact that the alternative moral theology of 'The Sexual Person' leads to many positions in clear conflict with authoritative Church teaching is itself considerable evidence that the basic methodology of this moral theology is unsound and incompatible with the Catholic tradition.

"[T]he proposal contained in 'The Sexual Person' is seriously flawed and falls short of the goal of theological investigation, fides quaerens intellectum."

The entire report by the bishops is a fascinating read, and I highly recommend reading it. Truth never changes, and perhaps an understanding of truth can occur, but only if it's a legitimate development of doctrine. Try to name one teaching of the Catholic Church that was infallibly taught by the Ordinary Magisterium that has changed. You won't be able to. Disciplines have changed, but doctrine and dogma has not. Development can occur, but not change, i.e., that a gay or lesbian couple could ever, in any scenario, become married. In another comment, usury was mentioned. There was no change in doctrine here. There was no back-tracking. But there was a development in doctrine, so to speak. What changed in history was the nature of financial transactions, not the teaching of the Church. Simply search for and read David J. Palm's essay on "The Red Herring of Usury":

"Due to advances in transportation, communications and generally expanding economies, the nature of money itself has changed in the course of time. A loan that was usurious at one point in history, due to the unfruitfulness of money, is not usurious later, when the development of competitive markets has changed the nature of money itself. But this is not a change of the Church's teaching on usury. Today nearly all commercial transactions, including monetary loans at interest, do not qualify as usury. This constitutes a change only in the nature of the financial transaction itself, not in the teaching of the Church on usury. "

Again, the teachings of the Church in this area of sexual morality can't change. As faithful Catholics, we are obliged to believe these revealed truths with "divine and catholic faith". Indeed, let us all pray for enlightenment to understand our Lord's Will, and that we may put our trust in Him, and our trust in His Bride, the Church.

Justin Ramza
6 years 9 months ago

"Today nearly all commercial transactions, including monetary loans at interest, do not qualify as usury. This constitutes a change only in the nature of the financial transaction itself, not in the teaching of the Church on usury. "

Sorry, Bob, any good theologian can use word salads to twist and turn concepts to make a point. But it looks and quacks like a duck. The church was against usery, and defined it quite simply as lending with interest. I've heard many arguments to work an "out" for preserving the face of the magisterium; good for them. I guess it really does depend on what the word "is" means ;-)

Arnoldo Miranda
6 years 9 months ago

Bob, thank you for pointing out these facts which were clearly omitted by Michael. As you've noted, there are a slew of assumed presumptions in Salzman's and Lawler's "Sexual Ethics," where they twist the very words of His Holiness Benedict XVI to state:

"It is always possible, however, for the judgment of conscience to be in error, but even if it is in error, the Catholic tradition universally teaches, it is to be followed, and to act against it is immoral. It (i.e., the book) is precisely to help Catholics marshal all the evidence about human sexuality and make honest, faithful, and true judgments of conscience about moral sexual behavior that the analyses in this book are offered" (page 22, prologue of "Sexual Ethics").

No where in the Tradition of the Church does it state that it is good to follow an erroneous conscience, as if to justify oneself. On the contrary, although the compulsion to follow one's conscience is imperative, unless by some "invincible ignorance" that cannot be overcome, one will be held accountable for one's actions. Aquinas would agree with this.

Furthermore, as indicated by their quote above, their claim within the book of trying to marshal all the evidence is false since science to this very date does not support any of what they contend about the sexual ethics they're espousing, especially considering the negative physical consequences of the reality they easily dismiss. The affected population is three percent or less than the total human population, which clearly shows that we are not talking about a portion of the population that is vital to the survival of the human species. This alone should make any scientific approach to examining this issue a bit suspicious when they try to justify behavior that nature clearly doesn't consider vital to the species survival. Nevertheless, bringing these ideas to the mainstream to suggest some normative reality is disingenuous at best.

Lastly, the book on conscience that people should read that details the painstaking task of how to form it appropriately and within a spirit that attempts to help the person to seriously consider the Church's teachings and traditions is:


Within this book, Pope Benedict XVI clearly espouses the challenges involved in rightly forming a good conscience. He clearly states what St. Paul understood and what the Church's teaching and tradition has always understood:

"We find something similar in St. Paul, who tells us that the pagans, even without the law, knew quite well what God expected of them (Romans 2:1-16). The whole theory of salvation through ignorance breaks apart with this verse: There is present in man the truth, which is not to be repulsed—that one truth of the Creator, which in the revelation of salvation history has also been put in writing. Man can see the truth of God from the fact of his creature hood. Not to see it is guilt. It is not seen because man does not want to see it. The “no” of the will that hinders recognition is guilt. The fact that the signal lamp does not shine is the consequence of a deliberate looking away from that which we do not wish to see" (page 20, Benedict's "On Conscience").

Clearly, after reading and understanding the Church's teaching and tradition, you cannot embrace what Salzman and Lawler are advocating because they've written a work that dismisses completely what Pope Benedict XVI wrote above.

Michael Barberi
6 years 9 months ago

We are on different sides on this issue and this does not mean I am leading many people astray from the truth. That is an absurd and irresponsible accusation. It reflects your lack of understanding about respectful theological debate. Kindly note that it was significant disagreement within the Catholic Church on the issues of slavery, usury and freedom of religion that helped the Church reform such teachings that were taught as "truth" for centuries. Even the ends of marriage significantly changed from Augustine to JP II.

Many faithful theologians, bishops and priests disagree with many moral teachings of the Church including contraception, in vitro fertilization and to terminate a pregnancy that threatens the life of the mother when all means to save two lives fail but saving one life is possible. There is also a significant disagreement among the bishops of the Catholic Church on Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried per Amoris Laetitia (AL). Are those bishops who support this interpretation of AL leading Catholics away from the 'truth'? For centuries Holy Communion for divorced and remarried was considered by the Catholic Church anathema and under no circumstances, save for an annulment, was this possible. Now, we see that under certain conditions Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried is being implemented in many dioceses and countries throughout the world. More importantly, what we are witnessing is not a change in doctrine but a change in the pastoraL application of doctrine (emphasis added). Pope Francis per AL has ushered into the Church a long traditional teaching of the informed conscience, discernment and virtue that changed the pastoral application of the doctrine on marriage and Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried under certain conditions without an annulment.

So there is hope that a change in a teaching or the pastoraL application of a teaching is possible, such as how the Church is dealing with homosexual persons and same-sex marriage in particular in a civil union, a civil marriage or a Christian or Jewish marriage.

As to your claim that usury changed because financial markets changed does not square with Scripture or how popes and councils have considered it as going against Divine and Natural Law. I don't want to get into a protracted argument over usury, slavery or freedom of religion because it seems that that is precisely where such a debate with you will likely lead.

Another point: As faithful Catholics we are obliged to follow the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Articles of Faith, not every "moral teaching" of the magisterium when people have studied this issue thoroughly and have legitimate and reasoned arguments for a disagreement. Most importantly Catholics are taught never to go against their informed consciences. However, when I do disagree with certain moral teachings my mind remains open to further scholarship, daily prayer, and the frequent counsel of my parish priest and moral theological mentors. That is what a faithful Catholic should do. Thus, my disagreements with certain moral teachings of the Church are temporary, even though they may last a long time or a lifetime.

No responsible priest, bishop or pope would every accuse me of leading others astray from the truth based on my informed conscience decisions. You can remain a faithful Catholic and disagree with certain moral teachings for good reasons.

As to Salzman and Lawler and the USCCB censorship of one of their many books, you should know that Todd Salzman had several meetings with his bishop over this issue and he continues to remain in good standing with him and the Catholic Church. If read Salzman and Lawler's books carefully you will see that they are carrying out their role as moral theologians and scholars while remaining faithful to Christ and His Church. They are offering scholarship for reflection. If every theologian, priest and bishop would have all sung from the same song sheet and never tried another song, slavery, usury, and the lack of freedom of religion would be with us today. Since 'Sexual Ethics' and 'the Sexual Person', Salzman and Lawler have written quite of number of excellent books and articles. One of their most recent articles was on Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried per Amoris Laetitia and was published in 'Theological Studies', one of the most prominent of Journals of Catholic Theology in the world. Keep in mind that only about 5% of manuscripts submitted by those with Ph.Ds in theology get their essays published in prestigious Catholic Journals of Theology today. Since you think Salzman and Lawler are sowing false teachings, I am sure you feel the same was about Charles Curran and others.

You have a right to your opinion but not to the absolute truth which continues to unfold as we grow wiser and we better understand Scripture, Humanity, Science, History and the World we live in.

Lastly, there were only two teachings of Popes that were taught as ex-cathedra infallible: the Immaculate Conception and Assumption. You should read up on this subject before asking me questions. There is much disagreement about the articles of infallibility within our Church and what moral teachings are infallible or not based on the secondary articles of infallibility. We could spend much time on this but it would only distract from this article.

Arnoldo Miranda
6 years 9 months ago

Michael, your reading of Bob's comments are specious and tendentious. Bob is appealing to a deeper reading in conformance with the Tradition of Church which Salzman and Lawler do NOT do, hence the challenges they have faced. Conscience compels but does not justify is one simple nuanced reading you are not considering. The Church has a definitive position you are glossing over when justifying these two.

Michael Barberi
6 years 9 months ago


Comment postings are never a good communications channel compared to face-to-face debate. I know full well what Bob was saying but did not agree with his choice of words or argument.

To proclaim that Salzman and Lawler do not adequately consider the 'Tradition of the Church' in their two books on sexual ethics is an irresponsible assertion without substantiation. If you read their books you would not make such a remark.

If you want to convince anyone of your claims, kindly provide specifics. In this way we can deal effectively with the facts instead of vague assertions.

Just to be clear: I never said that conscience "justifies", so please don't make claims that I am not considering this fact. Aquinas said that no one should go against their informed conscience (emphasis added) even if you make a mistake. There is no moral culpability for an erroneous conscience provided that one reasonably does all they can to inform their conscience. That is why Pope Francis called for discernment and accompaniment for the divorced and remarried in the internal forum regarding the issue of Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried. It is through such a discernment process that an informed conscience can be properly formed. In the same manner, I believe that Fr. Martin is calling for more effective and honest dialogue between priests and bishops and the gay and lesbian community. It is through this dialogue that a path can be created that will lead to a better understanding and ministry to the LGBT community.

As to your claim that the Church has a definitive position that I am glossing over, is ridiculous. I have studied both sides of this subject and have properly formed my own mind on the matter, albeit a temporary decision. As mentioned, I continue to be open to new scholarship from both traditionalists and revisionists theologians and bishops, including the magisterium, while I continue to pray for enlightenment and seek proper theological and priestly counsel.

I don't believe the Church's current position is the last and only word on homosexuality. Nor do I believe that the Church's interpretation of Scripture in its argument about homosexuality and homosexual acts are the final word either as Salzman and Lawler have provided other possible interpretations for reflection. We have much more to learn from the Holy Spirit as many teachings that were taught as truth for centuries by popes and councils were eventually reformed.

I don't believe that the Church will reform its teaching on homosexuality but it is my hope and prayer that it will change its pastoral application of this teaching. I respect your opinion but don't agree with your comments.

Arnoldo Miranda
6 years 9 months ago

Michael, as I stated, you are tendentious, and you read things according to what you're trying to demonstrate. Hence you don't listen to what they're saying. You should read objectively.

"Comment postings are never a good communications channel compared to face-to-face debate. I know full well what Bob was saying but did not agree with his choice of words or argument."

I agree comment postings are severely lacking and don't provide an ideal communications channel.

"To proclaim that Salzman and Lawler do not adequately consider the 'Tradition of the Church' in their two books on sexual ethics is an irresponsible assertion without substantiation. If you read their books you would not make such a remark."

Firstly, this is not what he stated. If you want to disagree with Bob's words, you should use them. Don't use your interpretative lens to say what he's stating.

Bob said:

"But for the benefit of others that may be reading this, I encourage all to stay far away from Salzman's and Lawler's work, unless you are looking to refute their dissident and heterodox positions. They are "prominent moral theologians" only in the sense that they (at best) hold the timeless teaching of the Church on sexual morality to be highly suspect and that they believe there is "a disconnect between many of the Church's absolute sexual norms and other theological and intellectual developments..."

He made no mention of what you said but stated that according to the positions these two take, they are dissident and heterodox positions. He even provided proof of this by showing the censures they received. He also stated their prominence exists because of the suspicion by which they hold the Church's teaching on sexual morality. This is a fact. He even quoted the book's jacket description when he stated the words, "a disconnect between many of the Church's absolute sexual norms and other theological and intellectual developments..." The writing within the actual book states the following:

"The conversion that we explore in this book is primarily intellectual conversion that stimulates and leads to moral and religious conversion. In examining the tradition of Catholic sexual teaching, we note a conversion in that tradition that is reflected in a disconnect. The disconnect is between many of the Magisterium’s absolute proscriptive sexual norms and the methodological and anthropological developments explicitly recognized and endorsed in Catholic tradition, especially since the Second Vatican Council. The conversion is marked by these methodological and anthropological developments, which invite a reconsideration of norms and their justification."

And this is precisely the objective of the book which I don't find convincing. By the way, I have the book and have read it several times over. I think they've made an attempt at justification that is problematic but then this is way more than what I wanted to state.

Nevertheless, how you conclude what you said about Bob's comment is not sincere on your part and demonstrates your bias. You're assuming what you want people to believe and yet not explaining why they should consider this position. The science you claim that exists to back up your post does not exist.

Sam Sawyer, S.J.
6 years 9 months ago

This discussion has ventured far afield from the article to which these comments are attached, and future comments in this thread run the risk of being moderated and removed as off-topic. 

Also: calling someone else tendentious and accusing them of not reading objectively because they have a different interpretation than someone else who asserts that they have given the one objective interpretation does not make for helpful discussion.

Arnoldo Miranda
6 years 9 months ago

Fr Sawyer,

He's making a claim and then not substantiating it. It's fine if it's his opinion, which there are many everywhere. He clearly challenges Bob on what he has stated but Bob hasn't stated what's he's claiming. Read the thread objectively and you'll see where he states:

"To proclaim that Salzman and Lawler do not adequately consider the 'Tradition of the Church' in their two books on sexual ethics is an irresponsible assertion without substantiation. If you read their books you would not make such a remark."

Something Bob never claimed since he didn't use these words. Bob clearly ascertained that there were differences in these positions with regards to the traditional teaching of the Church and hence why a person should be careful in reading Salzman and Lawler since their exposition doesn't line up with this traditional thinking. Who's being tendentious then if he interpreting Bob's statement to mean this? Bob just disputes their position as not in line with what the Church teaches. If you're assuming what someone is not saying, this is being tendentious. I'll listen to arguments clearly made but I won't put words in people's mouths. You shouldn't be afraid of honest challenges when they're trying to get to the issue at hand which is what the original article is about, to have a discussion that clearly delineates the positions that are, as you are seeing, in conflict with each other because of the presumptions people have about current modern developments that affect people's understanding of the anthropology of human sexuality.

Stuart Meisenzahl
6 years 9 months ago

Father Sawyer
The Editors and correspondent Mr. O'loughlin run an article quoting in part a Cardinal of the Church that "homosexuality.....is demonic".....and ..." [comparable] to Islamic Facism as a threat to humanity".
I think it is fair to say that your correspondent selected "the most inflammatory phrases of Cardinal Sarah's statement to compare to Father Martin's book and thereby allow Father Martin his responsive "cop out" deflection that he is only "calling for dialogue" .
In short the The Editors in choosing the O'Loughlin article set forth an issue as wide as the Church's definition of Family and as deep as its determination of what constitutes" mortal sin". It is now disingenuous for the Editors to express a "tut tut concern" that "the subsequent comments of the readers" are now themselves wide and deep, and (horror of horror) use words/phrases such as "tendentious " or "nonobjective". Father Martin has thrown a well placed brick at a known "hornets nest" and you, The Editors, are now surprised that the disturbed bees have come pouring out?

bob mc
6 years 9 months ago

Thank you, Arnoldo, for your comments; you're correct in your assessment. And thanks for suggesting the book on conscience by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. It's definitely something on my "wish list" to read. I will attempt to be as succinct as possible here as there are many different tangents one can go on here.

Michael, I am not attempting to be belligerent or irresponsible in my words. I respect you and am simply pointing out the inconsistencies of your position (and Salzman's and co.) in regards to established and infallible Church teaching, i.e., fornication (including sexual acts between the same-sex) are gravely sinful, and that it is not impossible to keep the commandments of God, no matter how difficult, since we are provided with God's grace, granted that we cooperate with that grace He gives us. You are my brother in Christ, Michael, and I think it is great and laudable that you "continue to pray for enlightenment and seek proper theological and priestly counsel." I do the same as well and pray that the enlightenment that was granted to me in baptism will continue to flower as I progress through my adult life, and that like the psalmist, I may delight in and love the Lord's commands.

But I believe that in your attempt to rationalize a "hope that a change in a [Church] teaching... is possible..., dealing with homosexual persons and same-sex marriage", you have made some unfounded assumptions. Now, I don't want to get into a "protracted" discussion on ursury here either, (but would love to in another venue, no matter how long it takes), but here's the thing regarding this doctrine. The immorality of usury has been solemnly defined. If the Church has actually changed its teaching on this matter, as has been claimed, then the Catholic Church is not the Church founded by Christ, and the promise given by Christ that "the gates of hell will not prevail against it" has been found to be a lie. We should stay far away from the Catholic Church if that is the case. Fortunately, this is not the case. The Church hasn't changed or backtracked the teaching regarding the sinfulness of usury. The only way your assumption works (that a change in teaching is possible regarding homosexual sex acts) is if the Church has been wrong before on matters of faith and morals. That is the only way one can justify that the Church will change its teaching on everything from contraception to women's ordination. Once it is discovered that no such change in 2,000 years has ever occurred regarding doctrine, no justification remains for changing Church teaching. Doctrine develops, as Bl. John Newman points out, but the Church has never contradicted itself on matters of faith and morals. And if we're ONLY talking about a change in pastoral practice, and not both pastoral practice AND Church teaching as was noted before, what do those changes EXACTLY entail? The changes that groups like "Out at St. Paul" or "New Ways Ministry" advocate for? The work that apostolates like "Courage" make happen? Something entirely different?

"Many faithful theologians, bishops and priests disagree with many moral teachings of the Church including contraception, in vitro fertilization..."

How can one be faithful to Christ's Church if they actively tell people "In-vitro fertilization is not sinful" or "you and your spouse can use artificial contraception in this circumstance, as it is not "intrinsically evil", contrary to the CCC"? If people are not in agreement with the teachings of the Church, but still submit to Her, then yes, they are faithful. But when one acts to change that teaching, and questions it publicly by disseminating theories that approve of sinful behavior, how can one be called "faithful" to the Gospel message?

We also have to determine if such people who dissent have properly "informed consciences", and if their dissent from moral teaching is actually "good". The reasons for disagreement could be, well, "bad", and I think (along with many of our bishops, including the ones on the USCCB Committee on Doctrine) that Salzman and Lawler's reasons for disagreement are particularly bad. And yes, my criticism extends to Fr. Curran as well. There's a reason why he is still banned from teaching Catholic theology at Catholic universities; because his views on many things are heterodox. I'm sorry, but I can't give high praise to a man, especially a pastor of souls, who accepted a "leadership award" from Call to Action; the same group that calls for women's ordination and other "changes". His arguments, like Salzman and Lawler's, are unconvincing and yes, they are leading Catholic Christians astray. Why else would Cardinal Wuerl and the other bishops write this in their repudiation of "The Sexual Person":

"The authors approve homosexual behavior, premarital sex, contraception, and artificial insemination. The Church's Magisterium has taught clearly and consistently that these are morally wrong... they have had to depart substantially from Catholic moral theology, leaving only vague prescriptions that do not come into conflict with contemporary culture."

"Lastly, there were only two teachings of Popes that were taught as ex-cathedra infallible..."

I've done plenty of reading, as I'm sure you have as well. There is a difference between the extraordinary Magisterium you cited above, and the ordinary Magisterium. It doesn't matter if some disagree on what is infallible and what's not; teachings on the natural law (which encompasses sexual morality) are infallible, taught through the ordinary Magisterium. Servant of God John A. Hardon, S.J., in one of his catechisms, in which he quotes the CDF's 1986 Letter on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, writes "Is there a general statement of the Catholic Church on the morality of homosexuality? Yes, according to the Church’s infallible teaching 'a person engaging in homosexual behavior acts immorally” (HP7). The universal ordinary magisterium of the Church teaches infallibly when the bishops throughout the world, together with the Pope, teach in matters of faith and morals that are to be definitely held (CIC 749 §2). John F. Kippley, M.Th., in "Sex and the Marriage Covenant", sums it up nicely, and is especially pertinent to our conversation:

"The teaching of the universal ordinary magisterium on morality is generally less solemn because for the most part there have been no really serious challenges. For example, up until recently no one who called himself a Catholic theologian who have dared to say that Catholic teaching against sex outside of marriage was erroneous. Such teaching is so clear in Scripture and the interpretation has been so universal throughout the centuries that it is very unlikely that Fr. Charles Curran will gain more than a handful of allegedly Catholic theologians to declare with him that ‘biblical teaching that sex outside of marriage is sinful must be seen as out of date- Evidence of a less sophisticated age.’ Rather, such teaching of Fr. Curran will be seen increasingly as the fruit of what appears to be an intellectual pride of the same sort that prompted him in 1968 to declare the formal teaching of Human Vitae erroneous and to lead the dissent against it.”

Lastly, I'd like to respond to this: "I don't believe the Church's current position is the last and only word on homosexuality. Nor do I believe that the Church's interpretation of Scripture in its argument about homosexuality and homosexual acts are the final word either as Salzman and Lawler have provided other possible interpretations for reflection. "

The Church's "current position" on homosexuality is the same received from Christ and the Apostles nearly 2,000 years ago. It's the only "word" that matters, not that of other contrary interpretations. I affirm that one may not be fully morally culpable for an erroneous conscience, but if one neglects their formation, they are held culpable. Not all ignorance is "invincible". As St. Thomas Aquinas points out:

"[Some] ignorance is voluntary, either directly, as when a man wishes of to be purposely ignorant of certain things that he may sin the more freely; or indirectly, as when a man, through stress of work or other occupations, neglects to acquire the knowledge which would restrain him from sin. Such negligence renders the ignorance itself voluntary and sinful, provided it be about matters one is bound and able to know. (STh I-II, Q. 76 A.3 co.)"

Pope St. John Paul II reminds us in Christifideles Laici that the conscience's "Formation is not the privilege of a few, but a right and duty of all." We need to step back and examine if the materials we are reading are really in accord with what Christ has set before us. Are we correctly forming our conscience? Are we doing so if we're putting certain theologians' interpretations on par with that of the Church's teaching? Regarding the second question, St. John Paul doesn't think so. He made these very wise, good and orthodox statements in a 1988 address to participants in a congress on moral theology (https://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/es/speeches/1988/november/documents/hf_jp-ii_spe_19881112_teologia-morale.html):

"Since the Magisterium of the Church was created by Christ the Lord to enlighten conscience, then to appeal to that conscience precisely to contest the truth of what is taught by the Magisterium implies rejection of the Catholic concept both of the Magisterium and moral conscience. To speak about the inviolable dignity of conscience without further specification, runs the risk of errors...

"The Church’s Magisterium is among the means which Christ’s redeeming love has provided to avoid this danger of error. In his name it has a real teaching authority. Therefore, it cannot be said that the faithful have embarked on a diligent search for truth if they do not take into account what the Magisterium teaches, or if, by putting it on the same level as any other source of knowledge, one makes oneself judge, or if in doubt, one follows one’s own opinion or that of theologians, preferring it to the sure teaching of the Magisterium."

Do we prefer the opinion of theologians like Salzman and Fr. Curran, or do we prefer "the SURE teaching of the Magisterium"? Do we put that "sure teaching" of the Church's Magisterium on sex acts outside of marriage on the same level as these theologians' interpretations? Because if we have, then we have not "embarked on a diligent search for truth", as St. John Paul explicitly said. May we all pray for God to enlighten our hearts and minds. Please pray for me to our Lord, and I will do the same for all here.

Michael Barberi
6 years 9 months ago


I do appreciate your comments but disagree with many of them. I think our exchanges are not going to change your mind or mine. However, I would suggest that you adequately educate yourself on the issue of 'infallibility'. There has only been two teachings of the Church that have been proclaimed ex-Cathedra infallible, the Immaculate Conception and Assumption. There is a highly contentious debate about infallible and non-infallible teachings, in particular concerning the second articles of infallibility. In other words, in short paraphrase, when the bishops collectively come together or all agree with the pope about a specific teachings. However, this never happened with respect to Humanae Vitae which largely formed the basis for condemning artificial birth control regardless of the reasons and in vitro in fertilization for couples who cannot have children because of infertility issues but can have a child by in vitro.

You make many absolute assertions in your long comment here. However, not every teaching of the Magisterium on moral issues are the absolute moral truth or 'the sure teaching' as you claim. This does not mean you should not follow every moral teaching of the Magisterium. That decision is yours to make. However, my informed conscience based on a long and adequate education of certain moral issues judge that some teachings should be changed for good reasons and I follow my informed conscience even though it is a temporary decision (e.g., I remain open to further education, prayer and priestly and moral guidance). With respect to your comments about Salzman and Lawler, they do respect the teachings of the Magisterium but argue for a rethinking of certain moral teachings including 'moral method'. The issues Salzman and Lawler propose is for reflection. They do not declare that their scholarly theological argument is the absolute moral truth even though what they propose is in tension with some moral teachings of the Magisterium. In other words, as moral theologians they are doing their job. All moral theologians are not obligated to agree blindly with every moral teaching of the Magisterium. If that be the case, we would never have changed many teachings. As to your comment about slavery, you need to educate yourself on this issue as well as the teachings on usury and freedom of religion that have been taught as truth for centuries but were eventually changed and reformed.

This is my last comment to you.

God Bless.

bob mc
6 years 9 months ago

It's too bad we cannot continue this conversation. I would like to hear your answers to my questions. This will be my last comment to you as well. It's not about changing minds, it's about dialogue. It's also a teaching moment for those who are reading the discussion. There is a lot of confusion on this issue in the minds of the faithful, and it needs to be cleared up. Whether it is you or I who is doing the "clearing up" and presenting the Truth of Christ is left to the reader to decide.

While I don't deny I have several things to learn still regarding infallibility, I am neither in the dark nor ignorant of what it means in relation to Christ's Church. There is no need to yet again bring up the two exercises of the extraordinary Magisterium of the Pope. Doctrine has been definitively stated long before either of those pronouncements, and they were done by the ordinary Magisterium. Just because something is not declared ex cathedra, it does not follow that a specific teaching of the Church is not infallible. Where do we draw the line then, Michael? The hypostatic union was never declared by the extraordinary Magisterium. The notion of the Trinity was never declared to be infallible ex cathedra. Is there room to change these doctrines just as there is to change doctrine on homosexual sex acts and other forms of fornication? No pope has declared rape to be an "intrinsic evil" ex cathedra. Is this up for debate too? No, it's not. Because the same Church that declared through the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium that rape is intrinsically evil is the same Church that declared through the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium that contraception is intrinsically evil. There may be a debate between infallible and non-infallible teachings, but this doesn't mean that the Truth doesn't already exist... and it exists in the timeless teaching of the Church. Absolutes do indeed exist, contrary to what some modern theologians may hold. There was a lot of debate in the 4th and 5th centuries regarding Christ's divinity, for instance. In fact, most bishops in the East were Arian. Just because there was a debate on the truth didn't mean that there wasn't already an answer. One side was mistaken and had poor and/or faulty arguments; the other, led by great men like St. Athanasius, did not. The same has happened again in the modern day regarding morality on marriage, sexuality and the family.

So indeed, the bishops did come together collectively in affirming the Church's teaching on the morality contraception. They've been coming together in this for nearly 2,000 years, in union with the Pope, including Bl. Paul VI, St. John Paul II and Francis. As I mentioned above, individual bishops have been wrong in the past, as they were during the Arian crisis. I suggest studying Patristics and St. John Paul's Theology of the Body more in depth to see the universal condemnation of artificial contraception, homosexual sex acts, etc. by many bishops for centuries, and that what Bl. Paul VI declared in Humane vitae belongs to the sacred deposit of faith.

Also, I am not the one claiming that the teachings of the Magisterium on morality are "sure teachings"; that man would be St. John Paul II. It's not me you disagree with but him, and you need to explain why St. John Paul is wrong when he boldly and correctly states that "The Church’s Magisterium is among the means which Christ’s redeeming love has provided to avoid this danger of error... [I]t cannot be said that the faithful have embarked on a diligent search for truth... if in doubt, one follows one’s own opinion or that of theologians, preferring it to the SURE TEACHING of the Magisterium."

We have to face facts: if the Church has been wrong on it's teaching regarding these issues we've been discussing, then it has been teaching error for centuries. If Christ is God, and if Christ is one with His Bride, the Church, then it would be a contradiction that He lead us into error. Therefore, the Catholic Church is not to be trusted and Christ is no longer Lord and God, but a liar.

Now of course, all moral theologians are not obligated to agree blindly with Church teaching; no human is obligated, unless heaven is their goal, of course. We all have free will as you well know. But there comes a point when a theologians contention becomes untenable. This happens with people who incur censures such as Salzman and Fr. Curran; their call for a "rethinking" are erroneous, they are shown to be erroneous, yet they still persist in putting these theories on the same pedestal as revealed teaching.

In this same vein, I thought it was extremely disheartening to see one of your conversations with Anne Danielson. In it, she faithfully relayed the orthodox teaching and understanding on marriage. In response to this, you replied, "Thanks for your comment. I do appreciate them even though it seems we are on opposite sides of this argument over homosexuality, et al. Your phrases such as "we remain in sin" or "our disordered 'inclinations" tells me you believe in the teachings of the Church on homosexuality, et al." Let's step back for a minute here. We can safely say that a Catholic who has faith in Christ's Church (that is, a FAITHFUL CATHOLIC) would OF COURSE believe in the teachings of the Church on homosexuality, contraception, etc. They would believe these teachings are correct and true, or at the very least submit to these teaching in good faith even if they don't fully understand them, because they have put their trust (i.e., faith) in God. All this naturally follows. You later claim that your disagreement with Anne on this issue doesn't make you any less of a faithful Catholic. Do you see the dilemma here? Anne espouses the teachings of the Church, as taught by the Magisterium which is the "servant" of the Word of God. You are "on the opposite side" of what Anne proclaims; what she proclaims is the teaching of the Church. Thus, you oppose the teaching of the Church. Can it truly be said that there is no lack of faith in Christ's Church here? It would appear one would be correct in saying that you do not have faith in what the Church has pronounced on this issue; the Church is wrong here on homosexual sex acts, contraception, etc. Why is the Church wrong here, but correct in others things? Why should Anne not believe in the teachings of the Church? Like St. Peter, both I and Anne answer, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life..." Now, this is not to say that you completely lack faith in Christ's Church, but instead asks why one can trust Christ, together through His Bride, in some aspects, but not in others. Why, Michael, should we be on the "opposite side of this", that is, the side that proposes arguments contrary to the revelation of Christ's Church? This is what needs to be reflected on.

In closing, I never said anything regarding slavery, and I have educated myself (and will continue to educate myself) on the teachings regarding usury and the freedom of religion. Again, nothing was changed in regard to these, and therefore they cannot be used as some kind of template suggesting that "change" will occur regarding teachings of sexual morality. Again, doctrine can DEVELOP, not change in the sense you are imagining. If I may recommend, you should read more of Bl. John Henry Newman's work specifically his "Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine". I would also say that you need to study the writings of the popes more in regards to these issues we've discussed. Obviously, St. John Paul, but also Pope St. Pius X. His 1907 encyclical, Pascendi Dominici Gregis (Feeding the Lord's flock), comes to mind. Below is an excerpt, providing some food for though. God bless you as well.

"Dogma is not only able, but ought to evolve and to be changed. This is strongly affirmed by the Modernists, and as clearly flows from their principles... Blind that they are, and leaders of the blind, inflated with a boastful science, they have reached that pitch of folly where they pervert the eternal concept of truth and the true nature of the religious sentiment; with that new system of theirs they are seen to be under the sway of a blind and unchecked passion for novelty, thinking not at all of finding some solid foundation of truth, but despising the holy and apostolic traditions, they embrace other vain, futile, uncertain doctrines, condemned by the Church, on which, in the height of their vanity, they think they can rest and maintain truth itself. (PDG 13)"

Stuart Meisenzahl
6 years 9 months ago

I have watched this same conflict between the Traditionalists and the New Living Church play out in the Episcopalian Church between the American wing and the Anglican wing over the issue of same sex marriage and practicing gay Episcopal Bishops. The Anglican Primates in June 2016 suspended the Episcopal Church of America from participation in the Anglican Communion over these issues.The vote of the Anglican Primates was controlled in significant measure by the African Primates. I believe Cardinal Sarah is of a piece with his African Anglican brethren.
I did some research with a few well placed Episcopalians who noted that their schism churches in the USA had affiliated with various African Anglican Dioceses. It was described to me as a schism based on the American Episcopal Church "striving to understand God" and the traditionalist African Anglicans as emphasizing "the revealed truths of God"
My Episcopal acquaintances noted wryly that the Anglican Church in Africa had been so very successful in its proselytizing based on very very traditional Anglican tenets that the African Anglican Churches now control the majority votes of the Anglican Primates in Communion with Canterbury. The entirety of the Anglican Community is now being re fed "the very diet that the missionary church brought to Africa"
In our own Church Cardinal Sarah is but a reminder of our own immediate past success in evangelization based on a diet immutable truths. It is hardly surprising that there is great distress when "immutability" is suddenly declared to be just a transitory phase.

Michael Barberi
6 years 9 months ago


Jesus said nothing about homosexuality, polygamy and many other sexual issues. While Scripture is the revealed truth of God, not every word in Scripture is the immutable truth. For example, there are many disagreements over Matthew's exception clause. Also, when it came to usury, Popes and Councils referred to the clear condemnation of taking interest on money lent because it was taught as Divine Law for centuries until the 16th century when this teaching was reformed. To date, no one has explained how something in Scripture and taught as Divine Law for centuries could be completely reformed.

Homosexuality is not "chosen". Homosexuality is something that the great majority of gay and lesbian people are born with. While some people like to compare refraining from murder and theft as an inclination, it must be recognized that people are not born murderers, thieves or pedophiles.

The Church teaches that homosexuality is an innate, intrinsic disorder but this assertion is unsubstantiated by scientific experts and organizations who have studied this subject. When pressed by a notable priest who is gay, Vatican experts say that this intrinsic disorder is not to be viewed in the physical sense but ontologically. I ask: How is homosexuality to be viewed ontologically?

My comment in this posting has more to do with the denial of marriage and the imposed requirement of lifetime sexual abstinence for those born gay or lesbian. If you are heterosexual, you can choose permanent chastity when you want to surrender to God and become a priest or nun. On the other hand some who are gay and lesbian become priests and nuns as well. However, in each case this is a voluntary choice. Celibacy only works when it is voluntary, not imposed on people by authority. Since about 2% of the world population are gay or lesbian, and only about 1% of the Catholic population become priests and nuns, it is perplexing how the Church an impose such a mandatory requirement on those born homosexual.

Stuart Meisenzahl
6 years 9 months ago

In my above remark I have provided no brief against any change in the Church. I only pointed out that we converted millions based upon what was represented to them to be "immutable truths. It is hardly surprising then that there is a strong reaction to the now current suggestion/position that many of these "truths" were not in fact "immutable" but subject to change based in large part on who is in charge at a given moment of the "truths of the Church".
This appears to be particularly unsettling in the African Catholic Church ....see Cardinal Sarah....where there is also a strong cultural bias against homosexuality in general.
I mentioned the Episcopal experience only to point out that the Anglicans "got there" on this issue before the CatholicChurch, and the results are not promising in terms of cohesion.
I note in passing that Benedict 15, recognizing this High Church delemma in the Episcopal Church, promptly invited its dissenting clergy "to come on over,wives and all" . Endorsement of the Anglican wing's position on same sex marriage???
Father Martin is at pains to point out he is not endorsing same sex marriage but only calling for an open, understanding dialogue. I commented on his essay only to point out that there is a history and a context on the traditionalist side that must be recognized and not just brushed off as archaic non scientific thinking. Otherwise, as at least a few of the comments above indicate, the dialogue will just be epithet hurling.

Michael Barberi
6 years 9 months ago


Thanks for the clarification.

I agree that Fr. Martin's suggestion for more respectful dialogue between the homosexual community and the Church hierarchy is a clarion call for a re-thinking on the Church's teachings and their continuing treatment of gays and lesbians. In the end (no pun intended), such a dialogue always comes down to a condemnation of same sex marriage and the mandatory requirement for homosexuals to live a lifetime of sexual abstinence for their salvation. Fr. Martin seems to avoid this question which becomes for people like Cardinal Sarah a hidden challenge to the Church's teachings on this subject. Fr. Martin should fully address this issue because it is most important to the dialogue. While dialogue is a prerequisite to any change in understanding, mercy and compassion when it comes to homosexuals, we should not beat around the bush.

It is my prayer that the teaching about what constitutes a licit and valid marriage, not necessarily a Catholic sacramental marriage, between two people of the same gender be the subject of a serious re-thinking by the Catholic Church. This issue, as mentioned, is highly complex. However, there is much truth to the scholarly opinion that in ancient times all people were thought to be born heterosexual and this was the order of the human condition that God Willed. Homosexual acts were abominable acts of choice for all humans who were believed to be heterosexuals. At some point, science and the Church will gain a better understand about the etiology of homosexuality that will hopefully lead to a change in its teaching of salvation for homosexuals. At the moment, the overwhelming majority of Catholic homosexuals do not believe they are being treated with respect, dignity and compassion for they are told straight-away that all homosexual acts (even in a non-Catholic Church marriage) are gravely sinful. My point is this: The requirement of a lifetime of sexual abstinence reflects a poor understanding of the human condition as well as the grace and mercy of God for homosexuals.

I do appreciate your reflection about the African Church, both Catholic and Anglican, and the African culture that influences their spiritual and theological thinking, notwithstanding a strong belief in the traditional teachings of the Church on this subject.

Thanks for your comments. I know many people who are good, respectful Catholics who love God and neighbor. They feel unwelcome and disenfranchised by the Catholic Church and they are sad and confused. As one person I know put it: I did not want to be born homosexual. I know what the Church teaches this has turned me away from the Church, but not Christ.

I pray for all who are burdened and feel this way. The Church has run away from adequately addressing this issue. Repeating the teaching is not working as more and more moral scholars are waking up to a better understanding of this subject..

Anne Danielson
6 years 9 months ago

One is born, male or female; one is not born as an object of sexual desire/inclination/orientation.
Every human person, from the moment of conception, has been brought into being, in The Image and Likeness of God, equal in Dignity, while being complementary as a beloved son or daughter, Willed by God, worthy of Redemption.

Love is ordered to the inherent personal and relational Dignity of the persons existing in a relationship of Love. (The Blessed Trinity) Every beloved son or daughter, from the moment they are created and brought into being at conception, has the inherent Right to be treated with Dignity and respect in private as well as in public.

Men and women are designed in such a way that it is not possible to engage in same-sex sexual acts without demeaning our inherent Dignity as beloved sons and daughters. The desire to engage in a demeaning act of any nature, does not change the nature of the act. No one should be condoning demeaning sexual acts of any nature including between a man and woman united in marriage as husband and wife.

Same -sex sexual acts, as well as any sexual act that does not respect the inherent personal and relational Dignity of the human person, demean the Dignity of every human person, who is not, in essence, an object of sexual desire, but a son or daughter, worthy of being treated with Dignity and respect in private as well as in public. The sexual objectification of the human person has led to physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual suffering. It is time to heal those wounds, and learn how to develop healthy and Holy relationships and friendships that are grounded in authentic Love.

Why not tell those men and women who have developed a same-sex sexual attraction the truth? It is because we Love you, and respect your Dignity as a beloved son or daughter, that we cannot condone the engaging in or affirmation of any act, including any sexual act that demeans your inherent Dignity as a beloved son or daughter. The desire to engage in a demeaning act of any nature, does not change the nature of the act. We Love you, and because we Love you, we desire that you will always be treated with, and will always treat others with Dignity and respect in private as well as in public. We will not tolerate the engaging in or condoning of sexual behavior that does not reflect the upmost respect for the human person, because we Love you and respect the fact that every human person is Sacred in the eyes of God.

Michael Barberi
6 years 9 months ago

I have studied this issue thoroughly including a recent Catholic doctoral dissertation on homosexuality. Your assertions of truths are not accurate. While there is no definitive proof that people are born with a same-gender inclination, the majority of scientific studies do point to this conclusion. As to your claim that we are born male and female, and in the image of God, I have no disagreement. However, to leap to the conclusion that people are not born with a same-gender innate sexual inclination/orientation is unsubstantiated. The American Psychological Association and American Psychiatric Association has concluded that homosexuality is not a intrinsic human disorder. Yet without any evidence offered, the Catholic Church considers homosexuality an innate intrinsic disorder. Some in the Vatican say that we should not view homosexuality as an intrinsic disorder in the physical sense but in the theological sense. Exactly what is it about homosexuality that can be viewed in the theological sense? I have studied moral theology for 7 years and not only am I perplexed, but I have not found anything that could explain homosexuality in a theological sense that is the least understandable, much less convincing.

I don't think you understand homosexuality when you say that homosexual acts of any kind demeans the dignity of every human person even within a marriage (Civil, Christian or Jewish). For heterosexuals, sexual acts between two people of the opposite sex are natural and do not go against their human nature. For homosexuals, sexual acts between two people of the same sex are natural and do not go against their human nature as well. On the other hand, homosexual acts between two heterosexuals are unnatural, immoral and go against their human nature. For heterosexuals, homosexual acts are a form of idolatry and a perversion of the natural sexual inclination/orientation of heterosexuals.

Most homosexuals I know did not want to be born with a same sex or same gender inclination/orientation. They also don't "choose" to be homosexual. For those of us that are heterosexual, any thought of homosexual acts are thought of as horrific because they go against every fiber of our human nature. However, for homosexuals any thought of heterosexual acts are view the same way. Heterosexuals can't understand this, but neither can homosexuals.

I call for a better understanding of homosexuality and a better pastoral application of the Church's teachings. I don't believe the often use comment that "homosexuals merely have to bear a heavier burden" and live a lifetime of sexual abstinence for their salvation when at the same time we deny these Catholics a licit and valid marriage (civil, Christian or Jewish). If Holy Communion can be given to divorced and remarried Catholics without an annulment under certain conditions, then the Church can find a pastoral way to minister to homosexuals without the imposed requirement of lifetime sexual abstinence especially when they are in an irregular marriage.

Arnoldo Miranda
6 years 9 months ago

"While there is no definitive proof that people are born with a same-gender inclination, the majority of scientific studies do point to this conclusion."

This is not true and not proven. If the thesis based their doctoral dissertation on this assumption, it's in trouble. There is no scientific study to this date that justifies this claim. There are positions taken but nothing definitive. I work in the sciences and I can tell you that the hype is greater than the facts.

Michael Barberi
6 years 9 months ago

There are numerous studies that the dissertation I mentioned summarized. Some say it is likely genetic, some say it is environmental. The truth is that there is no definitive proof either way at this point. However, most experts think homosexuality is something that some people are born with. You can google this subject and read all the pros and cons on this for yourself.

More importantly to the point, the Church has provided no definitive scientific study or proof whatsoever to prove their case that homosexuality or same-gender sexual orientation/inclination is an "intrinsic disorder"....full stop. In this case, there is ample evidence from the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association that have concluded that homosexuality is not an innate intrinsic disorder. They also have refuted the Church's claim that same sex couples are bad parents and children brought up by gay and lesbian couples are disadvantaged compared to children of heterosexual couples. If you want to be enlightened, google this yourself.

Arnoldo Miranda
6 years 9 months ago

Michael, I work in science. I've read the papers. They don't enlighten in terms bringing a definitive answer like what you're stating. I don't know if science will ever have an answer to this question. This is what an honest assessment of the evidence should lead any intellectually honest scientist. Most importantly, the science cannot answer the moral question. Because if it was so clear scientifically, you wouldn't be having people disagreeing so vociferously from either side.

Michael Barberi
6 years 9 months ago

We again disagree. I never said that the conclusions of the American Psychological Association, et al, was the absolute scientific proof that homosexuality is not an intrinsic disorder. Scientific research continues to grow and it may be possible that such conclusions will be changed in the future. However, at present these are the facts. The moral question is another issue and it is complex. It deserves a lengthly treatment that is not appropriate for a few comment postings about Fr. Martin's book and his reply to Cardinal Sarah.

This is my last comment here. To repeat, I pray for a change in the pastoral application of the teachings on homosexuality et al, because I don't believe the doctrine will change about marriage. I do hope that the Church will find a way to bring the gay and lesbian community into the Church, much like we have now permit Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried under certain conditions. Also, you need to read up on conscience. An erroneous conscience binds and Aquinas taught that the individual is only morally culpable if the person does not make a reasonable and adequate attempt to inform his/her conscience. I have read several books on conscience and it is a teaching of the Church that one must never go against their "informed conscience" even if we make a mistake. Pope Benedict XVI was clear about this. I know you will disagree with what I said, so we will have to leave this subject for another day as our exchanges have become unproductive.

Arnoldo Miranda
6 years 9 months ago

If you want to understand Pope Benedict's view on conscience, I recommend the following book. It will clearly show you what you don't understand about how conscience compels but doesn't excuse nor justify. It explains many of the nuances involved in forming a good conscience according to Church teaching:


There is no such thing as acting on a conscience even it is mistake. You've misunderstood this notion. There is no question that conscience compels but not towards error if it is properly formed. It's like looking back to history to fix mistakes that cannot be undone. This does not happen ever in human experience because by then it is too late. I've read Aquinas's treatises on conscience in Latin that are still not available in English and I can assure you that you are misinterpreting what he says, for he does not say what you say and clearly denotes that culpability is only excused because of some "invincible ignorance" that is insurmountable by reasons beyond the control of the individual (e.g., insanity, invincible idiocy, etc...). If one properly forms one's conscience, this cannot happen. The conversation is only unproductive if neither of us are unwilling to look at facts. And facts you have not produced. There are no scientific conclusions regarding the scientific subject matter you suggest. These are only possibilities that have not been verified by ANY collection of facts. The fact that you use "absolute scientific proof" clearly demonstrates you don't understand scientific research. This is not how research is concluded. It is still premature to make these statements until the data is collected and analyzed. Lastly, everyone is welcomed in the Church. They are welcomed to pick up their cross and follow Jesus

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