‘Why does the church hate gay people?’ Boston bishop seeks to listen to young people

People gather at a June 14 candlelight vigil in Manila, Philippines, in memory of the victims of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla. Philippine Catholic bishops called for vigilance against bullying, ostracism and harassment of gay people in the wake of the incident in which police said a lone gunman killed 49 people early June 12 at the club. (CNS photo/Mark R. Cristino, EPA)People gather at a June 14 candlelight vigil in Manila, Philippines, in memory of the victims of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla. (CNS photo/Mark R. Cristino, EPA)

When an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Boston asked the nearly 200 students in a high school confirmation class what questions they had for him earlier this month, two themes quickly emerged. First, they wrote him, why did you want to become a bishop? Second, why does the church hate gay people?

The first one was easy, Bishop Mark O’Connell told them, since very few priests set out to become bishops.

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But the second question, which he said comes up frequently when he meets with young people, was more difficult for him to answer, not because church teaching is unclear to him, but because the language the church often uses fails to resonate with a generation that increasingly sees kindness as the highest virtue. An experience he had with a student following the listening session earlier this month led him to post a message on Twitter to encourage other bishops to listen to the concerns young Catholics have about fraught issues of gender and sexuality:

“I feel inspired by Pope Francis to find new language to express the beauty of our truth,” Bishop O’Connell told America in a recent interview. And to that end, the bishop, who also serves as pastor of a parish with 2,800 families, has held 22 listening sessions.

A canon lawyer by training, Bishop O’Connell said duringan address at his ordination as bishop last August that church leaders are called to reach out to the “many who feel the church doesn’t want them.” He said part of that ministry includes listening, including to “the many young adults who have nothing but skepticism and doubt when they think of the Catholic Church.”

Bishop O’Connell: “I feel inspired by Pope Francis to find new language to express the beauty of our truth.”

“By naming our own weaknesses, we can develop new language, new ways to explain the soundness of our teaching, new ways to show the beauty and authenticity of our faith to the world,” he said. “If we cannot find the new language, at least we can listen.”

In the interview with America, he made clear several times that he does not question church teaching on issues of gender and sexuality—he is simply searching for better ways to articulate those teachings during a particularly “critical moment” in the lives of young people.

“Giving them a bad explanation of the truth could cause them to lose their faith forever,” he said.

Many students tell him they see the church as “unkind” on L.G.B.T. issues, which he thinks is driven in part by media reports that tell them “we’re a bigoted church” and that Catholics are “bullies.”

“As a generation,” he said of today’s high school students, “they’re kind-hearted, and they don’t like people being put down, bullied.”

“Giving [young people] a bad explanation of the truth could cause them to lose their faith forever.”

He said that after reflecting on their questions he told them, “We’re not against gay people, we have lots of gay members in our church.” He noted that there are priests who are gay and who live chastely. He tries to impress upon young people that the church is “not prejudiced” against gay people but does not shy away from the church’s teaching on marriage.

Attitudes about L.G.B.T. issues among Catholics in the United States have changed in recent years. Catholics as a cohort are accepting of same-sex marriage and believe that businesses should not be allowed to discriminate against L.G.B.T. people in the marketplace. But officially, the church still bans gay men from entering seminaries, though how that rule is enforced varies from diocese to diocese, and sexual relations between people of the same gender are considered sinful. Since gay marriage was legalized nationwide in 2015, there has been a rash of firings of church workers because of issues related to sexuality.

Then there is the issue of language itself, which has caused turmoil between some L.G.B.T. Catholics and church leaders.

Bishop O’Connell said the search for acceptable language is ongoing, noting that even in the L.G.B.T. community language continues to evolve.

James Martin, S.J., an editor at America, published a book last year in which he calls church leaders to use the terms “gay” and “lesbian” when talking about L.G.B.T. people, rather than the more clinical sounding “same-sex attracted people” preferred by many church leaders. Many high-profile church leaders have backed Father Martin on this, though others continue to resist the labels.

For his part, Bishop O’Connell said the search for acceptable language is ongoing, noting that even in the L.G.B.T. community, language continues to evolve. “We need to work on language that we can all agree on,” he said.

The dizzying pace of progress for L.G.B.T. people has also presented the church with new challenges, he said. “These are not old issues,” he said, pointing specifically to the challenges over rights for transgender issues. “Jesus did not say, ‘In 2018, when we speak about transgender people, this is the answer.’”

“Jesus did not say, ‘In 2018, when we speak about transgender people, this is the answer.’”

Bishops, he said, are “struggling” with the issue and are considering, “How do we really be kind?” when formulating policies about bathrooms and locker rooms in church-affiliated institutions.

Young people see the church as a scold, the bishop said, and urged pastors to act like good parents when confronted with parishioners who are unsure about their gender or sexuality. If a child told a mom or dad that she or he is struggling with sexual identity, “a good parent would take that as a real cry for a conversation and not just say, ‘Stop it,’” he said.

In some of the other listening sessions Bishop O’Connell has hosted, he said there are usually two types of participants: “people confused because the church has too many rules” and “people confused because the church ‘took away’ all of our rules.”

“We are losing three generations of people, and we need to hear why.”

While many people have thanked the bishop for holding the listening sessions, he says not everyone agrees with the premise. One person told him that bishops should teach, not listen. But he says he takes seriously the goal of listening to the faithful, adding, “We’re not a church that should be afraid of questions, but I think a lot of people are afraid of these questions.”

When asked how church leaders might better address questions from young people about L.G.B.T. people, he said that first, “We have to stop avoiding it.” He said it is “rare” for bishops to listen to the concerns of young people about these issues, adding, “every bishop should be able to answer these questions adequately.”

But what if the young people are unimpressed with the answers they hear? Well, Bishop O’Connell said, they need to use their voice. “When I was first ordained 27 years ago, our high school students were upset that there weren’t girl altar servers,” he said. Today, it is common to see young girls serving in that role.

“We are losing three generations of people, and we need to hear why,” he said. “So I would encourage my brother bishops to listen, listen to what they’re saying.”

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J Cosgrove
8 months ago

Why does the church hate gay people?

This is another in the seemingly endless accusations that gay people are hated and abused by the Church and Catholics when the exact opposite is the truth. What is true is that the Church in general and America, the magazine, in particular ignore or talk in code about the problem of extra-marital sex as this article does. But that does not say the Church or Catholics hate gay people.

My bet is that there has been close to a hundred articles with the same theme in the last 10 years since I have been reading America online.

Tim O'Leary
8 months ago

J - you are right. On any slow news day, we get articles like this that avoid any mention of the Gospel while they promote the sexual revolution. The bias is inherent in the phrasing of the question and in the opposition of kindness vs. rules, teaching vs. bullying, etc.. For those who cannot see the inherent bias, just imagine if the article was titled "Why do doctors hate smokers" or "Why do Jesuits constantly undermine the Gospel?"

The good bishop wonders why we are losing many people in the rich West (while gaining more in Asia and Africa, by the way). Well, it is because many Catholics in the comfortable West have failed to teach and live the Gospel in its fullness. They emphasize political causes (mostly liberal causes, outside the prolife and pro-family issues) and wealth redistribution, while allowing a type of universalism (all can be saved, except maybe Hitler) and anodyne language to creep into their evangelization (if they are actually ever trying to evangelize). They are trying to domesticate the Gospel so that the fierce words of the Lord are hidden from those who do not dwell daily with the Scriptures.

The Jesuits (whose charism I love, if I could ever find it today) are at the vanguard of lite Christianity, where salvation of souls takes a backseat to self-affirmation of any desire one is tempted with. They obsess about getting the words and the tone right (Its same-sex attraction. No, wait, its gay and lesbian. No, its LGBT. No, it's LGBTQIAA... or anyone who recalls the Scriptures is sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, haters-will-hate), all the while ignoring the words of the Savior: "But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Mt 7;14); "And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell." (Mt 5:30); “If you love me, you will keep my commandments." (Jn 14;15) or his Apostles "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals.." (1 Cor 6:9); or "Whoever says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person." 1 Jn 2:4. Please get back to the business of saving souls!

James Haraldson
7 months 3 weeks ago

Good comments. Unfortunately the dishonesty and cruelty of demagogic accommodationism, where bishops give stones when those suffering mental illness need the bread of authentic compassion, is compounded by their remaining oblivious to the ideological component to abnormal sexuality. It is no accident that there is almost universal approval among LGBT individuals for abortion. Were the condition natural, this would not be the case. Oh, I'm sorry. I keep forgetting. Bishops could care less about the mass slaughter of the unborn as well. Many are too busy selling the atheistic notion that truth, in reality the reflection of the mind of God, is fungible because God, if He exists, is imperfect and needs the advice of theologians to tell Him how to be God.

Mike Theman
8 months ago

The better question is, "Why do people believe that the Church hates gay people?" And the answer is, "Because of articles like this one which, rather than correct the error, perpetuates it, especially in the title."

It's like that old lawyer trick where your intention is to make an unproven allegation under the guise of asking a question, e.g., "How long have you been beating your wife?"

Christopher Lochner
8 months ago

The Church does not "Hate" gay people. To get to the root of the issue one must understand the complexity of the situation as it involves reproduction. To simplify, sex is to reproduce and families are to reproduce; without reproduction our human species would not survive. Until relatively recently, death in childbirth and among children was quite common. Hence, the admonishment to reproduce was written into our religious codes. It's not that the Church hates gays (or singles for that matter), it is the fear over a lowering of birthrates which is the problem. God is not concerned by this but religious leaders are frightened due to this instinctive and age old belief. Do not be angry at the leaders as they are locked into an argument of which they cannot easily dispose of or extricate themselves from. Gays, singles, and those who cannot or desire not to have children are all viewed under the same dark and fearful cloud. Such are the diificulties we experience by elevating the opinions of men over the Love of God.

Mike Theman
8 months ago

It's not that complex. It's very clear from anatomy and physiology how our bodies - temples - are intended by God to be used. It's not a question of reproduction - at least for those who engage in same-sex s0d0my. Same-sex attraction is not so prevalent that it would impact the size of the population; moreover, in theory, those with same-sex attraction would never reproduce anyway, regardless of what the Church teaches.

As for singles, the issue is the raising of children with a mom and a dad, not reproduction. Singles are capable of reproducing.....

Tim Donovan
8 months ago

Hello. I agree that abortion, the deliberate killing of an innocent unborn human being, is worse than contraception (which prevents a new human being from beginning life. I certainly support legal contraception and sterilization for adults (although I do believe that minors should be required to have parental consent to use contraception). However, although it isn't popular even among Catholics, I do believe that natural family planning is the moral means of planning one's family. When used correctly and consistently, natural family planning is very effective, and also has no adverse side effects, such as many forms of contraception have.

Patrick Murtha
8 months ago

Natural family planning raises very serious concerns. While such methods as the "rhythm method," are not intrinsically evil as abortion is and as contraception is, it does raise serious moral questions over the intention of the couple. Pius XII warns that such "natural family planning" may only be done for very serious reasons--simply not wanting a child is not a serious reason, nor is not having appropriate finances for children, nor is fear that a child will prevent the continuance of one's career. Pius XII warns that people who follow this method for no serious reason are guilty of serious sins against the nature of marriage and sex, which is firstly and foremostly for the procreation and the education and raising of children. He says that these people smear marriage and turn potential parents into mere "lovers" who have sex purely for the pleasure and the intimacy, but not for the reason God made sex pleasurable, "that two shall be one" and that one is the child.

Nora Bolcon
8 months ago

“When I was first ordained 27 years ago, our high school students were upset that there weren’t girl altar servers,” he said. Today, it is common to see young girls serving in that role."

And now there are many youths that are leaving because there are no women priests, bishops, cardinals and Popes. So please Bishop - change these sexist, sinful, hurtful and self-destructive church rules too. The sooner the change to equality the better because yes, Bishop, we are losing 3 generations at a time, and they are leaving for very Christian reasons.

Tim Donovan
8 months ago

I'm a gay Catholic, and I agree that the Church and bishops need to listen to people, especially young people. Recent surveys show that young people are being more inclined to reject religion and identify themselves as "nones." This is why it's important that the Church teach the truth in a compassionate manner. As Bishop O'Connell noted, the Church can change regarding certain matters, but not it's essential teachings. For instance, acceptable, indeed good changes in my opinion include girl altar servers. women as readers / lectors at Mass, as well as extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist. Also, although I have attended in my forties (I'm now 55) an approved Latin Mass and found it be be beautiful and especially reverent, I prefer Mass in the vernacular . Also, for several decades Catholics in the United States have had the option to receive Holy Communion in the hand; I happen to prefer receiving the Eucharist on my tongue. I fully agree with the teachings of our Popes since after Vatican II that it's important for the Church to engage in ecumenical dialogue. Many of my neighbors and friends are Protestants; my sister in law and niece are good Presbyterians, and I also know several people who are Jewish and Muslim, and we get along fine. I also agree with Pope Francis ' emphasis on the immorality of capital punishment, and believe that it should be banned. I also believe with our Holy Father that even the possession of nuclear weapons is morally very problematic, and that, along with the violence of abortion, that nuclear weapons should be banned I also read Laudato Si, and agree that God wants us to be good stewsrds of the environment.. As a retired Special Education teacher who lives in a good nursing home, I believe with Church teaching regarding social justice. We as Catholics (as well as our government) should provide assistance to the numerous Americans in need. Among others, these include people who are homeless, disabled, veterans, the elderly, the seriously ill, the mentally ill, the poor, victims of human trafficking, sexual abuse, as well as those addicted to drugs.
As a retired teacher, I agree that teaching with clarity and compassion is important. I have had sex with men, but have regretted my decision, anve received forgiveness and consolation through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. As someone who growing up was called vulgar names ( "faggot"(, I agree, as does Church teaching, that gay people must be treated with respect and compassion. However, I do believe that marriage is intended by God to be a union of one man and one woman. Jesus clearly was forgiving to the woman caught in adultery, but made it clear that she "should go and sin no more." (John 8:11). Therefore, I believe that straight people having sex before marriage is equally as wrong as same sex relationships. Jesus is forgiving, but died and rose again to save us from our sins.

Randal Agostini
8 months ago

“We are losing three generations of people, and we need to hear why,” he said.
This is an extraordinary statement, similar to another bishop who recently exclaimed that pornography is harming marriages. What sort of bubble are these Bishops living in, while the faithful have been patient for years, awaiting guidance.
We are living in a society where there are two Gods and the secular God that we are worshipping has won the battle years ago. In order to reverse the trend we have to recognize the enemy and fight them at every turn. This will require the creation of an Environment of Faith that is relevant to the needs of the faithful.
A good role model for this form of thinking is the late Venerable Father Michael Joseph McGivney, the founder of the Knights of Columbus. While his church was full on Sundays he recognized other urgent needs catering to the welfare of his parishoners. His life and work is worth consideration.

Christopher Lobb
8 months ago

Arsehole! Pretendenting to be LGBT -friendly. What did I say? Oh, yes! Arsehole!!!

Ike Isaac Wood
8 months ago

I love this from the article: “We’re not against gay people, we have lots of gay members in our church.” That's akin to the racist saying, "I'm not a bigot--I have lots of black friends". Having gay people in the church is absolutely no reflection of the systematic bigotry imposed on sexual minorities by the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is an archaic organization created to control people's minds and behaviors, devoid of advancements in understanding the human condition beyond what may have been believed thousands of years ago. Anyone who does not see the blatant prejudice the Catholic Church displays to gay men and women has their head buried in the ground--a convenient position for when you blindly follow what someone tells you and you don't develop your own Christian conscience.

Nora Bolcon
8 months ago

Just like we love women just not the ones God calls to ordained priesthood and expect to be treated as equals to men, or we love black people as long as they are happy being slaves to white people, or we love immigrants as long as they don't want to come to our country. Hmmm - it all sounds like hate to me.

Patrick Cullen
8 months ago

Sorry, God does not call women to the Priesthood.

Keith Fleeman
8 months ago

I regret having to make this toxic comment, but your god is a small minded little bigot.

Ike Isaac Wood
8 months ago

I love this from the article: “We’re not against gay people, we have lots of gay members in our church.” That's akin to the racist saying, "I'm not a bigot--I have lots of black friends". Having gay people in the church is absolutely no reflection of the systematic bigotry imposed on sexual minorities by the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is an archaic organization created to control people's minds and behaviors, devoid of advancements in understanding the human condition beyond what may have been believed thousands of years ago. Anyone who does not see the blatant prejudice the Catholic Church displays to gay men and women has their head buried in the ground--a convenient position for when you blindly follow what someone tells you and you don't develop your own Christian conscience.

Marissa M
8 months ago

Ultimately, the "hate the sin, love the sinner" isn't going to resonate with younger people in the future. I appreciate what Fr. Martin is trying to do by bridging the lines of communication between Catholics and LGBTQ folks, but in the end, his actions fall under a "separate but equal" framework. If the church continues to hold onto their outdated complementarian view of sexuality/sexual orientation, its numbers will continue to shrink.

I grew up Catholic, and for a long time I was able to reconcile the church's view on LGBTQ people/women with my conscience and lived reality, but after years of seeing how the church diminishes, patronizes, and dehumanizes LGBTQ people and women, I realized I had enough. The spirit called me to leave the Catholic Church for the Episcopal Church. Many of my former Catholic friends are atheists, agnostics, or simply non-church going Christians because of the church's doctrine on LGBTQ people and women. I wish the leadership of the church would listen to what the spirit is saying to the people and acknowledge the complexity and diversity of God's creation.

Patrick Murtha
8 months ago

Marissa, is the Church to change the words of Christ because it will not resonate with people? How do you know that the spirit that "called" you from the fold of the Shepherd was the Shepherd and not the wolf that desires to throw the flock into confusion and desires only the destruction of your soul? Is a Catholic to choose the words and the inclinations of man over the saving words of God? St. Paul, inspired by God, says, "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema." (Galatians 1:8)

The Ship of the Church has been promised that "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it," and so it is ridiculous to jump-ship when that ship is promised by God Himself never to sink--all other ships not granted that promise.

Robert Peppey
8 months ago

Wow, your still fighting the Reformation.

Nora Bolcon
8 months ago

That ship in Jesus' mind was the entire Body of Christ not the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church in any age. So if the RC Leadership decides not to teach love but hate instead, and bias and prejudice instead of justice and same treatment, and not forgiveness but instead only condemnation against what the Gospels demand, then the church is the entity that has lost its way and purpose. If this church does not change and get back on the Gospel Course, God will have the members leave it and give the power of the church to others to carry the members back to God. This is what God did in response to the chosen people, the Jews, when they rejected Jesus Christ, and he will do the same to us if we refuse to be a people of Love as our top most priority.

candace fisher
8 months ago

I'm not into using the correct "language"...,I doubt if gays really care about that! The fact of the matter, as I see it- (my sister happens to be gay and left the church long ago) is that from my perspective, God created some people gay- it's not a lifestyle- it's just who they are- and the God I love would not say- "Hey, I love you, but you must live a life of no physical intimacy- lucky you, you've been destined for this- suck it up and sit at mass, watching heterosexual couples, be who you are, but live a life devoid of human contact." I've read the gospels and never heard my Jesus get into this...I'm a lifelong Catholic, and can only sneak into a daily mass occasionally because I still love the spiritual part of being a Catholic- don't want to hear the rhetoric.

Deanna Rose Von Bargen
8 months ago

What I do not understand is why the catechism consigns gays and lesbians to life-long celibacy. Where does that come from? I sincerely hope that can change.
If you can’t create children by your sexual act, then it’s wrong? But I thought the other reason for a sexual relationship is the relationship itself. Except it seems that this does not apply in the case of gays and lesbians.
Wish I could peer into God’s mind to find out the reason for creating approximately 8% of human beings gay or lesbian or trans-gender. Natural Law philosophy apparently does not take this into account. And Scripture, as we know, is conditioned by culture.... why is there such an obsession with certain sexual intimacies as sinful ? Just a question. Personally, I think the greatest sin might be exclusion, rather than having mutual loving sex outside the box. I admit, I don’t have answers, but I would rather the catechism not consign gays and lesbians to lifelong celibacy. Maybe just don’t say anything about it since we haven’t been able to read God’s mind yet...and admit that we just don’t know...

candace fisher
8 months ago

The greatest sin is exclusion....I love what you wrote...it seems that some would like our church to be some kind of exclusive club to which you can belong if you abide by their rules...I'd love to see Jesus show up with his tax collectors and sinners!

Tim Donovan
8 months ago

I have at times felt excluded from our Church, founded by Jesus, as well as society in general, as an adolescent growing up in the mid-1970's. I was sometimes called by the very hurtful term "faggot." However, and I say this as a VERY imperfect Catholic who has sex with men years ago, that I have felt feelings of consolation and forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Jesus was forgiving, (for instance, he forgave the woman who was caught in adultery) but he also told her to "go and sin no more." ( John 8:11). The Church isn't an exclusive club, nor do I want it to be. However, every Christian denomination to my knowledge has certain rules. Some Christian denominations, to use a possibly incorrect political term (my late Dad said correctly that Church teaching shouldn't be assigned political terms-you either believe in the teachings of Jesus or you don't) ; some denominations are more "liberal," some more "conservative " in their teachings. People certainly have many choices about which Christian. denomination that best fits their beliefs. For instance , the Unitarian -Universalist Church is quite "liberal" in it's teachings, while the Southern Baptists are quite "conservative." Throughout. the centuries, the Church has accepted many sinners who have asked for forgiveness. For instance, Jesus forgave Peter after he denied Him three times, and the Church founded by Jesus accepted Augustine after his early sinful life and in fact made him a saint. More recently, Bernard Nathanson, M.D., was a self-described atheist of Jewish background who helped found what is now a major pro-legal abortion group, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and personally performed over 5,000 abortions. Yet, over time based on biology not theology he decided that abortion was the killing of a human being, and went from gradually being an atheist, to an agnostic, to a Catholic. My point is that like Jesus, the Church has included sinful people like Augustine and Nathanson who have reformed their lives and sought forgiveness from Jesus through confessing their sins (the Sacrament of Reconciliation). I sinned by having had sex with men, but through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the support of my compassionate pastor and loving family and friends I feel very welcome in the Church, not excluded.

AP P
8 months ago

It comes from the teachings of Augustine, a misunderstanding of Biblical context that has become tradition and a misguided attempt at understanding the psychology of the day (when it was last revised in the early 90's homosexuality had only been declassified as a disorder by the DSM in the early 70's and many still clung to the notion of it being 'disordered' {half of the natural law argument}). Augustine, a gravely troubled man whose writings were taken far too seriously thanks to the politics of the early medieval period, taught that sex was for procreation only. Today, we now understand that Augustine was a former, ahem, whoremonger in a deep state of regret. His writings are less a proper social commentary than they are a personal rebuke of hedonism. At the time, he was the main theological voice in the Carthaginian church: the former southwestern portion of the Roman Empire. It was a former part as it had been taken over by a Germanic tribe known as the Visigoths and was now a major military rival of Alexandria and the rest of the remaining Roman Empire. Rome itself had been greatly weakened by invading Vandals (another Germanic tribe) and all that was really left was Byzantium. Which, had spent a lot of its own resources fighting other battles and had only just converted to Christ a few decades earlier. As such, the Alexandrians were imperiled by the new Carthage: which posited Augustine as the superior doctor of the church. Whereas previously, there'd been a number of them. In bid to placate the newly endowed Visigoths, the other doctors, whose theology differed greatly with that of Augustine's Theodicy, were excommunicated out of fear. Today, we're stuck with the mess. The biblical context comes into view as the bible never actually preaches against homosexual acts committed out of love. It condemns them as a matter of pagan fertility rites in which a man would have sex with a temple priest or prostitute to commune with a goddess. This is why when Leviticus and the letters of Paul speak about it, it's always framed alongside other pagan practices. But, in the modern understanding we've lost the notion of what pagan practices were at the time (pork and oysters were major parts of pagan feasts, for example) and have now just banned it completely out of many not realizing the authors' original intent. Never mind most gays don't have sex before a status of Ishtar these days. In other words, the church in the early 90's had a chance to ease into a better understanding of the modern definition of love. But, soft balled it for a later date knowing the above full well.

Richard Crank
8 months ago

I’ll call this a kindergarten start, but it is a start. I just wish I could chat with him for an hour like I did with Reinaldo Arenas. But of course there’s no way that can happen.

Kester Ratcliff
8 months ago

Does anyone have any idea why Aquinas considers that one externally, structurally identified act can only have one naturally ordered purpose?

That's the assumption underlying his claim that all sexual activity outside marriage and without the intention to procreate is "inherently disordered". Besides just repeating it because it's tradition, does anyone have any clue why an act, defined by its external structure, can only have one legitimate purpose? I can't think of any reason. If that assumption is not true, then the conclusion that all sexual activity except within marriage and with the intention to procreate is sinful does not follow.

Also curious why conservative Catholics are much less bothered about straight girlfriend-boyfriend relationships including sex before marriage than about gay people doing the same? If the basis is really Aquinas' version of Church doctrine, then there is no difference.

According to the Catechism, masturbation is also inherently disordered, resting on the same assumption - that an act can only have one telos.

Gail Bederman
8 months ago

I would ask the angry commentators, here, to read the Catechism sections on homosexuality more closely. The Catechism never suggests that it a sin to be gay or "homosexual." On the contrary: it makes clear that orientation is what it is, and not within "same -sex-attracted" people's control. Orientation is no sin at all, according to the Catechism. Rather, according to the Catechism, only a homosexual act is a sin. In fact gay sex is in may ways no different from any other type of sex outside of marriage: whether premarital sex, adultery, masturbation or same-sex acts. All are sinful for precisely same reasons, according to the Catechism: they are not marital, and often not procreative. It's the ACT, not the orientation that is held to be wrong, under the most orthodox Catholic doctrine. Those who say otherwise (including most of commentators on this article so far) are not only mistaken, but spreading confusion and misunderstanding in ways that can only be considered sinful, and counter to Catholic doctrine. Please just read the Catechism itself. It is very clear.

Charles Monsen
8 months ago

Thank you

Vincent Couling
8 months ago

If the only sex which is permissible is that which is procreative, then why do we have Canon 1084 §3? I.e. "Sterility neither prohibits nor nullifies marriage". If heterosexual couples are allowed to use NFP as a contraceptive method (i.e. to have sexual relations with the full intention of avoiding conception, intentionally having the sex purely for the unitive purpose), then why are committed homosexual couples not permitted sexual relations for their unitive purpose? There appears to be a double standard.

AP P
8 months ago

Considering that biblical condemnation of homosexuality only pertains to its use in ancient, pagan fertility rites, it's high time that the church confront the fact that it's no longer considered a mental disorder. That many in the laity and clergy fail to read that context, however, is best described as being sinful. If for any reason they're denying God's love by way of the authority given to them by the church. If one wants to know why drug abuse is so high among gays, look to the reality they've been denied thanks to a lack of historical context.

THE CHRISTOFFERSONS
8 months ago

This article tiptoes around a problem which continues to embarrass the Church. We have seen this movie before, with Galileo. We are just human beings. We need to seek justice, with patience and humility. God's creation is much richer than we imagine. There was a time when the Church supported the idea that the sun revolved around the earth, but what does that have to do with the "new commandment" that Jesus preached? Jesus took Leviticus 19:18 and elevated it to love of God, the source and measure of "all the law and the prophets". As Paul and Augustine clearly understood, this was and is a "new covenant".

In the same way, there was a time when the Church supported the idea that God created them male and female, a binary distinction set forth in God's Book of Scripture. Augustine wisely advised that Christians should not interpret scripture so that it is contrary to God's Book of Nature. That advice served the Church well with regard to Galileo. Eventually.

And, with patience and humility, so it will be with the idea that God created them male and female. As it turns out, that's not what God did. How do we know? Two sources of information. One source is God's Book of Nature. See the January 2017 issue of National Geographic and the September 2017 issue of Scientific American for a summary. Another source are the members of the LGBT community, and their relatives and friends. "Listening" to this source is a good beginning, but the same question arises: what does this have to do with aligning our hearts with the Great Commandments to love God and neighbor?

What Jesus taught was a change in attitude. He did not preach the law, but rather the fulfillment of the law (Mark 1:15). As Paul said in his Letter to the Galatians, if you clothe yourselves in Christ you will fulfill the law and not be in slavery to the law. Augustine put it somewhat differently: love God and neighbor and do what you will (Ten Sermons on First Letter of John, 7,4). It's not about traditional rules based on the traditional (but, as with Galileo, incorrect) reading of scripture. It's about taking God's creation as it is, not as we idealize it to be, and investing that reality with love.

What does that mean, concretely? What does love require? We all know that the sex drive can lead to self-indulgence, and the self-indulgence can be mutual. The way of Christ is a challenge, even for the traditional marital relationship. Would not the Magisterium be better off focusing its teaching energies in a different way? Not on enforcing rules that purport to read the human heart, but rather on cultivating greater responsiveness to the Spirit that is available to every human heart. There is a certain comfort in following rules, but Christ came to disrupt that comfort in favor of the reign of God in the human heart.

We should thank the LGBT community for bringing the Church to this crossroads.

Robert Peppey
8 months ago

Who cares what a bunch of pederast protecting grey males in Roman costumes think about my sexuality?

“For where there are two or three who have gathered in my name, I am there in your midst.”
Matthew 18. 20
As Jesus Christ stated above we don’t need no priests or bishops.

Patrick Murtha
8 months ago

It is unreasonable and a great injustice to quote Scripture out of context. It is dishonest and unjust to quote anyone, man and, more so, God, out of the context of his full conversation; for it will make him seem to say what he never intended to say. It would be as if I took words out of your sentences and reframed your words against your intention. Soon you would be saying, "Who cares about my sexuality?" or "We need priests or bishops."

Christ never said there is no need for priests and bishops. He Himself created the first priests and bishops. In the same chapter of Matthew that you quote, we read that Christ gave great authority to the church. "And if he will not hear them, tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican. Amen I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose on earth, shall be loosed also in heaven." (Matt. 18: 17-18) What is to be thought of this in relation to your words? But matters of faith and morals belong to the Church to protect and to clarify.

Christ also says, "Not everyone that says to me, "Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven: but he that does the will of my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21)

And again, "He that has my commandments and keeps them; he it is that loves me." (John 12:21)

Can we, by your own use of the authority of the words of Christ, to disregard Christ who says, regarding divorce, "whosoever shall put away his wife, excepting for fornication, makes her to commit adultery; and he that shall marry her that is put away, commits adultery"? (Matthew 5: 32) And then again, "Everyone that puts away his wife and marries another, commits adultery; and he that marries her that is put away from her husband, commits adultery" (Luke 16:18) (In other words, a man who divorces for any reason by marital infidelity becomes guilty of the adultery of his wife; and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. And by reason, the reversal.)

Robert Peppey
8 months ago

Sorry there is no where in the gospel where Jesus Christ used the words bishop or priest. He does denounce scribes, pharisees and the of the Sadduces.
“Beware of the scribes who like to walk around in long robes, and be greeted with respect in the marketplace, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets.”
The hey devour widow’s houses and for the sake of appearances say long prayers.
They will receive the greater condemnation.”
Mark 12. 37-40
In Luke 20. 45-47 the author repeats Marks words verbatim.
An here is what Saint Matthew records of the words of Jesus Christ in Mat 23. 1-36 on the same subjects, priests:
The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses seat; therefore do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not do what they teach.”
Matthew continues at 23. 8:
“But you are not to becalled rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students.
And call no one your father on earth, fot you have one Father-the one in heaven.”

So much for the “Holy Father”, the papacy and the Curia.

Pick up at Mat 23. 10:
“Nor are you to be called instructors,
for you have one instructor, the Messiah.”

So much for the Catechism. We can throw that out the window.

The greatest among you will be your servant.
All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.
Mat 23. 10-13

And there He kicks the College of Cardinals in their frocks and scarlet birreta’s

Final Word:
Mat 23. 23
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!
For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin and have neglected the weighter matters of the law:
justice and mercy and faith.”
“You blind guides!
You strain out a gnat and seallow a camel.”

Again throw away Bernard Law’s, Joseph Ratzinger’s and Karol Jòsef Wojtyla’s and Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti’s Catechism and pick-up the Good Book now.
Amen.

Sandor Gyetvai
8 months ago

Hello Robert, in Fact, at no time did Jesus even speak english, so we can just throw out everything you just said too. Thank you for clearing that all up for us..... :-/

Derrick Kourie
8 months ago

I will probably be pilloried for this comment, but, as i see it, the good bishop misses the point. The issue is not one of better language to explain unchangeable teaching; it is about deficient teaching that needs revisiting. This applies across a wide spectrum, ranging from human sexuality to the nature of Jesus' mission. A spirituality, theology and teaching that derives from the middle ages is doomed to extinction. We need to revisit what Jesus and his first century followers taught -- based on their understanding of human life, cosmology, etc. -- and appropriately apply it to the of 21st century.

Pancho Mulongeni
8 months ago

Wonderful article to read, about how young people are challening the notion that their love is is less than, their sin more sinful. As Tim Donavon writes, why do peoole judge two men having sex as the worst of the worst. But unlike him, I am not here to give explanations, because of the fact that no one is keeping track of heterosexuals, people in or outside marriage, who fail to be chaste. That is the whole point of Amoris Laetitia, don't judge, becasue the Gospel is not a stone to hurl. Listen and accompany LGBT people, if they want you to. I for one am at point of not caring if you listen or not, its between me and God.
In saying that, I realize I loose out on the opportunity of genuinely sharing my whole self with fellow Catholics. Where I live in Windhoek, Namibia, there are no spaces within the offical Church groups, the youth, the men's groups or women's groups, where I can ask for advice on what it means to be queer and Catholic. I think we as queer people need to group together within the Church. Does anyone know of any LGBT friendly Catholic groups within the social media or online space? There was one on facebook, but it soon died.

I also want to stress that my attitude of "its between me and my God" is one that queer people across the board have to adopt, in the face of proscriptive and insensitive religious communities. In fact, I heard it from a queer Muslim woman. This attitude means we are on the defence at all time, we have to evaluate priests and other people in the Church, lest they hurl a stone at us. For some of you, you see us as wanting to live "a lifestyle". But has it ever occured to you that your marriage, with a picket fence and 2.3 kids is not a lifestyle as well, one we chose not have.

Ken Chang
8 months ago

I believe that the best thing for gays is to form their own Church. It defies logic for the Catholic Church to have gays as a member that considers their lifestyle a sin and they do not intend to give it up. To continue accepting a sinner that will not stop does not make sense. It is bad for the Church and bad for the gays, knowing that the Church considers their ways sinful, continuously. Their own Church can tell them that their God loves them as the are and approves and accepts them into paradise. This way, they can have peace of mind without recriminations. Any gay that is gay but not a practicing one, can remain in the Catholic Church. It is the sin that is the problem, having an orientation is not sinful. (A gay priest) Therefore, it is their problem to solve for themselves. There is no hate.

Vincent Gaglione
8 months ago

“We are losing three generations of people, and we need to hear why,” he said. “So I would encourage my brother bishops to listen, listen to what they’re saying.”

I have a close friend who complains that the Church no longer enforces strictness in compliance with even the simplest of courtesies, such as people coming to Mass late every week. When I tell him that locking the doors would mean that the pews would be emptier, he says that they would learn the lesson. My opinion is, they would stop coming to church. In fact, they have!

One of the questions that we - bishops, clergy, parents, churchgoers - have to ask ourselves is: why are there so many Catholics who perceive Catholicity as being so rigid. I like to annoy my friend with this question: now that we can eat meat on Fridays, does he really believe that a person who ate meat on a Friday and died that same day went straight to hell? Regretfully there are people so focused on the rigidities that the Church has imposed that they have totally lost the sense of redemption and mercy that Christ accomplished and that He expects us to share with each other and our fellow human beings in the world, even non-Catholics!

We used to be a church of sinners. In far too many Catholic minds we are a church of the elect and the sinners be damned. "Listen" is what the Bishop suggests - a start to reversing a mindset that took three generations to create and will take three generations to overcome.

Robert Peppey
8 months ago

In my family’s time as members of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels in Los Angeles we were not welcomed into the parish by any of the clerics who work there, even after becoming paying parishioners.

We attended a service at Saint John’s Episcopal Pro-Cathedral as a result of our frustration with Archbishop Jòse Gomez inviting Cardinal Cipriani to celebrate the Immigrant’s Mass several years ago. Cipriani of Lima is one of the most tawdry LGBTQ haters of the of the Roman Catholic hierarchy.

When we attended Mass at Saint John’s and several other Episcopal parishes we were warmly welcomed by the clergy and parishioners.

I still attend RC Mass during the week and recieve the Sacrament as I wish. Excommunicate me, if you like, but I know that the Bishops of the RC are little more than hacks who have worked their way to the top often at the expense of the “little ones.”; allowing pederast priests to prey on children.

Those Bishops who have done so must be brought before the secular authorities for their crimes against children especially His Excellency William Francis Malooly who was central in the crimes against children in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Robert Peppey
8 months ago

God is not in isolation from the abused and humiliated.
Jesus Christ is only truly free when the hungry are fed, the sick are made well, and justice is given to the poor, the humiliated and the abused.
None of us can be liberated with Christ Jesus until all are liberated.
In this unjustice and unredeemed social existence and its church we cannot be freed by Jesus Christ unless we beome the oppressed, identitfing with the struggle of the oppressed.
The establishment Church and its doctrinally driven laity claim to be the victims; in fact doing so to retain their social interests, ie their wealth and usually white privilege. Claiming a Christian indentity while in fact they oppose Jesus Christ’s essence which is feeding the poor, healing the sick and visiting prisoners.
D.Bonhoeffer coined the term “cheap grace” for those who turn their backs on the “little ones” and spout a decrepit catheticism.
Below read Christ’s final commands to his disciples:

“Feed my little lambs”
“Shepherd my flocks”
“Feed my flocks”
“Follow me”
John 21. 15-20

Now that seems simple enough and has nothing to do with thousands of human decrees.
I am suddenly reminded of the scene in “Spotlight” where Bernard Law gives a Catechism as a gift to the Jewish editor of the Boston Globe.

Robert Lewis
8 months ago

This whole controversy is so unnecessary and so sad, because it really is tearing the Church apart. All the Catholic Church would have to do is to welcome openly gay and lesbian people as parishioners, bless their rites of "sworn brotherhood" (or "sisterhood") at church doors, as she once did (Alan Bray's book, "The Friend" proves this uncontestibly), under the tacit assumption that they will strive to be chaste in their relationships, and explain to them why, for reasons having to do with Christology (as I have tried to explain on these threads now, many times before) she cannot provide to them the sacrament of holy matrimony. Put in those terms, I know that many gay and lesbian Catholics would accept their fellow Catholics' help to live chaste and Christian lives, because gay and lesbian Catholics were once some of the most devout. I also think that all of their Catholic supporters would most likely accept the humane and charitable arrangement I'm proposing, because it would display to them the Church's mercy.

Dan Acosta
8 months ago

The goal of militant homosexuality is nothing less than having things their way. The militant homosexual movement will not be satisfied with just a blessing. It demands capitulation to their demands. Their god of ego is a cruel, demanding god that takes no prisoners. No tolerance will be found in the religion of the ego.

Robert Lewis
8 months ago

None of the gay Catholics I know are part of the "militant homosexual movement," and what you and others like you MUST come to understand is that your straight sons and daughters, nieces and nephews have dear friends among that group, whom they are loathe to see castigated and demeaned. You've got to change your attitude, for the good of the Church.

Mike Theman
8 months ago

I've only read reviews of Bray's book, but what your suggesting is adopting an old partnership label for relationships that no longer exist in the modern world. The fact is that the coupling in Western civilization is synonymous with sexual/sodomite acts. A tacit (why tacit?) assumption of chastity is antithetical - if not nonsensical, because sex is impossible between people of the same sex - to the relationship that homosexuals seek approval of. It is not their "marriages" that they seek; it is acceptance of their sinful behavior as normal.

Robert Lewis
8 months ago

A very pessimistic and, almost, cynical point of view: aren't "all things possible in Christ"? Why not WORK to make those relationships come to exist once more in "the modern world"? Why do you so despair regarding the evangelizing of your gay brothers and sisters? Maybe if they had some challenge that they actually COULD accept, they might strive to meet it. And besides, the most important thing that gay folks dread, as they age, is not lack of sex; it's loneliness. Why do you insist that they be lonely, in their old age, when straight people don't have to be?

Charles Monsen
8 months ago

Robert - the Church does welcome openly gay people as parishioners. Just as it welcomes adulterers, porn addicts, and every other kind of sinner, including me. The Church, as far as I know anyway has no issue with openly gay men and women living together in platonic relationships. However it has a clear teaching that if those relationship become sexual, they are disordered and sinful. That just is. That is not a pejorative judgement, we all sin. Is being gay a particularly hard cross to carry? Maybe so. Put into Ignatian terms it may be very hard to find God in being Gay, and Catholic, but He is there somewhere.

Robert Lewis
8 months ago

Well "platonic relationships" that are sacramentalized, as Bray has proven that the "sworn brotherhoods" once were, by the Church, are exactly what I'm talking about.

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