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November 21, 2006

Comments

therese

So, back to my original question of a couple of months ago, WHAT should be the proper response of those us who live in the 55 Dioceses which comprise this group? Our diocese, like most, is very strapped for money but we're still paying to send reps to the annual conference for this group & promote their agenda. I have prayed consistently for the last 2 yrs about this. Any other advice?

RP Burke

Here's the issue.

To follow Catholic teaching on human sexuality, in 25 words or less, you're either married -- and risking pregnancy each and every time you have sex -- or chastely celibate.

Is there another option? For the "objectively disordered" (a far more technical, philosophical term than it sounds in English)? For the properly ordered but unmarried? Don't think so. The church's official advice to gays and lesbians is the same as it is to unmarried straight couples: Keep your pants on. Always.

(Well, maybe not always -- considering how the Jansenists told my Irish ancestors to keep their clothes on even in the bath!)

Mark

Speaking as someone who has experienced the challenge of same-sex attraction since my childhood, I have never considered homosexuality to be intrinsic to my identity as a person. I always knew deep within that my attractions were disordered and not what God desired for me. Knowing this, I chose to act upon these deep-seated impulses to satisfy my passions. In recent years, I have experienced a deep healing in my life by realizing that my disordered passions and my persona were not one and the same. This has freed me to make choices about my behavior rather than blindly act upon impulse because that is "who I am." I believe that far to many Catholic people who struggle with same-sex attraction have come to identify their person as their behavior. I have escaped the maddening grip of this distorted belief system. I am a son of the Father who struggles each day with a choice to serve him or to serve my flesh. My temptation is as unique unto me as rage or greed or envy are to my neighbors.

Bill Mild

Amy, you proposed that gay-rights activists have set up the straw man that proponents of the Church’s teaching are all about reparative therapy and switching teams, that homosexuals can be heterosexuals. I have some insights to add.

I am finishing up "A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality" by Dr. Joseph and Linda Nicolosi. I starting reading it partly out of curiosity and also I thought, since I have 3 small boys, it couldn't hurt to consider the perspective.

Well, I was surprised to learn that Dr. and Mrs. Nicolosi, strong supporters of reparative therapy, do not see the objective as changing a homosexual into a heterosexual. He writes: "It is important to remember that change is a matter of diminishing homosexual feelings and increasing heterosexual attractions. Change moves slowly on a gradual continuum, and there will undoubtedly by regressions. It is not a matter of 'once homosexual, now heterosexual.' And like all psychological change, the transformation will probably never be total." (Page 142)

We may have been conditioned perhaps by gay-rights activists to think of the "reparative therapy" movement in black and white change from homo to hetero, so that it can be summarily dismissed as ridiculous. If reparative therapy itself does not claim to completely transform homosexuals into heterosexuals, than perhaps it is quite compatible with the Christian tradition. Perhaps, it is both reparative therapy and Christian tradition which are being misrepresented by gay-rights activists.

tony

Thank you Mark, and may the Lord be with you (and with all of us) in the daily struggle for holiness amid the poisonous culture of the time.

It is indeed the false and malicious identification of personhood with sexuality that has undermined Christian anthropology and debased the human person. We are creatures of a loving God; we are endowed with a will that, though often confused, is ultimately free. We are granted a human nature whose end (telos) is union with the Divine.

Regarding the "lesbian and gay ministries"; they are dominated by militants seeking to undermine Catholic Truth and replace it with the sexual secularism and shallow hedonism of popular culture. They prefer Hefner to Augustine; they trumpet "compassion" to disguise apostasy. Their teachings are anathema. They will be called to account.

How long oh Lord must we suffer from those who are sent to teach and protect us!

caine thomas

Mark,

I think you've framed the issue perfectly. I really appreciate reading your comments, and will keep you in my prayers. The real obstacle in place is the cultural environment that defines us by what we do, even when those actions are harmful to us. This is true with alcoholics, drug addicts etc., but since our sexuality is so connected to our core as human beings it becomes particularily powerful.

Modern culture, in its need to elevate the self over God, imposes an artificial metanoia on people that defines who we are based on our human weaknesses rather than as subjective to our being made in the image and likeness of God. There are a lot of pastoral types encourage this mindset by continuing to preach a kindergarten spirituality of "God loves me for who I am." To grow in faith I need to realize that "God loves me for who I was meant to be." That requires participating with humility in my own sanctification, and not slumming in my weaknesses and failures! Onward and upward.

I think another problem the Bishops have in this regard stems from the popular rejection of Humanae Vitae that they facilitated. That was the stone the builders rejected, and without it, all approaches they take to human sexuality are destined to crumble. Humanae Vitae became the cornerstone of JPII's Theology of the Body. TOTB is a genius, hope-filled, life-affirming revolution in how we think about sexuality, and it's fully equipped to help us understand the struggle and suffering people who live with same-sex attraction experience. As with contraception, the Bishops cannot be afraid to lead people from the wilderness that tells them everything is OK and point them to that narrow way out! That's the way to the Kingdom of God and the faithul deserve nothing less.

Henry Dieterich

To follow Catholic teaching on human sexuality, in 25 words or less, you're either married -- and risking pregnancy each and every time you have sex -- or chastely celibate.

As long as people consider pregnancy a risk of marriage, Christian teaching on sexuality will fall on the stony path and the birds of secularism will gobble it up.

The whole idea of homosexual identity is an invention of the nineteenth century. Traditional Christian teaching assumed that anyone could sin by engaging in sexual relations with members of the same sex, although some people are more inclined to it than others, just as some are more inclined to gluttony or anger. But nowadays we have somehow swallowed the notion that any manifestation of this sin, or the temptation to this sin, means that a person is somehow a fundamentally different kind of person, who should be subject to different rules than other persons who have not manifested it. As long as this distortion is perpetrated by references to "homosexual persons" it will be impossible to address the moral problem correctly. Catholic teaching considers no person, whatever his sinful inclinations, beyond redemption, simply because these inclinations are not fundamental to anyone's identity.

Old Zhou

Last night I came home to find our diocesan newspaper in the "In" basket. There were summaries of the several recent statements from the bishops meeting, including the statement "Ministry to Persons With a Homosexual Inclination: Guidelines for Pastoral Care," approved 194-37.

After reading the newspaper article to Mrs. Zhou, she said, "That is the clearest statement on homosexuality and care of homosexual persons that I have ever heard in our diocesan newspaper!"

Perhaps because Fr. Schexnayder is in our diocese (retired).

The times are changing. I really feel that the American bishops are, step by step, trying to lead the Church out of the fog of the 1970's.

Aboonatom

As far as I can determine, the issue in need of resolution is the notion that a gay/lesbian person is "disordered." If by that term it is understood that a situation is not the ideal as first expressed by the Creator, then most aspects of our lives are "disordered": sickness and disease, hunger and poverty, warfare and injustice, hatred and violence, and the list goes on and on. As children of God who still are subject to sin and failure, our sole effort is to live as close as possible to the Divine Order, knowing at the same time that in falling short of that ideal, we have been given a Savior who came, not to condemn us, but that we might have grace to share in the eternal life of God. Our preoccupation with the sins of the flesh is as disordered as those sins themselves. Most disordered are those who would pass judgment in God's Name on those who are honestly struggling to follow the Way. Often they, themselves, are also "disordered" but lack the courage to acknowledge their own need of saving grace. Let's stop exiling each other from the community of grace, but instead let's try to carry each other's burdens as we have been taught.

Sue Sims

Re. Henry Dieterich's comment:

Quite right. Indeed, the word 'homosexual' itself is an invention of the late 19th-century (Kraft-Ebbing, I think), and even then is an adjective, referring to the desires and their upshot. It's first recorded as a noun, referring to a person, in 1912. In other words, the sin, the actions, the temptations, have always been with us, but the self-identification of an individual as being exclusively capable of engaging with only one sex is modern, and very strange, considering the massive historical evidence.

Most of the men whom we'd now regard as Famous Homosexuals of History were married and fathered children: and many of the well-known examples of our own time, both men and women, are/were the same (for instance, the Episcopalian bishop Gene Robinson). They will say that they were never really in love with their spouse, or that they were always secretly uncomfortable, and that they've only found their true selves with their new same-sex lover (I have an acquaintance who tells me this). I find this about as convincing as the adulterer who tells me that they've only now found true love. They're sincere; but new love always makes the old look thin and jejune.

In the end, we all have to war against ourselves: take up our crosses. I've got to fight against spending hours on Catholic blogs, for instance...

caine thomas

Aboonatom,

How do we raise children in an environment that, on top of being ridiculously over-sexed, is currently requiring people acknowledge and accept homosexual activity as healthy and normal. How do you tell adolescents that something is not healthy and in fact sinful when that belief is branded by conventional wisdom as intolerant?

John Jansen

I'm not an expert on the history of Christianity's experience and teaching on this matter, but it's my general impression, from what I do know, that "changing orientation" has not been the emphasis - this, by the way, is a straw man that is pretty consistently set up by secularized gay-rights activists within the Church - that what proponents of the Church's teaching are all about is reparative therapy and switching teams, and that's the only way.

It's not. When you ponder the history of the Church's practice and teaching on this, even as reflected in contemporary documents, you don't see that.

To my mind, there is a certain beauty in the Church's acknowledgment that there are some issues that are beyond her scope to address -- a beauty that implicitly acknowledges the inestimable value of the various academic disciplines.

Herein also lies a great irony: While the Church leaves open the possibility of reparative therapy for individuals with same-sex attraction, she rightly recognizes that this question is one for scientists (and not theologians) to discuss. (We see a somewhat similar situation regarding Church documents on evolution.)

So much for the "The Church is against science" canard.

Aboonatom

Thank you, Caine. My perspective hopefully acknowledges the reality that some things are not as planned by God in the orderly creation that was intended. At the same time it leaves open the door, not for a condemnation of the situation or condition, but for a loving compassion that acknowledges the human condition in its widespread disorderliness. I am more respectful of the presence of God's grace in a relationship that is creative of a spiritual goodness (heterosexual or homosexual) than I could ever be of a relationship that is unfaithful, abusive or is void of a spiritual awareness of God's grace. I have often said that the worst thing that ever happened in the sacrament of marriage is that the Church's minister became the servant of matters of the state. Thus, every marriage somehow came to be a sacrament when in reality it is evident that every relationship does not mirror God's intent or reflects God's love. In matters that belong to civil realities, perhaps the Church should bow out of its involvement and again become the herald of God's kingdom, i.e. the way that the Creator intended it to be. Thus civil unions have their place and the sacramental relationships can be what they are supposed to be.

caine thomas

Aboonatom,

You didn't address my concern. If my children are bombarded with sentiments that draw no moral distinction between homosexual and heterosexual relationships, what should I tell them when they ask me if there is one?

Socius

Compare the US Bishops statement to this by the Sacred Bishops' Council of the Russian Orthodox Church

"The debate on the status of the so-called sexual minorities in contemporary society tends to recognise homosexuality not as a sexual perversion but only one of the «sexual orientations» which have the equal right to public manifestation and respect. It is also argued that the homosexual drive is caused by the individual inborn predisposition. The Orthodox Church proceeds from the invariable conviction that the divinely established marital union of man and woman cannot be compared to the perverted manifestations of sexuality. She believes homosexuality to be a sinful distortion of human nature, which is overcome by spiritual effort leading to the healing and personal growth of the individual. Homosexual desires, just as other passions torturing fallen man, are healed by the Sacraments, prayer, fasting, repentance, reading of Holy Scriptures and patristic writings, as well as Christian fellowship with believers who are ready to give spiritual support."

See XII.9 in the following document
http://orthodoxeurope.org/page/3/14.aspx

Ferde Rombola

caine...you should tell then to use their heads. Ask them if it's possible to believe conjugal relations between two men or two women is the same thing as relations between a husband and wife. If you can admit crudity to the conversation, ask them if they really think a man's anus is a sex organ.

Jordan Potter

Recently Dr. Philip Blosser had a post on St. Peter Damian's medieval ministry regarding homosexuality:

http://www.pblosser.blogspot.com/2006_11_01_pblosser_archive.html#116317728318393772

St. Peter's rhetoric is very strong and unsparing, but it does seem to focus on the dire need to conquer sexual lust and impurity -- i.e., to become and to remain chaste. In that, it would seem to be in line with the U.S. bishop's central focus on the need for those who suffer from same-sex attraction to strive for and to attain purity and chastity.

Fr V

I think in this discussion it should be recalled that the SCDF under Cardinal Ratzinger pointed out the problem of an overly benign interpretation of homosexuality. The Congregation recalled the the condiiton itself is not a good thing because it represents a strong inclination to serious sin.

With respect to reparative therapy for homosexuals, I believe that the document on Homosexuality and candidates for the priesthood presumes reparative therapy because it insists that any inclination needs to have been overcome and that only the passing inclination associated with adolsescence and sexual immaturity is in play. Deep-rooted homosexuality excludes a candidate from the priesthood.

lone_striker

Basic biology lesson:

"Homosexual" behavior - or any other type of sodomy - isn't sexual, for grief's sake. Ejaculating human sperm into a colon or mouth, or anywhere else than a human female's womb is not a reproductive act.

A dog's womb, for example, does not count. The same genus or family is insufficent to the aim. And the page of an open porn mag doesn't work either, no matter the lubricant.

If it isn't unimpeded human male on human female vaginal intercourse it simply isn't human sex. There are other words we used to assign such acts.

Barring technological manipulation, genetic or otherwise, "homosexuals" cannot have children with eachother, right? They can only be "a family in a petrie dish" as I heard on lesbian couple's brood favorably (I guess?) described in the NY Times today

My family is a family in a petrie dish, isn't that swell?

As our Holy Father has pointed out to an uncaring world, a society of sodomites, catamites, prostitutes and porn is a society of sterilty and senescence.

Or, the US in 2006. With the Catholic Church complicit in the scene. The catamite angle being apparently especially favored in many of our chanceries & rectories.

Our spiritual fathers are very prolific these days.

Benvenidos a los Estados Unidos, mis compadres (and about time, too. Love chilis and tortillas, and Spanish is such a great language..)

Aboonatom

Dear Caine, I apologize if you thought that I did not respond to your question. My answer is simply: This is not what God intended for us to do. Each person is asked to live up to God's standards. At the same time, if others fail to do so, then how are we to treat them? With compassion! "It is mercy that I desire." I have tried to teach my children the lesson that Hebrew National Hot Dog so completely acknowledged in their television commercials. "We answer to a higher authority." Have I or my children always done the right thing? I offer my own mea culpas many times for not living by these higher standards. But I also am very much aware that it is only by God's grace and goodness that I am to be saved. So in conclusion, teach your children what is the right thing in God's plan. But find a place of grace in your heart for those who cannot//will not//have not yet lived up to these standards. We have been prophetically reminded, "Always Our Children."

Spirit of Vatican II

I have a discussion of the recent document on my weblog.http://josephsoleary.typepad.com/my_weblog/2006/11/neocaths_and_ga.html

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