Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Cardinal Godfried Danneels said the Church had evolved in its understanding of homosexuals. How's that?

So how has the Church evolved in its thinking?  Its understanding of homosexuals?  What exactly is the new thinking on this subject?  How will the Church do better in the way it treats gay people?

Ask Eve Tushnet maybe? 

Cardinal Dolan?

Ask me and I will tell you that the teaching cannot change.  Homosexual acts are sinful.  Same sex marriage is not possible.  I've posted this stuff over and over ever since I began blogging.  Likewise, common sense and experience should prove without a doubt civil unions will lead to recognition of gay marriage - because civil unions are not good enough - they are not equal.

That said, why do some people reject the term gay and/or gay identity?

Once again, I will repeat myself.  When a person uses that term, he reduces his identity to a sexual preference/orientation.  An orientation which is objectively disordered - not a sin - but objectively disordered.  Hence, the implication being the condition is unchangeable and a natural variant of human sexuality. 

I want to share something from the foreword to Fr. Harvey's study, The Truth About Homosexuality - a book the Belgian Cardinals should have read.  I'm not a member of Courage but I agree very much with the aims of the apostolate.  I also very much admire the work, spiritual direction and the writings of the late Fr. John Harvey.  His writings almost always have resonated with my own interior convictions and experience.  His references to those experts he has collaborated with in his own writings, also have been useful to me in my personal journey and understanding the condition of homosexuality.

From Fr. Harvey:
It is noteworthy that the Society of Catholic Social Scientists sent a letter to the American bishops on November 28 1994, in which they expressed their concern 'with a trend in U.S. ministries which flatly contradicts Catholic doctrine on homosexuality'.  They outline ambiguities and contradictions, using scientific research in order to show the erroneous assumptions upon which these statements and activities are founded.  They list five fallacies:
  1. False statements are being made about homosexuality being biologically determined.
  2. Catholic homosexuals are being told that change in sexual orientation is never possible.
  3. The term gay is being used to describe people of a homosexual orientation who do not identify with the gay socio-political position.
  4. A separate 'gay spirituality' is being encouraged, and gay ministries tell us that a person who suffers from homosexual disorder has special 'gay gifts' for the Church
  5. Catholics are being informed that the homosexual condition is not disordered." - The Truth About Homosexuality: The Cry of the Faithful Seeking the Truth

Read Tushnet, Selmys, Gonnerman and others to see how commonplace this thinking has become, even endorsed by a growing number of bishops.

On the pastoral care of homosexual persons.

Almost always overlooked, deliberately ignored, or in some cases, considered to be irrelevant, I would direct the reader to study the CDF's Letter to Bishops on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons which clearly affirms Catholic teaching: "The human person, made in the image and likeness of God, can hardly be adequately described by a reductionist reference to his or her sexual orientation."
There is an effort in some countries to manipulate the Church by gaining the often well-intentioned support of her pastors with a view to changing civil-statutes and laws. This is done in order to conform to these pressure groups' concept that homosexuality is at least a completely harmless, if not an entirely good, thing. Even when the practice of homosexuality may seriously threaten the lives and well-being of a large number of people, its advocates remain undeterred and refuse to consider the magnitude of the risks involved. 
The Church can never be so callous. It is true that her clear position cannot be revised by pressure from civil legislation or the trend of the moment. But she is really concerned about the many who are not represented by the pro-homosexual movement and about those who may have been tempted to believe its deceitful propaganda. She is also aware that the view that homosexual activity is equivalent to, or as acceptable as, the sexual expression of conjugal love has a direct impact on society's understanding of the nature and rights of the family and puts them in jeopardy. - CDF Letter to Bishops



  1. Terry, I respectfully disagree with you. The Church has changed many of its doctrines through the centuries (have you read Noonans "A Church Which Can and Cannot Change,") and this is one that they should, not because it is politically correct ( I am the least politically correct person you will ever meet) but that it is not right to exclude people in monogamous loving relationships. The Church has to get over its weirdness about "homosexuals," to realize that like straight relationships, there are good and bad relationships, but that it based on the people themselves, not the sex acts they perform together.

    The(which of course IMO) problem stems from the Catholic Church and Christianity's "Ickiness factor," when it comes to sexual relationships, especially GASP non reproductive sexual relationships, instead of viewing responsible sex between two loving committed people as a gift from God helping to cement the two together in the relationship. The Church I think focuses on the icky sex part as they refuse to believe two people of the same sex can form intimate loving, supportive and "healthy," relationships which exist both within, and outside of the sexual relationship.

    As for Courage...once again, I think if it help's people..great. My personal opinion, from the little I know of it is that underneath it's loving message (and I do think the people involved mean well) is a very dark, dank that says, "You are disordered, so cut yourself off from having a full relationship which can make you and the other person, better people of faith." Its the same old message, coached in modern day feel good babble.

    As always, my comments are ment to open a discussion, not to be rude or argumentative.

  2. Mack, read Newman's "On the Development of Christian Doctrine" and Pope Benedict's commentary on it. You will see that the Church does not "change" doctrine, but simply continues to understand what is already there. That may look like change to the uniformed, when indeed it is not. Sexuality - one man and one woman married and always ordered toward procreation even if not possible - has reached its zenith in terms of development. There is no where to go as far as leaving marriage or procreation behind. The developments that did occur were in natural family planning. Aside from that, you're asking for wholesale changes, which is impossible.

    Mind you, our modern era is not the first to try and separate procreation from sexual acts. Such attempts have been around far longer than our 2000 years. If a development was authentic in that area, it stands to reason that it already would have been realized.

    Homosexual acts, as well as contraceptive acts, are older than the Church and will not be "approved." Ever.

  3. Mack - Jericho speaks for me as well.

  4. I have read quite a bit of Newman's ...and have to say, that the Church likes to use semantics when saying that it does not "change," doctrine.but simply continues to "understand," what is already there,,,(????) There was a time when Church Doctrine said that non-Catholics all go to hell, that Catholics could not marry non-Catholics and yes, that changed.

  5. Mack, the Church has no authority to change teaching on human sexuality.

  6. Mack- the teaching about the inherent sinfulnness of homosexual acts cannot change- it has been forever taught and is clearly in Tradition and Scripture. But here is a good example of how things can evolve- we recognize that the disorder of homosexuality is not sinful in and of itself. Here is another example- masturbation remains objectively sinful and that does not hcnage. However, there is an evolution in understanding how someone's subjective guilt of the sin may be less than grave due to the force of habit, etc.

    1. TT - You are correct that the teaching has been more clearly defined - esp. in psychological terms. However, I'm not sure that is necessarily an evolution in teaching - I think the understanding has pretty much always been there - as in a lessened culpability for compulsive 'self-abuse' as it used to be referred to. These are nuances which arise in the examination of conscience and between the confessor and penitent. It is also a subject for debate within the context of moral theology - nevertheless, the teaching of grave sin remains viable. The wiggle room argument tends to lead some people to confusion however. An evolution in understanding in pastoral care is quite different from an evolution in actual teaching. Sorry that I come off so black and white, but as someone who went for a very long time not being a very good 'master of his domain' I know the ins and outs of rationalization.

  7. Mack, you obviously have not read it, otherwise you would understand what that statement means. That aside, your second statement was curious, given it is a classic example by what the Church and Newman mean by development as opposed to change. The statement is true regarding non-Catholics going to Hell, but through development of what was already there, we now understand it to clearly mean those who recognize and accept that she has the fullness of Truth, but willfully reject her nonetheless. That would mean one is outside of salvation. The teaching has not changed, but the wording and details have simply developed as our understanding of revelation has developed.

    Newman, if you read him, was quite clear on this. Revelation is rather like a giant and complex present given to us by God. It takes time (which we live in) to unpack and understand all that is within the gift. Some things are obvious and clear from the start, sexuality as being expressed exclusively by man and woman in marriage being one of them. In fact, Christ Himself spoke of this union in no uncertain or unambiguous terms. Other things were wrapped up and too complex for a quick understanding. One of those things being salvation outside the Church. We knew that Christ said baptism was required for salvation, but exactly what all that entails took time and the guidance of the Holy Spirit to determine. That is what it means to "understand what is already there."

    Time and time again your question regarding sexuality has been broached over the centuries, and time and time again the answer has been the same. It cannot change and will not. You are simply at a dead end if you seek some sort of innovation or revelation that we "missed" in 2000+ years.

  8. Jericho,

    I really do appreciate you taking the time to engage in this discussion and in a thoughtful and polite manner. I still feel that explanation of "understand what is already there," is "ret-conning," the situation by the Church to allow them to change things while still asserting it's "unchangeability," (is that a word even???) But that discussion can go on forever and in circles. I do want to make clear that I don't have a question regarding sexuality, or want a changed answer from the Church. I will continue to practice my faith and living what I hope is an example (though I know I fail time and time again) as a Christian who just happens to be gay, SSA homosexual whatever label you want to call it. I do feel for people who MAY have totally internalized society and religion's view on their sexuality, and who are using their faith to avoid, deal with deny things that they need to deal with, one way or another, but might deny themselves a full life,the life that I believe and many don't that God wants them to have.

    And for what it is worth...(not much) show how tied into the whole "gay," thing I am, I didn't even know June was Gay Pride month. How does that work, do they send out an all gay email on it?

  9. Yes Jericho, the White House sends out notices about gay pride month and what to wear and how to decorate. Haha! Just kidding.

  10. Hi, Mack. Why do you say that people with SSA who choose to follow the Church's teachings are using their faith to avoid dealing with or denying the homosexual issue? Do you truly believe that it's an impossibility for a thinking person to choose to obey the Church vs. pursuing what you call a full life? Which also implies you believe members of *Courage* are living stunted, incomplete lives lacking "authentic" love.

    I can assure you this is not the case.

    1. I agree DB. Which is why I like to say that Fr. Harvey's writings, the teaching from the CDF, and others resonate with what I already know interiorly. The teaching confirms what my conscience says. It is the convincing of the Holy Spirit - hence the experience of true freedom of spirit. The opposite quenches the spirit and offers a false peace.

    2. In my experience - I should add.

  11. DB I think i was very careful not to say that EVERYONE involved in Courage is hiding, or that people who do not have a sexual life (gay or straight,) or are in relationships have a stunted life.I wouldn't presume to tell you or anyone else how to live just like I would hope that people wouldn't tell me I am "evil," (and luckily it is a small percentage of the population and getting smaller all the time.) Many people live full and healthy celibate lives. I was referencing the "testimonials," (once again presuming their are real) that Courage puts on their website. Most of those were from people who seemed to be damaged in many ways, not just their sexuality. I would presume that Courage thinks these people are their success stories and holds them up as indicative of their membership. I applaud anyone who makes a conscious choice in choosing a life that would make them happy and hurts no one else (once again, if I could get that consideration I would greatly appreciate it) but I am concerned that there are people who feel the weight of society and church's pressure and choose a life of, essentially wearing a hair shirt, where they MAY possibly find happiness with another person.

    And Terry brings up a good point, his conscience and what it tells him, which I cannot and would not dispute. Yet I brought up that my conscious tells me differently and was told that I was hearing the word of the devil or something. I would hope that others would listen to their friends, family, parishioners whose conscious tells them differently also. They don't have to agree with them or change anything but give them the respect that they aren't loons.

  12. Mack, I hear you and understand what you're saying. Before coming back to the Church, I followed my conscience as well in living a full and active gay life. Later I learned, however, that my conscience was not properly formed. There were things I thought were true that really were not (but felt true - to me), and things the Church teaches that at one time I thought were silly (like I'm disordered, which the Church does NOT teach) but now I understand and believe. My reversion to the faith was based more on rational understanding of the Church's teaching.

    After being away from the Church for about 12 years and not finding peace or happiness, I decided to give the Church the benefit of the doubt; considering it might have something to say about the real truth of things vs. my own understanding, no matter how rock solid I felt that to be. I'm one of those damaged people that was drug addicted, so it took hitting a hard rock-bottom and desperation to turn to the Church, because I had reached the end of my own will, so to speak. But praise God for that is all I can say.

    I think it's fortunate persons like yourself (you sound as if you have not had to deal with something as dangerous as the drug issue - thanks be to God), who live a life of relative normalcy, who can be in greater danger. Without the immediate sense of danger and urgency for help, you may not consider something's wrong.

  13. I am glad you have overcome your drug issue DB..and hope I didn't come off as condescending or holier than thou. Yes truly thanks be to God for the numerous gifts I have given and that all the mistakes I made were teaching lessons from Him.I hope that it continues. Thank you for reminding me..once again that I am indeed blessed to have avoided pitfalls..but my firm conviction is that is because I have listened to God..not always taking his word for it unfortunately! Stay healthy and stay happy whatever road you choose.

  14. A proclivity toward sodomy should be seen as a grave disordered reaction to psycho-sexual trauma. This trauma may be rape, poor same-sex parenting, or reckless experimentation that marred an initial sexual experience.

    Scripture (St Paul, St Jude, St Peter) also suggests a super-abundant pride as a cause that manifests itself in the decadence of hedonism.

    In any case, this proclivity is seen as a cross, when it should be viewed and treated as mental illness. Until we see it as such again, no progress can take place. (Up until the politics of the early 70's, sodomy was seen as mental illness. The contraceptive mentality is the genesis of all this. If you approve of infertile seed-spilling, you must approve of every abomination or aberration, no matter the grouping or species.)

    Put any sexual proclivity out there, add "..-attracted", and presto! You've made dry martyrs out of ever soul who desires deviancy!

    The Church has been broken for 50 years and this is just proof-positive!



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