Monday, July 08, 2013

Fr. Paul Scalia on same sex attraction.

Fr. Paul Scalia is the son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. 

Fr. Scalia has been involved with Courage for eight years and will be a featured speaker at this year's Courage Conference in Mundelein, Illinois at the end of July.  He has come to the attention of secular media, in part because of the family name, as well as his promoting the position that homosexuality is an attraction or inclination, but not properly an orientation:  "homosexual tendencies (to use a term from magisterial documents), do not constitute a fixed, unchangeable aspect of the person and therefore should not be considered an “orientation.” Further, the term does violence to a proper understanding of human sexuality. Either our sexuality is oriented in a certain direction (i.e. toward the one-flesh union of marriage), or it is not. We cannot speak of more than one sexual “orientation” any more than we can think of the sun rising in more than one place (i.e. the orient)."

Media naturally spins Fr. Scalia's POV as anti-gay, as demonstrated  by the following from Huffington Post:

Overshadowed by his father for years, the similarly anti-gay opinions of Scalia's son Paul, however, are beginning to attract attention as well. An important tenet of the younger Scalia's position on homosexuality is his belief that being gay is not an immutable characteristic or identity.

Fr. Scalia's work is based upon Fr. John Harvey's life work, which included the founding of Courage Apostolate.  The current news items on Fr. Scalia are taken from his own writings on the evolution of Fr. Harvey's work, addressing the ever changing developments in the culture related to homosexuality.  It is always better to read the sources rather than depend upon secular media reporting on issues of Catholic teaching, or even reading my own POV, which is never articulated as well as it should be.  I want to post a few excerpts from Fr. Scalia's article - which helps explain why using the term same sex attracted is preferred over identifying as gay, queer, homosexual, and so on.  (In other words, it supports my own POV regarding the identity issues.)
Consider how swiftly American society has changed as regards homosexuality. The “Stonewall riots,” the touchstone and unofficial beginning of the gay rights movement, occurred in June 1969. Since then, the demands from the gay community have progressed from simple tolerance, to acceptance, to the right to marry, to now the silencing of any opposition as bigoted and “homophobic.” Those who once insisted on tolerance for their lifestyle will now tolerate no disagreement. Society now requires everyone’s approval of what not long ago was regarded as morally abhorrent.
[...] Father Harvey repeatedly articulates and explains the principle that guided his work and the work of Courage – namely, the distinction between the person and his homosexual attractions or tendencies. Those who advocate the goodness of homosexual acts and lifestyle do so because they identify the person – always a good – with the homosexual inclinations. They therefore conclude that such inclinations must be good and so also, of course, the actions. Likewise, those who feel shame and loneliness do so precisely because they have come to identify themselves (their very persons) with their same-sex attractions, which they know (both intellectually and affectively) to be wrong. The work of Courage (and of the Church as a whole) turns on the person/attraction distinction. We can fairly summarize that work as distinguishing the person to be loved from the attractions to be resisted and even overcome. 
[...] in his last book, Father Harvey ceased using the term “homosexual” or “homosexual person.” His thought and ministry brought him to realize that it is better to speak of someone with “same-sex attractions.” Although lacking brevity and ease of speech, this phrase has the virtue of precision. It acknowledges both the person/attraction distinction and the complexity of the condition – not fairly summarized as an “orientation.” Which brings us to another matter of vocabulary.…  
Father Harvey’s use of the term “orientation” also underwent a deserved change. In his first two books we find the use of this word to describe homosexual inclinations or attractions. In the last book, however, he deliberately avoids it. This reflects the increased appreciation for the fact that homosexual tendencies (to use a term from magisterial documents), do not constitute a fixed, unchangeable aspect of the person and therefore should not be considered an “orientation.” Further, the term does violence to a proper understanding of human sexuality. Either our sexuality is oriented in a certain direction (i.e. toward the one-flesh union of marriage), or it is not. We cannot speak of more than one sexual “orientation” any more than we can think of the sun rising in more than one place (i.e. the orient). 
Indeed, one of Father Harvey’s contributions is his discussion of the possibility for healing of homosexual attractions. He deftly navigates the extremes (on one hand, that change is impossible… on the other hand, that it is morally obligatory) to present the simple truth that many have found freedom, to varying degrees, from homosexual attractions. Thus we cannot speak of it as a fixed, unchangeable, unchanging “orientation.” (For this reason also the Church made a similar correction in the second edition of the Catechism, removing unfortunate language that implied homosexuality is a fixed orientation.) - For Those Who Believe in Rational Argument: In Memoriam John Harvey OSFS

"[T]he Church does not propose different standards of sexual morality (one heterosexual and another homosexual). Rather, she articulates the truth about human sexuality for all — a truth that is not her exclusive possession but pertains to the nature of man. She bears witness to the natural law, to the design and purpose of human sexuality. The truth is this: Human sexuality has meaning, purpose and design — all discernible by natural reason. It is for something: for procreation and union." - Fr. Paul Scalia, Same Sex attractions: The Church's Pastoral Approach, Part I 


Lisa Graas is a better known blogger than myself, I have the impression she is read by more prominent bloggers and Catholic news portals.  I'll direct you to her site for a couple of posts on the same subject. 

More On Gay Identity
This is why they think we are bigots
Does Multiculturalism Require Catholics to Accept the Gay Identity?

H/T Ray at Stella Borealis for the Scalia article.
H/T Larry at Acts of the Apostasy for the Graas link.


  1. To the contrary, getting linked by you on this topic means a great deal to me. Thank you, and God bless you.

    1. You are so kind. I really appreciate what you have added to this conversation. The thanks is mutual.

    2. Thank you. I do not have same-sex attraction, but it is extremely important to me because I sometimes have suicidal ideation. I have Bipolar Disorder (and Asperger Syndrome, too). If we don't get this right, more people will suffer from it than people realize. It's about more than homosexuality. It's about what human nature is and what we are all called to be. That is why I am so passionate about it. Is it a sin for me to think about suicide? That all depends. Am I choosing to think about it killing myself? In my case, the answer is no, because I was born with a chemical problem in my brain for which there is no cure, but we cannot look into people's heads. We can only know what each person tells us about himself/herself, because we are talking about something that occurs in our thought processes. The idea that this is about one group of persons is ludicrous. I also suffer from believing something about myself that is simply not true in God's eyes. It's not about sex. It's about human nature.

  2. Thank you, Terry, for sharing with us the wisdom of Fr. Scalia and Fr. Harvey. And I love Lisa's wise comment as well.

  3. Thanks for linking to me, Terry. I'm always humbled when the bigger bloggers link to me.

    1. Always have to get your digs in about my being so freakishly tall, don't you. Now I know how the heavy weights feel.


  4. What a great article. That distinction can be applied to so many things I think, so many sinful ways that each of us could potentially identify with. For instance: the tendency to objectify the opposite sex, the tendency or attraction to, in a dissipating way, lust after many others of the opposite sex, which is contrary to God's will of an exclusive one-flesh union in marriage. The heart is a battleground between love and lust, as JPII said, whether it's a matter of SSA or opposite sex attraction.

    1. Patrick - I would think that attraction to the opposite sex is natural, regardless of whether one is married or not. It's really about what we do with it.

      What I mean is, a married man may still find other women attractive - that's nature. But it's our fallen nature that turns that natural attraction into sinful desire.

      If the attraction itself were sinful, we'd have to demand the sort of gender segregation and extreme modesty rules one sees among Muslims, and no man or woman would be able to dress in a way that makes them look good.

  5. The other side is really going after Fr. Paul Scalia. I hope everyone will share this article far and wide.

  6. Lisa, your no-nonsense posts on this issue are wonderful.


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