Thursday, October 30, 2014

Disordered affection ...

Gay people hate the word disordered.  

It is one of the single most objectionable words used in Catholic teaching regarding homosexual acts.  It was even mentioned at the Synod - as hurtful language.  The use of the word disordered is one of the objections to the CDF documents regarding pastoral care of homosexual persons.  It is why not a few gay-Catholics dislike Cardinal Ratzinger - Pope Benedict - simply because he was in charge at the time and responsible for updating the Catechism as well as issuing the following clarification:
Since “[i]n the discussion which followed the publication of the (aforementioned) declaration..., an overly benign interpretation was given to the homosexual condition itself, some going so far as to call it neutral or even good”, the letter goes on to clarify: “Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered towards an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder. - Some considerations ...
The supreme pontiff, St. John Paul II, signed off on all of it - meaning the CDF or Ratzinger did not step outside Catholic doctrine.

Inordinate affection.

In the spiritual life - which every Christian is called to - terms such as disordered and inordinate are frequently used to describe obstacles to 'our perfect union with God'.  Recently, a meditation from Archbishop Luis Martinez appeared in Magnificat magazine, which may help us understand better the meaning of such terminology and the reason why it is used.
Whenever the affections of the heart are not an expansion of divine love, they are an obstacle to our perfect union with God. (an obstacle to sanctity)
Although every affection that blossoms from the love of God is holy, and increases our perfection rather than impedes it, the same is not true of any other affection that has purely human and natural roots; for from affections of this kind come forth sins, both mortal and venial.
Inordinate affections are the root of sin ...
When at any time an affection rises to the point of taking complete possession of our heart in such a way that it causes us to place our happiness and our final end in a creature, then mortal sin is committed; for mortal sin is nothing else but the triumph of an inordinate affection over the love of God.
Very often a disordered affection does not go to such an extreme, yet it can contrive to live side by side with the love of God.  Then it is a species of parasite that prevents the love of God from developing in all its fullness and in all its glory.  In this case, a disordered affection is the cause only of venial sins or simply imperfections, yet, in every instance, it hampers the perfect development of the love of God. - Archbishop Luis M. Martinez


  1. I totally get the word "disordered" and its meaning and theological preciseness. The problem lies in what you said: it's not pastoral. Now I know there will be a chorus of folks saying the most pastoral thing is to proclaim the truth clearly so as not to muddy the waters -- you know, in that fraternal correction/charity & all. But if it isn't received well (and yes, that's the "fault" of the hearer), then it's not going to do much good, is it? It took me a LONG time to wrap my head around the true meaning of that word. And even knowing the truth, it still does not sit well with me. There must be a new pastoral way of speaking and teaching the truth for those who cannot receive the theological language -- whatever the reason they cannot receive it. Beating others over the head "in charity" doesn't solve anything, but exacerbates the problem. I really hope the Spiritual Friendship / Gay Catholic / whateveryouwanttocallthem crew can offer some light in this regard.

  2. Really? I wonder if screwed up would be better? Just kidding - really, I am.

    Please let me know if the conference has a better alternative. I can't think of anything - except inordinate - but I suppose that sounds negative too?

    My whole point is that these are real terms - meaningful. They have depth and are instructive and enlightening - they describe a reality. They express a fact.

    I'm genuinely curious to know if there is a pastoral alternative? A nicer way? I'm not being sarcastic or facetious in that regard.

    For me it is similar to a road sign on the freeway exit saying, "Wrong Way" - it isn't mean, harsh, or unkind at all - it is just telling the motorist this is not the entrance but rather the exit.

    1. I don't disagree. Well-meaning Catholics (I presume) take this language and seem to really enjoy beating a gay person over the head w/it. My problem I guess really isn't with pastors; it's pewsitters. As I've said before, I have issues. Who doesn't. I crave community and repel it at the same time.

    2. I have issues too. ;)

    3. db, it probably doesn't help, but the most recent time I used the word disordered was to describe something that didn't involve a gay person or even a same sex attracted one, so it has many applications. Any time people beat someone over the head with a word or phrase it's probably one of those beam/mote things and they're seeing a mote but have a beam. I try to be respectful of everyone until they irritate the hell out of me, then I get snarky.

    4. db, sorry my response was focused on the one word but really, I think many people have issues. I wasn't raised in a religious household; I was raised against church teaching and I very nearly didn't get confirmed because when I went through RCIA, there was nobody I knew well enough to ask about issues that were difficult for me. The priests pretty much scared the hell out of me and my sponsor was a sponsor in name only and couldn't be bothered. I left it with God and consciously decided to assume that Holy Mother Church knew better than I on any subjects that I found to be issues. It was very difficult as I wasn't raised in conformity with Church teaching so I had a secular viewpoint. It has become much easier.

      I'll pray that it gets easier to conform your will to Gods and recommend a little pamphlet by St Alphonsus Liguori, Uniformity with God's Will. I've read it a few times and have learned from it.

      Never forget that nothing is impossible with God. It might seem impossible but that's if we're trying to do things alone.

    5. Thanks. I'll look for that pamphlet.

  3. What would you suggest, doubhboy? I doubt if anybody would like "unnatural" inclination. And how do you feel about this statement from the catechism Terry quoted above? "It is a more or less strong tendency ordered towards an intrinsic moral evil."

    I doubt if there is anything that would be acceptable to the person resisting conversion besides acceptance and affirmation of his sin. Look at the objection in the Synod interim report to the term "adultery" used for those who have attempted a second marriage without annulment.

    It isn't just those with same-sex inclinations that prefer feel good terms. "Irregular situations" has appeared in some documents. But really, are some people just wearing their belts around their foreheads and then accusing people of hitting below the belt?

    1. I have trouble making sense of all this harsh language stuff myself. For instance Cardinal Wilfred Napier of South Africa said:

      "I think language is something we have overlooked for a good while. We used language that is out of touch with the way people speak today. In the past, it was sufficient to say to people, "you are going to go to hell if you continue this way of life." Hell was a reality. It was something they knew, or they understood it. When you talk about hell today, people don't know what you are talking about. So I think the emphasis is shifting."

      Others say the terminology is too technical, too theological. It reminds me of the argument over the word 'ineffable' during the USCCB debates over liturgical translations. It strikes me as a dumbing down - this in a time when humans have never been so highly educated and exposed. It strikes me as disingenuous.

      Napier seems to think hell is a concept not understood by a culture which entertains itself with ghoulish films, games, books, music, and dabbling in Satanic ritual. It seems to me the misunderstanding originates with the loss of the sense of sin, or worse - calling evil good.

    2. Mary Ann I'm sure you mean well. Thank you for proving my point.


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