A blog by the magazine's editors and contributors


Carl Paladino's opposition to homosexuality: "Exactly equivalent to the Catholic Church"

That's kind of a scary statement given the latest comments by the Tea Party fave and GOP gubernatorial candidate for governor in New York. Paladino has a hard-earned reputation for being, let's say, mercurial, and his statements on Sunday about gays at an Orthodox synagogue in Brooklyn plus his kind-of-walkback on the "Today" show this ayem only reinforce that.I have a story on the exchanges here, and NYT coverage is here.What intrigued me, in light of our recent discussions of Catholic teaching and gay bullying and the gay marriage battle by the bishops, were these quotes from Paladino's campaign manager, Michael R. Caputo, in reference to Paladino's often sneering dismissal of homosexuals:

"Carl Paladino is simply expressing the views that he holds in his heart as a Catholic," Caputo told The Times. "Carl Paladino is not homophobic, and neither is the Catholic Church."

Caputo continued that line in remarks to CNN.

"Carl Paladino's position on this is exactly equivalent to the Catholic Church," Caputo said. "And if Andrew Cuomo has a problem with the Catholic Church's position on abortion and homosexuality, he needs to take it up with his parish priest."

Caputo may be right, but does Paladino's tone at least merit a pastoral response from someone in the Catholic hierarchy? And is his attitude representative of how many Catholics internalize -- and then express -- church teaching on/against homosexuality and gays and lesbians?


Commenting Guidelines

Stephen, you say, "Id be grateful to know what those who object to Carl Paladinos remarks think he ought to have said."I'll take a stab. You logged into the previous thread on gay bullying to say, "To engage in actions that conflict with Gods will as reflected in Jesuss teaching is to do what must not be done, i.e., it is to do evil."But Jesus said nothing at all about homosexuality, insofar as I know. While he did say much about love, mercy, and justice.For a start, I'd hope that anyone claiming to represent the Catholic position on homosexuality would begin with the latter. And would be honest enough also to admit the former.In fact, the bizarre fixation of many Catholics today on "actions" that conflict with God's will in the area of sexuality seems to me light years away from Jesus's worldview or preoccupations.When I read the gospels and hear Jesus talking about love, mercy, and justice, I can't imagine how to explain the rhetoric of those who implicitly put every gay and lesbian person in the world up on a big stage in a glaring spotlight, and who fantasize about the "actions" all these people are purportedly performing.And who then want to represent that bizarre activity with its bizarre fixations as love.I'd never dream of trying to imagine precisely what any of the heterosexual folks I know do in their bedrooms, or of caring at all about their "actions" and whether those "actions" meet the goal of Catholic teaching, except when those actions inflict harm on vulnerable, innocent people who do not have the wherewithal to defend themselves against coercive sexual activity (e.g., minors being abused by adults). And so I wonder why some of my heterosexual Catholic brothers and sisters feel so free to do precisely that with every gay and lesbian person in the world. And to reduce the entire meaning of my life to the "actions" they imagine I perform in the bedroom.But above all, I wonder how they think this is loving behavior on their part. Or that it in any way reflects the outlook and teaching of Jesus for his followers. Or how they imagine they are drawing those who are gay and lesbian to Jesus and the church by behaving this way.

From The Beginning, we have been called to develop healthy and Holy relationships with one another in communion with God. Some of these relationships will develop into Marriage, creating a new family as a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife becoming one in body and spirit. God Has revealed that we have been created male and female, not "heterosexual", "homosexual", "straight", "gay"...., and it is His intention that we participate with Him through The Sacrament of Marriage in the creation and nurturing of Human Life. God desires that all Marriages be Holy, as we are called to Holiness in all our relationships. Christ has made it clear that the sexual objectification of any person is in direct conflict with God's Commandment regarding lust and the sin of adultery, and He Has clearly stated His intention for the Sacrament of Marriage. Christ Has Revealed that He came to do The Will of His Father while clearly revealing His Father's Will. The truth is that homosexuality is not consistent with God's intention for Sexual Love and homosexual sexual acts are demeaning because they do not respect the Dignity of the Human Person made in the Image of God. The Truth of Love is not harmful to those who suffer with various disordered inclinations but rather it is when we deny The Truth to those we Love and fail to help them overcome their disordered inclinations through authentic Love that their suffering continues.

I think the tendency to equate "the Church" with "the bishops" or "the hierarchy" or "Church documents" is part of the problem, and part of what I'm trying to break through.Of course, it's easy to go to far with this -- that a large number of Catholics disregard the Church's teaching on contraception does not mean that Church no longer asserts that teaching.And, I suppose, the manner in which some self-described orthodox Catholics have used Church documents and bishops' statements as a club against their political adversaries has not helped matters.But in figuring out attitudes, I think a better guide is to talk to people in the pews (some of whom, I must admit, in this thread express attitudes even less compassionate than "objectively disordered"), than to the sharpest phrase one can find in Church documents.I guess, I would like, in general, a more nuanced public discourse. Something beyond the dichotomy between embracing the entirety of the gay rights agenda and being a homophobic bigot. It is becoming increasingly difficult to walk this line, and I don't think it's a good thing.

When I read the gospels and hear Jesus talking about love, mercy, and justice, I cant imagine how to explain the rhetoric of those who implicitly put every gay and lesbian person in the world up on a big stage in a glaring spotlight, and who fantasize about the actions all these people are purportedly performing.This is also the same Jesus who said things like, "anyone who doesn't hate his mother and father cannot be my disciple."It is true that Jesus was very much about compassion and forgiveness. But this notion that Jesus was this big Huggy Bear who doesn't care how we live our lives and just wants to include everybody doesn't stand up to scrutiny with the Gospels, either.

John, you say, "But this notion that Jesus was this big Huggy Bear who doesnt care how we live our lives and just wants to include everybody doesnt stand up to scrutiny with the Gospels, either."But I didn't say Jesus was a big Huggy Bear.I said that he says absolutely nothing -- nothing that I'm aware of -- about homosexuality.But he says much about love, mercy, and justice. So the burden of proof is on anyone who wants to cite him and his teaching as a foundation for teachings that target those who are gay and lesbian in a way that is obviously not loving, not merciful, and unjust.

P.S. I think I'd go further and say that, to my mind, it points to the serious . . . puerility . . . of some ways of framing Catholic teaching about sexual morality that we don't, all of us, see just how off-kilter (not to mention unloving, unmerciful, and unjust in some of its applications) is that bizarre fixation on the "acts" people do sexually.As the basis for judging the worth of some human beings and their relationships. This is not a self-evident way of dealing with questions of sexual morality, when one reads the gospels.

The difference Dimittri, If I may be so bold, is that your Bishop does not assume you are having anal sex with your wife. With a gay person, he likely does.Michael,But apparently a bishop can also assume that 90% or more of the married couples of childbearing age in his flock are using artificial birth control. Now, I know there's an "ick factor" for many people when it comes to gay sex (which you are no doubt trying to exploit), but I have to ask myself this. If nonprocreative sex is wrong, who is more culpable for engaging in it -- people who can't procreate, or people who have the God-given ability and choose to thwart it? From a strictly Catholic point of view, I think a good case could be made that heterosexual sins are worse than homosexual ones, although -- heaven knows -- this is not official teaching. Also, a bishop can assume that approximately 50 percent of the priests in his diocese are sexually active. If people who have made a pledge or vow to remain celibate can't stick to it, how virtuous do you expect ordinary lay people to be?

Don't get me wrong David. I think the RCC on homosexuality in particular, and sexuality generally is showing signs of being fixated.I have said before, and I say again. There is good reason for the Catholic school girl fetish, and the Church and its pastors created it.

William, you claim that because Jesus did not mention homosexuality that homosexuality is consistent with Sexual Love. Sex and Sexual Love are not the same for Love is not possessive nor does it serve to manipulate. Sexual Morality is grounded in authentic Love. Respect for the Dignity of the Human Person according to the Will of God is not a "bizarre fixation".

Nancy, you say, "William, you claim that because Jesus did not mention homosexuality that homosexuality is consistent with Sexual Love."No, that's not precisely what I've claimed. What I've said, precisely, is that because Jesus never said a single word about homosexuality, but did say much about love, that the burden of proof is on those who want to claim that his teaching opposed homosexuality while making love-negating claims about those who are gay and while engaging in unloving behavior towards those who are gay.I certainly agree with you that sexual morality is (to be) grounded in authentic love. And that respect for the dignity of the human person according to the will of God is not a "bizarre fixation."And I'd add that that respect is due to those who are gay and lesbian as well as to those who are heterosexual.

You sound highly offended David Gibson, and for that I apologize.Not to belabour this I happen to agree with Hitchens, that those who bawl the loudest about gays probably have some other, deeper problem but because you seem so offended I think I should explain myself.I have two analogies regarding this both a bit flawed as all analogies tend to be.First, imagine you have a fellow who does not see the color red, but instead thinks and honestly so that all the red things in this world are blue. Of course he would not be normal, but imagine further, than rather than tell him red is red and not blue, that with best of intentions, not wanting to make him feel sad, that we all decided to let him think red is blue. We would simply say that is how he was born and that he should be encouraged to follow his natural inclination; in short that he and his view of the world, while different, is still normal. Now this of course, while tedious for the rest of the society, in fact probably is not otherwise a very big deal. Still, occasionally this man would notice that in fact people saw red as red and that he was different. As such, he would never really feel that he was normal, but everyone would still handle him with kid gloves.One the other hand, imagine an alcoholic or drug addict or a smoker if you like. His worldview includes being on the bottle all day, most days, to the point where he sometimes bothers other people and risks damaging his own health. Do you really think we would be doing him any favor by telling him; Oh dont worry about it; you were born with a tendency toward booze. Embrace your natural inclinations it is normal? Would it also be correct to teach our children that some people are just born to drink like fish, or to take drugs and that while they are different, their world view and actions are normal; that nobody should judge them or condemn their activities?I would not think being born with the tendency to be gay is an easy thing certainly would not wish that burden on anyone. That having been said, while we ought not encourage people with this problem to give into natural destructive tendencies, we also ought not deride or abuse these folks. They carry a burden we do not understand and we should not make life more difficult for them than it already must be.To sum up then, while we should condemn abuse of these folks, we should at the same time be honest with them e.g., tell them they cannot be married like heterosexual couples are married. They can co-habitate of course, and we should adjust our financial and tax laws to accommodate them so they can properly tend the practical matters of life, but because by definition marriage is a relationship that relies on, among other things, the notion of complimentarity between man and woman (in our society, between one man and one woman), we should be honest with them and with ourselves, that two people of the same gender cannot be married.

You raise some good points David N.In fact using artificial contraception is a sin and the Church does not mention it often enough. Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae could not have been clearer.As for the greater sin the Good Lord of course will judge that. Suffice it to say as you point out that via our own (often flawed) human reasoning it would seem that those who were born with the gift of normal sexual tendencies and the ability to sire children, but who then thwart Gods design by using contraception (essentially throwing the gifts God gave them back in His face), that they would bear more guilt than those born with unnatural sexual tendencies and other problems and who (in short) carry a heavy burden that is altogether different than most of society.As for priests and their sexual urges, while I doubt your statistic, I would say that to me it is less of a surprise that some priests fail to keep their vow of chastity; it is more surprising any of them manage to keep it at all.

William, since it is true that homosexual sexual acts are not consistent with God's intention for Sexual Love within a Holy Marriage where a husband and wife become joined together as one body, one spirit in Love, creating a new family, then homosexual sexual acts are not, nor can they ever be, acts of authentic Love.

There was a time when I thought (naively, it appears) that those promoting and defending the magisterial discourse of disorder would eventually recognize how shameful their promotion and defense of this discourse is. And when I thought that the widespread refusal of many lay Catholics in developed nations to accept this discourse -- and the magisterial teaching about sexual ethics in general -- would change the situation.I don't have much hope for either of those two options now. What I do see happening, however, is this: the cognitive dissonance produced by this teaching, particularly as it's incarnated in the lives and political statements of some key Catholics, is quickly becoming insupportable. And I suspect that this cognitive dissonance will eventually cause the teaching about disorder and the unjust heternormativity it enshrines to collapse of it own rotten weight.The problem is increasingly this, in the eyes of many people of good will outside the church and many Catholics: what kind of religious community that wants its moral teachings to be respected looks to the sort of folks promoting this teaching about disorder as moral exemplars? When people like Carl Paladino or Newt Gingrich become primary exemplars of a moral tradition in the minds of the public, something's awry, in the view of many folks. Especially when, at the same time, some outstanding models of virtue are driven from communion by those defending the current teaching as beyond question. I don't intend to pass judgment on the worth of anyone in the eyes of God. I have no right to do that, and cannot look into the hearts and souls of anyone and see his/her standing before God, no matter what "acts" the other person does. What I do intend to say, however, is that one of the serious problems with the teaching about disordered gays is not merely the considerable damage it does to those who are gay and lesbian.There's another serious problem, as well: it's who the teaching points to as the standard for normalcy. It's whom the teaching legitimates, empowers, places in the judgment seat when it comes to a whole group of their brothers and sisters.As people become increasingly aware that they know and love many gay and lesbian persons, and that these persons in no way represent the kind of crude, malicious stereotypes represented by the discourse about disorder, people will also inevitably (and rightly) begin to ask on what basis those promoting these stereotypes claim to represent order and normalcy. And why anyone would prefer the kind of normalcy being held up as normal to many other healthier, more ethically defensible understandings of the normal and good.People will inevitably ask about the legitimacy of the claims of people who purport to represent order and normalcy, if they have had three wives, for instance, and cheated on two of them before marrying the third. Or when they have had a child out of wedlock which they kept hidden for years, while they claim to defend family values and the sanctity of marriage.And so I agree with something Joe O'Leary says in the thread above: the current magisterial teaching will eventually have to change, just as the teaching about the Jewish people changed, or as the teaching about slavery changed. Meanwhile, I really do hope younger people struggling with their sexual orientation don't encounter some of the malicious and crude stereotypes about gay and lesbian persons that so many of my brother and sister Catholics feel astonishingly entitled to pour out -- in the name of love, of course.And I remind myself that the apology to the Jewish people came too late for some 8 million of our Jewish brothers and sisters (and that many of those now using church teaching to promote toxic homophobia also resist the curbing of anti-semitism and racism in our tradition).

Setting the Holocaust, Jews and the nazi's aside for a moment William, as a practical matter; do you think it is a good idea for teachers to be spending time in elementary school trying to explain gay marriage to six year olds? Please explain why you would, or why you would not, favor such an excercise. Also, if it turned out that your son or daughter was gay, would that make you happy, or would that make you sad? Please explain why would you feel happy, or why you would feel sad.Thanks -

In the political world in which we live, and which is the context of the thread, Ken -- it's about Carl Paladino's recent homophobic remarks in a political speech, which his campaign manager defended as an expression of Catholic teaching -- I don't think we can honestly set aside the Holocaust, the Jewish people, and Nazis.Our Catholic history bears a certain heavy burden because of the way in which our Catholic teaching has been used to oppress the Jewish people for centuries, and because that teaching ultimately bore very bitter fruit in the murder of millions of people in the middle of the 20th century.Personally, I think we have obligation not to forget. Always to remember. And to look at what we're teaching and doing now, to see whether that maleficent possibility lies in our teaching and behavior now -- and, especially, in the political applications of what we teach.I have no children. If I had had children, I think my rule of thumb in raising them would be to cherish them as they were. To nurture all that was good in them while trying to move what was less promising in the best directions possible.I think perhaps the worst thing parents can ever to do to children is to make children feel unloved and unwanted. Making them feel unloved and unwanted because of how God chose to make them seems to me horrifically wrong-headed, as it's horrifically wrong-headed, I believe, to teach children to despise or fear people who do not fit our definition of normalcy, because those people are made different from ourselves.As to teachers and schools, I think you're raising a red-herring issue. You may want to read what Andrew Sullivan wrote about this as he addressed Mr. Paladino's remarks at his Daily Dish blog today.I don't remember my first-grade lessons ever mentioning marriage at all, except insofar as it was taken for granted in the Dick and Jane reader, which also projected an idea of the "normal" family that was all white and suburban (and by all indicators, Anglo). I wouldn't see any particular reason to engage in discussions of the definition of marriage in a first-grade classroom, and I think I'd be inclined to defer questions about that topic to the parents of children in the classroom, if they raised questions about it.My first-grade teacher did, I also recall very clearly, place a great deal of emphasis on teaching us to be kind, thoughtful, well-behaved, considerate of those who were picked on and abused for whatever reason. And she combined those lessons with bible lessons in that antediluvian era in which we were also expected to memorize Luke's account of the birth of Jesus in public school, to memorize psalms, and to pray Christian prayers daily in school.Those fundamental lessons in human decency seem to me appropriate for the first-grade classroom, along with the religious lessons that attend them -- in faith-based schools.

The final phrase in my last posting -- "in faith-based schools" -- is meant to note that specifically religious lessons to bolster lessons in ethical behavior belong in faith-based schools. The lessons in ethical behavior belong in all schools, it seems to me.

William, I think you know that no one should feel ashamed because they respect God's intention for Sexual Love. We cannot transform The Truth of Love, Christ transforms us. Let us Pray that those who struggle with a homosexual inclination get the help and guidance they need through authentic Love.

I think you also know that it is not true that the murder of millions of people in the 20th Century was the result of the teachings of The Catholic Church.

Nancy, thanks for your responses. I didn't say that the murder of millions of people in the 20th century was "the result of the teachings of the Catholic church."What I said was, "Our Catholic history bears a certain heavy burden because of the way in which our Catholic teaching has been used to oppress the Jewish people for centuries, and because that teaching ultimately bore very bitter fruit in the murder of millions of people in the middle of the 20th century."We are not innocent as Catholics. The roots of the antisemitism that resulted in the Holocaust do run back to us as Catholics and to the other Christian churches. And we have a serious obligation to remember and ask forgiveness for our sins as a community of faith.Please note that your repeated statements about what you think I know implicitly accuse me of not being truthful, while they also project your own certainties about various issues as certainties that are self-evident to others. I don't respond to all of these statements on your part, not because I don't read and take into consideration what you say, but because it seems unproductive to keep trying to respond to your assertions that your reading of reality constitutes reality itself.I do, however, feel obliged to defend myself when someone accuses me of distorting the truth. I take such accusations very seriously, because I take seriously the obligation to speak the truth.

In fact, the bizarre fixation of many Catholics today on actions that conflict with Gods will in the area of sexuality seems to me light years away from Jesuss worldview or preoccupations (William Lindsey).In fact, Jesuss worldview and preoccupations were not light years away from condemning as sinful certain actions in the area of sexuality. Nor was his approach to those issues a bizarre fixation. Jesus warned his followers that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Mt 5:28; RSV here and throughout), and he taught that adultery and fornication are among the offenses that defile people (Mt 15:19). It was also Jesus who, courteously but bluntly, told the Samaritan woman that the guy with whom she was then sleeping was not her husband (Jn 4:18). And, of course, Jesus told the lady caught in adultery: Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again (Jn 8:11).If Jesus said nothing about homosexuality directly, he addressed it indirectly by referring to the Genesis narrative of the divine chastisement of Sodom and Gomorrah (Mt 10:15). His contemporaries understood that punishment as having been inflicted, among other reasons, because of the sin that both Jewish and Christian traditions associate with the name of Sodom. If those traditions are mistaken, then it was Jesuss duty, simply as a rabbi, to correct the error of his compatriots. Catholics, however, know that Jesus is not simply a rabbi, but also the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. Consequently, he was incapable of erring in his acceptance of the traditional understanding of the Sodom narrative.The above worldview is the same one defended by the Catholic Church today. For both Jesus and his Church, all the moral prohibitions dictated by the virtue of chastity are proclaimed with understanding and compassion, and without in any way slighting the virtues of charity and justice.

Thanks, Stephen. I wonder if it might strike you as significant that in the two passages from Matthew you cite -- Matthew 5 and Matthew 15 -- Jesus uses the term "heart." He speaks of the heart as the seat from which our actions of any kind flow.I wonder what that might possibly mean, as an indicator of his moral focus?The argument that Jesus's silence re: homosexuality represents his strong endorsement of his tradition's prohibition of homosexuality behavior is an exceptionally weak argument, since it is argumentum e silentio. It seems dangerous, if not a bit ludicrous, to claim that something you and others want to see as central to the teaching of the religious figure to whom you appeal is stronger precisely because that something is not even there. What will we next argue Jesus cared passionately about, because he was totally silent about it?And your allusion to the tradition about Sodom in Jewish scripture only further erodes your argument, when one begins to count up all the Jewish biblical texts in which the sin of Sodom is clearly defined as the inhospitality of the citizens of the city. Read Matthew 10:1-15 and Luke 10:1-12 again carefully, and it should be obvious to you that the sin Jesus was decrying when he referred explicitly to Sodom was -- as the Jewish scriptures themselves persistently state -- the sin of Sodom.I stand by my assertion that the acts-centered approach to sexual ethics that now predominates in Catholic magisterial teaching is not deeply rooted in the worldview or teaching of Jesus. His emphasis was far more clearly on the heart as the seat of our moral life than on specific actions.

Even before I read William Lindsey's more recent comments, it occurred to me that official Catholic teaching on homosexuality tends to induce cognitive dissonance in people, i.e., the experience of trying to hold two conflicting views simultaneously. As the Wiki entry notes, folks can deal with cognitive dissonance by either dealing with reality or engaging in denial. Rome wants to have its cake and eat it, too.As for Sodom and Gomorrah, I now subscribe to the view that the story deals not with homosexuality but rather with lack of hospitality. No doubt, procreation "back in the day" would have been highly valued to produce future workers and soldiers to deal with survival (against starvation and natural ravages) and enemy. On the other hand, extending hospitality to stranger and traveler would have been seen important as well.Each generation learns from its experience. In his teaching and preaching, Jesus would have had to have taken his listeners' capabilities into consideration. In this respect, Jesus was limited in his mission, but he gave us the two greatest commandments, love God and love neighbor. We know so much more today than in the Lord's time, and yet we have a pope and lackey bishops who refuse to consider people's experience of God's influence in their lives, not to mention growing body of knowledge from the social sciences.Growth involves change.

"As for Sodom and Gomorrah, I now subscribe to the view that the story deals not with homosexuality but rather with lack of hospitality" (Joseph Jaglowicz).If the sin of Sodom was primarily inhospitality instead of the desire for same-sex intercourse, then its hard to understand why both St. Jude in the Christian tradition (Jude 7) and Philo in the Jewish tradition (On Abraham 133) support the latter reading. Please see especially the informative note to St. Judes verse in The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: The New Testament. The correctness of the second reading is also implied by the Magisterium in footnote 140 in CCC 2357.

Philo, oddly enough, did not know Hebrew, so his reading of the Sodom and Gomorrah story was no doubt dominated by the anti-homosexual rhetoric (partly of Stoic derivation) that was common in Hellenistic Judaism and is found also in Paul. Raping your guests is certainly a more striking demonstration of inhospitality than of homosexuality; see also the parallel tale in Judges 19 where the bad men rape the female prostitute all night long -- again not particularly relevant to same sex love.Nancy writes: "Since it is true that homosexual sexual acts are not consistent with Gods intention for Sexual Love within a Holy Marriage where a husband and wife become joined together as one body, one spirit in Love, creating a new family, then homosexual sexual acts are not, nor can they ever be, acts of authentic Love." Again, I shall rewrite in more sensible terms: "Since it is true that homosexual sexual acts are not inconsistent with Gods intention for Sexual Love within a Holy Marriage where a husband and wife become joined together as one body, one spirit in Love, creating a new family, then homosexual sexual acts may be acts of authentic Love, independently of our discourse on heterosexual marriage."

Stephen, I'm intrigued by this claim: "The correctness of the second reading is also implied by the Magisterium in footnote 140 in CCC 2357."You clearly have a high view of the magisterium, and a certainty that I don't share that teachings like the teaching on homosexuality as disordered can't change. And so the magisterium weighs in, too, on particular scripture verses?Learn something new every day . . . . And, again, I'd propose that you read Jesus's sole references to Sodom, Matthew 10:1-15 and Luke 10:1-12. The passages speak of how Jesus's disciples should respond when the communities to which he sends them don't receive them. It's in that context that he refers to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, clearly drawing on the longstanding tradition of Jewish scripture decrying the lack of hospitality that caused their destruction.As an aside, I'm always intrigued at how little our culturally determined readings of scripture and tradition seem to recognize the seriousness of hospitality. While we rail against a sin that seems so obvious to us, but only a handful of controverted biblical texts can be cited to ground our railing, the scriptures are chock-full of commands to treat the stranger with dignity, to open our doors and our hands to those in need, to love others as ourselves.I don't feel much love (or welcome) in many believers' attitudes towards those who are gay and lesbian. Do you?

William, It is important to note that what Christ actually said was Love one another as I have Loved you because The Word of God is The Truth of Love. To be clear, God did not create "heterosexuals", "homosexuals" ...and then ordered sexual morality according to various sexual preferences, God clearly stated that when creating man in His Image, He created them male and female to live in a communion of complementary Love. Defining men and women as "heterosexual", "homosexual"..., does not come from God, but from man, and it is absurd to think that God would refer to anyone as a sexual object. I have no doubt that this is why Pope Benedict referred to men and women with a homosexual inclination as men and women with a homosexual inclination because He understood that referring to someone as "heterosexual", "homosexual"... is in direct conflict with God's Commandment regarding the sexual objectification of the human person and the sin of adultery, and that The Truth of Love, if we trust in Him, through His Grace and His Mercy, can transform our lives.

William,You've mentioned a number of times that you do not feel love and welcome. I was wondering, what would sound like love and welcome? Could the Church hold its perennial teaching on (ultimately) vaginal sex and its perennial insistence on the bodily expression of morality, and yet not be hurtful to you? Is there a middle ground? Is a relationship possible on your terms, which I take to be a complete acceptance of your own point of view, despite the contradictory self-understanding, based on Scripture, of the Catholic Church?Or perhaps I misunderstand your terms.

Kathy, thanks for your questions.You ask, "I was wondering, what would sound like love and welcome?"I can answer that question succinctly, and please know that the succinctness is not meant to be flippant.Love and welcome would be the opposite of the situation that Michael O'Loughlin describes (accurately) as the situation gay and lesbian human beings now face in the church, in O'Loughlin's latest posting at America: think when it comes to affirming a person's human dignity, there is no middle ground. I think that people who are told that an institution accepts and affirms all human beings as of equal worth in the eyes of God, but who encounter in the behavior of that institution and in aspects of its teaching the claim that their human worth is less than that of others merely because of how God has made them, naturally experience painful cognitive dissonance, and often distance themselves from the source of that dissonance.The price the church is now paying for diminishing the humanity of its gay and lesbian sons and daughters is extremely high. Harm is being done not merely to the many gay and lesbian persons who walk away (and to our families and friends -- who walk away, since we have little option otherwise, if we want to affirm our human dignity, something the church itself calls us to. We have little option because, well, again, take a look at the reality Mr. O'Loughlin is accurately describing.But tremendous harm is also being done to the entire body of Christ, insofar as the church permits its heterosexual members to imagine that their humanity is somehow on a higher plane than that of their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters -- merely because they are heterosexual. When it comes to affirming the human worth of all persons, I don't see a middle ground. And when it comes to be a welcoming and loving community . . . . When people are given the message that their humanity is somehow on a higher plane than that of others merely because of how they are constructed by God, those given that message often behave imperiously, callously, thoughtlessly, without regard for the rights and contributions of those made different from themselves. Institutions that set such a dynamic into motion through their own foundational documents or teachings -- as the church has done with its teaching about the disorder of all persons born gay -- often have rocky futures.Not merely because they bash and harm those demeaned by their foundational teachings, but also because they give unmerited power and privilege to those whose humanity is enshrined as normative in the foundation teachings, unmerited power and privilege that corrupts those who are encouraged to think of themselves as the standard bearers of normalcy -- without any strong basis for that elevation to Olympian status.I apologize if I sometimes sound sharp, as if my back is against a wall. The experience of being told that one's human worth is less than that of other human beings -- and there is no other way to read the magisterial statements that tell all gay human beings that we are disordered (and all heterosexual ones that you represent the standard by which order and normalcy is to be judged -- puts one's back against the wall. There are few experiences in life that evoke a sharper reaction than the struggle to maintain one's human worth and dignity in the face of forces that seek to deny that. Particularly when those forces come from the heart of communities that speak about God as love, and about the obligation to welcome and love God in the stranger.

I dont feel much love (or welcome) in many believers attitudes towards those who are gay and lesbian. Do you? (William Lindsey)Catholics and other Christians who fail to accept the guidance of the official teaching of the Catholic Church sometimes express themselves in a way that can be called homophobic, and this is to be deplored and opposed, as the Magisterium has increasingly done in the contemporary world (e.g., CCC 2358). Moreover, believers who take seriously what Jesus is teaching us through the Magisterium (Lk 10:16; CCC 87) do love and welcome those who self-identify as gay, and do sincerely wish to help those brothers and sisters internalize the Churchs call to live chastely, which is a moral imperative for every human being without exception (CCC 2348).Yes, William, I do have a high regard for the Magisterium. If I didnt, Id take the logical and coherent step of leaving the Catholic Church.

William,On another thread I carefully explained that the language of disorder applies to all of us. I'm wondering if you read that, and/or if you believe my explanation.

Thanks, Kathy. I did, of course, read your explanation. And I thought I responded to it.I'm not persuaded by the argument that the church's teaching about disorder means something other than what it explicitly says. Or that people like Mr. Paladino aren't accurately representing that part of magisterial teaching. You yourself began the conversation on the other thread quoting the very document that I then cited, to show you what the document says, precisely, about the objectively disordered homosexual "condition."(I'm obviously not persuaded by the argument of magisterial fundamentalism, either, which seeks to freeze non-infallible teachings of the magisterium and imply that they are beyond question or change. Nor am I persuaded by the argument that one's identity as a Catholic should be defined by adherence to those non-infallible and changeable teachings.)I continue to maintain that Michael O'Loughlin's summary of what the church is saying to its gay and lesbian members today is accurate. And if it's accurate, the church has a tremendous problem on its hands, both to justify its claim to be a loving and welcoming community (it's clearly not, when it comes to gays and lesbians right now), and to deal with the implications of a teaching that not only targets and demeans one group of its members, but also elevates another group to normative status -- to the detriment of that normative group. As I've noted persistently -- and you seem not to wish to hear this --claims about disordered inclinations and a disordered condition are never extended to heterosexuals in magisterial teaching, in a way that defines the nature of those who are heterosexual as disordered, even when they engage in disordered sexual activity. The definition of disorder -- and, yes, about their disordered nature -- is unilaterally applied to those who are gay and lesbian.It is exceptionally difficult to define oneself as loving and welcoming to those who are gay and lesbian, with such a teaching. And it's not very difficult at all to see the evidence of the lack of love and welcome everywhere in the Catholic church today. It's abundantly clear, for instance, on almost any thread in the Catholic blog world discussing these issues right now.

William,I suppose it would clarify things if you were able to show me a passgage from a document that says, "Homosexual persons are disordered in their very nature." Forgive me if you've already done so. This is what you claim the magisterium says to homosexual persons, and I take this to be the heart of your complaint, as you have said it several times.

"I do have a high regard for the Magisterium. If I didnt, Id take the logical and coherent step of leaving the Catholic Church."When I was in Catholic high school, the priest who taught senior religion drilled into us that the definition of the Church was "people of God in pilgrimage". He said that even if we forgot everything else he told us, to remember that. I always did remember it; so when I'm put off by the pronouncements of the higher-ups, I remember that it's my Church as much as theirs and that doesn't change even when I disagree with them.

As with an addict, that they are born with a serious problem does not mean they are hopeless, and it does not let the rest of society off the hook either. Rather than telling the addict to just embrace his natural tendencies, we (society) are obligated and in fact usually encourage the addict to try to keep a lid on his destructive tendencies. With drinkers we say try not to drink so much; with smokers we say try to smoke less, etc.. We do not encourage people to drink or smoke more, or to abuse drugs more; we do not encorage people to give into the self destructive tendencies with which they were born.None of that means that we dislike the various types of addicts or that they are born disordered or hopelessly flawed. We are all born flawed, and these types of people are born with a chink in their self-preservation armor. We do not abuse or institutionalize someone who drinks too much or who has fallen into drug abuse. We love them as we love the rest of our family. We try to understand and help them be happy and live decent lives so we can all meet again in heaven.Because homosexuals are no less our brothers than other types of people, we ought to lovingly encourage them to try to keep a lid on the flawed natural instinct with which they have been burdened.

Kathy, in the previous thread on gay bullying to which you're referring, I did cite specific passages in my response to you at 10/09/2010 - 3:07 pm.In fact, I cited extensive sections of the same 1986 document that you had previously cited in the thread, the CDF document on the pastoral care of homosexuals. As I pointed out, this document clearly states, vs. a "benign" or "neutral" interpretation of the homosexual "condition," that the homosexual "inclination" itself is "an objective disorder."I also noted that the document says that those who engage in homosexual behavior confirm in themselves "a disordered sexual inclination which is essentially self-indulgent. And when the document addresses violence against those who are gay and lesbian, But the proper reaction to crimes committed against homosexual persons should not be to claim that the homosexual condition is not disordered.I also cited the catechism ( 2358), which says, The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial.And in our conversation about these issues, you indicated that you understood precisely what is at stake here, when you observed, "The CDF had to step in and say, no, its not as though homosexual orientation is a positive good, like the heterosexual orientation. It is ordered wrongly."Heterosexual orientation = positive good. Homosexual orientation = ordered wrongly.I asked you if you had met conditions and inclinations romping around outside persons in the world in which you live. You didn't reply. Though I understand why you wish simultaneously to point to magisterial teaching about these issues as definitive, and then to shield that teaching from what you yourself point to as its affirmation that heterosexual orientation is a positive good and homosexual orientation is ordered wrongly, I don't see this as helpful. Or intellectually honest. And it simply refuses to engage one of the central points that has to be engaged, if the church is ever to become what it claims to be about -- a community of love and welcome for all. This is the unmerited power and privilege that the current teaching gives to all who happen to be born heterosexual, simply because they are born heterosexual.Such unmerited power and privilege is inherently corrupting, particularly for those who don't think carefully about what it implies, or who become incapable of listening carefully to the experiences of others who are shut out from such power and privilege, simply because of who they happen to be by nature. It's especially corrupting in a community that claims to be about welcoming and including all.

P.S. Kathy, please note the last line of Ken's posting, which came through as I was preparing my reply to you:"Because homosexuals are no less our brothers than other types of people, we ought to lovingly encourage them to try to keep a lid on the flawed natural instinct with which they have been burdened."Is Ken distorting magisterial teaching when he speaks of keeping "a lid on" the "flawed natural instinct" with which God (the author of nature, I believe) has "burdened" those God chooses to make gay?

Mr. O'Brien, thank you for your references to St. Jude, Philo, and CCC-2357.On the other hand, please see Mt 10:14-15 and Lk 10:10-12 where Jesus tells his disciples that if any town does does not extend hospitality to them during their proclaiming the good news, such community can expect to be treated worse on the Judgment Day than Sodom and Gomorrah. The Son of God is clearly associating the story of Sodom and Gomorrah with refusal of hospitality, not with homosexuality.I'll take the word of Jesus any day of the week over that of somebody else --- even Jude, Philo, and the pope!As I mentioned earlier, each generation learns from its experience. It may take the cumulative learning of several (or many) generations to finally "see the light" on a subject. It was only at Vatican II, for example, that the Church finally condemned slavery even though Jesus himself may have accepted (or at least tolerated) the practice (after all, the Lord was forced to consider the limitations of understanding of his listeners during his earthly ministry). Likewise, it was at the Council of Jerusalem that the earliest Christian leaders decided that circumcision would not be required of Gentile converts --- even though these leaders were themselves of Jewish descent and followed the teachings of a Nazarean who was himself circumcised according to Jewish teaching! In these two examples, we have situations where one generation was confronted with a decision to adhere to, or deviate from, established and accepted practice. The religious leaders, past practice and underlying belief notwithstanding, decided that it would be more Christlike (for lack of a better way to put it right now) to move in a different direction: dispense with circumcision as mandatory and condemn human slavery.Catholics today, from pope on down to the little old lady in the pew, are likewise confronted with a decision that involves either sticking with past teaching/practice --- or, like their ancestors in the faith, acknowledging new understandings of human life and relationship.

The language of moral theology mutates into hurtfulness when it is ported into common discourse.For most of us in our everyday lives, a "disorder" is an illness, or perhaps more likely, a psychological abnormality.I would suggest that when the church, utilizing the language of moral theology, describes a homosexual inclination as "objectively disordered", or homosexual sex as "intrinsically disordered", it is utilizing the word "disorder" in a different sense: that it is an inclination / action that is *ordered toward* - that is to say, directed toward - something that is (in the case of the inclination) evil actions, or (in the case of the act) an improper end.None of that is to say that homosexual sex is morally permissible, nor that the church is absolved from the responsibility to use language that is comprensible to its audience (in the case of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a mass audience).

Jim, here's the 1986 CDF document, responding to the discussion that followed the 1975 "Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics":"At the same time the Congregation took note of the distinction commonly drawn between the homosexual condition or tendency and individual homosexual actions. These were described as deprived of their essential and indispensable finality, as being 'intrinsically disordered', and able in no case to be approved of (cf. n. 8, $4).In the discussion which followed the publication of the Declaration, however, an overly benign interpretation was given to the homosexual condition itself, some going so far as to call it neutral, or even good. Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder."I read this to say quite explicitly that one must not distinguish between homosexual acts and the "homosexual condition," in a way that implies that the "condition" itself is morally neutral or good. The inclination itself is an objective disorder.I wonder what the opposite of morally neutral or good is.And how either a condition or an inclination can manifest itself in the absence of a person, in whom a condition or inclination is embedded.I also wonder to what extent this attempt to define the "homosexual condition" as objectively disordered -- and, therefore, all human beings born with that "condition" as disordered in their natures -- reflects the growing consensus of psychiatric communities in various parts of the world, at the time these documents were issued, that there is no "homosexual condition," and that the homosexual orientation is not disordered or aberrant.

Michael,The reason I asked is that "nature" is one of those words that is used very carefully in Church teaching. If someone had sad that your nature was bad, that would (I think) be an utter heresy. It's one of the differences between Catholicism and Calvinism: Catholics think that inordinate desires and inclinations are a sad fact of life after the fall, but notwithstanding, our nature is basically good and oriented towards the good.Calvinists think that our inordinate desires are proof that our natures are thoroughly corrupted by the fall.

You make a good point Joseph Jaglowicz.If in fact Rome changed direction this, that is to say if the Pope came out and said homosexuality was nothing to be concerned about, I along with most rank and file Catholics, would accept that and move on.However since that is not the case; as long as the Pope and the Magisterium hold and teach that homosexuality is intrinsically disordered, we have no choice but to follow.I understand it is not popular to note this especially on this particular blog but as with the Catholic clergy, we Catholic laity also have certain obligations to be obedient to the teachings of the Catholic Church. This should be obvious enough, but sometimes it bears mentioning. If I am honest, I cannot be a buffet Catholic; I cannot say the Credo (... I believe in the Holy Spriti, the Holy Catholic Church. or I believe in one holy Catholic and apostolic Church..), unless I accept ALL that the Catholic Church teaches.

Pardon me, I intended to address my previous comment to William.

Thanks, Kathy.I wonder if it might be helpful to move this conversation from the level of abstract theology (which doesn't really engage me, to be honest, despite [or because of?] my Ph.D. in that field) to the area of real life.I wonder how you'd think a parent ought to deal with a gay child, given the magisterial position outlined by some respondents here. If your child were gay, I wonder if you'd be totally on board with telling that child, as he/she came of age and struggled to accept his/her God-given identity, that being gay is like being born with a gene for alcoholism.Do you think a Catholic parent ought to tell a child, "Darling, just think of your disordered condition as something like alcoholism. Put a lid on it and keep a lid on it. For life. Avoid sources of temptation like the temptation to act on your disordered inclination and fall in love. For life.And know that I'll be praying for you."Or would you be comfortable, as the parent of a gay child, with one of the other options suggested by some bloggers her: Leave the church, if you can't put a lid on it and accept the teaching that you have an objectively disordered condition akin to that of an alcoholic?By the way, since I'm asking you to consider a question that engages you (and me) personally, I should perhaps share this fact: I had a brother who was seriously alcoholic, and who died of alcoholism in 2001, as I stood at his bedside. It was, in part, that experience that projected me out of the closet -- that convinced me to claim my God-given identity as gay, after years of struggle. In fact, it has often struck me that, since there but for the grace of God any of us might go, I could easily have walked down the path that ended in his death, had I continued with the torture box in which the church asks gay and lesbian people to put themselves (and our minds, hearts, and consciences). The endless confession, the endless self-reproach and self-loathing and attempting to turn one's adult mind and conscience into the mind and conscience of an infant, when it comes to understanding sexuality and sexual orientation.It was, ironically, my growing ability to claim my sexual orientation and be at peace with it -- as God's gift to me --that also gave me the courage and strength to stand beside my brother's hospital bed and pray for him and talk to him from my heart as he died. It was this self-acceptance that gave me something of value to offer him as he moved towards his tragically young death from alcoholism, in other words.To me, one of the many puzzles about the church's savage treatment of its gay and lesbian members is the seeming unawareness of many Catholics that those who are gay and lesbian and who know that God has made us as we are and calls us to celebrate that gift, obtain joy, peace, and the ability to love through such self-acceptance. And so are we are able to offer gifts to the church as a whole of which the church seems completely unaware, or whose source it is unwilling to acknowledge, even as it takes and uses those gifts.While it insists that the language of disorder belongs solely to every person born gay or lesbian, even as large percentages of its heterosexual flock also engage in "disordered" sexual actions like masturbation or contraception, without ever being designated as disordered in their inclinations or as having a disordered condition, as a result. And does it not strike you as exceptionally odd that if far more heterosexual folks practice disordered sexual actions (heterosexuals are, after all, far more numerous than gay folks), the church focuses exclusively on the "disorder" of gay and lesbian persons, and refers exclusively to gay and lesbian persons as disordered in our condition and inclination?Something seems not quite right in this picture, from almost any moral angle of vision one can apply, which would make sense to most thinking people of sound conscience.

"If I am honest, I cannot be a buffet Catholic; I cannot say the Credo ( I believe in the Holy Spriti, the Holy Catholic Church. or I believe in one holy Catholic and apostolic Church..), unless I accept ALL that the Catholic Church teaches."I can be a buffet Catholic. I don't accept what the Church leadership says when it is wrong.

Thank you for all this William.You have expressed things so well, I have nothing to add.I would just say that as the parent of a lesbian, I could not in all conscience stay in a religion that treated her so badly, when god made her the way she is.

No, William, I would not say those things. I am sure I have not.And frankly I would love to accompany my amazing brother on his life's journey as he seeks to live as a homosexual man. But he will not allow this. It is not enough that I am kind, accepting, and generous.He has made it clear that he will not accept anything less than agreement. Nor, I take it, will you.

"It is not enough that I am kind, accepting, and generous."Well!! This is where subjunctive would help lift ambiguities on what you really meant.

Kathy, thanks for your response, and your honesty. I am sorry to hear of the wall with your brother. No, I certainly don't insist that the people with whom I interact agree with me. One of the central insights I've always tried to convey when I teach fundamental or introductory ethics is that good ethical thinking depends on trying to look at issues from as many angles as possible, and to listen as widely as possible. "Conscience" and "conscious" are etymologically related words. In fact, in many Romance languages, they're the same word.And so conscience depends on our becoming more and more conscious, which requires interaction with many different people and ideas -- thinking as broadly as possible, listening as widely as possible.Is the church at present fostering that kind of ethical thinking? To my mind, it's not. And the price for all of us in the Catholic community is steep.What I push against is not disagreement: it's thoughtless harm done to others when people won't think. Or listen. Or are simply belligerent. Or unwilling to push beyond the boundaries of what they take for granted. And I mean none of that personally, as I respond to you, since I don't even know you. I will also keep you and your brother in mind.

Michael, I'm blabbing far too much and trying many readers' patience. But I do want to thank you for your note of appreciation. And for your support of your daughter.I wish all Catholic parents (and religious leaders) offered such support to their LGBT children. But I know of at least one case in which someone who has power and influence in the church, and whose family has experienced the tragic loss of a young gay family member who committed suicide due to the inability of his Catholic family to affirm him, still persists in defending the hard magisterial line and wants to impose that line on the public at large, through his influence.