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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?

About the Author

David Gibson is a national reporter for Religion News Service and author of The Coming Catholic Church (HarperOne) and The Rule of Benedict (HarperOne). He blogs at dotCommonweal.



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Reminds me of the time I went and had dim sum with two old Jewish Sociology professors. As one of them snarfed down the delicious pork pot stickers, one after another, the other one teased him and said, "Don't you know thoses things are porK"To which he replied "Anything I eat is kosher."

This is a tempest in a teapot. Is someone saying that every New Yorker must attend the Gay Pride Parade to be considered a decent human being? Give the guy a break. After all, he says that he doesnt want to hurt anyone who self-identifies as gay, and, according to The New York Times, he has campaign aides who self-identify in that manner.Im upset with Carl Paladinos position on the Manhattan mosque controversy (NO), and Im not saying that hes a model candidate from the perspective of Catholic social teaching. His positions on defending unborn children and marriage, however, are good. Im impressed with his forthrightness and guts in connecting his abortion stance with his Catholic upbringing. Further, as far as we know, he didnt try to pressure the mother of his out-of-wedlock daughter into aborting their child.Id like to learn more about Paladino, and I hope that hell develop his thinking on all issues.

Hello David (and All),I first learned of Mr. Paladino's remarks late last night. I admit I was initially offended, but I quickly had to admit to myself that Mr. Paladino said nothing different either in substance or in tone regarding homosexuality than I've heard from the most high profile American Catholic bishops. So maybe I had no business getting initially hot under the collar. And at least for the time being I'd have to agree completely with Mr. Caputo's remarks you quote here.This is certainly one occasion where I'd be grateful if other participants here show me I'm wrong.

Peter V: (I won't do offense by spelling out your last name, which is objectively disordered by the time it reaches my cortex) I agree that Paladino is in synch with much of the hierarchy, unfortunately the tone in particular is hardly necessary from him or any Catholic. Yet he is scrambling around here so much that he goes in and out of synch with Catholic teaching from one statement to the other. He would hire openly gay folks, he says, for example, and would not veto a gay marriage bill if it passed by a referendum. And he is "live and let live." I think perhaps he is above all the apotheosis of a strand of Tea Partyism, which can't reconcile libertarian and social conservatism.

Stephen O'Brien, yes, it would be worth your while learning about Paladino, though he can be so inconsistent as to make it difficult to find out what he's really about, except anger. He has some very dodgy business practices, and of course he is on dangerous ground when he preaches morality given that he has a 10-year-old daughter from an affair with a former employee and he has sent out porngraphic and racist emails, not to mention his spreading (so far) unfounded rumors about Cuomo's personal life. All in all, a piece of work, as we used to say in Jersey.

David - difficult to respond even prescinding from the obvious influence of the Tea Partiers. There is a huge disconnect here and by some of our bishops. Faith is not the same as religion especially not a fundamentalist expression of religion.What this candiate and some bishops express is basically another kind of fundamentalist religion - when, what the world, human race, church needs are honest folks who ask questions, are not judgmental, listen, and understand that there are questions in this world that are not black and white and what we need is patience and loving relationships that indicate we are all on a journey together. This applies to issues such as gay marriage, civil unions, basic human dignity of all without regard to orientation, race, religion, etc. It requires voters to assess whether a candidate can evaluate, consider, and arrive at positions that are consistent and workable and not just a fundamentalist black and white answer.

It was just after World War II---that people (and mostly educators) learned that children who used their left hand did so because of pre-natal conditions (actually it is genetics). That brought an end to trying to "force" young children who use their left hand---to become right handed.It was just this year, that studies discovered that children with ADD (attention deficit syndrom) are this way because of genetics. Not because of any learned behavior.What happens when we discover that gays and lesbians are not CHOOSING to be homosexual, but are homosexual because of genetics? Are Catholics still going to be using the Gospels? or Natural Law (which believed that female infants were 'misbegotten males) as our 'proof of infallibility' against gays and lesbians?

I happened to catch Matt Lauer's interview on "TODAY" this morning. It was interesting to see Paladino attempting to weave in and around Lauer's tough questioning. Score one for Lauer! What a poor candidate for governor (but, then, what mediocre Catholic hierarchs we see in the Church of Rome :)

I've never lived in New York, so I don't know, is his tone sort of normal?

This is certainly one occasion where Id be grateful if other participants here show me Im wrong.Peter,Rest assured that Paladino's attitude toward homosexuals is not identical to that of the Catholic Church. He said his approach was "live and let live." That is not the approach of the Catholic Church.

It seems that Paladino is a desperate politician trying to land a haymaker.That he has chosen to do so by pandering to homophobia, and then dragging the Church down with him is unfortunate and shameful.Paladino's statements may in some sense accurately reflect the textual teaching of the Church, but it is my belief and hope that they do not reflect its heart. And at this time of suicides by gay teens, I think the truly merciful and loving heart of the Church is what is needed more than statements about the superiority of the heterosexual orientation.I'm typically not a fan of having the bishops explicitly get involved in political campaigns, but this may be an exception. A consequence of Paladino's statements and subsequent linking of them to Church teaching is to reinforce the idea that the Church is completely hostile to gays and lesbians as people, and I think that needs to be vigorously confronted.

Further, as far as we know, he didnt try to pressure the mother of his out-of-wedlock daughter into aborting their child.The man's a saint! The Catholic view of abortion is that it is murder. To imply that it is admirable that Paladino didn't urge the murder of his unborn child conceived in an adulterous affair is to set the bar very low. Suppose you do pressure the woman you are having an affair with to have an abortion to get rid of your baby. I suppose one could consider it admirable that you didn't have the woman killed and her body incinerated to eliminate all evidence of the affair. See Howard Kurtz's piece titled Scandal time: Paladino gets a pass.

Paladino made a shrewd political move all around on this one. I have gays on my staff and wish them well, approve of SSM in a state in which the people approve of it, just being obedient to my church and unfortunately am a sinner having a child out of wedlock.....

This is just "wedge politics" at its worst. Paladino is so out of the mainstream, his views and deportment so over the top, he is hoping to peel-off some of the many Catholic voters in NY who might be inclined to not vote for Cuomo because there is some daylight between him and the Catholic Church.Why does Paladino do this kind of thing? Because it works. Most voters in America think political elections are somewhat akin to "prom King and Queen."Besides, conservatives have never forgiven Andrew Cuomo's father, Mario, for his eloquent defense of Catholics taking a liberal stance in politics (i.e., speech at ND University in the 80s or 90s).

Rest assured that Paladinos attitude toward homosexuals is not identical to that of the Catholic Church. He said his approach was live and let live. That is not the approach of the Catholic Church.DN,What, would you say, is the approach of the Catholic Church? Forced attempted conversions?What are you hoping to accomplish by arguing that the Church's position is worse than Paladino articulated?

JJ,Do you believe that "eloquent defense of Caholics taking a liberal stance on politics" is a truthful summary of Mario Cuomo's 1984 Notre Dame speech? That it didn't have something to do with abortion? As if there was any sentiment that it was unacceptable for Cathoics to be, for example, liberal on economics?

To say that theres some daylight between Andrew Cuomo and the Catholic Church is like saying that theres some daylight between a cattlemens association and vegetarianism. By the way, Cuomos father wasnt arguing for a liberal political position at Notre Dame: he was defending legalized abortion. Theres nothing liberating about the mass murder of unborn children.

"that Paladino didnt urge the murder of his unborn child conceived in an adulterous affair is to set the bar very low."How low must the bar be for NARAL-endorsed Cuomo, then, who supports the right of a woman to murder her unborn child."What happens when we discover that gays and lesbians are not CHOOSING to be homosexual, but are homosexual because of genetics?"There is much more firmly-based science for a genetic predisposition to alcoholism. Does that mean that God "made that person an alcoholic"? That we should celebrate when such a person becomes an alcoholic? That we should affirm that person in his alcoholic nature since "God made him that way"?

I saw Paladino a few hours ago in the Columbus Day Parade. His delegation was met by what I can only describe as awkward silence. Of course, the loud cheering that accompanied Cuomo when he passed by a few minutes earlier was mostly coming from the people marching with him. But the mood was very different, on the sidewalks and on the street. Cuomo's group looked ready for a party; Paladino's looked ready for a fight. (But the most negative response they got, at least near me, was from people politely declining the offer of campaign signs.) It wasn't the most entertaining part of the parade, but the contrast of professional politician vs. angry upstart was a spectacle in its own way...

The question of whether there will be a response from the hierarchy is an interesting one. The Catechism teaches that gays and lesbians should be treated with "respect, compassion and sensitivity," (2358) which is exactly what Mr. Paladino is not doing. Thus he is going against church teaching if he is not being respectful, sensitive and compassionate. When other politicians misrepresent church teaching, there is often a swift response, clarifying the teaching in question. On the other hand, Mr. Paladino's comments on most other topics have been rather bizarre, so perhaps that he spoke as he did on the topic in question is not terribly surprising.

"The Catechism teaches that gays and lesbians should be treated with respect, compassion and sensitivity, (2358) which is exactly what Mr. Paladino is not doing."Fr Martin, can you give an example of how a faithful Catholic might express support for Church teaching that homosexual acts are gravely immoral while doing so with respect, compassion and sensitivity? It seems to me a very fine line, treading between the two unsatisfactory poles of uncompassionate condemnation and pusillanimous acceptance of homosexual acts. Thanks in advance...

What, would you say, is the approach of the Catholic Church? Forced attempted conversions?John McG,The approach of the Church is to oppose any legal protections that would apply specifically even to celibate people with a heterosexual orientation, let alone self-identified gay men and lesbians. It approach urges "homosexual persons" to live celibate lives and hide their sexual orientation, and then they will have no problems with discrimination. What are you hoping to accomplish by arguing that the Churchs position is worse than Paladino articulated?I am just pointing out a simple truth. Check out this interview. Paladino, in that interview, is much more accepting of gay rights than the relevant official documents from the CDF.

David,Have you considered how casting the Church's position in this way may be adding to the (IMO, incorrect) perception that the Catholic Church in particular, and Christian churches in general, hate gay people, and that this may be a contributing factor to the gay teen suicides?Even if one accepts your description, I don't think it's necessarily at odds with "live and let live." Does "live and let live" imply supporting "legal protections that would apply specifically" to a certain group?Yet, you couldn't resist your little potshot. Hope you enjoyed it.

"Fr Martin, can you give an example of how a faithful Catholic might express support for Church teaching that homosexual acts are gravely immoral while doing so with respect, compassion and sensitivity?"Politely decline to participate in such activities on the basis that your religion prohibits it.If and when asked to explain the Catholic Church's position on homsexual acts and sexuality in general, simply state it factually. If you believe the current position is correct, then say so. If your friend is having an affair, how would you explain to that friend that the affair is "gravely immoral?" If your nephew is living with his girlfriend how would you explain to him and her that their conduct is "gravely immoral?" I suggest that the Church's answers as to how to deal with these two questions should be identical to its approach to homosexual conduct.

The Catechism teaches that gays and lesbians should be treated with respect, compassion and sensitivity, (2358) which is exactly what Mr. Paladino is not doing. Fr. Martin,The Catechism never uses the words gays and lesbians. As I have argued at length in my post of 10/09/2010 - 12:28 pm in another thread, in a very real sense, the Catholic Church does not even grant gay people and lesbians the right to exist. I appreciate the efforts of those who attempt to make the teachings of the Church less harsh than they are in an attempt to take the sting out of them. But in reality, the Church does not call for "respect, sensitivity, and compassion" for gay people and lesbians but for celibate men and women with heterosexual orientations who, if they take the advice of the Church, keep their orientation a secret.

Yet, you couldnt resist your little potshot. Hope you enjoyed it.I am growing weary of these kinds of personal remarks. I hope if I slip into them myself, people will hold me doubly accountable.

Have you considered how casting the Churchs position in this way may be adding to the (IMO, incorrect) perception that the Catholic Church in particular, and Christian churches in general, hate gay people, and that this may be a contributing factor to the gay teen suicides?John McG,I would not say the Church hates gay people. I would say it regards them much the same as it regards murderers, abortionists, rapists, polygamists, and other people who commit gravely sinful acts and are dangerous to society. It does not recognize the right of gay people to live the life of their choice, and it particularly does not recognize the right of gay people to attempt in any way to win acceptance in society. Gay people must be opposed until they acknowledge that homosexual acts are acts of "grave depravity," to which no one has any conceivable right. Gay men and lesbians have no right to housing or jobs if they openly persist in homosexual behavior.If teens are troubled because they are told they are "objectively disordered," have a "more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil," and must choose between a life of celibacy on the one hand, or grave depravity on the other, the Church cannot change its teachings just because some of these teens commit suicide.

Any person with a sexual disorder, including those with a homosexual inclination, should be treated for their developmental disorder with Love and compassion so that they might come to understand what contributed to their sexual disorder, address the contributing factors, and learn how to develop healthy and Holy relationships. Our Dignity as Human Beings is found within our complementary nature as male and female that has been endowed to us from God from The Beginning.

so that they might come to understand what contributed to their sexual disorder, address the contributing factors, and learn how to develop healthy and Holy relationships.Nancy,Do I understand you here to be saying that a person with a homosexual orientation can figure out what caused it, overcome it, develop a heterosexual orientation, and perhaps even marry a person of the opposite sex?

David, I am saying that our inherent, complementary nature as male and female that has been endowed to us from God must be respected and that those who suffer with a homosexual inclination deserve our compassion, Love, and guidance to help heal the wounds that contributed to their disorder so that they may develop healthy and Holy relationships.

"and, according to The New York Times, he has campaign aides who self-identify in that manner."In favor of the view that his statements are more liberal than that of bishops, I think no Catholic bishop would tell the world that he has a gay aide.Of course, it's a variant of the "some of my best friends are Jews" cliche, but still it's more liberal than career-conscious bishops allow themselves to be. I'd like to rewrite Nancy's mantra in a more christian style: "Our inherent, complementary nature as male and female (or as same-sex oriented) that has been endowed to us from God must be respected and that those who have a homosexual inclination deserve our compassion, Love, and guidance to help them live our their godgiven nature in the healthy and Holy relationships."

David Nickol (wasting his breath) once again challenges Nancy on the grounds of basic phenomenology -- the very ground on which the most intimate bullying is imposed on vulnerably young people, often by their parents. Surely to negate your own child's identity and deny the validity of his or her experience is a sort of soul-murder; nor is it surprising that so many such abused children are driven to suicide. Nancy, please (I waste my breath) consider rewriting your creed as follows: "Our inherent, complementary nature as male and female (or as same-sex oriented) that has been endowed to us from God must be respected and those who have a homosexual orientation deserve our compassion, Love, and guidance to help them live out their godgiven nature in healthy and Holy relationships."|

Paladino will actively recruit openly gay people for every role in his administration. He has NO problem with homosexuality, only with gay marriage and with exposing young kids to homosexuals at raunchy gay pride parades (as Cuomo did with his daughters). Discrimination against homosexuals is horrible, terrible, and affects his own nephew. The interviewer pushes him to say the lifestyle is equally valid and acceptable. He said it is unacceptable to call homosexuality dysfunctional and that that is why he crossed it out of the speech written for him. My approach is live and let live.No Catholic bishop speaks as openly and liberally as this.As to suicides, Fr Bernard Lynch, who works as a therapist, claims that the insidious CDF documents have directly contributed to them.

We have just got to admit that we were wrong, terribly, murderously wrong, just as in the case of the Jews.

From the tone of this thread, it seems most posters here either do not have kids, or their kids are already raised. Please try to understand the concerns of parents of young children. Paladinos statement is not at all shocking; in fact it seems more or less on the mark. I do not want to have to try to explain to my 5-year old why the teacher is babbling on about Johnny has two dads and the the like.Homosexuality is obviously not normal; it never has been and it never will be. These are people with a serious problem, but they are not the norm. Statistically, active homosexuals have more emotional problems and shorter life spans. Children will be better off if they do not embrace-follow homosexuality.Now obviously we ought not promote abuse of anyone, but that we should not be promoting such a lifestyle is clear enough. I have no desire to see anyone abuse smokers, but I certainly do not want the teacher telling my son that smoking cigarettes is fine either.More generally, why these people with these weird ideas always keep trying to creep into our public schools and into the minds of the young, is beyond me.

Ken, I have a five-year-old as well, and my hope is that she is never exposed to someone like you.But above all, I hope that if your child turns out to be gay, you will treat her or him with greater love and respect and intellectual honesty than you show here.

My point is that if you want to know what the Church thinks and feels about something, I suppose one approach is to find the most incendiary phrase you can in a Church document, and band that about to convict the Church of homophobia. So, take "objectively disordered," put it in 24-point type, and conclude the Church is hostile to gays.Or, you can talk to actual Catholics, and see how they feel.Church documents are going to deal with matters of governance and necessarily be a bit of a sting. I recall when we were dealing with infertility, I found the statement that infertility is "not an intrinsic evil" a bit stinging. I never thought we were intrinsically evil.Even so, passages like Fr. Martin cited are easily dismissed as lip service.I think it is our job, particularly in the laity, to actually put flesh on what these sometimes harsh-sounding words mean. And that's why it irritates me, in a thread full of people who recognize that Palodino's speech does not reflect the fullness of Catholic regard toward gays and lesbians, to see people trying to make the case that the Church is *even worse* than what Palodino presents. It's cheap point scoring, and it has consequences.DN, if you tire of being called out on this, perhaps you should consider your conduct in the threads. Did you really think, "He said his approach was 'Live and let live.' That is not the approach of the Catholic Church." was a positive contribution to the conversation?When you go into comment boxes of blogs with a Catholic identity and insult the Catholic Church, some people aren't going to like it. Either reconsider your approach, or deal with it.

"I do not want to have to try to explain to my 5-year old why the teacher is babbling on about Johnny has two dads and the the like." -- Ken, it's not that hard. First I would tell my child that Johnny has only one biological father because the seed comes from only one of them, but that the biological mother is not there, so, one of the biological parents is missing. But a child needs two parents.Then I would say that Johnny's father has chosen to live with the other man, they must be really really good friends, friends for life, and they will take care of Johnny together, so that Johnny still has two parents. Then I would say that it's like adoption. Sometimes the man and woman who provided the seeds are not there, and then other people step in to love the child and be his parents.

I have a six year old and ten year old (both of whom attend Catholic schools). I have already had a few conversations with my older daughter that the Catholic Church has occasionally been wrong about a couple of things, and that same sex marriage is one of them. I have also told her that 50, 60 years ago, people of different races couldn't marry each other; we know today that this is bigotry. I told my daughter that her own children will someday be shocked to learn that people once discriminated against gay people and wouldn't let them marry the person they love. That's how I explain how "Johnny has two dads".

The beat of division goes on and bravo to Fr. Martin.Paladino is a loose canon in these days when big moneyed crazies on the right can politically try to gain power (as apropriately noted here trying to havea "wedge issue.")I think Mr. McG. confuses criticism with insult. All the recent posts here relevant to this topic will continue the beat of a division that is going to also continue in society at large.Rationality is not prevailing in the highly politicized atmosphere generated by the likes of Paladino et al.And the rationality of the Church's natural law arguments (as Jeanne pointed out in the thread below) remains open to a lot of criticism.

FWIW - I think David N is right to call out statements from Rome that are now more than two decades old but have never been updated.If ever there was an area where Catholic teaching needs to develop - for all pracitcal purposes, has developed - it is in some of the presecriptions form the CDF.Paladino's statements, as recast by Fr. O'Leary, do seem about right.I also think that Joe McFaul makes a great point. There are a lot of other issues in our lives where quoting passages from Roman documents to a person asking questions, or in anguish, is the completely wrong pastoral approach.

I don't think it is right for DN to call out those statements, ignore the witness of the many Catholics around him, and use that as the sole evidence to draw conclusions about what the attitude of the Church is (while dismissing other more compassionate statements because they don't use the words he prefers).It's one thing to say those statements should be revised; it's another to say that those statements mean that the Church's attitude toward gay people is more severe than what Paladino has expressed.

Jim, you say, "There are a lot of other issues in our lives where quoting passages from Roman documents to a person asking questions, or in anguish, is the completely wrong pastoral approach."And I agree with you.But I also think it's important to point out re: the 1986 magisterial document (and the use of its language of disorder in the catechism) that we're not talking precisely about people quoting passages from a Roman document as what proves harmful to many LGBT persons in our society.What I understand us to be talking about is the cultural and political application of a teaching that has proven toxic for many members of the church and for society at large. David began the thread asking,"And is his attitude representative of how many Catholics internalize and then express church teaching on/against homosexuality and gays and lesbians?"Obviously, the answer to David's question is yes. Just read this thread and you'll see respondents repeatedly demonstrating that the answer to the question is yes.I can't think of any other area of church teaching in which people feel so free, at a cultural and political level and even while claiming to represent the center of Catholic identity, to vent such hateful thoughts and to treat those against whom they're venting the hateful thoughts with such disdain.The problem is clearly rooted in the magisterial language of disorder. And those using it in a baleful cultural and political way as a weapon against their gay brothers and sisters are not misusing or distorting the language of disorder. They're accurately representing it, even if they're also ignoring the call of the catechism to treat those who are gay and lesbian with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. (But how possible are any of those gestures in a system defined by this language of disorder at the top?)Reading this thread reminds me of why, like many other gay and lesbian folks who happen to be Catholic, I keep my distance. I have to do so, to salvage self-respect and to have peace of mind.And I have to do so to pursue what's most significant in my life, even when some of my brothers and sisters -- who claim to embody in their own natures the norm for all the rest of us -- tell me in no uncertain terms that I am incapable of pursuing that goal. I have to keep my distance from my own church when I listen to many of my "normal" brothers and sisters on threads like this spew homophobic poison because I find, elsewhere in my life, and precisely in loving myself and others as gay, grace, peace, joy, and above all, love.All the things my church tells me to aspire to, and which I ought to find in my church.But I decidedly find none of these things in many of the comments on this thread, which appeal to a non-existent teaching of Jesus on homosexuality, while seeming to me to ignore what is clear, abundant, patent, and compelling in Jesus's teaching -- the call to practice love, mercy, and justice. To find Jesus and to listen seriously to his call for my life, I have to distance myself decisively from some of his own followers in my church.

John McG, I'll let David Nickol speak for himself, but it was my sense reading him that he was talking about the "Church" as in the Magisterium, the catechism, and the like, whereas you are talking about regular Catholics in the pews, and elsewhere. Perhaps I have that wrong, but it sounds to me as though you are talking past each other to some extent, even though you may have a legitimate disagreement.

As someone who wishes the Church's documents on pastoral ministry to LGBTQ people were a little better than they currently are, I recently posted a response to the Paladino debacle that pointed out the pastoral nature of the official church documents and their priority of each person's intrinsic dignity at the core of the teaching. That is, to say the least, much more than Paladino offers in his terrible remarks. Additionally, as a Franciscan friar and an alum of the same Franciscan college as Paladion - St. Bonaventure University - I must say that I am horrified that somebody could graduate from that school and express the worldview that Paladino espouses. He does not represent the Church nor my alma mater!Here is my full take on the matter:

Mr. Gibson takes issue with Paladino's "tone." Father Martin argues that Paladino is actually violating Church teachings that state that gays and lesbians deserve respect. Even calmly and politely agreeing with Church teaching or expressing any moral disapproval or reservations about homosexual conduct will bring hysterical howls and condemnation from gay activists. Is a better "tone" keeping quiet about Church teaching or expressing dissent or a hope that it evolves?Most gay activists have long dismissed the idea of separating the sin from the sinner. In fact, my own attitude toward homosexuality was formed by a parish priest who told us at Mass, "You condemn homosexuality [or homosexual conduct] not the homosexual." In my view, most gay activists want us to unconditionally accept the idea that homosexual conduct is perfectly moral and natural.Critics ignore the fact that the Church is quite consistent. What type of sex do gays engage in? From what I understand, it's oral and anal sex. Doesn't the Church consider these acts sinful even if heterosexuals engage in them?Let us ask ourselves: Is homosexual conduct (i.e. sexual contact) sinful? If it is, we're not doing people (and ourselves) any favors by sanctioning conduct (as opposed to having homosexual tendencies or inclinations) that is sinful. I could be wrong--and usually am--but it seems that some of you no longer accept Church teachings on certain sexual matters.

Thank you William for expressing my thoughts so gracefully.I would only add, that Paladino represents that 20%+- of catholics who hold that the Bishops and Pope have it right.

For purposes of clarification, Id be grateful to know what those who object to Carl Paladinos remarks think he ought to have said.

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.

I dont think it is right for DN to call out those statements, ignore the witness of the many Catholics around him, and use that as the sole evidence to draw conclusions about what the attitude of the Church is (while dismissing other more compassionate statements because they dont use the words he prefers).John McG,I simply can't believe I am being criticized on a Catholic blog for quoting these official documents from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:LETTER TO THE BISHOPS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON THE PASTORAL CARE OF HOMOSEXUAL PERSONS, 1986.SOME CONSIDERATIONS CONCERNING THE RESPONSE TO LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALSON THE NON-DISCRIMINATION OF HOMOSEXUAL PERSONS, 1992.CONSIDERATIONS REGARDING PROPOSALS TO GIVE LEGAL RECOGNITION TO UNIONS BETWEEN HOMOSEXUAL PERSONS, 2003.They were all promulgated when Cardinal Ratzinger was Prefect, and of course now he is the pope. One might plausibly argue there had been a shift in position if someone other than Cardinal Ratzinger were not pope and were implying a change in position.If you have criticisms of my interpretations of these documents, let's hear them. Or if you have quotes from other sources that you feel put the position of the Church in a better light, please link to them or post them here.Now, I am perfectly aware that a recent poll showed that 51% of Catholics expressed support for same-sex marriage, and I find that heartening. But they are in dissent from the official teachings of the Church, and I am talking about the official teachings of the Church.

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.

Until the last person understands homosexuality, you will never be blabbing to much.Unfortunately many people don't, but we do seem to be getting there slow but sure.

Just to pile on, this has been one of the most constructive threads on one of the most polarizing topics. My sympathies lie largely with William Lindsey and his lonsmen, but I very much appreciate Kathy on the more or less other side and her tribe. This has been very instructive at many levels. Carry on. DG.

"God did not create heterosexuals, homosexuals and then ordered sexual morality according to various sexual preferences, "Nancy --True, He created us male and female. But you seem to think that homosexuals are neither male nor female. Hmmm. Something inaccurate there.

William,I appreciate your insightful connection of conscience and conscious. The imagery in ancient Latin hymns is somewhat related: the earth is sleepy, and it needs to be awakened. Christ, the true sun, shines on it to wake it from languor and sleep.I do think that the average parish could do much more in dealing with this issue. It would be great to have a Courage chapter, for example, and to really publicize it. Folks should know that there is a way to be Catholic, and in community, and "out" if they choose, in the most basic of Church settings, the parish.

Stephen --Back to definitions and what we are *most basically*. The Church has historically accepted the philosophical definition of man as "rational animal" as the definition of our most basic reality, our body-plus-soul, our humanity. Contrary to what Nancy affirms, this definition says nothing about male and female, about specific sorts of bodies nor about specific sorts of sexual inclinations. So when the Rome talks about disorders of sexual inclinations it is not talking about anyone's most basic reality or humanity. All rational animals, whether referred to as human persons, people, human beings, or whatever you want to call us, are equally valuable in our fundamental reality as human persons. Rome does affirm this -- maybe not as loud and as often as it should, but it does affirm this. This is indeed its official teaching.True, there is more to us than body and soul, and some of our non-most-basic parts are nevertheless highly important. But as basically human persons we are indeed all equal and deserve equal respect as such.

" 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."St Thomas Aquinas agrees: "Now it is manifest that he who adheres to the teaching of the Church, as to an infallible rule, assents to whatever the Church teaches; otherwise, if, of the things taught by the Church, he holds what he chooses to hold, and rejects what he chooses to reject, he no longer adheres to the teaching of the Church as to an infallible rule, but to his own will."

Thanks, Kathy. That's an evocative image, the awakening of the world in slumber by the light of Christ. It evokes for me the poetic image of creation through divine song, which C.S. Lewis uses so masterfully in his Narnia stories.I agree about the need for education at a parish level. It's desperately needed, it seems to me. I've just watched Ft. Worth city councilor Joel Burns' statement for the "It Gets Better" project, seeking to offer youths bullied for sexual orientation reasons options other than suicide. As I watched, it occurred to me how useful this and other powerful statements of the first-hand experiences of gay and lesbian adults who worked through the shame, abuse, hateful comments, and so forth in teen years would be for communities of faith -- as a teaching tool.The video clip is at

Kathy --About the meanings of "nature". My trusty dictionary of Aquinas gives six pages of synonyms, definitions, and different phrases including the word. No wonder there are serious semantic problems with it. Sigh.One of the most common definitions is "essence insofar as it is operative". This isn't much help for the layman. You'd need to know from the context just what the meaning of "essence" is in that context and to have a good explanation of how our faculties/abilities are related to our most fundamental being. No, there are no abilities running around independent of a basic person, and neither are they identical with our most basic being (e.g., your ability to produce song). About the word "conscious" or "consciousness" == the medievals didn't have a word for it. It wasn't until Descartes and John Locke that philosophers started to focus on the fact that the act of knowing (awareness, consciousness) is not identical with what the awareness is conscious of. Complexity, complexity, and semantic problems make the complex doubly complex.

"St Thomas Aquinas agrees: Now it is manifest that he who adheres to the teaching of the Church, as to an infallible rule, assents to whatever the Church teaches; otherwise, if, of the things taught by the Church, he holds what he chooses to hold, and rejects what he chooses to reject, he no longer adheres to the teaching of the Church as to an infallible rule, but to his own will."P. Flanagan --Note that Thomas here is talking about *beliefs* not about matters of facts. Beliefs by definition are what could conceivably be otherwise, and thus require an act of the will to accept. Matters of fact, on the other hand aren't matters of belief, and one has no choice but to accept conclusive evidence of their existence. .

Ann, thank you. That's an extremely valuable reminder that words we imagine are self-evident, which have long histories in our tradition, almost invariably have meant something else (almost always, many different "something elses") over the long course of the tradition.And we're naive to imagine that our contemporary use of them is precisely what they have meant in the tradition. Just as we're naive to imagine that the theological or credal use of words is hermetically sealed from their cultural use.The word "person" comes into our theological language, after all, from Greek theater, in its earliest roots. I'm always perplexed by people who imagine that, when they say the creed, they're believing and understanding all of it, simply because they're repeating the words. As if the ultimate meaning of what we believe is frozen into words, and frozen in time -- and is not a Person rather than a formula.We do like to live with our assurance that we have the final answers. and aren't challenged to keep thinking, growing, and changing. And that's key to the problems this thread's confronting. Much depends on where we fall on the spectrum of need for absolute certainty here.

Kathy, are you aware of the connections between Courage and NARTH, highlighted by Michael Bayly?

"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"No, Ratzinger calls gays "homosexual persons" and the title of his most famous document is "homosexualitatis problema" -- in short he shows MORE recognition of the irreducible reality of homosexuality and homosexual persons than you are prepared to.

Fr. O'Leary,First of all, according to Bayly's blog, the "connections" between Courage and NARTH amount to this: "its website has a link."

Besides open awareness in parish life of the homosexual orientation, it seems to me that the other aspect that is really necessary has to do with youth and high school/ college campus ministers.The question "am I gay?" is often a real question for teenagers, not a definitive answer. There should be some adults who care about kids, who are willing to work with them to sort out their honest feelings--and who respect and abide by Church teaching.Just brainstorming about a better way...

Kathy, I agree with you that there need to be adults on hand -- adults actively involved -- to be sounding boards and mentors for youth seeking answers to questions about sexual orientation. Even or above all in Catholic parishes, which tend to keep these questions at bay with a ten-foot pole for three reasons: 1) there's a huge silence and tamp-down effect from the top of the church, and threats of punishment lie behind that silence and oppression, if pastors even open their mouths about these issues; 2) every parish and diocese in the nation has active, spiteful, and often powerful watchdog groups to assure "orthodoxy," and crossing those folks gets a pastor quickly into hot water; and 3) much of the money most important to the church at its top levels comes from strongly conservative donors who don't want the Catholic church to address issues of sexual orientation except with its most stridently condemnatory voice.So, frankly, I have little hope that any parish anywhere will ever deal with these questions honestly. At the same time, as a believer, I have tremendous hope at every moment that the Spirit of God can move across the waters again, and trouble them into life.So I share your hope and interest here. Where I part company with you is in your proviso, which stresses that the role models youth be allowed to hear "respect and abide by Church teaching."I have no problem with respecting and abiding by church teaching, per se. But what the church teaches is vastly bigger and more challenging than the prohibition of gay sexual activity, or the call to chastity.The church also teaches us to follow Jesus and behave lovingly, justly, and mercifully. And for many gay and lesbian Catholics, that is the sticking point: what we have long heard the church teaching to us is simply not exemplified by those who focus with laser-beam intensity on the purported lapses of chastity among their gay brothers and sisters. But who remain relatively silent about the far more extensive failures of heterosexual Catholics to uphold church teaching about sexual morality. Young people, who aren't stupid, spot these discrepancies and know when they're not being dealt with honestly (or fairly or with authentic compassion).There's also this: many young Catholics are likely to be questioning and seeking and disturbed because they know full well that there is another option than the option of Courage you're promoting. We live in an information age, and many young gay and lesbian Catholics who are trying to come to terms with their identity know full well that a significant majority of Catholics in many countries reject the church's ban on gay behavior (which is, to all extents and purposes, also a ban on gay human beings). They know that there is a Catholic option to live in a far healthier way than Courage promotes -- in loving and committed relationships in which they accept their sexual identities as God-given. And they know that this Catholic option exists despite the cruel taunts of some self-professed "orthodox" Catholics that these brother and sister Catholics (and, really, the majority who support gay rights) should just leave the church.So in not even mentioning that option to young folks in parishes, you construct, from the outset, a self-defeating program of outreach and education which does precisely what many of them are raising questions about from the outset: it pretends that being Catholic is all about living in a tiny bubble of certainty (and, often, smug cruelty disguising itself as Christian compassion) inside a larger culture in which more morally appropriate ways of handling these issues have also been developed.In constructing your program as you recommend, you're implicitly telling all young gay and lesbian Catholics who reject the self-denying or self-loathing program you recommend that they simply can't ever be welcomed in the Catholic church. And so your program becomes not an educational one, but one that sorts sheep from goats, short of the eschatological sorting that belongs to Christ alone.P.S. I agree with you that not all teens raising questions about gender identity or searching in this direction are necessarily gay. All the more reason to respond appropriately at an educational level -- with honest, full information and honest, loving support.

William,This dialogue has been very interesting, and civil beyond normal expectations, so I will risk being somewhat challenging. Let me know if it's too much--I don't mind gearing down a notch.You said: "The church also teaches us to follow Jesus and behave lovingly, justly, and mercifully. And for many gay and lesbian Catholics, that is the sticking point: what we have long heard the church teaching to us is simply not exemplified by those who focus with laser-beam intensity on the purported lapses of chastity among their gay brothers and sisters."Several times you have made a similar argument, and I would like to ask you a couple of questions.First of all, it seems odd to me that after (rightly) citing the Gospels that challenge all Christians to love and show mercy, you do not immediately take ownership of this teaching for yourself. That is my habit: if Jesus says, "do this," then I try to look immediately to my own ways and try to reform them. I would consider it something of a temptation if, when reading the Sermon on the Mount or other prescriptive passages in the Epistles, my impulse would be to examine the consciences of others, which is what you seem to be doing when you mention the Gospel teachings. Which brings me to the second question: While I understand the long-term effects of hurt and have some acquaintance with shame and silence, still, the Gospel injunction is mercy and forgiveness. I would challenge you to consider whether there are religious persons who have hurt you and whether you have taken steps to forgive them.I hope you don't mind me mentioning these things. I hesitate to do so because they are rather personal.Regarding your other major question here, I think that we are unlikely to reach any agreement on one point, the question of whether an educational program should align with Church teaching. One question seems to be whether there is a possibility of having a good, yet chaste and celibate, life, as a person with same-sex attractions. Neither of us has a personal testimony to offer in that regard, and it seems to me that role models of just such a life would be very beneficial in the Church just now. The other question I would ask, and again, I hope you will pardon the challenge, is whether there might be a certain degree of inconsistency in the demands you are making of the Church. I understand why someone with a homosexual orientation would seek to be accepted on his own terms, according to his/her own self-understanding. And yet the Church has its own self-definitions, its own self-understanding. Can these be respected as well? To teach unchastity would un-do the Church's own self-understanding: the Church really can't and shouldn't do it. You have shared that you have felt, painfully, that your own self-understanding has often been disregarded. Will you really demand that the Church do this?

Kathy, thanks for the response and the questions, which I'll try to answer as succinctly as possible (and I'm seldom succinct, so this is a challenge to myself first and foremost to stay on topic as I begin to reply).I'd like to focus on the question of consistency, which is central to all the responses you make here. You call it inconsistent on my part to challenge the church to listen to and take seriously the experience of gay and lesbian believers.But your definition of consistency rests on a definition of what the church teaches which is, in and of itself, inconsistent. And that's one of the primary points I've wanted to make in the conversation, which somehow you don't seem able to hear.As my previous posting said, while the church may teach that all of us are called to chastity, and it may use that to forbid gay believers relationships premised on their orientation, it teaches much more.And I hear your focus on what the church teaches fixing exclusively on the challenge to chastity, and not on the much more that the church also teaches. Which centers on the call of all of us to live lives of love, mercy, and justice.And which the church's own behavior towards its gay members -- including its behavior in focusing exclusively on that call to chastity for us, which is uttered in a totally unilateral and single-focused way towards only gay believers -- undercuts. You can't teach or proclaim love, mercy, and justice credibly while belying that teaching in your own behavior. Focusing exclusively and unfairly on a targeted minority as you issue moral teaching does not serve the proclamation of love, mercy, and justice.And, of course, I'm aware that many believers who don't intend ever to examine that discrepancy will continue trying to use the tactic of calling those who call for honest discussion of the discrepancy unloving, unmerciful, and unjust.But, increasingly, as the cognitive dissonance grows around the huge discrepancy between what the church professes to be, when it comes to its gay members, and how it actually behaves, that tactic just doesn't work, for larger and larger numbers of people. Who can see with their own eyes that the church is behaving with a conspicuous lack of love, mercy, and justice re: its gay sons and daughters.While it never turns the same intensive moral focus to the lives of its heterosexual believers, no matter how grossly their lives belie what it proclaims in the area of human sexuality. Such cognitive dissonance is, ultimately, very destructive for communities of faith that will not deal with its root causes. I'm suggesting that the kind of retreat from culture, the kind of closing in on oneself as a faith community and ignoring honest conversation and hard questions that don't toe the party line, is very destructive to the church itself, and won't really meet the needs of the gay youth you're interested in reaching.This is why some gay or lesbian family members ultimately give up on their Catholic family members who don't want to listen, and who don't want to hear what their "loving" and "welcoming" messages really mean, beyond the nice rhetoric. Far from being unloving when they withdraw, I maintain that they are doing the most loving thing possible for their own lives and souls -- safeguarding their humanity from attack by people who claim that their attack is about love. And God.

William,I see I've gone too far. I thought it was worth trying. I'm not sure if you would like to continue the discussion, which I am happy to do, but I would like to clarify one matter. The CDF publishes dozens of notices each year, most of them addressing matters having nothing to do with homosexual inclinations. I think that there is no exclusive or "laser beam" focus on this one issue, although I would understand why someone with these attractions might feel singled out, particularly if someone were convinced that the homosexual inclination is a positive good along with the heterosexual orientation.

I'm sorry you imagine you've gone too far, Kathy. And if that means I somehow came across as uncivil, I apologize for the incivility, which was certainly not intended.My use of the term "laser-beam focus" is situational. I'm not addressing the focus on homosexuality in a broad spectrum of other issues in the magisterium.I'm addressing, quite specifically, the strangely disproportionate emphasis that the magisterium and many Catholics give only to gays and lesbians, when sexual ethics are discussed, and the way our conversations about order and disorder manage to ignore -- why, I wonder? -- the well-documented finding that a huge percentage of married Catholics in developed nations use artificial contraception. And that Catholics in general in the developed nations reject the church's approach to sexual ethics insofar as it is grounded in biologistic readings of natural law.Something in the laser-beam focus disproportionately applied -- unilaterally applied -- to a targeted, vulnerable minority is troubling in the extreme to many thinking and morally sensitive folks. Not just to gays.It's hard to mount an argument that the church is not focused with laser-beam intensity on the threat it imagines gays to pose, when the Knights of Columbus pour millions into anti-gay crusades, while cutting their budget for works of mercy; when the Minnesota bishops produce an expensive anti-gay marriage video on the eve of an election where only the Republican candidate for governor stands against gay marriage and the topic has not been a major campaign issue; when bishops across the nation take money donated to parishes for works of mercy and upkeep of schools and churches and send it to Maine to combat gay marriage; when Catholic adoption agencies threaten to shut down rather than place children in households headed by same-sex couples; when people wearing rainbow sashes are denied communion while Knights of Columbus and Knights and Dames of Malta can wear sashes and go to communion; when children of same-sex couples are denied entrance to schools on the ground that their parents violate Catholic marriage teachings, while children of divorced couples or couples (heterosexual, of course) living together without being married are not excluded.I suspect that one day we'll look back -- or those who come after us will do so -- and wonder why a religious community that claims love as its central norm imagined it was doing anything loving at all in behaving this way, and that it was not eroding its credibility as a moral teacher by behaving in such an unloving way towards a targeted minority. I imagine that this will be the case since I think we can see, even now, the moral arc of the universe bending towards such a critique.Some members of the church claim unilateral and exclusive ownership of the word "love," and want to deny gay folks the right to use that word to describe our lives and relationships. But as increasing numbers of people see that those to whom the church denies the right to claim the legitimacy of their love often love deeply and truly, and in way that benefits the entire community even when we don't acknowledge those gifts given to us by gay folks, while the church professing to own love often behaves cruelly and unjustly to those whose love it denies, then the church's claim to own that word in a singular way sounds more and more tinny to many folks.It would help if there were honest dialogue about this. And for that reason, I am happy to continue talking and sorry if you think I was not civil to you.

William, No harm done.I think you have put your finger on precisely the problem. The CDF is always liable to criticism precisely because its job involves a good amount of reaction to current trends. Just when a new kind of Trinitarian theology begins to get some traction, there goes the mean old CDF, pointing out "errors." I think that is the way some people see things. I see the CDF as a kind of guardian of the Church's self-understanding and self-definition. There are advances to be made in theology, but there is also a history, a "nature" of the Church, using the word nature in a more formal philosophical sense, as the principle of motion and change of a perduring underlying substrate.The Church has a responsibility to teach the truth, and only the truth, in matters of faith and morals. This, in my opinion, has become an urgent task in the matter of the homosexual orientation. You've asked why there are no pointed rebukes from the CDF about masturbation, but I am sure you will agree that these are different cases. There are, to my knowledge, no masturbation-rights lobbies. No one wants to make the solitary act equal in law to the marital act. Nobody compares being a downtrodden masturbator to being Martin Luther King. Nobody organizes masturbation rights sash-wearing protests to cathedrals and double-dares archbishops to give/refuse them Communion--either decision of which will make for bad press.Most importantly, there aren't growing movements among Catholic catechists to offer Masturbation Dignity Ministries to affirm, not simply persons, but intrinsically disorded acts. These documents from the CDF have catalysts.

Ken, you write that "if the Pope came out and said that homosexuality was nothing to be concerned about, I...would accept that and move on." You go on to state that in the meantime, "we have no choice but to follow."Contrary to your apparent understanding, Catholicism precisely entails faith AND reason. Vatican II's teaching acknowledges the "sense of faith" enjoyed by the faithful. Slavery is now condemned. Circumcision is not required for entry into the church. Most church teaching --- including that on sexual orientation --- is not infallible. Canon law acknowledges the right of the faithful to share their views on matters with fellow members in the church. The CCC, its weak language on the point notwithstanding, supports freedom of conscience. The church, in its very practice, acknowledges the reality of doctrinal development. If Jesus could challenge the religious authorities of his day, his example is good enough for me.

Kathy, you say, ". . . [T[here goes the mean old CDF, pointing out 'errors.' I think that is the way some people see things. I see the CDF as a kind of guardian of the Churchs self-understanding and self-definition."I don't think I'm one of the "some people" who see things this way.My own inclination, since I'm a historian of theology-cum-ethicist, is always to be painfully aware of how frequently the church has been wrong in the past, when it came to assessing the human dignity of some groups, including Jews, women, native non-European peoples, people of color, "witches," and gays and lesbians.The church was just as convinced in the past as many members of the church are now convinced re: the treatment of their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, that it was doing a holy thing when it participated in the Inquisition, incited pogroms, burned witches, defended slavery, and informed people of color that their humanity was on a level beneath that of other believers.My teaching career began in an African-American Catholic community. I heard hair-raising stories there of what the Catholic church had done in the past (and continued to do in the present) to many members of that community -- stories that make me marvel at the grace that allows African Americans to continue associating with the Catholic church.As David Tracy says someplace, only a fool would deny that the church can be sinful and has been sinful in the past.So I'm less inclined to take every contemporary magisterial teaching as gospel truth, particularly when I can see (and feel in my own flesh) the insalubrious effects of some of the teaching.To me, the more pertinent question to ask is what motivates that exclusive focus on the evil of homosexuality, when -- as you yourself maintained in a previous thread -- there's sin galore on the heterosexual side to attend to. And when the heterosexual members of the church far outnumber the gay ones.Why focus on gay marriage as the threat deserving all the attention, for instance, when divorce is far and away the bigger threat to the sanctity of heterosexual marriage? If the bishops want to enact civil laws to defend marriage, why are they spending millions on removing rights from gay citizens and not a penny to see divorce outlawed?I find it hard to imagine that this preoccupation is holy. I wonder what drives people who walk in the footsteps of Jesus to behave this way. And to try to deny the abundant evidence that they're doing harm as they do so.

William,Please see my previous comment, which addresses these questions.

Thanks, Kathy. I'll do so.It seems we've come to a dead end in this conversation, doesn't it? If nothing else, I'm tired of hearing the sound of my own voice.I'd still like very much to understand where the rabid need of some Christians today to want to single out their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters and demonstrate to us over and over again that we stand under condemnation -- under unique condemnation.To me, that feels as if doesn't come from the best places in the heart of the church.To me, it feels as if it doesn't come from a holy place at all.I can't imagine the need of family members, for instance (and this happens with my longtime partner's ultra-orthodox Catholic family members) to keep singling out a brother and sister as uniquely sinful. And then maintaining that this is loving and holy behavior on their part. And that it demonstrates what family is all about, at its best.

William,How exactly does the singling-out occur? What does it consist of?

Kathy, you ask, "How exactly does the singling out occur"?If I may, I'll refer you once again to the list just compiled by Michael O'Loughlin at America's "In All Things" blog. I asked previously what you thought of that list, and you didn't respond. I thought he did an outstanding job of documenting precisely where each of these "singling out" taboos comes from in our current teaching, didn't you?O'Loughlin notes the following "messages" now given by the magisterium and Catholics who defend this teaching to gays and lesbians -- to each and every person born gay and lesbian in the world, to each and every gay and lesbian brother and sister in the church: Something is wrong with you. Showing affection to the person you love is a grave sin, perhaps evil. You are unworthy of a lifetime commitment with the person you love. You are unworthy of employment with your church. You are unworthy to be a parent. You are unworthy of receiving the Eucharist. You are unworthy of heaven. You are unworthy to be a priest. You are a threat to human existence.If O'Loughlin is right -- and, again, he documents his case very well -- I wonder how anyone can defend the current magisterial teaching about homosexuality. And how any of my Catholic brothers and sisters can let this list simply drop into the conversation like a stone falling into water, which makes a ripple and then is settled.I find it hard to imagine that if any other group were subjected to this barrage of hateful messages, there'd be such complacency on the part of people of faith. It's hard to imagine a religious tradition that urges us to see ourselves through the eyes of the other fostering either such savagery towards a stigmatize minority, or such complacency (and defensive belligerence) among its adherents.These attitudes --the savagery, the complacency, and the defensive belligerence -- go a long ways towards undermining almost any claim to moral credibility our church wants to make today, in my view. And I believe this is view is increasingly shared by people of good will outside the church, as well as by many Catholics.My partner and I have lost jobs in Catholic institutions because we are gay and won't hide or apologize for that. We cannot find employment in any Catholic institution anywhere, as openly gay coupled theologians. Have you ever experienced anything like this, Kathy? Do you have any idea what this experience might do to a human heart and soul?

By the way, the reason I ask is that I know from experience that in certain family situations, anything less than full and vocal acceptance may be taken as an insult. I don't think that is unique to my family, nor unique to this particular issue. "What do you think of my trophy wife? My sports car? My hobby? My fibromyalgia?"--people want their family of origin to understand and accept them.

"I would understand why someone with these attractions might feel singled out, particularly if someone were convinced that the homosexual inclination is a positive good along with the heterosexual orientation."Kathy begins to see the problem.

"Far from being unloving when they withdraw, I maintain that they are doing the most loving thing possible for their own lives and souls safeguarding their humanity from attack by people who claim that their attack is about love. And God."A bit like the Jews who tried to get out of hearing the obligatory sermons about their sinful error in the Roman ghetto. Some fell asleep during the long sermons, and were given a sound beating by the papal police. Gays are still where Jews were in the Middle Ages.

Talking of Jews and gays:I was in the middle of eating a kosher pastrami sandwich, Rabbi Levin said. "While I was eating it, they come running and they say, Paladino became gay! I said, What? And then they showed me the statement. I almost choked on the kosher salami.Mr. Paladino, of course, had not become gay, but had announced that he wanted to clarify that he embraced gay rights and opposed discrimination. In explaining his views, Mr. Paladino and his aides noted that he had a gay nephew who worked for the campaign.That seemed to bother Rabbi Levin as well. He accused Mr. Paladino of deciding to apologize because his gay nephew or his family told him so.He discovered now he has a gay nephew? the rabbi said. Mazel tov! Well make a coming-out party!Rabbi Levin said he chose to hold his news conference at the cathedral because he hoped Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan would take a stand on the controversy involving Mr. Paladinos remarks.

Sorry for the typo: the last sentence in the third paragraph from the end uses the phrase "towards a stigmatize minority."And that phrase should be "towards a stigmatized minority."

"Have you ever experienced anything like this, Kathy? Do you have any idea what this experience might do to a human heart and soul?"William,Yes, I've experienced things like this.This is what confuses me. I don't know of anyone who goes around quoting the CDF on this point. I've never personally seen, and certainly haven't participated in, bullying or name-calling of homosexual persons--the event that originally began this series of threads. I don't know about the holiday dinners in your family, but these documents are never quoted around our dinner table. Nothing is ever said, really. Apparently the expectation is that I should be celebratory of relationships that I think are ordered incorrectly. In other words, there is an expectation that I will deny my own beliefs, and denounce a teaching of the Church that I believe to be not only inerrant, but true.Silence is not enough, apparently. Politeness, kindness--these are not enough. I have to renounce what I think is true. Failure to do so is likened to bullying, almost without distinction.Or am I missing your point?

Just want to add that today's NYT has a piece about Paladino often puttin ghis foot in his mouth and that at the gathering where he spoke on this originally, no women were allowed to be present.

Bob, surely the CDF is not responsible for the rules of an Orthodox Synagogue?

Kathy, you say, "This is what confuses me. I dont know of anyone who goes around quoting the CDF on this point."And yet you've argued vehemently in this thread that the disproportionate emphasis the CDF is placing on the policing of the sexual morality of gays and lesbians at this point in history is a necessary response to cultural trends raising new questions about sexual orientation now.If no one pays any attention to the CDF and if statements from the top of the church about these topics have no chilling effect at all, then why bother? Why is the CDF speaking out? And why are you defending what this ineffectual Vatican office is saying?Perhaps the chill is more discernible to those being frozen out. I have never seen a Catholic institution hound a married heterosexual Catholic practicing contraception out of a job, or a divorced Catholic who remarries. I've taught in even conservative Catholic universities where both situations occurred, and no one would have dreamed of calling for the head of these employees.That's simply not the case with gay and lesbian Catholics. Though the same moral criteria that forbid homosexual acts and relationships also outlaw use of contraception, Catholic institutions -- sanely and with ethical sensitivity, I would argue -- refrain from witch hunts to enforce Catholic sexual teachings with employees who are married and using contraception, divorced and remarried, or even living with a heterosexual partner without marrying that partner.There's an entirely different standard for gay and lesbian people working in Catholic institutions. It surprises me that you don't see this, and that you'd imagine that the magisterial teachings you're defending have nothing to do with setting that standard.

Kathy, I thought I was talking about Paladino, who this thread started with.He is a major candidate in a major state and his comments , if they are allowed to stand, create lots of havoc.Which of course leads to the kind of ongoing discussion here and how statements made by major figures have real impact on people's lives, despie, perhaps, your personal expewrience.

I am tired of Christiany with Caveat. I always considered catholic (small c) to mean all inclusive. It's not, and I grow distant from the Church. I think this is so unnecessarily sad.

William,I can't speak for the reasons that policies are applied unevenly. I'm hardly a policy wonk myself. My sense is that there are still plenty of policy wonks who would want you to be hired over some scapular-wearing, rosary-swinging "conservative." I've spoken with a lot of people who have been marginalized for such subversions as Marian devotion, and their train wrecks are not pretty at all. Imagine the blow to someone's confidence when their very piety gets them discerned right out of the seminary. That happens less these days, but wow, the 80s.To answer your question, I would like the statements from the CDF to have a real effect. I would prefer it if all of the teachers in Catholic universities, seminaries, and all chancery workers were willing and ready to teach the truth in its fullness and implement programs to help the People of God grow in holiness according to the truth.That is incredibly different from starting a pogrom. No one is saying "you can't have a job." But goodness gracious, please don't take this job. Please don't take a job representing and teaching for an institution you are angry at, want to dissuade people from trusting, and whose teachings you disrespect.Bob,I doubt it was Paladino's idea to separate men from women in a synagogue.

"Imagine the blow to someones confidence when their very piety gets them discerned right out of the seminary."I can imagine it very well, Kathy. As far as I can see, many women who are called to ordination get discerned out at the front door, precisely because of their strong piety that leads them to vocation. And the same happens with gay folks who know that they're called both to cherish their God-given nature and their vocation to ministry.As I keep emphasizing, it's not at all the gays-over-against-the-church and the truth of church teaching. The problem that arises for many of us is, quite precisely, a conflict between our most deeply held beliefs as Catholics, and what the church teaches and practices when it comes to gay and lesbian persons. Inducing cognitive dissonance, I would maintain, for increasing numbers of Catholics precisely because of their piety, their devotion to the core values of the church vis-a-vis human rights.And, of course, this goes well beyond policy and policy wonks. As Bob has stated recently in this thread, we're talking about teaching that gives clear signals from the top of the church. As to your conclusion, "Please dont take a job representing and teaching for an institution you are angry at, want to dissuade people from trusting, and whose teachings you disrespect": without intending to be flippant, it strikes me that this is pretty precisely a description of Jesus, from the viewpoint of the religious authorities of his own culture. Remember? He was an angry flake misleading the people of God, disrespecting the teachings of his religious group about all kinds of things (the Sabbath, laws dictating who is pure and impure, laws demanding that one not associate with this kind of person or that kind of person).I understand the need of religious groups to enact such purity laws. What I don't understand (or, perhaps, intend to keep questioning, because my faith demands this) is the dishonest wish to call that impulse holy.

William,I don't think you're flippant, exactly, but it's a pretty gutsy rhetorical move to compare one's own persecuation with that of Jesus Christ.Why don't we try another angle.Do you think that the Church should have any standards of sexual purity? Consider that this has been part of the kerygma from the earliest days of the Church, the days before the Gospels were written, as we find in the Acts and in the Letters.

Actually, Kathy, I had logged on to suggest a teeny bit of gutsiness on your part, when I saw your reply to me.I had intended to write something rather flippant: So, people wearing scapulars experiencing the same oppression that gays and lesbians experience in Catholic institutions. Fancy that. The oppression goes deeper than I've imagined!And I didn't compare myself to Jesus and or my suffering to his. I made an observation about the less than self-evident holiness that lies behind the kind of purge I hear you defending (and actively wanting), when you hanker for Catholic institutions that are staffed by only adherents of the truth, all the truth, all the time. As I understand things -- and please correct me if I'm wrong -- we're all called, all the time, to keep reading and re-reading the gospels and measuring our behavior against them. And meditating on the story of Jesus and what became of him when he was judged heretical and a trouble-maker by his own religious institutions.There seems to be something parabolic there, for all of us as followers of Jesus. At least one lesson I take from the gospels is that those who hanker for purges and have limited sympathy for the purged may consider that they, too, might one day be the purged. And so enlarge their hearts.And as to your final question, of course I envisage standards of sexual purity in the Christian life. All through this thread, I've argued for an ethics that stops looking at sexual ethics primarily from the angle of acts, and starts looking at sexual ethics primarily from the angle of relationship.

Oh, now I get where that remark about me comparing myself to Jesus and his sufferings comes from, Kathy:I was responding to this statement by you: "Please dont take a job representing and teaching for an institution you are angry at, want to dissuade people from trusting, and whose teachings you disrespect."And since you thought my response to that statement was personal, you evidently intended that remark to be a personal remark about me. Interestingly enough, I took it to be a remark aimed at a whole group of people that you seem willing and eager to purge from Catholic institutions now with your statement, "I would prefer it if all of the teachers in Catholic universities, seminaries, and all chancery workers were willing and ready to teach the truth in its fullness and implement programs to help the People of God grow in holiness according to the truth."And so I agree with you when you say in your next comment that we ought to try another angle. As I observed earlier, it seems we keep reaching an impasse in the conversation, and one or both of us is not hearing each other well, it seems.You may not remember our initial conversation at the Commonweal blog site -- or if not our very first exchange, one near the beginning of our "meeting." I won't rehash it. I assume it's there for you to find again if you're interested.I do seem to recall that your lead-in focusing on who has the right body parts to do what to whom struck me as, well, crude and unhelpful, and I told you that, using the word "crude." And perhaps I'm crude to remember it or even mention it -- if so, I apologize. It does seem to me that that conversation encapsulates, though, some of the difficulty of talking across the chasm in the church today, when one faithful Catholic, who speaks right from the safe, cozy heart of the institution, taunts another, who doesn't find the same welcome, about the right body parts fitting into the right places.And so -- again, without intending to give offense -- I would like to return one final time (since I'm bowing out of a conversation that won't budge, because, frankly, I don't think you're hearing what I'm saying and don't want to hear) to what I said previously in response to your story about your alienation from your brother. I said that I don't really know you and wouldn't comment on the alienation.And I still don't know you enough to make any sweeping comments about that relationship, but since you brought it up and did note your perplexity that he doesn't welcome your advances to him, I would observe, based on our interaction here and in other threads, that if you want to get people to respond to your concern for them, you might try not attributing to them motives they don't have, or leaping at them with remarks about their gutsiness when you imagine that they've claimed a connection to Jesus you withhold from the impure.I recall that you used the word "homosexual" to describe your brother when you spoke of the alienation in the preceding comments. As a gay person, I might note to you that I prefer -- and almost all gay folks I know prefer this, too -- to be called gay and not homosexual.When people of faith want to dismiss and smear us, they almost always resort (quite deliberately) to that clinical, reductionistic, off-putting word with its clinical overtones, which was invented for us by the scientific community. And so we have rejected that word and chosen to call ourselves gay to define ourselves in our own, self-chosen terminology.I learned during the Civil Rights struggle of the South, where I grew up, that it's extremely important for those who have used language to demean others and put them in their places, to listen to those others and learn how they prefer to speak of themselves, and then change their terminology after they listen. And I'm glad I learned that lesson and keep learning it over and over again, as I try to listen to my African-American friends and enlarge my heart to understand their experiences, and do something to combat the oppression they encounter.You might try listening a bit more, Kathy, and dictating (and reacting) less -- if you want a productive relationship with your brother. Ausculte . . . . And when we listen with the ears of our heart, we often learn that the truth is a whole lot larger than we'd like to believe it is, as we weed first this person and then that one out of our holy and pure church. And sometimes, yes, those we imagine to be the least fit to bring holiness to us are the very ones we exclude, taunt, demean, and feel ourselves superior to. (And rest assured, I'm not claiming I fit among the holy; I know better -- I'm just saying.)

William, No, I had not remembered our prior conversation. If I'd realized that you were entering into these threads with a grudge from a blog discussion from some months (or is it years?) back, I never would have mentioned my personal situation, which you seem to have turned into a kind of rhetorical device. But again, no harm done.The question I find more interesting is this: why do people want to teach for and represent a Church they resent? I find this very difficult to understand. Perhaps there is some gratitude in their desire, at some level. I would like to think so. But even so, I do believe that a consistent witness is necessary.Best wishes.

Kathy, I'm sorry you see my attempt to communicate as engaging in rhetoric. You've said that twice now. It's as if we're involved in a gotcha conversation in which what we really want or intend to say is not on the surface, because we don't really want or intent to engage in really meaningful conversation.I brought up the issue of our initial engagement not because I have held a grudge about it, but because, in my view, that engagement illuminates the fundamental dynamic at work in this conversation, which makes it relatively unproductive. And I brought this up not to be rhetorical, but to try to dig away at that underlying and unacknowledged dynamic. I had deliberately not referred to that initial encounter up to now because I hoped to have a productive conversation, and thought that bringing up that initial encounter would only muddy the waters and thwart conversation.But then, after you first accused me of blind self-righteousness (of not seeing that the rubric I want to apply to you also applies to me), and then of a cheap equation of my own situation with that of Christ, I decided there was little point in my trying to be polite and skate around the core issues, since you don't seem willing to relinquish the bludgeoning and engage in conversation -- in turning together, as the word means, etymologically.Here's really the central, unacknowledged dynamic in this conversation: what you keep communicating to me, right up to your last question about people who resent the church but want to stay connected to it, is that you own the church. And I don't.And you're right to a great extent. You are situated within the church in a way I'm not, and that situation places in your hands a whip -- or, better, a bat -- that can be used when and if you wish to bash me into submission and let me know I don't belong.That's the reality of the church and its teaching about gay folks today. I've been very surprised throughout the conversation that you don't see that reality, and are unwilling to examine how it might affect the dynamics of your relationship to your gay family member. And I brought up that relationship because you yourself brought it into the conversation, and seemed perplexed that you can't find a way across the gulf between you and your brother.I'm saying, quite simply, that though the church puts a bat into your hand, and gives you the right to bash those who do not own the church as you yourself own it, this behavior may not be as unambiguous as you want to believe it is. Or as holy as you wish to believe it is, even when it emanates from the heart of the church itself, from its central teaching office.Bashing people over the head is seldom the way to convince them that they are loved. And love is, as far as I understand, what the gospels are about, and what we are called to do and be, above all.

William,Okay, so now I'm bashing people over the head. With a baseball bat.I can only quote what I said above: "Silence is not enough, apparently. Politeness, kindnessthese are not enough. I have to renounce what I think is true. Failure to do so is likened to bullying, almost without distinction."

Accusing people of self-righteousness without a scrap of evidence to support the accusation is a form of bashing people over the head, Kathy. As is twisting words that are clearly not in any way meant to claim some special connection to Christ and his crucifixion to lambast somebody's "gutsy rhetoric" -- again, without a scrap of evidence to support that accusation, which was clearly entirely misplaced, if you'd read what I wrote.All this is premised on a bashing that emanates from the magisterial teaching about disorder.Sadly, this teaching causes many Catholics to imagine that when they project bizarre, strange, distorted fantasies onto the lives of their brothers and sisters who happen to gay, and when they enact policies premised on those false, lurid fantasies, they're engaged in a holy crusade.Might it not be better to get to know those about whose "disordered" lives you're fantasizing before you imagine they're demonic threats to the purity of your religious group? Getting to know people requires letting the defenses down, not going for the jugular, not rolling forth gestures designed to let someone else know you are superior and they're inferior. It means not leaping to the conclusion that, if another person questions your way of viewing sexual ethics, he's arguing for the abdication of any talk or thinking about sexual ethics altogether, for goodness' sake. There's something rather insulting, wouldn't you agree, about implicitly accusing someone who calls for discussion about alternative ways of talking about sexual morality (and of the worth of various human beings premised on that talk) of calling for the abdication of sexual morality altogether.The rhetoric -- and, yes, the behavior -- of many Catholics today, vis-a-vis your brothers and sisters who are gay, is premised on viewing us as the other, in a stigmatizing, alienating way. It is premised on your need to let us know that we are other. That we don't belong. That we can't lay claim to being Catholic as you can.That is the sense in which I say that you and other Catholics who speak of us as if we are impure outsiders and you are pure insiders have a bat in your hands, placed there by magisterial teaching, to bat away at us.And to consider yourself holy as you bat away. Purity crusades designed to crush those who are impure and remove them from a particular human community are enormously satisfying at a psychological level to those engaged in these crusades, even to those who consider their work of ridding their group of impurity a holy task.But history and the growth in moral awareness in various cultures almost always causes us to look back at such crusades and ask what on earth those involved in them were thinking, when they considered themselves to be doing something holy as they treated a targeted group of their brothers and sisters as dirty, alien, evil, or disordered.

Maybe I can put the point in a more positive way (and if my words sound sharp, they're not intended to wound, but to open avenues for real conversation, and I apologize if I have failed):I admire and honor your passion for what you believe. For your church.But the question I do want to keep asking -- not because it's rhetorical; as I've said, my self-worth is at stake in these conversations -- is why the passion for truth in the church today so often seems to run across the backs of those who are gay and lesbian.Is it not possible to imagine a Christian community in which those who have your passion for a truth that is clear to you co-exist -- at the minimum -- with those who see the truth as more complex and broader than you do? Why must your truth depend on the exclusion of those you regard as threats to your truth and purity?Is it not possible that the truth of what we believe is much broader and deeper than you or I have imagined? That we need various viewpoints to fathom it? That the exclusionary impulse in the contemporary church, even if it is blessed from the center, is not only counter-gospel, but destructive to the church itself?I think it must be a terrible burden to imagine that one owns the truth in some unilateral way.

William,Have I suggested that you are not part of the Church? I did not mean to suggest that the Church excludes you. Quite the contrary.

Kathy, running through your rhetoric about the church, I hear a message that those who raise critical questions that seem valid and important to me -- necessary to raise for the good of the church itself -- are angry, resentful, or unfaithful to revealed truth. You've articulated all those points in the discussion.And what I hear behind that rhetoric is a two-tiered approach to the church that, in essence, draws a line between "the" church and anyone who raises those valid and important critical questions. This two-tiered approach attributes malice to those asking valid and important critical questions, which may not be there at all.When this rhetoric comes forth from the backdrop painted by Michael O'Loughlin in that America posting I keep asking you to evaluate -- and which I haven't heard your response to --then it seems clear to me that this rhetoric is, indeed, all about establishing lines that claim your position in the church as the center, and the position of various critics as marginal or even beyond the lines that constitute the church's boundaries.The backdrop to this discussion, which I think we forget at our peril -- if only because our discussion them becomes pedantic, and we both care about a real church that lives in a real world -- is the backdrop painted by Michael O'Loughlin, in while real human beings who happen to be gay are being told that they are disordered, unworthy to receive communion, not wanted as employees in Catholic institutions, incapable of being priests, unworthy for heaven, and a threat to human existence.I don't know of any messages more powerfully alienating than those. I don't know of more powerful ways of saying that one is excluded and not wanted.

Sorry, where the penultimate paragraph says "in while," I meant to write, "in which."

P.S. For what it's worth -- and this is certainly somehow related to the theme we're discussing here -- I'd like to share a message I found in my email inbox when I returned from lunch. This comes from a person who gives his name, and whom I've never met. I have no idea who he is or how he happens to have my email address. His email address suggests to me he belongs to a Christian group of some sort centered in the U.K.He writes, "Dear freind, You and your partner are deluded to believe that God would just some how overlook your sin. please don't go to Hell, Please. Repent turn from your wicked ways, and Yahoshua will attone for your sins. Sodomites, efeminates, Liers ect will not enter the kingdom of God. But I hope you do."I'm rather flattered to learn that I am sinning so gloriously I merit a special call to repentance from across the ocean. Even so, I do wonder if there aren't perhaps more glorious sinners in the world to whom Christians ought to be paying attention, even as they dog the steps of boring gay couples like the one of which I'm a part.

William,About a dozen comments ago, you suggested that it would be a good time to stop. I agree. For what seems like a month but is apparently only a few days, I have repeatedly said that there are no perfectly-oriented people. Yet you continue to feel that I demonize you for your same-sex desires. I cannot take responsibility for your decision to do this.Once again, best wishes.

I wish you well, too, Kathy, and have enjoyed the conversation.

Amazing how simple logic escapes so many. The C atholic teaching follows the biblical. Homosexuals are humans, made in God's image and likeness as are all humans. Humans are not supposed to poisin their bodies with th wrong food, too much alcohol and need to work and exercise and take their 'sabbath-time" reasonably. There is no comparison between those who presumed that left-nhanded pean panship no longer a 'punishable offense" can be compared to acting out same-gender gential activity. The latter is as futile and barren as trying to write left-jhanded without an istrument. We love the person but not the non-life giving activity. It is possible with grace to life a peace--filled marriage and to live celibately and happily, desite the millions of failures around the world and history. Same goes for same-gender people- celibacy does not rule out fruitfulness and happy, healthy living. Grace builds on nature, Grace has to be given permission by our attitude, habits and healthy work, exercise and rest as is necesary for all worthwhile fully human activity. Ignorant comments from any source about marriage celibacy or genitality are to be expected but seen exactly for that they are- ignorant and cannot be attributed to the speaker's/writer's faith Tradiiton or political party or group.

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