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Catholicism and Homosexuality

What part does the Bible play in deciding the morality of same-sex acts?

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Unlike some other Christian churches, the Catholic Church does not rest its teaching on the Bible alone. But the Catholic Church does appeal to the Bible to support its teaching about natural law. Church documents claim that, from Genesis to Revelation, the Bible consistently opposes homogenital acts.

However, contemporary Bible scholars raise many questions about the matter. Read within their own historical and cultural contexts, the Bible texts do not address adult, loving homosexual relations as we understand them today.

What is the basis for Catholic teaching about the immorality of homogenital acts?

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All Catholic sexual ethics rests on this principle: procreation is an essential aspect of human sexuality, so every genital act must be open to the possibility of conception. For this very same reason, Catholic teaching forbids contraception, masturbation, and pre-marital and extra-marital sex as well as homogenital acts.

The Vatican insists that procreation pertains to the very nature of human sexuality. That is, the Church presents this teaching as natural law, the ordering which the Creator built into the universe.

What is the official Catholic teaching about homosexuality?

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In the mid-1970s, the Vatican recognized the difference between being homosexual and engaging in homogenital (same-sex) acts. Catholic teaching holds that, as a state beyond a person’s choice, being homosexual is not wrong. But just as it is wrong for unmarried heterosexuals to engage in sex, so, too, homogenital acts are wrong.

What is DignityUSA?

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DignityUSA is the oldest and largest nation­al lay movement of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Catholics, our families, and our friends. Begun in 1969 in San Diego under the leadership of Fr. Patrick Nidorf, OSA, first as a counseling group and then a support group in Los Angeles, DignityUSA has been a national organization since 1973. As an independent not-for-profit group, it has chapters located throughout the United States.

What is the source of these questions?

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The following was written for DignityUSA by Daniel A. Helminiak, the author of What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality. He holds a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Boston College and Andover Newton Theological School, and a Ph.D. in educational psychology from The University of Texas at Austin. For 28 years, he served as a priest in the Roman Catholic Church.

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