Apr172014
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Catholicism and Homosexuality

What hope is there for the future?

Our best hope is not to be afraid to love one another. To love sums up the Law and the Prophets, according to Jesus. Christian love covers a multitude of sins, according to St. Peter. And human love cannot be separated from the honest affections of the heart. So Dignity's mission is to help lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to follow the ideal of Christians throughout the centuries: to be prayerful, respectful, honest, fair, forgiving, compassionate, and joyful — like the gay abbot, St.

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What did people find harsh and uninformed in that 1986 Vatican letter?

It backed away from the prevailing ethical opinion that a homosexual orientation is morally neutral. Reaffirming its 1975 opinion that homosexuality is a "pathological condition," the Vatican now called it "an objective disorder." These statements refer to homosexual orientation itself, not just to its genital expression. Despite massive evidence to the contrary in medical, psychological, and sociobiological research, the official Vatican opinion is that gay people are sick. This teaching is unmistakable in the Vatican's 2005 Instruction on gay seminarians.

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Why did Dignity make a public statement challenging the official Catholic position?

Dignity felt called to a prophetic stance, which, simply said, is to be honest about the matter. After nearly twenty years of ministering to hurting Catholics, Dignity members were aware of the harm that the Church's repeated condemnation of homosexuality does to individuals. One statement from a pope or bishop can throw devout gay Catholics back into guilt and self-deprecation that they may have spent years trying to overcome. According to a 1989 study conducted by the U.S.

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If there is space for homosexual relationships within Catholic teaching,

Perhaps just addressing homosexuality openly and fully would be enough to provoke an official reaction. But the history is more complicated. On October 30, 1986, the Vatican issued a "Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons." This document instructed the bishops to withdraw all support, or even the semblance of support, from any group vague on the immorality of homogenital acts.

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How could someone do what (the Church says) is wrong and not be living in sin?

According to Catholic teaching, wrong and sin are not the same thing. Wrong is harm, disorder, destruction; it is in the objective or external world. Sin is self-distancing from God; it is in the heart. Sin is more a general attitude than any particular action. We sin when we deliberately do what we believe is wrong. Then in our hearts we opt for evil. Then we move away from goodness and from God, who is good.

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What other considerations about the morality of homogenital acts need to be made?

Besides appealing to Scripture and Tradition (Church teaching through the centuries), the Catholic approach to morality also relies heavily on human reasoning. The argument from natural law is a prime example. Other instances are the findings of the human sciences or the evidence of people’s personal experiences.

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