Check out the just-released website for a four-part conference called, More Than a Monologue: Sexual Diversity and the Catholic Church.

The description:

More Than a Monologue: Sexual Diversity and the Catholic Church is an unprecedented collaboration — 2 Roman Catholic universities and 2 non-denominational divinity schools are coming together to change the conversation about sexual diversity and the Catholic Church.

For too long, the conversation on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in the Roman Catholic Church has been only a monologue — the sole voice being heard is that of the institutional Catholic Church. We must engage in more than a monologue by having a 21st century conversation on sexual diversity, with new and different voices heard from.

This series will show the variety of viewpoints on issues of sexual diversity among Catholics. Each event has a unique focus, and as a whole they will lift up new voices that are rarely heard and raise awareness about the impact of church teachings and public stances of the lives of LGBT people. The goal is to encourage more vigorous, honest, and open debate about sexual diversity within and outside the Catholic Church.

Sponsored by Fairfield University, Fordham University, Yale Divinity School, and Union Theological Seminary, the series is sure to generate some interesting discussion, and probably a fair bit of controversy as well. Surely In All Things will cover the series deftly this fall.

Comments

Juan Lino | 3/21/2011 - 1:56pm
Good points Juan!  I especially like your last paragraph.
JIM MCCREA | 3/21/2011 - 12:28am
There is a significant difference between Transgender and Intersex.

Intersex, formerly known as hermaphrotidic, is when a person has a combination of usually underdeveloped or undeveloped male and female reproductive organs.

Transgenderism, also known as transsexualism or gender identity disorder, is the condition when one's gender identity does not match one's assigned sex, i.e., identification as male, female or intersex based on physical/genetic sexual characteristics. 

Intersex children, in fact, with both male and female sexual organs, may or may not be sterile depending on chromosomal differences within the individual.  A usual but increasingly debatable procedure is to surgically or chemically remove one set of sexual organs in favor of the other shortly after birth.  Depending on the surviving physical sexual organs, individuals may or may not end up experiencing gender identity disorder as they age, particularly at maturity.
Anne Chapman | 3/20/2011 - 12:59pm
Thank you, Carolyn.  Your post (#19) expresses the thoughts of many. 

The selective literalism of those who use scripture as their weapon of choice in debate is problematic in many areas of church teaching.   Many of the hot-button issues are never addressed by Jesus himself in the gospels, including homosexuality.  Personally, this is an issue I struggle with because I too am a product of my own generation and culture. I try to keep an open mind and heart, since I grew up in the generation that never talked about homosexuality, and kept homosexuals well-hidden in the closet, too often despised and scorned. The issue of the roots of homosexuality are not yet proven - however, the case for a genetic factor seems to grow stronger.  If we close off our minds and simply rely on a half dozen selected passages of scripture, and the judgments of ancient peoples, without cultural context, then we are not truly seekers of truth. The church's teachings on homosexuality are tied into other issues, especially birth control and the role of human sexuality and women's roles. Since Augustine, the church has looked at sex permissable exclusively for procreation, and the church only grudgingly conceded less than a century ago that it has a unitive role also, but still, definitely in second-place.  Augustine inflicted his personal guilt feelings on all when he taught that enjoying sex for purposes of procreation is sinful.  The church's views that prevailed for much of its history put women in the role of "temptress" - women's sexuality seen as an occasion of sin for males from Adam on. Women's reason for being was simply to serve males and procreate.  Aquinas is especially strong on the inferiority of women.  These ideas are connected to the church's teaching that says that since homosexual sex cannot produce children, it is forbidden, just as modern birth control methods are condemned. 

Many theologians raise contextual frameworks related to most of these issues.  The church selectively chooses verses from Leviticus and Paul and other sources in this debate, while ignoring most of the rest of the laws of Leviticus.  Paul wrote much of the NT - yet the Church interprets Paul selectively also.  If the institutional church had never been wrong in its history, perhaps one could have unquestioning faith in its interpretations today.  However, anyone who has even slight knowledge of church history knows that this is not the case - the church's understanding has often been wrong, and reflected the understanding of fallible men whose ideas are formed by their own times in history, by their own cultures. Even brilliant men like Augustine and Aquinas were subject to this, since they were human beings, and many of the understandings that Catholics and Christians in general still grapple with - especially those related to gender, marriage, sexuality in general, homosexuality, birth control etc - may be the now-spoiled fruit of distorted thinking of earlier centuries.  Augustine and Aquinas and Jerome etc were human and products of their own times. Their thinking was not infallible, and must continuously be reexamined with open minds and souls, with humility and prayer, a process which may eventually move the church closer to Truth. This may mean that the church will have to humble itself to admit it is wrong on some issues in order to right some wrongful thinking, just as the church's justifications for slavery were finally put to rest after almost 2000 years.
Juan Lino | 3/20/2011 - 9:22am
Reading my response in this morning's light, it's a bit too snippy and sarcastic for my taste and so it's a lesson for me not to write comments late at night. mea culpa.  
Juan Lino | 3/19/2011 - 11:32pm
Silly me, but I thought that Catholic Christians were not “Bible only” Christians and that GS 22 was somehow expressing more than an "opinion" and that the claim that "...only in the mystery of the incarnate Word [Who is living and present in His Church] does the mystery of man take on light" and "Christ the Lord...fully reveals man to man himself was meant to be more than hyperbole. 

And, since transgendered babies are STERILE are we now supposed to think that this is not an anomaly but rather an invitation to say, “wow, I don’t understand human sexuality”?  

Even Alice recognized what Humpty Dumpty was trying to do and I think we can and should too.

Carolyn Disco | 3/19/2011 - 2:28am
The wider point is the profound impact of Scriptural literalism that has dominated so much Catholic teaching - mine at least, whether related to homosexuality or numerous other issues.

I believe the damage is incalculable, whether for women, the LGBT community, the Jews, members of other faiths, or those Catholics taught to equate the literal with the fullness of truth. 

What to do about the fact that there is no valid archeological evidence that the Jews were ever slaves in Egypt, or wandered the Sinai for 40 years? That most likely the Israelites were originally a subset of Canaanites who revolted against a ruling class.
 
It is sad to see the truths of the faith so constricted that people are left more with stone than bread, or otherwise feel threatened by anything beyond the literal. Reality is much deeper than that, and our God so beyond our small minds.

As for the spectrum of human sexuality, much much more humility is needed, for we truly understand so little. For example, ''God made them male and female'' is no certainty for any OB/GYN who delivers a transgendered baby and thinks he/she knows the orientation from what is visible physically - as so many tragic outcomes from premature surgeries show. Straight from the womb, and not fully one or the other.

Context, context in Scriptural interpretations, please. The struggle to find our way never ends, but let it not be foreclosed by a narrowness that assumes revelation needs no further unfolding.

We now have 19 centuries of church teaching overturned regarding the Jews and deicide. This review of B16’s latest book shows some of the issues involved in literal biblical interpretation.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/mar/12/jesus-nazareth-pope-benedict-review
Stay tuned. The theological and verbal gymnastics of the teaching on homosexuality indicate the need for better understanding: how can the expression of something be sinful, if its essence is not sinful? I thought that essence and expression needed to be congruent to make sense. The upcoming conference is timely.

John Barbieri | 3/18/2011 - 7:11am
Have a good time at the forums!
I do hope that the participants are civil to each other!
I doubt that the forums will change anybody's mind.
 
Tom Maher | 3/17/2011 - 11:30pm
Abe (#13)

So the question remains to be answered: By what authority does Mr. Louhglin make his radical proposal to exclude the Catholic Bishops?  Whom does Mr. O'Loughlin serve?
Tom Maher | 3/17/2011 - 11:13pm
Abe (13)

One really does not know what  these "non-denominational" types believe in.  Almost anything is possible.  Talk about sub-culture .  And not to be a kill-joy but darn my beliefs are important to me.  Who is this guy from left field who decided with oher co-conspirators that the Catholic Bishops should not be a part to the dailogue involving the beliefs of the Catholic faith ?  Totally unacceptable and fundementally problematic. 

Is Mr. O'Loughlin implying the Gospel as interpreted by the Catholic Bishops be ignored so the Gospel teaching could be revised to suit his buddies at YDS?  Who is YDS to me?

Thank you Mr. O'Loughlin but I would like to stick with the Gospel and the ?????????????????????????????????C?a?t?h?o?l?i?c? ??B?i?s?h??o???p???s?.?  ?

??? ?
Anonymous | 3/17/2011 - 10:18pm
"The modern media is engaged in a Luciferian conspiracy against the Truth".
-Marshall McLuhan
Kang Dole | 3/17/2011 - 9:16pm
The Arch-fiend, Satan, no doubt!  Get thee behind me, blogger!
Tom Maher | 3/17/2011 - 9:01pm
What a brazen power play.

Don't you just love it when someone trys to put something over on you when their real ends they are serving are blatantly obvious?  Mr. O'Loughlin you are so caught.  You need to come out and explain who you really are and what you really are proposing.   

No man can serve two masters Mr. O'Loughlin.  Whom do you serve?    
  
Juan Lino | 3/17/2011 - 6:06pm
I came across a very interesting article that is related to this post and I am encouraging everyone to read it and engage in a dialogue: “Who is funding the coordinated attempt to subvert the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and marriage?”

Here is the link: http://www.catholicvote.org/discuss/index.php?p=15195

I extract this small part:

“In other words, almost $700,000 in the past few years to “Catholic” organizations and organizations tasked with changing Catholic beliefs.

These monetary grants above have a real impact
. Take for instance the $100,000 grant given to Fairfield University “to hold and disseminate information from a series of forums at four academic institutions in order to expand the current discussion on homosexuality within Roman Catholicism to include the diverse opinions of progressive Catholic thought leaders and theologians.” That grant translated exactly into this:

In legal terms, this is a smoking gun – $100,000 given by Arcus to Fairfield University is the sole and single reason why four universities – including Catholic ones – will hold forums this year to further undermine the Church’s teaching on these issues.”
Juan Lino | 3/17/2011 - 3:59pm
Tim - to avoid confusion, I will use my full name going forward. JLL
Juan Lino | 3/17/2011 - 3:50pm
Norma (#6) - I'm with you if the intention of the listening leads to obedience (and I am using the word in it's multilayered meaning, including etymological).  And I agree that the participants must have a tension toward the Truth, who, we believe, is a Living Person who speaks to us in a variety of ways, including through the Church. 

Fr. Delp's books are great.  Have you also read Fr. Ciszek's books, especially He Leadeth Me?  If not, it is a great book!
Juan Lino | 3/17/2011 - 2:19pm
I wonder how many in the “More than a Monologue” will accurately and faithfully present Christ’s teachings as given to us through His body at this “conference”?  I suspect that it’s going to be the usual “we’re right and good”; they (the Church) are “wrong and bad” rhetoric I always see.

For that reason I am personally more interested in this dialogue.

Anglican-Catholic Dialogue Looks at Moral Discernment, Homosexuality
http://www.usccb.org/comm/archives/2011/11-050.shtml
John Raymer | 3/17/2011 - 12:52pm
Protestants are the true post-Catholic thinkers. But I think the article was refering to people who have left the Catholic Church for one reason or another.

Post-Catholic thinking means that each person stands alone before God with Jesus Christ as "Our only mediator and advocate." That means a Protestant cannot rely in any way on the decisions of the Church but must "work out his own salvation with fear and trembling," no matter where that may lead. If a person follows an evil decision by Church leaders out of obedience, than that person is still fully resposible for the outcome and cannot be justified by saying "I was following orders."

Catholic thinking means we stand before God together with the whole communion of saints. How we act as a community is just as important as how we act as individuals, and obedience to our leaders becomes important. Catholic thinking means we are all on the same ship together - either we sail together to the Kingdom of God, or we sink together into Hell.

So where do we stand as a community on homosexuality? On any weighty issue? Or more importantly, are we choosing leaders that are competant to get us to the Kingdom of Heaven, or get us all killed?
Anonymous | 3/17/2011 - 12:28pm
While dialogue is preferable to monologue, I wonder if this is even possible given the a prioris at play between the sides.

The Church's premise about sexuality is based on two factors; one, revealed truth (which many 'liberals' or 'progressives' or whatever they call themselves) tend to pooh pooh when scripture or tradition contradicts their claims. And two, the data from human experience which the Church has a lot of and which most moderns simply don't or discount on the theory that modern man is somehow immune from the vices and pressures of our ancestors (perhaps because 'modern' man discounts human nature).

So I think the dialogue must begin with both sides pealing back as much as possible their own presuppositions.

For the Church - that scripture and tradition are indeed, inspired. We've spent centuries grappling with this topic and it is essential prior to disagreement or argument based on what scripture and tradition means, exactly, or how it can be understood today, hic et nunc.

For the Church - that all human beings share a single human nature from Adam and Eve is also a bedrock presupposition undergirding everything...otherwise, why would we claim that Adam's sin affects us all (black, white, asian, etc.) or that Christ's death and resurrection can save us all? Unless a single human nature exists, there's no such thing as ''international human rights'' or a law that could apply to all people, everywhere, for all time.

Now the above is a theological conclusion - but it's got a boat load of anthropological and historical data backing it up across cultural and social lines from the time of the Apostles to the present. Chinese are just as human as the Romans were. Race and culture doesn't change human nature... this is how we can speak with one another, how we can hold one another accountable to certain basic expectations.... because there is one human nature.

For those proposing same sex attraction as healthy, that it is, in fact, healthy and not a mental disorder, their presupposition is that human nature is infinitely in flux - even if there is a single human nature to begin with. Now, whether they hold this for other aspects of life (like politics or private enterprise) remains to be seen. It would seem that for sex, humanity has no fixed human nature but for everything else we do (which is why we can talk about good or bad politicians, parties, corporations, pollution, etc.)

If the claim is that same sex attraction or other paraphilias are just fine, healthy, and conducive to full human flourishing.... then it might be useful to read up on the science and other data to back this claim up. Like, say, what made the APA de-list it in 1973 and what Dr Spitzer based his white paper on and how many psychologists actually voted vs. not. Like global warming, there wasn't a consensus then and there's not one now but there are pressure groups.

Another essential prerequisite to 'dialogue' is some sort of understanding on the different goals the Church has vs. the secular world. An organization that believes in Heaven and Hell, sin and grace, will necessarily be different than one that believes this life is all there is and that sin/grace is whatever the individual's tastes happen to be.

Finally, it would be helpful if the pro-homosexual lobby at least try to come up with a definition for the word ''health''. Is anything a person wants to do or likes doing, ''healthy''? Is being ''born this way'' automatically an objective proof for a healthy mind, body, or proclivity? Is it possible to subjectively feel great but objectively be harming oneself and how would one know the difference?

From a Phenomenological analysis I hazard a guess that many pro-homosexual proponents have simply not thought through both their own sides' arguments or the Church's teaching inasmuch as it's so commonplace for them to fail to distinguish between disagreement with their claims and assertions and personal animus, hatred, and rage against their persons..... One wouldn't make such automatic failures to distinguish if one has thought it all through.

On the other hand, if one simply cannot tolerate disagreement without getting emotionally angry with those who disagree, is this not evidence of some dis-order or mental problem needing therapy to correct? Or is the word ''dis-order'' not understood as it's used in other areas of life, like depression, anorexia, etc.?

The Church and classical philosophers would argue that a mental dis-order is merely a natural defect, not a morally culpable act unless acted on in an irrational (harmful to self or others) way. Having a disorder does not make one ''inferior''. It does not strip one of human rights or responsibilities. It does not mean one is incapable of maturity or intelligence or skills in other areas of life. Yet the strawman argument casually and almost universally employed by pro-homosexual supporters is that such a claim (SSA is a mental disorder) is not just wrong, but hateful - and their counter argument is to point out how smart, cool, successful, loving, and popular they happen to be....as if those are proofs of something.

My hint is that one attempt to apply such defenses to the disorder of depression, bi-polar, or other dis-orders - because those brothers and sisters of ours are similarly capable and loving people....even though they have a dis-order.

Another train of argument is that of the species of ''you remind me of a bully, so you are a bully''. Again, a failure to make distinctions.....is a sign of a mental disorder.

If the pro-homosexual lobby can figure out how not to go ad hominem, how not to conflate disagreement with murderous hatred, or not jump to conclusions about motives they can't possibly know.... we might have a chance at a dialogue.

But if the goal is to prove Catholicism wrong about it's own understanding of scripture and tradition and classic sexual morality harmful.... then what chance do they have? None. 

Anonymous | 3/17/2011 - 11:56am
What sort of bird, pray tell, is a "post-Catholic" thinker?
Anonymous | 3/21/2011 - 1:14pm
It may seem trivial to discuss abnormalities of development (biological or mental) but it is precisely the disagreement over what is an abnormality vs. 'normality' and what is a dis-oder that may be treated vs. a perfectly healthy mindset that needs to be reinforced, nurtured, expanded, promoted, etc. that is the nexus of the Classic Western/Catholic world view vs. the modern secular/Gay world view.

The former sees abnormal developments and mental disorders in fellow human beings as par for the course, something that occurs with some regularity but needs to be tended to in a therapuetic/charity way to help the individuals affected to heal, or cope with their abnormality. It doesn't hold them to be intrinisically inferior or necessarily less human than anyone else. Morality only enters the picture when free choices are made that lead to harm for the self or others.

The latter on the other hand, seems to take any abnormality as perfectly normal and healthy, and posits therefore that any disagreement about this is willfully malicious and hence, automatically a moral issue to be condemnied (in the name of tolerance of course). Thus heterosexuals who refuse to call an abnormality, normal, are not just wrong, they're 'haters' or people with an irrational phobia.

How then can one have a meaningful "dialogue" unless one can work up a common ground if only on the definition of key words?

Like what exactly is "human nature"? What do we mean by "health"? What developmental process is 'naturally conducive to healthy development" vs. an illness, disease, problem, handicap to be treated, tended to, cured....?

It might help to bring in the Philosophers to nail down what we mean by the word "rights" vs. "wants". Or what is asserted when one is coming from a position of Revealed truth vs. politically accepted rules of decorum? On what basis is 'science' to be invoked - massive, longitudinal studies or statistical analysis? Phenomenological assessments or self-reported results?

If a Catholic asserts that a self-described Gay activist is mental dis-ordered, what grounds or proof does he offer? On the other hand, if that activist asserts a Catholic is a morally corrupt hater for making such an assertion, on what grounds can he describe disagreement of his health status as "hatred"? Or does the word 'hate' have a unique meaning here?

I doubt the above questions can be settled at a public forum but they are well worth our time to ponder before attempting a 'dialogue' on the subject because without some sort of common language or at least understanding of the diverse definitions being employed by the other side, true conversation is impossible.
NORMA NUNAG | 3/17/2011 - 3:02pm
Let's at least listen to both sides, because somewhere hidden in the untruths is the truth.  As long as both sides keep their humanity  intact during the dialogue they might have something to give us.  Let's hope that it is truly a dialogue.... because it can very  easily be reduced to "I am right, and you are wrong".  As long as the focus is to seek the truth,  then the activity would be helpful, otherwise they could just be shooting themselves in the foot! Or......perhaps in the end there is no resolution, but the realization that  we are all still in the wilderness groping our way through life.....

I highly recommend Fr.Alfred Delp's (he was a German Jesuit executed by the Nazis) Prison Writings.  He can help us all how to be open to a seemingly silent God.  It is published by Orbis Books ($16).