The National Catholic Review

You won’t be surprised to discover that we get all kinds of crazy letters here.  And I don’t mean simply letters that seem odd or strange, or even letters that I don't fully understand—I mean crazy.  As a Jesuit friend told me last night, “No nut like a religious nut.” One fellow sends me (regularly) a packet of folded-up colored paper with instructions on how this can be used to communicate with angels.  Another correspondent mails pages and pages of tiny, mostly illegible, scrawl covering every inch of several pages, with Gospel passages underlined three times.  So one learns to discount the nuttier letters.  And one learns to accept more easily criticism from "non-nutty" people as well, even when it's delivered with sarcasm and invective.  Finally, one learns to accept criticism from intelligent writers who write intelligently and help you see where you are being imprecise, inconsiderate, inaccurate or just plain wrong.  Overall, when it comes to criticism, one's skin gets thicker over time.

On the other hand, some letters tend to stick out.  This morning I was opening up yesterday’s mail and noticed an envelope without a return address (never a good sign).  Inside was a copy of an Of Many Things column I had written about the beatification of John Paul II.  In the article I mentioned that Blessed John Paul had, at one point in his papacy, removed Pedro Arrupe, S.J., the superior general of the Jesuits, from his post in 1981, a move that dismayed many Jesuits.  The letter-writer had highlighted those few sentences in bright yellow.  Next to it was a Post-it that read, in full: “But Jimmy, so many Jesuits were screaming fags that something had to be done, you know, to clean the filth out of the clergy.”

Not the pleasantest thing to read in the morning.  And who knows whether this person is a subscriber or not.  (He, or she, seems a bit cowardly though: the lack of a return address demonstrated a lack of resolve.)  Odds are, though, if he's reading the print version of the magazine, he’s probably Catholic, and even if he's not a subscriber is likely reading it in a parish or a library.  (We don’t sell on newsstands.)  And he knew enough to quote Pope Benedict XVI on the “filth” in the church-- referring to pedophiles not gays, but no matter. 

Homophobia is still out there, no matter how much we would wish to think of ourselves as an enlightened culture, and exists in our church.  Thus, the need for June as “LGBT month,” as just proclaimed by President Obama.

On the other side of the coin, however, is a surprising op-ed in a Buffalo newpaper by Bishop Joseph Sullivan, retired auxiliary bishop of Brooklyn (pictured above in a somewhat dated photo).  Someone sent me the link to his article just a few hours after I had read the anonymous letter this morning.  In his piece, entitled “Catholics are Reaching out to the LGBT Community,” the bishop writes, in part:

Catholics and other religious people who support LGBT rights do so because of their experience of engagement with members of the LGBT community. They are not rebels in their churches, but people who have taken spiritual messages of inclusiveness and welcoming to heart. They are taking the church’s teaching on social justice and applying it to pastoral practice in engaging the LGBT community.

We see these teachings play out as Catholics across the country engage in prayerful and meaningful dialogues about understanding and embracing the LGBT community. This dialogue is happening amongst faithful families, in student groups on the campuses of Catholic universities, and within church congregations. This dialogue is admittedly difficult, at times, but important.

More than a decade ago, the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a graceful message, “Always Our Children,” which reminded us, “For St. Paul love is the greatest of spiritual gifts. St. John considers love to be the most certain sign of God’s presence.” For most Catholics, there can be no statement that better summarizes an attitude of welcoming of our LGBT brothers and sisters than those of Jesus, “love one another as I have loved you.”

In fact, it's a surprise to hear a bishop use the term "LGBT," which stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender.  Many Catholic leaders still use "homosexual," a word that the gay community has moved away from.  (And shouldn't a group of people be free to call themselves what they want?) 

In any event, it’s the classic “on the one hand, on the other hand.”  On the one hand, despite warnings against discrimination against gays in the Catechism, which calls for gays and lesbians to be treated with "respect, sensitivity and compassion," there is still homophobia in the church.  (The letter I received is only one of many examples that could be adduced.)  On the other, there are many Catholics like Bishop Sullivan, who are trying to apply Gospel values to care pastorally for a group of marginalized people.  It’s a big church, as one friend likes to say. 

And I hope that as our big church moves ahead, it will sound more like Bishop Sullivan and less like my anonymous friend.

James Martin, SJ

 

 

Comments

Judy Meissner | 12/14/2011 - 1:49pm
Please! Never use the "homophobic" put down.
''Homophobia'' has never been listed as a disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). It is rather a disrespectful, pejorative, non-scientific, non-medical word invented to attack and incite violence against all who disagree with Aberrosexualism or biologically aberrant sexual behavior.
“Homophobe” is a hate-loaded slur used by Aberrosexualist groups to unjustly discriminate, stigmatize, demean, hurt and offend everyone who disagrees with their extremist ideology and irrational agenda. This slur is as despicable as any other ethnic, racial or sexist slur. It has no place in civil, respectable public discourse and it be understood that is never acceptable. Never!
Use of the pejorative term “homophobia” to denigrate the universal rejection of Aberrosexualism is a verbal act of aggression against humanity and violates our basic right to have language used in a truthful, objective, precise and depoliticized manner.
It's easy for those desensitized by bigotry and intolerance to shrug “homophobe” off as just a word, and dismiss everyone that gets upset over it as too sensitive. Interestingly, few would make the same argument with the n-word. That's because we recognize what a loaded term it is, bound up in centuries of painful history and very real violence.

Using the "h" slur and making derogatory comments against those who disagree with Aberrosexualism or biologically aberrant sexual conduct, isn't much different. Both are the kind of thing that tells us more about the person using them than the people he's uttering them about. It makes him look like a bigot, and it makes him look ignorant.
Mercy Bell | 6/7/2011 - 10:05am
A gay friend of mine once said that if this whole issue was just about sex, it wouldn't be an issue. People would take care of their needs under the table like politicians with their mistresses.

The thing is that people fall in love.

There's a wonderful CELIBATE Lesbian, Catholic convert writer Eve Tushnet (eve-tushnet.blogspot.com/) who is anti gay marriage but once expressed that if there was a valid argument for gay marriage, it would be "it gives gay people a home". But then even something that pure - even if it's celibate - would probably be frowned upon.
6466379 | 6/4/2011 - 12:13pm
I don’t want to be confrontational. But if there is such a thing as objective  truth one must at times, always respectfully, confront error based on unmitigated, objective truth. At this point some may ask as did Pilate at Jesus’ trial, “What is truth?” Scripture says Jesus used body language to respond - he LOOKED at Pilate! From this I gather that the essence of truth resides in the body language of Jesus, in his teachings. This teaching continues   through Faith, in the body language of the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church.
Central to the body language of Jesus is LOVE. But not an “anything goes” kind of love  but a love based on commandments as Jesus put it, “If you love me keep my commandments.” Of course, being “one with the Father” Jesus was talking inclusively about the Sinai Document called the “Ten Commandments,” not just his words.
Reflecting  on his teaching on sexuality for example to the point where, according to Jesus,  if one even  looks at a woman lustfully, one has already committed adultery of the heart with her, what about the attempt to legitimize every form of human sexuality imaginable? And for that matter the ultimate “sanctification” of any human activity barring none. Therein resides a problem for me trying to give objective truth previously unacceptable stretch!
Respectfully, I’m talking about LGBT lifestyles and all kinds of “experimating” if I may invent a word. How does one square any of them with the body language of Jesus, with objective truth? If that’s  possible it seems to say that ultimately, I can do anything I please, that there are no restrictions, simply live and let live. In other words I decided what’s right and wrong - indeed NOTHING is “wrong” everything is O.K if you like it! Is this what Jesus meant when he said, “If you love me keep my commandments?”  It seems to me we’re all called upon to live sexually restricted lives, whether gay, straight, or any variation in-between, this certainly so if we are Believers. We’re all called to “offer it up” as the good Sisters used to say and rightly so. If this is wrong, then gosh, I’m ’way off in my understanding of objective truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth - in a word, Catholic/Christian/Scriptural morality!
Adam Rasmussen | 6/4/2011 - 10:52am
"At times difficult."

Given that gay marriage is a top priority for the LGBT community right now, and that the Catholic Church unequivocally opposed gay marriage, the word difficult is probably an understatement, especially when many gays and lesbians consider opposition to gay marriage pure bigotry and downright hatred.

I do believe that Christians should never use the word fag or gay in the sense of bad (though a huge number of our young people do so use that word). I do believe that we should oppose efforts to stereotype gays and lesbians or to harrass them. On the other hand, given the huge, irreconcilable gulf in beliefs, it is difficult for me to see what sort of relationship the Catholic Church can have with them, honestly. What should we do?
david power | 6/4/2011 - 10:11am
David,
I did not mean ghetto in numerical terms.
Catholics were 20% of the world population at one  stage and held onto a self-image of the persecuted good.
It feeds into our ego's to think of oursleves in such terms.
Many gays are guilty of the same,even when they  have the entire mainstream media rooting for them they take on the role of the soon-to-be crushed minority.   I agree with Brett that the main thrust of the article is of a straw man variety but also think we have some catching up to do with gay catholics and that is more important now.
Don Quixote is gone and in his place is Sancho , and not a minute too soon in my opinion.
The Church is dying a lot faster than most people realize and the re-birth will not come from mass gatherings of people fawning over one man ,especially when that man is not Jesus Christ.

http://www.ewtn.com/new_evangelization/Ratzinger.htm

This is an anti-dote to such thinking.It is really beautiful when read in depth and shows that humility will be the transformation of the Church. 

PJ Johnson, 

"I have found the place ,where memberships a smiling face"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iab3JQG7-E&feature=related

:) 
Crystal Watson | 6/4/2011 - 3:34am
This discussion reminds me of this Believe Out Loud video ...  http://youtu.be/P0buh-1quVs

I hope you find a  welcoming community, PJ.
Eric Stoltz | 6/4/2011 - 12:06am
"Simply look at the post above this one - where the Catholic Adoption Services is shut downagain - to see the end game of homosexual "rights" in this country - the suppression of free speech and religious freedom for Catholics, Jews and all those with holistic views on human sexuality."

Because they lost a government grant?

Why Brett, you sound like those liberals who claim health care is a human right and the government should guarantee it. If health care is a strictly private thing on the terms of the market, why should adoption be different? No one was making Rockford stop providing adoption services. Couldn't they just adapt to market forces? Perhaps adopt a for-profit model of adoption?
Eric Stoltz | 6/3/2011 - 11:34pm
"Perhaps that last part came across wrong..." Is that why you repeated the accusation in your most recent post?

There is no trend against free speech. There have always been, however, trends in what is considered acceptable speech. Crazy people are always free to say whatever they want. Even the ACLU defended Nazis marching in Skokie. That's a given. People liek Sarah Palin who today claim there is some movement against free speech are really complaining that there are any social consequences for saying whatever stupid crap they want to spew. Free speech means taking responsibility if you say something unpopular, not whining because people disagree with you.

But we restrict speech socially in certain arenas. What I may say when I hit my finger with a nail I cannot say on television. Racists realize on some level that racism is not socially acceptable, as we saw so often during the last election: "I'm not a racist, but I'll never vote for a Negro." 

Today it is no longer socially acceptable in mainstream society for people to slander gays and lesbians with the old accusations )pedophiles, effeminate, subversive, etc.). But yet we sill have people who sense it is not socially acceptable, so they say "I actually love gays and lesbians, but I don't like the way they are trying to destroy society and my religion and deny freedom of religion and freedom of speech and all that just because I want to say how they are evil."

It's disingenuous, unacceptable and reasonable people see through it. 
Eric Stoltz | 6/3/2011 - 10:29pm
So, Brett, is that your idea of a "nuanced" position? To say that gays and lesbians are conspiring to destroy religious freedom and free speech?

Interesting.  So if that's "nuance," what would be an unnuanced position? Just plain out-and-out lynching?

And if this is how you express "love," I'd rather you bring on the hate. People who love me listen to me, try to learn from my experiences and don't accuse me of evil intent. Because in my experience, it's always my enemies who make false accusations against me.
Michael Barberi | 6/3/2011 - 10:26pm
It does not move the conversation forward if we based our opinions about homosexual and lesbian relations on faulty evidence. While some of us would agree that a few people that are homosexual can change their behavior, the great majority of homosexuals do not "choose" their orientation. It is given to them; they are born that way. They cannot change their behavior any more than a hetersexual can change to homosexual.

I have some friends and relatives who are homosexual or lesbian and they are wonderful, loving, respectful and loving people. We don't know why 10% of the world's population is homosexual or lesbian. We don't know how this fits into God's plan. We can only follow Jesus's teachings of love and inclusion. It is difficult to assert that homosexuals and lesbians must practice celibacy for their entire lives in order to be welcomed to God's table. While many Catholics cannot imagine a committed and faithful communion between homosexual or lesbian couples, this is not reason for hateful discourse.

Read "the sexual peson" by Todd Salzman and Michael Lawler for a good scholarly book that is one of many works based on biblical, philosophical, theologican and anthropological theory. This and many other books and articles move the conversation forward with the objective of finding and understanding the truth. At one time, sex had only one licit position, sex during menstruation was forbidden, sex during pregnacy was a mortal sin and sex was only for procreation. All of these were once the common opinion of theologians and Church Hierarchy that have since been abandoned. Is our teaching on homosexuality more complete, more universal and more concious than these obsolete principles?
Larry Ranly | 6/3/2011 - 10:19pm
Everything PJ Johnston (post #12) described about the life in the Church of someone who is exactly as he described himself* is exactly true, and the Catholic Church should be ashamed because of it.  It’s disgraceful that anyone would have to go to another church in order to experience the love and acceptance that most people take for granted, everyone deserves, and that every Christian Church professes to provide.
 
I know because I, for 55 years, lived my life the way he described his life, except I did not have the wisdom to go to the Episcopal Church to receive that basic human acceptance.  The life of a faithful gay Catholic living his life the way the Catholic church teaches is one of extreme forced social isolation.
 
In everyday life within a Catholic parish almost nothing is ever said about homosexuality.  In that silence within the everyday church, parishioners are left to continue to persist in the negative stereotypes that society has always perpetuated.  The silence just reinforces those beliefs and the reaction of fellow parishioners is to keep people like PJ* in what would be the equivalent of a mental leper colony.
 
It is wrong that PJ is treated the way he is treated in the Church especially when it is based solely on people’s perceptions about him.  If the Catholic Church acted with the love and caring that it professes,  PJ should be able to proclaim his sexual orientation form the pulpit and be received by his fellow parishioners with open arms.  Isn’t that what Jesus would do in the same situation?  Until all the PJ’s in the pews FEEL that they could proclaim their sexual orientation to their fellow parishioners and not risk rejection,   the Church will continue to drive blameless faithful Catholics like PJ away, and that is shameful.
 
*I used the terms “exactly as he described himself” and “people like PJ” to refer to how he described himself in the first 2 paragraphs.  This is to avoid the semantic arguments that this thread has mostly been about.  It is the description of a faithful, devout Catholic who lives the way the Catholic church says he should and is therefore blameless.
david power | 6/3/2011 - 8:17pm
"And one learns to accept more easily criticism from "non-nutty" people as well, even when it's delivered with sarcasm and invective",

That type really get up my nose too :)

Nice article Fr Martin.
Our Church is heaving under the weight of ideology and there is not enough of a simple human recognition as PJ Johnson sought in the churches.
I think that the Jesuits are better equipped to deal with such issues than other orders because  of the great emphasis on discernment.
Jesuits will make many mistakes and they do but they are trained to reflect and this can lead to a lot of non-answers.
Non-answers can be an act of patience, a refusal to pigeonhole .
When we are told that homosexuals are out for an "ideology of evil" this can have a big effect on catholic thinking.We no longer look at others as fellow humans but simply as the "Other".
The ghetto mentality that was sexed up for 27 years is leaving the Church slowly , Pope Benedict realizes that we are not playing Cops n Robbers. People are people and the Church has to meet them as she finds them.

Vincent O Keefe said that when Fr Arrupe went to meet with the last Pope he would ask him to come with him as he got "spaghetti legs" ,when they met. Do saints strike the fear of God into other saints?

I admire the many gay catholics who stay with the Church , let those who meet them with dogma and not charity have a damascan moment.

In line with what David Smith said about breaking down barriers and  getting to know what it is about, I think it might be a good idea to simply look at the Last Supper or else read De Profundis by Wilde (bad theology tho!) or else watch The Gospel according to St Matthew by Pasolini. 
PJ Johnston | 6/3/2011 - 7:05pm
The nearest Jesuits are in Chicago or (I believe) Omaha.  I teach at the largest state university in Iowa and go to its Newman Center but it really doesn't help all that much.  People from the local Catholic community greatly outnumber students/faculty at the Newman Center so it is still a very culturally monolithic place.  I drive a large pickup truck that gets about 10mpg on a good day because it's the only vehicle I could afford to buy after going without a car for over two years after the disintegration of my last vehicle, and I don't make enough money as a TA to make a weekly or even monthly trip to Omaha or Chicago.  (At one point my only parish choice was one close enough to walk to even in a Midwestern winter, but at least things are better than that now).  Solutions that presume mobility assume economic privilege that I unfortunately do not possess, and may never possess (cf. recent posts about the economic realities of the academic labor force).  I would suspect this is more generally the case than one would suspect, if not always of sexual/gender minorities then certainly of ethnic minorities.  That being the case, the onus is on local communities to be welcoming to every kind of person, not on disenfranchised people to move.
Frank Gibbons | 6/3/2011 - 6:59pm
Roads to Damascus

Is that a Beatles song?
Robert Longo | 6/3/2011 - 6:35pm
As usual, Fr. Jim, a very thought-provoking piece.  I consider myself a good practicing Catholic, but who am I to judge.  And I have to use one of those comical lines, ''Some of my best friends are Lesbians/Gay/Bisexuals (no Trannies that I know of).  I greatly suppose that FEAR and IGNORANCE are the roots of most disdain for the LGBT community.  Fear based perhaps in homophobia, or perceived (right or wrong) as sinful behavior, or fear that one's offspring or their offspring may be gay and that they had something to do with causing a deviant behavior to the considered norm.  Fear that perhaps if everyone chooses a gay lifestyle that procreation will be left to the laboratories. I suspect we could go on and on, and then start in on how ignorance can be an accelerant to the fires of hatred for our LGBT brothers and sisters. At a very simple Christian level, does anyone think that Jesus would treat this community with hate? Perhaps those who hold this group in contempt stopped reading the Bible before the New Testament or the gospels and epistles.  I mean the Beatles must have read it, because they wrote, All You Need is Love. Maybe Bishop Sullivan's picture is not forever young, but his Christian heart and perspective is very up to date. We are not the ultimate judges of why God created diversity. I'm guessing He had a pretty good reason, as usual.  And I don't think He picked me or anyone else to figure out why He attracted some folks to the same sex, the opposite sex, to both sexes, or to no sex or self sex.  Another one of His mysteries I'm guessing. In the meantime, I do know from what He taught us, that these are our fellow brothers and sisters and life travelers as we all head down our own Roads to Damascus. 
PJ Johnston | 6/3/2011 - 6:20pm
It may be natural, but how is it acceptable since in Christ there is neither male nor female (Galatians) and you're not supposed to be kinder to people in your parish who belong to certain categories rather than other categories (James)?  What happens when the Turks and the Armenians try to go to church and they're made to feel less than children of God because all the Anglos meet and greet one another with warmth and kindness, while giving the Turks and the Armenians who have done nothing wrong the total cold shoulder?  Human beings are made for social relationships.  If you deprive them of this then you deprive them of a good necessary for human flourishing.  This should not be allowed to happen in the Church, and to the extent it does, it's a serious pastoral problem.
PJ Johnston | 6/3/2011 - 5:39pm
For all intents and purposes I'm celibate and I've never had a sexual encounter with a member of the same sex (though I sometimes might like to, I'm far too conflicted theologically and otherwise to act on my desires, and I'm probably basically bisexual anyway).

It doesn't matter what I call myself or whether the attraction is mutable or fixed.  There is a way I get treated in churches, and I get treated this way simply on the basis of perceived gender identity and the sexual behavior people THINK I have - even if in some kind of alternate universe I were in fact completely straight or under a vow of celibacy, people would think what they think on the basis of my mannerisms and physical appearance alone, and there wouldn't be a thing I could do about it.

If I go into a random Episcopal church where no one has ever seen me before (most Episcopal churches are fairly LBGT-friendly), people are friendly, outgoing, nice to me.  If I go into a Catholic church where no one has ever seen me before, people don't want to shake my hand, trying to start a conversation is like banging my head into a brick wall, and I feel palpable reserve and mistrust.  This is apart from any other factor, such as theological views or whatever, because these are cold visits.  The differences in social reaction seem immediate and based on appearance alone.  It's not fair - I'm not sleeping around and for all they know I could be straight.  I want to be Catholic.  I do everything I can to be Catholic.  But it's hard not to let this total social barrier get to you.

I suppose the issues of naming and whether or not one's social orientation is mutable or fixed do matter, but if things are so bad in your church that non-sexually active people who violate gender expectations or trigger somebody's "gaydar" don't feel welcome because they're assumed to be gay and the mere existence of gays in the congregation is that politicized, it's a serious pastoral problem.  No one wants to face that.  I hate to think about what would happen if I came in with a Platonic (no sex) same-sex lover on my shoulder someday, like John Henry Newman and Ambrose St. John.  I suppose I'd be discouraged from receiving communion - even with no sex involved.  And if you have to hide even Platonic relationships in order to fit in, who wants to fit in?

I'm still trying to nudge my way into the Catholic community.  I go to one of the Episcopal churches fairly regularly and keep trying in the local Catholic parishes, hoping that at some point something changes and I can cut loose of the Anglicans.  But I just don't feel welcome.
Anonymous | 6/3/2011 - 5:37pm
Sorry, Tim.  Old habit of mine taught to me in trial advocacy class: if you think someone is lying, don't beat around the bush, tell the jury he's lying.  I'll go back to "intellectually disingenuous" if that makes everybody feel better, which is pretty funny since my beef here is about language games.
Kang Dole | 6/3/2011 - 5:31pm
Hey Guys, let's all satisfy Michael Brooks' need to get attention for his views on gays by arguing with him about it on the internet. I'm sure it will be time well spent.
Larry Ranly | 6/3/2011 - 5:20pm
@Michael Brooks, You can't wish us away, you can't ignore us away, you can't pray us away, and you can't define us away. No matter how hard you try, you ''breeders'' just can't stop producing us ''homo'' babies.  When I was a teenager in the late '60's, early 70's  I had to  deal with my sexual orientation all alone, by myself because a ''homo'' could not dare confide in anyone else about his sexuallity (not even his parents or his priest),  And from my perspective,  being a ''homo'' was the one thing that society as a whole considered acceptable to despise and hate.  I lived in terror of being called a ''homo''.  If you continue to spread the stereotypes you use in your post above, and continue use hateful words meant to be hurtful,  then you should just accept being what you are, a homophobe. After 55 years as a ''good'' catholic, I finally learned how to accept myself for what I am, a ''homo'', queer, fag, gay, homosexual, MSM, LGBT Catholic.  Oh and by the way, I prefer to call homophobes bigots. 
STEVEN MILLIES | 6/3/2011 - 5:14pm
I don't mind any amount of name-calling.

I'd just like to know what else Michael thinks the Church is wrong about.
Anonymous | 6/3/2011 - 4:55pm
Steve - "Phobia" was chosen because it implies to the average person that it is an irrational mental condition or disease, period.  You're lying if you say otherwise and are guilty of the very deceptive linguistic games that I take issue with.

I personally know people who have changed their sexual orientation: formerly attracted to men and now only attracted to women, and formerly attracted to women and now only to men.  And, of course, everyone is capable of controlling their behavior.  I speak from experience when I tell you that people can be taught to participate in homosexual acts and such acts can lead to a change in sexual orientation.  And as long as that is the case, especially with children, I will be speaking out against all attempts to normalize, promote, and/or propagandize homosexual behavior in our society - call me an "anti-homosexual behaviorist" a "pro-heterosexual reorientationist" and a "person against promoting sexual confusion in impressionable youth and adults."

I'm not suggesting that those with same-sex attraction should be dehumanized; on the contrary, I think we should help them as we help others with conditions that make their lives difficult: we should be seeking prevention and a cure.  There's nothing harder in life than being different from everyone else, no matter how much society accepts your difference.   
STEVEN MILLIES | 6/3/2011 - 3:40pm
@Michael Brooks: A linguistic note, and a further thought.  Hemophiliacs don't love blood, as a rule.  But we can understand the description, contextually, to mean that there is a likely presence or profusion of blood where we find hemophiliacs.  Homophobics don't necessarily fear people who are LGBT.  But we might expect a homophobic to avoid contact with them.  Or, to avoid even the plain fact recognized by the Church: ''deep-seated homosexual tendencies''(CCC 2358) refers, I think, to an immutable orientation.  That acknowledgement is reaffirmed in ''Always Our Children.''  Creation takes many forms, and each of us is created uniquely.  What is unnatural is to deny and de-humanize what is manifest in nature.  What is deceptive is to misrepresent Church teaching, deny the evidence of our eyes and ears.
Anonymous | 6/3/2011 - 2:51pm
The problem with defining terms is that that it is often done to creates deception, whether it is the title of a legislative bill or calling a depressed and angry group, "gay."

"Homophobia" is a good example.  The fear of "homos" that I know of are the fear that an angry homosexual will act with vengeance towards me when I disagree with him and the fear of contracting HIV from contact with someone who has same-sex attraction and has likely participated in homosexual acts.  Disagreement, belief of immorality, or other aversions to homosexuality are not phobias, yet that is the politically labeling that is used to deceive and to villainize.

I'm not afraid of people who have same-sex attraction (I don't like the term "homosexual," either because it implies that it is an immutable class, which it is not). I prefer terms like "people with same-sex attraction," or like the CDC refers to men-having-sex-with-men when it speaks about HIV/AIDS.  If you're going to define terms, stop using them to deceive.
Adrienne Krock | 6/3/2011 - 2:13pm
Amen.
Kathy Brasseur | 6/3/2011 - 2:07pm
Thank you Fr. Martin.  I consider myself one of those Catholics reaching out in faith and love to the LGBT community.  Having many friends and neighbors who are homosexual has led me to believe that our Lord only wants us to love everyone.  

My life, my spiritual life in fact has been greatly affected to the good by a wonderful homosexual priest.  It is to his credit that I went back to college to complete my bachelor's degree in theology (I graduated at the ripe old age of 48) and went on to work for the church.  God put this servent in my life so that I could grow closer to our Lord and begin to serve Him as well.  

Thank  you for bringing this to our attention.
Peace 
Dona Felipa | 6/3/2011 - 10:28pm
Well, some parts of this story are so hopelessly politically incorrect, but nevertheless merit mention.

First,  gay men have been in key leadership positions in the Catholic Church for eons.  So there's nothing new about that. And it's also so that these very same gay men have often been the most instrumental in preventing many women from holding leadership roles of  true significance  and meaning, apart from those women involved in religious congregations. Please don't take this as having anything to do with the notion of women as priests.   That's just a smoke screen thrown up to cover up the more relevant discussion: Blatant, sanctioned sexism against women still reigns in many  U.S. archdioceses. And this sexism is fostered by none other than men, many of them gay,  who still rule in most venues.   In some archdioceses, priests are trained to be particulary wary of women, especially single women within their parishes, fancying that  the time-worn sagas of the occasional errant priest-lady parishioner scandal is the rule rather than the very, very isolated exception. (Do these fellas ever take a look in the mirror?  Not all of them would be cast in ''The Thornbirds.''  ) One archbishop I heard about actually declined to include women in the Holy Week ''foot washing'' ritual, citing ''recent scandals.''   As if women had anything whatsoever to do with that!  Gays think they feel unwelcomed in the Catholic church?  Try being a divorced older Catholic woman!  Now there's some good stigma for you!


Also, and this is TRULY poltiically incorrect:  there's much too much made of  sexuality, be it straight or same-sex, in the church and of course, out in the world where it so often seems to be the only thing that matters...  The only important thing that defines us as humans.  Really, aren't we so very, very much more than this?  And can't we say so without being branded as ''repressed?'' I can already here the tut-tut's out there.  Some day maybe we'll be able to address this subject with more authenticity and honesty.  It's not that impossible to be celibate and happy.  Really.  
 

So,  thank Heavens that Our Dear Lord is far more merciful in these matters than most of us will ever be.   And, despite all of the human failings that too often cloud the picture,   isn't it amazing that it is nevertheless possible still to come into contact with Our Lord's  magnificent kindness and love when we avail ourselves of  the ways open to us, including His blessed Sacraments, and His presence in our church.  





Marsha West | 6/3/2011 - 2:23pm
When I was young I ascribed to the general wisdom of society - that being gay was chosen and was wrong. Over time, as I came to know gay people that changed me. But it was when a grandchild of mine came out to me - and married the woman she loved - that I finally "got it." I knew the sweetness and goodness of this girl. I trusted that whoever she loved must also be a good and dear person. I came to see that what they wanted for and in each other was the same thing any two lovers want: to celebrate their love publicly, to pledge permanence and faithfulness in love, to establish a household and a family, and to love and cherish each other. It is to my great sorrow that I hear my granddaughter say, "Grandma, I still feel Catholic. But they don't want me." I don't know how to answer that.

I have come to know that there's a lot that I don't know. But I am quite sure that God honors faithful, committed love, wherever/however it happens.