Roman Catholics and homosexuality
Years 2004 to 2006
2005-SEP: Banning gay seminarians and their ordination:
There are substantial rumors that Pope Benedict XVI
has approved a document that denies gays the opportunity to be considered for
ordination. Catholic World News reported on 2005-SEP-19:
"The text, which was approved by Pope
Benedict at the end of August, says that homosexual men should not be
admitted to seminaries even if they are celibate, because their
condition suggests a serious personality disorder which detracts from
their ability to serve as ministers."
The document was expected to be made public on
2005-NOV-29, after the conclusion of the Synod of Bishops. 1
However, a copy appears to have been leaked on NOV-22 and posted
on the Internet by a news agency. More details.
2006-SEP: Bishop opposes church teaching:
Gudrun Schultz of LIfeSiteNews.com, a Roman Catholic pro-life organization,
described a speech given by Retired Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Sullivan of
Brooklyn, NY to the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay
Ministries in Brooklyn on 2006-SEP 21 to 24. One group represented at the
meeting was the Rainbow Sash movement -- a gay-positive
organization. They request full recognition and acceptance by the Church of
sexually-active Catholics. This request has been granted by some US Bishops,
notably Archbishop Harry Flynn of St. Paul Minneapolis.
It is unusual to hear a bishop or other senior clergy of the church discuss the
need for change in the church, because they are forbidden to do so in public.
However, retaliation by the church against a retired bishop is limited.
"Retired Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Sullivan, of Brooklyn, has called on
Catholics who minister to active homosexuals to work towards bringing them
into 'full participation in the life of the church,' in a call for pastoral
acceptance that dismisses Church teaching opposing homosexual activity."
"... Bishop Sullivan said Catholic pastoral care towards homosexuals
should be 'accepting, welcoming, encouraging,' care that does not 'reject,
define and exclude,' but that 'enables, and encourages participation'."
"Bishop Sullivan also suggested Church documents opposing homosexuality
should be more 'sensitively articulated'.
"The Bishop's call for acceptance of active homosexuality in the Church
contradicted the Vatican directive issued to US Bishops in conflict with
Rome over welcoming homosexual activists into the Church."
"Responding to the conflict in the US Church, Cardinal Francis Arinze,
Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the
Sacraments, said in an interview broadcast by EWTN, 'The Catholic Church
has never accepted homosexuality as normal. You read
the scripture. It's very clear. What exactly are we examining? Are we
going to change Divine Law, how God made us'?"
"Cardinal Arinze said members of the Rainbow Sash movement were
demanding something the Church could not offer. Referring to the Catechism
of the Catholic Church, he said, 'It says it is not condemning a person for
having homosexual tendency. We don't condemn anybody for that. But a person
stands condemned for acting on it'."
" 'Quite another matter if a person had just the tendencies and is making
[an] effort to live the Divine Law, then that's fine. So, we respect persons
but be clear on the truth,' he said." 2
2006-NOV: USA: Pastoral statements from American bishops:
The Roman Catholic bishops in the U.S. met in Baltimore, MD. On 2006-NOV-14
they issued a statement titled: "Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual
Inclination: Guidelines for Pastoral Care." It explains the church's beliefs
concerning homosexuality and stresses that Catholics who minister to homosexuals
must firmly adhere to those beliefs:
- "Persons with a homosexual inclination 'must be accepted with respect,
caring. and sensitivity."
- "The complementarity of man and woman as male and female is inherent
within God's creative design."
- "Homosexual acts cannot fulfill the natural ends of human sexuality"
- "Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated
from its procreative and unitive purposes." [This seems to imply that
homosexuals are driven by sexual lust only and are unable to engage in
sexual activity that has a unitive purpose that enhances their committed
- "Homosexual acts ... violate the true purpose of sexuality." They are
neither procreative nor do they reflect the complementarity of man and
- "To the extent that a homosexual tendency or inclination is not subject
to one's free will, one is not morally culpable for that tendency."
The Roman Catholic church typically uses terms like "homosexual tendency" and
"homosexual inclination" instead of the generally accepted term "homosexual
orientation." It is not obvious how the three terms differ.
Catholics with "a homosexual inclination" is to be encouraged to lead
a chaste -- that is, celibate, life. It is not sufficient for them to take a
position of "distant neutrality" to the church's teachings. Further, they
should avoid making "general public announcements" about their sexual
orientation. Bishops are to be careful
"to ensure that those carrying out the ministry of the Church not use
their position of leadership to advocate positions or behaviors not in
keeping with the teachings of the Church."
Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of Paterson, NJ, as chairman of the committee on
doctrine of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said that the
statement on homosexuality was intended to be "positive, pastoral and
welcoming." When asked by reporters how it can have such a positive tone
when it compared same-sex attractions to the temptations of "envy, malice or
greed," Serratelli said that "the truth is always welcoming." He
added that same-sex attraction is:
"objectively disordered [because ...] they do not accord
with the natural purpose of sexuality. ... simply experiencing a homosexual
inclination is not in itself a sin."
He further described homosexual acts as "sinful," "never morally acceptable,"
and activity that does "not lead to true human happiness."
Donald W. Wuerl, Washington's new archbishop, said the statement should not
be interpreted as a crack down down on pro-gay ministries. Rather, he said:
"The starting point is the church living in a culture in which these
things are being promoted, and our task is to keep saying: 'Remember, here
are the true teachings of the church'."
A coalition of gay-positive groups, including Call to Action,
Dignity USA, and 13 other organizations denounced the statement as: "not
at all pastoral, but rather harmful." Francis DeBernardo, executive director
of New Ways Ministry, a gay-positive Catholic group said:
"These guidelines try to make gay and lesbian people invisible in the
church. The plan here is not to minister but to make a 'problem' disappear."
The following information sources
were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not
necessarily still active today.
- "Pope approves barring gay seminarians," Catholic World News, at:
- Gudrun Schultz, "Retired US Bishop Pushes Church Acceptance of
Homosexuality in Opposition to Rome," LifeSiteNews.com, 2006-OCT-04, at:
- Alan Cooperman & Peter Whoriskey, "3 Christian Groups Move To Condemn Gay
Sex," 2006-NOV-15, Washington Post, at:
- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, "Ministry to Persons with a
Homosexual Inclination: Guidelines for Pastoral Care," 2006-NOV-14, at:
http://www.usccb.org/ This is a PDF file. You may require software to read it. Software can be obtained free from:
Copyright © 2004 to
2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2010-OCT-15
Author: B.A. Robinson