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Roman Catholics and homosexuality

Years 2008 to 2010

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2008-JUL-27: PA: Cardinal Rigali repeats Church stance:

Cardinal Justin Rigali, the Archbishop of Philadelphia, PA Cardinal Rigali said during an interview with that it was an "aberration" to justify:

"homosexual conduct -- and worse than that, homosexual marriage. ... The Church accepts people as they are. Jesus says the church is like a net, it pulls in everybody, everybody belongs to the church, there are sinners, there are saints, there are people with wrong ideas. But the Church continues to proclaim what Jesus taught. There is no room in the Church for the acceptance of aberrational ideas. There is room in the church to accept, to understand and to love people whoever they may be.  Not to tell them that what they are advocating is right, not to justify it.  That is quite different. That is totally, totally different. ..."

"There are some people that say the church is intolerant - no! We accept people but we cannot be unfaithful to Christ. We will not accept gay marriage.  The church has explained this over, and over and over again and she will have to continue to explain it."

Referring to persons with a homosexual orientation, he said:

"These are good people and our way of treating them is very important. The respect we show them and even the understanding of their personal situations. But just because someone is in a personal situation does not mean we can change our teaching to accommodate the person. ... The Church has to continue, St. Paul says, 'praedica verbum', preach the word in season and out of season and that's what we do. This is something we have to teach in the most effective way possible, with clarity yes, with fidelity yes, with sensitivity. We can't take people and choke them and say you're going to be doing it and you're going to follow the teachings of the Church and this is the teaching of the Church. No. St. Paul says in omnia patientia doctrina, speaking to Timothy, 'with all patience and following the teaching'." 1

"We present the beauty of human sexuality we explain God's plan. We try to understand people who have the same sex attraction we try to help them; try not to speak platitudes to them but tell them what God's plan is and how they are to face their life. That's why we have organizations like Courage 2 and Encourage 3 because for parents it's a very, very difficult thing. But God's plan is to be presented in all its beauty, all its power with fidelity."

It makes sense, as Cardinal Rigali states, that the Church can hardly change one of its basic teachings in response to one person's personal situation. But surely that is not the question here. The question is whether the church should have different teachings for heterosexuals and homosexuals concerning sexual conduct and marriage.

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2010-MAY-05: Brazil Archbishop Dadeus Grings presents novel belief about cause of homosexuality:

Brazilian Archbishop Dadeus Grings is reported as describing a new theory about the origin of homosexual orientation. He was interviewed by the O Globo newspaper at a Brazilian bishops' conference. He said:

"We know that the adolescent is spontaneously homosexual. Boys play with boys, girls play with girls. If there is no proper guidance, this sticks. The question is -– how are we going to educate our children to use a sexuality that is human and suitable?"

He seems to be implying that homosexuality, not heterosexuality, is the normal sexual orientation, and that youths must be actively and directly taught to abandon their homosexual orientation before "it sticks" in favor of a heterosexual one at about the time of puberty.

He also seems to imply that a homosexual orientation is sub-human. If this is his intent, then it is a dangerous path to take; it could lead to enhanced homophobia, which could trigger increased gay bashing, abandoning of LGBT youth by their parents, and eventually lead to Auschwitz-style gas ovens.

His theory seems to be contradicted by the findings of many child psychologists who are able to predict with high accuracy which 5-year-old children will exhibit a homosexual orientation later in life.

He also said that if society accepts homosexual behavior, it could pave the way for the acceptance of pedophilia. He said:

"When sexuality is trivialized, it's clear that this is going to affect all cases. Homosexuality is such a case. Before, the homosexual wasn't spoken of. He was discriminated against. ... When we begin to say they have rights, rights to demonstrate publicly, pretty soon, we'll find the rights of pedophiles."

In 2003, he argued that only 1 million Jews died in the Holocaust -- not the generally accepted number of six million. A few years later he recanted his statement. 4

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2010-MAY-08: Austria: Cardinal Schönborn deviates from church's stance:

Cardinal Schönborn, the Archbishop of Vienna, said that the church "... should give more consideration to the quality of homosexual relationships. A stable relationship is certainly better than if someone chooses to be promiscuous.” There have been many interpretations in the media and on blogs as to the meaning of this statement. We suspect that he is implying that he still considers same-sex sexual behavior to be a serious sin, but that if it is done within a loving, committed relationship that it is less sinful than engaging in one-night stands. 5

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2010-OCT: MN: Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis distributes DVDs:

An anonymous person donated money to the Archdiocese to fund the production and distribution of a DVD that opposes marriage for loving, committed same-sex couples. Copies were mailed to more than 400,000 Catholics throughout Minnesota during the week of SEP-19. In it, church leaders call for an amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage (SSM).

Archbishop John Nienstedt said in an interview with Minnesota Public Radio News that:

"At best, so called same-sex marriage is an untested social experiment. And at worst, it poses a dangerous risk with potentially far-reaching consequences. An exercise of caution should be in order."

He reflected Church teaching that there is no discrimination in situations where persons are denied access to something for which they do not have a basic right.

Although the DVDs were mailed out about six weeks before election day, Nienstedt said that it was not a "political statement" or an endorsement of any particular candidate. There are three gubernatorial candidates currently running for office: the Democratic party and Independent candidates support same-sex marriage while the Republican candidate opposes SSM.

As of 2008-2009, support for same-sex marriage in Minnesota was at 40%. At the recent rate at which support is increasing in the state, a majority of adults in the state will probably not support SSM until about the year 2020.

Surprisingly, Michael Bayly, executive coordinator of the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities in Minneapolis, said that allowing the public to vote on a plebiscite that had the potential of depriving minorities of equal rights is wrong. He is urging recipients of the DVDs to return them to the archdiocese. He said:

"If we just allowed people to vote on all sorts of things in the past, we may not be the society we are today in terms of our tolerance, our acceptance and our laws for all types of people." 6

It would have been a fascinating study if pollsters had taken a poll to find the level of support for SSM in the state both before and after the DVDs were shipped to see the latter's effect on public opinion.

On Sunday, 2010-OCT-10 (10/10/10) about two dozen Catholics protested the DVD mailings, One of the protestors, Deb Bittner, 53, said:

"I think we're all a bunch of Catholics who are very liberal [but] still feel Catholic. People will say to me 'Why don't you just leave,' but you know this is my church and lay people should have a voice in the church." 7

OutFront Minnesota, a pro marriage equality group, also recommended that DVD recipients should mark them "return to sender" and mail them back to the Diocese. Others have suggested that recipients drop them in the collection plate at Mass. Lucinda Naylor, an artist in Minneapolis, has asked people to send their DVDs to her so that she can create an art project to counter the negative message of the DVDs with one of "creativity and hope."

She said:

"I’m an artist who has been doing a lot of work for Catholic churches over the past 15 years, so coming up with an artistic way to deal with the DVDs was my immediate first response. I feel that the archbishop is particularly bent in regard to this issue of same-sex marriage. ...I have ideas, but it really depends on how many DVDs I get. I’d love to make a large sculpture —probably something rather flame or water like–since both are important Catholic symbols of the Holy Spirit."

Earlier in 2010, several of Naylor's friends, most of whom are mothers of lesbian or gay children wrote to the Archbishop asking him to "open his heart" on the subject of homosexuality. She said: "These people received back form letters that called into question their very salvation. ... This alone made me want to act. ... The whole gay thing seems to be [Archbishop John] Neinstedt’s personal vendetta and a red herring taking us away from the real important issues. ...I wanted to respond with creativity and hope for an inclusive world rather than with anger and hate. I mean somebody’s got to break that cycle… and it’s a Christian’s job to do it." 8

The above article in the Minnesota Independent collected 30 comments from readers. Essentially all expressed negative attitudes towards the Roman Catholic Church, except for two postings -- apparently by a single person -- using pen names Mich and Karen. This would be a violation of the newspaper's posting policies.

Local TV station KSTP has joined with SurveyUSA to conduct polls that report support for the gubernatorial candidates in Minnesota. Results were:

  • Mid-September: Democrat Mark Dayton had only a 2 percentage point edge over Republican Tom Emmer.
  • During the week of SEP-19, the Diocese mailed the DVDs to locations throughout the state.
  • Mid-October: Democrat Mark Dayton's lead widened to 5 percentage points. 9

One might speculate that the anti-SSM DVDs distributed by the Diocese alienated many voters and actually increased support for SSM among the public. This in turn might have increased support for Dayton who favors marriage equality. However, the polling data for the two leading contenders is within the margin of error (±3.7 percentage points), and no such conclusion can be made with any confidence. In addition, there are certain to have been many other developments in Minnesota from mid-SEP to mid-OCT that influenced support for the candidates.

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The story continues into 2011

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. John-Henry Westen, "Interview: Philadelphia Cardinal Rigali: The Church Will Never Justify Homosexual Conduct," LifeSiteNews, 2008-JUN-27, at:
  2. Courage International, Inc. is a Roman Catholic group that teaches homosexuals to remain celibate and bisexuals to restrict their sexual behavior to members only of the opposite sex. Their website is at:
  3. Encourage is a Roman Catholic group that supports parents other relatives and friends of homosexuals and bisexuals. See:
  4. Bradley Brooks, "Brazilian Archbishop Says Kids Are 'Spontaneously Homosexual'," Huffington Post, 2010-MAY-05, at:
  5. "Church Should Give 'More Consideration' to 'Quality' of Homosexual Relationships: Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna ," LifeSiteNews, 2010-MAY-10, at:
  6. Elizabeth Dunbar & Madeleine Baran "Unnamed donor paid for Catholic DVD against same-sex marriage," Minnesota Public Radio, 2010-SEP-22. at:
  7. Rupa Shenoy, "Small group protests Archdiocese's same-sex marriage DVD Minnesota Public Radio, 2010-OCT-10, at:
  8. Andy Birkey, "Minnesotan seeks to creatively reuse Catholic church’s anti-gay marriage DVDs," The Minnesota Independent, 2010-SEP-24, at:
  9. Lauren Radomski, "KSTP/SurveyUSA Poll: Dayton Holds Narrow Lead Over Emmer, Horner," KSTP, 2010-OCT-15, at:
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Copyright © 2008 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2011-JAN-19
Author: B.A. Robinson
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