WHAT IS HOMOSEXUALITY AND HOW DOES THE CHURCH REGARD IT?
To have a homosexual orientation means to be sexually attracted to someone of the same sex. The homosexual act is an act of grave depravity (CCC 1867, 2357). However, a same-sex inclination is not sinful, but the tendency towards the act is seen by the Church as a disordered condition. In Persona Humana, issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (1975), homosexuality is regarded as a strong tendency ordered towards an intrinsic moral evil. Therefore, any civil laws that promote such an objectively disordered inclination must be seen as immoral.
WHY ARE SOME PEOPLE HOMOSEXUAL? IS IT INHERITED?
Three possible reasons why people may go through a phase of being interested in someone of the same sex could be curiosity, slower sexual maturity, or misguided messages from the media that approve of homosexuality. There is no conclusive proof that homosexuality is inherited. Careful study of available scientific evidence does not support the view that homosexuality is genetic, fixed or intrinsic. (Experts such as Harvey, Nicolosi, Whitehead, Rudegeair et al, say that it is more likely to be socially caused, eg by a non-loving parent and/or various other types of neglect).
HOW SHOULD HOMOSEXUAL PEOPLE BE TREATED?
Drawing conclusions about a person's sexuality because of their appearance or outward behaviour is called stereotyping. Prejudice of this sort is sinful. For example, some men are more sensitive and gentle. None of these characteristics necessarily denote same-sex orientation, and even if they do, homosexuals should receive the same respect. Homosexual people are sometimes ridiculed or beaten because others fail to appreciate their basic human dignity (ie being made in the image of God). Whilst never accepting the sin we must always love the sinner, always being ready to give a respectful account of the truth that is within us (CCC 2358).
ARE TEENAGERS WHO ARE NOT INTERESTED IN THE OPPOSITE SEX GAY?
Some teenagers imagine that they have a same-sex orientation if they are not interested, in a sexual way, in others of the opposite sex. This does not mean that they are homosexual. Some people take longer than others to sexually mature; and others are called to the celibate life. None of these examples necessarily mean that a person is gay.
WHAT DOES THE CHURCH EXPECT FROM HOMOSEXUAL PEOPLE?
Many with a same-sex orientation do not use others in sexual ways. They live chaste lives. The Church calls on all homosexuals to carry their cross and observe chastity (CCC 2359). Single heterosexual people who never marry, priests, nuns and Religious brothers are also called to live chastity throughout their lives. Also, married couples observe abstinence at certain times.
ARE HOMOSEXUAL MEN SUITABLE FOR THE CATHOLIC PRIESTHOOD?
Not according to official Church statements. The Vatican's Congregation for Religious (2 Feb, 1961): 'Advancement to religious vows and ordination should be barred to those who are afflicted with evil tendencies to homosexuality â€¦' And in answer to the same question, the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments (16 May, 2002) said the following: 'Ordination to the diaconate and the priesthood of homosexual men or men with homosexual tendencies is absolutely inadvisable and imprudent and, from the pastoral point of view, very risky. A homosexual person, or one with a homosexual tendency is not, therefore, fit to receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders.'
WHAT IS SO WRONG WITH HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVITY?
Sexual intercourse is meant to be an act of mutual love-giving between a man and woman who are married to each other. The act of sexual intercourse is also meant to be potentially life-giving but it is not possible, physiologically, for sexual intercourse with a partner of the same sex to be open to life. Homosexual acts are closed to life; such activity violates the Natural Law. We sin whenever we knowingly and freely act against the proper purpose of our sexual faculties. Our sexual organs were not designed for homosexual activity. Active homosexuals engage in actions that are unnatural. (Approximately 2% of men & 1% of women have a same-sex orientation.)
ARE HOMOSEXUALS ENTITLED TO THE SAME RIGHTS AS OTHER PEOPLE?
People with same-sex attraction are entitled to the same respect as everyone else. But their rights do not extend to marriage. Pope John Paul II has emphasised that same-sex marriages are not valid in the eyes of God. No-one has a right to do anything that is morally wrong.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY?
Every positive reference in Scripture to human sexuality is heterosexual and is within the covenant of marriage. However, every Scriptural mention of explicit genital sexuality outside the covenant of marriage is condemned. Therefore, the only union approved by God is the proper use of the heterosexual union that we call marriage. Any conscious sexual activity outside of marriage is sinful and is contrary to God's design. Homosexual activity is condemned in the following passages of the Bible: Gen 19, Lev 18, Rom 1:24-27, 1 Cor 6:10, 1 Tim 1:10, and Jude 7.
BUT HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVITY DOESN'T HARM ANYONE.
It can (put simply, the anus and rectum are not biologically designed to accommodate a penis and so penile penetration can cause trauma to the rectal wall causing tearing, bruising and ultimately bowel problems. Homosexual activity can also result in a sexually transmissible disease). But these aren't the only reasons why homosexual activity is wrong; the most serious danger is to one's soul. Cutting one's own healthy thumb off doesn't appear to harm anyone else but it is still wrong because it is causing harm to your self, a self that includes your body, a self that is not your own, a self that was bought at a high price by Jesus on the Cross. Your soul is invisible, so the damage caused by homosexual activity is often invisible. Homosexual activity is grave matter; if carried out in full knowledge and deliberate consent then the Church teaches that it constitutes an objectively mortal sin (CCC 2357). Deliberate homosexual acts must be forgiven in the Sacrament of Confession. So, whatever is erotic in the love that homosexuals share can only be based on a disordered understanding of themselves as women or men. This doesn't mean they are inherently evil, it simply means that they are in need of Christ's redeeming power, just like the rest of us.
HOW HAS THE CHURCH REACTED TO HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVISM?
In July of 1992 Cardinal Ratzinger (the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) encouraged bishops throughout the world to oppose any civil legislation which would create extra rights for homosexuals in the military, or among teachers, counselors, or coaches. The Church does not pick on anyone because of what they are, but the Church does ask questions about what people do. The Church cannot concede to anyone the moral right to do what is wrong. God says homosexual acts are wrong. True freedom is having the right to choose good over evil.
IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE WORDS: HOMOSEXUAL and GAY?
According to Joseph Nicolosi PhD, an expert counselor of people with same-sex attraction, there is a definite difference between the terms. 'Homosexual' is a description of a psychological condition, a sexual orientation; whereas 'gay' signifies a social or political identity. There are many homosexuals who do not choose this social political identity called 'gay'. Nicolosi believes that Gay activists, however, present their case in such a way that they appear to be speaking for all homosexuals. Becoming 'gay' is only one way of dealing with a homosexual orientation. Nicolosi goes on to say that he calls his clients 'non-gay homosexuals' because they reject the label of gay but they acknowledge the fact that they are struggling with homosexuality. 'Gay' people see homosexuality as a positive thing; 'homosexual' people regard it as a problem.
WHAT IS 'COURAGE'?
Courage is a Catholic support group for homosexuals endorsed by the Holy See that is faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church. It supports people who are struggling with their homosexuality and helps them fulfil God's will in their lives. Courage claims that homosexuals are being told WRONGLY that sexual orientation change is never possible. Courage believes change is possible. It is the will of God that each person be at peace, and this is the goal of Courage in its work. [www.couragerc.com; www.couragerc.net; http://world.std.com/~Courage]
See also Terry Dowling, Faith Pamphlet on Homosexuality; Mons. William Smith â€" St Josephâ€™s Communications, audio tape on homosexuality; Fr John Harvey, The Homosexual Person â€" Fr Harvey is the founder of Courage and his ministry to homosexual people has spanned decades; extract from a talk entitled â€˜Male Homosexuality & Reparative Therapyâ€™ by Doctor Joseph Nicolosi; catholiceducation.org
* Please note that this text should be read in the context of the whole work and in recognition of the appropriate paragraphs of the Catechism of the Catholic Church highlighted in the index.