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  • On the Pope’s Remarks about Homosexuality

    by Scott P. Richert

    pope-plane pic Luca Zennaro : Pool via EPA

    The media-manufactured brouhaha over Pope Francis’s impromptu remarks on homosexuality has finally begun to die down, and there must be few, if any, Catholics who still think that the Holy Father’s words represented a departure from 2,000 years of Christian teaching on the immorality of homosexual activity (not counting those, of course, who have let themselves be misled by their wishful thinking). While many may still not fully understand the context in which he made his remarks—he was, as I explained elsewhere, addressing primarily the case of a specific priest accused of homosexual activity years ago, and more broadly the question of priests in the Curia who have homosexual inclinations—everyone should, by now, at least realize that Pope Francis was not condoning, much less endorsing, homosexual activity. “Hate the sin but love the sinner” remains the rule of charity of this pope, as of every pope on back to Saint Peter—who, as the Holy Father recalled, “committed the biggest sin of all, he denied Jesus.”

    Yet Pope Francis’s remarks point to a discussion that still needs to be held. There is indeed something in what the Holy Father had to say that requires deeper examination—not because he contradicted the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, but because what he said was in conformity with a perplexing part of it.

    That something was summed up in the title of a provocative article by Fr. Hugh Barbour, O.Praem., written months before Pope Francis’s press conference and published in the July 2013 issue of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture: “Do Homosexuals Exist?”

    Father Hugh, the prior of St. Michael’s Abbey in Trabuco Canyon, California, zeros in on “a change in tone” in how the Catechism (in paragraphs 2357 and 2358) treats “the sin of sexual relations with one’s own sex” versus every other sin. The Catechism, of course, upholds the traditional teaching that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered,” “are contrary to natural law,” and “[u]nder no circumstances can … be approved,” but whereas (in Father Hugh’s words) “[t]raditional moral theology evaluated acts,” the Catechism speaks of the “experience” of “sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex” and the “psychological genesis” of homosexuality, as well as “deep-seated homosexual tendencies.” What Father Hugh does not note, though it is more evidence for his argument, is that paragraph 2359 goes on to refer to “homosexual persons,” which seems to place these “tendencies” and “attraction” at the very heart of such a person. Indeed, we might say that he or she becomes defined by them: He or she is no longer a man or a woman (with all that those words imply) but a “homosexual.”

    I have read these paragraphs in the Catechism many times over the past 20 years without any alarm bells ever going off. That, I now realize, is because the labels homosexual and heterosexual have become so much a part of our culture that we rarely think about what their usage implies. I am a man; my wife is a woman. Through our relations to each other, at every level, we have become a husband and a wife, a father and a mother. We are not “heterosexuals”; we are simply male and female, particular instances of the two sexes God created in the Garden of Eden for the purpose of populating the earth.

    We hold endless debates today about whether “homosexuals” are the product of nature or nurture, but in doing so we beg the question that Father Hugh raises: Is it proper to speak of “homosexuals” or “heterosexuals” at all? Is man really nothing more than the sum of his sexual “attractions” and “tendencies”? Are these not simply one aspect of what it means to be a human being—and, taken in the context of our biblical three score and ten, not even the most important aspect? Indeed, speaking in terms only of our bodily instincts, any man who spends more time copulating than eating, much less sleeping, will not be long for this world—no matter which sex his “attractions” and “tendencies” are directed toward.

    The Catechism is clear: “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered”; “[u]nder no circumstances can they be approved.” Why, then, would we even consider defining someone in terms of his propensity to commit such acts? When we say that someone is an adulterer, we do not mean that he is merely sexually attracted to a woman other than his wife, much less that he has “deep-seated tendencies” to finding other women attractive (a condition that describes the vast majority of married men). We mean, rather, that he has engaged in adultery. Should he quit engaging in adultery and return to chastity, only those who regard him with spite would continue to call him an adulterer. Adultery is something that he did; it is not who he is.

    Yet today we accept as undisputed truth the odd idea—which seems even to have inserted its nose under the tent of the Catechism and into Pope Francis’s press conference—that a homosexual is not necessarily someone who has committed particular immoral acts (as an adulterer has) but can be someone who has never participated in a single homosexual act, no matter how strongly he or she may have been tempted to do so. Unlike the adulterer, the temptation itself, we are told (though not, of course, in that language) is what defines the homosexual. Once such a label is applied to (or adopted by) a man or a woman (or, worse yet, a girl or a boy) who up until then has remained chaste in the face of temptation, our culture loudly proclaims that he can no longer be expected to remain chaste because (in a near-perfect example of circular logic) he is a homosexual, and homosexuality is defined by a propensity toward sexual activity with people of his own sex.

    The cruelty of this reductionism is astounding. Saddled with the label homosexual, the man or woman—or, increasingly, boy or girl—finds himself bound tighter to his temptation and, eventually, his sin. This is who you are, he is told; and left unstated, but strongly implied: This is all that you are. Homosexuality, we are told, is prior to, and separate from, homosexual activity; but once you have accepted the identity—and you must, because of your “attractions” and “tendencies”—it is foolish for you, and cruel for anyone else, to expect you to refrain from homosexual activity.

    The Church, however, calls the person with such “attractions” and “tendencies” to a different life, a better life—a life of chastity united to Christ, the model of all chastity. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it (paragraph 2359), “By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.” That, of course, is what Pope Francis meant when he talked about a “gay” priest who “seeks God and has good will.” And yet, by prescinding from the language of traditional moral theology and referring to “gays,” the Holy Father, like the Catechism itself with its reference to “homosexual persons,” may have unintentionally obscured the message of hope found in the Church’s insistence that man is more—far more—than the sum of his desires, and that Christ Himself will help him resist the temptations that arise from his sexual “tendencies” and “attractions.”

    (Photo credit: Luca Zennaro / Pool via EPA)

    The views expressed by the authors and editorial staff are not necessarily the views of
    Sophia Institute, Holy Spirit College, or the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts.

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    • Pingback: Media Games and the 'Gay' Question - Ethika Politika

    • Deacon Ed Peitler

      Scott, you have gone to the heart of our problem about same sex attraction and its being expressed in action: the matter is as much linguistic as it is moral. There is no such entity as a homosexual ‘person’ or a gay ‘person.’ One’s attractions do not define one’s personhood. Those of us who believe in what is revealed in scripture understand that God created us male and female. That defines our personhood.

      I am surprised that this distinction is not specifically referred to in all Church teachings and by the bishops themselves, including the bishop of Rome. Of course, we do realize that 90% of our populace lack critical thinking skills and are not likely to be able to appreciate the subtle differences between ‘personhood’ and ‘impulses’ or between ‘impulses’ and ‘acts.’

      It is unfortunate that our Holy Father – a highly educated and seasoned pastor – would have taken the occasion of a press conference on board a return flight to Italy after a grueling WYD event ministering to millions upon millions of young people to answer questions about the moral nature of homosexual acts . Our Holy Father’s seemingly free-wheeling his way through the papacy might be refreshing, symbolic and harmless (like when he carries his own bags) on most occasions but when it comes to an exegesis on sin, homosexual acts, personal culpability and the state of another man’s soul, perhaps he should spend more time contemplating his response. We do expect more from him than his on board performance indicated. Maybe then the Cardinal Archbishop of New York and many other bishops would not have to hauled in from of TV cameras the next morning to do damage control by explaining the Church’s teachings in a two minute interview with a media person hostile to Church teachings to begin with. And after all is said and done, few if any were any better informed about the Church’s teachings on homosexuality than they were before the media circus at the back of the plane.

      Perhaps a refresher course for all Catholic clergy and lay persons about the nature of personhood is in order. For that matter, perhaps we ought to ought to do a better job of educating all people on an adequate anthropology (to say nothing about a theological anthropology) so that a reasonable dialogue can take place. We have very confused notions about just who man is.

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        St Augustine pointedly refuses to identify personhood with biological sex.

        He rejects the suggestion that “it was now (Gen 1:27) that the human mind [interiorem] was made, while the human body came later, when scripture says, ‘And God fashioned man from the slime of the earth’ (Gen 2:7); so that where it says ‘he made’ (1:26), it refers to the spirit, while ‘he fashioned’ (2:7) refers to the body. But they fail to take into account that male and female could only be made with respect to the body” and insists that “the woman too, who is female in the body, she too is being renewed in the spirit of her mind [in spiritu mentis suae], where there is neither male nor female [masculus et femina]… , because the woman, too, was human [quod et femina homo erat], she obviously had a mind and a rational one at that, in respect of which she too was made to the image of God.”

        There are no male minds and female minds, just minds, which constitute the image of God in the human being. St Augustine was too good a Christian and too good a Platonist to fall into the error that makes men and women into two separate species.

        • Scott Richert

          Augustine was explaining the seeming contradiction in Scripture, that man was made in the image of God, yet “male and female created He them,” even though God is neither male nor female. He was not suggesting that this mean that the male body or the female body could rightly be used in a manner not consonant with its nature.

          • Phil

            You certainly nailed it Mr. Richert. You must have put in some REAL hours, days, weeks, months and years on the Deposit of Faith I’ll bet. Thanks.

          • Michael Paterson-Seymour

            Of course not, but he would certainly not have accepted any notion of male and female “souls” or essences.

            • Scott Richert

              But man, as Augustine understood, is not simply soul, but body and soul. His own experience with Manichaean doctrines that drew a radical separation between the two inoculated him against that error. A person is the inseparable combination of the two; male and female are both human, but each of us is either a man or a woman, with all that that implies concerning the right use of our bodies.

        • Adam Baum

          “There are no male minds and female minds, just minds,”

          Actually, apart from Scott’s lucid explanation, that’s biological nonsense. We know that men and women are very different, even at birth. There was something of an experiment that showed how differently infants reacted when separated from their mothers by transparent plexiglass screen. The girls cried and raised their arms, the boys repeatedly attempted to breach the barrier through physical assault. Long before puberty or environment could differentiate these children, they exhibited profoundly different mental reactions to the same stressor. We are very different, in ways modern culture finds objectionable in it’s war against nature.

          There are very real physical reasons for this, principally the radical physically changes that occur as the child’s developing is exposed to different hormonal baths in utero.

          The body is part of the human person, not the “empty shell” as posited by a comet-worshiping cult of some years ago and therefore the manifestions of sex are part of the person.

          • Michael Paterson-Seymour

            I was using “mind” in the same sense that St Augustine is using it in the passage I cited, which he equates with the image of God in humans and where he says,” male and female could only be made with respect to the body.”

            He draws an important distinction on the two aspects or operations of mind, when he says, “the human mind, in which the human being is made to God’s image and which is a kind of rational life, has two functions: the contemplation of eternal truth and the management of temporal affairs; and that thus you get a kind of male and female, the one part directing, the other complying; it is still the case that the mind is only rightly called the image of God in that function by which it adheres in contemplation to the unchangeable truth. It is to symbolize or represent this point that the apostle Paul says that it is only the man who is the image and glory of God; ‘but the woman’, he says, ‘is the glory of the man’ (1 Cor 11:7)”

            This is obviously the part or aspect of mind of which he also says, “she too is being renewed in the spirit of her mind [in spiritu mentis suae], where there is neither male nor female…”

        • Mike Jones

          It’s important to keep in mind that what is natural for the majority of men’s minds in how they think and process things, as is also the case for the majority of women’s minds and similarly how they think and process ideas and decisions, isn’t natural for all men, or for all women. Sometimes the natural way a particular man thinks appears to be more of how the majority of women think, and the same for women, that at times how their God given minds work, seem more like that of the majority of men.

      • Amy Mitchell

        I can remember Pope Benedict creating a similar PR problem by discussing condom use on a plane flight to a grueling trip.

        I think the common problem is the press coverage. They don’t want to get it right so they don’t.

      • Mike Jones

        If we wanted Pope Francis to be completely precise, we would need to ask him to also address children who are born inter-sexed. And as to whether it is their right, or it is the doctors’ or their parents’ right, to make the decision as to what sex they will be (through surgical modification shortly after childbirth). There is a growing number of individuals who wish that they were given this choice when they became adults, instead of having others make this very personal decision for them. So, even the idea that God created us as male or female isn’t exactly correct to say.

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      “The homosexual” is largely the result of 19th century medicine, so caustically described by Michel Foucault, “Sodomy, that of the old civil or canon laws, was a category of forbidden acts. Their perpetrator was nothing more than the juridical subject of them. The 19th century homosexual became a personage: a past, a case history, and a childhood, in addition to being a character, a life-style and a morphology, with an over-inquisitive anatomy and, possibly, a mysterious physiology. Nothing that he was, escaped his sexuality… It was consubstantial with him, less as an habitual sin than as a singular nature…. The sodomite had been a lapse; the homosexual was now a species.” [My translation]

      From being a sinful action to be repented, or a vice to be overcome, “homosexuality” became a condition to be treated. Now, of course, it is an identity to be validated.

      • bbrown

        I suspect Freud and Jung paved the way for Foucault.

        • Michael Paterson-Seymour

          I believe it really took off with Krafft-Ebing’s “Psychopathia Sexualis: eine Klinisch-Forensische Studie” (Sexual Psychopathy: A Clinical-Forensic Study), which was first published in 1886. This was followed up in 1896 with Havelock Ellis’s “Sexual Inversion,” published in German. the English edition appeared the following year.

          • Percy Gryce

            Don’t let’s forget Karl Heinrich Ulrichs’s Forschungen über das Räthsel der mannmännlichen Liebe (1864-65), which introduced the concept of the Uranian third sex, which was subsequently taken up by Victorian sodomophiles.

        • Adam Baum

          or they paved the way for a modern form of shamanism, which is what modern psychology seems to be degenerating into as it proceeds along, accreting and incorporating modern cultural detritus into it’s canons.

      • msmischief

        One notes that even among the Greeks the idea of a man who simply could not carry out his marital duty was literally unthinkable. Plato in the Symposium has a character cheerfully state that some men must be forced by law to do it, but that they could not did not occur to him.

      • redfish

        In context of that history, I think its also important for people to understand that most of the homophobia that’s existed over the last century hasn’t been the product of religion, but of what you’d consider socially liberal forces.

        When modern psychologists sought to promote heterosexual desire as “normal and healthy”, to create a contrast to Christian teaching, a consequence of that was that everything other than that had to be considered “abnormal” and “unhealthy.” In popular culture, men were encouraged to be “manly”, and women to be “womanly” — and “manly” and “womanly” were interpreted in sexual terms. Men were supposed to be virile, macho. More bourgeois, conservative men were seen as effete and wimpy and often said to be gay — which explained as a product of repression. Women who were reserved and modest were said to be prudish or frigid; possibly lesbian. This seeped into culture on radio, and in TV. And attitudes in academia continued into the 60s. Theodor Adorno argued homosexuality was the root of authoritarian personalities. You can watch a video on YouTube where Hugh Heffner explains to William F. Buckley that the more free sex there is, the less gay people there will be.

        The more heterosexual chauvinism is encouraged, the more homophobia there is. Of course, this should be obvious to anyone. The jock in high school who bullies a gay kid is just as likely to bully some religious kid or a kid he thinks is a virgin. And just look at Bill Maher. He says a lot of homophobic things, but gets a pass because he says more anti-religious things than he does homophobic things.

        • msmischief

          They also contributed to the big problem: the willful confusion of the orientation and the sodomy as if they were one and the same.

          Which, if it were true, would be evidence enough that the condition is a form of insanity, and indeed makes one legally incompetent: unable to control one’s self and posing a risk to one’s self or others.

      • Percy Gryce

        Yes, that’s the pattern:

        vice –> illness –> normalization

        The pattern is now being applied to transgenderism and paedophilia.

        • Michael Paterson-Seymour

          Or as Catholic poet, Alexander Pope has it

          “Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,

          As to be hated needs but to be seen;

          Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,

          We first endure, then pity, then embrace.”

    • Uuncle Max

      Hopefully the Holy Father will learn from this to be more careful in his dealings with the media.

      • NormChouinard

        Pope Francis spoke the truth. Same thing happened with B16 and the comments about condom use in gay sex.

    • Watosh

      Excellent point, Mr. Richert sheds light on a murky subject. Five stars.

    • Bemkapeace

      Hi Scott,

      My take? You have very many valid and important points.

      I just wanted to point out that though a subheading is not given, while the previous numbers refer to tendencies, number 2359 is referring to a case where people are already homosexual, that is, indulged in such activity. They are thus “called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.”

      • Scott Richert

        Bemkapeace, what you say would help make sense of the use of the term “homosexual persons,” but I’m not sure that that is what is intended. And the other problems—the question of “attractions” and “tendencies” and the “psychological genesis” of them—remain.

        But it is important to note that paragraph 2359 does call those who suffer from such “tendencies” and “attractions” to chastity. As I hope I made clear in the article, neither the Catechism nor Pope Francis has changed Church teaching on this matter; the problem is a separate one—the use of the label “homosexual” to define a person at his or her core.

        • Mike Jones

          The term, chastity, or being chaste, is difficult to accurately define. It helps by beginning to try to separate the word, celibate, from the word, chaste. There is a range of individual sexual behaviors and thoughts that some would say do, and others would say do not, fall under the idea of being chaste.

    • Steven Jonathan

      Excellent essay, thank you!
      It is very Freudian of us to reduce a human to his sexual appetites, but a grave error.
      In this upside down psychologizing ethos where accidents are renamed choices and choices are renamed accidents, the decision to act on same sex attraction is a referent to the accident of being born homosexual, circular indeed.
      It shouldn’t be forgotten that the inclination, though not a sin, is intrinsically disordered. But how devastating to conclude that that is all one is.

      • Mike Jones

        Slight correction – the same-sex sexual tendencies (attractions) are said to be objectively disordered. Understanding that phrase brings clarity. As does the understanding that some of our attractions do not define all of who we are.

    • John O’Neill

      I was able to read the entire interview of Pope Francis on Mercator an Australian Catholic blog; in no place did His Holiness utter anything that departed from the orthodoxy of the Magisterium. Only a small part of the interview was about homosexuals, the rest of it ran on about many things of interest to Catholics. His remarks were very Orthodox; it is the media especially the American Leftwing media which is trying to make things up and try to prove that Pope Francis is about to become an American Notre Dame supporting Liberal priest.

      • Ralphster

        Not true, John, that there were no departures. The pope referred to the Eastern Orthodox theology of economy of remarrying divorced persons as an alternate praxis, not as the doctrinal error and moral evil that it is.

        • Michael Paterson-Seymour

          The Council of Trent was at pains to condemn the error of the Reformers, whilst avoiding a similar condemnation of the Greeks.

          Rather than say, “If anyone says the bond of matrimony can be dissolved &c” it said “If any one says, that the Church has erred, in that she has taught, and does teach, in accordance with the evangelical and apostolic doctrine, that the bond of matrimony cannot be dissolved on account of the adultery of one of the married parties… let him be anathema.” (Sess 24 c 7) The debates are very instructive.

          In short, Trent did not accuse the Greeks of doctrinal error

          • Marcellus

            The “Greeks” hold, by implication, that “the [Roman] Church has erred,in that she has taught, and does teach, in accordance with the evangelical and apostolic doctrine, that the bond of matrimony cannot be dissolved on account of the adultery of one of the married parties.” Therefore, according to the Council of Trent, they are anathema. To anathematize is to condemn.

            • Michael Paterson-Seymour

              But the precise point is that they do not – They refer to their own practice as an “economy” or pastoral solution. The reformers, by contrast, accused the Catholic Church of misinterpreting Matt 19. The eastern churches did not.

              The debates and the amendment of the original schema makes this quite clear.

    • Pingback: On the Pope’s Remarks about Homosexuality | Catholic Canada

    • Aliquantillus

      As an intelligent man who is experienced in how the general public interprets a statement of the Church, the Pope undoubtedly knew that his remarks on gays would create the brouhaha and confusion they did. It must be assumed, therefore, that he willfully contributed to this brouhaha and confusion, which is very wrong for a pastor. The primary concern of any pastor’s utterances should always be the salvation of souls, which implies drawing clear lines in all issues of mortal sin, and erecting fences which keep souls away from occasions of temptation. This he didn’t do. He failed miserably, and probably said what he said for cheap popularity reasons by subtily placating the eagerness of the secular media to hear something seemingly going into their direction of thought. What he should have said is that all homosexual acts are mortal sins and that the homosexual inclination can never be accepted as normal but only as a deviation of the natural order.

      • bbrown

        Whilst not to excuse the Pope’s off the cuff remark, it is just possible that he had no such intentions (that Aliquantillus is attributing); that he was tired after a long day, and when one speaks for hours on end it’s easy to make one misstatement. Of course, the irresponsible, God-hating media will only play that one sentence, not the rest of this long, consistently orthodox, interview.

        • Phil

          bbrown, I wonder how the media would have reacted if Pope Francis had quoted Romans 1?…………..What’cha think?
          “…while claiming to be wise, they became fools….their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity. God handed them over to impurity through the lusts of their hearts for the mutual degradation of their bodies. Although they know the just decree of God that all who practice such things deserve death, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them…they hate God.”

      • Scott Richert

        “It must be assumed, therefore, that he willfully contributed to this brouhaha and confusion, which is very wrong for a pastor.”

        No, Aliquantillus, charity requires us to assume the very opposite.

      • Alecto

        Aren’t homosexual thoughts also intrinsically disordered and sinful?

        • Nash Horne

          There’s a distinction between temptation and sin. Jesus Himself was tempted in the desert for 40 days but didn’t sin. Temptations begin as thoughts, and can become sin if dwelt upon mentally and desired, and especially when acted upon.

        • Adam Baum

          Doesn’t that depend on whether the individual is actively initiating, entertaining and enjoying them, like every other manifestation of concupiscence?

          • Scott Richert

            Indeed, it does. But we need to move another step back: The entertaining of thoughts of immoral activity is not tied in some necessary way to particular “tendencies” or “attractions.” A married man, for instance, who has never had an attraction to any particular man but nonetheless voluntarily initiates, entertains, and enjoys thoughts of homosexual activity would indeed be engaged in sinful action, even though modern society would label him “heterosexual.” Likewise, the self-labeled homosexual who initiates, entertains, and enjoys thoughts of fornication with a woman is guilty of sin.

            And if anyone thinks that neither of the scenarios I’ve described ever happens, then I would submit that he or she has fallen hook, line, and sinker for the reductionism that I discuss in the article above.

            • Mike Jones

              The more pervasive dynamic is the person who experiences same-sex sexual attractions, who in their non-sexual same-sex relational and emotional attractions, have to work to understand whether these often profoundly heterosexual relational and emotional attractions can trigger at times a same-sex directed sexual arousal. This initial arousal, I submit would be viewed by Pope Francis as not even lust, at this point.

      • John O’Neill

        I tend to believe your observations are right and my fear that Francis is a loose cannon or purposefully trying to undermine the magisterium has been raised. Maybe I jumped to conclusions by whitewashing his remarks; in retrospect he is sounding more like American bishops who constantly are telling us what they think the all powerful American State wants us to think. oremus pro invicem et serva fidem.

    • Catholic in NE

      Very good article, now……if you just substitute the description and name of the sin to ‘pedophile’……….

      • Michael Susce

        I have been wondering when someone would make the logical connection. Would a priest who committed pedophilia in the distant past and had sincerely repented be allowed to become head of the Vatican Bank? And would the same priest be allowed to stay a priest considering the same distant past act with the same repentant attitude? I think not (but willing to be corrected). This is the fundamental problem that no one has addressed either in the article or in the comments.
        Thank you Catholic in NE for introducing the elephant in the room.
        God Bless

    • Robert

      It is true that Pope Francis’ remarks did not diverge from Catholic teachings on homosexuality. The spirit in which he said them, however, contrasts greatly with the notions of homosexuality written in the articles and comments of this magazine.

      He lacked the contemptuous tone often heaped upon them. He did not use any the insulting language many writers here use to describe homosexuals, such as “sodomites,” “wretches,” “deviants,” etc. he did not divulge in amateur theorizing about homosexuals’ psychological state, which have nothing to do with the relevant sins or temptation. Most significantly, he rejected the idea that homosexual people are intrinsically disordered, through his support of celibate homosexual priests.

      What this means, essentially, is that animus directed towards homosexuals on this magazine goes far beyond the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I find it interesting that some commenters have reacted to Pope Francis’ remarks by supposing that he must be naive or that he made an error or judgement; they feel uncomfortable with his remarks because they do not align with their own projections upon Catholic teachings. The saying “Love the Sinner but Hate the Sin” is often bandied about, but many people do not seem to realize how important it really is.

      • bbrown

        You overlook clear Catholic and Biblical teaching in an apparent effort to abet the current momentum to change the cultural acceptance of perversion.

      • Phil

        Robert, how would you characterize and/or critique God’s Word, from Romans 1.
        “…while claiming to be wise, they became fools….their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity. God handed them over to impurity through the lusts of their hearts for the mutual degradation of their bodies. Although they know the just decree of God that all who practice such things deserve death, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them…they hate God.”

      • Scott Richert

        “Most significantly, he rejected the idea that homosexual people are intrinsically disordered, through his support of celibate homosexual priests.”

        Homosexual activities are intrinsically disordered. That is the teaching of the Church. Pope Francis said nothing that contradicts that.

        • Robert

          You’re right, he did not contradict Catholic teachings. My point was that his tone was radically different from the norm on this site. Anthony Esolen would never say “who am I to judge?”

          In this particular example, there are in fact many writers and commenters who have gone further and claimed that the homosexual inclination should be enough to bar someone from the priesthood, regardless of their sexual behaviour. For example, there was talk of “plagues” and “infestations” of homosexual priests discussed in the comment section of this recent article:
          http://www.crisismagazine.com/2013/scandal-at-st-johns-university-corruption-apostasy-and-death

          • Scott Richert

            I’m not going to comment on commenters on a different article, but we need to keep in mind that Pope Benedict’s instruction—that men with deep-seated homosexual inclinations should not be ordained—remains in effect. As I explained on the About.com Catholicism site (in the article linked in the first paragraph of this piece), everything that Pope Francis said in the interview was said in the context of men who are already priests.

            • Alecto

              But, Scott, we know they’re already there. So what Francis is saying is that homosexuals who have already been ordained are acceptable provided they do not act on their homosexuality? Your kabuki dance is entertaining!

              • Scott Richert

                Alecto, your use of the word “acceptable” is misleading. These men are priests. If they “seek God and are of good will”—that is, if they properly order their lives and live chastely—then “who am I to judge?” Jumping from the specifics of the situation that Pope Francis was discussing to the idea that it is now “acceptable” for any man with homosexual inclinations to demand ordination is a massive logical leap.

                Pope Francis can, with the stroke of a pen, reverse Pope Benedict’s instruction. Should he do so, you could rightly point back to this moment as presaging that action. If he does not do so, however, you should not presume that he is saying something beyond what he actually said.

                • Alecto

                  You misunderstand me. Imagine, if you will, a demarcation point between those homosexuals who seek ordination from those who have already been ordained. The pope has no trouble with homosexuals in the priesthood (i.e., ordained)? There is no judgement in admitting the difficulties for parents with children in parishes where a homosexual priest will no doubt expose those children to his homosexuality? How is that reconciled?

                  • Scott Richert

                    Once again, we need to return to the context. Pope Francis was discussing in particular the priest he chose to head the Vatican Bank, and in general priests in the Curia. That’s it. These aren’t priests in parishes; they’re Vatican functionaries. He was very clear in the interview that this was a separate discussion from the question of child abuse.

                    That others have taken his comments out of context and drawn conclusions from them that they generalize to those with homosexual inclinations as a whole does not mean that that’s what the Holy Father intended. It may be evidence that he should be more cautious, speak a bit less off the cuff, and not give lengthy interviews when he is tired, but even if he were to take that advice, he can never prevent those who wish to misrepresent what he said from doing so. (I wrote about that particular problem at greater length yesterday in Hate the Sinner, Love the Sin, on ChroniclesMagazine.org.)

                    • Alecto

                      If you read his full interview, you know he also discussed his desire to formulate a “theology of women”? I’m interested in understanding exactly how a homosexual priest would be qualified to develop that theology as a member of the curia?

                      • Scott Richert

                        You seem to be straining at gnats here. Why would you assume that every member of the Curia would be involved in formulating a “theology of women”? Beyond that, your comment sounds like those who say, “How can a celibate man in a dress lecture a married couple on birth control?”

                      • Alecto

                        Oh, Scott, no, not straining at gnats, but you are avoiding the question. I assume nothing. I’m asking because I’m interested. I distinguish those 2 scenarios. I fully expect a celibate man in a dress to be able to explain church teaching on birth control (or lecture them) to anyone. But developing “theology” on women? Shouldn’t women be the primary sources to develop theology on women? Is this where we’re headed? A pope who professes an interest in the role of women in the Church eliminating them from the discussion/development of it in favor of inclusion of homosexuals? You have to admit, it’s ironic.

                      • Scott Richert

                        “A pope who professes an interest in the role of women in the Church eliminating them from the discussion/development of it in favor of inclusion of homosexuals?”

                        I’m beginning to think you’re just having some fun, because no one who read the interview could seriously think that Pope Francis proposed what you just wrote.

                      • Alecto

                        Maybe I’m havin’ some fun with you, but I think the jury is out on that. We’ll have to wait and see.

        • Alecto

          Homosexuality is not a disorder whether or not a man acts on the impulse?

          Pray tell, then, what the hell is normal?

      • Me

        Robert, I agree. Pope Francis remained true to Church teachings, not only about homosexuality, but about love and compassion. He framed the issue in a constructive and non-judgmental way, which is why he is gaining the respect of millions. I am so grateful to him for gently guiding us back to a more humane and Christ-like path and away from the ugliness, contempt, and anger that has, for too many, passed as “Christian behavior.” Our world needs this man and his healing touch.

      • John O’Neill

        If one upholds the Church’s teaching on the evil of the sin of adultery and condemns those who insist that adultery is not a sin at all, is one then committing hate crimes against Teddy Kennedy, Bill Clinton, and Anthony Wiener. Just musing.

      • Steven Jonathan

        Robert, your tone is contemptuous to truth. There is no contempt in referring to deviant activity as deviant activity, in sane circles it would be called truth.
        Holy Mother Church knows that the inclination to same sex attraction is intrinsically disordered, but no sin if one does not give into temptation, yet still intrinsically disordered. Do you arrogate to yourself the power to change that truth?
        I haven’t seen all the articles on here, but the ones I have seen would not have called anyone wretched, a sodomite or a deviant, which is distinctly different than reporting that sodomy is a grave sin. Do you have a speech code that prevents the proper use of the word sodomy? Is it really contemptuous to consider sexual acts outside of marriage wretched or deviant? Is a Roman Catholic not allowed to hold such positions? Faithful to the magisterium? Perfectly lined up with Theology of the Body?
        It seems much more hateful to me to be told by those propagating the homosexual agenda that certain words are not okay to use because they offend the sensibilities of a group licentiously deviating from sexual norms we understand perfectly well to be lined up with God’s intention for us. And especially when those words, when not directed at persons, accurately convey reality.
        I would like you Robert, to cite an example or two of this “misuse of language” by Crisis authors that express themselves contemptuously as you say and that go “far beyond the catechism.” It would surprise me if you could show any examples.

      • Mike Jones

        It is important to be careful in our facts. Pope Francis understands the Catholic church documents that state that same-sex sexual attractions are objectively disordered, and that state that same-sex sexual behavior is intrinsically disordered. Thus, the Pope understands well that these documents do not say that homosexual people are intrinsically disordered. You used intrinsically disordered to refer to people, when Pope Francis would agree that this phrase applies to a person’s sexual behavior. He is saying that a person’s same-sex sexual attractions are not sin, but he would agree that he would see those tendencies as objectively disordered.

      • Nikita

        Why is using the word sodomites insulting?it is the act that they indulge in…

    • TheodoreSeeber

      I suggest the proof of “deep seated tendencies” towards any given sin, are in fact acting upon that sin, not merely feeling it. A tendency that never results in action, can’t be called deep seated.

      • Scott Richert

        TheodoreSeeber, that is an interesting point that I have considered, in regards both to the Catechism and to Pope Benedict’s 2005 instruction that men with “deep-seated” homosexual inclinations should not be ordained. Is it possible that Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict was being circumspect or judicious in his language? Could he have meant, in fact, homosexual activities by the use of such language? I think there’s a strong possibility that he did.

        • Deacon Ed Peitler

          Scott, that’s exactly the problem with much of what comes out of the Vatican on homosexuality. I remember when that instruction came out from Benedict about those with “deep-seated homosexuality” and the priesthood. I was searching for some kind of empirical referent to make some sense of it. I was also, at the time, on my diocesan vocations review board and thought about how would we ever apply that standard in an actual case. Unlike your interpretation of what Benedict meant, I interpreted this to mean a pervasive preoocupation with one’s same sex attraction. In my opinion, men whose personal history included an established pattern of active homosexual behavior should be excluded from the priesthood altogether. Why, because it is from this group of men who were also markedly immature from which the offenders of underage pubescent males hailed.

          • Scott Richert

            “Unlike your interpretation of what Benedict meant, I interpreted this to mean a pervasive preoocupation with one’s same sex attraction.”

            That, it seems to me, is a reasonable interpretation as well, and a good argument for why Pope Benedict should have been more direct and less circumspect.

            • Mike Jones

              Here is my best rendition of these terms from working through dictionary definitions:

              Objectively disordered; in the Catholic context = in the manner or state of the attractions being misplaced (the attractions toward the
              intended sex are thrown into disorder)

              Intrinsically disordered; in the Catholic context = in its nature, internally misplaced (misdirecting the intended purpose of sex)

              Deep-seated tendencies; in the Catholic context = Being so far below the surface as to be unsusceptible to superficial examination, study, or treatment: a deep-seated infection (attractions that are difficult to be comfortably resisted)

        • TheodoreSeeber

          I’d agree with Deacon Ed below- that it would be *repeated* homosexual activities, including those as innocent as walking into a gay bar with the intent of picking up a date. Not necessarily going so far as homosexual intercourse even.

          But I say that from the perspective of two priests I greatly admired, who were HETEROSEXUAL, causing great scandal in parishes as they renounced their priesthood to get married.

    • fides

      The original clauses in the catechism were debated — changes were made in the different publications. The debate equivocates — “the psychological basis remains largely unexplained and 2358 “the number of men an women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible.” (what? There is an empirical element to this?

      We don’t know the basis psychological or otherwise for this sin and yet we have empirical knowledge of numbers afflicted? How was that data gathered? Observation? Participation? Voice count? Checked boxes?

      And of course unjust discrimination — perhaps there is a just discrimination? Of course there is — but do we define it for the average parent trying to keep their children from being recruited? Recruitment being a major cause for people to fall into the lifestyle — but no, we get no help with how to speak out against the unjust recruitment of young people!

      2359 gets is clearly right — we are all called to chastity, no matter our sinful nature. Sorry!

      Not buying the ongoing nonsense—Christ was intransigent toward sin —and loved the person. You could take all this analysis and apply it to the sin of theft — but we don’t! Why? Because is does not fraternally correct and help the person..

      And what about the necessary pastoral advice? Is it the same as heterosexual, married — unmarried couples? Of course not —but we don’t dare address that problem do we? We are out here alone as parents—how come there is no courage to justly speak about the wrongs beings committed to innocents and how to resist?

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        But we do apply it to theft; the condition of kleptomania is well-recognized. Generally believed to be an obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorder, it is a condition that responds to treatment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

        • Adam Baum

          Interesting that a disordered (erotic) attraction is not called a “mania”, we call those attracted to children “pedophiles”, not “pedomaniacs”. We don’t call people with a disordered attraction to fire “pyrophiles”, we call them pyromaniacs. Of course, if there was ever enough pyromaniacs acting as a voting block, we’d be contesting the decriminalization or legalization of arson.

          Language, like ideas and elections, has consequences.

          • Michael Paterson-Seymour

            But we do, for example, talk of “nymphomania.”

        • givelifeachance2

          Kleptomania can also be induced as a side-effect of prescription drugs; the “experts” have no good idea what is really going on inside that black box of a mind, notwithstanding their fifty-dollar words.

          But be that as it may, it would be a mistake to imply to kids that all they have to do is identify as kleptomaniacs, and they won’t be “judged” for stealing.

    • Alecto

      Beyond theoretical approaches, no one has addressed the practical impact of the pope’s flippant statement. No parent, no decent parent that is, would ever knowingly entrust children to an openly same-sex attracted priest. One must reject the notion that a same-sex attracted man is capable of fully performing the functions of priesthood without serious impediments or that such a man is capable of ministering to women. It’s a sad state of affairs when a pope makes a casual statement that belies his ignorance of, and disregard for women.

      Forget the fact that the Church is still dealing with scandals created by its cover-ups and subornation of the law with regard to such men including not just sexual scandals but financial ones related to homosexual priests and their lovers. This pope implies same-sex attraction is equivalent to drug addiction or alcoholism? While perhaps well-intentioned and perfectly charitable, he opened a Guinness Records sized can of worms.

      • Scott Richert

        “No parent, no decent parent that is, would ever knowingly entrust children to an openly same-sex attracted priest.”

        Pope Francis made what many regarded as a flippant remark: “I haven’t met anyone in the Vatican yet who has ‘gay’ written on their identity cards.” But if we get past the breeziness of the statement and look at what he meant by it, it’s clear that he’s not talking about “openly same-sex attracted priest[s].”

        “This pope implies same-sex attraction is equivalent to drug addiction or alcoholism?”

        Where did he do so? I’ve read the entire interview in English translation and examined the Italian, and I see nothing in which he makes such a statement.

        • Alecto

          Why the need to parse every syllable? This is not an encyclical. Shouldn’t he be prudent, cautious, considered or at least abundantly clear in his public statements on this highly controversial issue? From the WSJ, 7/30/13. (I don’t consider the WSJ a “hostile press”.)

          [The pontiff was traveling aboard a turbulent overnight flight to Rome
          from his first overseas trip—a journey marked by his plain-spoken
          appeals to Catholics to reground the church in grass-roots ministry when he broached the delicate issue of how the Catholic hierarchy should respond to clerics who are gay, though not sexually active. In doing so, he departed from the posture that has long shaped papal thinking on gay priests. "Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord?" the pontiff told a news conference in response to a question. "You can't marginalize these people."]

          • Scott Richert

            “Why the need to parse every syllable?”

            You made specific claims about what Pope Francis said, and then when I point out that one of those is contradicted by his words, and the other is not supported at all by his words, you reply, “Why the need to parse every syllable?”

            • Alecto

              He uttered the statement, “Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord?” in reference to a question posed about priest. He did say that, and he said it specifically in reference to a question about a priest. In addition, speaking of marginalization in reference to a homosexual priest would naturally lead to the logical conclusion that we are not to exclude such a person from the priesthood.

              • Scott Richert

                Alecto, it does not “naturally lead” to that conclusion at all. A man who is already a priest is a priest forever, and the Church has to cope with that fact. A man who is not already a priest does not fall within the context of Pope Francis’s remarks, and the Church does not have to make such a man a priest.

      • Robert

        If his Holiness does not meet your approval, if you must reject his notions, if you believe that he is ignorant, then perhaps you ought to join a sedevacantist Church.

        • Alecto

          He isn’t ignorant, his remarks were injudiciously made.

          • Adam Baum

            Then perhaps you should pray, not threaten mass exodus as you did in another thread-(to where, given the general drift of Protestantism in this regard).

            John Paul and Benedict both became Pope having been exposed to cultural and political hostility as young men, and both had their words mutilated by a hostile world.

            My late grandmother had a colorful expressions about such internecine battles, one was about hanging dirty laundry on Sunday, the other about birds dirtying their own nest.

            • Adam Baum

              One has to be careful in attempting to be “more Catholic than the Pope”, the consequences are best illustrated by the very public piety and equally public scandal of “Mad Max”.

              • Alecto

                Mad Max? Who is that?

              • GaudeteMan

                Big difference between Mel and those that are simply advising that a man be more discreet when addressing a powder keg of a subject.

            • Alecto

              Having the experience of that cultural and political hostility as young men, one would think it would result in an abundance of caution on their part in the public sphere?

              If the Church continues this myopic attention to all things homosexual, it will result in priests outing themselves to their parishes, regardless of the popes’ intent or Church’s teaching. If that happens, Adam, no threats necessary, only recognition of the fact that mothers and fathers, seeing the danger to their children made explicit will remove themselves. I believe Dolan did damage control in order to pre-empt what might have been a widespread movement by priests so inclined upon reading and hearing the pope’s words.

        • GaudeteMan

          Nowhere in Church teaching over the course of two millennia is it incumbent upon the faithful to bow down to the Pope and laud his every word and action. Thank God Catherine of Siena chose not to!

      • Mike Jones

        Many parents knowing do and feel comfortable entrusting their children to men, including priests, who are open and honest about the same-sex attractions that they experience. Being open and honest about those attractions and being comfortable being celibate in terms of sexual behavior, is what creates the safe space. In addition, often women feel that a man who understands same-sex sexual, as well as same-sex relational and emotional attractions, has an ability to understand some of their life stories better than a heterosexually attracted man could. The author of Men Are From Mars, Woman Are From Venus, John Gray, presents that approximately 20% of men, for instance, relate in more of a Venutian way. As about 20% of women relate in a more Martian way.

        • Alecto

          Hmmm, let’s see, not a woman but trying to speak for them, and my guess is you have no children, do you? You cite no authorities for your position other than a dried up discredited pop-psychology book published in the, what, 1980s? Gimme a break!

          • Mike Jones

            I’ve often used John Gray’s video series to help men and women understand that they do not all naturally approach communication in the same way. It has been freeing for men to realize that they might communicate and relate in a way that is thought to be traditionally feminine. Likewise, it’s been freeing for women to discover that their communication style might be more like what is thought to be typically masculine. The framework of Martian and Venutian helps people to not think so exclusively about what biblical masculinity and femininity means in terms of relating to people of the same sex and of the opposite sex.
            Pope Francis is trying to say that when Catholic priests are open about their same-sex attraction tendencies, and are committed to celibacy and healthy relationships, that he doesn’t have a problem that they have same-sex attraction tendencies in the performance of their roles as priests. Pope Francis would not say that he would need to have children of his own to understand these dynamics. I appreciate that.

    • Uuncle Max

      He has to learn that the secular press is (ALWAYS) just waiting for something like this and will jump on it, make headlines out of it – out of context – and move on. The clarifications that come after the original statement will we ignored. He HAS to learn how to deal with the secular press. Hopefully this incident will help teach him.

    • slainte

      Mr. Richert, Pre Vatican II, what was the Church’s position regarding homosexual men entering the Priesthood?
      How did Pope Benedict’s 2005 position differ from any earlier position?

    • Sue Beck

      While I wholeheartedly agree with the argument Mr. Richert makes, I want to add that sometimes a tendency towards a particular temptation can be so deep, perduring, and seemingly pervasive of all aspects of one’s life, that it feels quite natural to identify oneself in terms of that tendency. The example that comes to mind is that of the recovering alcoholic, who is encouraged by AA to introduce himself or herself at meetings for the rest of his/her life as “Hi, I’m Joe/Jill, and I’m an alcoholic.” This is true even if the person hasn’t had a drink in 30 years. I know well a number of people who are long-time recovered alcoholics, and even though their lives appear normal in every way (except for the fact that they never drink), they still find it useful to think of themselves as alcoholics. They find it helps them to understand certain aspects of how they think and react to things, as well as reminding them of their need ever to stay close to God (their “higher power”) in order to ensure their continued sobriety. I imagine that a homosexual tendency would be similar, in that even those people with same-sex attraction who are able to live chaste lives are likely, for the rest of their lives, to be keenly aware of certain reactions, tendencies, and “habits of mind” that are integrally tied to their homosexual orientation. I don’t think their sexual orientation defines them, but there is nonetheless a legitimate logic to saying “I am gay.”

      • Deacon Ed Peitler

        When I was the director of an alcohol and substance abuse program back in NY, I used to discourage people from saying, “I am an alcoholic.” I tried to help them to understand that alcohol need not define their lives and most certainly their “personhood.” It made eminently better sense for those persons to say I have alcoholism. It makes no sense for people to define themselves by their diseases or unnatural inclination.

        • Mike Jones

          Yet, I think what Pope Francis is also trying to do is to honor those individuals who do not see their same-sex emotional, relational, and sexual, and at times romantic attractions as unnatural to them. So, in that context, he would be right in using the phrase, “a gay person” especially in the context of our culture today. Our culture has a broad range of meanings of the term, gay. For instance, I think Pope Francis would honor the person who says that they are, “an openly gay celibate chaste Catholic priest.”

      • Mike Jones

        Often times, the person who has some level of same-sex sexual attractions, also often experiences a slightly different type or extent of same-sex emotional and relational attractions. Thus it is different in some key ways from that of a person who experiences a strong drawn to excessive alcohol consumption. Definitely I agree with you, in the general reasoning that you are presenting.

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    • msmischief

      One can not be an adulterer in the absence of the sin.

      One can, however, be a bad-tempered person even when in a state of grace and not committing the sin of wrath. This is useful to note what are the occasions of sins peculiar to your temperament.

    • NoreenD

      Good article. I think of myself first as a woman. Unfortunately, the active “gay” person labels themselves as “gay” first and a man (or woman) second. That is the point of their agenda because that is what they consider themselves to be. It is not necessay to proclaim your sexual tendency but, because it is their agenda to have special consideration, that is how they “define” themselves. I wish they all would just keep it to themselves.

    • ack8910
    • GaudeteMan

      Maybe its the South American in him but our Holy Father seems to be a fan of ‘ready, fire, aim.’ I realize there are no crash courses in diplomacy when one dons the white cassock for the first time but he is the spokesman for the Holy Catholic Church – a Church which is clearly in the rifle sights of the homosexual movement worldwide. Those lay persons who are battling on the front the lines to defend Catholic moral teaching, preserve their religious freedoms and stand firm in a world that is becoming increasingly intolerant of orthodoxy are desperately yearning for a fearless and courageous Vicar to lead the way. The rank and file soldiers in the trenches get heartsick when their general seems to be focused on lesser issues.

    • Deacon Joe

      Many years ago when I had been with an Old Catholic group, the then-presiding archbishop accepted a gentleman who displayed obvious homosexual tendencies. However, he assured the archbishop that he had been leading a celebate lifestyle for several years and would continue to do so. Not only was he ordained to the priesthood, serving an Old Catholic community in Texas, he was eventually sent to Wisconsin where the archdiocese is and consecrated as a bishop. I only spoke to him once after his episcopal consecration, and he had done remarkably well in continuing in the celebate throughout his episcopacy until his death a number of years ago. It can work.

      • Adam Baum

        “displayed obvious homosexual tendencies.”

        What are such things? In my limited experience, it is what we used to refer to as “effeminate” tendencies (obsessed with Diana Ross, inter alia) that are identified as homosexual. I have a relative that I saw as effeminate but I never saw “check out” another guy or pursue physical contact, or even comment on other males as objects of desire.

    • concern00

      Glad to see some intelligent debate in the commentary sans the usual trolls. It speaks volumes to the coherency and quality of this article.

      • Scott Richert

        Thank you for your kind words.

    • Carol Leeda Crawford

      Excellent article! It points to the reason we have not served our brothers and sisters with same sex attraction by condoning individuals identifying themselves as their sexual desires and attractions. Father Harvey, founder of Courage, said it would be wise to remove the term “homosexual persons” from the catechism. It is used by many Catholics of this persuasion to affirm themselves as “being” their desires. We need to help our fellows by encouraging them to dis-identify themselves as being their behaviour. Here is a wonderful article by someone who has done just that. http://www.holyspiritinteractive.net/columns/guests/davidprosen/iamnotgay.asp

    • Dan

      I see the the point but this situation not unique. Consider how people people and doctors refer to people with schizophrenia as schizophrenics and those with paralysis as paraplegics. “Homosexuality” was until recently considered considered a psychological condition, which may explain the usage. We should divorce the condition from the person. The current tendency not to has skewed the lingual framework but “that’s” the issue — not what the use of that framework can can be contorted to imply.

    • Mike Jones

      Continuing in the thread of my comment to your other article today. I think that what you might want to focus on further is this. Generally, a person who has some level of same-sex sexual attractions, will also experience same-sex relational attractions, same-sex emotional attractions, and even at times, same-sex romantic attractions that, while they are not the same as engaging in intimate same-sex sexual behavior, the composite of these does feel more like a total person identity.
      Yes, many of those relational and emotional attractions aren’t necessarily connected with their same-sex sexual attractions, but they can easily feel like they must be.
      This would be why many individuals do feel that it is accurate to say that their identity is that of a gay person. This can be the case, even if that person is bisexual in their orientation. Or, even if their sexual behavior is only heterosexual in a heterosexual marriage, but that they still have some percentage of same-sex sexual attractions. They might still feel compelled to say that they are gay and in a heterosexual marriage where they are only sexual with their spouse.

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    • James

      It is odd, whenever the Church affirms the dignity of every person, including persons with same-sex attract, there is a confusion that the Church is condoning their lifestyle choices. LIkewise, whenever the Church speaks out about immoral actions and lifestyles, there is confusion again – the comments are taken to be “hate speech” against the dignity of persons. Somehow this culture refuses to conceptualize that people deserve to be loved because they are made in the image and likeness of God, but that sinful and disordered acts are not a part of that person-hood. The Church calls us to love the sinner, but help the sinner find a way to repent from their sin.

      Just a thought that wherever the Devil is, confusion and chaos reign supreme.

    • Eileen Colby

      if Pope Francis were hearing confessions and a person came to him and confessed that they committed acts of sodomy with another person and if they would not reform their life and continuously and would not repent then he would be required to withhold forgiveness. If I met someone and they said hey I’m a homosexual, I must be nice to them, be kind to them, not be mean and nasty. I should not judge. They must be many people who have a disposition toward that lifestyle and don’t practice the lifestyle. That is what Pope Francis meant when he said who is he to judge.

      • Mike Jones

        It might be that most people who have some level of same-sex sexual attractions and are not now involved in same-sex sexual behavior are not comfortable having more than a few people know this about them. Some may be in heterosexual marriages. Others may be single, and still are not ready to have many people know this about them. Some may already be our friends. How we are already treating and interacting with them may make a difference in if they would even say to us, “I’m a person with homosexual feelings.”

    • Br. Bonaventure Rider, fbp

      Thank you for this article. On a well known blog, I had been arguing this very point, the unfortunate imprecision of Pope Francis’ recent comments. One persistent challenger could not accept that the terms “gay” and “orientation” used by the Pope was problematic at all. They felt that folks like me were trying to say that “gay” people don’t exist. In a very real way, I could tell this person that, yes, he’s right in thinking that is what I am saying. The battle for vocabulary in these discussions is not mere semantics. It is a battle of whose anthropology will define mankind. One elevates mankind, the other reduces him to lower and lower levels. Thanks again for this article.

    • Paul

      The Catholic Church is full of inadequates who get their sexual fulfilment by preying on boys. Find them and make them pay for their sins. Three hail marys and a lords prayer is nowhere near enough.

    • Paul

      Queers are just wrong.

    • Paul

      They talk of homosexual sex??? Depositing sperm into an anus cannot possibly fulfil the purpose of the sexual act – to procreate.