Mon 1st Sep 2014 | Last updated: Mon 1st Sep 2014 at 06:31am

Facebook Logo Twitter Logo RSS Logo
Hot Topics

Comment & Blogs

Don’t underestimate the beauty of true friendship

The Church has a great deal to offer homosexual people, says Archbishop Vincent Nichols

By on Thursday, 22 March 2012

There are many times when I think of Cardinal Basil Hume. I have done so often in recent weeks as I have pondered the need to defend the institution of marriage without losing care for those of a same-sex orientation.

The cardinal was an inspired teacher of our faith. He had a rare ability both to hold before us the fullness of Church teaching and to convey a compassionate understanding of the ambiguities and failures of our lives. As a teacher and as a witness he could both support and challenge us at the same time. He had taken to heart the words of St Paul that the human race has nothing to boast about to God other than the grace of God at work in us (see 1 Cor 1:29-31).

Cardinal Hume had a deep concern that those of a same-sex orientation should feel welcome in the Church. That was why, in 1997, he published “A Note on the Teaching of the Church Concerning Homosexuality”. Its main points remain crucial for today and I recall them here, using for the most part the language of the original document.

First, some principles:

1) The Dignity of the Human Person: The teaching of the Church is that we are to recognise the dignity of all people and not define or label them in terms of their sexual orientation. To do so is to risk losing sight of the fundamental identity of every person as a creature of God and, by grace, his child and heir to eternal life.

2) Sexuality and Marriage: There are two fundamental principles which determine Catholic teaching on sexual matters: that the sexual expression of love is intended by God’s plan of creation to find its place exclusively within marriage between a man and a woman, and that this expression of love must be open to the possible transmission of new life. This, of course, is a great challenge. It means that many types of sexual activity, including same-sex sexual activity, are not consistent with the teaching of the Church. No individual, bishop, priest or lay person is in a position to change this teaching of the Church which we hold to be God-given.

Secondly, some further considerations:

3) Homosexual orientation: The moral teaching of the Catholic Church is primarily concerned with our actions. Neither a heterosexual nor a homosexual orientation leads inevitably to sexual activity. Yet, in the context of the Church’s sexual moral teaching, a same-sex orientation can tend towards actions which are contrary to that teaching. Sexual orientation does not dictate the whole personality and character of an individual. Furthermore, a person’s sexual orientation can be unclear, even complex. Also, it may vary over the years. Most importantly, an orientation is not a moral failing.

4) Friendship: Friendship is a gift of God. Friendship is a way of loving. Friendship is necessary for every person. To equate friendship and full sexual involvement with another is to distort the very concept of friendship. Sexual loving presupposes friendship, but friendship does not require full sexual involvement. It is a mistake to say, or think, or presume that if two people of the same (or different) sexes enjoy a deep and lasting friendship then they must be sexually involved.

5) Love: “Love” must never be thought of as being synonymous with “sex”. Love can take many forms: between husband and wife, between parents and children, between relatives as well as the chaste love of friendship. In whatever context it arises, and always respecting the appropriate manner of its expression, love between two people, whether of the same sex or of a different sex, is to be treasured and respected. When two people love they experience in a limited manner in this world what will be their unending delight when one with God in the next. To love another is in fact to reach out to God who shares his lovableness with the one we love. To be loved is to receive a sign, or a share, of God’s unconditional love. But that experience of love is spoiled, whether in marriage or in friendship, when we do not think and act as God wills us to think and act. Human loving is precarious, for human nature is wounded and frail. Thus marriage and friendship will never be easy to handle. We shall often fail, but the ideal remains.

6) Human rights: The Catholic Church advocates and defends the fundamental human rights of every person. But the Church cannot acknowledge among fundamental human rights a supposed “right” to acts which she teaches to be morally wrong. It is a fundamental human right of every person, irrespective of sexual orientation, to be treated by individuals and by society with dignity, respect and fairness. So the Church condemns violence of speech or action against people of a same-sex orientation. Nothing in the Church’s teaching can be said to support or sanction, even implicitly, their victimisation or isolation. This should have no place among Catholics.

7) Pastoral care: The Church’s pastoral response to people of same-sex orientation will involve a respectful attitude and a sympathetic understanding of their situation, in addition to sacramental life, prayer, counsel and individual care so that the whole Christian community can come to recognise its own call to assist its brothers and sisters, without deluding them or isolating them. Those exercising pastoral care recognise that human nature is frail and subject to temptation and are concerned to understand and to help those who find it hard to live in accordance with the Church’s teaching. They should remember that the Church warns us against generalisations in attributing culpability in individual cases.

Conclusion: All are precious in the eyes of God. The love which one person can have for and receive from another is a gift of God. Nevertheless, God calls all people to keep his law and to work towards achieving a difficult ideal, even if this will only be achieved gradually. God has a love for every person which is greater than any love which one human being could have for another. In all the circumstances and situations of life, God calls each person, whatever his or her sexual orientation, to fulfil that part of his created design which only that person can fulfil.

My last word: I am grateful that Cardinal Hume left us this gift. As he makes clear, this message only truly makes sense when we are trying to live our lives in a relationship with Jesus, Our Lord. Only when he stands at the centre of our lives can we understand both the loving support and loving challenge he offers us. Only when we stand before him can we accept ourselves as we are, with all our faults and failings, yet invited to a fullness of life and love which at present we can only glimpse. But we know that the Lord walks with us and will never forsake us.

  • Caroline Farrow

    Beautiful. Thank you, Your Grace.

  • Ben Trovato

    I was interested to read this, particularly the need to offer Pastoral Care ‘without deluding them or isolating them.’. It is precisely because we feel that this proviso is not being met that so many Catholics have serious questions about the ‘Soho Masses.’

  • Jonathan

    Thank you.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JOAWKXXDGTRDBFREJGMKSPP25I Stephen

     ‘Sexual orientation does not dictate the whole personality and character of an individual.’ That’s the problem here,homosexual ‘activists’ want to shut young gay people off from the rest of society by telling them that everyone is against them.

    Nothing could be further from the truth.

    One aspect of their life does not define the whole person,positively or negatively. One of my best friends growing up was gay and he knew my views on homosexuality and we got along just fine because it didn’t mean that I was blinded to seeing his whole personality. The most important thing to remember in all of this is that ‘All are precious in the eyes of God’, opponents of the Church can tell you otherwise but God loves everyone and so should we. I hope homosexuals learn to embrace the faith and realise that it they have far more to gain than they have to lose. Those who criticise the Church’s teaching ont his remind me of those whom Fulton Sheen spoke of when he said that they ‘Know the price of everything and the value of nothing.’

  • Brian A. Cook

    Thank you, your excellency.

  • EndTimes101

    Another very smooth and polished presentation which appears very kind and gentle and loving (at first glance). But there is a big lie running through the centre of this monologue which gets to the heart of the failure of leadership in Christian and in particular the Catholic Western world. The idea or implication that ones sexual orientation is set in stone and should not be challenged. That to do so is mean and unchristian and people that think this way should “hold their tongue”. I don’t have the time to offer a point by point dissection right of the many subtle errors presented but i can quickly fire back a few quotes to make my point.

    “Neither a heterosexual nor a homosexual orientation leads inevitably to sexual activity.”
    You appear to be subtly equating the two as equally valid, when they are not. A homosexual tendency is inherently disordered, though not necessarily the product of sin it should be resisted and fought against with the same vigour you would any other vice. Also there does not have to be sexual activity for their to be a sin. A sin i normally indulged and committed in the heart and mind BEFORE the activity.

    Regarding pastoral care “without deluding them or isolating them”.

    Is this a joke? What do you call giving unrepentant homosexuals their own Mass if not isolating them and deluding them? I don’t have time to list the litany of abuses that take place at these “soho masses”  but most people are already familiar. Is there going to be a further break up and isolation of different groups of sinners in church now you have set this precedent? Adulterers masses for example where Men can bring their mistresses to Mass where “God calls each person, whatever his or her sexual orientation (or proclivity?)  ….

    There is so much more to be said here so i hope others will pick up the torch of truth…..

  • Mgwoods747

    Thank you, a very thoughtful and loving way to look at a very delicate, difficult subject.

  • Dominie Stemp

    Does the Archbishop look at the comments?
    Dominie

  • Benedict Carter

    Am I the only Catholic who is sick and tired of this prelate’s obsession with homosexuals? 

    If only he would teach the Catholic Faith in all its purity and beauty to Catholics, instead of presiding over the homosexual pick-up joint that his so-called “Soho Masses”, these scandalous and sacrilegious affairs have apparently become. 

    Where, Your Grace, in all your false compassion is the call of true charity? To admonish sinners that their indulgence in mortal sin threatens their very Salvation?

    I’ve had it with these liberal-socialist Vatican II clerics. They have virtually destroyed the Catholic Faith these past fifty years. 

  • Mike Bassett

    Would you people ever stand outside yourselves and listen to yourselves for just one moment? You might possibly realise just how ridiculous you sound…

  • Benedict Carter

    Do tell why you write such rubbish.

    Clearly, you are not a Catholic. Or perhaps you’re one of the modern lot, who are in effect apostates?

  • Tom in Lazybrook

    Unfortunately, The Roman Catholic Church has been directly advocating legislation to thrown Gay persons in jail for up to 14 years for the ‘crime’ of being Gay, even for forming a Gay rights club, or a Gay meeting group, or even petitioning their government.  The Roman Catholic Church, in the name of an Archbishop and three Bishops on an official website of the church (as well as in the mass media of Nigeria – certainly available to the Vatican) also advocates throwing any member of a progressive religion that even attends a same sex ceremony in accordance with their faith will be jailed for up to 10 years.  There isn’t a separate Roman Catholic Church in Nigeria and England.  Its one church and one Catechism.  And the problem isn’t limited to Nigeria.  Its also been done by the Bishop of Belize and a defense of criminalizing Gay persons was just issued by Cardinal Sarah.   Catechism 2358 is dead.  And so is any pretense that the Roman Catholic Church is not out to abuse Gay persons.

    How many years in Kiri Kiri Prison in Nigeria should Gay people be sentenced to for forming the Gay discussion group of Lagos?  Per the Roman Catholic Church…  14.

  • Anna

    Very well said, Archbishop…thank you.

  • Aaron Saunderson-Cross

    A very beautiful and charitable exposition of the Church’s position regarding its homosexual members. It is only a shame that this line of conversation is always taken as an opportunity for prejudice, bigotry, and homophobia in the ‘com-box’.

  • aearon43

    This is false.

  • Brian A. Cook

     This is an extremely serious allegation that keeps coming up. 

  • Antob_67

    What would heterosexuals experience if the teaching of the Church stated that their orientation was not sinful but to express it is intrinsically disordered? I imagine the naive of sincere faith would valiantly strive in good faith for celibacy, as many homosexuals do. The majority would realise that their sexual expression is integral to their sexual identity, and that to suppress the expression of a fundamental aspect of our nature is both psychologically and spiritually dangerous and unhealthy. When will the Church get it? – spiritual health is inextricably linked to psychological health. There is a science to this. You put burdens on our backs and lift not finger to help. The burden has been too heavy, and more infuriating, has been so unnecessary. I’ve laid mine down. I have worthier burdens to shoulder.

  • tnzk

    “The idea or implication that ones sexual orientation is set in stone and should not be challenged.”

    Are you trying to say that sexual orientation is a choice? That somehow people consciously choose to be attracted to the opposite or same sex? It’s ludicrous. That’s why the Church calls homosexuals to chastity, not conversion.

    To give you a personal example, I’m bisexual. As well as being attracted to women, I’m attracted to men. I didn’t choose either attraction. But because of my love for God and his plan, I choose not to indulge in the inherent disorder of being attracted to the same sex. Every bit of temptation is still there, but through the power of prayer, God’s will triumph’s over my sinful own. 

    That’s the whole point of our Christian faith, by the way. When our passions are objectively disordered, when temptation to sin can come in many forms, even appear as our very nature, we called to reject it and choose God’s nature.

    If that’s not what you meant by that comment, my apologies. But if it is, the path is a dead end, and our enemies will only scorn us for it all the more.

  • daclamat

    I hope so. I note that elsewhere you are in favour of hanging and flogging. Perhaps you would be satisfied if the Inquisition came back, with auto da fé and and a burning or two. What is the Catholic faith in all its purity and beauty? Sounds a bit like the church Evelyn Waugh had in mind, before he was posthumously “outed” and shown to be the old soak he was.

  • JabbaPapa

    ET101 : The idea or implication that ones sexual orientation is set in stone and should not be challenged.

    In fact, he writes “Sexual orientation does not dictate the whole personality and character of an individual. Furthermore, a person’s sexual orientation can be unclear, even complex. Also, it may vary over the years.”

    That is to say, the complete opposite of what you appear to be saying.

  • patritius

    The style and approach is very different from Christ, but the sentiments expressed and the thrust is exactly the same.

    In these difficult times our bishop, appointed by Jesus Christ, should enjoy our support. Lay people after all are merely that – it is the bishops who have the responsibility to articulate Christ’s teaching.

    Fortunately, in their measured and reflective tone, the bishops have avoided the bait carefully laid out for them by our smug and cunning politicians.

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    Clear and helpful. One of the greatest evils perpetrated by the modern ‘gay’ ideology is that the complexities of human life can be reduced to the binary homosexual and heterosexual identities. The Archbishop gives a timely reminder that orientation and identity are complex, and that, primarily, we are all men and women trying to live a fully human life and often failing in complex and various ways. God still loves us but calls us to keep trying.

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    Well, it rather depends on what you mean by ‘orientation’ here. (This word is often thrown around but it could do with some careful unpacking.) Let’s assume that you mean that you’ve discovered that the majority of your desires are for same sex activity rather than for heterosexual sex.

    That’s essentially not an uncommon problem: we are all called to suppress some and desires. Quite a lot of my desires (particularly when I was younger) were for activity that the Church condemns as damaging to human beings. If my wife died before me, I assume that I’d again be quite troubled by this. (And even now I wouldn’t claim to be immune.) I am urged to suppress some expressions of ‘a fundamental aspect of our [sinful] nature’ : so are you. Neither of us will find that easy.

    Now presumably you’re going to claim that your burden is heavier than mine. Really? How do you know? What would happen if you just expressed your ‘fundamental aspect’ in same sex chaste friendships: would you explode through lack of orgasms? Mightn’t you just become a better person? I’m sure many men would have a similar experience to mine: that one of the most important spiritual and ethical growths in our lives has been the realization that an attraction to the other sex is often better expressed and enjoyed chastely rather than in sexual pursuit. Why shouldn’t that be the same for you with same sex relationships?

    The Church claims to have revealed insight into the nature of human beings and what benefits them. A clear element of this throughout its history has been the teaching against same sex activity. I don’t know if you are a Catholic. But if you are, it strikes me as odd that you can accept the first claim but reject the second. As that great Catholic Cromwell said, ‘I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken.’

  • Anfob_67

    Many gay people, like many heterosexual people can, have and will continue to choose celibate lives, and when done for the right reasons, it is a valuable witness to all of humanity. The problem to be addressed which you have again highlighted is that homosexuality is not just about desires, their expression or repression. Our sexuality is a fundamental aspect of our humanity. When a key element of our humanity is experienced as unacceptable in its expression, that judgement is internalised, self-hatred is often the result and often leads to compulsive sexual behaviour – the type of behaviour that falls under your judgement. You seem to suggest that all homosexuals should suppress their sexual desires. What a comfortable suggestion for you. Let all heterosexuals try that for Lent sometime.

  • MultitaskingLitigator

    I am a heterosexual woman married to a man who has been so bady disabled for the the last few years (about a quarter of our married life to date) that any sexual interourse indeed any sort of physical intimacy other than the occasional hand hold is absolutely impossible. I don’t choose to be celibate and still less do I choose to be in a position when he can’t even cuddle me. I have to do this because it’s my lot and the alternative is to hurt my husabnd and break my marriage vows. So I suppress my desires and will do so for the rest of our married lives which could be decades. If the expression of my sexual  identity is so important for my psychological and spiritual  heath what would you have me do? 

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    ‘Our sexuality is a fundamental aspect of our humanity.’ Yes, that’s where I have trouble in understanding you. I can understand what it is to claim that my humanity is a fundamental aspect of my humanity. I can understand that my sex is a fundamental aspect of my humanity. But to say that a) sexual orientation isn’t just a matter of desire (or, presumably, propensity to desire); and b) that it’s fundamental to me is something I struggle to understand. (And thinking through the various theoretical understandings of personal identity that exist, the idea of an identity that is both completely self-transparent to its possessor and essential to him/her strikes me as (to say the least) rather problematic.)
     ‘You seem to suggest that all homosexuals should suppress their sexual desires.’ Yes, I do suggest that: all Catholics are called to this, not just those who identify as homosexuals.The standards of sexual behaviour required by the Church are difficult for all of us. 

    I suspect what you really mean here is that ‘all homosexuals should suppress all their  sexual desires’. And in one sense, yes, if all your desires are for homosexual activity. But perhaps a better way of putting this would be that your desires have to be changed rather than suppressed: and I don’t mean by this some sort of extirpation of desire, but rather leaving our desires open to be transformed into something that promotes human flourishing. (This certainly had to happen to me: I wouldn’t want to have been stuck with my adolescent sexual desires.) 

    Fundamentally, you seem to be making two assumptions throughout. First, that if you don’t have orgasms, you can’t live well. Second, that those who don’t have much or any desire for same sex activity have it easy compared to you. Both of these claims are extremely dubious.

  • MACCABEUS2

    Archbishop Nichols’ comments are profoundly saddening. That any high ranking prelate should be so astray of the truth of our Faith is deeply disquieting, though it has to be said, given the drift of recent decades among too many of the English hierarchy, not entirely unexpected. Is the Family, as the Church has always proclaimed, the bedrock of society or is it not? If it is, and it surely must be, then the Church must do everything it can to defend and consolidate the Family and its role in society in a period when it is being fractured, smashed and atomized by consumerist materialism. This goal is certainly not achieved by adopting a tone and perspective which appears to state that homosexual and heterosexual ‘orientations’ are somehow equivalent. The very use of the word ‘orientation’ is to buy into the secular progressive agenda and lose the battle for truth before a shot has been fired. Words are everything, as our American cousins (also currently beleaguered in their Catholicism) are fast discovering. And it has to be said their hierarchy is far in advance of ours. They have understood that in an era dominated by ideology and mass media manipulation, to lose the war of words is effectively to lose the battle.
    So let it be clearly understood: the Catholic Church has NEVER considered human sexuality to be an ‘orientation’. The Catholic Church has always, until very recently, among a few would-be enlightened prelates, referred to our ‘sexual NATURE’. A sexual nature which is God given and forms part of the Natural Law, imprinted on all men and women’s hearts. That is why it has always quite rightly defined homosexuality as gravely disordered. So gravely disordered indeed that until just a few years ago the Church, in her catechisms to the English faithful, described homosexuality as ‘one of the four sins crying to heaven for vengeance’, specifically terming homosexuality as ‘the sin of Sodom’.
    This approach characterized the Church’s view of matters for approximately 1960 years. However, in the last 40 or so years there has been a sudden volte face. And not merely a volte face but a gravely disingenuous volte face – whereby the faithful have been encouraged to think of homosexuality (and many other matters) in today’s radically more ‘user friendly’ manner, and those who did not join in the chorus were looked upon, within the Church, as some sort of species of troglodytic Martians, instead of people who were actually simply keeping faith with 1960 years of previous Church teaching and tradition.
    This teaching faithfully adhered to the concept of Natural Law which the Church inherited from the Graeco-Roman world and which it adapted to suit the larger, more expansive world view of Christianity. It still forms the bedrock of our Faith, together with Holy Scripture, especially when it comes to analyzing human nature and human society. To somehow imply that homosexual and heterosexual behaviour is in any way ‘equivalent but simply different’ is therefore – wittingly or unwittingly – to detonate a nuclear bomb under the very foundations of everything we believe in. It is, in theological terms, to utterly undermine everything we stand for. If this kind of attitude and approach is pursued by the Archbishop then quite simply the Catholic Church in this nation has no future. It is dead in the water. The Archbishop has blithely surrendered our fallback position, and we have no further reserves, moral, intellectual or spiritual, on which to call. The Church can and will find itself in the unseemly position of having no other recourse but to prate on and on about love, love, love, in a way that is no different from that of the culture of relativity whose non-values it has apparently bought into. The Church will very quickly be absorbed into the mass of the said relativity, the last generation (ironically, the generation of people who were educated using the earlier, non-trendy catechisms) will die out over the next 25 years or so and there will be no one to replace the depleted ranks. And after all, if Archbishop Nichols’ line is pursued, why should anyone bother to replace them? Why should anyone bother dragging themselves out of bed to go to Mass in a Church which essentially, when it comes to the crunch, believes everything the surrounding hedonistic, atheistic, relativist society believes in?
    Let no one be under any illusions. The question of gay marriage goes to the very heart of our continuing existence (or not) as a Church in this country. The current battle, which I am afraid to say, under the ‘leadership’ of Archbishop Nichols, we look set to lose, is in reality the Church’s last chance to ditch the trendy pseudo-psychobabble approach it has favoured in recent years and dig in hard, dig in and resist, re-embracing the hard earned truths of both Love AND Justice, as defined not by the decadent society in which we find ourselves, but by our Saviour and his unerring Word. To seek to curry favour with the secular progressives, to seek to ‘win over’ those who support gay marriage, is in effect a subtle form of moral cowardice masquerading as an enlightened form of compassion, a species of compassion that arrogates to itself a moral superiority over those who keep the faith and are prepared to live and die for it. It is to play the role of ‘useful idiot’ (as Lenin put it), as dupes manipulated by social, political and media elites who in reality have nothing but contempt for everything we stand for. The Archbishop and many others in the English Hierarchy would do well to remember that as disciples of Christ we are all called upon to accept, as part of our Faith, the prospect of ridicule, rejection, abandonment, persecution and, if needs be, death. The hierarchy however appears to fear ridicule and rejection by this nation’s elites much more than it fears the reaction of God to their supine refusal to fight the good fight for the Faith, come what may.
    As for Archbishop Nichols tendentious use of Cardinal Hume in his ‘explanation’ of the Church’s position, he would surely have done better to call upon Cardinal Newman, or better still, Cardinal Manning. They, unlike him, knew that there are some issues where there is simply no further room for compromise. We must therefore stick to our Faith, with intelligence, courage and humility, putting our Faith first and ourselves last. Just as so many of those who in this country gave their lives that the Faith might not die, witnessing with their blood for the eternal truth which we proclaim as Christ’s disciples, in a disbelieving and fallen world. To read the Archbishop’s comments, however, is to suddenly understand that the rain we see falling from the skies is no longer the water of life, gift of a benevolent God, but the bitter tears of those who went before us, suffered, bled and died in the defence of God’s truth, and who are looking down upon us, weeping and wailing at the pusillanimity of those who profess to be our leaders.

  • Anfob_67

    I have not mentioned ‘orgasm’ or even thought of it in this debate. What I know is that sexuality is about having my desire for intimacy, love and sexual desire validated and accepted is fundamental to my psychological and spiritual well-being. Once I experience this, I experience myself as fully loved and accepted. Why should my desires be changed rather than accepted?

  • JabbaPapa

    Just one very specific point where I think the Archbishop’s position is theologically incomplete :

    He writes “Most importantly, an orientation is not a moral failing.

    More or less true ; BUT the Church teaches that certain orientations are objectively disordered, in the sense that their mere existence creates disorder and strife within communities and in individuals, in an observable manner.

    viz. the ongoing acrimonious debates on this issue in our societies — the acrimony is a product of the objective disorder that the Church is talking about, quite irrespective of the individual cases and situations of individuals.

    And beneath that layer, exist Original Sin (which is forgiven through baptism and eucharistic sacrifice), and actions by the Devil that seek to encourage this acrimony and strife.

    So whilst an orientation is not in itself a moral failing, insofar as the individual has no control over its existence, individuals still need to be taught that the orientation can tend towards actions which are contrary to the Church’s teachings on sexual morality, as the Archbishop has said, due to the abovementioned objective disorder and its connection with our Original Sin.

  • Anfob_67

    I am truly sorry for the situation you find yourself in, but you miss my point. Circumstance may force us to suppress important desires, I hope you have never been labelled as ‘ordered toward an intrinsic evil’, simply for having those desires.

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    Well, if you don’t mean orgasms, why can’t your desires for intimacy be satisfied in a chaste way? If you’re not talking about orgasms, how do you know that your desire for (I assume) male intimacy is sexual rather than more broadly erotic? (And thus capable of being satisfied without sin.)

    On the broader question of why should desires be changed rather than accepted, it is quite impossible not to engage in modification and change of our desires: we don’t just arrive at (say) 18 and simply accept whatever we happen to desire then. So the only question is: by what critical standard do we engage with and reform our desires? I’d suggest that the Catholic Church, with its well thought out understanding of sex and 2000 years of experience is rather a good critical partner. (Quite apart from its divinely given authority.) If it were ever to cross your mind that your desires were less than perfect, how might you go about critiquing them?

  • Bob Hayes

    Thoughtful and insightful words your grace. 

    Too often this subject is dominated by decidedly un-Christian rhetoric. On the one hand there are, within the Church, aggressive attempts at revisionism promoted by advocates of same-sex sin - attempts to reinterpret Scripture and dismiss the authority of the Magisterium. On the other hand are those for whom hard-hearted denunciation, rather than broader catechesis, appears to be the only strategy to bring those burdened with same-sex attraction to a chaste life and ever-closer adherence to the teachings of Our Lord.

    This topic deserves more light and less heat: thank you, your grace.

  • MultitaskingLitigator

    My circumstances are that my husband is paralysed from the neck down. How is that different in principle from a homosexual person whose circumstances are hat they experience desire for the same sex? In both cases unwished for circumstances mean that our desires may not be fulfilled without sin. I have heard that the “ordered towards intrinsic evil” is a translation which is misleading and is far more condemnatory that the original Latin
    I have heard that the “ordered towards intrinsic evil” is a translation which is misleading and is far more condemnatory that the original Latin

  • MultitaskingLitigator

    having serious problems(constant error on page message) editing out the duplication of the last sentence in my last post so apologise to all and am giving up

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    Your comments have an eloquence that survives any problems in posting. May God bless you and your husband.

  • Chris

    Not only is it wise, but also compassionate and truthful. Thank you Archbishop Vincent. He and Cardinal Hume have consistently shown sensitivity and compassion.

    No matter what he says, however, those who want to distort and misrepresent the Church’s teaching and make it a mask for their own homophobia will continue to do so. I only wish they would be honest and not pretend that they speak for the Magisterium.

  • JabbaPapa

    Ex contrario, clara in luce ponendum est peculiarem personae homosexualis propensionem, quamquam per se ipsa peccatum non est, nihilominus inclinat plus minus vehementer ad agendi rationem quae, ordine morali spectato, intrinsece mala habenda est. Hac de causa, ipsa propensio obiective inordinata est iudicanda.

    Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.

    HMMMMFFFF !!!!!

    All you need to do to realise that this is a BAD translation is to look at the word count !!

    The logic of the original Latin has been destroyed, and somebody has, in short, take it upon himself to replace Catholic teaching from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith on this question, and replace it with pet views of his own.

    Here’s my attempt (the modal gerunds translate very poorly, it’s hard to pinpoint their exact values) :

    To the contrary, the spotlight must clearly be shone on the fact that, despite the particular inclination of the homosexual person not being in itself a sin, it nevertheless inclines that person more or less strongly towards deliberate actions that, from a moral point of view, are intrinsically ordered towards wrongs**. For this reason, the inclination itself is objectively to be viewed as disordered.

    ** “wrongs” = wrongful actions and wrongful thoughts and bad consequences = “bad stuff”

  • MultitaskingLitigator

    So would that then summarise as :
    The inclination -morally neutral
    Acting upon the inclination – wrong

  • EndTimes101

    The lines you have chosen to quote me on were in the context of a general failure of leadership. But they also fall within the context of the Archbishops words on the point that sexual orientation should not (and by implication cannot) be challenged. In your very own quote from the archbishop he speaks as though sexual orientation is like some kind of wind we can neither see, nor anticipate not have any hope to understand or control and plays down the importance and detriment of someone persistently inclined to grave mortal sin.
    “Sexual orientation does not dictate the whole personality and character
    of an individual. Furthermore, a person’s sexual orientation can be
    unclear, even complex. Also, it may vary over the years.”
    This statement gives a  false impression and emphasis. People can change if they are given the correct support
    and guidance, not shuttled off into their own ghetto of isolation away
    from the greater Catholic community where they continue in their errors
    and mock and debase Our Lord and the Holy Mass in the process (do a bit of research into what goes on at these soho masses and i challenge you not to be scandalised).
    Also im not comfortable even using the term “sexual orientation” because to do so plays into homosexual activists tactic to frame the debate in their favour by changing the language. This term and others have worked wonders for them on the weak minded with people who dare to even question the homosexual agenda immediately on the back foot insisting they are not homophobic for example, rather than making their point confidently and clearly.
    In summary, for all the archbishops fluff about friendship and dignity he is merely using this language of mealy mouthed false charity to hide behind his own failure to lead his sheep, to separate the goats and to fight off the wolves. Where is the REAL pastoral care for those struggling with same sex attraction? Practical psychological issues to be addressed and spiritual guidance to fight temptation?

  • JabbaPapa

    So would that then summarise as :
    The inclination -morally neutral
    Acting upon the inclination – wrong

    No, it’s a lot more subtle — from either end !!

    The inclination is being described as inherently conducive towards sinful behaviour (not “evil” ; “sinful”), whilst some actions that it provides are described as constituting the sins themselves — but you would need to do some research to understand the full detail of what this means.

    To at least try and put it succinctly :

    The inclination = part of Original Sin
    Acting on the inclination = possibly doing objective harm to yourself and/or others.

  • MACCABEUS2

    Personally, and to paraphrase St, Thomas More, I consider myself the Archbishop’s good servant, but God’s first.

  • Antob_67

    It is very different. Your natural sexual orientation has never has never made you question your worth as a human being. You never have sleepless nights wondering how to say to your parents ‘Sit down, I have something huge to tell you, I’m heterosexual’. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You can talk about the original Latin if you like – isn’t it more humane to get curious about how gay people have experienced their meaning in their lives?

  • EndTimes101

    See my reply to JabbaPapa for a better idea of where im coming from. In brief encounters in comment boxes i often notice that people might be merely arguing over semantics or different definitions of the same words.
    “Are you trying to say that sexual orientation is a choice? That somehow
    people consciously choose to be attracted to the opposite or same sex?
    It’s ludicrous. That’s why the Church calls homosexuals to chastity, not
    conversion.”
    People don’t choose attraction in the moment but they can certainly change and influence what they are attracted to over time if they are given the correct guidance and support. This idea that you are stuck with a ‘homosexual orientation’ for the rest of your life is false. There are practical spiritual and psychological steps you can take to address same sex attraction to mitigate and even eliminate any “orientation”.
    This is one of the great failures of leadership i refer to that the archbishop breezes over. The only other people that openly propose and assist with this are evangelicals and they roundly scorned for it. Perhaps this is what the archbishop is so afraid of?

    It sounds to me that you are not actually buying into a lot of what the archbishop is selling. Would you like to be isolated and ghettoised at homosexual services? Where they make not effort at all overcome same sex attraction, but rather revel in it. Leading no doubt to an occasion of sin for many genuine souls who might wander into the trap.
    It might help not to classify yourself as bisexual (it implies you have no choice or power), you are just a man honestly and bravely fighting the good fight to overcome temptation. In your case the temptation is SSA but we are all in the same boat generally. We all have to fight sins of the flesh in some form or other. Good luck to you and God bless…..

  • Antob_67

    If you think that the Church has consistent and ‘well-thought’ understanding of sex over 2000 years, I encourage you to peruse Church history a little more closely over the same period.

  • MultitaskingLitigator

    I am not trying to condemn anyone and certainly didn’t think I was being inhumane but the point you make about sexual orientation being irrelevant to worth as a human being is precisely the Church’s teaching as I understand it anyway. We started by a discussion centring arouond your view that expression of sexual desire was intrinsic to spiritual and psychological  health and my response to that based on my own situation. I can’t express mine without sin and neither can homosexual persons at least not per the teaching of the Church. That is surely the essence of the comparison. The other matters you mention of course I sympathise with but they cannot be laid at the door of the teaching of the Church properly understood. The more shame therefore on those who misrepresent that teaching.

  • Teutonic Knight

     Hi Tom,

    Can you please provide a link to the webpage you refer to, in order to substantiate your claims?  (of if links are not allowed, please tell us how to easily get there via googling).

    These are exceptionally serious claims and it is not fitting to make them without presenting evidence.

    For starters, the Catholic Church officially opposes unjust discrimination of homosexual people, as is explicitly stated in the Catechism.  Therefore the policy you allege – to jail someone purely for being gay – is fundmetnally at odds with Catholic teaching.

    This is the main reason I do not believe your claim and request evidence.

    If it turns out your claim is genuine, then those involved are breaking Canon law and would be removed from office.

    I do suspect this is muck-throwing though, not fact.

    The typical British person in the modern era is of pretty low intelligence and there is literally nothing that they would not believe about the Catholic Church.

  • Teutonic Knight

    Mmmm I found if you google “Tom in Lazybrook” or what he alleges here, it seems he plagues Catholic websites / discussions making these outrageous unsubstantiated comments.  He has actually been banned from several websites.

    For example, see the comment section here, where “tom” makes the same allegations as on this page.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/deaconsbench/2012/03/cardinal-dolan-calls-on-catholics-to-be-very-active-involved-in-politics/

    With all the malicious lies, “Tom” must be a Stonewall activist or Johan Hari.

  • EndTimes101

     Excellent post….but i do have to question what motivates this Archbishop (and the previous one whom he quotes and seems to hide behind for justification of his stance). Is it really cowardice, or worldly ambition…or perhaps something far more sinister?
    Having seen him in action he reminds me of a both a skilled actor and a Machiavellian politician. Makes all the right moves physically to APPEAR humble and considered and Holy. Knows how to fluff up a speech with sweet and honeyed words that appear inclusive, caring and sharing. He also has great skill and precision in knowing exactly where the doctrinal line is and how far he can manipulate both people and language to dance around the true spirit of Catholic teaching while presenting an alternative and “modern” view/deception. Take the monologue he presents above, layered thick with sugary talk of love, friendship and dignity. It garners many quotes of thanks from cooing and well meaning average joe Catholics, dazzled by his office, completely trusting and innocent – unaware that it is even possible that there ARE anti apostles operating at all levels in the Church (3rd secret of Fatima). There is simply NO WAY a genuinely Holy and good man with a modicum of a prayer life could take and make the radical doctrinal errors this archbishop CONSISTENTLY spouts. Who seems to take pleasure in slapping down the orthadox sheep while giving the goats license to run riot. Who will sell out his own people to a hostile Antichrist governmental apparatus (see Cardinal Vaughan school controversy)
    So what’s the solution? Prayer always first. Pray for the archbishop that if he be weak he be given strength for his office, that if he be a false teacher he be removed and we be given a good and Holy Bishop and leader, who fears the Lord and not the world. But after prayer must come action, to consistently and persistently challenge to his apparent agenda to radically alter and align our precious Church to the norms of a fallen civilisation. In other words, to those voices crying in the wilderness (Maccabeus2), keep up the good work….

  • http://cumlazaro.blogspot.com/ Lazarus

    Its history or its theology? The history contains the strivings and failings of sinful women and men. The theology is the accumulation of experience and intellect guided by the Holy Spirit. Even stripping out the supernatural elements, it is a remarkable intellectual and imaginative edifice.

    Again, I ask you, where do you go to test your own desires and beliefs? 

  • Antob_67

    As St Ignatius posited, if we discern our own deepest desires, there we will find God’s deepest desires for us. I don’t feel called to explain or justify the manner in which I do so. Where do you go to discern your deepest fears? Such rigidity and clutching to moral certainty generally betrays underlying fear.