Tag Archives: homosexuality

What about same-sex unions?

FR. JOHN TRIGILIO: Chastity is required of all people, no matter their state in life . . .

Fr. John Trigilio

Fr. John Trigilio

This question has become more common in recent years with the passage of laws in some states that recognize homosexual unions and, more recently, judges legalizing same-sex “marriage.”

The Catholic Church has always taught that the homosexual inclination is disordered. It distinguishes the sexual orientation from sexual activity. It is not sinful to have homosexual orientation, but it is sinful to engage in homosexual behavior. The Church still considers the orientation disordered but recognizes many homosexuals do not choose to have this inclination. Only when they engage in homosexual activity is there culpable sin.

Any and all human sexual activity, whether heterosexual or homosexual, outside of marriage (between one man and one woman) is considered seriously and gravely sinful. Masturbation, adultery, promiscuity, fornication, artificial contraception, pornography, and homosexuality pervert the original intention that God has for marriage, namely love (unitive dimension) and life (procreative dimension).

It’s impossible to see homosexual unions as being in line with God’s intentions for marriage since the product of intercourse is not fruitful. Along with masturbation, fornication, and adultery, homosexuality is a selfish act that cannot fulfill the divinely ordained purpose of the reproductive powers. The Church teaches that God instituted the sacrament of Marriage, and only He has the authority to change the nature of marriage. Neither the Church nor the state has the competence to alter the substance of marriage or the family. Attempts by civil government or the courts to alter the law in favor of same-sex unions distort the true meaning of marriage, which has existed for thousands of years.

The Church encourages people who suffer from the disorder of same-sex attraction to live a chaste and celibate life. Chastity is required of all people, no matter their state in life — single, married, or celibate. It is a virtue in which our thoughts, words, and actions are modest. Celibacy is a discipline by which one does not marry.

The grace from frequent Confession will help the homosexually oriented person in his or her commitment to be chaste. There are also many good Catholic support groups (for example, Courage) to help people with homosexual tendencies to live good and virtuous lives. Other groups, like Dignity, which promote monogamous relationships, are not considered in conformity with Catholic teaching.

Sexual intercourse is a holy and sacred act reserved for husband and wife, who are a man and woman married in the eyes of God, and who are committed to living a permanent, faithful and, God-willing, fruitful union.

FATHER JOHN TRIGILIO JR. is an author, theologian and president of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy. This article is reprinted with permission from “The Catholicism Answer Book: The 300 Most Frequently Asked Questions,” which he authored with Fr. Kenneth D. Brighenti.


Catechism 101

The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator. Marriage is not a purely human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures, and spiritual attitudes.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2358, 1603

Dealing with same-sex attraction

Daniel Mattson writes to those who have children struggling with same-sex attraction . . .

Daniel Mattson

Daniel Mattson

The most challenging questions I’m asked when speaking about the Church’s teaching on homosexuality come from parents who desire to remain committed to the teachings of the Church, and yet have a child who has “come out” and identified as gay or lesbian. This is what I tell them.

Express unconditional love. When a child comes out, he needs to know that you won’t reject him, and that your love for him will never change, regardless of his choices. Love can’t be blind to the truth of the Church, naturally, but before you speak of the truth, a child needs to hear and feel unconditional love.

Listen. Then listen some more. Then be silent. Then listen some more. Unless a parent has lived with same-sex attraction (SSA), it’s not possible to fully understand how much inner turmoil, isolation, fear of loneliness and rejection their child has painfully borne. He will know your love is genuine by your attempt to understand what his experience has been — without dialog, interruption, or condemnation.

Preaching about the immorality of homosexual acts has rarely, if ever, changed a person’s mind. If you are a devout Catholic, he may fear that your first response will be to tell him that this will lead him to hell. Hearing such language will usually lead him away from you and the Church. It will lead him to embrace a community that will affirm him in his newly claimed identity and confirm in his mind what others say: that you and the Church are bigots to be ignored.

Before urging a son or daughter to seek the path of truth, educate yourself, listen to others who’ve trod this path before, and seek support. EnCourage, the family support arm of the Courage apostolate, is the best place to find help. Support is vital!

Realize that God has allowed this in your life and your child’s life for your collective sanctification. Complete trust in God’s Providence can often become difficult when a child comes out. Father John Harvey, founder of the Courage apostolate, stressed that the most difficult virtue to acquire is “willing acceptance of the permissive will of God.” God allowed SSA in my life as the path that revealed my complete need for Him. So too, I am convinced, with anyone who lives with SSA. For parents, their child’s SSA is a means by which God invites them to total abandonment to Divine Providence. Remember that God works all things for good (Rom 8:28).

God wants you to be more concerned with your growth in sanctity than he wants you to be concerned with your child’s growth in sanctity. The more we are faithful to Christ and the teachings of his Church, the more effective instruments we will be in his hands for the spiritual good of others. Ask the Holy Spirit for an increase in the gifts of wisdom, understanding and right judgment/good counsel. Offer the merits of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for your child’s deliverance and well-being.

The greatest means of bringing about your child’s salvation is through the gift of redemptive suffering. In the beautiful paradox that is always present in God’s redemption, that which is the most painful in our lives becomes that which ultimately leads to the most joyous outcome. For example, through redemptive suffering, pain caused by a child’s choices becomes the very means by which a parent can love him with a Christ-like love and ultimately help bring him back to his Father’s house.

“Do not despair, for we are an Easter people, and Hallelujah is our song.” Refuse to live in the twin regions of despair — the past and the future. Christ wisely tells us to live in the present, for today is the only place where peace is found and where grace is available to us. Take an honest inventory of your relationship with your child, and seek forgiveness for past shortcomings. But avoid regret or assuming blame for your child’s SSA. Likewise, banish all imagined fears that reside in the unknown future.

Always live with hope. Saint Monica’s answered prayers for St. Augustine should give parents hope. Oscar Wilde’s deathbed conversion should inspire hope as well. I am certain that his salvation was brought about by his mother’s insistence that he be baptized Catholic and by her continuous prayers for her son.

Finally, and most importantly, wait on the Lord. Allow God to act in his way and, in “the fullness of time,” wait with “joyful hope” and excited anticipation for the moment when God reveals his salvific power in your child’s life.

For further support, visit the Courage apostolate’s website: CourageRC.net

DANIEL MATTSON lives in the Midwest where he has a career in the arts. He has written for numerous publications, including First Things. He is occasionally invited to give his personal testimony to groups across the country.

Sexual ‘disorientation’

Dr. John Haas writes that homosexuality is not actually an ‘orientation’ . . .

Dr. John Haas

Activists working for the social acceptance of homosexual activity and lifestyles know the power of words. For a while, they chose to refer to the psychological phenomenon of “same-sex sexual attraction” as “sexual preference.” After all, in a society in which unrestrained “choice” is the highest good, “sexual preference” seemed an acceptable term for those attracted to their own sex.

Lately, these activists have taken another approach to the issue that denies the element of choice. Their new claim is that that those who experience “same-sex attraction” (SSA) are “made” that way. This approach prefers the term “sexual orientation.” In a most profound way, however, it’s incorrect to refer to SSA as an “orientation.” Orientation has the original meaning of being ordered toward “the East” (Orient). Early Christians prayed toward the East because Jesus was understood to be the “Sun of Righteousness,” arising in the East. Christians adopted the practice of building churches to face East with the altar in the eastern portion of the building.

To this day, when a priest celebrates Mass facing the altar, he assumes the “eastward” position (he is praying ad orientem), regardless of the direction he may actually be facing. “Orientation” means to be properly ordered, directed toward the East, the place of our salvation, the “axis” around which all else is ordered. So when the term “orientation” is applied to sexual attraction, it refers properly only to heterosexual attraction, the only sexual attraction ordered in the right direction. A homosexual attraction is properly termed a “disorientation,” since the attraction is toward an inappropriate “object” or person.

In 1975, the Vatican issued a Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics and noted that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered.” Regrettably, it’s toward those very acts that a homosexual person feels drawn. Consequently, the attraction or tendency is itself disordered. “Homosexual relations are acts which lack an essential and indispensable finality,” the document said. In other words, the act itself has no proper final goal. God created the sex drive to draw husband and wife to one another so that, through their expressions of self-giving love, children could be engendered and the family established. Homosexual acts, on the other hand, are always sterile.

In 1986, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued a Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons. The letter points out that some had come to think that the homosexual condition itself was “neutral or even good.” But Cardinal Ratzinger went on to say that, even though the particular inclination of a homosexual person may not be a sin, nonetheless “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.”

Holy See documents dealing with this issue usually refer to the homosexual “condition,” “disposition” or “tendency.” In 1992, Cardinal Ratzinger issued a letter indicating that it’s appropriate to exclude homosexual persons from the military, from adopting children, and from employment as teachers or athletic coaches. In that letter, he refers to “sexual orientation.” He puts the expression in quotation marks as a way of indicating that he is acknowledging the use of the terminology in the current debates, but that it’s not truly a correct use of the term.

There are many reasons why people suffer from SSA disorder. Some “discover” this tendency within them. Others grow into it through pursuits of pleasure or experimentation. Some use it to punish themselves or others. Whether the disorder has some deep, unknown roots over which one has virtually no control, or whether it’s a developed disorder resulting from bad choices, it leaves an individual disposed toward activities and a lifestyle that are dangerous — physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Fortunately there is hope for those who suffer from the disorder. The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality reports that significant numbers of homosexual persons have undergone treatment and had their sexual drives properly ordered. These findings are a beacon of hope to those suffering from SSA, as well as for their family and friends who desire their happiness and good health. Finally, for those who for whatever reason cannot be cured, there is a support group known as Courage to help them live safe, moral, chaste lives. Those who continue to suffer from this disorder can find true help through an orientation toward their Savior and Redeemer, “the Orient from on High,” and the life that He offers them in Himself.

John M. Haas, Ph.D., is president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center and founding president of the International Institute for Culture. He is a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.