It is time for some intellectual honesty in dealings between Christians, in this post particularly Roman Catholics, and gays.
Today there crossed my timeline a superficially nice post by a gay-friendly Jesuit priest who wished to remind his followers that the Catechism of the Catholic Church requires its followers (a happily diminishing group of people) that persons orientated to the same sex are to be treated with respect. I welcome anyone encouraging that attitude, but anyone who thinks that that admonition renders the Church of Rome gay-friendly or thinks that it is intellectually compatible to be a non-celibate gay person (even one in a monogamous relationship like me) or a gay friendly liberal person of whatever sexuality and a committed Catholic really does need to brush up on their techniques of rational analysis.
The catechism (I have read it so you do not have to, as Ben Summerskill used to say about the Daily Mail) does indeed say
The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. .. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.
That is nice – and respect, compassion and sensitivity are always welcome. I am not convinced that the church has lived up to that requirement over the years, especially so far as discrimination is concerned:-
- It was a vicious campaigner against the discrimination law and closed or disaffiliated from its adoption agencies because that law rightly forced them not to discriminate between gay and straight couples.
- It demands massive exemptions from the discrimination law to enable it to teach anti gay doctrine in its schools and to hire only people who are in sympathy with that doctrine
- On the last visit of a pope to the UK the holder of that office ranted against our equality legislation – in Westminster Hall of all places, not that the location of his rant is significant
- In Great Britain another vicious campaign against same sex marriage was conducted, including offensive and demeaning letters being read out at services, complete with post cards for the congregants to fill in opposing it
- One could go on
Now is that consistent with what I have quoted above?
Of course not. And that is because what so called liberal Catholics quote from the Catechism is not all the catechism has to say about people like me. Here are the relevant paragraphs in full.
2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
2358 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.
2359 Homosexual persons are 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.
That is a piece of fine old fashioned hate speech. Notwithstanding the use of words like “compassion” and “respect” they view ordinary gay physical expression as gravely depraved and intrinsically disordered – effectively as an illness. The physical relationship of a gay couple, even within marriage or some form of exclusive union, is “not genuinely affective” and can under no circumstances be approved. I am not sure I can think of a more offensive suggestion than that the physical expression of a gay couple’s love for each other, in marriage or outside it, is never a genuinely affective act.
And that is consistent with the political acts of the Roman church across the world. The level of hypocrisy which a minority of believers, against all the evidence both from the church’s fundamental doctrinal documents and its record in the public sphere.
I ma sure that liberal Catholics (and indeed liberals in other Christian denominations) who like to consider themselves as gay friendly are nice people and I would rather have liberal catholics than orthodox ones. But the former are deluding themselves if they think the church is going to change its attitude to gay people any time soon. And worse, by their continued membership of the church , by their contribution financially to the institution, they are actively complicit in the church’s intense campaign against the rights of people like me. Or to put it more shortly they are hypocrites.
Could they please stop trying to square an intellectual circle. read the extracts above and realise it cannot be done honestly. And as for gay Catholics, words fail me.
1. As is obvious, I write this as a personal opinion.
2. There are other denominations across the world which pose an equal threat to gay people. In Great Britain I happen to view the Catholic church as our main enemy; in Northern Ireland and in many other parts of the world there are greater enemies.