Spirituality for Today – April 2016 – Volume 20, Issue 9


Rev. Raymond Petrucci

A photo of a canvas rainbow

Way back when, the most common acronym heard in the media was LSMFT (Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco). For some time now, the acronym LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, and Transgender) has attained that status. One year ago, the state of Indiana was embroiled in turmoil over the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The original intent of similar laws throughout the country was to protect believers from discrimination in liturgical practice or outward display of personal religious symbols. The furor over the intent of the new law was over the right of business owners to refuse their services to gays in support of actions such as same sex marriage, i.e. an owner of a bakery refusing to make a wedding cake for a gay marriage celebration. In response to local, as well as national, protest in favor of gay-rights, politicians promised rapid modification of the law. The conservative Christian perspective was voiced in an article in Time Magazine by the senior editor at the American Conservative, Rod Dreher, "America has changed on homosexuality – for the better, in most cases… But it is an open question whether the country can afford the scorched-earth policy of the left's culture warriors. Is it really the case that 33% of the American people are Jim Crow bigots because of their sincerely held principles – principles that were nearly universal only a generation ago? As a practical matter, is it really necessary for the new majority, which has decisively won the culture, to drive religious dissenters out of the public square as pariahs?" In my opinion, the struggle between Religious Freedom and Gay Rights seemed to be out of place. I can't represent the stand of every denomination or religion on this topic, but I do feel that the Catholic Church has been ill-used in the debate.

In 2006, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a pastoral letter that the homosexual 'must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity… It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church's pastors wherever it occurs." The Church teaches that homosexuality itself is not to be considered sinful, but homosexual acts are contrary to natural law. The foundation of the objection by the Church to homosexual acts is based on the understanding of God's plan for sexuality and the twofold ends of marriage: the good of the spouses and the transmission of life. The letter states that there is no scientific consensus about homosexuality as being a matter of nature or nurture. The Church, therefore, sees no degradation of the homosexual as a child of God, but expresses the expectation that the homosexual is required to live a chaste life.

If homosexuality is an accident of birth, it has been argued that God has created the person with this same-sex inclination and, thus, homosexuality must find a place within the teaching concerning natural law. As mentioned above, no scientific consensus on the issue has been reached. If I were a homosexual, how would I feel about the Church's teaching? I like to think that intellectually I would grasp the sexual –procreative– aspect of sex would be frustrated by the same-sex orientation. From the emotional perspective, I would appreciate the daunting nature of living a chaste life. There can be no question that the pastoral care of a devoted Catholic homosexual requires a most sincere and a most compassionate spiritual sensitivity. The person, unquestionably and unremittingly, is a full member of the People of God. Wrestling with the matter of marriage, I imagine, will not cease being a difficult and heart-wrenching question. Although the Church's teaching regarding sexual morality remains steadfast, often clergy and families have had to tolerate fornication and co-habitation as a norm among the young. It is a messy situation. Both spiritual and common sense, I truly believe, support the Church's teachings, but we are obliged to delicately and sensitively express a loving response in this area.