Interesting Letter from a Celibate Gay Reader

A reader writes:

I started to comment on your blog, but I doubted you replied to every single message addressed to you. Further, in my experience with blogging, the com-boxes often degenerate into an unChristian war zone. So, I felt it best not to make my comment there, especially given the nature of what I’d be writing and my experience in dealing with other Christians on this topic.

I often read your blog posts, which usually appears in my Facebook feed. I greatly appreciate that there is a right-leaning Catholic voice that gives me a glimmer of hope that the future of conservatism need not be a diagnosable cognitive disorder.

Of course, I, myself am not conservative. I strongly lean to the left. Though, I am foremost a Catholic. I also happen to be gay and celibate.

You seem to have implicitly asserted there is a problem with the Boy Scouts changing their policy, and perhaps, repealing DADT. I, for the life of me, cannot understand these positions. I can appreciate there are drawbacks and unintended consequences of introducing matters that are not related to scouting or national defense. But these may give pause; they do not change my thinking.

Perhaps I am biased. But when a gay person, prior to the repeal of the DADT, could serve in the military and be discharged not for a sexual act, but the mere knowledge of their orientation being known, it seems unjust. It is my understanding that sexual activity by anyone, regardless of orientation, is (rightly) grounds for discharge, and that is the policy with DADT repealed. Whereas before, the policy even allowed knowledge of a homosexual orientation, even not acted upon, to be grounds for dismissal. Catholic dismay over the repeal of DADT, I have always found demoralizing, not simply because people opposed it, but no one was seriously trying to find a workable solution that dealt with their concerns, but was respectful to gays serving in uniform. No one wanted to upset “conservative” orthodoxy.

Similarly, it is my understanding that the knowledge that some young men are homosexual have prevented them from advancing in Boy Scouts. I see this is in a similar like. If homosexual acts are involved, my opinion is similar. But if someone happens to be a homosexual, I do not see why knowledge of this must be accompanied by negative consequences. And, similarly, I have not seen similar efforts to find a workable solution. Just a similar situation to DADT in that it was very politicized with the same battle lines drawn.

These two issues are often talked about in two ways. First, no one was a “right” to serve in the military. The primary goal is national defense and, it is said, it is the prerogative of military leaders to discriminate in anyway that keeps up safe. Secondly, Boy Scouts is a private organization, which is accorded the rights to make up rules as they see fit. If you don’t like those rules, it is said, don’t join or start another organization.

These are typical conservative arguments. But, to me, they miss the point. As a Catholic, and even more so, as someone who is gay, I see just another symptom of the pastoral failure toward homosexuals.

I see this is just another instance in which homosexuals are shut out, unless they are closeted and are lying about who they are. Sure, we are not reducible to our sexuality. We are living images of God. But, believe me, I speak from experience. It is very, very difficult when you are growing up as a gay teen and same-sex peers are always talking about the opposite sex, relationships, and such things, and it not to come out either by confession, or by inference from your silence or awkwardness in such situations, that you are gay. The only other way requires great acting skills or lying. And many, like me, decided that integrity and not lying was the high road.

So, I empathize deeply, when someone decides to join the military, or at the behest of their parents, ignorant of their child’s sexuality, they start scouting, and they feel they have to lie in order to excel. And what’s worse is that if that if their secret is ever discovered, it can mean punishment, and exclusion; and this is backed by Christians. I just don’t understand it. These are our brothers and sisters, many of whom are Christ’s lost sheep. We can’t make the truth less hard, but I feel that too many Catholics are making stumbling blocks that need not be.

I’m sorry for the rambling thoughts. But I thought I should share with you a different perspective because you seem, at least, in your writing to be a reasonable man, and sympathetic to the plight of homosexuals.

P.S. I wrote this years ago, conveying my thoughts on being gay and Catholic, and converting to the faith despite (in my opinion) great pastoral failures. I hope it gives it perspective.

I would particularly be interested in hearing from other celibate gay Catholics.  Would you agree/disagree on his critique of the pastoral failure of the Church (meaning, mainly, the rest of us straight Catholics)?  If so, what could be done better to support SSA Catholics trying to live the Life?

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  • Sally Wilkins

    Very thoughtful and thought-provoking. How do we become a place where individuals are loved and valued as children of God regardless of their “accidents” (in the theological sense) – skin color, physical/intellectual ability, gender and sexual orientation . . . – if “in Christ there is no longer slave nor free, male nor female, Greek nor Jew” then how do we overcome that very human tendency to relate to the accidents instead of the substance of a person?

    • When Rene Descartes has been drawn, quartered, beheaded, and his remains placed on a pike outside Blackfriars. Only then will we be able to make the kind of philosophical distinctions that would make your project anything more than an exercise in politics.

    • johnnysc

      We have an example from Jesus….

      And Jesus said to her, I will not condemn thee either (compassion). Go, and do not sin again henceforward. (conversion)

      The problem is people only want to focus on the first part. Jesus called sin a sin. Out of love btw.

  • Andy

    Let me begin by saying I am not gay – I am married with three children, a new grandchild and a wife who puts up with me daily – her cross to bear. I am also the chair of our pastoral council, and if anyone has a few prayers to offer up for support in this endeavor please do so. But I think I can share an event that might be helpful.

    In that position I was approached by a group of young people who wanted to know what our parish was doing to reach out to the gays who were Catholic. I asked why and they told me quite bluntly that two of their friends were gay and that they felt unwelcome in the any of the churches in our parish. I said I would look into it and see what we could do. I feel strongly that no person should feel
    unwelcome in the Catholic Church –we are all sinners and all in need of

    Being the person that I am, my wife would say stubborn and pushy at times I privately approached our pastor and his associate pastor (we are a large enough newly formed parish – from 6 separate parishes we now have three worship sites and two priests).

    The response I received was at best shocking, more appropriately it explained why these two individuals do not feel welcome. The pastor said “Why bother, all they want to do is find new partners”. The associate said, “I don’t have the time to work with those people, doing the work of the parish”. Let me say that both of these men appear compassionate and caring.

    I think that what this reflects is ignorance on their part. They do not, elect not, don’ want to know the how the majority of people who are gay feel. In the linked article the author talks about that eloquently. He puts into perspective the pain that many gay people feel, the need to hide who they are and the like. These two priests, a limited sample I know, seemed to explain why the pain is there.

    It is not enough for the church to say that gays should be treated with dignity, the dignity due a child of God. They have to prepare the ministers of the church to lead the way. This does not mean embracing homosexuality as a legitimate form of sexual expression. It does mean embracing those who struggle with this in the same way they, the ministers would embrace a person who struggles with infidelity. If the priests and ministers of the church cannot do this then where are the role models for the rest of us?

    My two cents – if they are worth that much. This event happened just a couple of months ago and I have been cogitating, my wife says obsessing, about how to respond. Any ideas would be helpful. I should add that I am a college professor in a small college and encounter students wrestling with their sexuality and all other manner of issues, so that hearing that in that group of young people two were gay I was not shocked. In fact that is why they felt they could talk to me.


      I am not Catholic but I do understand much of the doctrine. Outside of the praying to dead people and a leader that is supposedly perfect, our fundamental views are not that far apart.

      Your statement ” I feel strongly that no person should feel unwelcome in the Catholic Church –we are all sinners and all in need of support.” is 100% spot on. But the flaw in your thinking is that these people want to step away from their sin and be healed by the power of Christ. On the contrary, they want total validation that their life choices are godly and God pleasing. They want to teach Sunday School with their gay life partner. Though it sounds like your priests may have been harsh, they know that the majority of these people do not think they are doing anything wrong.

      The church is not there to validate their sin. It is there to point it out and show them the path to redemption and Grace in a loving manner. If a gay person walks into a Catholic church and confesses to the priest that they want to be delivered from this sinful lifestyle, they will be welcome I am certain or then “shame on the church”. The main disconnect I see in almost all gay/church arguments is the lack of understanding between repentant and unrepentant sin. If one’s idea of loving support to the gay community is to condone their behavior then one is doing Satan’s mission, not God’s. All the prince of darkness has to do to win a soul is convince someone what they are doing is ok.

      Remember as Jesus was eating with prostitutes and crooked tax collectors, he did not tell them that they were just born that way and all was ok. No…he used phrases like “go and sin no more”.

      • Stu

        Outside of the praying to dead people and a leader that is supposedly perfect, our fundamental views are not that far apart.

        Just to clarify. While indeed people to do “die,” to a Catholic someone in Heaven or Purgatory is “alive” just like you and I. Further, Catholics do not believe that the Pope is “perfect.” We believe that the Office of the Pope is protected by the Holy Spirit from making error when it comes to matters of teaching in faith and morals. And even this is limited.

        • Nan

          I think that “perfect” thing is a misunderstanding of papal infallibility. To the best of my recollection, the last infallible statement was Pope Pius XII and the Immaculate Conception in 1958.

      • Momof11

        #1 Catholics do not pray to dead people. Saints are those the Church has declared are surely in heaven. This is eternal life. They are in the presence of God. We ask them to put in a good word for us. #2 the Pope is not perfect, rather any declarations he makes on matters of Faith or Morals from the chair, are infallible. Offhand comments to the press might contain error. He does not pronounce scientific theories.

        Remember, before Jesus told the tax collectors and prostitutes to “go and sin no more” he first welcomed them into his presence or accepted their invitation to be with them. We must welcome all sinners but firmly teach the truth and call for repentance. And we must clearly keep in mind that same sex attraction is not the sin…acting on it is. Opposite sex attraction is not a sin unless it descends into lust or sexual activity outside of the bond of marriage. Lumping all people with same sex attraction into the “sinners” group is wrong. Many have accepted their sexual attractions as a cross and seek to live a chaste life. We have support groups for alcoholics, over eaters and other things and do not denigrate a person for joining one if they need it. Perhaps the reason we are so harsh on the issue of same sex attraction is that we all know how difficult it is to remain chaste. Perhaps many would rather not deal with helping those with same sex attraction to live a life of chastity, because they might be forced to deal with their own unchastity….contraception, pornography, lust. For too many years all matters sexual have been not addressed and taught, not just homosexuality. It is an uncomfortable subject because it is so essential to who we are.


          When an SSA person makes a choice to be celibate, that is a huge thing and God is most certainly working in his/her life. I am an alcoholic in recovery and I get that. But if I started drinking again and the behavior started taking me down dark paths, my salvation (much less my “church membership”) are in jeopardy. Someone has to stand up for what is right and if the churches won’t then who will? Aside from the gay person wanting to be in the church….what about the children already there? I do not want a gay couple teaching Sunday School to my children. I am not saying that they are in danger physically but what how are they being indoctrinated? What message would this send? The church has a responsibility to all its parishioners.

          The liberal churches that are “welcoming” include the Episcopal church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), United Church of Christ and a few others. Unfortunately, these churches have gay clergy that are not required to be celibate, they perform same sex marriages..etc. Nowhere in their doctrine do they denounce the sin. In addition, modern Judaism accepts this behavior as normal which puzzles me since much of scripture condemning this comes from the Old Testament.

          • I don’t want anybody who is not a faithful Catholic to be teaching Sunday school. The power of example is great. So I am confused at your meaning of what a faithful Catholic gay couple would even be. What do you mean by that?

      • Andy

        I was not suggesting that the. Catholic Church change what it teaches. I feel that many priests do not comprehend SSA, and so dismiss those with SSA, as what is often portrayed in the rd, meda broadly speaking. Welcoming a person does not mean acceptance, it means all are welcome here, it means helping folks recognize that Jesus is there to help them with their burden. Where you got the idea I was talking about condoning s beyond me.
        I know of no Catholics who pray to dead people. As far as the pope being perfect I know they are not and those who I have read would say that they are indeed imperfect. If you believe Wat you stated about the Catholic faith then we are far apart.


          My first three lines concerning protestant/catholic differences was meant purely in a lighthearted sense as an ice-breaker but unfortunately that seemed to dominate most of the responses which took away from the topic at hand so…lesson learned on my part.

          Now I was not suggesting that YOU thought that one should condone the behavior and I apologize for that. What I got out of:

          “I asked why and they told me quite bluntly that two of their friends were gay and that they felt unwelcome in the any of the churches in our parish. I said I would look into it and see what we could do.”

          was that it the parishioners did not say “I have gay catholic friends and they really want to repent and they want God’s loving hand to restore them because they know what they are doing is wrong.” I would bet a month’s pay they just want to attend church and be and act gay and have no one question their behavior…or more accurately…to celebrate it.

          If a man and woman parishioners started living out of wedlock (another example of unrepentant sin) my church and yours would ex-commiunicate them. They will not be able to partake in the sacraments, would not be able to serve in church service positions, etc. They might begin to feel a little unwelcome. However, when they have ceased the behavior, repented, and asked forgiveness, they would be welcomed back with open arms.

          • Andy

            Repentance comes when one feels welcome – Jesus dined with the sinners and did not attack them or make them feel unwelcome. Counsel them He did, admonish them He did, but before that he made them aware that he welcomed them. I have no idea if these two young people want to “:act gay” whatever the hell that means, or have their behavior celebrated. It is those judgments that drive folks with SSA away from Christ and God, because we are his representatives. Your aspersion does you little credit. I do know that folks living out of wedlock are not able to receive the sacraments, but they are welcome to attend mass. Again with the idea that repentance is possible. However, this post is not about living out of wedlock, it is about feeling welcome in the Catholic Church.

            • Stu

              How do you define “feeling welcome?”

              He did say, “They will not be able to partake in the sacraments, would not be able to serve in church service positions, etc. They might begin to feel a little unwelcome.”

              • Andy

                I define welcome as people responding with a smile and warm greetings. I define welcome as knowing that although I am a sinner I can find solace in the mass. I do not define welcome based on church service. I do not define welcome based on partaking of the sacraments, I welcome you to mass, but because of your sin you cannot partake of communion. Sort of like a host saying to someone known to be diabetic, this desert will not be good for you.

                • Stu

                  Understand and agree. I don’t think he said anything to the contrary of that.

            • CONVCHRISTIAN

              No. Repentance comes when the Holy Spirit has worked in one’s heart to overcome the lies the evil one has put there. One can be loving, yet clear and firm. We do it with our children. It’s a tough balance. It is not so much actually condoning the act as you stated I agree. But the “appearance” of condoning the act is just as bad and that is where it can get squishy.

              The nice smile and warm hello, though well intended, will be quickly forgotten when you (and rightly so) or your priest tell the life-long catholic their unrepentant sin is causing them to be denied the sacraments.

              • Stu

                “The nice smile and warm hello, though well intended, will be quickly forgotten when you (and rightly so) or your priest tell the life-long catholic their unrepentant sin is causing them to be denied the sacraments.”

                Maybe or maybe not. If it doesn’t great. If it does, then so be it. But making the proper approach is about “us” not “them.”

              • Andy

                Repentance comes with a changed heart, I agree, but a changed heart must be nourished, it must be supported. I can see no way for a changed heart in one person, when others have closed hearts. The Holy Spirit does indeed change hearts, both through internal actions and with our support externally, we at th body of Christ and must work to support one another.
                A warm greeting may be forgotten, that is true, but a lecture on one’s sinfulness will drive a person away. Again I did not say confront and instruct, but as a teacher I know that if I want to be heard by those I am instructing I had better know where they are at, and begin there. I also know that if I do it in a welcoming fashion, one that says I am here to help we get a lot further. Harping and attacking become so off-putting that the message is lost

                • Stu

                  “A warm greeting may be forgotten, that is true, but a lecture on one’s sinfulness will drive a person away.”
                  That is where I see a false dichotomy. We must have charity and truth both. “How you say it” is certainly important (charity) but it (truth) has to be said.

                  • Andy

                    I am talking about the method of delivery, not the message. An honest response can be delivered in a fashion that reduces resistance and enhances understanding. The meat of the message must follow what the church teaches, but it needn’t be so harsh that all that is heard is the tone.

                    • Stu


                    • I love you and would like you to escape the likelihood of Hell tends to work for me.

              • I think that unwelcome is, in large part, singling out one sin as worse than another. We have a long way to go before we re-establish a coherent policy on the eucharist, something Pope Francis has mentioned. If we’re letting some mortal sins slide and going full force on others, those who are suffering under the full force approach may feel singled out and unwelcome. For those who do not think this is a problem, I have two words for your contemplation, Nancy Pelosi. After you’ve done that, here are two more, Joe Biden.

                Consistency and coherence and impartiality in approach, whether in praise or call for repentance I think is a sustainable style faithful to Jesus’ teaching. Playing favorites on sins does nobody any favors.

          • Marsha

            Even if they want to be openly gay wouldn’t the loving thing be to reach out to them where they are, get to know them, and then witness to them through actions. Instead the message being sent is you’re not welcome here although the Church is a hospital for sinners.

            The Catholic Church does not excommunicate the parishioner living out of wedlock or the homosexual. Until one repents one should refrain from receiving Holy Communion, but not receiving the sacraments does not mean one is excommunicated and is always welcomed at all parish is events. Being welcome at the events and getting to know the pastor in his role as minister to parishioners has been the biggest turning point for many people. Our duty is to witness in love to all sinners regardless of the sin and this can be done without condoning the sin.

            *** For clarification, this last paragraph is clarifying Catholic teachings and is not an attack the CONVCHRISTIAN’s faith practices. Each denominations has different ways of handling sinners and I am not weighing in on their practices. 7/6/2013

            • Stu

              Seems to me that asking unrepentant sinners to no partake of Communion is a form of excommunication. It’s just not formalized.

              • Marsha

                It isn’t excommunication according to the teachings of the Church. Excommunication is a decision made by the Church after counseling a person on multiple occasions and the person remains steadfast in public sin. Refraining from receiving Holy Communion due to a sinful state is a personal decision one makes until one is prepared to repent. If refraining from receiving Holy Communion was excommunication then every person that ever committed a sin has been excommunicated and this is not so. Homosexuality, unless one is a politician or other public figure who flaunts their homosexuality, is not a public sin.

                • Stu

                  Yes, I don’t disagree. Perhaps I should have put “excommunication” in quotes.

                  Regardless,INSTRUCTING people to not receive Communion, what in essence are you telling them? And that is my point all along. We are talking about degrees of separation.

                  As to every person committing a mortal sin not being “excommunicated.” While not formally excommunicated, you have severed your relationship with God in a sense. Again, we are talking degrees and formalization.

                  • Marsha

                    I disagree and the catechism disagrees with you that this is excommunication in any form. Words have precise words that must be used correctly. Excommunication has a very specific definition and your definition is not the Church’s definition.

                    • Stu

                      You did reflect on the use of “quotes,” didn’t you? There is a larger point I am making beyond the exact definition. But indeed, words do mean things. Notice how “Communion” and “ExCOMMUNICATE” have the same roots.

                    • Marsha

                      I did reflect on the use, but I still disagree with you in the use of this word with or without quotes. We should not be using this term incorrectly as it is has a very specific definition given by the Church. Requesting someone refrain from receiving Holy Communion, withholding Holy Communion or willing refraining from receiving are NOT forms of excommunication as the term is used by the Church. The Church decides this definition not us.

                    • Stu

                      I think your are missing the point for the sake of legalism.

                    • Marsha

                      I’m not missing the point; I disagree. You’re the one trying to rewrite Canon Law and precise terms to fit your usage.

                    • Stu

                      Nonsense. That actually made me laugh.

                    • Marsha

                      And I’ve been laughing for a long time now over this entire thread.

                    • Stu


                  • Marsha

                    As for what does instructing someone not to receiving communion mean in essence, it means your soul is in danger due to your actions and you need to repent and I love you enough to warn you about this.

                    Excommunication has a much deeper meaning although it too is done in charity to promote repentance.

                    • Stu

                      It also tells them that they should not “Communicate.”

                  • Unworthily taking communion sends you to Hell. How can you, in charity, not instruct them?

                    • Stu

                      I don’t think you meant that for me. Or maybe you did and read me wrong.

                      I certainly agree that we should instruct those in a state of mortal sin to not receive unworthily and risk hellfire.

                    • I read the following “Regardless,INSTRUCTING people to not receive Communion, what in essence are you telling them? And that is my point all along. We are talking about degrees of separation.” and disagreed. I think you wrote this.

                    • Stu

                      I did. And in context of the discussion my point is that in doing so, we are telling them that their situation puts separation between them and God similar to formal excommunication. (Same thing applies if I am in a state of mortal sin.)

                      Again, I’m responding to someone who takes someone to task because their Church “excommunicates” homosexuals while we only ask them to refrain from Communion. I see it as a continuum in degrees of separation.

                    • Marsha


                      Are you Catholic?

                      I didn’t take anyone to task; I’ve simply disagreed and explained the formal definition of excommunication. When I didn’t see things your way I’ve been marked as a legalist which is not what this about. It is about using precise words as used by the Catholic Church when referring to the relationship homosexuals have with the Church.

                      As I’ve said before none of us are excommunicated or “excommunicated” from the Church when we are in a state of mortal sin, but you don’t want to understand what excommunication is truly about. The term excommunication, as used today, goes much deeper than the superficial definition you want to use.

                      I have not attacked or referenced the teachings or actions of other denominations/faiths.

                    • Stu

                      Marked as a legalist? No such thing occurred. What was actually said was, “I think your are missing the point for the sake of legalism.” And I believe this is indeed the case. You seem intent on trying to find disagreement in wanting to quibble over the legal definition of excommunication which I don’t dispute and have not disputed.

                      My point all along is that asking people to refrain from communion is like a form of “excommunication” in that we are asking them not to take part in the Sacrament or be part of the Communal Supper with us. It’s not a matter of a definition I want to use. Its a matter of realizing that there are degrees of separation that follow along a continuum of severity. It’s only int he end with actual excommunication that this separation is formalized by Holy Mother Church.

                      But in terms of “taking one to task,” given that was not your intent, then I apologize for the misread.

                    • Marsha


                      I guess, we’re just at a stand still here as this isn’t about legalism; I am coming at this from the view of Canon Law and I know several canon lawyers who fully agree with me that this a misuse of the term excommunication–with or without quotes. Due to the very precise meanings of certain words they simply cannot be use in an informal manner based solely on root meanings as the totality of their meanings have developed to have deeper meanings. You are using this word in a manner the Church does not. If you want to properly discuss one’s relationship with the Church it is important to ensure you use the proper terms to avoid confusion. If you take this as legalism, so be it, but it really isn’t; it is about being precise, clear, and accurately portraying the teachings of the Church.

                    • Stu

                      I’m not misusing the term excommunication. That’s why I said I should have put in quotes which denotes that you are using a word not exactly as it is intended. In a legalistic sense, indeed excommunication means something very specific. But in terms of asking someone to refrrain from the Sacrament, it is indeed “excommunication-like.” Further, a Bishop can take the next step of telling someone not to present themselves for Communion without actually formally excommunicating. All part of a continuum of separation.

                    • Marsha

                      According to the Church and Canon Law, yes you are. Without or without the use of your quotes–as I have noted repeatedly–it is not a step towards or form of excommunication as the term is used by the Church. You are describing a person’s relationship with the Church and should be using the proper terms the Church uses for the sake of clarity and precision.

                    • Stu

                      Oh, bollocks.

                      Get out of here.

                    • Sin creates separation between a human and God. Excommunication is a teaching punishment that is supposed to demonstrate why separation created by sin is a bad thing.

                    • Marsha

                      And it demonstrates separation from the Church. Separation from God is a private matter others are unaware of while excommunication is a public statement of separation from the Church.

                    • I think we’re approaching the same truth from different angles. That’s fine with me.

                    • Guest

                      Whatever; I thought I was agreeing with you.

                    • Peace, we are.

                    • Stu

                      Agree. All part of a continuum.

              • We ask that the catechumens, members of churches not in union with Rome, and the unbaptized do not partake of communion regardless of their actions. In the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, at the end of the liturgy of the word, there’s a section (often skipped over for brevity) where the priest literally says “All catechumens, depart. Depart, catechumens. All that are catechumens, depart. Let no catechumen remain. Let us, the faithful, again and again in peace pray unto the Lord.”

                That’s still not excommunication.

                • Stu

                  Yes. It’s not actually excommunication. We agree. There was a bigger point being made. While homosexuals are not formally excommunicated, those who the lifestyle are strongly encouraged not to receive. That is still a big deal and it does send a message. One that I am confident that for some is considered extreme.

                  So to take someone to task for their church “excommunicating” homosexuals but then remarking that “we only ask that they refrain from Communion” to me is like comparing degrees of sunburn.

                  • I’m not supposed to partake of communion if I wake up in the middle of the night and have a midnight snack at 1AM Sunday morning. When that’s in your rubrics, I think that it takes the sting out of not qualifying for communion for something like homosexual acts as you struggle with the issue.

                    • Nan

                      The current restriction is one hour prior to receiving communion. And if you need to eat for medical reasons, such as the guy with the bag of caramel corn who ate some right before communion at 5pm Mass, you’re fine. I felt like a dumbass for asking but better that than someone sins without realizing.

                    • Actually, the rubrics are not universal but vary by rite and can vary by eparchy (look up the rules for weekly liturgy in Saudi Arabia for example). You are correct to ask because the Church is bigger and more varied than most know.

                      My point is a familiar one in the East, partaking in communion is something that decent people will sometimes fail at. It is not good that you fail, but it can be understandable and the harder rubrics make it less stigmatizing when a more durable issue shows up.

                    • Nan

                      You misunderstood the reason for my asking; I asked so if there was no medical reason for eating before Communion and he was uncatechized or not Catholic, I could let him know not to receive.

                      I know the number of Churches in Communion with Rome and am in fact a Byzantine Rite Catholic.

                    • When I was a kid, we had the same 1 hour restriction. We then got our own eparchy (Romanian Byzantine Catholic) and the 2nd bishop reviewed and changed the rubrics for our eparchy to be more in line with prior practice. Go read Orientalium Ecclesiarium for a really nice, specific instruction for us byzantines.

                  • Nan

                    In order to receive communion, one must be a practicing Catholic in a state of grace. Receiving communion after committing a mortal sin, such as engaging in homosexual activity, is another sin. Note that skipping Mass without good reason is a mortal sin and that receiving communion isn’t a requirement.

      • Nancy Corniola-Widener

        Consvchristian: I can assure you that there have been NO Popes that are perfect! Certainly the Church does not teach that Popes are perfect! The Doctrine of Infallibility speaks only of the “teaching” when it comes from the Chair of Peter. It only says that there is no error in the teaching when it is given Ex Cathedra. This has nothing at all to do with the Pope himself and his sinfulness. With regard to praying to dead people….that’s a bit of oversimplification. In technical terms….we ask that these Saintly Souls “intercede” for us. You can’t tell me that you have never mentally “spoken” to a dead friend or relative and asked them to watch over you….even in jest. I’m willing to bet that you have.
        Let me just say that I agree with you 100% with regard to the fact that homosexuals are seeking validation and I think this is exactly what all this is about. I can understand the priests dilemma….to some, acceptance of the sinner is seen as acceptance of the sin. While we want to love all creatures of God (even in their sinful state) because that is what we are called to do….we must be very careful to not inadvertently give the illusion that we are accepting the sinful lifestyle.

    • You didn’t say rite but I’ll guess latin rite which generally means multiple liturgies every Sunday and more sites than priests. That’s a “one armed paper hanger” situation. They may just be overwhelmed and not willing to go outside of core duties for fear of losing more.

      I have seen this before.

      A different approach which I have used with success is to ask “for this type of outreach/support to be successful, what are the resources we would need?” to be followed up by “if I can gather up the resources on your shopping list, would you support the creation of the outreach/support?” At that point, you can generally discern whether you’re dealing with overloaded, busy priests or a deeper problem. If you’ve got the latter, much prayer will be needed and generally document things and watch your back. If it’s the easy case, then you have a shopping list and you just tick down the list and get every item on it, no shortcuts, keeping the priests up to date with progress so nothing is a surprise.

      The Lord moves in mysterious ways and if it’s His will, serendipity will surprise you. It has me.

      • Andy

        It is the Latin Rite, and there are multiple liturgies on Saturday and Sunday, between the two days 7. So I understand the overwhelmed part – it is at bet overwhelming especially since the worship sites are miles apart – the closest two being about 25 miles apart. Your idea of looking for the resources and offering to gather them is great. I am going to pursue that – I fear however, since this new parish is considered a “problem parish” because of its size and the multiplicity of cultures – a rural culture, a suburban culture and a small college town culture that it may be a deeper problem. But to continue with my stubborn nature I will pursue the resources. THank you for you support and idea.

        • To clarify, the bit about documenting and watching your back wasn’t aimed at different cultures clashing. It was aimed at the tragedy that the devil’s got hold of a priest and twisted him not to do the work of a shepherd.

          • Andy

            I realize that I was typing out loud about the way the new parish is set up and how we need to find a way to combine three really disparate cultures and that priests do not really want to work in our parish. In the past three years we have had three different pastors. In fact the reason I am Chair of the Pastoral Council (this is my fourth year as chair) is that the business manager and I are the longest serving members of the “leadership team” and our bishop asked me to serve again. I apologize if I gave the impression that you were writing about cultures clashing.

            • Nah, my last point is that you’re in a tough spot and I absolutely do not want to make things worse with sloppily worded advice. God bless and good luck. If there’s anything I could do to help, I would.

  • Rosemarie


    The repeal of DADT was never a big issue for me. I’ve long thought that, if the military ever had a good argument for excluding gays, it forfeited that when it began expanding the role of women about two decades ago. Having young women and men work beside each other in such close, extreme situations leads to myriad morale and discipline problems which could negatively impact unit cohesion. The military is apparently willing to endure that, so it can’t turn around and argue that gays should be excluded for the sake of unit cohesion.

    As for the Boy Scouts, I have no problem with them allowing SSA boys as such. If it weren’t for the suspicion that this is merely “the camel’s nose under the tent” for activists to ultimately bring about openly gay scout leaders, I’d be basically okay with it. Because of the latter, however, I have reservations about the matter.

    • Stu

      Allowing women in expanded roles has been a disaster. Our only saving grace is that as a nation and military we are so far advanced in our technology that it covers this weakness. Allowing open homosexuality will certainly follow in that path. Let’s be clear though on one point. It’s not that the “military is willing to endure it” but rather that the military was ordered to endure it. At that point, we salute and go about making it work even if it is the most asinine thing that a superior can come up with. Though admittedly the senior leadership within the services increasingly has no spine to push back on such madness.

      • Rosemarie


        True, it was forced on the military. Yet it still undercuts the argument against gays serving. FWIW, I’m more opposed to women in the military than to homosexual males, but that’s MHO.

        • Stu

          I agree with your overall point. Kind of like divorce doing more harm than the current “redefining” of marriage.

          • Rosemarie


            Right, and divorce was one of the things that damaged the Western understanding of marriage, leaving the West with no strong argument against extending the devalued commodity it calls “marriage” to same-sex couples. (I’m not saying there’s no strong argument against it, but that the West can no longer formulate one because it has lost a sense of what marriage truly is.)

            Similarly, expanding the role of women in the military has effectively changed the military in such ways that arguments against gays openly serving in the armed forces no longer make much sense.

            • Stu

              I think they still make sense. There is just a bigger elephant in the room.

            • Nan

              The west thinks that marriage is about celebrating sex. Not nurturing children and tying them to their natural parents.

      • Newp Ort

        Maybe you could come up with some evidence to support your assertions of disaster and madness?

        • Stu

          I lived it. Thanks for asking.

        • Stu

          BTW, I apologize for my overly glib answer. I strongly believe and can support my assertions but my answer to you should have been better.

          • Newp Ort

            Don’t sweat it Stu, no biggie; internet you know. Thanks.

            I hope you weren’t STUing over it all weekend. 🙂

  • Ken Crawford

    Thanks to the un-named reader who spent the time to write this thoughtful e-mail. I believe it will help advance the conversation.

    I think there are two things the author doesn’t appreciate (and I’d be happy to hear a thoughtful rebuttal):

    1. Generally the angst over the changes were not so much because of a support for the old (DADT/old boy scout policy) but a disagreement with the new. Yeah, it would be great if we could have changed the old to something better, but I think there was a pragmatic understanding that the best that could be done at the current time to advance the cause was to leave it as they were, even if they were imperfect.

    2. From what I’ve heard of actual cases of use of both policies, they weren’t used in a way that the author suggests. Yes, theoretically they could have been (see point #1) but really they were used very sparingly and then only to punish those with an agenda to push. I’m sure there was an exception or two, but generally, that’s what I’ve read.

    Thanks again to the author for a thoughtful piece.

    • Eric Brown


      I wrote the letter and appreciate your kind comments.

      Regarding your first point, I am well-aware that many conservatives of good-will believed that keeping imperfect policies was the best they could do. But, rhetorically, I never got the impression that many thought the DADT policy, for instance, was unjust at all or in anyway problematic.

      If a conservative would have said: “I support DADT as a policy, but, let’s see if we can amend it to give our military leaders room to make prudential decisions and be flexible in applying it on a case-by-case basis; so cases where only someone’s sexual orientation is revealed, but was not involved in any actual homosexual acts, and unit cohesion does not seem to be adversely affected,” many progressives would have balked, but I would have listened.

      This is the sort of voice I looked for and never found. People seemed to just line up behind the policy uncritically. I also recall a thundering silence when you had former Gov. Barbour saying absurd things like DADT needs to be re-instated, because in the split-second, life-or-death decisions, you don’t need “amorous” individuals risking the lives of others, i.e., in battle homosexuals are so overcome by lust for the opposite sex that they would not focus and get people killed.

      So, I appreciate that many felt as if were in a bind, but I don’t believe there was nothing that could be done.

      In regarding your second point, I’ve heard the opposite. This is not to say it was a universal problem, but it was enough of a problem to be a problem. And this is all the secularists and their media allies need. So, if there were decent solutions, these matters would have never been politicized. I don’t support politicizing things, but it unfortunately happens. So, in the case, for instance, involving a youth by the name of Ryan who came out to his family and friends, despite completing all the requirements, the local Scoutmaster refused to sign the official paperwork recognizing him as an Eagle Scout.

      As far as I am aware, there was no mention by his father (who I recall did the complaining) that he was actually in a relationship. So, similar to DADT, this was just a matter of sexual orientation being known. And my thoughts on this, I’ve already stated.

      I see this latter case as wholly different from gay scout leaders who are sexually active and public about it. I’d be much more inclined to side with conservatives in such a scenario.

      But I simply think that we should use common sense and not create stumbling blocks for Christ’s lost sheep with simplistic, knee-jerk reactions.

      • Eric Brown

        Minor correction: in the Barbour scenario, I clearly meant homosexuals supposedly lusting after the SAME sex during battle, not opposite..

        • Stu

          I don’t think that is absurd. Now that we have men and women on ship, you wouldn’t believe that places and instances where we have found them having sex.

          • Eric Brown

            Did you read the original reference? Barbour stated: ” Its over the fact that when you’re under fire and people are
            living and dying of split-second decisions you don’t need any kind of
            amorous mindset that can effect saving people’s lives and killing bad

            I find it absurd to imply that homosexuals are so given to an “amorous mindset” that as soldiers, they are incapable of saving lives and killing combatants, or even risking their comrades’ lives, because they are too busy lusting after other soldiers and not concerned that they are in a life-or-death situation. It is beyond absurd.

            I don’t doubt that there are a frightening amount of instances of sexual immorality in the military. I don’t oppose homosexuals being discharged for actual sexual acts; orientation is another matter. But to say that they are so depraved that they can’t function in battle is laughably stupid.

            • Stu

              I don’t find it absurd. I think heterosexuals can suffer from the same mindset as my point illustrated. Are homosexuals somehow more disciplined?

              • Eric Brown

                There are heterosexual men and woman who are lusting after each other during shoot outs and being killed and getting people killed?

                • Stu

                  Has it happened? I can’t say that for sure. Do I think it is possible in a certain situation. ABSOLUTELY.

                  When I was in country (Afghanistan) the “kids” were having sex all over the place. In fact, one of my buddies caught two of them engaged in the act while preflighting his FLIR on the flightline. There they were, just off the pavement in the dark going at it. So clearly they had no problem taking a break from their work on the flightline in combat operations for some “lust.”

            • Hieronymus_Illinensis

              Barbour may have had a different scenario in mind: where two soldiers have formed a “relationship” and, in battle, are concerned with protecting each other rather than the unit as a whole.

            • The phenomenon is as old as King David and Uriah which was a heterosexual manifestation of the problem. Who goes on point? Who does rear guard? Are people getting more than their even share of the dangerous jobs because they’re better at them or because there’s some romantic BS going on and disturbing the job assignment rotation?

              This is very hard to detect.

      • Stu

        If a conservative would have said: “I support DADT as a policy, but, let’s see if we can amend it to give our military leaders room to make prudential decisions and be flexible in applying it on a case-by-case basis; so cases where only someone’s sexual orientation is revealed, but was not involved in any actual homosexual acts, and unit cohesion does not seem to be adversely affected,” many progressives would have balked, but I would have listened.

        That is essentially what the policy was in practice. People generally know when someone suffers from SSA. As with adultery, it only becomes an issue when it affects the mission or day-to-day operations.

        • Dan

          That is essentially what the policy was in practice.

          I beg to differ, having experienced the military from the bottom end. There were two not-uncommon scenarios:

          1. DADT was, in fact, used to harass. I saw this also with the weight guidelines, which I saw being used to harass a bodybuilder who was also a decent athlete, but because of his muscle mass did not fit the height-weight guidelines.

          2. DADT was used as a “get out of the military” card by soldiers who AFAIK were not gay. (I also knew of women who got pregnant in order to get out of their obligation.)

          • Stu

            I can only speak from my general experience as a senior officer. I knew of homosexuals in the ranks (and it wasn’t a big secret). As with adultery, action was almost always taken when it became an issue that affected the mission or morale such as the individual is more than open about his homosexual activities or another individual being caught in the barracks with another individual in a very compromising position.

            As with the fitness guidelines, there are always zealots. But I’m confident that my outlook was the norm. Most commanders would prefer not to have to bring such things up as it is a giant red ass.

            The new policy will bring about lots of unintended and bad consequences. For instance, there is nothing that precludes a homosexual couple from shacking up together as roommates in the barracks. Will this now be allowed for heterosexual couples? The transgendered crowd is still not allowed to serve. Is this “fair” given the repeal of DADT? Serving in the military is not a “right” nor should it be. It’s about putting together the most efficient team to carry out violence on the enemy. More and more, we just see it as another job.

            • Nan

              What about the allegations that this is a license for man on man rape?

        • Eric Brown

          I respectfully disagree that this was in fact the practice. I don’t think 114,000 discharges reflected the sentiment I stated above. This is certainly the case where facing a shortage of those fluent in foreign tongues, the military was discharging gay servicemen fluent in Arabic and Farsi.

          • Stu

            That number is an estimate since WWII. That’s really not that many.

      • Rosemarie


        The “prudential decision” thing makes sense to me. As long as they are discreet and not causing problems for the unit why bother discharging them? That might have been the better way to go.

  • missmissy68

    I’m going to put my thoughts here, but will admit that I am coming from a completely different viewpoint. We are all made in the image & likeness of God, but we all fall short because we’re born with original sin. Every single person has a proclivity to sin, and, I believe, that every single person has a major sin that they always wrestle with. Say my major sin is the desire to steal. I feel like I always want to steal and I am always wrestling with jealousy & envy and I can think of a million different ways to make my life better if I could just forge some checks, or counterfeit money, or break into a store, or someone’s car. Thievery just happens to be not politically correct these days the way lust is. The problem, as I see it, with the homosexual movement, is that I’m not going around gathering up fellow thieves and marching about why we should be able to come out. I’m not dancing in the streets with my wares, yelling that everyone else should just get on the bandwagon. I’m not forming groups forcing the government to subsidize my lifestyle. I’m not desecrating churches or abusing priests because they won’t accept “who I am.” I’m not suing people & their businesses because they won’t let me take the stuff they have for sale. In my mind, there’s no difference between lust & thievery (or any of the other commandments). Aren’t both sinners trying to live a life of trying to follow what God wants? He wants single people to be celibate & He wants me to not steal. Why do gays need extra recognition and acceptance? If I joined a group, like the scouts, and they caught me stealing, I’d get kicked out. They aren’t going to change all their rules to accept me, and they shouldn’t. A person isn’t defined by who they happen to have the desire to sleep with (although popular culture/society wants to define you that way). I’m not defined by the fact that I might want to steal. We are all children of God. The problem lies in the organizing and validating the lust into something that goes against everything that God wants for His children. No one gets a gold medal for following God’s laws. It’s one of those, “uh, yeah… that’s what you’re supposed to do anyway” things. Your reward will be in Heaven.

    • M

      No one ever got kicked out of a group for wanting to steal, but not actually stealing, right? So why should celibate gay scouts get kicked out for what they may want to do but don’t actually do?

      • Stu

        Now that scouts can openly identify themselves as being homosexual, should another scout who advocates violence against homosexuals get kicked out for what he believes or perhaps wants to do but doesn’t actually do?

      • Nan

        Accepting gay scouts is to normalize homosexuality which is contrary to the way many parents raise their children. Why should families support an organization that counteracts their teaching? BTW, my brother’s scoutmaster was a pedophile and had older kids as assistant scoutmasters, one of whom recently went to prison for child molesting. We believe he was a victim of the scoutmaster; fortunately my brother was considered to be unpredictable so wasn’t a victim. Scoutmaster was a public school teacher who was no longer able to teach due to allegations of molestation at a time the police didn’t bother investigating things like that; years later I learned that he was on trial in another state for molesting his foster sons.

  • J H

    While I understand (I think) the sentiment of the writer of this letter, I think that one of the problems is the phrase, “just happens to be gay”. We have to recognize that being gay is actually a problem. Whether it’s a choice or a condition, it’s a deviation from nature. When we enter into these discussions we talk about being gay as if it is an accident of nature, like the color of one’s skin. If I have a proclivity to “desire” or “lust” after an adolescent, that is a problem for which I should get professional help – even if I do not act on those desires. So, one of the issues with the scouts “accepting” gay members is that it CAN do those members a disservice by ignoring a large part of their personhood without addressing it as a problem.

    The commentator who related that his pastors didn’t have “time” for two gay youths should be immediately removed. Who are they there for if they aren’t there for people who really need some extra guidance and attention? It’s absurd. Should those people feel unwelcome at youth gatherings? Not really, but they should also get some help to understand that they have an extra burden to carry and yes, they are different and their same sex attraction should not be normalized and considered “just different”.

    The secular culture has successfully spent the last 20 years “normalizing” gay culture. And it convinces heterosexuals and gays alike that there is nothing wrong with desiring a sexual union that is contrary to nature and will never bear fruit. It ignores that pain and the cross that gay people carry – and it cuts them off from any help that they might need.

    If we aren’t willing to accept that same sex attraction is a problem for the individual, then I don’t know why it would be a problem for any of these organizations.

    • HR

      Yes, but if gayness is a sickness, there is no known cure for it. That might be why its been normalized. The other option is to stand outside of society, constantly feeling like a freak.

      • J h

        I’m not sure what you mean by sickness. I would use the word “disorder”. God ordered nature in a particular way, and same sex attraction is aberrant to that way. To have same sex attraction indicates a problem… Maybe psychological, physical, chemical, spiritual, etc. I don’t know. But to deny that it is a problem inhibits someone from getting help. Do people with marked disorders feel like outcasts often? Probably.imagine a girl with anorexia… While she eats enough calories now, going out for ice cream with girlfriend Causes a panic attack. Someone with certain kinds of OCD can’t go out in public places for fear of germs or men in black hats. The problem is with the disorder, not with society who recognizes the disorder as a problem. I feel for individuals who struggle but I think the first step is to be honest about what we are talking about here.

    • What about the idea that a ‘gay’ orientation (for lack of a better term) might also represent the confluence of multiple aspects of one’s personality as interpreted a certain way in a particular culture?

      Some of those aspects (or “habits of mind”) might be pathological, but perhaps some of those aspects might actually be better, or more virtuous, than those that prevail in the rest of the society. Thus, to pronounce that the “gay orientation” per se is disordered is to make too broad a pronouncement. You see a hint of this when gay people protest that “it’s not all about sex.” What we need, therefore, is some honest and careful analysis of our own habits and those of our same-sex attracted friends, to try and untangle the various threads and pick out the bad from the good.

      • J h

        I think you’re over thinking it. There are different orders, the natural order and the supernatural order. They are never incompatible and they never contradict one another. The natural order dictates two complimentary genders whose union bear offspring. In the natural order, we are talking about sex or more particularly, procreation. I think you are asserting either that sexuality has nothing to do with procreation or that there is a supernatural order that can contradict the natural order. It doesn’t work, logically. If you are saying that some gay people are more virtuous than straight people, you might be right… But that can’t enter into this discussion that deals with universals rather than particulars. Also, we shouldn’t judge either someone’s faults or their virtues.

  • There are some Catholic parishes that put up a rainbow flag and invite the LGBTQ community in. It’s a shame that when we see that it is assumed (with good reason) that it means, “Come in. We won’t challenge you or ask you to change or share with you the Church’s teachings on human sexuality and development. Instead, we’ll love you as you are.” The thing is, we should be saying, “Come in. We’ll love you as you are, but we will challenge you to think differently about human sexuality not as an act of pleasure but as a way of being a whole person made in God’s image. We’ll ask you to do your best to make some changes in your actions, but we’ll love you all along the path.”

    • Stu

      Use of the rainbow flag is abysmal.

  • SteveP

    Mark: undergoing Baptism and Confirmation as an adult acknowledges
    that one has assented (consented) to Christ Jesus. Likewise, volunteering for military service one consents to assume the identity of a soldier. In English, the allegedly immutable identity precedes the volunteer identity as in “chaste gay Catholic” or “openly gay soldier.” In both cases the identity conflict is in the individual rather than the institution.

  • Josef

    I am a celibate gay Catholic man, and I think that this is a spot on critique. Everyone has a cross, and us gay folks are no exception but it is a very lonely cross. Life without sexual intimacy, spouse or children is difficult, but all things are possible with God. The church should be a comfort and support for gay folks who want to be celibate and do not subscribe to ‘Gay Culture’ but it misses the mark. It is rough enough that the church tells you (over and over) that you cannot get married, and that your attractions bar you from being a priest or religious even if you are celibate. It is even rougher when the your fellow Catholic brothers and sisters say that your celibate inclination makes you a sexual predator or monster or psychological disaster.

    • Stu

      What would you want the Church to do differently?

    • Hieronymus_Illinensis

      Being regarded presumptively as a potential sexual predator or monster and defended against as such is just part of life for a straight man. The Girl Scouts are not going to hire straight men to take their troops out on campouts. No building may have doors labeled “White” and “Colored,” but almost all have doors labeled “Men” and “Women” or the equivalent. Good men recognize the need for these policies and honor them. Only a creep would cry “discrimination” about them.

    • Nan

      Do you think it’s different for those who are single and heterosexual? The church is designed to nurture families. Those of us who aren’t part of families are afterthoughts.

  • I am a celibate Gay Catholic, a recent convert, and I found the Church to be a pretty welcoming place. There are a few who feel the need to make sure I know about the fact that certain sexual behaviors are sinful, and a few others who don’t believe in sin and think I’m ‘self-hating’ for choosing celibacy and obedience to the Church. But mostly it’s been good.

    Given the political turmoil over same-sex marriage I’ve even started a Facebook page called “We Defend Traditional Marriage – And We’re Gay.” I get a lot of grief over that, but there are a lot of staunch Catholic supporters of the page (and many Protestants, Evangelicals and Mormons as well.)

    There are a lot of people in the Church who are not yet good at dealing lovingly with people with Same-Sex Attraction. But I think as a group the people in the Church are learning, and I feel I get more love and acceptance here in the Church than I ever would in the gay community.

  • Robert Harris

    I’m honestly blown away by this articulately and thoughtfully written letter and your willingness to post it. As a chaste, gay Catholic , I agree 100% with the sentiments of this writer. The Church has largely failed to reach out to gay people by using distancing, condescending language when referring to us or to our condition. The Catechism itself refers to I remember commenting on your post concerning new BSA-like organizations popping up because of the ban-drop, Mark. I asked why someone who claims to want gays treated with the sensitivity and respect they deserve would join in their stigmatization for simply being attracted to the same sex by people trying to keep their orthodoxy card. I REALLY think if Catholics truly showed their love for all gay people both without and within the Church, not by agreeing with what they may practice, but by being their friends in spite of it, there would be a huge change. As much as you and others claim that the monolithic gay agenda (which doesn’t really exist as the gay community isn’t as monolithic as it’s often made out to be) is your complete and sworn enemy, you have vowed to be just as much an enemy to them. It makes you no better.

    I just read the post you wrote about the SSPX. Could the Church EVER have the type of tolerance, patience, respect, and willingness to bend over backwards for gay people, especially the ones who actually believe and follow Church teaching and don’t necessarily accept the Courage line of thinking either, that they have for the SSPX? Right now it doesn’t seem like it can even happen in the near future. Therein lies the problem: It isn’t about orthodoxy; it’s about conservative bias, which isn’t the same thing as orthodoxy but is an often employed (and unfortunately in the US, a much more preferred) substitute.

    • Stu

      Robert, I’ll ask you the same.

      What would you want the Church to do differently?

      • Robert Harris

        Well, for starters, the addition of the term “objectively disordered” in reference to her definition of the homosexual inclination to CCC 2358 has basically made most people without a theological training (and some with it) think that gays are pathologically messed up (which we aren’t, not more than anyone else, anyway). In case you didn’t realize, it wasn’t in the first edition. It was added to be more harmonious with the musings within then Cardinal Ratzinger’s famous 1986 letter. Other than that, as I said, the tone and words used to speak to and about us is often quite off-putting. Honestly, I feel like the Church has a better attitude towards women who get abortions and then repent of it than chaste, gay Catholics who admits they are such. There’s nothing unholy or scandalous or wrong with me being authentic about my attractions while also not being ashamed, which is precisely what people like you and the hierarchical Church at large wants from us. The only thing I have to be sorry for are my sins. I’m not sorry I’m gay or that I’m not attracted to women. To do that would be ridiculous because I didn’t decide for it to be that way and there’s nothing I can do about it now but the right thing, but the more-orthodox-than-thou wing of the Church on all levels wants more than that. That’s what pisses me off.

        • Stu

          So, I want you to feel ashamed? Really? I missed where I said that.

          I don’t see anything really specific in your recommendations other than general comments about tone and terminology. You don’t like “objectively disordered.” What would you call SSA?

          • Robert Harris

            Well, to the guy who thinks the Church is doing just great on its relation to gay people inside or outside of itself, i guess there’s nothing else to say.

            • Stu


              Let’s actually respond to the things I actually say. If you keep making things up, then indeed, there is nothing else to say.

              • Newp Ort

                yes please explain your thoughts clearly with something like “i lived it”

                • Stu

                  Oh, that wasn’t clear enough for you?

          • Dan C

            Homosexuality is singled out as “objectively disordered.” Not gluttony. Not alcoholism. That says a lot about institutional prejudices.

            • Stu

              Is it a disorder?

              • Robert Harris

                No ones saying it isn’t, so that question is hardly warranted and is actually a hit condescending. Yes, you’re speaking to orthodox Catholics in case you were wondering and needed to check technically, yes it is objectively disordered (for people who would like gay people to only stick to language given by the Church when referring to themselves, I see the claim that the homosexual inclination is a disorder a lot). However, it is one that seems to justify stigmatizing those who experience it to a great degree, even those who are faithful and there’s no good reason for it.

                • Stu

                  Then back to my original question.

                  What would you call it?

              • Dan C

                You use this term as to suggest a something in a medical/clinical matter, or s it seems. The term “objectively disordered” finds its provenance in natural law and has an entirely different set of meanings than if something is a defined syndrome of psychopathology.

                Natural law does not lead to any commentary on psychopathology.

                • Stu

                  No, I use the term just like the Church has. I have not implied that it is medical matter because I don’t believe it to be.

              • Christopher

                Teleologically, but not psychologically (except insofar as the psychological is referred to the teleological). That is, homosexuality and homosexual acts are disordered in that they are not directed at the natural and appropriate ends of sexual intercourse–union of persons and procreation. But it’s not a “disorder” in the way ADD or OCD are disorders.
                So it’s not that it’s not a “disorder,” it’s that you have to unpack that for the modern audience, who will understand “disorder” in the psychopathological sense (as Dan pointed out below), and not in the teleological sense. I think this was also Mr. Harris’ point: that people without theological training won’t understand what the Church actually says about homosexuality, because they don’t understand the language in which the teachings are couched.

                • Stu

                  Understand the objection. But then what would you call it?

                  • Christopher

                    I don’t think we need to look for another term, actually. The one the Church uses is accurate. We just need to explain and unpack it for a contemporary audience (as we do with so much of Catholic terminology) so that they understand the teleological dimension–or at least understand that that is how the Church looks at the issue.

                    • Stu

                      We agree.

            • Alias Clio

              No one tries to argue that alcoholism or gluttony are *not* disorders, although I agree that they are treated rather differently by both popular culture and believers than homosexuality is.

              Indeed, I’d guess that the average alcoholic or fat person suffers from levels of self-hatred (unless they are deep “in denial”) not known to most younger gay people these days. However, I don’t think any such sinner should hate him/herself: they should recognise that they are among that larger group of sinners for whom Christ died on the cross and rose again, and pray for healing.

              • Dan C

                This is a distraction in two ways.

                First, it has no meaning that “popular culture and believers” treat homosexuality as different. The catechism sets the standard, a series of directives and a beginning of an education as written by the CDF and Cardinal Ratzinger who later becomes Pope Benedict. It makes little meaning to concern oneself with the popular culture. The Catechism isolates this inclination in a way that distinguishes it from other inclinations. As such, it sets up teaching that homosexual inclination is different and so so disordered and unnatural that it will be singled out.

                Second, this comment is a distraction in that subjective self-loathing is a matter that differs from the identification of that which is “objectively disordered.” One’s self-loathing or self-praise is unimportant to the identification of that which is “objectivve.”

                The premise that the Catechism may incorrectly set up this sin as especially sinful and worthy of special disdain is likely an error, and likely a source of difficulty for many, leading individuals to incorrectly understand homosexuality as especially problematic over other sins, sexual or based in other vices.

                • Nan

                  But it is. God destroyed cities for such actions. This is in the old testament; sins that cry to heaven.

              • Robert Harris

                Can we stop likening homosexuality to a chemical dependency on alcohol that precludes having a single drink ever again lest the alcoholic relapse or the pathological symptom of overeating? The homosexual experience doesn’t work that way at all.

            • Christopher

              They are, at least in St. Thomas’ teaching. That is one of the things that makes them precisely to be sinful: all sin is “objectively disordered.” This language may have, however, decreased when we talk about sin.

            • TomD

              I may not have this exactly right, but, according to the teachings of the Church, any more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil, and thus the inclination itself, must ultimately be seen as objectively disordered. The Church teaches that all inclination toward any intrinsic moral evil act is objectively disordered.

              Homosexuality is “singled out” because, due to active dissent from Her teachings, it is one of the most current, controversial issues within the Church.

        • TomD

          Robert, it is not a homosexual inclination that is objectively or gravely disordered, it is homosexual acts that are disordered.

          Having a homosexual inclination is not, in and of itself, disordered. Acting on that inclination is.

          The pastoral challenge for all of us is making the necessary distinction between act and person. Inclination straddles that distinction. As the author rightly points out, we as Catholics must find a better way of discussing this issue, while not deviating from Church teaching. When dealing with each other, compassion and love must come first. Sometimes, love means having to say “no.”

          All of us have inclinations that we are called upon to turn away from.

          • Robert Harris

            Homosexual acts are disordered in themselves, that is, intrinsically. The inclination to such acts are disordered objectively in that the object of one’s attractions is not naturally licit, yet attractions in the abstract sense (ie. the fact that one has them at all) is natural and even good. That’s what the Church means in CCC 2357-’59.

          • Kathryn

            was from our priest’s letter when he decided to pull our BSA pack from
            the church. “…it also teaches us that same-sex orientation “…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” (Pastoral Care Of Homosexual Persons, the CDF, No. 3). So, this pastor did in fact say that the inclincation ITSELF is disordered. ???

          • Silly Interloper

            That is not true, TomD. It is not objectively sinful to have a homosexual inclination, but it is still disordered.

            • TomD

              Since my earlier post, I have done a little bit of reading on the distinction between “intrinsically disordered” and “objectively disordered.” Although I do not yet fully understand the distinction, I better understand the position that the homosexual inclination is objectively disordered, in the way that any inclination toward wrongful behavior is disordered. Homosexual acts, and their inclination, are both disordered, but in a different manner.

              “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 (Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, 3).

              It is still very important to make the distinction between act and person. It is homosexual acts, and the inclination toward them, are disordered.

  • Dan C

    It is a problem that we require gay Catholics to qualify their sexual activity.

    We do not require heterosexual men, who are fairly well known to commit adultery, as many surveys indicate, to indicate they are faithfully, married men, who do not cheat on their taxes, haven’t stolen, do not covet thy neighbor’s goods, haven’t tortured, etc.

    Gay Catholics, and I see this on National Catholic Register, also, are always self-identifying as “celibate.”

    Why is it an unwritten requirement for gay Catholics to acknowledge their degree of acting out or not of lust to participate in these discussions?

    Quite clearly, fidelity to encyclicals like “Caritatas in Veritate” is not required to be considered a good Catholic (hence we have the Acton Institute and the free ability of some Catholics dissent from Catholic Social Theories while declaring oneself as a “classical liberal”).

    Sex in one sense and then homosexual sex have certain levels of drama associated with them that automatically require certain ritual formulae of acknowledgement.

    Can a gay Catholic participate in a discussion with Catholics and comment on Catholic pastoral approaches and policies like this one without resorting to any commentary on the dynamics of his or her bedroom?

    In short, why do we need an assessment of the state of a gay man’s sexual sin, and no other assessments of anyone’s sin?

    Quite frankly, sex is a boring ethical discussion. And sexual sinfulness is routine, common, and highly prevalent. That is why we have confessionals. Do we need attestations to one’s lack of need to confess gay sexual sins?

    • Stu

      Why do people with SSA feel the need to identify with that at all? I think it should just be their business and leave it at that.

      If one is going to make a point of identifying as “gay Catholic” then it will invite further question.

      • Dan C

        What about those identifying as heterosexual above? Why is there no seemingly required qualifier as to the extent or absence of each one’s sexual sins?

        • Stu

          I think if you are going to identify yourself as a “Gay Catholic” then you should expect that to raise some eyebrows. And if someone felt the need the need to identify themselves as a “heterosexual Catholic,” then I would ask them what they mean by that.

          Why not just call yourself Catholic and keep personal details that aren’t relevant to yourself?

          • Dan C

            “And if someone felt the need the need to identify themselves as a “heterosexual Catholic,” then I would ask them what they mean by that.”

            Is this a routine question? Do you insist on a chastity profession of these individuals?

            • Stu

              Would it be routine for a Catholic to identify themselves as such? What if someone identified themselves as a Klingon Catholic? Would you be curious as to why the chose to identify themselves as such because by them saying it, they clearly want to emphasize it.

              Let’s just use the term “Catholic” in referring to ourselves and leave modifiers out of it.

              • Christopher

                But there are no “Klingon Catholics.” Even if a person wanted to “emphasize” that, since the qualifier “Klingon” bears no relation to anything in reality, they would be emphasizing something that doesn’t exist (unless they, for some reason, perhaps jocularity, wanted to emphasize their love of Star Trek–but if so, who cares?). The analogy strikes me as absurd.
                The whole point of identifying oneself as a “gay Catholic” is (one hopes no more than) to identify a persistent and deeply rooted orientation which can make the task of living out the Gospel problematic. And, I might add, in a much more personal and relevant way than to describe oneself as a “conservative” or “liberal” Catholic, since those don’t go down to the very root of who we are as persons. (And anyone who thinks they do has a very crooked and dangerous view of politics and political modifiers.)

                • Stu

                  I have always found it odd to put qualifiers on the word “Catholic” given it means “universal.”

                  I’m advocating that those who fully subscribe to the teachings of the Church are all Catholics and we all have challenges which we are called to overcome. I see no need to qualify that. Should we all add a prefix to our Faith to indicate those challenges? I prefer that we all just be equal in the line for Confession.

                  • Christopher

                    Catholic does mean “universal.” And I appreciate your point. (Though as an aside, we put qualifiers in front of Catholic all the time–Byzantine Catholic, Melkite Catholic, Armenian Catholic, etc. Is this wrong? No. Is it a “qualifier,” yes. Though I admit the declaration of rite is a bit different than the declaration of sexual orientation.) I doubt that the people who identify themselves as gay and Catholic would describe their religious views as “gay Catholic,” though. The people who are describing themselves that way here do so because it’s pertinent to the conversation. You’re merely assuming that they bring it up all the time, or use it as a special descriptor of their religious faith. And if you’re not doing so, there’s really no reason to bring up this objection.

                    • Stu

                      Indeed, bringing it up in this context is absolutely relevant and I did comment on that already (though admittedly I don’t expect you to have digested every letter in the commbox). But given some of the comments here, I’m not so sure that is always the case. At least that is not the impression I have been given. So my comments would indeed only be directed at those who felt the need to “lead” with that descriptor.

                • Nan

                  We’re all sinners so by nature living out the gospel is problematic. Whatever the nature of one’s sins are is immaterial. If you look at the 7 deadly sins, you’re talking about lust and to say that you need special treatment for your lust as opposed to the man and woman in the pew across from you is ridiculous. They’re just not identifying themselves by their sin.

                  • Christopher

                    The nature of one’s sins is immaterial to the nature of sin as sin, but not to the pastoral care and guidance a person needs in order to overcome that sin, whether it is lust or not. The Church traditionally differentiates specific sins, for all sorts of reasons, though much of the reasoning has to do precisely with pastoral care. And given that the Church HAS traditionally regarded homosexual acts as a separate species of sin (cf. Summa theologiae II-II Q. 154, A. 11), it makes a difference what kind of lust it is.

          • Mariana Baca

            Sometimes it is relevant, if we are talking about the pastoral treatment of a group or the challenges faced by a particular group. Normally people don’t feel the need to identify if they fall in the default group, however.

            In a discussion of women wearning pants, I might chime in as a “female Catholic” and offer an opinion in the general internet, but I wouldn’t need to self identify at a women’s group. In a discussion about alcohol, an “alcoholic catholic” might offer an opinion — here though, a non-alcoholic wouldn’t label himself unless the discussion happened at Al-Anon, because they are in the default group. In a discussion about ecumenism, a convert might have relevant insights of what helped him, and he might self-identify. In a discussion about inculturation, an African Catholic might share relevant insights — the majority group might not self-identify, however.

      • Dan C

        Let me phrase this in another way: should any of the men above who are gay and Catholic not identified as celibate, what would be lost? What do we need with that identifier?

      • Mariana Baca

        It is useful to know their viewpoint in conversation. Cradle Catholic vs. Convert is a typical identifier in conversations, and is very useful for identifying generally a person’s backgroud and biases.

        In this conversation, saying “gay catholic” indicates the person has struggled with this particular temptation, and knows of where they speak. An alcoholic might similarly identify, even if long-time sober, if the discussion were on the proper limits of alcohol use or the pastoral treatment of alcoholics.

    • Mariana Baca

      I think more useful than “celibate gay” would be “gay but on board with church teaching” — or some other phrasing. I don’t care if they occasionally stumble wrt to this teaching or any other. I care about their theological perspective. Basically, there is a big difference between a couple that uses NFP 99% of the time and once in a while has a moment of weakness and uses a condom, vs. a couple that regularly contracepts. I don’t need them to share sexual details in conversation — but it *is* relevant to know their perspective on church teaching. I don’t care for purposes of conversation if a “gay catholic” occasionally has a lapse. I care about their position with regards to Church teaching, thus the disclaimers. Otherwise, constructive conversation cannot happen.

  • Dave G.

    It might be me, but I don’t think it’s the Church or traditional oriented people who have made ‘gay’ the great defining characteristic. That’s why I can’t help but think if we feel the need to qualify celibate as gay celibate, if we don’t usually make it a habit of saying ‘heterosexual celibate’, or ‘non-gay celibate’, then we’ve probably already given more ground in the debate than we might realize.

  • Ana

    As shown throughout this discussion, the common attitude is keep it to yourself if you’re homosexual as we don’t need or want to know. If this attitude isn’t setting off red flags it should be. Being homosexual does not somehow equate participation in what is referred to as the “gay lifestyle” or that person has ever been to or participated in a PRIDE rally. It is a reference to who a person is attracted to and heterosexual people have no clue whatsoever what it is like to be expected to go along with “isn’t so and so perfect husband material and just fetching” or “darling don’t worry, in God’s time you will be provided with the spouse God is preparing for you.” One either winds up lying a lot as fellow Catholics rarely positively accept “I’m not interesting in marriage or seeking a spouse.” This leads to a struggle that is almost as bad as this discussion about being Catholic and homosexual. Dealing with these situations become absolutely tiresome as I’m just suppose to find the opposite sex attractive although I never have for a day in my life. I control my urges and have committed myself to being a faithful Catholic, but that does not somehow make me attracted to the opposite sex. Many faith Catholics are homosexual and simply trying to live a faithful life. Most of the burden that people seem set on forcing on homosexual Catholics is due to the refusal to accept them as people with different attractions–the desire is to force a square peg into a round hole.

    For the person who thinks they always know who is homosexual–I know for a fact you don’t. There is absolutely no way.

  • ThoughtorTwo .

    The author of the letter is measured and respectful in his criticisms of conservatives and Catholics who uphold the former ban by the BSA of homosexual scout leaders. That is rare and commendable. He introduces himself by saying, “I strongly lean to the left. Though, I am foremost a Catholic. I also happen to be gay and celibate.” Political left or theological/philosophical left? “I am foremost a Catholic.” God bless him, in spite of his challenges and criticisms, he still holds to the Faith. “Gay and celibate”. The appellation “gay” always gives me trouble as it is generally used to signify an attitude and lifestyle that is publicly and actively homosexual. “Homosexual” is a modern term more consonant with describing oneself as having a predominantly or exclusively same-sex attraction without implying sexual activity. “Celibate” means unmarried. He may be saying he is unmarried but I suspect he means he is “continent”, which signifies a near or complete absence of sexual activity. I know many nowadays use “celibate” to mean not presently sexually active but it is a misuse of the word that confuses its original meaning.

    • Eric Brown

      Political left.

  • Eric Brown

    I have found it quite interesting, though not at all surprising, that the Catholics that have commented (here and on Mark’s Facebook page) identifying themselves as gay, including myself, have adopted — even though we don’t know each other and likely have different experiences — virtually a uniform position; and this too reflects the position of other orthodox Catholics I know who are gay, and what gay orthodox Catholics like Eve Tushnet and others blog about.

    It is obvious that many Catholics commenting here have reservations not about our doctrinal orthodoxy, but how we think about and approach homosexuality for a variety of reasons, and surely not out of ill will. But I believe it should be pointed out that despite your uneasiness with much of what we say, it should, I think, give you incredible pause that many gay Catholics who embrace celibacy are so insistent in their contention that there is a pastoral problem in the Church as it relates to gays — and without at all endorsing legitimizing homosexual acts — believe that mainstream conservative thought and approach to dealing with gays is problematic and is a stumbling block to the conversion of other gays, to the point that we react against it.

    The point of me stating this is not to rehash the arguments that have already been made, but invite people to contemplation of the fact — even if they don’t change their mind — that the gay Catholics who are the desired objects of your pastoral approach to this issue find it unacceptable, even when they accept the Church’s teaching.

    • Rachel

      You are correct. I know that the Church also has some problems with the approaches to single people in general and to a lesser degree, infertile married couples. We need to do more to show God’s love to all :). God bless you.

    • Stu

      I honestly still don’t know what you would have the Church do differently.

      I truly do not care if a practicing Catholic suffers from SSA. Indeed, I care for any individual who is struggling with temptation but I don’t feel as if I need to know one way or another what sins you are being tempted with just like I don’t feel the need to tell you my similar challenges. If you choose to identify yourself as “gay” (and I realize that doing so in this forum is a bit different given the conversation and doesn’t necessarily reflect your public persona) then you should also expect that people will assume some things about you given our culture at this moment in time. I just assume you come to Mass and be part of the parish.

      So at the end of the day, if you think there is a problem in the Church in how we approach those who suffer with SSA, then make some real and specific observation with solutions to the challenge. Otherwise, I just remain here scratching my head.

      • Eric Brown

        Not every gay Catholic is particularly wild about Courage because many think it is infiltrated with much of the conservative thinking and approach to homosexuality that, I have said, many of us dislike.

        But even so, last I checked, Courage had about 100 chapters, in half of all the dioceses in the U.S., with one parish in those dioceses having a chapter. Courage like any organization needs funding and often it is cash-strapped. If evangelizing gays were really a commitment, this would be more of a priority.

        In my own experience, I went through a maze trying to find the local Courage chapter. Hardly anyone knew if we had a Chapter; priests didn’t know, those who worked for the diocese didn’t reply to email or “would get back to me,” some knew we did but had no idea what parish it was at. This would need to be fixed.

        Catholics could focus a lot more on heterosexual sexual sins, which are quite rampant and much more of a problem. We wouldn’t be having a same-sex marriage problem if we didn’t just lay down on contraception 40 years ago. So, the Church could preach consistently and vigorously. In particular, it is not uncommon for active homosexuals to be singled out, and divorced/remarried Catholics to not be. This creates stumbling blocks.

        I’ve said quite a bit about the culture, of how we talk about homosexuality and homosexuals. You clearly don’t agree with it, so I know not what more needs to be said. It really, in my opinion, has nothing to do with recognition or feeling special. But it really is a stumbling block for many, even us who are orthodox. Google Eve Tushnet and others who address this precise topic. You may find it puzzling, but it is the case and I think that conceding a lexicon is far worth it if it brings more to the Church.

        • Stu

          I don’t think it fair to hit on funding. There are plenty of good ministries out their for many different causes, all worthwhile that have to fight for funding. I think that is just a reality of life.

          Agree on your views regarding contraception (which is the root of many challenges we are facing) and the other issues. Though at my parish I haver never heard a sermon regarding the specifically the sin of homosexual acts but plenty on contraception and general impurity.

          As to culture, we do have differences but not because I have issues with those who are challenged with SSA. I don’t believe open homosexuality is good for the military because it is a distraction. As I said before, I have had Sailors working for me or fellow officers who I am confident were homosexuals (and that doesn’t take into account the ones I didn’t know about). That’s almost never a problem. It’s when it becomes open that problems start that took away time and effort that should be directed at mission readiness but instead went towards what I called “chicken shit issues.” Same thing with women in the ranks. I have had some very professional ladies working for me, even ranked a few as my #1 Sailors, but taken as whole having women in combat roles just creates more “chicken shit” both in regards to “friggin in the rigging” and the fact that women simply can’t endure as much physical stress and abuse. I don’t think the military is there to be job program. It’s a mission. As for the Boy Scout, its not just about a boy who might think he is a homosexual. As a parent, I wouldn’t want my 14 year old boy in the same tent with a 17 year old homosexual any more than I would want my 14 year old daughter in the same tent with a 17 year old heterosexual boy. And I think there are some concerns as well to include I don’t want my young boys on a camping trip to be subjected to talk about homosexuality in a manner which I can’t control. Now that doesn’t mean I want anyone to feel ostracized but there are legitimate concerns and I just don’t see it that everyone’s situation should be treated the same.

          Regardless, I appreciate your thoughtful reply and concerns.

      • Eric Brown

        I should add, it would be nice for many Catholics (namely, Catholic organizations) to be less adamant about conversion therapy. If there are individual gay Catholics who for whatever reason are interested in that, that is their prerogative. But to so many of us, it is simply something curious for others to insist on.

        Recently, at a conference on the family in the modern world, I asked the speaker who works with the Catholic Medical Association, to outline the moral principles used to proceed with this path, ignoring the debate on the merits of it. In other words, I wanted to know when do you decide to do this path, and decide that celibacy itself is not the safest and best route; because it seems that changing sexual orientation is not required to bring closure to unresolved emotional traumas, and the end of doing so is to date, which leads naturally to marriage, and the best way to confirm the success of the therapy is marriage. And I don’t believe the sacrament of marriage should be used for experimentation.

        To say the least, my question was totally deflected. And it is scandalous to have organizations like the Catholic Medical Association push this and feature on their website (I’ve seen it on diocesan websites too) as “recommended reading,” books like “Growth into Manhood.” This work backs conversion therapy but explicitly condones masturbation (and I presume pornography) as a way of achieving that goal.

        That should give you some ideas. If you agree with them or not is a different question. Hope that helps. Later.

        • Stu

          Is it really curious? I think it is a desire to help even if poorly executed. Mention to a crowd any other thing that you are challenged with in life and I am confident you will get plenty of advice of all kinds both solicited and unsolicited. However, I think you have a good point regarding the CMA.

          • Christopher

            Stu, I honestly think your objection (if it can so be called) to the claim that the Church, in general, does poorly as regards pastoral care of homosexual persons is a bit unreasonable, and seems to me to belie a bit of a misunderstanding of what pastoral care is. The idea that a person must be very clear both about what is wrong and about how to fix it before he can legitimately claim that something is wrong is a bit ridiculous. It’s effectively making a person his or her own physician–diagnosing the problem and appropriately prescribing treatment–which doesn’t make sense pastorally. You don’t have to know specifically what the problem is or how to fix it before you know there’s a problem. It would, for instance, be nonsensical and useless for a doctor to demand of you that you be able to tell him exactly what was wrong with you and exactly how to set about fixing it–he’s the one who’s supposed to have that knowledge, and it’s his task to apply it for the care of his patients. (Now, if the patient is misleading about what is wrong, that’s another matter entirely.)

            People have to care for their own souls, yes, but technically it is to the pastor of a church to whom “the care of souls” is entrusted, and when a member of the pastor’s flock is suffering and comes to him for this care, he should be able to provide it. If I knew exactly how to fix all that was wrong with me, I wouldn’t ever need anyone else–certainly not my pastor. I could pastor myself. But, as St. Bernard of Clairvaux said, “He who is his own master is the disciple of a fool.”

            Now, it’s perfectly acceptable and reasonable to ask for input and clarification so that whatever problems there are may be appropriately addressed. That helps us get a clearer picture. But to demand that a clear diagnosis be given, and a specific solution be drawn up, before it’s even mentioned that there is a problem –this will more likely than not simply keep the problem in the shadows, festering away. I don’t think this letter was about a grand architectonic answer to any problems, but precisely about indicating problems.

            Now, from some of your other comments (“I think it should just be their business and leave it at that”; “Why not just call yourself Catholic and keep personal details that aren’t relevant to yourself?”) I get the impression that you basically want to extend DADT to the life of the Church as well–at least publically. Whether DADT works in a military setting, I can’t say; you may have better knowledge of that than I. But this recommendation would simply silence homosexual persons and keep them from getting the support they need–not only from their pastor, but from their parish community. Besides, whether a person is gay or homosexual is definitely relevant to this conversation–or do you think that “personal details” are somehow irrelevant to the issue of personal salvation? But this is precisely what is at stake in pastoral care.

            (Also, is it my impression, or is there a confusion here about the base of the adjective “pastoral”? It refers to pastors [i.e., priests and bishops] not to just anyone in the Church who might want to offer advice. But all this is an aside.)

            • Stu

              I haven’t objected to the claim. I have simply asked for those making the claim to be more specific.

              Further, if someone want to open about suffering from SSA I also have no objection. That is their prerogative and in the right setting can be useful in helping others. In fact, to those here in that predicament who strive to live a continent life as a Catholic, I admire them. But if someone is going to go around all the time identifying themselves as a “homosexual Catholic” then it will cause questions from others especially in a cultural environment where there is so-called “Gay Movement” that pushes for all manner of bad things.

              • Christopher

                I don’t understand the thrust of the objection, I don’t think. Unless it’s supposed to be that they raise suspicions that they are involved in the “Gay Movement”–which suspicion I could understand, if indeed they went around “all the time” referring to themselves as “homosexual Catholics.” But as I said below, I doubt that those who identify as homosexual and Catholic go around identifying themselves AS “gay Catholics,” as if it were a separate rite or something. They do so here because it’s relevant to the topic under discussion.

                Also, unless you mean “suffering” in a precise technological sense (as synonymous with “passio” in its meaning as “endured, affection, passion”), I don’t think it’s appropriate to describe homosexual persons as “suffering from SSA.” For starters, it makes it sound like a disease, when it’s not. It may be called a “disorder” (as that is, technically, what it is), but we need to unpack that word for a contemporary audience, who will understand it in medical and psychological terms.
                Why can’t we just call it “homosexuality”? That describes it accurately and neatly, without resorting to acronyms that make it sound like a syndrome or an illness.

                • Stu

                  “They do so here because it’s relevant to the topic under discussion.”
                  We agree on that. But again, I don’t believe given some of the comments that is what we are talking about.

                  As to suffering. Have you ever been plagued by a sin or strong temptation to sin? I call that suffering.

                  • Christopher

                    Didn’t I add this exception?–Also, unless you mean “suffering” in a precise technological sense (as synonymous with “passio” in its meaning as “endured, affection, passion”).

                    “But again, I don’t believe given some of the comments that is what we are talking about.” Then what are we talking about? And, honestly, on what grounds do you actually use the pronoun “we”? This is not Clintonian deflection–I’m just very uncertain that you and I are on the same page, here. So we might be using the same words to denote different concepts.

                    • Stu

                      “We”…meaning the group discussion here.

                      Given the context of some of the comments here, I believe that some here are indeed talking about individuals who consistently and open classify themselves as “Gay Catholics” apart from doing so in the context of a thread about homosexuality.

                    • Christopher

                      I guess, judging by comments I’ve seen, I come up flummoxed when I try to read them as being declarations of any deviant behavior or belief. Granted, I haven’t read all the comments–but of the ones I have read, I can make out no other meaning than, “I am gay AND Catholic.” And many of the people who made these declarations also added the descriptor “celibate,” with obvious intent to show that they accepted the Church’s teachings about the nature and meaning of sex. (Although the fact that they even declared their celibacy was for some bizarre reason disturbing to some commenters here who, from all that I can see, also accept the Church’s teachings about the nature and meaning of sex. Presumably, for the reason that it was “TMI”–which is absurd, given the discussion at hand.)

                    • Stu

                      I guess, judging by comments I’ve seen, I come up flummoxed when I try to read them as being declarations of any deviant behavior or belief. Granted, I haven’t read all the comments–but of the ones I have read, I can make out no other meaning than, “I am gay AND Catholic.” And many of the people who made these declarations also added the descriptor “celibate,” with obvious intent to show that they accepted the Church’s teachings about the nature and meaning of sex. (Although the fact that they even declared their celibacy was for some bizarre reason disturbing to some commenters here who, from all that I can see, also accept the Church’s teachings about the nature and meaning of sex. Presumably, for the reason that it was “TMI”–which is absurd, given the discussion at hand.)

                      Well, let’s try to clear the decks a bit. I think commboxes can get messy and difficult to follow over time and what exactly someone is responding to in making a statement isn’t always apparent to the person who comes along later.
                      So allow me to simply state my beliefs.

                      1. I subscribe to the Church description of SSA being “objectively disordered.” There have been some here who take issue with that description. I’m not sure what else one would call it but I am always open to suggestions. But properly understood, I believe it is accurate.

                      2. I have no problem with someone being open about being challenged with SSA. That is their prerogative and properly done it can serve as a teaching moment or as a request form others for help in prayer or something more tangible. I certainly take no issue with anyone identifying themselves as such in a thread with the sole purpose of discussing this topic especially when such viewpoints were explicitly solicited.

                      3. I do believe that outside of my first two examples above that individuals who make it a point to consistently lead and identify themselves as “Gay Catholics” in whatever social setting are asking for more questions about themselves. Like it or not, in our culture, when “Gay” used like this it is done so in a pro-homosexuality context. That’s going to cause the need for clarification along the lines of being continent or chaste. That to me is a reality. Same thing would apply for a heterosexual Catholic male who was challenged with the desire to “bed down” every female he met. If he consistently introduced himself as a “Lothariio Catholic” then it would raise questions that he should be expected to answer. That is a very specific point that I have been talking about and I believe that others here are well.

                      4. Now is it possible that some of us are talking past each other with my reference to #3 above being understood as the scenario in #2? Absolutely. Commboxes are not high-fidelity.

                      5. Because of my belief in #3, I have further stated that I don’t care if someone suffers from SSA. That doesn’t mean I have no empathy for their challenges but rather I just see another human being with sins like me and don’t think it is my business as a stranger to delve into their challenges. If they want to share them with me because we become more acquainted, that is a different story. But when it comes to attending Mass and being Catholic, they are sinners just like me so I see no need to treat them differently. Similarly, I don’t feel the need to meet people and up front share my spiritual challenges. It’s not that I can’t share such things, but if you lead with that sort of information, again it will cause questions.

                      6. I am open to the notion of the Church doing a better a job at approaching those who are challenged with SSA. But my default position is for the Church to approach all of us sinners as just that: sinners in need of repentance. On one hand, I have been told here that there is too much emphasis on homosexual acts as being sinful. But in my response of wanting to treat it like just any other sin, I am then called things like “clueless.” Now realizing these sentiments came from different people, I still scratch my head wondering. Is homosexuality as disordered appetite different from other disorders (gluttony, alcoholism, fornication, etc) or is it the same?

                      7. Lastly, I haven’t brought this point up, but I will now. I actually believe that anyone identifying themselves as “homosexual” or “gay” not to be a good thing. I’m not saying that “it’s all in their head” or anything like that. But rather, I think identifying themselves so solidly by what the Church calls a “disorder” to not be healthy. My sinful desires in life do not characterize me so definitively and I don’t see it the same with anyone else. We are all human being created in the image and likeness of God and for many of us here, we are “Catholic.” That is what should define us.

            • Frank Elliott

              Stu, the Church uses prudential consideration to actively encourage unjust discrimination and calls it just. The Church’s opposition to DADT is an undeniable case of supporting unjust discrimination against people fighting and dying for your freedoms, even freedom of religion while the Church oppressed them. Who is being Christ like in that situation?

          • Christopher

            Also, if I was off the mark on the tone and direction of your objection, please let me know. It just very much seemed as if you were indicating that, unless someone had a clear idea of what was wrong, and a clear idea of how to fix it, they should shut up and solider on.

            • Stu

              That’s not my point at all and I appreciate you seeking clarification. I’m absolutely open that the Church can do better but I think things like this swing both ways in that I believe some of the Catholics here who suffer from SSA can be enlightened on how others see it as well. All part of dialogue.

        • Imrahil

          There are two reasons for the “adamance” about conversion therapy (did not hitherto know that it was called this way, but I can fairly guess what it is.)

          The Catholic, first, is a philosopher and theoreticist. So: If there are homosexuals who would rather be heterosexuals and if there is a therapy that can help them change, then go for it.
          Whether, now, the “if” conditions are in fact true, is a merely factual question. That is to be left the first one to the homosexuals, the second to the scientists – and hence, we don’t know (and who are we to know about everything, it’s enough if we know something about principal questions after all…). The only thing we know is, first: yes, some, second: there are organizations that believe it is possible and… but we now approach the second reason.

          The Catholic, second, is a fighter. There is a reaction among mainstream society and homosexuals who downright favor to ban conversion therapy. We can therefore assume that those who say “no” to the second question above are driven by an agenda rather than science; and for all things we expect the freedom of our fellow-Christians to do what they hold to be helpful.

          For the sentences “conversion therapy should be available for those asking for it” (and not banned by the State, etc.) is itself taken as adamant support.

          • Frank Elliott

            “The Catholic, second, is a fighter.”
            Is conversion of sexual orientation is a just fight? Will it cause harm with little likelihood of benefit? Is it the best alternative, or is a conversion of heart better?

            • Imrahil

              With “fighting” I meant here not the fight against the patient’s perceived sexual orientation, but that, yes, we know some want to do this for Christian reasons and are under attack, and there is grounds enough to suspect partiality against such therapies in scientists. (Which I guess has more effect on abstracts than on real content.)

              >>Will it cause harm with little likelihood of benefit?

              That is part of the factual question (the second hypothesis).

              >>Is it the best alternative, or is a conversion of heart better?

              That is a straw man.

              I assumed in my first hypothesis that there are homosexuals out there who actually want to be normal. I think this is a natural-enough wish.

        • Rosemarie


          I’m starting to strongly doubt whether conversion therapy even works. Especially in light of the recent demise of Exodus International.

    • Marsha

      Eric, I think the biggest obstacles come from the attitudes we’ve witnessed in these forums. Homosexual Catholics are suppose to be quiet about their orientation while in reality heterosexual Catholics make their sexuality widely know. Homosexual sexual activity is sinful, but homosexuality is more a part of who a person is as daily experiences outside of sexual relations with a former partner are just as defining in a homosexual’s life as heterosexual relationships are. Homosexual leanings are more defining than other sins due to this fact. While building relationships in a Catholic parish that move beyond dealing with business issues people talk about different aspects of their lives from their families, past dating experiences, and a whole slue of other topics that directly imply their sexuality. Homosexual Catholics, as shown by the comments here, cannot engage in these conversations even if they are currently celibate/chaste, as the attitude is I don’t want to know and if they do engage in the conversations in manner that masks their past when the issue does finally come out it is as if they lied to the person especially if the person believes they have “gaydar” and can detect who is homosexual.

      According to the attitude here one cannot admit to being homosexual and celibate–which is an appropriate term–or chaste even when it directly relates to the topic as the reality is many Catholics automatically lump all homosexuals into the same category as gay activists instead of realizing it solely refers to a person’s sexual inclinations and gay activists are in the minority.

      Once again, yes, the sexual aspects of the relationships are sinful, but the day-to-day experiences are no less a part of their lives, who they are, and are not sinful–it is wrong to confine homosexuality to the sexual aspect of the relationships. I think the biggest issue is many heterosexuals are unable to understand this and do not want to relate to it as it disturbs their reality as they view being homosexual solely in terms of the sexual aspects not as something that does define a person and their relationships especially when it something they have been aware of for a considerable length of time.

      How homosexual men and women relate to the same sex while developing friendships within the parish is also impacted as there are certain boundaries that are needed and do not exist between heterosexuals developing same sex relationships. It also impacts opposite sex friendships as sometimes signals become mixed with the heterosexual becoming confused that the homosexual is interested in something more than being just friends. The “it isn’t something I want to know” thought process is highly problematic and only serves to sweep the problem under the rug–prolonging an issue that needs resolution.

      Another issue is the level vehemence that is often displayed towards homosexuals and all homosexuals are often lumped into the same category–angry people defaming Christianity and trying to force their sexual behaviors on everyone. Although the anger often displayed by certain homosexual groups is problematic our responsibility as Christians is to pray for them and lovingly minister to them instead of responding with similar behavior. Yes, we need to pray for those who want to defend traditional marriage, but we also need to pray (maybe they need our prayers the most) for those who are so hostile towards traditional marriage–pray for their healing and for their salvation instead of the name calling and other verbal attacks that take place.

      • Samantha

        I think you touched on a very important point when you said that heteros make their sexuality “widely known.” It is true and it is as it should be. With the way that our culture is over sexualized we need our fellow Catholics to be vocal about the right place of sexuality in our lives. And it really is everywhere! Between talks and articles on the definition of and defense of Marriage to blogs about NFP and the repercussions of abortion (which is very much a sexual topic) we as Catholics have a big mouth about all things sexual. Until we come to those that have chosen to not be sexual. Those living a chaste life are often completely left out of the conversation. There are many reasons, homosexuals claim pastoral negligence, heteros claim irrelevance, priests often plead the fifth, and sadly we have a no mans land of what St Paul called The Greater Blessing. There is so much truth and light to be shared from the Orthodox Homosexuals, I think they DO need to be vocal and we need to let them be vocal about their sexuality. Sadly so many good, well meaning Catholics are gun-shy because of the vocality of homosexuals that are not living the chaste life that we have become content to silence all of them in all areas of life. This is the negligence that we are guilty of. Their sexuality and Christ’s victory in it is not irrelevant any more than a converted abortion clinic worker is irrelevant. It is only in allowing them to openly voice their needs will we be able to better incorporate them into the Church life. And in a world where the harvest is plenty and the workers are few, we really really need men and women, like the author of this letter, to help us. Priest’s need to stand up for the Single Life like they stand up for Marriage, and homosexuals need to be much more vocal about how we can better reach out to the lost ones, and heteros need to listen. Thank you Mark for posting about this! This is a very important discussion that is very badly needed.

        • Marsha

          Excellent points. Every time supporting celibate people in general is mentioned priests and most of the laity shy away in an unbelievable way. What married people and those actively seeking marriage or religious life fail to realize is 1) they have levels of support that the chaste person not seeking religious life does not have and 2) often times, especially among the married, not seeking marriage or religious life is viewed as an attack on marriage. As one poster already mentioned too often the comments to the celibate person are along the lines of “God will provide you your mate in his time” and the only response that does not initiate a conversation as demanding as this one is to simply smile and nod. Even if one attempts to let friends know they are not seeking marriage this is often ignored as many have one story or another where someone “called to religious life” was eventually married or someone originally desiring marriage to eventually called to religious life. Until modern times, there was a greater recognition of the chaste single person (regardless of their sexuality) in the Church. This has changed partly due to the variety of issues in the modern Church including the need to stand firm in the face of open approval of homosexual activity and heterosexual activity outside of the Church.

          A vocalization of the impact of homosexuality on a person’s life is important even outside of support groups or the person seeking pastoral support as the only way a person truly stays firm in the path of salvation is through communal support. If this same freedom granted to former abortion workers or post abortive women to openly discuss their experiences was granted we might see important changes among how we are perceived as a Church and a change in how homosexuals relate to the Church.

  • Would you agree/disagree on his critique of the pastoral failure of the Church?

    I agree… without a doubt!

    If so, what could be done better to support SSA Catholics trying to live the Life?

    Well, for starters it helps to listen to their experience. An example of not listening are the continual dismissive comments on most of the comments here from LGBT Catholics in which you asked feedback from. Also what is needed is empathy… the experience of understanding another person’s condition from their perspective. When someone tells me they “do not care if a practicing Catholic suffers from SSA” they are obviously lacking empathy and are clueless to the lived experience of an LGBT person and the challenges they face.

    • Stu

      You left out the rest of what I said.

      “Indeed, I care for any individual who is struggling with temptation but I don’t feel as if I need to know one way or another what sins you are being tempted with just like I don’t feel the need to tell you my similar challenges.”

      If you are going to comment on my remarks, how about doing the decent thing and comment on the complete thought?

      On one hand, there seems to be some angst that homosexuality is focused on too much or called out as a “disorder” (while other challenges such as gluttony, etc. aren’t mentioned) yet when I take the tact of not caring specifically about anyone’s particular struggle and instead focus on them as individual people (because unless they are close to me it really isn’t my business) then I am “clueless to the lived experience of an LGBT person and the challenges they face.” Which is it? Is homosexuality a unique challenge that we must all acknowledge or is it a challenge just like many others?

      I’ll just continue to treat everyone at Church the same regardless.

      • I rest my case.

        • Stu

          How about actually engaging in honest dialogue?

          • No thanks. I would recommend reading the link he gave towards the end in a ‘P.S.’. I just read it and it’s excellent.

            • Stu

              Sorry you aren’t up for honest dialogue. All part of understanding.

    • Listening to the LGBT experience can be done wrong too. Look up the Internet phenomenon of concern trolling to see just one example. You are my brother, my sister, and I will help as I can. I do not have a segregated “gay” box to give you a differentiated level of care just as I do not expect my temptation to gluttony to create a “fatty” box in the minds and priorities of others.

      This does not mean that I treat disparate weaknesses identically. It is the level of love and compassion and empathy that I try to keep the same. How these manifest are and should be different not only by category, but by individual. Short version, hug the lonely who are desperate for contact, but be much more cautious about that in a violence shelter where it might be unwelcome.

      • Something to consider…

        -20- 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ. In comparison, the general youth population is only 3-10% LGBTQ.
        -LGBTQ youth are twice as likely to experience sexual abuse before the age of 12.
        -LGBTQ youth, once homeless, are at higher risk for victimization, mental health problems, and unsafe sexual practices. 58.7% of LGBTQ homeless youth have been sexually victimized compared to 33.4% of heterosexual homeless youth
        -LGBTQ youth are roughly 7.4 times more likely to experience acts of sexual violence than heterosexual homeless youth
        -LGBTQ homeless youth commit suicide at higher rates (62%) than heterosexual homeless youth (29%)
        -At least 20% of ALL transgender people will be homeless sometime in their life.
        -29% of transgender people reported being turned away from a homeless shelter due to their transgender status.

        • Stu

          All things to consider when establishing a ministry.

          But much different than the point I was making when you misread my comments regarding my not discriminating fellow Catholic based upon the particular struggle with sin.

          When I sit next to someone in a pew at Mass, there sins are of no concern for me. In fact, they are almost always none of my business. If I get to know them personally and they decide to share those challenges with me, then of course I will have empathy and concern.

          So. If I meet someone new after Mass and we shake hands and he introduces himself as “Joe BagofDonuts, Gay Catholic” then it will raise eyebrows and cause questions on my part just as it would seeing a “rainbow sash” guy approach for Communion. But if Joe and I become friends and he shares with me that he is challenged with SSA and needs prayers or some other help then that is a much, much different story. That’s the distinction I was making.

          So indeed, your statistics are relevant to anyone working to help SSA affected youth, but I will also add that my empathy is the same for anyone who is homeless, suicidal or that has suffered from sexual abuse.

        • And these statistics are relevant to this thread, why?

          • Look at the statistics I posted and you will see they are at higher risk of being victimized… and high risk for many things. It’s a very complex issue and so we can’t simply address this without considering the many factors. To not consider ones sexual orientation would be missing a pretty important piece of the puzzle needed to do a thorough assessment and to be able to effectively help. This is comparable to the concept of being “color-blind”. Many assume being “color-blind” would decrease racism, but research has shown the opposite effect. If one is “color-blind” they are not seeing how it is a contributing factor to their life experience and part of who they are. Here is an article about it.

            • Sorry, I can’t see your point for the chip on your shoulder. Homosexual sex acts are a sin. So is gluttony. Nobody really wants to hear me go on and on about my weakness for Little Debbie snack cakes or statistics regarding diabetes (it’s a top killer in the general population!). That may be very useful for specialists in the field. I’m not in the field. I’m an IT guy who does analysis on geopolitical issues.

              Your implicit demand that I respecialize in “the issue” is declined. Instead I’ll love my fellows, brothers and sisters all. I’ll try to do unto others and address individual needs of individual people as they enter into my life.

              • A chip on my shoulder? I was presenting the research. In the post he asked to hear from other celibate gay Catholics and so I’m sharing my experience… as well as my experience from working for years with thousands of homeless LGBT youth.

                I understand you are an IT guy and this isn’t your area of expertise, but hopefully it can help to gain more empathy of their challenges.

                • I was having a conversation with you. You were presenting talking points to the forum. If you’re going to do that, don’t do it as a reply to me, do it as a top level comment.

                  I don’t like being used as a prop. Not many people do. Perhaps that knowledge will help your own issues with empathy.

                  • Frank Elliott

                    If this were a conversation, you’d be having it by email.

                    • So you think that the post and the reply function in Disqus serve exactly the same purpose? Really?

                      They coded two different functions for a reason.

              • Frank Elliott

                Fine. Stop eating all together.

                • Tried that. It didn’t take.

                  After about the third week your loved ones start to freak out.

                  But taking your point more seriously, expressing love and admiration for people of the same sex is not inherently sinful, much the same way eating is not inherently sinful. It is possible to do the former without falling into sexual immorality and the latter without falling into gluttony. Many people manage both without much effort. Others have problems with one and not the other. No doubt there are those who are vulnerable on both fronts.

                  • Frank Elliott

                    I wish the Church understood the distinction you just made. Thank you. I wish I had understood that distinction earlier in life. It would have saved me years of suicidal depression I felt for loving a friend. Finally, I realized that selfless love, even for a member of the same sex I once found attractive, might be acceptable to God.

                    • Pope Benedict’s use of the word agape as opposed to eros in his letter was an education for me, as I suppose it was for a lot of people. I believe that our linguistic poverty makes conversation about God difficult in general. The LGBT community would do the english speaking world a favor to adopt Benedict’s distinction and seriously wrestle with the concept of agape and bring that term into modern use in english.

                    • Frank Elliott

                      Thanks for repaying gratitude with condescension. I’ve had three years of classical Greek, Koine (Biblical Greek) was by far the easiest to master. I’ve also had five years of Latin.

                      LGBT Catholics are far more versed in Benedict’s writing about them than you are.

                    • Condescension was certainly not intended and I am sorry that my words hurt you.

          • Frank Elliott

            The statistics demonstrate that LGBT people are already marked and that excluding them from anti-discrimination laws which protect you as a Catholic does not even accomplish a legitimate goal for the church because the right to discriminate doesn’t distinguish its victims on the basis of chastity.

            • If you want anti-gay animus to last and spread long-term, make them a permanent, legally protected class. Tell people that their relatives brutalized by criminal violence aren’t worth as much investigative effort, or as much punishment, because they aren’t LGBT or some other class. I’ve seen how this plays out historically (different protected class, different conversation entirely) and it’s not good for anybody.

              • Frank Elliott

                You are confusing two different concepts, criminal and civil protections. I mentioned nothing about criminal protections (i.e. hate crimes laws). This is either ignorance or demagoguery.

                • 4 of the seven bullet points brought up in the statistics list are about crime but I’m a demagogue if I raise an argument that is not in lockstep with what you think proper.

                  I think we’re not likely to find common ground here.

  • Danalee Lavelle

    Chastity. We are all called to it.

    2348 All the baptized are called to chastity. The Christian has “put on Christ,” 135 the model for all chastity. All Christ’s faithful are called to lead a chaste life in keeping with their particular states of life. At the moment of his Baptism, the Christian is pledged to lead his affective life in chastity.

    Beginning with section 2337 of the Catechism, the Church’s teaching on ‘chastity’ is outlined. Chastity cannot be separated out by sexual attraction. It is universal. Section 2358 of the Catechism does speak specifically to how those with SSA should be treated, with compassion. Like so many other aspects of our Catechism, many within the Church fail to practice what they are taught, including clergy. I don’t honestly think there is much more the Church can do but repeat the Catechism and keep re-educating the clergy and the laity.

    “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.”

    • Frank Elliott

      We’ve read it before. It renders our celibacy meaningless because you tell us the very love we have to offer is disordered. The church doesn’t even acknowledge the fact gays can pursue celibacy out of love for another. It has nothing to offer in teaching us how to live our lives.

      • Danalee Lavelle

        Frank, thank you for the response. I’m afraid you have high expectations of the Church, expectations they can only fail to measure up to. Just as we will never see female priests in the Church, we are never going to see the open dialogue about LGBT that I sense you are seeking from Her. On a related note, I have gay friends that don’t want to be labeled gay. They want to be accepted by society as another human being worthy of compassion and treated the same as everyone else. Should we constantly point out gender and sexual orientation when speaking of others? I’d rather say “I met this person at the gym the other day…” and not “I met this gay at the gym the other day…” Why do we constantly have to label each other? So, Frank, do you always want to be labeled gay when people talk about you? It’s like we do racially with our labels of White, Black, Mexican, etc. If you want to be seen as a whole person and not labeled, how then can you demand/expect the Church to give greatly detailed instructions on how gays must “live our lives”, as you said? Just as there are no paragraphs in the Catechism saying how Sally the divorcee shouldn’t be dating, having sex or remarrying there will never be a ‘handbook’ on living a gay lifestyle that carries an Imprimatur, etc. The Church will not change. She is not meant to. It is those of us challenged by the doctrines and beliefs that must adjust and make peace with Her or yes, I’ll say it, leave if we are unable or resistant to following those doctrines and beliefs. God bless you Frank. And, God bless all of you. I know you are pained by what you view as ‘rejection’ by the Church. All I can say is that we all have our “dark nights” as we work on our faith. Each of us has to pray through them and make choices. Chastity is a lesser sacrifice than life. Truly.

        • Frank Elliott

          So, I suppose you didn’t read the word “celibacy”? I’ll make that clearer. I’m talking about love that is chaste in word, thought, and deed.

          As for labels, you show an amazing lack of insight. The Church marks me when it supports the right to discriminate against me in employment, housing, military service, etc. The Church labels me when it compares me to the men of Sodom who tried to gang rape angels. You mark me when you reduce everything I say to “you just want to have sex,” as you’ve done in the previous post, and you mark me when you imply through your actions that I am the only sort of person who doesn’t deserve the right to defend himself in the public square.

          I am gay and I am left handed. I chose neither. You’ll just have to deal with it.

  • Michael Brooks

    There are a few of us out there! some of us are leaning more towards being conservative Catholics. I am Catholic, Gay, and Celibate. Many of us get a lot of negative feed backs from the LGBT Communities, either in Comments on Posts, or in Gay Forums….all because we chose to remain Catholics, and are celibate. we don’t always get the support from our own LGBT communities.

    • Frank Elliott

      You get criticized little for being celibate. You get criticized much more for being conservative.

  • As a chaplain for Courage, I have learned it is best not to label people. The term “gay” is such a contradiction. I don’t run abound saying I’m a celibate heterosexual. We are not identified by our sexuality, be it normal or disordered, nor should we label others in that way. Some people have “same-sex attraction”, but that does not debase them. People have dignity and labeling them by sexuality turns them into an object. I suggest you read up on the official Courage website!

    • Frank Elliott

      But you are labeling people. You tell them they are disordered. You tell them they have SSA, as if that is some kind of disease. It’s arrogant of you to do this.

      • chezami

        No. *You* say they are disordered. The Church says their appetite is disordered. You are he one who insists on reducing the whole person to a single appetite.

      • Wrong! The action is a disorder, not the people. Just look at the persons. Male and female have a certain physiology. Certain parts of the human body are made to go together for the purpose of creating human life and others are not made to go together. When you do something with the human body that it’s not meant to do, that is a disorder.

  • “I would particularly be interested in hearing from other celibate gay Catholics.”

    As you can see by the comment section, when a celibate gay Catholic breaks the silence (like mentioned in the article in the link) they are faced with criticism, lectures, and other similar ways to discredit their experience… and this is after being asked for our feedback.

    Mark, you have asked for feedback from celibate gay Catholics before, but I feel like it’s a set up. I’m in no way saying that is your intent, but that it’s an unintended result. It’s setting up those that often already feel stigmatized and like outcasts in the Church. I have a pretty thick skin, but it wears on me at times. This is the kind of thing that reminds gay Catholics of how stigmatized and unwelcome they often are.

    I wonder if many of the people that commented on this even took the time to read what he wrote… because I rarely saw it reflected in the comments.

    • Eric Brown

      I have learned — from when I used to blog on The American Catholic — that people actually often never read what you write. They read enough o discover the topic, then they drop their talking usual points. It’s an unfortunate internet phenomenon.

      Thanks for reading the blog post about American Catholicism and homosexuality I wrote on TAC. I stopped blogging there years ago. But I think the reflection is still just as relevant.

  • Eric Brown

    Since Kelley drew some attention to the post (linked above in the article), I’ll also share another one about my conversion. I don’t know how long they’ll be up, as I intend to have them removed at some point for personal reasons.

    God bless. Keep the faith.