Sometimes, you have to be grateful for the opposition. They are often the best source for learning important news about positive Catholic LGBT items—though, of course, they don’t see these news items as very positive. This week, I learned about an important statement by an international group of moral theologians and physicians only because I read a news story about a group of conservative scholars who opposed the statement. News about the progressive statement did not, at first, make big news, so it had not come to my attention until the conservative group opposed it.
The progressive statement to which I am referring is known as the Wijngaards Declaration, and its focus is to oppose the magisterial condemnation of what is referred to as “artificial contraception.” The declaration takes its name from the Wijngaards Institute, a London-based Catholic think tank, which organized and released the statement. The report, whose official title is “Promoting Good Health and Good Conscience: The Ethics of Using Contraceptives,” does a careful and specific critique of Humanae Vitae (HV),the 1968 encyclical which re-affirmed the magisterial opposition to couples using birth control. A summary of the 20,000-word report can be found by clicking here (and it is very readable, so highly recommended).
While the declaration does not mention LGBT topics directly, it is important for Catholic advocates of LGBT issues to be aware of because it contains some critical theological arguments that could be used to advance the Church’s approval of same-gender relationships.
First, a little background as to how these ideas are connected. In Catholic teaching on both birth control and same-gender relationships share an important common argument: the magisterium’s claim that the natural order dictates that all sexual activity be open to procreation. So birth control is not permitted because, depending on the method, it prevents the union of sperm and egg. Likewise, homosexual relationships are not permitted because they are biologically non-procreative.