Category Archives: Catholic_Church

What Gay Catholics Have Done: Parish Ministry

In his report on the New Ways Ministries’ 2012 conference  From Water to Wine:  Lesbian/Gay Catholics and Relationships, Chuck Colbert summarized the main addresses, but also presented some questions by participants – and their reasons for attending. The reason given by one couple also offers insight into how they approach being lesbian and Catholic back home, in their parish:

Chicagoans Karen Allen and her partner, Mary Jo Hoag, attended the gathering, this their second one.

“What brings me here is the chance to be rooted in my faith and with the people of God and to be sent forth to create loving communities,” said Allen, who leads a gay and lesbian family-and-friends ministry at St. Nicholas parish in Evanston.

Allen said the parish group grew out the idea she and others got 10 years ago at the Louisville, Ky., New Ways symposium.

In proposing the idea, she explained, “We were welcomed to do so by our pastor at the time, who said, ‘Where have you been?'”

The ministry is about education and prayer and not so much advocacy, Allen said, but “more about how can we as gay and lesbian Catholics live fully integrated, authentic lives in our tradition.”

“Many have walked away [ from the church ] but returned in mid-life,” she explained, while readily acknowledging, “struggling mightily” with “clericalism and the hierarchy.”

“The church is our church,” said Hoag, explaining why she stays. “Many of us are cradle Catholics who grew up with the rituals, sacraments, and the teachings and feel comfortable. We are gifts to the church and shouldn’t go away, as we provide those gifts of love and understanding and outreach.”

New Ways Ministry, Allen added, provides us “a shot in the arm” to keep up our work in ministry.

In Memoriam: Fr Robert Carter, Priest and Gay Activist

“Since Jesus had table fellowship with social outcasts and sinners, those rejected by the religious establishment of his time, I consider myself to have been most fully a Jesuit, a ‘companion of Jesus,’ when I came out publicly as a gay man, one of the social rejects of my time. It was only by our coming out that society’s negative stereotypes would be overcome and we would gain social acceptance.”

-Fr Robert Carter

There is no contradiction between being Catholic and gay or lesbian. Indeed, just as Robert Carter says he was most fully a Jesuit when he cane out publicly, so for many of us, we are most fully   Catholic when we too come out in Church.  (I say deliberately “for many of us”, as coming out is always a deeply personal decision, which may not always be appropriate for all.)

Robert Carter, Priest and Gay Activist, Dies at 82

Robert Carter, right, with Dan McCarthy, left, Bernard Lynch and John McNeill at a gay pride march in the early 1980s”

The Rev. Robert Carter, who in the early 1970s was one of the first Roman Catholic priests in the country to declare publicly that he was gay and who helped found the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, died on Feb. 22 in the Bronx. He was 82.

His death, at a Jesuit health care facility, was confirmed by the Rev. Thomas R. Slon, executive assistant to the provincial of the New York Province of the Society of Jesus.

Father Carter’s coming out was a very public one. In October 1973, Dr. Howard J. Brown, a former New York City health services administrator, announced that he was gay and that he was forming a civil rights organization for homosexual men and women. Then called the National Gay Task Force, it later became the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

An article about the group in The New York Times said: “A number of homosexual and lesbian organizations were represented on the board. One member was the Rev. Robert Carter, a Jesuit priest and professor of historical theology.”

Soon afterward he was visited by a subprovincial of the Jesuit order. “It seems that they were afraid I had had a psychotic break or something,” Father Carter wrote in an unpublished memoir.

Although there were calls for his expulsion by irate “Jesuits, parents and alumni of our schools,” Father Carter continued, he was not disciplined. In those days, the church and the Jesuit order were somewhat more accepting of gay people.

The church continues to hold that while homosexual attraction is “disordered,” gay people who are celibate are not inherently sinful. In 2005, however, the Vatican issued a document saying the church would not admit to a seminary or ordain “those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture.’ ”

Father Carter helped found the New York chapter of DignityUSA, a support group for gay Catholics. In 1972, with the Rev. John McNeill, he hosted the first meeting of the chapter at the Jesuit chapel on West 98th Street in Manhattan.

“I refer to him as the heart of Dignity,” Father McNeill, the author of “The Church and the Homosexual” (Beacon, 1976), said in an interview. “I was doing all the writing, but he was on the front line, meeting with people, counseling people.”

When the Catholic authorities said Dignity could not meet on church property, Father Carter celebrated Mass in apartments all around Manhattan. He led blessing ceremonies for gay couples. He testified in support of the gay rights law proposed by Mayor Edward I. Koch before it was passed by the City Council in 1986. He urged Dignity to march in gay pride parades and marched himself, in his clerical collar.

Although he was a classics scholar, he was also a trained social worker who counseled gay priests and hundreds of lay Catholics. “As I sought to reconcile being gay and Catholic,” Brendan Fay, a longtime gay rights activist, said in an interview, “Bob Carter helped me move from self-hate to self-acceptance and then to a place of gay activism. He was like a Catholic Harvey Milk.”

Robert Earl Carter was born in Chicago on July 27, 1927, the son of Earl and Ila Grace Smith Carter. His father managed several music stores. He is survived by his sister, Nancy Glader of Prospect Heights, Ill.

Father Carter’s parents were Protestants who worshiped in a series of denominations as he grew up. Then, at the University of Chicago, he read James Joyce’s semiautobiographical “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.” It introduced him, he wrote, to “the centrality of Catholicism in the history of Western civilization.”

He graduated in June 1946 and the next day was received into the Catholic Church. Three years later, he completed a master’s degree in Greek studies at his alma mater, and in 1953 he received his doctorate there. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1954 and was ordained in 1963.

Father Carter went on to earn a master’s degree in social work from Columbia in 1981. By 1985 he was counseling AIDS patients at Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx; he later became a supervisor of the outpatient AIDS program at the Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan.

For him, there was no contradiction between homosexuality and Christianity.

In his memoir, Father Carter wrote: “Since Jesus had table fellowship with social outcasts and sinners, those rejected by the religious establishment of his time, I consider myself to have been most fully a Jesuit, a ‘companion of Jesus,’ when I came out publicly as a gay man, one of the social rejects of my time. It was only by our coming out that society’s negative stereotypes would be overcome and we would gain social acceptance.”

Oppose Catholic Employment Discrimination

In North Carolina, a Catholic bishop is arguing in court that the church must have a fundamental right to fire LGBT Catholic employees who exercise their legal right to marry.

Lonnie Billard, left, with husband Richard Donham (pic – New Ways Ministry)

A bishop has claimed that the diocese over which he presides would be “irreparably damaged” if it is unable to fire church workers at will.

Bishop Peter Jugis of Charlotte, North Carolina, made his remarks while being deposed in the federal workplace discrimination court case of Lonnie Billard, who was fired from Charlotte Catholic High School in 2014 when his engagement to a man became public.

Jugis said in the deposition that continuing to employ church workers who advocate against or violate “fundamental moral tenets” of church teaching would be a cause for “scandal.”

-New Ways Ministry

What is truly scandalous, is when church bishops ignore both the Gospels’ clear message of inclusion for all, and the Church’s own teaching on the primacy of conscience and the importance of social justice – including employment justice.


Continue reading Oppose Catholic Employment Discrimination

Sex and Catholics 3: Vatican II and Modern Specialists

Chris Morely continues his guest post series on Natural Law: Part 3

Vatican II and incorporating modern specialist expertise

Part 1 dealt with the Natural Law.

In Part 2 we considered the male and female perspectives of Natural Law and the Church’s teachings on sexual morality, and recent learning from experts in evolution.

Here in Part 3, we move on to the Church’s stated position on considering outside expertise and some particular examples – insights from human psychology, secular liberal philosophy, and modern Christian moral theologians, including a Pope. We assess how well the Church’s sexual behaviour teaching copes with the various critiques and its response.

postage stamp showing Vatican 2 Council

Vatican II

The 2nd Vatican Council directed the Church to look beyond its well established traditions and scriptural interpretations and take account of the expertise available from various fields of learning in the modern world, and use these external insights to review and update its teachings of the Truth, as appropriate.

However this directive appears to be ignored more than followed.

The Church’s most recent formal statement is the 1986 letter to the bishops on the pastoral care of homosexual persons, from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

In paragraph 2, this tells us:

However, the Catholic moral viewpoint is founded on human reason illumined by faith and is consciously motivated by the desire to do the will of God our Father. The Church is thus in a position to learn from scientific discovery but also to transcend the horizons of science and to be confident that her more global vision does greater justice to the rich reality of the human person in his spiritual and physical dimensions, created by God and heir, by grace, to eternal life.

This is not a satisfactory response to the Vatican II instruction to learn from outside expertise. The key passage is: ‘we can learn from scientific discovery’ but our position means we can ‘transcend the horizons of science and .. be confident that [the Church’s] more global vision does greater justice to the rich reality of the human person in his spiritual and physical dimensions’.

In other words, we are correct already and simply don’t need to consider anything else or change our teaching as a result of any scientific discovery: “[the Church’s] more global vision does greater justice … “.

Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith office at the Vatican

Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith office at the Vatican

Unchanged since 1986 but outside expertise moves on

While the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has not changed its position on the treatment of lesbian and gay people since 1986, much new information has been gathered on the history of homosexuality, its nature and causes, biblical and theological perspectives, and from the empirical sciences.

In many areas covered by the Congregation’s pastoral guidelines, Catholic culture has made major advances (Curb & Manahan, 1985 [14]; Francoeur, 1988 [15], 1989 [16]; Gramick, 1983 [17], 1988 [18]; Nugent, 1984 [19], 1992 [20]). Those are just the first eight years worth of publications from around the time of its publication in 1986, and very much more has been published since.

The tension between the unchanging formal fixed Church view of homosexuality and the changing worldview, is evident when John R. Quinn, Archbishop of San Francisco, replied to the Curia’s 1986 letter on the pastoral care of homosexuals, with clear frustration:

We cannot fulfill our task [as pastors and bishops] simply by an uncritical application of solutions designed in past ages for problems which have qualitatively changed, or which did not exist in the past. (Quoted in Gramick & Furey, 1988, p. vii)  [13]

He was writing this from San Francisco as thousands of gay men in his city, significant numbers of whom were Catholic, already had HIV infection and were dying of AIDS, before any effective treatment was available. The world for lesbians and gay men had very significantly changed.
Project in San Francsisco to gather people's HIV stories from the last 30 years

 

No change: a comfort blanket

Plainly the field of sexual morality is one where the Church is reluctant to incorporate external expertise and the weight of modern moral theological and scriptural opinion, preferring instead to keep its comfort blanket of familiar traditions and teachings wrapped tight round its fist.

Catholic theologians are vulnerable when speaking out on these themes: some have been disciplined and others have lost their jobs. Debate and scholarly exploration of ideas is inhibited and closed down. The Church gives little sign of active, responsive listening.

It would be a firm but accurate criticism to say that the Church is being disrespectful to lesbian and gay Catholics by apparently not listening and responding to the wealth of new information and insights available in the 25 years since 1986, contrary to her own Catechism’s instruction to be ‘respectful, compassionate and sensitive’ to lesbian and gay people (in paragraph 2358).

 

Now it is time to turn our attention to some of the secular experts’ work that ought to have an impact on the Church’s thinking and teaching about sexual morality.

Psychologically natural forms of human sexual expression
Among the disregarded modern secular perspectives is that offered by Thomas Nagel ¹, who denies Aquinas’s central presupposition, that in order to discover what is natural in human sexuality we should focus on what humans and lower animals have in common. Using this approach, Aquinas concluded that the purpose of sexual activity and the sexual organs in humans was procreation, as it is in the lower animals.

bonobo couple

Aquinas considered animal behaviour so here’s a contented bonobo couple

 

Nagel, by contrast, argues that to discover what is distinctive about natural human sexuality, and so be able also to work out what is unnatural or perverted, we should focus instead on what humans and lower animals do not have in common. We should emphasize the ways in which humans are different from animals, the ways in which humans and their sexuality are special.

Thus Nagel argues that human sexuality, whether strictly procreative as required by Aquinas, or expressed in various other ways, is explained by human psychology. For it is human psychology that makes us quite different from other animals, and hence an account of natural human sexuality must acknowledge the uniqueness of human psychology. We have been created with and have evolved with proportionately massive brains compared with all other animals, and this makes us quantitatively and qualitatively different and our human psychology is expressed in distinctly human sexual behaviours.

Aquinas and the Church have ignored these brain and psychological differences from animals.

 

 

Mutual Attraction single record 45rpm

Mutual Attraction – Nagel argues that psychologically healthy sexual relations have both mutual interest and mutual arousal

Mutual sexual interest and arousal
Nagel therefore proposes that psychologically healthy natural human sexual interactions, are all those in which each person responds with sexual arousal to noticing the sexual arousal of the other person. In such an encounter, each person becomes aware of himself or herself and the other person as both the subject and the object of their joint sexual experiences. If mutual arousal and interest is not present, Nagel describes this as perverted, or in Aquinas’s terms, unnatural.

Psychology, not organs, not bodily responses
Nothing in Nagel’s psychological account of the natural and the perverted refers to bodily organs or physiological processes. That is, for a sexual encounter to be natural, it need not be procreative in form, as long as the requisite psychology of mutual recognition and arousal is present. Whether a sexual activity is natural or perverted does not depend, in Nagel’s view, on what organs are used or where they are put, but only on the character of the psychology of the sexual encounter.

Thus Nagel disagrees with Aquinas that homosexual activities, as a specific type of sexual act, are unnatural or perverted, for oral and anal sex may very well be accompanied by the mutual recognition of and response to the other’s sexual arousal.

Boswell pointing out that Thomas Aquinas was responsible for homosexuality being made a grave sinThomas Aquinas         1225 – 1274

Thomas Aquinas emphasised the sin in homosexual acts

The change from Aquinas’s judgemental natural law response to every activity that is not strictly procreational, toward an amoral psychological account such as Nagel’s, represents a more widespread modern trend. Aquinas’s moral or religious judgments are replaced by acceptance of behaviours as part of the normal range of human sexual expression, or by medical or psychiatric judgments and interventions. ²

 

There is no requirement for the Church to accept the specific sexual behaviour conclusions Nagel reaches (mutual interest leading to mutual arousal, whether married or not, followed by any consensual sexual behaviour), but there is a need to address his insight that exploring the perspective of what is different, special and unique about people compared with animals is illuminating. We have a highly intelligent human psychology not found in animal-kind. What does that mean for considering what are appropriate sexual behaviours and relationships for humans? Does it not suggest that human sexual behaviours are likely to be more complex and nuanced?

Could not Nagel’s insights be combined with the unitive, and consensual sexual behaviour be acceptable if that is within a marriage or the lesbian and gay equivalent?

 

Secular liberal sexual philosophy
Modern secular liberal sexual philosophers now emphasise the values of autonomous choice, self-determination, and pleasure in arriving at moral judgments about sexual behavior, in contrast to the Aquinas tradition that justifies highly restrictive sexual morality limits by reference to Natural Law, God and scripture as the source of those limits.

The secular liberal finds nothing morally wrong, or non-morally bad, about either masturbation or homosexual sexual activity. These might be ‘unnatural’ in the sense of being solitary or less common, but in many if not most cases, they can be carried out without harm being done either to the participants, or to anyone else.

For the secular liberal, anything done voluntarily between two or more people is generally morally permissible. A sexual act would be morally wrong if it were dishonest, coercive, or manipulative, and Natural Law theory would agree with that. However Aquinas would instead start by saying that anything that is not marital vaginal sex open to procreation is fundamentally wrong because it is ‘unnatural’ and against God’s purpose, and no amount of good intentions or other justification can ever eradicate that fatal flaw in any alternate sexual activity.

sex and power in alphabet bricks

 

Modern liberal Catholic moral theologians and others
Modern liberal Catholic moral theologians such as Todd Salzmann and Michael Lawler ³, and Sister Margaret Farley [4], and Dr James B Nickoloff [5], Bishop Geoffrey Robinson [6], James Alison [7], and Joshua Allen [8], all put a high moral value on consensual sexual activity only within committed permanent relationships, whether heterosexual marriage, lesbian and gay marriage, or lesbian and gay civil partnerships. Within such committed relationships, the emphasis is not on particular sexual acts and what body part goes where, but far more on its unitive value, consent and doing no harm.

spouse A is always for spouse B

commitment

Contemporary liberal Anglican, Episcopal and other liberal Christian moral theologians generally share this moral restriction on the use of human sexual faculties to those within committed permanent relationships.

In contrast, contemporary orthodox and evangelical Christian theologians are doctrinaire with tradition and biblical interpretations, decidedly hostile to any homosexual expression, and strict about limiting sex to within married heterosexual relationships, and they oppose adultery and divorce.

It is notable that a great deal more effort is put into condemning any homosexual activity whatsoever, than ever appears to be the case in relation to the much more frequent moral misbehaviours of heterosexuals which demonstrably harm others, such as adultery and divorce. In psychological terms this looks like a near pathological anti-homosexual obsession, scapegoating and displacement.

Oftentimes the Magisterium and others within the Catholic Church lurch into this same condemnatory response to homosexuality, forgetting their Catechism duty to treat lesbians and gay men with ‘respect, compassion and sensitivity’. Condemnatory sermonising that disregards the Catechism instructions on respect, compassion and sensitivity does not engender respect for the Church among those hurt by this. Frank acknowledgments of error and apologies for the unnecessary offence caused are decidedly rare and this is also un-Christian. Expecting lesbians and gay men to always turn the other cheek in the face of such Church misbehaviour is unreasonable. Such mistreatment, especially when repeated, is psychologically damaging to mental health and well-being.

 

Aquinas-lite, a contraception OK variant of Natural Law
Natural Law is still alive and well today among some contemporary philosophers of sex, even if the details do not exactly match Aquinas as now taught by the Church. John Finnis [9] [10] comes very close to a traditional Catholic or orthodox evangelical position. He does not require all vaginal intercourse within marriage to be open to procreation, so contraception is acceptable to Finnis.

However he invokes God and argues that only vaginal intercourse within marriage avoids ‘disintegrity’. Only in marital vaginal sex, as intended by God’s plan, do the couple attain a state of genuine unity: ‘the orgasmic union of the reproductive organs of husband and wife really unites them biologically.’ He says ‘all extramarital sexual gratification’ is morally worthless, even if it is vaginal intercourse within a committed relationship, because the body is then just a tool of sexual satisfaction and, as a result, the person undergoes ‘disintegration.’ ‘One’s choosing self [becomes] the quasi-slave of the experiencing self which is demanding gratification.’

Contraception - worth talking about

This is almost indistinguishable in practice from Aquinas. This is Aquinas-lite, ignoring Aquinas’s expectation of vaginal sex being for procreation and the contraception ban in In Humanae Vitae. Finnis appears to have conceived this framework to justify maintaining the hegemony of the current orthodox Catholic and evangelical Christian vaginal intercourse-only model for marriage. Finnis’s language is marginally different to Aquinas: ‘disintegrity’ and ‘disintegration’ being his terms to condemn all other sexual activity in place of Aquinas’s ‘unnatural’ or the 1986 letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faiths’ choice of the word ‘disordered’. It doesn’t feel any less damning to have that Finnis’s choice of words applied to you.

 

Love’s the thing
Pope John Paul II, wrote a sexual morality text book as Karol Wojtyla [11], and said that allowing oneself to be used sexually by another makes an object of oneself, and consent alone is not enough for this to be morally acceptable. ‘Only love can preclude the use of one person by another’ (p. 30), since love is a unification of persons resulting from a mutual gift exchange of their selves.

Note, however, that his idea that a unifying love is the key component that justifies sexual activity (in addition to consent) has an interesting and ironic consequence: gay and lesbian sexual relations should also be permissible if they occur within loving, monogamous homosexual marriages (which is the position advocated by the theologians Patricia Jung and Ralph Smith [12]).

I heart unifying

unifying love

However at this point in any discussion, defenders of the view that sexual activity is justifiable only within heterosexual marriage (such as Finnis and Wojtyla), commonly resort to Natural Law to rule out homosexual marriage, and to God to rule out all homosexual activity.

This only works if their Scripture interpretations are sound. Demonstrate that traditional scripture interpretations against homosexual sex are unsound, as many scholars have, and they’ll try a flip to quoting Church Tradition. But as many scholars have shown, there was no continuous Christian tradition of homosexuality being a sin, until shortly after St Thomas Aquinas arrived and made it so. The homosexuality is an ‘unnatural vice’ tradition is late (over 1200 years after Jesus) and it was invented, and it stands tottering on shaky Natural Law foundations. [There is a continuous Church tradition of some kind of sexual sin from the earliest days. Sorry I distorted what I meant to say. See Terence’s comment at the end and my response. And Part 4 includes the history of the sexual sin in some detail, and describes how Thomas reinforced this and codified it in the Church’s theology.]

 

So the holes in the Catholic Church’s defence of its current Natural Law and sexual morality teaching are becoming really obvious. When the Natural Law arguments are under significant sustained critique, they turn to what they say ‘God says’ to rescue their argument. Impasse is often reached soon after this: if you don’t believe (as a secularist), or you’re a Christian who sees the loving Jesus of the Gospels welcoming all people including lesbians and gay men especially when in committed unitive relationships in place of a punishing God, or if you don’t accept the Church’s interpretations of scripture, there is impasse.

 

Changing Church views

There are signs and sounds of creaking tectonic plates that indicate the Catholic Church is tending to be less dogmatic than it has been in the past and is edging towards finding a fresh way to represent the Truth in its teaching. Terence has posted about how the Vatican hasn’t officially repeated the ‘intrinsically disordered’ phrase recently; and about the nuanced language coming from the Archbishops of Westminster and Southwark in the pastoral letter about civil gay marriage, and in the Archbishop of Westminster’s recent reconfirmation of the Soho Masses pastoral ministry for lesbians and gay men.

Significant moral theologians of all sexualities have continued to voice concerns about the Truth of the sexual morality teaching from the Church.

1943 hanging sign in the South of the USA for the segregated waiting room for coloured people

1943 hanging sign in the South of the USA for the segregated waiting room for coloured people

Human cost of waiting

However while waiting for these tectonic plates of sexual morality teaching to shift, the human cost, which is born by lesbians and gay men and not the Church, is significant. We should remember that slaves continued to suffer too in the very slow repositioning of the Church on the slavery issue. The Church should avoid imposing a similar lengthy human cost on further generations of lesbians and gay men.

There has been around 750 years of pain so far since Thomas Aquinas facilitated the first declaration that homosexuality is a sin. The Church’s continuing strictures are significant pressures that reinforce and give authority to lesbian and gay discrimination in law and other mistreatment, they encourage the avoidable spread of HIV/AIDS, and they provoke suicides, especially among lesbian, gay and questioning teenagers.

Sinful delay

It has been suggested by theologians that the Church can sin. Sins against slaves and against lesbians and gay men, for not working with due speed to resolve these issues, should be on the Church’s and Magisterium’s conscience, as should those relating to failures to effectively address clerical child abuse. Failing to effectively address clerical child abuse scandalises the world and is a cause of further doubt to Catholics and the world that the Church is speaking the Truth about the proper expression of human sexuality, when the Magisterium’s own involvement in and response to clerical sexual abuse has been so wanting and disordered.

 

Next Time: Part 4:  More holes and weaknesses in Natural Law exposed

Next time, in the final segment, we’ll consider a further range of experts, referenced in Stanford University’s Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s chapter on Homosexuality and Natural Law. We will conclude with a detailed examination of Thomas Aquinas’s homosexual deception, where he suppressed elements from Aristotle, and mis-stated others, and became a prime cause of the Church making homosexuality a grave sin for the first time.

 

Further Reading and References

For a thorough study of the approaches to Human Sexuality by the Catholic Church, this is particularly useful: Catholic Culture and Sexuality, by Robert T Francoeur, 2005.

It contains a section ‘Dealing with Homosexuality’.
Robert T. Francoeur, PhD, is co-editor of the international award-winning Continuum Complete International Encyclopedia of Sexuality (Francoeur & Noonan, 2004a), compiled by 280 experts reporting on all aspects of sexual attitudes, values, behaviors, and relationships in 62 countries on seven continents. Trained in Catholic theology, human embryology, and sexology, Francoeur is also recent editor of the Complete Dictionary of Sexology (Francoeur, et al. 1995.and Sex, Love and Marriage in the Twenty-First Century (Francoeur, Cornog & Perper, 1999).

¹ Nagel, Thomas. “Sexual Perversion”, in Alan Soble, ed., The Philosophy of Sex, 3st edition. Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1997, pp. 9-20. http://www.iep.utm.edu/sexualit/#H10

² Soble, Alan. Sexual Investigations. New York: New York University Press,1996. (chapter 4)

³ Salzmann, Todd and Lawler, Michael. “The Sexual Person: Toward a Renewed Catholic Anthropology” Georgetown University Press, 2008 http://press.georgetown.edu/book/georgetown/sexual-person

[4] Farley, Margaret. “Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics”, Continuum, 2006
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/623342.Just_Love

[5] Nickoloff, James. “ ‘Intrinsically Disordered’ :Gay People and the Holiness of the Church” Bannan Institute, Santa Clara University, 2009 http://www.scu.edu/ignatiancenter/faculty/fellowships/upload/f_09_Intrinsically-Disordered.pdf

[6] Robinson, Geoffrey. “Christian Basis for Teaching on Sex: Sexual Relationships: Where does our Morality come from?” Address to New Ways Ministry Conference, March 2012 http://www.bishopgeoffrobinson.org/Christian%20Basis%20for%20Teaching%20on%20Sex.pdf

[7] Alison, James. Theology as Survival: an interview with James Alison by Brett Salkeld, 2012 http://www.jamesalison.co.uk/texts/eng67.html

[8] Allen, Joshua. Gay Marriage, Natural Law, and Civil Law: Understanding the Locus of Debate; De Libris Arbitrium, Center for Morality in Public Life, January 2011 http://www.cfmpl.org/reviews/2011/01/20/gay-marriage-natural-law-and-civil-law-understanding-the-locus-of-debate/

[9] Finnis, John. “Law, Morality, and Sexual Orientation” Notre Dame Law Review 69:5 (1994), pp1049-76.

[10] Finnis, John and Martha Nussbaum. “Is Homosexual Conduct Wrong? A Philosophical Exchange,” in Alan Soble, ed., The Philosophy of Sex, 3rd edition. Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1997, pp. 89-94.

[11] Wojtyla, Karol [Pope John Paul II]. Love and Responsibility. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1981.

[12] Jung, Patricia, and Ralph Smith. Heterosexism: An Ethical Challenge. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1993.

[13] Catholic Culture and Sexuality, by Robert T Francoeur, 2005.

[14] Curb, R., & Manahan, N. (Eds.). (1985). Lesbian nuns breaking silence. Tallahassee, FL: Naiad Press.

[15] Francoeur, R. T. (1988). Two different worlds, Two different moralities. In J. Gramick & P. Furey (Eds.), The Vatican and homosexuality: Reactions to the “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the pastoral care of homosexual persons.” New York: Crossroad.

[16] Francoeur, R. T. (1989). New dimensions in human sexuality. In R. H. Iles (Ed.), The Gospel imperative in the midst of AIDS: Toward a prophetic pastoral theology. Winton, CT: Morehouse Publishing.

[17] Gramick, J. (Ed.). (1983). Homosexuality and the Catholic Church. Chicago, IL: Thomas More Press.

[18] Gramick, J., & Furey, P. (Eds.). (1988). The Vatican and homosexuality: Reactions to the “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the pastoral care of homosexual persons.” New York: Crossroad.

[19] Nugent, R. (Ed.). (1984). A challenge to love: Gay and lesbian Catholics in the Church. New York: Crossroad.

[20] Nugent, R., & Gramick, J. (1992). Building bridges: Gay and lesbian reality and the Catholic Church. Mystic, CT: Twenty-Third Publications.

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More Weaknesses in Natural Law (Sex and Catholics 4)

Natural Law: Part 4

More Holes and Weaknesses in Natural Law and the future for sexual love
Part 1 dealt with the Natural Law.

Part 2 considered the male and female perspectives of Natural Law and the Church’s teachings on sexual morality, and recent learning from experts in evolution.

Part 3 considered examples of the world’s expertise in science and learning relating to the Church’s sexual morality teaching and assessed the Church’s teaching in the light of these critiques, and its response.

 

Now in this final section, Part 4, we consider more expert criticism of the use of Natural Law and Church’s sexual morality teachings about homosexuality. We critically assess what is called “New Natural Law” and its treatment of homosexuality. We conclude by examining Thomas Aquinas’s Homosexual Deception, and how this reinforced the Catholic Church’s treatment of homosexuality as a grave sin. The Church now needs to reassess whether it is transmitting the Truth about sexually expressing love in human relationships.

 

Natural Law and Homosexuality

Natural Law and Homosexuality are discussed in Stanford University’s Encyclopedia of Philosophy and this finds significant holes in the Catholic Church’s defence of its current Natural Law teaching. It’s clear that when Natural Law can’t defend the Church’s teaching it falls back on what it claims ‘God says’ to rescue the argument. We hear from some fresh contemporary experts, ones we did not meet in part 3. ¹

 

Sterile marriages and homosexual relationships

The Church makes procreation the ‘natural fulfillment’ of marriage, but this denigrates sterile marriages where one or both partners is infertile, and also devalues vaginal sex within marriage after a woman’s menopause. Yet vaginal sex within sterile and post-menopausal marriages is not morally wrong and the Church agrees these marriages are perfectly valid and acceptable. Why, people reasonably ask, is homosexual sex in the same context wrong (in a long-term committed relationship, such as a civil partnership, or lesbian or gay marriage)? ²

Infertility Reality poster

The Natural Law response to any suggestion that sex within lesbian and gay marriages and civil partnerships should be allowed, is to defend the Church’s teaching by saying that while vaginal intercourse within a sterile marriage is potentially procreative (considered in itself),  sex within same-sex relationships is never potentially procreative. ³

But is this biological distinction also morally relevant and persuasive, and in the way that Natural Law theorists assume?

Is this relevant and persuasive?

The Vatican and other orthodox Christians have no alternative left but to resort to tradition and interpretations of scripture to try to support natural law; they must respond that it’s because ‘God said so’ and only (even if just theoretically) procreative vaginal sex within a heterosexual marriage is ‘natural’ and ‘ordained’ by God.

Saying sex can only ever be within a heterosexual marriage because ‘God said so’, is not a Natural Law argument, it’s just based on interpretation of scripture. If you are secular, or don’t accept those scripture interpretations, that’s unpersuasive.

The Natural Law defence is particularly flimsy, because this says that the only permissible sex Natural Law ever permits is vaginal sex; but the key procreative part is irrelevant for infertile or post-menopausal couples. Asserting Natural Law to restrict sex to vaginal only appears really weak; this is more a matter of Church tradition, based on Aquinas’s reasoning.

If you insist it is from Natural Law, that requires a simplistic and particularly restrictive doctrinaire view of Natural Law that has been adopted by the Church and rigidly adhered to.

Angel delivers miracle fertility message

When the couple are infertile or post-menopausal, the Church attempts to include the theoretical procreativity as well, but that is an appeal for a miracle. [This happened only once in the New Testament. Barren and elderly Elizabeth, the wife of Zechariah, nonetheless had a miraculous son, John the Baptist. Zechariah was visited and informed of this by an angel (Luke 1, 6-7, 13-15)]. The Church doesn’t teach post-menopausal women or infertile couples to expect a miracle of procreation, as a justification for having vaginal sex.

The Church refuses to allow assisting fertility with things like IVF. Natural Law is behind that.

Loving unions and secular Natural Law
Secular Natural Law theorists, when they consider infertility or post-menopausal marriages, waver and oscillate. On the one hand, they want to defend an ideal of marriage as a loving union wherein two persons are committed to their mutual flourishing, and where sex is a unitive complement to that ideal. Yet that opens the possibility of permissible gay sex, or of heterosexual oral or anal sex, all of which they want to oppose.

equal narriage Union Jacks at Buckingham Palace

Reductive fallback on procreation
So secular Natural Law theorists then must defend a version of human sexuality which seems crudely reductive, emphasizing procreation to the point where literally a male orgasm anywhere except in the vagina of one’s loving spouse is impermissible, like orthodox Catholic teaching. Then, when accused of being reductive, they move back to the broader ideal of marriage.

 

Secular liberal ideas in modern natural law
So secular Natural Law theorists have now made significant concessions to mainstream liberal thought. In contrast to medieval times, most contemporary secular Natural Law theorists argue for little or no governmental intervention in sexual activity, and do not believe the state should attempt to prevent all moral wrongdoing.

Defend Equality, Love Unites poster

Secular justification of discrimination and lesbian and gay exclusion
Some secular Natural Law theorists still argue against homosexuality, and some even argue there should not even be any anti-discrimination legal protection for gays and lesbians in areas like employment and housing; the most extreme have even served as expert witnesses in court cases and produced expert opinions for the courts in cases disputing the legal rights and protections of lesbians and gay men.

Natural Law Gay Hate Tweet

Natural Law Homophobic Tweet from a Coffee Shop

Where does this aversion to homosexuality come from, especially where this is also used to justify unequal treatment and discrimination? If the person is secular, then they can’t call on religion or its traditions for an explanation. Their gay aversion can only be based on a very simplistic heterosexual vaginal penetration view of sex, as proposed by Aquinas; anything else would allow heterosexual oral / anal sex and that makes excluding lesbians and gay men illogical. The only other possible explanation for such a restrictive conception of acceptable sex is secular homophobic prejudice. In the 21st century, for secularists to argue Natural Law only permits vaginal heterosexual sex is simplistic, anachronistic, and medieval, in the face of scientific studies of nature showing the biological abundance of diverse sexual behaviour patterns and the blurring of gender roles.

 

Catholic teaching forbids unjust discrimination
The Catholic Church certainly opposes ‘unjust’ discrimination against homosexuals, and states clearly that a homosexual orientation is never a justification for this.

 ope urges UK Bishops to fight gay equality                           ooops! Do what the Church says not as I do, please people

The Stanford Encyclopedia says some secular Natural Law theorists, like the Catholic Church, argue against allowing gay and lesbian marriage equality, and it cites Gerard V Bradley [4] and Robert P George [5]. However it is clear neither of them are secularists arguing a secularist view; both are Catholic authors arguing a Catholic case.

Gerard V Bradley is a Catholic working at the Notre Dame Law School and contributed his essay to the Catholic Social Science Review. Robert P George wrote his essay “‘Same-Sex Marriage’ and ‘Moral Neutrality’”, using Catholic Natural Law and religious arguments. There is a detailed critique and summary of his essay here. There is nothing new here: both use arguments we have heard before in the Pastoral letter from the London Archbishops opposing lesbian and gay marriage, but these pieces are written for an academic audience.

 

The “New Natural Law” and homosexuality
Stephen J Pope has written an ethical analysis and critique of the Magisterium’s arguments against same sex marriage, which appeared in Theological Studies 65 (2004). [7]
This lengthy extract below is very helpful in critically understanding current Catholic Natural Law in relation to homosexuality:

                                 Natural Law, Homosexuality and Roman Catholicism book  

“The central concern of the natural moral law in relation to the state’s civil law is, of course, justice and related notions of human rights, fairness, equity, and the common good. The state does in fact “legislate morality” in some sense, but, as St. Thomas Aquinas held, the civil law cannot and should not enforce the entire natural moral law. [8]
The Magisterium does not advocate the civil law should make illegal all “homosexual activity”. The Magisterium restricts itself to preaching this activity is wrong, both inside and outside the Church.

New Natural Law
There are a variety of ways of interpreting natural law within Catholic theology, but the “new natural law” theory presents the most visible school of Catholic ethics engaged in the public debate over same-sex marriage.

The “new natural law theory” works from a key premise:

“In voluntary acting for human goods and avoiding what is opposed to them, one ought to choose and will those and only those possibilities whose willing is compatible with integral human fulfillment.” [9]

Individuals may never legitimately attack a “basic good,” including the “marital good.” [10] According to “new natural lawyers” Gerard Bradley and Robert George,

“Marriage, considered not as a mere legal convention, but, rather as a two-in-one-flesh communion of persons that is consummated and actualized by sexual acts of the reproductive type, is an intrinsic (or, in our parlance, ‘basic’) human good; as such, marriage provides a non-instrumental reason for spouses, whether or not they are capable of conceiving children in their acts of genital union, to perform such acts.” [11]

“Homosexual acts” are thus not ethically permitted because they are incapable of attaining this “one flesh unity”; in fact, “homosexual acts” merely create the “appearance” of true sexual intimacy.” [12]

The “new natural lawyers” in effect maintain that the “good of union” cannot be pursued unless the couple is also “open to procreation.” [Contraception is unacceptable].

The “new natural lawyers” recognize that the law should neither simply legislate the entirety of the moral law, nor outlaw all sexual acts such as contraception or fornication that violate the “marital good.” The purpose of civil law is to secure the conditions that “favor, facilitate and foster the realization by each individual of his or her personal development.” [13]

gay not gay switch on chest             New Natural Law: The State should do what it can to discourage gay lifeFinnis

Finnis argues that the state has a “compelling interest in denying that homosexual conduct—a ‘gay lifestyle’—is a valid, humanly acceptable choice and form of life,” and that it ought to do “what it properly can . . . to discourage such conduct.” [14] Since the government is a teacher and the law has a pedagogical function, neither government nor law can remain “morally neutral” with regard to social institutions as important as marriage and the family.

no tolerance road sign

Thus in some settings a government could be perfectly justified in imposing legal restrictions on “the advertising and marketing of homosexual services, the maintenance of places of resort for homosexual activity, or the promotion of homosexualist ‘lifestyles’ via public education and public media of communication,” [15] and so forth.

Objections to “New Natural Law”

The “new natural law” theory is vulnerable to two objections. First, it fails to build a logical case for its claim that accepting the ethical legitimacy of any and all “homosexual acts” necessarily implies that one regards sexual activity as nothing more than the pursuit of individual self-gratification. [16]

Errors of Condemnation

Its sweeping ethical condemnation of all intentionally non-procreative sex is excessively monolithic and undifferentiated.

As legal scholar Stephen Macedo points out, it is

“strikingly simplistic and implausible to portray the essential nature of every form of non-procreative sexuality as no better than the least valuable form.” [17]

The same habit of gross over-generalization is exhibited in its claims about gay people. It is a reductionistic exaggeration to epitomize the behavior of every gay person as driven by a “promiscuous, liberationist ‘gay lifestyle,’ which rejects all sexual restraints and value judgments.” [18] If this were universally the case, there would in fact be few gay activists lobbying for same-sex marriage. Gay people are more diverse, and in morally relevant ways, than is recognized by the “new natural law theory.”

It's a choice to be a bigot

Second, the “new natural law” argument does not take into account the concrete experience of gay people. Here it replicates the Magisterium’s oversight. It attempts to justify its position on the basis of a deductive argument and abstract philosophical analysis, but it cannot avoid making claims of a predictive nature about the real world, how people will act in it, and the probable consequences of their actions on their communities. This empirical dimension is especially important when considering moral arguments against same-sex marriage.”

 

Britons of Distinction Alan Turing Gay Hero postage stamp

You Can’t Predict or Generalise about Lesbians and Gay Men: Britons of Distinction: Alan Turing, Gay Hero

 

Continuing evolution of attitudes and moral responses
We are still going through a period and process where attitudes and thinking about lesbian and gay marriage and behaviour are evolving and developing, in both secular and Christian moral philosophy. Both are heatedly debated in the USA, far more so than in the UK.

The significantly shifting public attitudes to lesbian and gay marriage illustrate sharply this ideological flux and the tension between liberal and conservative orthodox opinions. The tide has turned and is running generally, in most of the developed and nominally Christian world, in support of lesbian and gay rights and acceptance.

It Gets Better - hands holding light

 

 

Thomas Aquinas’s deliberate deceptions about Sodomy [19]
As the conclusion to this series, it’s time to look into Thomas Aquinas’s homosexual deception, and how this reinforced the treatment of homosexual behaviour by the Church as a serious sin. This was referred to in the first post on Natural Law, when I described St Thomas Aquinas as a naughty deceptive moral theologian, because he buried and distorted some key passages in Aristotle to suit the Church’s historic hostility.

history of christianity, from Thomas Aquinas, through gay people to Galileo

The background is that the Church has fairly consistently taught that some kind of sexual behaviour, which the Church now says are homosexual acts, was a serious sin (‘homosexual’ was a word only invented in the late 19th century); this is based on Romans 1: 26–27. St Paul’s words are taken together with passages in Leviticus which are understood to be also about homosexual acts.

But Leviticus was actually condemning other things. One was breaking a major Jewish and middle eastern social taboo by being inhospitable to your visitors and guests (Lot and his wife did this). Reform Jews see in another of Leviticus’s warnings: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination”, a warning against temple prostitution, of Jews adopting the idolatrous fertility cults and practices of their Canaanite neighbours.

Leviticus also said no hair cuts, but I guess you are skipping that one

St Paul had been a strict Jew who actively persecuted the early Christians, converted but remained an authoritarian character. What he was actually condemning (in Romans 1 26) was the sexual abuse of male power and privilege: sexual acts by a more powerful, higher status male, imposing sex on a younger, lower status male. Among Greeks this was typically a youth who lived with an older man as a pupil and apprentice, learning to be a good adult male citizen. Among Romans, Paul was condemning higher status males imposing themselves sexually on their male slaves.

We only hear his condemnation about sex with other males. Sex with a woman would be the sins of adultery and fornication (sex outside marriage) which were bad, but not publicly shameful in Paul’s eyes.

St. Paul also instructed women to always cover their heads in Church, but the Catholic Church chooses to ignore that and now keeps quiet about it.

london Gay Men's Chorus perform Seven Deadly Sins poster

There was no such thing as ‘homosexuality’ or ‘homosexuals’, as we understand these in the Greek or Roman world at the time. Despite the claims usually made, and the wording of the translations commonly quoted, what St Paul was really condemning was male power abuse, through the sexual use of vulnerable males.

There was no culture of male couples preferring sex with each other, to sex with a woman; refraining from marriage to have a male partner was alien. So in religious and secular writing from this time and later, the references are always to acts, never to a “sexual orientation”, nor to “homosexuals”, which are modern concepts.

Both Roman and Greek pagan society vehemently derided and stigmatized behaviours such as male effeminacy, any adult Roman male citizen being penetrated by another citizen, or by anyone of a lesser status, particularly by a slave. The early Church inherited these pagan hostile attitudes and these linked into Judaic prohibitions in Leviticus. So early writings by Church fathers describe same-sex acts as sinful, and St Chrysostom in the 4th century described same sex acts as worse than murder. This condemnation of same sex behaviour continued in later centuries.

Saints Sergius and Bacchus

Saints Sergius and Bacchus

However, the historian John Boswell disagreed strongly with this account, and referred to the same-sex Church ceremony of adelphopoiesis, which united two people of the same sex as “spiritual sisters/brothers”, and Boswell argued this gave Church blessings to romantic and sexual unions. Others point out that the ceremony’s words say that it was not a carnal union, and that the union was a ceremony creating “blood-brothers”, and that is what the pictures of Saints Sergius and Bacchus together are depicting. However Saints Sergius and Bacchus were both referred to as erastai in ancient Greek manuscripts, the same word used to describe lovers. We won’t ever really know for sure because it was so long ago and we can’t know what happened in or out of bed.

Boswell, in his essay The Church and the Homosexual,  attributes Christianity’s denunciations of “homosexuality” to a supposedly rising intolerance in Europe throughout the 12th century, but the historian R W Southern disagrees: “the only relevant generalization which emerges from the penitential codes down to the eleventh century is that sodomy was treated on about the same level as copulation with animals.”

 

St Thomas has his say on homosexual acts [6]

It was shortly after this, in the middle of the 13th Century, that Thomas Aquinas produces his work where he distorted Aristotle, to support the Church’s condemnation of same sex acts.

Thomas Aquinas is responsible for the ‘sodomy delusion’. In a crucial passage of his major work Summa Theologiae (III, q. 31, 7) he falsified the material which he borrowed from Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics (VII v 34, 1148b).

strong delusion - in rainbow colours

In this, Aristotle had explicitly stated that sexual attraction to males (venereorum masculis) could be motivated either by nature (natura) or from habit (ex consuetudine).

In his commentary on this Latin translation of Aristotle, Aquinas dutifully reported Aristotle saying that acting on an attraction to the same gender could be ‘natural’: “from the nature of the physical constitution which [certain people] have received from the beginning” (ex natura corporalis complexionis quam acceperunt a principio).

But when he came to write his theological masterwork, the Summa Theologiae, he suppressed the fact that acting on one’s homosexual nature can be ‘natural’, and instead bluntly asserted that what is contrary to human nature (id quod est contra naturam hominis) may “become connatural to a particular human being” (fiat huic homini connaturale).

“Connatural” here does not mean “inborn” but applies to feelings that have fused with your personality, to be “second nature”. So Thomas is saying ‘unnatural homosexual behaviour’ can become ‘second nature’, which is not what Aristotle had said at all. So Aquinas fiddled his sources to fit the Church’s rules, to reinforce the Church’s teaching about same sex sin. He was writing a major theology book for the Church. If you did this at university now, you’d risk being failed for serious misrepresentation of your sources and academic deceit.

Later he manages another fiddle by adding something Aristotle never said, that “such corruption can be…for psychological causes” (quae corruptio potest esse…ex parte animae). Aquinas claims this involves “intercourse with animals or males” (in coitu bestiarum aut masculorum), which neatly fits the Church’s sin agenda by deliberately paraphrasing the Christian notion of sodomia (which then included both bestiality and any same sex behaviour).

 

Homosexuality as a theological problem
So Aquinas strongly reinforced homosexuality as problem for Christian theologians, who have, ever since, kept up the tradition that erotic attraction to one’s own sex is a choice that becomes second nature and therefore must be condemned as deliberate, unnatural, abnormal and pathological.

Aquinas gave the condemnation of same sex acts a proper scholastic context, making it a standard in moral theology and the Canon Law of the Roman Catholic Church, and this helped legitimise homophobic criminal laws and social discrimination for the last 750 years.

theology is simply that part of religion that requires brains

His authority appears unchallengeable, because the Council of Trent in the 16th century declared him a ‘Doctor of the Church’. The Church will want to avoid admitting a major Saint and Doctor of the Church made any error in writing about natural same sex attraction, a foundation stone of Catholic moral theology.

His theological conclusions help explain why the Church is reluctant now to reassess its teaching, when modern evidence and thinking calls for a serious review. Aquinas codified a teaching and reinforced a Tradition that was built on mistranslations and misinterpretations of Scripture, the pagan patriarchal roots of same-sex revulsion and exclusion, and the Church now chooses to disregard the wealth of scientific understanding about the flexibility and diversity in gender and sexual behaviour found throughout the natural world and different human cultures, and the changed world situation since 2000 years ago. The Church is discomforted because all this doesn’t fit the doctrinaire and simplistic construction which is the Catholic Natural Law for sexual behaviour.

Rather than recognise the weight of evidence calling for a thorough reassessment of whether the Church is actually transmitting God’s Truth and the message of Jesus in Gospels about sexually expressing human love, the Church is still sheltering within its comfort zone of old certainties. The Second Vatican Council made clear this is not good enough. The Church has found new understandings of the Truth before, including about slavery and usury. The Truth about the  sexual expression of love between people is its latest challenge.

 

Further Reading and References
¹ Pickett, Brent, “Homosexuality”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2011 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.),  and Homosexuality and Natural Law

² Macedo, Stephen, 1995, “Homosexuality and the Conservative Mind” Georgetown Law Journal 84: 261-300.

³ George, Robert P., 1999, In Defense of Natural Law. New York: Oxford University Press

[4] Bradley, Gerard V., 2001, “The End of Marriage” in Marriage and the Common Good. Ed. by Kenneth D. Whitehead. South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press.

[5] George, Robert P., 2001, “‘Same-Sex Marriage’ and ‘Moral Neutrality’” in Marriage and the Common Good. Ed. by Kenneth D. Whitehead. South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press.

[6] http://www.williamapercy.com/wiki/images/Aquinas.pdf

[7] Pope, Stephen J., 2004, The Magisterium’s arguments against same sex marriage: an ethical analysis and critique, Theological Studies, 65

[8] Aquinas, Thomas Summa theologiae 1–2, q. 96, a. 2, ad 3.

[9] Finnis, “Law, Morality, and ‘Sexual Orientation,”’ 1075, n.63.

[10] See Germain Grisez, The Way of the Lord Jesus, vol. 2: Living a Christian Life(Quincy, Ill: Franciscan, 1993) 651; and John Finnis, “Law, Morality, and ‘Sexual Orientation,”’ Notre Dame Law Review 69 (1994) 1049.

[11] Gerard V. Bradley and Robert P. George, “Marriage and the Liberal Imagination,”Georgetown Law Journal 84 (1995) 301–20, at 301–2.

[12] Grisez, The Way of the Lord Jesus 2.653. Finnis argues that sexual intimacy between two members of the same sex can by their very nature accomplish no more than what is expressed in casual sex, sex contracted with a prostitute, or solitary masturbation. (See Finnis, “Law, Morality, and ‘Sexual Orientation,”’ 1049, 1067.) Some critics of course object strenuously to this description of gay and lesbian sexual activity, but this debate need not be entered here. See Paul J. Weithman, “Natural Law, Morality, and Sexual Complementarity,” in David M. Estlund and Martha C. Nussbaum, ed., Sex, Preference, and Family: Essays on Law and Nature (New York: Oxford University, 1997) especially 239–41.

[13] John Finnis, Natural Law and Natural Rights (Oxford: Clarendon, 1980) 147.

[14] Finnis, “Law, Morality, and ‘Sexual Orientation,”’ 1070, emphasis in original text. See also Robert P. George, “’Same-Sex Marriage’ and ‘Moral Neutrality,”’ in Christopher Wolfe, ed., Homosexuality and American Public Life (Dallas: Spence Publishing Company, 1999) 141–53.

[15] Finnis, as [14]

[16] Weithman, “Natural Law, Morality, and Sexual Complementarity” 242–43.

[17] Stephen Macedo, “Homosexuality and the Conservative Mind,” Georgetown Law Journal 84 (December 1995) 261–300, at 282; emphasis in the original text.

[18] Stephen Macedo, as [17]

[19] http://www.williamapercy.com/wiki/images/Aquinas.pdf

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...Chris Morley’s complete series on natural law

 

Inclusive Study Material for World Meeting of Families.

Lifesite News once again have their knickers in a knot over how the mainstream church is promoting an alleged “homosexual agenda”.

The six-part program titled “Amoris: Let’s talk Family! Let’s be Family!” contains explicit promotion of homosexual relationships as a form of family, saying that such relationships provide “mutual support” for active homosexuals.

This would be great news if it were true – but in fact, the picture described is greatly exaggeration, depending on a single picture of two women embracing, and a line that refers to “other forms” of union, which Lifesite chooses to interpret as applicable specifically and exclusively to same-sex couples. In fact of course, Amoris Laetitia (on which the entire World Meeting program will be based) recognises a great number of relationships outside of lifelong heterosexual marriage. Same-sex couples are just one of these.

Nevertheless, even if Lifesite fears are exaggerated, there is indeed good news for gay and lesbian couples, and queer families of all shades, in the study material and in the general planning for the World Meeting of Families.  Just as the  line to which Lifesite objects does not necessarily apply only to same-sex couples – it most certainly could apply to us, alongside many others.  In the same way, some of the other images in the material could apply to us – or perhaps not. This one for instance, is quite clearly of two men. Are they a “couple”? That is not spelled out.




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Support for Pope Francis Counters “Filial Correction”

Reports yesterday from the Czech Republic describe a letter by Czech theologian and Charles University Professor Tomas Halik in support of Pope Francis and his positions on marriage. Those reports stated that the letter has been signed by “several dozens of personalities” and supported by “hundreds” of others

Signatory Bishop Kevin Dowling (Rustenburg, South Africa)

Here’s the text of the letter, from their website:

Dear highly esteemed Pope Francis,

Your pastoral initiatives and their theological justification are currently under vehement attack by a group in the church. With this open letter, we wish to express our gratitude for your courageous and theologically sound papal leadership.

In a short time, you have succeeded in reshaping the pastoral culture of the Roman Catholic Church in accordance with its origin in Jesus. Wounded people and wounded nature go straight to your heart. You see the church as a field hospital on the margins of life. Your concern is every single person loved by God. When encountering others, compassion and not the law shall have the last word. God and God’s mercy characterize the pastoral culture that you expect from the church. You dream of a “church as mother and shepherdess.” We share your dream.

We ask that you would not veer from the path you have taken, and we assure you of our full support and constant prayer.

Signatory Bishop Paul Iby,(Eisenstadt, Austria)

The letter was released just yesterday – October 17th. Today, website lists 199 formal signatories (including at least six bishops that I can see, from )the original “hundreds” of supporters has become several thousand (4366 at 13:45, BST), and is increasing rapidly –  up by 80 in just the last 35 minutes. It’s also notable that the initial formal signatories are overwhelmingly from the Czech Republic and the adjacent Germany. Past experience (eg, from the German “theologians’ revolt) suggests that as news of this initiative spreads, many more prominent theologians, pastors and bishops from Western Europe, the Americas and elsewhere will add their signatures.

Signatory Dom Erwin Krautler (Bishop of Xingu, Brazil)

When news first broke of the “filial correction”, it soon became clear that not only were the numbers of signatories limited, but their status was low. That is certainly not the case with the counter initiative.  Even in these early stages. signatories include bishops from Austria, Hungary, Brazil and South Africa as well as the Czech Republic, and professional theologians from several universities, including Marie-Jo Thiel, president of the European association for Catholic theology and Professor Thomas O’Loughlin, President of the Catholic Theological Association of Great Britain.

Signatory Bishop Miklós Beer (Eger, Hungary)



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LGBT Presence at World Meeting of Families?

The bishop of Limerick, Bishop Brendan Leahy, has  made explicit what has previously been implied – that gay couples must be made welcome at next year’s World Meeting of Families in Dublin.

….speaking after his diocese launched its preparation programme for WMF2018, an international event which promotes traditional Catholic teaching on marriage, Dr Leahy said the event in August 2018 in Dublin would be a missed opportunity if the Church did not embrace family in all its variety.”We are living in changing times and family too is changing,” he said.”We’ve had the referendum in favour of same-sex marriage and a lot of people voted in that referendum and all are equally welcome to join in this celebration of family.”Everyone must be made feel welcome next year. We all want to build a good family network of support in Ireland at all levels.”

Independent.ie





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Pope Francis, John XXIII: “Development” of Doctrine

Pope Francis’ observation that “development” of doctrine means that we can now declare that the death penalty is unacceptable to Catholics, opens up an important debate on the very nature of “development” of Church teaching. Typically for Francis, when he introduces something seemingly new, he is in fact resting solidly on his predecessors, and on past practice. In Amoris Laetitia, the issues that have drawn the most strenuous opposition were in fact firmly grounded in Thomas Aquinas, and in the teaching of Pope John Paul II. Right at the beginning of his papacy, in a widely publicised interview with  La Civiltà Cattolica, he said clearly that it is both inevitable and necessary that doctrine will constantly develop. He supported that statement, by quoting from the a reading for the daily office for the feast of St Vincent of Lerins – whose feast day was yesterday (Friday of week 27).

Pope Saint John XXIII

In his statement this week on the death penalty referring to the possibility of development in church teaching, he drew on Pope John XXIII and Vatican II:

The Jesuit pope began his talk by recalling that at the opening of the Second Vatican Council on Oct. 11, 1962, John XXIII said, “It is necessary first of all that the church should never depart from the sacred patrimony of truth received from the Fathers. But at the same time, she must ever look to the present, to the new conditions and new forms of life introduced into the modern world which have opened up new avenues to the Catholic apostolate.” Moreover, Pope John added, “our duty is not only to guard this treasure, as if we were concerned only with antiquity, but to dedicate ourselves with an earnest will and without fear to that work which our era demands of us, pursuing thus the path which the church has followed for 20 centuries.”




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Catholics and the Death Penalty: Teaching CAN Change.

In a notable development, Pope Francis has announced that the death penalty is “no longer acceptable” to Catholics, because there have been what are described as “developments” in doctrine. As a result, it is reported, there will be revisions to the Cathechism.

Pope Francis declared today that the death penalty is “contrary to the Gospel.” He said that “however grave the crime that may be committed, the death penalty is inadmissible because it attacks the inviolability and the dignity of the person.”

He did so in a major talk on Oct. 11 to an audience of cardinals, bishops, priests, nuns, catechists, and ambassadors from many countries on the 25th anniversary of the promulgation of the catechism, affirming that there has been a development of doctrine in the church and a change in the consciousness of the Christian people on the question of the death penalty. The pope’s comments and the timing of them suggest that a revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church may be forthcoming to reflect this new development in the church’s understanding.

-America magazine




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