Category Archives: Homosexuality

Mum, I’m flesh of your flesh and the idea that it doesn’t matter is preposterous.

surrogacy1To be honest the AHR (assisted human reproduction) legislation and the position of children troubles me more than marriage equality. Nonetheless, I’m not suggesting that I accept the idea that the forthcoming referendum can be viewed as a matter of simple equality. There’s no doubt in my mind that this legislation has been separated from the marriage referendum deliberately because it’s highly likely that if the legislation was part of the referendum it would swing many people in the direction of a no vote.

Back in the thirties my grandmother gave birth to my father outside marriage. I was 19 before I even knew my grandmother was alive – and to make matters worse I learned of her existence on the day of my father’s funeral!

I’ve survived quite well without her of course but nonetheless from the moment I knew about my grandmother’s existence I’ve always experienced her absence as a loss – more so as I get older. I never knew the woman but that wasn’t my fault – it’s never the child’s fault – rather it’s the deliberate deprivation of a child by adults. But the deprivation doesn’t stop there. My grandmother later married and had other children. I have no idea if they know about my father or about my sister and I.

Here’s the question: Why should I have been denied the experience of knowing my grandmother because adults messed up? Why must adults impose their issues on children so often?

It goes without saying that I’ve always experienced the death of my father as a deprivation.

Interestingly, I know nothing of my paternal grandfather and I’ve survived without him. Nonetheless, why should I as a child have been denied the experience of knowing him because it suited an adult agenda?

On Sunday last, Mother’s Day (or should that be parent’s day?) I spent some time with my eighty three year old mother. Sometimes I look at her knowing that I’ve limited time with her and I marvel at this woman, at the fact that I came from her womb, that I am flesh of her flesh, and I find the suggestion that this doesn’t matter to be outrageously stupid and beyond reason.

Here’s the question: Why should a child be deliberately denied the experience of a mother because two adult men can’t naturally give birth to a child?

And why should a child be deliberately denied the experience of a father because two adult women can’t naturally give birth to a child?

Newstalk loves a sound-bite! Bishop Kevin Doran.

Bishop Kevin Doran also said that lesbian/gay couples aren't parents. We all know he means that at least one is not the biological father or mother!

Bishop Kevin Doran also said that lesbian/gay couples aren’t parents. We all know he means that at least one is not the biological father or mother and that the role of either a father or a mother is deliberately excluded.

While being interviewed on Newstalk radio (09.02.2015) Bishop Kevin Doran certainly gave the proponents of same sex marriage #SSM quite a few sound-bites to run with!

Later that day on Twitter I was asked by @NORTHANNE: “Do you think comparing homosexuals with those suffering an affliction like Down syndrome and Spina bifida is acceptable?”

On first reading such a comparison does seem unacceptable. But let’s place the bishop’s comments in context. Bishop Doran is not making a direct comparison between homosexuality and Down syndrome or Spina bifida but rather stating the Christian belief that not everything that occurs in natural life is attributed to God’s direct design.

So the question arises then; where does the homosexual orientation come from? For the Church this is the critical point. If the homosexual orientation is by God’s direct design then the Church is wrong in her teaching about homosexuality, plain and simple. In fact, we should all be advocating a yes vote in the marriage referendum. On the other hand, if the orientation is not by God’s direct design then where does it come from? Is it one of the many variations of natural life that we do not attribute to God’s direct design?

Bishop Doran made the point that we don’t know; the words he used were “the jury is out on it.” Bishop Doran could have added; we’re still waiting on science to give us the definitive answer. But whatever the answer when it comes, one thing is certain, revelation can’t contradict the truths of science!

Here’s a link to Jack Quann’s coverage of the interview including audio links: http://www.newstalk.com/Bishop-of-Elphin-Kevin-Doran-gay-marriage-Newstalk-Breakfast-same-sex-marriage

Hey you’re wrong! The Catholic Church does not denounce homosexuality.

Pope-Francis-Reject-Gay-MarriageRecently @pmbarrins tweeted to my twitter account: “Trying to distance the Catholic Church from homophobia is disingenuous when it has actively and staunchly denounced homosexuality and by default homosexuals, using language that could never be described as Christian.”

A later tweet from @paulscullion argued (correctly, I think!): “It would help if Church doctrine and teaching was better articulated – the use of legal English sounds cold and judgmental.”

I think @paulscullion has something valuable to say. Unfortunately, while @pmbarrins tweet is probably popular it remains substantively untrue. Furthermore, I cannot see how it will ever be possible for the Catholic Church to “approve” homosexual acts while remaining faithful to the deposit of faith entrusted to the Church from the very days of the Incarnation. Furthermore, the Catholic Church has never, and never will, denounce homosexuality. The Church will, however, insist that homosexual acts are sinful.

I suspect the use of “legal English” is due to the Church’s effort to make very fine distinctions, distinctions that seek to preserve the sacredness of every life, irrespective of sexual orientation. When considering homosexuality the Church seeks to preserve a distinction between the person, the inclination and the action. The distinctions are important but they’re usually ignored – for whatever reason. The result is that Church teaching on the matter of same sex attraction has been interpreted in a way that’s the total opposite to what is intended.

Let’s start with the description: “Intrinsically disordered.” It’s generally interpreted by the homosexual person to mean “I’m intrinsically disordered.” This is horrific and if it was true would validate @pmbarrins tweet. But nothing could be further from the truth. “Intrinsically disordered” is descriptive of homosexual acts only. The description is not intended to say a single iota about the homosexual person. Homosexual acts are considered to be “intrinsically disordered” only in relation to the Catholic (and dare I say natural) understanding of the purpose of human sexuality; procreation, not in relation to the person. To understand this point better ask yourself; what is sex for? Now imagine an alien from outer space arriving on earth and asking the same question; what’s sex for? It’s how the human race reproduces itself. Biologically obvious, isn’t it?

SLOVAKIA-POLITICS-RIGHTS-HOMOSEXUALITY-SOCIALThe distinction arises again when homosexuality is said to be “objectively disordered.” Here, similarly, homosexuality (the homosexual inclination) is considered “objectively disordered” only in relation to the Catholic – and dare I say again, natural purpose – of human sexuality; procreation. The use of “objective” is very deliberate and is intended to ensure that “disorder” cannot be applied in any way to the homosexual person, to the subjective. How can the use of “objective” be understood otherwise? It should be obvious but objective and subjective do not have the same meaning! Still, there are people convinced that the Church attacks homosexual persons. This is simply untrue.

Yes, absolutely, these are very fine distinctions, but they are distinctions that carry a single purpose – to ensure that homosexual persons are “accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided” (2358).

Finally, even sinful acts are subject to fine distinctions, not in terms of the sinfulness of an act itself, but in terms of a person’s culpability. In Catholic understanding it’s not in the sinful act (which always falls under objective morality) that the so-called “grey” area resides, but in the person’s culpability (subjective morality). But that’s a matter for another blog!

“Unlike other great religions, Christianity has never proposed a revealed law to the State and to society, that is to say a juridical order derived from revelation. Instead, it has pointed to nature and reason as the true sources of law – and to the harmony of objective and subjective reason, which naturally presupposes that both spheres are rooted in the creative reason of God” Pope Benedict XVI

Accusations of hoIMG_0662mophobia, religious fundamentalism and even suicide statistics fail to engage with Catholic reason concerning homosexuality

Ì too had the privilege of hearing Mary McAleese being interviewed by Pat Kenny recently. I was enthralled as she spoke of her modest lifestyle while studying in Rome. In the course of the interview about her book ‘Quo Vadis’ which is about Collegiality in the Code of Canon Law, she addressed the issue of homosexuality using suicide statistics and argued for a change in Catholic Church teaching. When she’d finished I was deeply troubled.

As I recovered I was struck by her use of suicide statistics – essentially the use of personal tragedy to argue for a change in Church teaching. I also noted her focus on the creature rather than the Creator. The discussion was about gay men and the Catholic Church – God was hardly mentioned! Surely, when it comes to judging the Catholic Church’s position on a particular issue the deciding factor must always be God’s will? After all, God’s will is the only guarantee of humankind’s well-being.

Of course, this view is diametrically opposed to the view that men and women know what’s best for the human race. That’s democracy. But Christians follow Christ. He alone is the Saviour of the world, not majority opinion! So the Catholic point of departure is always God’s will, in this case God’s will concerning homosexuality.

Now strange as it might seem when Catholicism seeks to propose laws to the State the appeal in the first instance is not to revelation but to nature and reason. Nature and reason then are Catholicism’s defence against the invalid charge of homophobia. Of course, like all reasonable people I accept that there are homophobic people in our midst but I do not accept the use of the homophobia blanket to smother every opposing argument. I find such blanket-smothering of opposing views to be really fearful!

The real fears within Catholicism have nothing to do with homophobia. Firstly, as a Catholic I fear sin, particularly the enculturation of sin. Catholicism doesn’t fear the human person – nothing could be more ridiculous – Catholicism fears sin. Besides, Jesus Christ came to save us from sin, not in sin! Secondly, I share with Catholicism the terrifying fear that we might “tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders” Matt. 23:4. Do you seriously think that men like John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis, and the majority of faithful Catholics have not struggled with such fear in our consideration of homosexuality? We certainly have and therefore Catholicism looks to the harmony of nature, reason and revelation. Where else can Catholics go?

Appealing to nature and reason the Catholic Church then argues as follows: male and female God made them, and so it is; we discover men and women, male and female as the essential dynamic of creation. We discover that the various parts of the male and female body are fit for sexual purpose, actually fit together and serve a very important purpose, the transmission of human life and the survival of the human race, while sexual intercourse itself implicitly speaks the language not of ‘trial’ love, but of Sacramental love; I give myself completely to you in love. What’s the alternative taken to its logical conclusion? In other words, the physical act of sexual intercourse innately means or is connatural with the mutual irrevocable gift of the whole person that is Sacramental marriage. As such Catholicism concludes that sex belongs to Sacramental marriage, love unto death, love that shares Gods creative work, love that bursts forth in the transmission of new life in all its forms. It may be idealistic (and difficult!) by humankind’s current standards but surely it’s the true meaning and purpose of sex as it exists in the mind of God. Surely as believers, notwithstanding our failures, we can agree on this much.

We also notice that there are exceptions occurring naturally, for example infertility, and among some men and women something very different, an attraction to their own sex. While the origin of homosexual attraction is unclear it is nonetheless real and cannot be denied, no more than we can deny heterosexual attraction.

However, the acting out of the attraction is considered to be contrary to Gods will because to put it bluntly, if not crudely, the parts just don’t fit together! The male body is not designed to facilitate sexual intercourse with another male, just as the female body is not designed to facilitate sexual intercourse with another female. The homosexual act lacks complementarity (meaning the fitting together of all aspects of the human person as male and female) and the potential to transmit human life. Thus Catholicism concludes that in so far as homosexual attraction leads to sexual activity that excludes complementarity and two becoming one in new human life it is objectively disordered. The key Catholic question here is; what is sex for?

We’re left then with a very important question; where does homosexuality come from if its expression is not part of Gods will? Some will respond instantly and perhaps with some outrage; how dare you attack my very person, of course homosexuality is part of God’s design; it’s the way I’m made!

Firstly, the Catholic Church seeks to attack nobody. We are all made in the image and likeness of God. Catholicism seeks only to uphold God’s rule in human affairs.

Secondly, in the context of a Christian worldview ‘the way we’re made’ is quite nuanced. In fact, it’s ‘the way we’re made’ that creates our need for salvation.

Thirdly, even if the origin of homosexuality is genetic and biological the same argument can be made for heterosexuality but with the additional evidence of the complementarity of the human body as male and female together with the potential to transmit human life. When compared to homosexuality, heterosexuality ticks extra boxes. These are substantial additional boxes and they cannot be ignored even in the face of suicide statistics. Consequently Catholicism gives the nod to the expression of heterosexuality as Gods design.

The perceived weakness in Catholic argument is its dependence on the physical which is countered by the principle that the evidence of male and female physicality and their complementarity whereby two literally become one in a new human life is not accidental but the primacy of Gods order. The bottom line here is; is there a God-designed order in terms of human sexuality? The Catholic Church says absolutely; it’s obvious! If there is an order then we can trust it. Life would be so much easier if the Catholic Church changed its teaching, but would a change be in keeping with God’s will? That’s the critical question.

There’s one further aspect I’d like to explore, namely Christ’s love for the marginalised which is increasingly used to argue against various positions held by the Catholic Church, including the Church’s position on homosexuality. The context in which Christ’s love for the marginalized unfolds is invariably the work of conversion. Too often commentators fail to mention the inner dynamics of Christ’s love; it is always targeted with a distinct purpose – go away and don’t sin anymore. So we simply cannot argue that Christ was compassionate therefore we should accept homosexual expression as part of God’s plan. No, Christ’s compassion had one purpose; not the blanket acceptance of humanity but the conversion of humanity.

Thus for the Catholic Church the issue is not about fear or prejudice, or homophobia, or any of the usual reasons advanced by liberal Catholics and non-Catholics alike, but about intellectual honesty endeavouring to ensure that humankind remains within the parameters of Gods will, since remaining within the realm of God’s will or recourse to Divine Mercy are the only guarantees of human well-being.

This is a massive call. Catholicism doesn’t make such a call lightly, rather, it’s a call made before God in fear and trembling with eyes fixed firmly on the harmony of nature, reason and revelation. The bulldozing accusation of homophobia simply refuses to address the Catholic argument. Instead, adapting Paddy Manning’s words on Twitter, proponents of the homophobia bulldozer “get to create a ‘crime’, charge people with it, and be judge and jury!”