As far back as 1986, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger called out the threat of homosexual totalitarianism which is now bearing down on society. As Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the future Pope would warn his fellow bishops of the political risk of not boldly proclaiming the Church’s teaching on homosexuality. They didn’t listen. Today, we have gay “marriage”. Tomorrow, the Church will be underground – because the bishops are still not listening or teaching.
….increasing numbers of people today, even within the Church, are bringing enormous pressure to bear on the Church to accept the homosexual condition as though it were not disordered and to condone homosexual activity. Those within the Church who argue in this fashion often have close ties with those with similar views outside it. These latter groups are guided by a vision opposed to the truth about the human person, which is fully disclosed in the mystery of Christ. They reflect, even if not entirely consciously, a materialistic ideology which denies the transcendent nature of the human person as well as the supernatural vocation of every individual. The Church’s ministers must ensure that homosexual persons in their care will not be misled by this point of view, so profoundly opposed to the teaching of the Church. But the risk is great and there are many who seek to create confusion regarding the Church’s position, and then to use that confusion to their own advantage.
The movement within the Church, which takes the form of pressure groups of various names and sizes, attempts to give the impression that it represents all homosexual persons who are Catholics. As a matter of fact, its membership is by and large restricted to those who either ignore the teaching of the Church or seek somehow to undermine it. It brings together under the aegis of Catholicism homosexual persons who have no intention of abandoning their homosexual behaviour. One tactic used is to protest that any and all criticism of or reservations about homosexual people, their activity and lifestyle, are simply diverse forms of unjust discrimination. There is an effort in some countries to manipulate the Church by gaining the often well-intentioned support of her pastors with a view to changing civil-statutes and laws. This is done in order to conform to these pressure groups’ concept that homosexuality is at least a completely harmless, if not an entirely good, thing. Even when the practice of homosexuality may seriously threaten the lives and well-being of a large number of people, its advocates remain undeterred and refuse to consider the magnitude of the risks involved. The Church can never be so callous. It is true that her clear position cannot be revised by pressure from civil legislation or the trend of the moment. But she is really concerned about the many who are not represented by the pro-homosexual movement and about those who may have been tempted to believe its deceitful propaganda. She is also aware that the view that homosexual activity is equivalent to, or as acceptable as, the sexual expression of conjugal love has a direct impact on society’s understanding of the nature and rights of the family and puts them in jeopardy. (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, 8-9)
In order to counter some of the distortions and manipulations of Catholic teaching surrounding the issue of homosexuality, I am presenting four simple reasons (with the associated evidence ) of why Catholics must oppose the normalization of homosexuality in our society. The reasons given below are from a Catholic perspective. While there are many valid secular reasons for opposing the acceptance of homosexuality, the following analysis is limited to arguing against the practice solely from a Catholic point of view. It is not primarly meant to convince a non-Catholic who, naturally, does not accept the Church’s teaching authority.
1. Immoral Sexual Acts Condemned In Scriptural Tradition:
From the book of Genesis right through to the New Testament, Sacred Scripture has always condemned immoral sexual acts in general and homosexual acts in particular.
a. Generally to all sex outside of marriage. Note: “Marriage” has never been understood in the context of Judeo-Christian tradition as being anything other than between a man and a woman.
- “You shall not commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14)
- “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander.” (Matt.15:19; Cf. Mark 7:21)
- “But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28)
- “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor.6:9)
- “But fornication and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is fitting among saints.” (Eph.5:3)
- See also Wisdom 14:12, Sirach 23:26, John 8:41, Gal.5:19, Col.3:5, Rev.17:2-4, Rev. 18:3
b. Specifically to homosexual acts:
- ‘Know’ – “But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house; and they called to Lot, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.’” (Genesis 19:4-5) The Hebrew word for “know” is yada`, frequently used in the bible to denote sexual intercourse (Cf. Genesis 4:1, 17, 25; Matthew 1:24, 25).
- ‘Abomination’ – “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” (Leviticus 18:22)
- ‘Dishonorable Passions’ – “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.” (Romans 1:26-27)
- ‘Sodomites’ – “Now we know that the law is good, if any one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, immoral persons, sodomites, kidnapers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the glorious gospel of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.” (1 Timothy 3:10)
- ‘Unnatural Lust’ – “And the angels that did not keep their own position but left their proper dwelling have been kept by him in eternal chains in the nether gloom until the judgment of the great day; just as Sodom and Gomor’rah and the surrounding cities, which likewise acted immorally and indulged in unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.” (Jude 1:6-7)
2. Contraceptive sex has always been condemned by the Catholic Church:
The homosexual act is a species of contraceptive sex; that is, it involves a sexual act which is, by its nature, incapable of procreation. Contraceptive sex has always been condemned by the Catholic Church.
a. In Scripture:
The Old Testament prohibition against contraception is that all infertile methods of intercourse incurred the death penalty:
i) Bestiality: “If there is a man who lies with an animal, he shall surely be put to death; you shall also kill the animal. If there is a woman who approaches any animal to mate with it, you shall kill the woman and the animal; they shall surely be put to death. Their blood guiltiness is upon them.” (Leviticus 20:15-16 )
ii) Sodomy: “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their blood guiltiness is upon them.” (Leviticus 20:13)
iii) Vasectomy: “No one who is emasculated or has his male organ cut off shall enter the assembly of the LORD. No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the LORD.” (Deuteronomy 23:1-2)
iv) Withdrawal: “But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so whenever he lay with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother. What he did was wicked in the LORD’s sight; so he put him to death also.” (Genesis 38:9-10)
In the light of the New Covenant and with the new revelation found in Jesus Christ, the death penalty no longer applies. However, contraceptive acts are still prohibited and considered gravely sinful:
i) Temple of the Holy Spirit: “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (1 Cor 6:13-19)
Contraception is merely another form of masturbation since both parties seek the same pleasure without the possibility of procreation. St. Paul teaches that the human body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and that indeed it is possible to sin against our own bodies. If the body is truly a temple of the Holy Spirit, how can contraception be said to honour that temple when it seeks to change a fundamental element of it?
ii) Living Sacrifices: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2)
It is clear that sex, love and life go together. To separate any elements from the other is to re-create man in another image which is a blasphemy against the image of God Himself. It is false act, a mocking of the sexual act. That’s what the devil does. He mimics the real thing but leaves out one substantial part just like the sorcerers did in Pharaoh’s court with Moses. As St. Paul reveals, sex can be a form of worship because we are participating in God’s creative power through the mutual sacrifice of one spouse to the other, and therefore giving glory to our Creator in our bodies. A partial gift to God was found unacceptable to God when Ananias and Sapphira withheld part of their gift to the Christian community (Cf. Acts 5:1-11). There is no reason to believe God has changed His mind on that issue, and even less so when it concerns partial (and in fact false) gifts between spouses. Conversely, contraception is also a form of worship but since it does not respect God or His creation or involve a complete and total self giving from one spouse to another, the object of worship is no longer God but oneself. Because the sex act is no longer respectful of the natural order, it cannot be said to be a legitimate form of worship and witness to God’s creation. Therefore it is idolatrous in nature. Hence, attaching the phrase “sexual idolatry” to contraception is very apropos and necessary. (Further reading, see Contraception Sexual Idolatry Revealed)
iii) Contraceptive Homo or Hetero Sex Breaks the 8th Commandment: “For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.” (Romans 1:25-27)
Notice that St. Paul starts out with the claim that people exchanged the truth of God for a lie. Sodomy and contraception, of course, before they break any of the Ten Commandments, break the 8th commandment first. Contraceptive sex is first and foremost a lie not with our lips but with our bodies because it seeks to represent something which God did not create; namely, a sterilized man or woman. Our bodies and the language of physical love through the sexual act can either tell the truth or it can tell a lie. It can be true to its nature and dignity or it can betray them. A lie is not merely expressed by one’s mouth and lips. In the above verse, St. Paul explains that men and women” worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator” by their unnatural act. Contraceptive sex does that too since we end up worshipping ourselves by manipulating the image of God in our bodies. We put our sexual desires over the law of creation, and by so doing, we place ourselves in the place of the one and only Creator and usurp His role in Creation. That makes us, for lack of a better word, “idolaters”, worshipping ourselves, “the creature”. The Apostle then goes on to write: “For this reason, God gave them over [to homosexual relations].” Can it really be denied that contraception has provided the foundation for gay “marriage”? By stripping fertility from the person (which in turn blurs the distinction between men and women), contraception has succeeded in separating fertility as a constituent element of the human person. Since the sexual revolution, this psychological war has advanced to where we are now in this country. Same-sex “marriage” did not appear over night. It needed a foundation. First, contraceptive sex had to be sold to the population as a placebo of sexual utopia: all the fun and none of the responsibility. After that, the contraceptive movement just had to keep widening the envelope of the contraceptive black hole: heterosexual contraception first, masturbation next, same-sex “marriage”, and now, of course, in Massachusetts laws concerning bestiality are beginning to fall. “For this reason, he gave them over…”, St. Paul later writes. What reason is he talking about? Those engaged in contraceptive sex were “given over” to homoerotic sex. St. Paul is describing a natural progression from contraception to homoerotic sex. This is more probable than the rather strained understanding of conventional idolatry of worshiping a golden calf or something of that sort, although admittedly, the worshipping of the golden calf had a lot of sexual debauchery around it too. Nevertheless, there is no immediately apparent connection between “statue idolatry” and homoerotic sex, but there is a rather clear connection between mere forms of the same contraceptive sin i.e. heterosexual contraception vs. homosexual sex acts.
b. In Tradition:
The Catholic Church has always opposed contraceptive sex in all its forms from its very beginning. In fact, it has been the heretical groups like the Gnostics (2nd century), the Manichaeans (4th century) and the Cathari (12th century) who opposed Christianity’s teachings on this subject. Here is a selection of citations from the early Church Fathers right down to John Paul II which reaffirm the wickedness of contraception and contraceptive acts…
- “Moreover, he [Moses] has rightly detested the weasel [Lev. 11:29]. For he means, ‘Thou shalt not be like to those whom we hear of as committing wickedness with the mouth with the body through uncleanness [orally consummated sex]; nor shalt thou be joined to those impure women who commit iniquity with the mouth with the body through uncleanness.” (Letter of Barnabas, 10:8, 74 A.D.)
- “They [certain Egyptian heretics] exercise genital acts, yet prevent the conceiving of children. Not in order to produce offspring, but to satisfy lust, are they eager for corruption.” (St. Epiphanius, Medicine Chest Against the Heretics, 26:5:2, 375 A.D.)
- “Why do you sow where the field is eager to destroy the fruit, where there are medicines of sterility [oral contraceptives], where there is murder before birth? You do not even let a harlot remain only a harlot, but you make her a murderess as well…Indeed, it is something worse than murder, and I do not know what to call it; for she does not kill what is formed but prevents its formation. What then? Do you condemn the gift of God and fight with his [natural] laws? (St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans, 24, 391 A.D.)
- “But no reason, however grave, may be put forward by anything intrinsically against nature may become conformable to nature and morally good. Since, therefore, the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children, those who in exercising it deliberately frustrate its natural power and purpose, sin against nature, and commit a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious. Small wonder, therefore, if Holy Writ bears witness that the Divine Majesty regards with greatest detestation this horrible crime, and at times has punished it with death. As St. Augustine notes, “Intercourse even with one’s legitimate wife is unlawful and wicked where the conception of the offspring is prevented. Onan, the son of Judah, did this and the Lord killed him for it.” (Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii, 54-55, 1930)
See further sources here: Against the Fathers
c. Magisterium – In order to buttress their positions, modernists will always try to spin the Church’s traditional interpretations of Sacred Scripture or Sacred Tradition by inventing some novel “nuance”, perspective, or context. This is particularly true when the subject of homosexuality comes up. The reasons for the new interpretation given in support of homosexual relations are so absurd, they are almost comical. Despite the infallible, inerrant, and constant witness of the Church and the immutable meaning it gives its interpretation of fundamental doctrinal or moral positions, the modernists and relativists continually attempt to shake the belief of the Church’s traditional teaching. In addition to the historical witness of her beliefs through Sacred Tradition (written and oral), the Catholic Church has a living Magisterium which offers a clear guide to moral questions of our day, ensuring that positions taken on new questions or even older ones are consistent with the Church’s faith. On the question of variant forms of contraceptive sex, the Church’s position on contraceptive sex (of which homosexual acts is a species) has been clear:
Second Vatican Council & Pope Paul VI:
- When it is a question of harmonizing married love with the responsible transmission of life, the morality of the behavior does not depend on sincere intention and evaluation of motives alone; but it must be determined by objective criteria, criteria drawn from the nature of the person and his acts criteria that respect the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love; this is possible only if the virtue of married chastity is practiced with sincerity of heart.” (Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, 51, 1965 A.D. ) (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2368, 1992)
- “Therefore We base Our words on the first principles of a human and Christian doctrine of marriage when We are obliged once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children. Equally to be condemned, as the magisterium of the Church has affirmed on many occasions, is direct sterilization, whether of the man or of the woman, whether permanent or temporary. Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means. Neither is it valid to argue, as a justification for sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive, that a lesser evil is to be preferred to a greater one, or that such intercourse would merge with procreative acts of past and future to form a single entity, and so be qualified by exactly the same moral goodness as these. Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good,” it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it —in other words, to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general. Consequently, it is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong. (Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, 14, 1968)
- The traditional Catholic doctrine that masturbation constitutes a grave moral disorder is often called into doubt or expressly denied today. It is said that psychology and sociology show that it is a normal phenomenon of sexual development, especially among the young. It is stated that there is real and serious fault only in the measure that the subject deliberately indulges in solitary pleasure closed in on self (“ipsation”), because in this case the act would indeed be radically opposed to the loving communion between persons of different sex which some hold is what is principally sought in the use of the sexual faculty. This opinion is contradictory to the teaching and pastoral practice of the Catholic Church. Whatever the force of certain arguments of a biological and philosophical nature, which have sometimes been used by theologians, in fact both the Magisterium of the Church – in the course of a constant tradition – and the moral sense of the faithful have declared without hesitation that masturbation is an intrinsically and seriously disordered act. The main reason is that, whatever the motive for acting this way, the deliberate use of the sexual faculty outside normal conjugal relations essentially contradicts the finality of the faculty. For it lacks the sexual relationship called for by the moral order, namely the relationship which realizes “the full sense of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love.” All deliberate exercise of sexuality must be reserved to this regular relationship. Even if it cannot be proved that Scripture condemns this sin by name, the tradition of the Church has rightly understood it to be condemned in the New Testament when the latter speaks of “impurity,” “unchasteness” and other vices contrary to chastity and continence. (Persona Humana: Declaration on certain question concerning sexual ethics, VIII, (1975))
Pope John Paul II
- In the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, (1981) on the role of the family in the modern world, Pope John Paul II taught: “When couples, by means of recourse to contraception, separate these two meanings that God the Creator has inscribed in the being of man and woman and in the dynamism of their sexual communion, they act as “arbiters” of the divine plan and they “manipulate” and degrade human sexuality – and with it themselves and their married partner – by altering its value of “total” self-giving. Thus the innate language that expresses the total reciprocal self-giving of husband and wife is overlaid, through contraception, by an objectively contradictory language, namely, that of not giving oneself totally to the other. This leads not only to a positive refusal to be open to life but also to a falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love, which is called upon to give itself in personal totality.” (32)
- In the encyclical Veritatis Splendor (1993) the Pope reaffirms the intrinsic evil of contraception as taught by Pope Paul VI: “With regard to intrinsically evil acts, and in reference to contraceptive practices whereby the conjugal act is intentionally rendered infertile, Pope Paul VI teaches: ‘Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good, it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it (cf. Rom.3:8) – in other words, to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general.’” (80)
- In his Letter to Families (1994), the Holy Father says: “In particular, responsible fatherhood and motherhood directly concern the moment in which a man and a woman, uniting themselves ‘in one flesh’, can become parents. This is a moment of special value both for their interpersonal relationship and for their service to life: they can become parents – father and mother – by communicating life to a new human being. The two dimensions of conjugal union, the unitive and the procreative, cannot be artificially separated without damaging the deepest truth of the conjugal act itself…This is the constant teaching of the Church, and the ’signs of the times’ which we see today are providing new reasons for forcefully reaffirming that teaching. Saint Paul, himself so attentive to the pastoral demands of his day, clearly and firmly indicated the need to be ‘urgent in season and out of season’ (cf. 2 Tim.4:2), and not to be daunted by the fact that ’sound teaching is no longer endured’ (cf. 2 Tim.4:3). His words are well known to those who with deep insight into the events of the present time, expect that the Church will not only not abandon ’sound doctrine’ but will proclaim it with renewed vigour, seeking in today’s ’signs of the times’ the incentive and insights which can lead to a deeper understanding of her teaching.” (12)
- “But the negative values inherent in the “contraceptive mentality”- which is very different from responsible parenthood, lived in respect for the full truth of the conjugal act-are such that they in fact strengthen this temptation when an unwanted life is conceived. Indeed, the pro- abortion culture is especially strong precisely where the Church’s teaching on contraception is rejected. Certainly, from the moral point of view contraception and abortion arespecifically different evils: the former contradicts the full truth of the sexual act as the proper expression of conjugal love, while the latter destroys the life of a human being; the former is opposed to the virtue of chastity in marriage, the latter is opposed to the virtue of justice and directly violates the divine commandment “You shall not kill”. But despite their differences of nature and moral gravity, contraception and abortion are often closely connected, as fruits of the same tree. It is true that in many cases contraception and even abortion are practised under the pressure of real- life difficulties, which nonetheless can never exonerate from striving to observe God’s law fully. Still, in very many other instances such practices are rooted in a hedonistic mentality unwilling to accept responsibility in matters of sexuality, and they imply a self-centered concept of freedom, which regards procreation as an obstacle to personal fulfilment. The life which could result from a sexual encounter thus becomes an enemy to be avoided at all costs, and abortion becomes the only possible decisive response to failed contraception. The close connection which exists, in mentality, between the practice of contraception and that of abortion is becoming increasingly obvious. It is being demonstrated in an alarming way by the development of chemical products, intrauterine devices and vaccines which, distributed with the same ease as contraceptives, really act as abortifacients in the very early stages of the development of the life of the new human being.” (Evangelium Vitae, 13, 1995)
Catechism of the Catholic Church
- Contraception – “Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, “every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible” is intrinsically evil… (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2370, 1992)
- Homosexuality – “Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2357, 1992)
3. Pastoral letters against the normalization of homosexuality
In the last several years, the Vatican has repeatedly denounced the normalization of homosexuality both within and outside of the Church:
- At the present time there are those who, basing themselves on observations in the psychological order, have begun to judge indulgently, and even to excuse completely, homosexual relations between certain people. This they do in opposition to the constant teaching of the Magisterium and to the moral sense of the Christian people. A distinction is drawn, and it seems with some reason, between homosexuals whose tendency comes from a false education, from a lack of normal sexual development, from habit, from bad example, or from other similar causes, and is transitory or at least not incurable; and homosexuals who are definitively such because of some kind of innate instinct or a pathological constitution judged to be incurable. In regard to this second category of subjects, some people conclude that their tendency is so natural that it justifies in their case homosexual relations within a sincere communion of life and love analogous to marriage, in so far as such homosexuals feel incapable of enduring a solitary life. In the pastoral field, these homosexuals must certainly be treated with understanding and sustained in the hope of overcoming their personal difficulties and their inability to fit into society. Their culpability will be judged with prudence. But no pastoral method can be employed which would give moral justification to these acts on the grounds that they would be consonant with the condition of such people. For according to the objective moral order, homosexual relations are acts which lack an essential and indispensable finality. In Sacred Scripture they are condemned as a serious depravity and even presented as the sad consequence of rejecting God. This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and can in no case be approved of. (Persona Humana: Declaration on certain question concerning sexual ethics, IX, 1975)
- Explicit treatment of the problem was given in this Congregation’s “Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics” of December 29, 1975. That document stressed the duty of trying to understand the homosexual condition and noted that culpability for homosexual acts should only be judged with prudence. At the same time the Congregation took note of the distinction commonly drawn between the homosexual condition or tendency and individual homosexual actions. These were described as deprived of their essential and indispensable finality, as being “intrinsically disordered”, and able in no case to be approved of (cf. n. 8, $4). In the discussion which followed the publication of the Declaration, however, an overly benign interpretation was given to the homosexual condition itself, some going so far as to call it neutral, or even good. 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. Therefore special concern and pastoral attention should be directed toward those who have this condition, lest they be led to believe that the living out of this orientation in homosexual activity is a morally acceptable option. It is not. An essential dimension of authentic pastoral care is the identification of causes of confusion regarding the Church’s teaching. One is a new exegesis of Sacred Scripture which claims variously that Scripture has nothing to say on the subject of homosexuality, or that it somehow tacitly approves of it, or that all of its moral injunctions are so culture-bound that they are no longer applicable to contemporary life. These views are gravely erroneous and call for particular attention here. It is quite true that the Biblical literature owes to the different epochs in which it was written a good deal of its varied patterns of thought and expression (Dei Verbum 12). The Church today addresses the Gospel to a world which differs in many ways from ancient days. But the world in which the New Testament was written was already quite diverse from the situation in which the Sacred Scriptures of the Hebrew People had been written or compiled, for example. What should be noticed is that, in the presence of such remarkable diversity, there is nevertheless a clear consistency within the Scriptures themselves on the moral issue of homosexual behaviour. The Church’s doctrine regarding this issue is thus based, not on isolated phrases for facile theological argument, but on the solid foundation of a constant Biblical testimony. The community of faith today, in unbroken continuity with the Jewish and Christian communities within which the ancient Scriptures were written, continues to be nourished by those same Scriptures and by the Spirit of Truth whose Word they are. It is likewise essential to recognize that the Scriptures are not properly understood when they are interpreted in a way which contradicts the Church’s living Tradition. To be correct, the interpretation of Scripture must be in substantial accord with that Tradition. (Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, 3-5, 1986)
- Homosexual persons, as human persons, have the same rights as all persons including the right of not being treated in a manner which offends their personal dignity (cf. No. 10). Among other rights, all persons have the right to work, to housing, etc. Nevertheless, these rights are not absolute. They can be legitimately limited for objectively disordered external conduct. This is sometimes not only licit but obligatory. This would obtain moreover not only in the case of culpable behavior but even in the case of actions of the physically or mentally ill. Thus it is accepted that the state may restrict the exercise of rights, for example, in the case of contagious or mentally ill persons, in order to protect the common good. Including “homosexual orientation” among the considerations on the basis of which it is illegal to discriminate can easily lead to regarding homosexuality as a positive source of human rights, for example, in respect to so-called affirmative action or preferential treatment in hiring practices. This is all the more deleterious since there is no right to homosexuality (cf. No. 10) which therefore should not form the basis for judicial claims. The passage from the recognition of homosexuality as a factor on which basis it is illegal to discriminate can easily lead, if not automatically, to the legislative protection and promotion of homosexuality. A person’s homosexuality would be invoked in opposition to alleged discrimination, and thus the exercise of rights would be defended precisely via the affirmation of the homosexual condition instead of in terms of a violation of basic human rights. The “sexual orientation” of a person is not comparable to race, sex, age, etc. also for another reason than that given above which warrants attention. An individual’s sexual orientation is generally not known to others unless he publicly identifies himself as having this orientation or unless some overt behavior manifests it. As a rule, the majority of homosexually oriented persons who seek to lead chaste lives do not publicize their sexual orientation. Hence the problem of discrimination in terms of employment, housing, etc., does not usually arise. (Some Considerations Concerning the Response to Legislative Proposals on Non-discrimination of Homosexual Persons, 12-14, 1992)
- Homosexual unions are totally lacking in the biological and anthropological elements of marriage and family which would be the basis, on the level of reason, for granting them legal recognition. Such unions are not able to contribute in a proper way to the procreation and survival of the human race. The possibility of using recently discovered methods of artificial reproduction, beyond involv- ing a grave lack of respect for human dignity, does nothing to alter this inadequacy. Homosexual unions are also totally lacking in the conjugal dimension, which represents the human and ordered form of sexuality. Sexual relations are human when and insofar as they express and promote the mutual assistance of the sexes in marriage and are open to the transmission of new life. As experience has shown, the absence of sexual complementarity in these unions creates obstacles in the normal development of children who would be placed in the care of such persons. They would be deprived of the experience of either fatherhood or motherhood. Allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such unions would actually mean doing violence to these children, in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development. This is gravely immoral and in open contradiction to the principle, recognized also in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, that the best interests of the child, as the weaker and more vulnerable party, are to be the paramount consideration in every case. (Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recogniztion to unions between homosexual persons, 7, 2003)
- From the time of the Second Vatican Council until today, various Documents of the Magisterium, and especially the Catechism of the Catholic Church, have confirmed the teaching of the Church on homosexuality. The Catechism distinguishes between homosexual acts and homosexual tendencies. Regarding acts, it teaches that Sacred Scripture presents them as grave sins. The Tradition has constantly considered them as intrinsically immoral and contrary to the natural law. Consequently, under no circumstance can they be approved. Deep-seated homosexual tendencies, which are found in a number of men and women, are also objectively disordered and, for those same people, often constitute a trial. Such persons must be accepted with respect and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. They are called to fulfil God’s will in their lives and to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter. In the light of such teaching, this Dicastery, in accord with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, believes it necessary to state clearly that the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practise homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called “gay culture”. Such persons, in fact, find themselves in a situation that gravely hinders them from relating correctly to men and women. One must in no way overlook the negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies. Different, however, would be the case in which one were dealing with homosexual tendencies that were only the expression of a transitory problem – for example, that of an adolescence not yet superseded. Nevertheless, such tendencies must be clearly overcome at least three years before ordination to the diaconate. (Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders, 2, 2005)
4. Against Nature, Against the Body
In addition to the scriptural and anthropological reasons for opposing homosexual acts, the Catholic Church opposes this behaviour on the basis of natural law. The Church’s position is vindicated by the health consequences associated with unnatural sex:
- Two extensive studies in the January, 2001 issue of the American Medical Association’s Archives of General Psychiatry confirm a STRONG link between homosexual sex and suicide, and emotional and mental problems. An extensive study in the Netherlands undermines the assumption that homophobia is the cause of increased psychiatric illness among gays and lesbians. The Dutch have been more accepting of same-sex relationships than any other western country and same-sex “marriage” is legal. The high rate of psychiatric disorders associated with homosexual behaviour in the Netherlands therefore cannot be attributed to social rejection and homophobia as is commonly proposed by homosexualist propagandists.Compared to controls who had no homosexual experience in the 12 months prior to the study, males who had any homosexual contact within that time period were more likely to experience major depression, bipolar disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia and obsessive compulsive disorder. (Theo Sandfort, Ron de Graaf, et al., Same-sex Sexual Behaviour and Psychiatric Disorders, Archives of General Psychiatry, 58(1): 85-91, p. 89 and Table 2 (January 2001))
- Medical and social evidence indicates that men having sex with men leads to GREATER health risks than men having sex with women not only because of promiscuity but also because of the nature of sex among men. Anal sex, as a sexual behaviour, is associated with significant and life-threatening health problems. The fragility of the anus and rectum make anal sex a most efficient manner of transmitting HIV and other infections. The list of diseases found with extraordinary frequency among homosexuals as a result of anal sex is alarming (Anal cancer, Chlamydia trachomatis, Cryptosporidium, Herpes simplez virus, HIV, Human papilloma virus, Gonorrhea, viral hepatitus types B & C, Syphilis) (Anne Rompalo, “Sexually Transmitted Causes of Gastrointestinal Symptoms in Homosexual Men,” Medical Clinics of North America, 74 (6) Nov. 1990)
- Reports at a national conference about sexually transmitted diseases indicate that gay men are in the highest risk group for several of the most serious diseases. . . . Scientists believe that the increased number of sexually tranmitted diseases (STD) cases is the result of an increase in risky sexual practices by a growing number of gay men who believe HIV is no longer a life-threatening illness. (Bill Roundy, STD Rates on the Rise, New York Blade News, December 15, 2000, p. 1.) [New York Blade News is a homosexual oriented publication]
- Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco found that thirty-six percent of homosexuals engaging inunprotected oral, anal, or vaginal sex failed to disclose that they were HIV positive to casual sex partners.(Jon Garbo, “Gay and Bi Men Less Likely to Disclose They Have HIV,” GayHealth News (July 18, 2000). Available at: www.gayhealth.com/templates/0/news?record=136.)
- A.P. Bell and M.S. Weinberg, in their classic study of male and female homosexuality, found that 43 percent of white male homosexuals had sex with 500 or more partners, with 28 percent having 1,000 or more sex partners. (A. P. Bell and M. S. Weinberg, Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity Among Men and Women (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978), pp. 308, 9; see alsoBell, Weinberg and Hammersmith, Sexual Preference (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1981).
- A survey conducted by the homosexual magazine Genre found that 24 percent of the respondents said they had had more than a hundred sexual partners in their lifetime. The magazine noted that several respondents suggested including a category of those who had more than a housand sexual partners. (“Survey Finds 40 percent of Gay Men Have Had More Than 40 Sex Partners,” Lambda Report, January/February 1998, p. 20.)
- In Male and Female Homosexuality, M. Saghir and E. Robins found that the average male homosexual live-in relationship lasts between two and three years. (M. Saghir and E. Robins, Male and Female Homosexuality (Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1973), p. 225; L.A. Peplau and H. Amaro, “Understanding Lesbian Relationships,” in Homosexuality: Social, Psychological, and Biological Issues, edited byJ. Weinrich and W. Paul (Beverly Hills: Sage, 1982).
- HPV can lead to anal cancer. At the recent Fourth International AIDS Malignancy Conference at the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Andrew Grulich announced that “most instances of anal cancer are caused by a cancer-causing strain of HPV through receptive anal intercourse. HPV infects over 90 percent of HIV-positive gay men and 65 percent of HIV-negative gay men, according to a number of recent studies.” (Richard A. Zmuda, “Rising Rates of Anal Cancer for Gay Men,” Cancer News (August 17, 2000). Available at: cancerlinksusa.com/cancernews_sm/Aug2000 /081700analcancer
- Hepatitis A: The Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report published by the CDC reports: “Outbreaks of hepatitis A among men who have sex with men are a recurring problem in many large cities in the industrialized world.” (Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, September 4, 1998, p. 708.)
- The incidence of throat Gonorrhea is strongly associated with homosexual behavior. The Canadian Medical Association Journal found that “gonorrhea was associated with urethral discharge . . . and homosexuality(3.7 times higher than the rate among heterosexuals).” (J. Vincelette et al., “Predicators of Chlamydial Infection and Gonorrhea among Patients Seen by Private Practitioners,” Canadian Medical Association Journal 144 (1995): 713-721.)
- The Archives of Internal Medicine found that homosexuals acquired syphilis at a rate ten times that of heterosexuals. (C. M. Hutchinson et al., “Characteristics of Patients with Syphilis Attending Baltimore STD Clinics,” Archives of Internal Medicine 151 (1991): 511-516. )
For more information on the health consequences of the gay lifestyle, see Gay Sex: A Risky Business.
Dignity of the Person Who Has Homosexual Tendencies
While the Church condemns homosexual acts, She does not condemn persons inflicted with the homosexual tendency:
- “Deep-seated homosexual tendencies, which are found in a number of men and women, are also objectively disordered and, for those same people, often constitute a trial. Such persons must be accepted with respect and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. They are called to fulfil God’s will in their lives and to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter.” (Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church (editio typica, 1997), nn. 2357-2358. (Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders)
- “It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church’s pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law. But the proper reaction to crimes committed against homosexual persons should not be to claim that the homosexual condition is not disordered. When such a claim is made and when homosexual activity is consequently condoned, or when civil legislation is introduced to protect behavior to which no one has any conceivable right, neither the Church nor society at large should be surprised when other distorted notions and practices gain ground, and irrational and violent reactions increase.” (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Letter to the Bishiops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, 10)