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Homosexuality is considered in Catholic Church teaching under two distinct aspects. Homosexuality as an orientation is considered an "objective disorder" because seen as "ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil", but not as sinful. Homosexuality as sexual activity is seen as a "moral disorder" and "homosexual acts" as "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."
The Catholic Church believes that marriage can only be between a man and a woman, and opposes introduction of same-sex marriage. The Church also holds that same-sex unions are an unfavourable environment for children and that the legalization of such unions damages society.
Leading figures in the Catholic hierarchy, including cardinals and bishops, have sometimes actively campaigned against same-sex marriage or have encouraged others to campaign against it, and have done likewise with regard to same-sex civil unions and adoption by same-sex couples, and other LGBT rights. The church has opposed the decriminalization of homosexual activity in certain countries, and stood against a proposed call for global decriminalization from the United Nations. In other countries, and again at the United Nations, the church has opposed its criminalization.
Many Catholics disagree with the official position of the Roman Catholic hierarchy on LGBT people, and in locations, such as North America, Northern and Western Europe, as well as the Southern Cone, show stronger support for LGBT rights (such as same-sex marriage, or protection against discrimination) than the general population.
- 1 Church teaching
- 2 History of Church teaching on homosexuality
- 3 Dissent from official Church position
- 4 Defense of official teaching
- 5 Homosexuality and Catholic clergy
- 6 Political activity
- 6.1 Decriminalization of homosexuality
- 6.2 Discrimination against homosexuals
- 6.3 Campaign against same-sex marriage and civil unions
- 6.4 Preparation of the 2014 assembly of the Synod of Bishops
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Bibliography
- 10 External links
Catholic teaching condemns homosexual acts as gravely immoral, while holding that homosexual persons "must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity", and "every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided", in line with the traditional saying: "Love the sinner, hate the sin." "The Catholic Church holds that, as a state beyond a person's choice, being homosexual is not wrong or sinful in itself. But just as it is objectively wrong for unmarried heterosexuals to engage in sex, so too are homosexual acts considered to be wrong."
The Holy See
In 1975, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued the document Persona humana dealing with sexual ethics. It stated that acceptance of homosexual activity was against the church's teaching and morality. While, it said, a distinction existed between people who were gay because of "a false education, [...] a lack of normal sexual development," or other curable non-biological causes and people who were innately or "pathological[ly]" homosexual, it criticized those who argued that innate homosexuality justified same-sex sexual activity within loving relationships and stated that the Bible condemned homosexual activity as depraved, "intrinsically disordered", never to be approved, and a consequence of rejecting God. In a 2006 commentary on the document, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger remarked that its description of homosexual acts as "intrinsically disordered" was misinterpreted by some as permitting the qualification of the homosexual tendency as neutral or even good, an idea rejected also in the 1986 Letter on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons.
Jeffrey Siker says that the "negative connotations" of the language in Persona Humana—for instance, referring to homosexuality as an "anomaly" that gay people "suffer[ed]" from—contrast with more neutral and even positive interpretations of homosexual orientation in the subsequent decade. These interpretations were to be challenged in 1986 as having been "overly benign".:193
Pope John Paul II
Because Pope John Paul II stated that homosexual acts are contrary to the laws of nature, some Dutch homosexuals initiated against him a court case that ended when the court ruled that he was immune from prosecution.
In his teaching, homosexual intercourse is a utilization of each other's body, not a mutual self-giving in familial love, physically expressed by their masculine and feminine bodies; and such intercourse is performed by a choice of the will, unlike homosexual orientation, which is usually not a matter of free choice.
On 5 October 1979, Pope John Paul II praised the bishops of the United States for stating that "homosexual activity ... as distinguished from homosexual orientation, is morally wrong". He said that, instead of holding out false hope to homosexuals facing hard moral problems, they had upheld "the true dignity, the true human dignity, of those who look to Christ's Church for the guidance which comes from the light of God's word".
John Cornwell states that, as Pope John Paul II "approached the mid-point of his second decade in office ... having propelled Communism towards oblivion, he was now bent on calling capitalism to order. ... His deepest concern by far, however, was sexual morality, his determined denunciation of contraception and his anguished concern for the protection of human life. He saw the issues – contraception, divorce, illicit unions, homosexuality – as a dimension of the 'culture of death' against which he taught and preached with increasing vehemence."
In his last personal work, Memory and Identity, published in 2005, John Paul II spoke of pressure brought to bear on countries like Poland to have homosexual unions accepted as an alternative type of family, and asked whether this was not the work of another ideology of evil, less obvious than the Nazi and Marxist ideologies, bent on utilizing human rights themselves against human beings and the family.
On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons
In October 1986, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released a letter addressed to all the bishops of the Catholic Church entitled On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, which gives instructions on how the clergy should deal with and respond to lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. The letter said that homosexual orientation is not a sin but, as a tendency toward the "moral evil" of homosexual sexual activity, must be considered "an objective disorder". The letter said that, while in individual cases the culpability of homosexual acts may be diminished or entirely absent, it is false to assert that a person of homosexual orientation has no choice but to engage in such activity. It said that homosexual acts cannot be genuinely loving and confirm an "essentially self-indulgent" inclination that keeps people from "their full human potential for genuinely other-regarding love relationships".:198:222 Siker interprets the document as teaching "that a gay male or lesbian sexual identity is not to be celebrated, nor is it properly seen as a source of pride".:194
The letter condemned violence, even verbal,:195 against homosexual persons, and said that reaction against such violence should not be utilized as grounds for legitimizing homosexual behaviour,:222 While the church maintains that the dignity of each individual must be respected in "word, action, and law",:195 the letter claims that legitimizing homosexual behaviour, something to which, according to the letter, "no one has any conceivable right",:195 can lead to increased violence against people of homosexual orientation.:222 Critics have seen this as controversially blaming gay people for homophobic violence and encouraging homophobic violence, and as "a classic example of blaming the victim".:195 The letter said that putting homosexual acts on a par with the sexual expression of married love was damaging to the family and society and it warned bishops to be on guard against and withdraw support from any organizations not upholding the Church's doctrine on homosexuality.:223 In an implicit reference to the AIDS epidemic and its link with male homosexuality, the letter blamed advocates of homosexual practice for persisting even when the practice threatened the lives of many people. Andrew Sullivan called this comment "extraordinary for its lack of compassion", and McNeill writes that it blames AIDS on gay rights activists and gay-accepting mental health professionals. Sullivan added that "some of [the letter's] clauses read chillingly like comparable church documents produced in Europe in the 1930s".
According to John L. Allen, Jr., the letter was released on 1 October 1986 by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger "in English rather than Italian, suggesting it was aimed especially at the United States". The letter, whose incipit is Homosexualitatis problema (as in the Latin text) was designed, Allen says, to remove any ambiguity in the 1975 document Persona Humana. It was released in English on the date that the document itself bears, thus suggesting that the rather long interval between signature and publication allowing prior distribution under embargo was not observed in this case. It was referred to as the Halloween Letter.
In a statement released in July 1992, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith expounded on the letter, and confirmed that there are areas in which it is "not unjust discrimination to take sexual orientation into account", for example when placing children for adoption or foster care, in refusing to employ teachers or athletic coaches who are gay, and in restricting gay men and women from recruitment into the military.
Overview in the Catechism of the Catholic Church
This book, a first provisional edition of which was published in 1992, states:
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.
The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.
The first provisional edition in 1992 containing the line "They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial" was changed in the 1997 definitive edition to say instead "This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial".
The Dutch Catechism first published in 1966 was the first post-Vatican II Catholic catechism, was an expression of the magisterium of the Dutch bishops, who commissioned and authorized it. The 1973 edition, issued after a Vatican review of the original text, dealt with the issue of homosexuality: "It is not the fault of the individual if he or she is not attracted to the other sex. The causes of homosexuality are unknown . . . .The very sharp strictures of Scripture on homosexual practices (Gen. 1; Rom. 1) must be read in their context."
Richard Scorer wrote that the leadership of the English Church has been "notably less homophobic than the Vatican", and that, in 1992, on publication of a statement by Cardinal Ratzinger, which Scorer said justified discrimination against homosexuals, Cardinal Basil Hume was said to be "appalled by the language and tone of the document" and privately distanced himself.
In April 1997, Hume issued A note on the teaching of the Catholic Church concerning homosexuality. It stated that the Church recognises the dignity and right to respectful treatment of all people and does not see homosexual people as wholly disordered because of the "objective disorder" of their homosexuality. It also said that sexual activity ought only to take place within an opposite-sex marriage and said that the Church cannot "acknowledge amongst fundamental human rights a proposed right to acts which she teaches are morally wrong."
In 1997, the US Catholic Bishops Conference published its letter, "Always our children", as a pastoral message to parents of homosexual children with guidelines for pastoral ministers. It told parents not to break off contact with a son or daughter found to be of homosexual orientation, which, the bishops said, is not sinful and does not necessarily mean engaging in homosexual activity; they should instead look for appropriate counseling for the child and for themselves. The letter repeated the Church's teaching that homosexual activity is immoral but that people with homosexual tendencies must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity, and allowed to participate actively in the Christian community, and even, if living chastely, to hold leadership positions.:131
History of Church teaching on homosexuality
The Christian tradition has generally proscribed any and all noncoital genital activities, whether engaged in by couples or individuals, regardless of whether they were of the same or different sex.:193
The Catholic Church's position specifically on homosexuality developed from the teachings of the Church Fathers, which was in stark contrast to Greek and Roman attitudes towards same-sex relations including the "(usually erotic) homosexual relationship between an adult male and a pubescent or adolescent male" that is called pederasty.
What appears to be the earliest Christian document outside the New Testament, the Didache, begins a list of grave sins with: "You shall not commit murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not commit pederasty ..." David F. Greenberg gives it as one example of the early Christian writings of the first two centuries that were "unequivocably opposed to male prostitution and pederasty—probably the most visible forms of homosexuality in their time".
Aristides the Athenian (2nd century) says of the Greek accounts of their gods that "some transformed themselves into the likeness of animals to seduce the race of mortal women, and some polluted themselves by lying with males". What was condemned was not a personal orientation but the performance of a homosexual act.
Theophilus of Antioch (d. between 183 and 185) wrote: "To the unbelieving, who despise and disobey the truth but obey unrighteousness, when they are full of adulteries and fornication and homosexual acts and greed and lawless idolatry, there will come wrath and anger, tribulation and anguish, and finally eternal fire."
Clement of Alexandria (c. 150 – c. 215) rebuked heathens for worshipping gods who indulged in debauching of boys. Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 260/265 – 339/340) wrote of God "having forbidden all unlawful marriage, and all unseemly practice, and the union of women with women and men with men".
Basil of Caesarea (329 or 330 – 379) wrote: "He who is guilty of unseemliness with males will be under discipline for the same time as adulterers." John Chrysostom (c. 347–407), speaking of Romans 1:26–27, declared: "All of these affections then were vile, but chiefly the mad lust after males; for the soul is more the sufferer in sins, and more dishonored than the body in diseases. ... [The men] have done an insult to nature itself. And a yet more disgraceful thing than these is it, when even the women seek after these intercourses, who ought to have more shame than men."
In addition, canon law regarding homosexual activity has mainly been shaped through the decrees issued by successive ecclesiastical councils, starting with the Council of Elvira in 305. Even before the writing of Peter Damian's Book of Gomorrah in 1048, "the condemnation of homosexual practices is not an uncommon feature of regulative literature of the early medieval church", as seen in most of the penitential books from the 6th century onward. But Mark D. Jordan says that the word "sodomy" was not invented until then. By the late Middle Ages, as stated by writers discussing the Spanish Inquisition, the term had come to cover copulation between males, bestiality, and non-vaginal heterosexual intercourse, coitus interruptus, masturbation, fellatio and anal sex (whether heterosexual or homosexual).
Derrick S. Bailey writes that, initially, canons against homosexual acts were aimed at ensuring clerical or monastic discipline, and were only widened in the medieval period to include laymen,.[need quotation to verify] However, the early 4th-century Council of Elvira (305-306), the first church council to deal with the issue, excluded from communion, even at the approach of death, anyone (not merely members of the clergy), who had sexual intercourse (stuprum) with a boy: "Stupratoribus puerorum nec in finem dandam esse communionem" (Those who sexually abuse boys may not commune even when death approaches).:
Canons 16 and 17 of the Council of Ancyra (314), which "became the standard source for medieval ecclesiastical literature against homosexuality", impose on "those who have been or who are guilty of bestial lusts" penances whose severity varies with the age and married status of the offender, allowing access to communion only at death for a married man over fifty years old (canon 16); and impose a penance also on "defilers of themselves with beasts, being also leprous, who have infected others [with the leprosy of this crime]".
In Iberia, the Visigothic ruler Egica of Hispania and Septimania demanded that a church council confront the occurrence of homosexuality in the kingdom. In 693, the Sixteenth Council of Toledo issued a canon condemning guilty clergy to degradation and exile and laymen to 100 lashes. Egica added an edict imposing the punishment of castration (as already in the secular law promulgated for his kingdom by his predecessor King Chinawith), followed by castration.
The matter was also dealt with at the Council of Paris - in canons 34 and 69 (AD 829), (a forgery according to John Boswell who claimed that "attitudes towards homosexuality grew steadily more tolerant in the early Middle Ages"). Meanwhile canon 15 of the Council of Trolsy (AD 909) warned against "pollution with men or animals".
Medieval and Early Modern period
Klaits writes: "From the twelfth century on, outsiders came under increasing verbal and physical attack from churchmen, allied secular authorities, and, particularly in the case of Jews, from the lower strata of the population"; and among "outsiders" he considers Jews, heretics, homosexuals, and magicians as having been among the most important.
Clark says that sodomy increasingly began to be identified as the most heinous of sins by authorities of the Catholic Church. In Italy, Dominican monks would encourage the pious to "hunt out" sodomites and once done to hand them to the Inquisition to be dealt with accordingly. She writes, "These clerical discourses provided a language for secular authorities to condemn sodomy... By persecuting sodomites as well as heretics, the Church strengthened its authority and credibility as a moral arbiter".
Norton says that the Council of London in 1102 decreed for the first time in English history that homosexual behaviour was a sin.[need quotation to verify] B.R. Burg says on the contrary: "Theologians in the period from the sixth to the fourteenth century frequently referred to sodomy as either the most serious sexual sin or one of the gravest such sins". Both he and Albert R. Jonson say that homosexual activity is frequently mentioned in the penitential books as a sinful act for which an appropriate penance is to be applied.
The Council of London decreed, in its canons 28 and 29, that "those who commit the shameful act of sodomy, and especially those who of their own free will take pleasure in doing so, were [to be] condemned by a weighty anathema until by penitence and confession they should show themselves worthy of absolution"; and that any cleric found guilty be deposed and that any layman "be deprived of his legal status and dignity in the whole realm of England". It was at the urging of Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury that the council was called and that it decreed that the people be informed of the gravity of homosexual activity and their obligation to confess it as a sin. Anselm, as archbishop, advised the Council that homosexuality was widespread and few men were embarassed by it or had even been aware it was a serious matter.[page needed] Confessors were urged[by whom?] to take account of the ignorance of those confessing sodomy: people need to be reminded of its gravity and their obligation to confess. Independently of the council, Anselm had instructions given to confessors to take account of ignorance of the gravity of the sin on the part those who confessed having committed it. Anselm deferred publication - arguing more time was needed for redrafting and revision. He recommended confessors to take into account mitigating factors such as age and marital status before prescribing penance; and counselling was preferred to punishment.[page needed] John Boswell argues that they were never published at all, but Gratian's Decretum (1140) included the decrees of the 1102 Council of London.
In 1179, Pope Alexander III presided over the Third Lateran Council which decreed (canon 11) that all those guilty of sodomy be removed from office or confined to penitential life in a monastery, if clergy; and be strictly excommunicated, if laity: "Let all who are found guilty of that unnatural vice for which the wrath of God came down upon the sons of disobedience and destroyed the five cities with fire, if they are clerics be expelled from the clergy or confined in monasteries to do penance; if they are laymen they are to incur excommunication and be completely separated from the society of the faithful."
This was followed by canon 14 of the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215. This stated that if a priest suspended for unchastity of any kind - especially the vice that "on account of which the anger of God came from heaven upon the children of unbelief" (that is sodomy) - dared to celebrate Mass then he was to be deposed permanently from the priesthood.
By the early 13th century (time of the Fourth Lateran Council) the Church accepted that "secular authorities, as well as clergy, should be allowed to impose penalties on 'sodomites' for having had sexual relations", and by the end of this period, "homophobic discourse became insitutionalised ,.. Sodomites were now demons as well as sinners.". Civil authorities were in fact already trying the crime of sodomy in their own courts. They applied punishments very different from those that the Church applied, such as excommunication and deposition from the clerical state. They followed Roman civil law, which prescribed death by burning for those found guilty of sodomy. In 1232, Pope Gregory IX established the Roman Inquisition which investigated claims of sodomitical acts when, in 1451, Pope Nicholas V enabled it to prosecute men who practice sodomy. Handed over to the civil authorities, those condemned were frequently, in accordance with civil law, burned.
In the Summa Theologica, which he was working on when he died in 1274, Saint Thomas Aquinas held that "the unnatural vice" is the greatest of the sins of lust. In his Summa contra Gentiles, traditionally dated to 1264, he argued against what he called "the error of those who say that there is no more sin in the emission of the semen than in the ejection of other superfluous products from the body" by saying that, after murder, which destroys an existing human being, disordinate emission of semen to the preclusion of generating a human being seems to come second.
R.I. Moore reports that, in 1424, Saint Bernardino of Siena preached for three days in Florence, Italy, against homosexuality and other forms of lust, calling for sodomites to be ostracized, and these sermons alongside measures by other clergy of the time strengthened opinion against homosexuals and encouraged the authorities to increase the measures of persecution.
In 1478, with the papal bull Exigit Sinceras Devotionis Affectus, Pope Sixtus IV acceded to the request of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile, granting them exclusive authority to name the inquisitors in their kingdoms. The Spanish Inquisition thus replaced the Medieval Inquisition which had been set up under direct papal control, and transferred it in Spain to civil control. In 1482, in response to complaints by relatives of the first victims, Sixtus wrote that he had not intended his grant to be abused in that way. However, strong pressure brought to bear on him prevented him from revoking it.
The Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition in Spain was therefore under the control of its monarchs and the initial direction of the Dominican friar Tomas de Torquemada. Mark D. Jordan says that it seems to have at first been reluctant to take on responsibility for trying those accused of sodomy, and that the Suprema (the governing body) ruled in 1509 that such cases were for the secular courts, which already punished sodomy with death. However, in 1524 the Suprema requested papal authorisation to prosecute sodomites. Pope Clement VII granted permission but only within the Kingdom of Aragon and on condition that trials be conducted according to the civil laws, not the standard inquisitorial procedure. The Pope refused the request of King Philip II of Spain to extend the authority of the Spanish Inquisition to conducting such trials in the rest of Spain.
Within Aragon and its dependent territories, the number of individuals that the Spanish Inquisition tried for sodomy, a broad-ranging crime, whose meaning has been explained above, between 1570 and 1630 was over 800 or nearly a thousand. In Spain, those whom the Spanish Inquisition convicted and had executed "by burning without the benefit of strangulation" were about 150. The Inquisition was harsh to sodomizers (more so for those committing bestiality than homosexuality), but tended to restrict death by burning only to those aged over twenty-five. Minors were normally whipped and sent to the galleys. Mildness was also shown to clergy, who were always a high proportion of those arrested.[page needed] In fact, conviction and execution for sodomy was easier to obtain from the civil courts in other parts of Spain than from the tribunals of the Inquisition in Aragon, and there executions for sodomy were much more numerous. After 1633, where the Spanish Inquisition had jurisdiction for sodomy, it ceased treating it as requiring execution, and imposed lesser penalties in cases brought before it.
The Portuguese Inquisition was established in 1536; and in 1539 Henry, Archbishop of Braga (later made cardinal) became Grand Inquisitor. (An earlier appointment as Portuguese Grand Inquisitor was Friar Diogo da Silva.) It received 4,419 denunciations against individuals accused of sodomy, of whom 447 were subjected to a formal trial, 30 were, in accordance with the pre-1536 civil laws enacted under Kings Afonso V and Manuel I, burnt at the stake, and many others were sent to the galleys or to exile, temporary or permanent.
In England, until Henry VIII, while still a member of the Roman Catholic Church, enacted the Buggery Act of 1533, as part of his campaign to break the power of the Catholic Church in England, the accused were tried by church courts, which almost never punished homosexual behaviour.
Although homosexuality was not directly discussed at the Council of Trent, it did commission the drawing up of a catechism (following the successful lead of some Protestants) which stated: "Neither fornicators nor adulterers, nor the effeminate nor sodomites shall possess the kingdom of God."
Neither the First Vatican Council nor the Second Vatican Council directly discussed the issue of homosexualty, nor did they alter the judgement of earlier councils. Homosexuality has received no mention in papal encyclicals except for Pope John Paul II's Veritatis Splendor of 1993, which "specifically proclaims the intrinsic evil of the homosexual condition" rejecting the view of some theologians who questioned the basis on which the church condemns as morally unacceptable "direct sterilization, autoeroticism, pre-marital sexual relations, homosexual relations and artificial insemination". However, homosexual activity was frequently referred to as crimen pessimum (the worst crime). including that codified in 1917.
Michael Bronski has written: "In Western culture, homosexual activity was first categorized as a sin. With the rise of materialism and the decline of religion, it became a transgression against the social, not the moral order: a crime." However, the Catholic Church has continued to categorize it as a sin.
Dissent from official Church position
A number of Catholics and Catholic groups oppose the position of the Catholic Church and seek to change it. Critics make the general argument that The Church's line on homosexuality emphasises the physical dimension of the act at the expense of higher moral, personal and spiritual goals. Gay and lesbian Catholics also feel that the practice of total, life-long sexual denial risks results in personal isolation.:194 John McNeill writes that since gay people experience their sexual orientation as innately created, to believe that is a tendency towards evil would require believing in a sadistic God, and that it is preferable to believe that that element of church teaching is mistaken than that God behaves in such a way.
There have also been some practical and ministerial disagreements within the clergy and hierarchy of the Catholic Church.
Two of the best-known advocates for a more accepting position on homosexuality within the Catholic fold have been the Salvatorian priest Fr. Robert Nugent, and the School Sister of Notre Dame nun Jeannine Gramick, who established New Ways Ministry in 1977 This was in response to the Bishop of Brooklyn's invitation to reach out in “new ways” to lesbian and gay Catholics. In 1981, New Ways Ministry held its first national symposium on homosexuality and the Catholic Church, but Archbishop James Hickey of Washington, D.C. wrote to Catholic bishops and communities, asking them not to support the event. Despite this, more than fifty Catholic groups endorsed the program. In 1983 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith attempted unsuccessfully to block publication of Nugent's book, A Challenge to Love: Gay and Lesbian Catholics in the Church, although Cardinal Ratzinger did succeed in forcing Bishop Walter Sullivan of Richmond to remove his name from it. In May 1999 both Nugent and Grammick were formally disciplined when the Congregation imposed lifetime bans on any pastoral work involving gay people, declaring that the positions they advanced "do not faithfully convey the clear and constant teaching of the Catholic Church," and "have caused confusion among the Catholic people". The Vatican move made Nugent and Gramick "folk heroes in liberal circles", where official teaching is seen as outdated and lacking compassion.
Similarly, the American bishops Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit and Matthew Clark of Rochester, New York were criticized for their association with New Ways Ministry, and their distortion of the theological concept of the "Primacy of Conscience" as an alternative to the actual teaching of the Catholic Church. Furthermore, the insistence of Bishop Jacques Gaillot to preach a message about homosexuality contrary to that of the official church teaching is largely considered to be one of the factors that led to him being removed from his See of Evraux, France, in 1995. While bishop he had blessed a homosexual union in a "service of welcoming", after the couple requested it in view of their imminent death from AIDS. 
In 1976, John McNeill, an American Jesuit and co-founder of Dignity, published The Church and the Homosexual, which challenged the Church's prohibition of same-sex activity. It argued for a change in Church teaching and that homosexual relationships should be judged by the same standard of heterosexual ones. The work had received permission from McNeill's Jesuit superiors prior to printing. In 1977, the permission was retracted at the order of the Vatican, and McNeill was ordered by Cardinal Franjo Šeper not to write or speak publicly about homosexuality. In a statement McNeill responded that "gay men most likely to act out their sexual needs in a unsafe, compulive way, and therefore expose themselves to the HIV virus, are precisely those who have internalised the self-hatred that their religions impose on them.". In 1986, the Jesuit order subsequently dismissed him for "pertinacious disobedience" from the order and effectively the priesthood.
In 1977, a collective theological study on human sexuality was published, after being commissioned in 1972 by the Catholic Theological Society of America, which however did not approve the study, after members of its board of directors criticized its scholarship. In his Breaking Faith: The Pope, the People and the Future of Catholicism, John Cornwell says the theology contained within the work extended the Vatican II focus on the procreative and unitive purposes of marital sexuality, to emphasis the creative and integrative aspects; and that it criticised the "oversimplification of the natural law theory of St. Thomas", and argued that "Homosexuals enjoy the same rights and incur the same obligations as the heterosxual majority.":129 The book showed that dissent from the Church's teaching on sexuality was common among United States theologians. Reaction to its publication showed that the dissent was not unanimous, even within the Catholic Theological Society of America itself.
In 1984, Cardinal Ratzinger asked Archbishop Gerety of Newark to withdraw his imprimatur from Sexual Morality by Philip S. Keane, and the Paulist Press ceased its publication. Keane had stated that homosexuality should not be considered absolutely immoral but only "if the act was placed without proportionate reason". The Catholic tradition had suffered 'historical distortions', and should be "ever open to better expressions".
In a letter of 25 July 1986 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith rebuked moral theologian Charles Curran for his published work and informed the Catholic University of America in Washington that he would "no longer be considered suitable nor eligible to exercise the function of a professor of Catholic theology". Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Prefect of the Congregation, expressed the hope that "this regrettable, but necessary, outcome to the Congregation's study might move you to reconsider your dissenting positions and to accept in its fullness the teaching of the Catholic Church". Curran had been critical of a number of the Catholic Church's teachings, including his contention that homosexual acts in the context of a committed relationship were good for homosexual people. This event "widened the gulf" between the Catholic episcopacy and academia in the United States.
Also in 1986 Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen of Seattle was required to transfer authority concernng ministry to homosexuals to his auxiliary bishop. Hunthausen had earlier been investigated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for allowing Dignity, the association for gay Catholics, to hold Mass in Seattle cathedral on the grounds that: "They're Catholics too. They need a place to pray". "Bishops had been put on notice that pastoral ministry to homosexuals, unless it is based on clear condemnation of homosexual conduct, invites serious trouble with Rome". In the same year Cardinal Ratzinger wrote to Bishop Matthew Clark of Rochester, in the US instructing him to remove his imprimatur from a book aimed at parents talking to children, Parents Talk Love: A Catholic Handbook on Sexuality written by Father Matthew Kawiak and Susan Sullivan, and which included information on homosexuality.
James Alison, a priest formerly a member of the Dominican Order and in the United Kingdom, has also argued that the teaching of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons regarding gay people is incompatible with the Gospel, and states that "it cannot in fact be the teaching of the Church." In a Question of Truth, the Dominican priest Gareth Moore states that: "... there are no good arguments, from either Scripture or natural law, against what have come to be known as homosexual relationships. The arguments put forward to show that such relationships are immoral are bad."
In 2012, a group of sixty-three former Catholic priests in the USA publicly announced their support for Referendum 74, which would make Washington the nation’s seventh state to legalize marriage between same-sex couples. "We are uneasy with the aggressive efforts of Catholic bishops to oppose R-74 and want to support the 71 percent of Catholics (Public Religion Research Institute) who support civil marriage for gays as a valid Catholic position," they said in a statement.
More recently, in 2013 in England and Wales, 27 prominent Catholics (mainly theologians and clergy) issued a public letter supporting the Government's move to introduce same-sex civil marriage. The group included Fr James Alison, Tina Beattie, and Fr Kevin T. Kelly.
In 2003 fewer than 35% of American Catholics supported same-sex marriage. However, a report by the Public Religion Research Institute on the situation in 2013 found that during that decade support for same-sex marriage has risen 22 percentage points among Catholics to 57%: 58% among white Catholics, 56% among Hispanic, with white Catholics more likely to offer "strong" support. Among Catholics who were regular churchgoers, 50% supported, 45% opposed.
A 2011 report by the same organisation found that 73% of American Catholics favoured anti-discrimination laws, 63% supported the right of gay people to serve openly in the military, and 60% favoured allowing same-sex couples to adopt children. The report also found Catholics to be more critical than other religious groups about how their church is handling the issue
Catholic support of gay rights is higher than that of other Christian groups and of the general population. A spokesperson for DignityUSA suggested that Catholic support for gay rights was due to the religion's tradition of social justice, the importance of the family, and better education.
A 2014 poll commissioned by the US-Spanish-language network Univision of more than 2,000 Catholics in 12 countries (Uganda, Spain, the US, Brazil, Argentina, France, Mexico, Italy, Colombia, Poland, the Philippines, and the DRC) found that two thirds of respondents were opposed to the idea of civil same-sex marriage, and around one third was in favour. However, the level of resistance varied between economically developing and developed countries, with 99% of respondents opposed in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo; but a majority in favour in Spain (63%) and the US (54%). Additionally, in all countries a majority of those polled said they did not think the Catholic Church should perform marriages between two people of the same sex - although the results again ranged with support strongest in Spain (43% in favour) to Uganda (99% against).
In January 2014 the former president of Ireland, Mary McAleese, strongly criticised the Catholic Church's approach to homosexuality in a lecture to the Royal Society of Edinburgh: "I don't like my church's attitude to gay people. I don't like 'love the sinner, hate the sin'. If you are the so-called sinner, who likes to be called that?" Her comments were welcomed by the Irish Association of Catholic Priests
DignityUSA was founded in the United States in 1969 as the first group for gay and lesbian Catholics shortly after the Stonewall riots. It developed from the ministry of Father Patrick Xavier Nidorf, an Augustinian priest. It believes that gay Catholics can "express our sexuality physically, in a unitive manner that is loving, life-giving, and life-affirming". It also seeks to "work for the development of sexual theology leading to the reform of [the church's] teachings and practices regarding human sexuality, and for the acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender peoples as full and equal members of the one Christ". In 1980, the Association of Priests in the Archdiocese of Chicago honored the Chicago branch of Dignity as the organization of the year.
Meetings were initially held in San Diego and Los Angeles, before the organization ultimately became headquartered in Boston. It later spread to Canada. In 1987 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published a letter "On the Pastoral Care of Homosexuals", which warned of pressure groups trying to get Church pastors to support changing legislation, and said those groups ignored the magnitude the AIDS crisis, something that "the Church can never be so callous" to do. The letter also said that providing facilities to "organizations which seek to undermine the teaching of the Church, which are ambiguous about it, or which neglect it entirely ... is misleading and often scandalous." As a result, Catholic bishops in Atlanta, Buffalo, Brooklyn, Pensacola and Vancouver immediately excluded Dignity chapters, and "within a few months the organization was unwelcome on church property anywhere".
The Rainbow Sash Movement covers two separate organizations created by and advanced by practicing LGBT Catholics who believe they should be able to receive Holy Communion. It has been most active in the United States, England, and Australia. The Rainbow Sash itself is a strip of a rainbow colored fabric which is worn over the left shoulder and is put on at the beginning of the Liturgy. The members go up to receive Eucharist. If denied, they go back to pews and remain standing, but if the Eucharist is received then they go back to the pew and kneel in the traditional way. Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, said that members of the Rainbow Sash Movement disqualified themselves from Communion by making reception of it a display of opposition to the Church's teaching, while Archbishop Harry Joseph Flynn, when head of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, said that the decision to take Communion lay with individual Catholics as to their state of grace and freedom from mortal sin, but that receiving Communion should not be used as a protest. The movement in Illinois also planned to hold in a cathedral prayer for legalization of same-sex marriage, an initiative that Bishop Paprocki of Springfield called blasphemous.
In the United Kingdom, Quest is a group for lesbian, gay and bisexual Catholics with a purpose to "proclaim the gospel...so as to sustain and increase Christian belief among homosexual men and women." It was established and is led by lay Catholics. It was, however, taken out of the Catholic Directory][which?] because of its refusal to make clear its dissociation from active gay sexuality.:128
There are other groups operating around the world. many organising prayer meetings and retreats and making common cause in their desire to maintain their Catholic faith without hiding their sexuality. Some have called for official recognition of permanent partnerships as an effective way to curb homosexual promiscuity. In Germany there is "Homosexuelle und Kirche" (HuK); In France, "David et Jonathan" (with 25 local branches); In Spain, "Coorinadora Gai-Lesbiana"; In Italy there are a number of groups based in different parts of the country - "Davide e Gionata" (Turin), "Il Guado" (Milan), "La Parola" (Vicenza), "L'Incontro" (Padua), "Chiara e Francesco" (Udine), "L'Archipelago" (Reggio Emilia), "Il Gruppo" (Florence), "Nuova Proposta" (Rome), and "Fratelli dell' Elpis" (Catanaia). In the Netherlands there is a group called "Stichting Dignity Nederland". In Mexico, "Ottra Ovejas". And in South Africa a group called "Pilgrims".:128
In January 1998 Alfredo Ormando set fire to himself in St Peter's square, Rome as a political protest against the Catholic Church's condemnation of homosexuality. He died shortly after from his injuries.
Defense of official teaching
An essay by the French Chief Rabbi Gilles Bernheim taking a clear position against gay marriage and denouncing the theory of acquired gender was quoted at length by Pope Benedict XVI in his 1012 Christmas address to the Roman Curia.
The Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organisation, have also been active in political campaigns across the United States in the area of same-sex marriage. The Order contributed over $14 million to help maintain the legal definition of marriage as one man and one woman in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington. Darren Hurwitz (a same-sex marriage proponent) has claimed that the Knights of Columbus has now become "one of the nation's largest funders of discrimination against gays and lesbians."
Terence Cardinal Cooke of New York City saw a need for a ministry which would assist gay Catholics to adhere to Catholic teaching on sexual behaviour. Cooke invited John Harvey to New York to begin the work of Courage International with Benedict Groeschel, of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. The first meeting was held in September 1980 at the Shrine of Mother Seton in South Ferry. The group consists of laymen and laywomen usually under anonymous discretion, together with a priest, to encourage its members to abstain from acting on their sexual desires and to live chastely according to the Catholic Church's teachings on homosexuality".
The Catholic Medical Association has stated that same-sex attractions are preventable and a symptom of other issues. The goal of therapy should be "freedom to live chastely according to one's state in life."
Homosexuality and Catholic clergy
Homosexual clergy, and homosexual activity by clergy, are not exclusively modern phenomena. In response to scandals among ordinary clergy, Saint Peter Damian wrote his Liber Gomorrhianus (1050), which denounced, in ascending order of gravity, four varieties of sexual practice: masturbation, mutual masturbation, interfemoral intercourse, and anal intercourse.
Estimates presented in Donald B. Cozzens' book The Changing Face of the Priesthood of the percentage of gay priests range from 23–58%; suggesting a higher than average numbers of homosexual men (active and non-active) within the Catholic priesthood and higher orders.
The 1961 Papal encyclical(?) Careful Selection And Training Of Candidates For The States Of Perfection And Sacred Orders (Religiosorum institutio) stated that "Advantage [sic] to religious vows and ordination should be barred to those who are afflicted with evil tendencies to homosexuality or pederasty, since for them the common life and the priestly ministry would constitute serious dangers." Bishops had discretion in allowing the further instruction of offending but penitent seminarians, and held homosexuals to the same standards of celibate chastity as heterosexual seminarians.
In 1997, the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issued a letter to the world's bishops giving guidelines for candidates for the seminary stipulating, "sufficient affective maturity and a clearly masculine sexual identity." It reiterated the policy in 2002: "Ordination to the diaconate and the priesthood of homosexual men or men with homosexual tendencies is absolutely inadvisable and imprudent and, from the pastoral point of view, very risky. A homosexual person, or one with a homosexual tendency is not, therefore, fit to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders."
In November 2005, the Congregation for Catholic Education under the direction of John Paul II, issued a document entitled an 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 stated 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". Under the policy, men with 'transitory' homosexual tendencies may be ordained deacons following three years of prayer and chastity, but men with 'deeply rooted homosexual tendencies' may never be ordained. While not a new moral teaching, the document enhanced vigilance in barring homosexuals from seminaries, and from the priesthood. While the preparation for this document had started 10 years before its publication, this instruction was seen at the time as an official "answer" by the Catholic Church to several sex scandals involving priests in the late 20th/early 21st century, including the American Roman Catholic sex abuse cases and a 2004 sex scandal in a seminary at St. Pölten (Austria). There were some questions on how distinctions between deep-seated and transient homosexuality, as proposed by the document, will be applied in practice: the actual distinction that is made might be between those who abuse, and those who don't. However, by distinguishing between homosexual orientation and homosexual acts, the Vatican directive was technically according to Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York "not tout court a no-gays policy". The National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries criticized the document for implying that homosexuality was the cause of the sexual abuse crisis and was associated with pedophilia.
In May 2008, Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, acting on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI, confirmed as applying to all Catholic seminaries everywhere the 2005 declaration 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'." Subsequently in 2010, Bertone, commenting publicly on the clerical abuse crisis, said that "many psychologists and psychiatrists have demonstrated that there is no relation between celibacy and pedophilia". He said they do believe, however, "that there is a relation between homosexuality and pedophilia. "That is true. ... That is the problem." In fact academic literature supports no link between homosexuality and child abuse, within the clergy or not. The secretary-general of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, Father Aloysius Stock, commented: "There is no empirical data which concludes that sexual orientation is connected to sexual abuse... " A study by Tallon and Terry examining the evidence on clergy abusers in the USA concluded that where priests had multiple victims, fewer than half of them had repeatedly abused victims of the same age and gender. While a further study by John Jay suggested that in fact "the abuse decreased as more gay priests began serving in the church". The gay rights activist Peter Tatchell has argued that "Scapegoating gay people within the Church is both a way for the Vatican to wash its hands of responsibility for the clerical abuse that has taken place and also a way to further demonise gay people and justify the church's anti-gay policies" Furthermore, "Many gay clergy have entrenched the homophobia of the Vatican. They espouse it with great enthusiasm, seeking to atone for their own homosexuality by being ever more homophobic".
Homosexuality and the episcopacy
The existence of gay bishops in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran and other traditions is a matter of historical record, though never, until recently, considered licit by any of the main Christian denominations. Homosexual activity was engaged in secretly. When it was made public, official response ranged from inaction to expulsion from Holy Orders. As far back as the eleventh century, Ralph, Archbishop of Tours had his lover installed as Bishop of Orléans, yet neither Pope Urban II, nor his successor Paschal II took action to depose either man.
Although homosexual sexual acts have been consistently condemned by the Catholic Church, a number of senior members of the clergy have been found to have had homosexual relationships. Archbishop Rembert Weakland, who retired in 2002, was alleged to have been in a relationship with a former graduate student; Juan Carlos Maccarone, the Bishop of Santiago del Estero in Argentenia, retired after video surfaced showing him engaged in homosexual acts; and Francisco Domingo Barbosa Da Silveira, the Bishop of Minas in Uruguay, resigned in 2009 after it was alleged that he had broken his vow of celibacy. In 2012, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, described as the Catholic Primate of Scotland, was forced to retire prematurely because of complaints that he had made "inappropriate approaches" or "inappropriate contacts" of a homosexual character.
A number of Popes were rumored to have been homosexual or to have had male sexual partners. In the 11th century, Pope Benedict IX (1044–1048) was forced out of the papacy amidst a series of scandals, including his sexual orientation toward men. Pope Paul II (1417–1471) was said by detractors to have died while being sodomised by a page boy. Pope Sixtus IV (1414–1484) was called a "lover of boys and sodomites". Pope Leo X (1475–1521) was believed to have engaged in "unnatural vice". Despite having fathered a daughter, there were contemporary suggestions that Pope Julius II (1443–1513) was homosexual. The reputation of Pope Julius III (1487–1555), and that of the Catholic Church, were greatly harmed by his scandal-ridden relationship with his adopted nephew.
Comments by Pope Francis
The BBC reported that shortly before the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI in February 2013, the Italian media in particular used unsourced reports to suggest that there was a "gay lobby" of clergy inside the Vatican who had been collaborating to advance personal interests, thereby opening the Holy See to potential blackmail, and even to suggest that this may have been one of the factors influencing Benedict's decision to resign. Pope Francis was reported to have acknowledged the existence of this lobby in remarks during a meeting held in private with Catholic religious from Latin America, and he was said to have promised to "see what we can do". In July 2013, he responded directly to journalists' questions concerning the reported gay lobby. He drew a distinction between the problem of lobbying and the sexual orientation of people: "If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?" "The problem", he said, "is not having this orientation. We must be brothers. The problem is lobbying by this orientation, or lobbies of greedy people, political lobbies, Masonic lobbies, so many lobbies. This is the worse problem."
He reaffirmed the Catholic Church's teaching that, while homosexual acts are sinful, homosexual orientation is not and people with that orientation should not be marginalised but integrated into society. In this regard, he quoted the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which says: "They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided." In relation to reports that a Vatican official whom he had recently promoted had had a homosexual relationship, he drew a distinction between sins, which can be forgiven if repented of, and crimes, such as sexual abuse of minors.
Some LGBT groups welcomed the comments, noting that this was the first time a pope had used the word "gay" in public, and had also accepted the existence of gay people as a recognisable part of the Catholic Church community for the first time.
Decriminalization of homosexuality
In the 1960s, the Catholic Church supported the call of the Wolfenden report to introduce legislation to decriminalise homosexual acts in England and Wales. In Australia, Cardinal Archbishop Norman Thomas Gilroy supported efforts begun in the 1970s to likewise change the law. In the United States the Catholic National Federation of Priests' Councils declared their opposition to "all civil laws which make consensual homosexual acts between adults a crime".
In Malta, however, Catholic bishops opposed efforts to remove homosexual acts from the criminal code; something which was finally done in 1973. In New Zealand, Cardinal Williams issued in 1985 a statement opposing homosexual law reform, arguing that "to decriminalize homosexuality could suggest to some people that it was morally and socially permissible"; but the Church there declined to submit a formal response to the parliamentary enquiry. In later years, the local Catholic Church opposed or took action against decriminalization of homosexuality in Belize. In India, too, the Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council opposed decriminalisation, but Cardinal Oswald Gracias, a President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India and one of the eight members of Pope Francis's Council of Cardinal Advisers, declared it wrong to make gay people criminals, since the Catholic Church "teaches that homosexuals have the same dignity of every human being and condemns all forms of unjust discrimination, harassment or abuse". Homosexuality remains illegal in Belize and India. In Nigeria, Cardinal John Onaiyekan was thought to have tacitly approved of a May 2013 bill criminalizing same-sex relationships and participation in gay rights organizations.
In June 2012, Catholic bishops in Uganda, a country where 42% of the population is Catholic, participated in a joint Christian urging of Parliament to pass the anti-homosexuality bill, which originally (in 2009) proposed the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality",. In that declaration, Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga joined other religious leaders calling on parliamentarians to make progress in enacting legislation that would broaden criminalisation of same-sex relations. They asked Ugandan Christians "to remain steadfast in opposing the phenomena of homosexuality, lesbianism and same-sex union". This contrasted with an earlier statement tabled in 2009 by the Ugandan Bishop's Conference which said the Bill did not "pass the test of a caring Christian approach to the issue" and that "the targeting of the sinner, not the sin, is the core flaw of the proposed Bill. The introduction of the death penalty and imprisonment for homosexual acts targets people rather than seeking to counsel and to reach out in compassion to those who need conversion, repentance, support, and hope." It contrasted also with reaction to the passage of the bill in December 2013, with imprisonment for life as the maximum punishment instead of the death penalty, and its signing into law by President Museveni in February 2014. The Papal Nuncio to Uganda, Archbishop Michael Blume, voiced concern and shock at the bill, and Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Holy See's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, stated that "homosexuals are not criminals" and should not be sent to prison for life. At the same time he called on the international community to continue providing aid to Uganda.
The Holy See, an observer at the United Nations, opposed both informally and formally a 2008 proposed declaration urging the decriminalization of "sexual orientation" and "gender identity", which are punishable by law in many countries, including some where it incurs a death sentence. In an interview published on 1 December 2008, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See's representative at the United Nations General Assembly, said of the proposed declaration that it "asked for the addition of new categories to be protected against discrimination without taking into account that, if adopted, these would create terrible new discriminations" such as, he said, pillorying and pressuring of states that do not recognize as marriage a union between persons of the same sex. or to provide adoption rights to gays and lesbians. Speaking on the floor of the General Assembly on 18 December 2008, he said: "The Holy See appreciates the attempts made [in the draft declaration] to condemn all forms of violence against homosexual persons as well as urge States to take necessary measures to put an end to all criminal penalties against them", but added that its failure to define the terms "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" would produce "serious uncertainty" and "undermine the ability of States to enter into and enforce new and existing human rights conventions and standards". In Italy, the gay association Arcigay and the newspaper La Repubblica decried the stance of the Holy See. An editorial in La Stampa, a general circulation newspaper, said the Vatican's reasoning was "grotesque".
During discussion at the 16th session of the UN Human Rights Council in 2011 of a Joint Statement on Ending Violence and Related Human Rights Violations Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, the Holy See's representative, Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi, stated: "A state should never punish a person, or deprive a person of the enjoyment of any human right, based just on the person's feelings and thoughts, including sexual thoughts and feelings. But states can, and must, regulate behaviors, including various sexual behaviors. Throughout the world, there is a consensus between societies that certain kinds of sexual behaviors must be forbidden by law. Pedophilia and incest are two examples." He later said of that resolution that recognizing gay rights would cause discrimination against religious leaders and that there was concern lest consequent legislation would lead to "natural marriages and families" being "socially downgraded".
On 28 January 2012, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, gave a speech calling on African nations to repeal laws that place sanctions on homosexual conduct. Speaking to a journalist, African Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, called the speech stupid. The journalist reported: "Asked if Ban Ki-moon was overstepping his responsibilities, Cardinal Sarah replied: 'Sure, you cannot impose something stupid like that.' He added: 'Poor countries like Africa just accept it because it's imposed upon them through money, through being tied to aid.'" He said that African bishops must react against this move against African culture.
Discrimination against homosexuals
Siker has described the Church as sending "mixed signals" regarding discrimination based on sexual orientation. It does not regard such an orientation is comparable to gender or race differentiation and so actively opposes the extension of at least some aspects of civil rights legislation to gay men and lesbians.:194
The Vatican holds that there are areas in which it is not unjust discrimination to take sexual orientaion into account. In 1992, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published a statement under the title "Some Considerations Concerning the Catholic Response to Legislative Proposals on the Non-Discrimination of Homosexual Persons". It commented that some "municipal authorities made public housing, otherwise reserved for families, available to homosexual (and unmarried heterosexual) couples" and said that "such initiatives ... may in fact have a negative impact on the family and society", affecting "such things as the adoption of children, the employment of teachers, the housing needs of genuine families, landlords' legitimate concerns in screening potential tenants". After recalling what it had already stated in its 1986 letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the pastoral care of homosexual persons, it declared that, because of the moral concern that sexual orientation raises, it is different from qualities such as race, ethnicity, sex or age, and therefore "there are areas where it is not unjust discrimination to take sexual orientation into account, for example, in the placement of children for adoption or foster care, in employment of teachers or athletic coaches, and in military recruitment". Limitation of rights is permissible, and sometimes even obligatory, in cases of "objectively disordered external conduct", even if the conduct is not culpable, as in the case of "contagious or mentally ill persons", the exercise of whose rights can justly, for the sake of the common good, be restricted.
In 1999, the trustees of Notre Dame University in the USA rejected a proposal to amend their antidiscrimination clause to ban anti-gay discrimination on campus, a decision which faculty and students disapproved of. Students reacted with hunger strikes and demonstrations.:131[verification needed] The proposal had been made by representative bodies of the students and faculty, and some 70 students fasted for three days as they awaited the decision. The trustees rejected the amendment to the university's non-discrimination policy. Cornwell says they did so because they believed that framing gay rights as civil rights conflicted with the church's teaching and that such a policy could allow the University to be prosecuted if it restricted homosexual conduct.:131[verification needed] The Catholic Church in fact states that the dignity of homosexual persons must be upheld in law,:195 and other sources say that the decision of the trustees was due instead to concern that civil courts might not distinguish, as the Catholic Church does, between homosexual orientation, which the Church sees as neither sinful nor evil, and homosexual behaviour. The university said that it accepted people of different sexual orientations and condemned any form of harassment, and it declared it would respond to a higher standard than such a legal clause. The university does not recognize any LGBT student organizations or gay-straight alliances and had banned an unrecognized student group from meeting on campus; its Office of Student Affairs had had a committee on gay and lesbian student needs created in 1995 in order to avoid recognizing a student group. After these events, a recently created LGBT student group was tacitly allowed to use campus facilities, although such groups remain unrecognized and so unfinanced by the university.
The United States Conference of Bishops wrote to all members of the Senate Committee for Health, Education, Labour and Pensions in 2013 to register its opposition to a proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). The proposed legislation would prohibit discrimination in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by civilian, nonreligious employers with at least 15 employees. While they expressed their belief that "no one should be an object of scorn, hatred, or violence for any reason, including sexual inclination", the bishops declared: "We have a moral obligation to oppose any law that would be so likely to contribute to legal attempts to redefine marriage".
In July 2013, Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez referred to President Obama's nominee for Dominican Republic’s ambassador by the anti-gay slur maricón. In 2011 a Catholic bishop in Peru, Luis Bambarén, was forced to apologize for using the same word in commenting, when answering journalists' questions on plans to legalise same-sex marriage, on the use in Spanish of the English word "gay": "I do not know why we talk about Gays. Let's speak in Creole or Castilian: They're faggots. That's how you say it, right?" He later apologized, saying: "It is an offensive word, and [homosexuals] deserve respect."
In 2014 the United Nation's Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern in a report about the Holy See’s past statements and declarations on homosexuality which it said "contribute to the social stigmatization of and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adolescents and children raised by same sex couples". The Committee urged the Holy See to "make full use of its moral authority to condemn all forms of harassment, discrimination or violence against children based on their sexual orientation or the sexual orientation of their parents and to support efforts at international level for the decriminalisation of homosexuality."
In contrast, in May 2014, Bishop Charles Scicluna of Malta attended an event organised by the Maltese Catholic gay rights group Drachma to mark IDAHO(International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia)
Campaign against same-sex marriage and civil unions
In recent years, the Catholic Church has resisted legislative efforts by governments to give equal rights to gay men and women through the establishment of either civil unions or same-sex marriage.
On 3 June 2003, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published a document with the agreement of Pope John Paul II called "Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons" opposing the very idea of same-sex marriage. This document made clear that "legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behaviour ... but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity". Catholic legislators were instructed that supporting such recognition would be "gravely immoral", and that they must do all they could do actively oppose it, bearing in mind that "the approval or legalisation of evil is something far different from the toleration of evil". The document said that allowing children to be adopted by people living in homosexual union would actually mean doing violence to them, and stated: "There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law."
On 9 March 2012, Pope Benedict XVI, denouncing "the powerful political and cultural currents seeking to alter the legal definition of marriage", currents that the Washington Post described as a "cultural shift toward gay marriage in U.S.", told a group of United States bishops on their ad limina visit to Rome that "the Church's conscientious effort to resist this pressure calls for a reasoned defense of marriage as a natural institution consisting of a specific communion of persons, essentially rooted in the complementarity of the sexes and oriented to procreation. Sexual differences cannot be dismissed as irrelevant to the definition of marriage."
In the United States, the leadership of the Catholic Church has taken an active and financial role in political campaigns across all states regarding same-sex marriage. Human Rights Campaign said that the church spent nearly $2 million in 2012 toward unsuccessful campaigns against gay marriage in four states (Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington), representing a significant share of the contributions used to fund anti-gay marriage campaigns, although a 2012 Pew Research Center poll indicated that Catholics in the United States generally who support gay marriage outnumber those who oppose it at 52 percent to 37 percent
In addition to financially supporting political campaigns against same-sex marriage, the church has also urged its followers to campaign and vote against it, distributing anti-gay-marriage DVDs and asking parishioners to write to lawmakers and urge them to oppose the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. In Washington State, for example, the four Catholic bishops were reported as "intensifying a campaign of pastoral statements and videos urging parishoners to vote against marriage equality" under Referendum 74.
Bishops and archbishops have described same-sex marriage as against nature and a risk to spiritual well-being, and have said supporters of its introduction should refrain from taking communion and have discouraged Catholics from attending such weddings.
In 2004, George Hugh Niederauer, as Bishop of Salt Lake City, who opposed same-sex marriage, spoke against a proposal to include a ban against it in the Utah state constitution, saying that he feared it excluded unions other than marriage and that the prohibition by law was sufficient But in 2008, as Archbishop of San Francisco, he campaigned in favor of California's Proposition 8, a ballot measure to recognize heterosexual marriage constitutionally as the only valid marriage within California, and was said to have been instrumental in forging alliances between Catholics and Mormons to support the measure. His successsor, Salvatore Cordileone, had been instrumental in devising the initiative. Campaign finance records show he personally gave at least $6,000 to back the voter-approved ban and was instrumental in raising $1.5 million to put the proposition on the ballot. Subsequently, as Cardinal Archbishop of San Francisco, he called for an amendment to the US Constitution as "the only remedy in law against judicial activism" following the striking down of a number of state same-sex marriage bans by federal judges. He also attended and addressed the audience at the "March for Marriage", a rally opposing marriage for same-sex couples, in Washington, D.C. in June 2014, in spite of being warned by Nancy Pelosi against doing so.
In 2010, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops clarified the criteria for the funding of community development programs by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. One criterion was exclusion of organizations advancing activities that run counter to Catholic teaching, examples of which included those that support or promote same-sex marriage or discrimination.
In July 2003, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in Canada, the country's plurality religion, protested the Chrétien government's plans to include same-sex couples in civil marriage. The church criticisms were accompanied by Vatican claims that Catholic politicians should vote according to their personal beliefs rather than the policy of the government. Amid a subsequent backlash in opinion, the church remained quiet on the subject until late 2004, when the Bishop of Calgary, Frederick Henry, wrote a pastoral letter calling homosexual behaviour "an evil act" and seeming to call for its outlaw by the government, saying "Since homosexuality, adultery, prostitution and pornography undermine the foundations of the family, the basis of society, then the State must use its coercive power to proscribe or curtail them in the interests of the common good."
Catholic Church figures have also criticized attempts to legalize same-sex marriage in Europe. Pope John Paul II criticized same-sex marriage when it was introduced in the Netherlands in 2001, and cardinals in Scotland and France said that it was a danger to society.
In Spain and Portugal, Catholic leaders led the opposition to same-sex marriage, urging their followers to vote against it or to refuse to implement the marriages should they become legal. In May 2010, during an official visit to Portugal four days before the ratification of the law, Pope Benedict XVI, affirmed his opposition by describing it as "insidious and dangerous".
In 2010 in Ireland, Sean Brady (the Archbishop of Armagh) unsuccessfully asked Irish Catholics to resist government proposals for same-sex civil partnerships, and the Irish episcopal conference said that they discriminated against people in non-sexual relationships. In April 2013, when the legalization of same-sex marriage was being discussed, the Irish Bishops Conference stated in their submission to a constitutional convention that, if the civil definition of marriage was changed to include same-sex marriage, so that it differed from the church's own definition, they could no longer perform civil functions at weddings.
In the predominantly Catholic countries of Italy and Croatia the Catholic Church has been the main opponent to either the introduction of civil unions or marriage for same-sex-couples. In July 2013, 750,000 signatures (a fifth of Croatia's total population) were collected by Church leaders for a petition calling on law-makers to ensure the prohibition on same-sex marriage was embedded in the national Constitution.
In response to efforts to introduce same-sex marriage in Uruguay in 2013, Pablo Galimberti, the Bishop of Salto, on behalf of the Uruguayan Bishops Council, said that marriage was "an institution that is already so injured" and that the proposed law would "confuse more than clarify". The proposal nevertheless became law, with strong public support.
In Cameroon, Victor Tonye Bakot, the Archbishop of Yaounde, urged parishioners in 2012 that: “Marriage of persons of the same sex is a serious crime against humanity. We need to stand up to combat it with all our energy”. At the start of 2013 the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon followed this up by issuing a public statement urging "all believers and people of good will to reject homosexuality and so-called ‘gay marriage’".
In 2014, the Catholic Bishops Conference in Nigeria welcomed legislation passed by the government to make participation in a same-sex marriage a crime punishable by 14 years imprisonment. It noted the move as a "courageous act" and a "step in the right direction". The Archbishop of Jos, Ignatius Ayau Kaigama, argued that the action was "in line with the moral and ethical values of the Nigerian and African cultures", and blessed President Goodluck Jonathan in not bowing to international pressure: "To protect you and yor administration against the conspiracy of the developed world to make our country and continent, the dumping ground for the promotion of immoral practices".
Acceptance of civil unions
There has been some dissent expressed in recent years by senior and notable figures in the Catholic Church on whether support should not be given for homosexual civil unions.
In his book Credere e conoscere, published shortly before his death, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, the former Archbishop of Milan, set out his disagreement with opposition by Catholics to homosexual civil unions: "I disagree with the positions of those in the Church, that take issue with civil unions”, he wrote. “It is not bad, instead of casual sex between men, that two people have a certain stability" and said that the "state could recognize them". Although he stated his belief that "the homosexual couple, as such, can never be totally equated to a marriage", he also said that he could understand (although not necessarily approve of) gay pride parades when they support the need for self-affirmation.
In 2006 Thedore McCarrick, as Archbishop of Washington, indicated an acceptance for such unions In 2013 Christoph Schonborn, the Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna stated "There can be same-sex partnerships and they need respect, and even civil law protection." Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota has said: "Other unions have the right to exist, no one can ask them not to, but they should not be equated to marriage". The former Papal Master of Ceremonies, Archbishop Piero Marini has said: "Church and state should not be enemies to one another. In these discussions, it's necessary, for instance, to recognize the union of persons of the same sex, because there are many couples that suffer because their civil rights aren't recognized." Godfried Danneels, Archbishop Emeritus of Brussels has called the legalisation of same-sex civil marriage "a positive evolution", and added that the Church has nothing to say about whether states can legalise civil marriage for gay people Cardinal Rainer Woelki the Archbishop of Berlin has also stated: "If two homosexuals take responsibility for each other when they deal permanent and faithful to each other, you have to see it in a similar way as heterosexual relationships."
Over 260 Catholic theologians, particularly from Germany, Switzerland and Austria (including Hans Küng), signed in January and February 2011 a memorandum, called Church 2011, which said that the Church's esteem for marriage and celibacy "does not require the exclusion of people who responsibly live out love, faithfulness, and mutual care in same-sex partnerships or in a remarriage after divorce".
Pope Francis too, speaking of homosexual persons, said that "the key is for the church to welcome, not exclude and show mercy, not condemnation." "Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people," he stated, "but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person."
It has been suggested that Pope Francis, when Archbishop of Buenos Aires, urged fellow Argentine bishops in 2010 to signal the Church's public support for civil unions, as a compromise response to calls for same-sex marriage. This was at the time that Argentina, which already permitted civil unions, was debating a bill to allow same-sex couples to marry and adopt children, a move that Cardinal Bergoglio strongly opposed as leading to a situation that "can seriously harm the family…At stake is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children. At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God." In a 2010 book written as Archbishop of Buenos Aires with Jewish Rabbi Abraham Skorka (recently published in English), Bergoglio also spoke of same-sex marriage as "a weakening of the institution of marriage, an institution that has existed for thousands of years and is 'forged according to nature and anthropology'."
In the first days of 2014, Bishop Charles J. Scicluna of Malta reported that in a private conversation held with Pope Francis in December 2013, he repeated the phrase about same-sex marriage used in the earlier Argentine letter - that it was "an anthropological regression".
In January 2014, Pope Francis, in a conversation with leaders of religious orders, spoke of the importance of education in the context of difficulties now facing children; indicating that the Church must not "administer a vaccine against faith" – which Philip Pullella of Reuters rendered as "to scare away" – children being brought up in complex situations, including having a parent in a homosexual relationship:
- The educator should be up to being a person who educates, he or she should consider how to proclaim Jesus Christ to a generation that is changing. He insisted, therefore: "Education today is a key, key, key mission!" And he recalled some of his experiences in Buenos Aires regarding the preparation necessary to welcome children in an educational context, little boys and girls, young adults who live in complex situations, especially family ones: "I remember the case of a very sad little girl who finally confided to her teacher the reason for her state of mind: 'my mother's fiancée doesn't like me.' The percentage of children studying in schools who have separated parents is very high. The situation in which we live now provides us with new challenges which sometimes are difficult for us to understand. How can we proclaim Christ to these boys and girls? How can we proclaim Christ to a generation that is changing? We must be careful not to administer a vaccine against faith to them."
Italian media presented this as "an opening to legal provision for civil unions for gay couples, a subject of debate in Italy". The Director of the Holy See Press Office called this presentation paradoxical and a manipulation of the pope's words, especially since some media reported him as if he were "speaking specifically of homosexual unions", although he was only talking about the difficulties of children, not making a declaration on the debate in Italy.
On 5 March 2014, in an interview with the Italian newspaper, Corriere della Sera, Pope Francis said: "Marriage is between a man and a woman. Secular states want to justify civil unions to regulate different situations of cohabitation, pushed by the demand to regulate economic aspects between persons, such as ensuring health care. It is about pacts of cohabitating of various natures, of which I wouldn’t know how to list the different ways. One needs to see the different cases and evaluate them in their variety." Some, including Catholic News Service, interpreted this as suggesting that the Catholic Church could tolerate some types of non-marital civil unions as a practical measure for the purposes indicated. The English-language assistant of the Holy See Press Office stated that "civil unions" is a term that in Italy refers to non-religious marriages by the state, and that, in using it, "Pope Francis spoke in very general terms, and did not specifically refer to same-sex marriage as a civil union".
Preparation of the 2014 assembly of the Synod of Bishops
On 18 October 2013, the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops launched its consultation exercise on the topic of its 2014 assembly, by sending out the preparatory document known in Latin as the lineamenta, which outlines topics to be treated and contains a questionnaire meant to provoke responses. The lineamenta for the 2014 assembly bore as title the theme of the assembly: "Pastoral Challenges to the Family in the Context of Evangelization". An article by the BBC described it as an "unprecedented survey of the views of lay Catholics on modern family life and sexual ethics". In fact, all assemblies of the Synod of Bishops are preceded by sending out a lineamenta document that then generates discussion in the Catholic press. The lineamenta for the 2014 assembly, with a series of 39 questions, was sent as usual to all episcopal conferences. Individual conferences hold the consultations in different ways – in preparation for the 2014 assembly the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and several others launched a public consultation on the Internet. The questionnaire in the lineamenta for the 2014 assembly asked for local views on a range of issues related to the topic of the upcoming assembly, "pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelization". Since it was the first time time that an assembly of the Synod of Bishops dealt with that topic, it was the first time that an assembly lineamenta included a question on the care to be given to people in same-sex civil unions: "What pastoral attention can be given to people who have chosen to live in these types of union?"
In February 2014, the German bishops conference published their response that the survey had evoked in their country. They reported that in Germany "the Church's statements on premarital sexual relations, homosexuality, on those divorced and remarried, and on birth control ... are virtually never accepted, or are expressly rejected in the vast majority of cases"; and that there was "a 'marked tendency' among Catholics to accept legal recognition of same-sex unions as 'a commandment of justice' and they felt the Church should bless them, although most did not want gay marriage to be legalised".
Commenting on these German results and on the findings of a Pew Research Center survey published on 15 April 2014 concerning attitudes of the general population in certain countries, Sandro Magister noted what he called the significant difference that the Pew Research Center survey revealed between the attitudes in some countries of Europe and North America and the rest of the world, and remarked that, in view of the emphasis Pope Francis places on the Church not limiting itself to its old geographical and cultural areas, "it is evident that the Catholicism of Germany cannot be - as is happening to some extent - the universal parameter for changing the teaching and practice of the Church in matters of family, communion for the divorced and remarried, and same-sex marriage."
On the basis of the responses to the lineamenta, the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops prepared the customary working paper, called in Latin the instrumentum laboris, for the October 2014 assembly, bringing in extra staff to examine both the official responses to the lineamenta by episcopal conferences and similar bodies and the unofficial responses from "anyone else who sends in comments". Participants in the assembly will have at their disposal not only that instrumentum laboris, which is not a draft of a final document but only a text to help focus discussion, but also the entire documentation received. The Secretariat then published the instrumentum laboris on 26 June 2014, to enable it to be commented on throughout the Catholic Church and even more widely.
The online newspaper Pink News said that the Vatican document "calls on the Church to balance its opposition to same-sex marriage and gay adoption rights by welcoming same-sex couples, and their children, with equal dignity". "While Vatican officials have stressed that Church teachings against same-sex activity would not change under pressure of public opinion," the newspaper reported, "the document said 'many responses' called for 'theological study in dialogue with the human sciences to develop a multi-faceted look at the phenomenon of homosexuality'." It quoted the document's statement that, in the case of requests by people living in same-sex unions for a child's baptism, "almost all the responses emphasise that the child must be received with the same care, tenderness and concern which is given to other children." On Top magazine provided the same information in somewhat shorter form.
Delia Gallagher of CNN noted that the working document firmly rejects same-sex marriage but said the Church's leaders are trying to balance that with "a respectful, non-judgmental attitude towards people living in such unions". It says a person's identity should not be defined by sexuality, so as to "take every aspect of the person into consideration". She too drew attention also to the document's suggestion of a theological study in dialogue with the human sciences and to what it said about reception of children for baptism.
The opinion expressed by J. Lester Federer, reporting the document's statement of opposition to homosexual unions and opposition to adoption of children by such couples and at the same time its openness to "a respectful, non-judgmental attitude towards people living in such unions" and to baptizing children presented by them, is that the document "could signal a substantial shift in the Catholic Church's approach to the family, including the treatment of same-sex couples".
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cornwell-breakingwas invoked but never defined (see the help page).
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