Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Pope Benedict on Homosexuality

Briefing. The 'Gay Catholic' groups in the United States are pretty unhappy about the Pope's reaffirmation of the teaching of the Church on homosexuality. His visit has occasioned a flurry of press releases from 'New Ways Ministry', one such group, one of which, listing his interventions on the issue as Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and as Pope, is actually quite useful, if you discount the childish editorialising.

From New Ways Ministry:

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI on Lesbian/Gay Issues

While he was the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger was the architect of new Catholic teaching on lesbian/gay issues—many of which were designed to alter the trajectory of pastoral care and outreach that were being implemented by bishops in their dioceses. In particular, these new teachings tried to diminish a growing movement in the Catholic Church, particularly in its English-speaking countries (the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, the Netherlands), which urged acceptance, justice, and equality for lesbian/gay people. As Pope Benedict XVI, he has continued and expanded the same policies. The following is a list of the major documents he issued with a summary of their main points.

October 1986: The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) issued Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons.

--introduces the term “objective disorder” to describe a homosexual orientation. Immediately this term causes much confusion because it sounds as though the Vatican is calling homosexuality a psychological or medical problem, when, in fact, the term is used strictly in a philosophical sense.

--describes homosexual activity as “intrinsic moral evil.”

--claims that Church teaching transcends scientific knowledge: “The Church is thus in a position to learn from scientific discovery but also to transcend the horizons of science and to be confident that her more global vision does greater justice to the rich reality of the human person in his spiritual and physical dimensions, created by God and heir, by grace, to eternal life.”

--while condemning violence against lesbian/gay people, the document als o blames supporters of gay/lesbian rights for that violence, and claims that violence can be understood and rationalized: “when [pro-gay] civil legislations is introduced to protect behaviour 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.”

--blames gay/lesbian people for the HIV/AIDS crisis, and labels their advocates as dangerous to public health: “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.”

--warns bishops not to allow Church facilities to be used by groups that do not subscribe to the church’s teaching on sexual activity: “All support should be withdrawn from any organizations which seek to undermine the teaching of the Church. . . . Special attention should be given to the practice of scheduling religious services and to the use of Church buildings by these groups. . .”

July 1992: CDF issues Some Considerations Concerning the Catholic Response to Legislative Proposals on the Non-Discrimination of Homosexual Persons.

--Sent privately to the bishops, the document became public when New Ways Ministry, after receiving a copy of the text from an anonymous source, released it to the press. The Washington Post carried the first story on July 17, 1992.

--instructs bishops to be more circumspect in their support of civil rights legislation for lesbian/gay people: “Such initiatives, even where they seem more directed toward support of basic civil rights than condonement of homosexual activity or a homosexual lifestyle, may in fact have a negative impact on the family and society.”

--instructs bishops that discrimination is not unjust “in the placement of children for adoption or foster care, in employment of teacher or athletic coaches, and in military recruitment.”

--compares restricting the rights of lesbian/gay people with restricting the rights of “contagious or mentally ill persons, in order to protect the common good.”

June 1998: The CDF approves a revised version of the U.S. Bishops’ document Always Our Children after making seven changes to the U.S. Bishops’ original text. Among the changes:

--the elimination of a recommendation to pastors to “Use the words ‘homosexual,’ ‘gay,’ ‘lesbian,’ in honest and accurate ways, especially from the pulpit,” to encourage discussion of lesbian/gay issues, which was part of the original text.

--a description of sexual orientation as “a deep-seated dimension of one’s personality,” instead of as “a fundamental dimension of one’s personality,” as the U.S. bishops had originally written.

July 13, 1999: Notification of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith Regarding Sister Jeannine Gramick and Father Robert Nugent

--The CDF prohibits two of the pioneers of lesbian/gay ministry “from any pastoral work involving homosexual persons…”

August 2003: Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons.

This document reiterates the Vatican’s opposition to same-sex marriage. Among its main points:

--Heterosexual marriage would be devalued by same-sex marriage: “Legal recognition of homosexual unions would obscure certain basic moral values and cause a devaluation of the institution of marriage.”

--Permitting adoption of children by same-sex marriage “would actually mean doing violence to these children…” by harming their development.

--Catholic law-makers (and all Catholics) have a moral obligation to oppose same-sex unions: “…where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty.” “If it is true that all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are obliged to do so in a particular way.”

November 2005: Congregation for Catholic Education, 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

After being “tabled” by John Paul II, this document, which discourages bishops and seminaries from accepting gay men to study and ordination, is approved by Benedict XVI:

“…the Church, while profoundly respecting the person 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 sub-culture.’ ”

January 1, 2008: Papal Message on World Day of Prayer for Peace

Benedict XVI uses his new year’s message to note that “everything that serves to weaken the family based on the marriage of a man and a woman… constitutes an objective obstacle on the road to peace."

No comments:

Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen