Catholic Church and homosexuality
|Part of a series on|
|Part of a series on|
|Christianity and LGBT topics|
The Catholic Church prohibits sexual activity between members of the same sex. This teaching has developed through a number of ecumenical councils and the influence of theologians, including the Church Fathers. Historically, the Catholic Church has resisted the acceptance of homosexuality within Christian society and has on occasions punished those who have transgressed.
While varying from diocese to diocese, the Church provides pastoral care for LGBT Catholics through a variety of official and unofficial channels, and senior clergy and popes have recently begun to call for the Church to do more. In many parts of the world, the Church is active politically on issues of LGBT rights, primarily to oppose them.
There have been notable Catholics who were gay or bisexual, including priests and bishops. Catholic dissenters from the Church's teaching say that love between people of the same sex is as spiritually valuable as love between people of the opposite sex and that LGBT Catholics are as much members of the body of Christ as heterosexuals are. Catholic organizations that support the Church's teaching may campaign against gay rights, or argue that gay people should be celibate or try to become heterosexual.
The Church teaches that, as one does not choose to be either homo- or heterosexual, being gay is not inherently sinful. According to the Catholic theology of sexuality, all sexual acts must be open to procreation and express the symbolism of male-female complementarity. Sexual acts between two members of the same gender cannot meet these standards. Homosexuality thus constitutes a tendency towards this sin. The Church teaches that gay people are called to practice chastity.
The Church also teaches that gay people "must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity," and that "every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided."[a] whilst holding that discrimination in marriage, employment, housing, and adoption in some circumstance can be just and "obligatory".
The Church points to several passages in the Bible as the basis for its teachings, including Genesis 19:1-11, Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, I Corinthians 6:9, Romans 1:18-32, and I Timothy 10.
The Christian tradition has generally prohibited all sexual activities outside of sexual intercourse. This includes activities engaged in by couples or individuals of either the same or different sexes. 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 pederasty.
Canon law regarding same-sex sexual activity has been shaped through the decrees issued by a series of ecclesiastical councils. Initially, canons against sodomy were aimed at ensuring clerical or monastic discipline, and were only widened in the medieval period to include laymen. In the Summa Theologica, Saint Thomas Aquinas stated that "the unnatural vice" is the greatest of the sins of lust.
In January 1976, the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith under Pope Paul VI published Persona Humana, which codified the teaching against all extra-marital sex, including gay sex. Homosexuality received no mention in papal encyclicals until Pope John Paul II's Veritatis Splendor of 1993. There he declared that homosexual intercourse is performed by a choice of the will, unlike homosexual orientation, which he acknowledged is not a matter of free choice.
Pastoral care for gay Catholics
Beginning in the 1970s, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops taught that gays "should have an active role in the Christian community" and have called on "all Christians and citizens of good will to confront their own fears about homosexuality and to curb the humor and discrimination that offend homosexual persons. We understand that having a homosexual orientation brings with it enough anxiety, pain and issues related to self-acceptance without society bringing additional prejudicial treatment."
Bishops around the world have held diocesan events with the goal of reaching out to gay Catholics and ministering to them, and more have spoken publicly about the need to love and welcome them into the Church. Pope John Paul II asked "the bishops to support, with the means at their disposal, the development of appropriate forms of pastoral care for homosexual persons.” Several assemblies of the Synod of Bishops have struck similar themes, while maintaining that same-sex sexual activity is sinful and that same-sex marriage cannot be permitted. In 2018, in a move regarded as a sign of respect to the community, the Vatican used the acronym LGBT for the first time in an official document. Pope Francis has also spoken out about the need for pastoral care for gay and transgender Catholics, adding that God made LGBT people that way.
Beginning in the 1960s, a number of organizations have formed to minister to LGBT people. Organizations such as DignityUSA and New Ways Ministry, which advocates for the rights of LGBT Catholics, and Courage International, which encourages gay and lesbian Catholics to be chaste, were established in the United States in response to the push within the United States for greater recognition within the Church for gay men and lesbian women. Courage also has a ministry geared towards the relatives and friends of gay people called Encourage.
Dissent from Church teaching
There have practical and ministerial disagreements within the clergy and hierarchy of the Catholic Church concerning the Church's position on homosexuality. Some Catholics and Catholic groups have sought to adopt an approach they consider to be more inclusive. Dissenters argue that the prohibition on extramarital sex emphasizes the physical dimension of the act at the expense of higher moral, personal and spiritual goals and that the practice of total, lifelong sexual denial risks personal isolation. They argue that it is preferable to believe that this element of Church teaching is mistaken. The opinion of lay Catholics tends to be more supportive of gay marriage than the hierarchy.
Upwards of 70 people have been fired from jobs at Catholic schools or universities because of their marriages to partners of the same sex or, in one case, support for LGBT rights campaigns. When one Jesuit high school refused to fire a teacher after he publicly entered into a gay marriage, the local bishop designated the school as no longer Catholic; the school has appealed his decision.
In response to Church policy in the area of safe-sex education, AIDS, and gay rights, some gay rights activists have protested both inside and outside of Catholic churches, sometimes disrupting Masses. This includes at the National Shrine in Washington, at an ordination of priests at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, and during mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York where they desecrated the Eucharist. Others have splattered paint on churches and drenched an archbishop with water. In 1998, Alfredo Ormando died after setting himself on fire outside Saint Peter's Basilica to protest the Church's position on homosexuality.
Defense of Church teaching
Many Catholic groups defend the Church's teaching. The Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organisation, have contributed over $14 million, one of the largest amounts in the United States, to political campaigns against same-sex marriage. The Catholic Medical Association of North America claims that science "counters the myth that same-sex attraction is genetically predetermined and unchangeable, and offers hope for prevention and treatment." However, their claim is based on falsified writings from William Masters, who never performed the cited studies.
Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, has been criticized for describing the Church child sex abuse crisis as a "homosexual" problem rather than a "pedophilia" problem. Donohue based his claim on the fact that most of the incidents involved sexual contact between men and boys rather than between men and girls, but in either case the molestation is pedophilia. Researcher Karen Terry noted that "Someone can commit sexual acts that might be of a homosexual nature but not have a homosexual identity." Psychotherapist Joe Kort wrote that "Accessibility is more the factor in who a pedophile abuses... This may explain the high incidence of children molested in church communities and fraternal organizations, where the pedophile may more easily have access to children."
Homosexual clergy, and homosexual activity by clergy, are not exclusively modern phenomena, but rather date back centuries. Donald Cozzens estimated the percentage of gay priests in 2000 to be 23–58%, suggesting more homosexual men (active and non-active) within the Catholic priesthood than within society at large. Instructions from Vatican bodies on admitting gay men to the priesthood have varied over time. In the 1960s chaste gay men were allowed but in 2005 a new directive banned gay men "while profoundly respecting the persons in question."
The existence of gay bishops is a matter of historical record. Homosexual activity was engaged in secretly. When it was made public, official response ranged from inaction to expulsion from Holy Orders. Although homosexual acts have been consistently condemned by the Catholic Church, some senior members of the clergy have been found or alleged to have had homosexual relationships including Rembert Weakland, Juan Carlos Maccarone, Francisco Domingo Barbosa Da Silveira, and Keith O'Brien. Some Popes were thought to have been homosexual or to have had male sexual partners including Pope Benedict IX, Pope Paul II, Pope Sixtus IV, Pope Leo X, Pope Julius II and Pope Julius III.
The Church supports legislation that conforms with Catholic moral theology and Catholic Social Teaching surrounding issues of importance to LGBT peoples. The Church condemns all forms of violence against LGBT people and all criminal penalties against them, and also supports legally defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The Church is active in local, national, and international forums.
In various countries, members of the Catholic Church have intervened on occasions both to both support efforts to decriminalize homosexuality, and also to ensure it remains an offence under criminal law. The Catholic Church has been described as sending "mixed signals" regarding discrimination based on sexual orientation: a 1992 teaching said that because sexuality "evokes moral concern," sexual orientation is different from qualities such as race, ethnicity, sex, or age, which do not. It added that efforts to "protect the common good" by limiting rights were permissible and sometimes obligatory, and did not constitute discrimination. The Church therefore opposes the extension of at least some aspects of civil rights legislation, such as nondiscrimination in public housing, educational or athletic employment, adoption, or military recruitment, to gay men and lesbians. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops published a statement that was characterized by two theologians as claiming that "nondiscrimination legislation protecting LGBT people promotes immoral sexual behavior, endangers our children, and threatens religious liberty."
Notable lesbian, gay and bisexual Catholics
There have been notable gay Catholics throughout history. Writers such as Oscar Wilde, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Lord Alfred Douglas, Marc-André Raffalovich, Robert Hugh Benson, and Frederick Rolfe, and artists such as Robert Mapplethorpe, were influenced by both their Catholicism and their homosexuality. Gay Catholic academics such as John J. McNeill and John Boswell have produced work on the history and theological issues at the intersection of Christianity and homosexuality. Some notable LGBT Catholics are or were priests or nuns, such as McNeill, Virginia Apuzzo, and Jean O'Leary, who was a Roman Catholic religious sister before becoming a lesbian and gay rights activist.
- 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
- List of Christian denominational positions on homosexuality
- Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination
- On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons
- Ordination of LGBT Christian clergy
- Curran, Charles E.; Curran, Charles A.; McCormick, Richard A. (1998). John Paul II and Moral Theology. Paulist Press. p. 178. ISBN 978-0-8091-3797-8. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
- Martin, S.J., James (6 April 2018). "What is the official church teaching on homosexuality? Responding to a commonly asked question". America. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
- Reid, Jr., Charles J. (30 October 2013). "Let's Banish Talk About 'Intrinsic Disorder'". Huffington Post. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
- Jung 2007, p. 198.
- Dempsey, Robert J. (2008). The Linacre Quarterly. 75. Catholic Medical Association. p. 77. IND:30000125071534.
- Jung 2007, pp. 192-193.
- "CCC, 2357–2359". Vatican.va.
- "CCC, 2357–2358". Vatican.va.
- Ratizinger, Joseph (1 October 1986). "LETTER TO THE BISHOPS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON THE PASTORAL CARE OF HOMOSEXUAL PERSONS". Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
- "Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons". Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Vatican. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
- Jung 2007, pp. 195.
- "Some Considerations Concerning the Catholic Response to Legislative Proposals on the Non-Discrimination of Homosexual Persons". Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. July 1992.
- Jung 2007, p. 197.
- Jung 2007, p. 193.
- Sacks, David; Murray, Oswyn; Brody, Lisa R. (14 May 2014). Encyclopedia of the Ancient Greek World. Infobase Publishing. p. 160. ISBN 978-1-4381-1020-2. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
- Gagarin, Michael (2010). The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome. Oxford University Press. p. 2. ISBN 978-0-19-517072-6. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
- Crompton, Louis (July 2009). Homosexuality and Civilization. Harvard University Press. p. 118. ISBN 978-0-674-03006-0. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
- Bailey, Derrick S. (1955). Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition. London: Longmans, Green. p. 185.
- Bailey, Derrick S. (1955). Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition. London: Longmans, Green. p. 185. cited in Paul Halsall, "Homosexuality and Catholicism Bibliography"
- "SUMMA THEOLOGIAE: The parts of Lust (Secunda Secundae Partis, Q. 154)". www.newadvent.org.
- Hitchens, Christopher (28 February 2013). "Christopher Hitchens on the death of Pope Paul VI". New Statesman.
- "Pope Francis: Church Cannot Be 'Obsessed' With Gays, Abortion Ban". Fox News Latino. 19 September 2013. Archived from the original on 8 March 2016.
- Human Sexuality: A Catholic Perspective for Education and Lifelong Learning. United States Catholic Conference. 1991. p. 55.
- "Addressing LGBT Issues: A Resource for Educators" (pdf). Retrieved 25 June 2018.
- Gehring, John (5 July 2018). "Can the Catholic Church 'Evolve' on L.G.B.T. Rights?". Retrieved 5 July 2018.
- Barnes, Tom. "Vatican officially uses term 'LGBT' for first time in its history". The Independent. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
- Gallagher, Delia (21 May 2018). "Pope Francis tells gay man: 'God made you like that'". CNN. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
- "Don't throw gay children out of home, Pope Francis urges Catholic parents". 28 August 2018.
- Sharman, Jon (28 August 2018). "Vatican clarifies Pope Francis comments on psychiatric help for gay children". The Independent.
- "Encourage". Courage. Archived from the original on 19 January 2009. Retrieved 10 October 2008.
- Kuruvilla, Carol (22 December 2012). "Pope Benedict denounces gay marriage during his annual Christmas message". NY Daily News. New York.
- "AROUND THE NATION; Catholic Group Provokes Debate on Homosexuals". The New York Times. 26 September 1982. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
- "Boulder DailyCamera.com: Colorado, News, Business, Sports, Homes, Jobs, Cars & Information". Boulder Daily Camera. Archived from the original on 5 January 2004. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
- "WYD site limits gay debate | Star Online". Starobserver.com.au. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
- Allen 2013, p. 125.
- Jung 2007, p. 194.
- McNeill,, John J. (1993). The Church and the Homosexual (4 ed.). Beacon Press.
- Tausch, Arno (27 November 2017). "Practicing Catholics and Their Attitudes on Homosexuality. Comparative Analyses, Based on Recent World Values Survey Data".
- "Gay Priest Fired From Chaplain Job Asks Pope To Meet LGBT Catholics In U.S". Huffington Post. 20 July 2015.
- "Déjà vu: Gay Catholic teacher recalls his firing".
- "Archives - Philly.com". articles.philly.com.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 13 August 2015. Retrieved 2 September 2015.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- "Fired Priest to Pope: Listen to LGBT Catholics' Concerns". 21 July 2015.
- Burke, Daniel. "An Archbishop told a Jesuit school to fire a gay teacher. They said no". CNN. Retrieved 21 June 2019.
- "104 Activists Arrested at Roman Catholicism's National Shrine". Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- Rosin, Hanna (14 November 2000). "Gay Activists Interrupt Catholic Bishops' Conference". The Washington Post. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- Tracy, Doris (26 August 2016). "Bishop Mark O'Connell: 'I plan on being a happy bishop'". The Pilot. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- Sege, Irene (17 June 1990). "Hundreds protest Cardinal Law at ordination". The Boston Sunday Globe. p. 25.
- Oransky, Ivan (30 November 1990). "Catholic Students Protest Tactics of Gay Activists". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "ACTUP Oral History Project, Interviewee: Tom Keane, Interview Number: 176" (pdf). The New York Lesbian & Gay Experimental Film Festival, Inc. 24 February 2015. pp. 20–21. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
I put my hands out, and suddenly I have the Communion wafer in my hands, and the priest says, “This is the body of Christ,” and I say, “Opposing safe-sex education is murder.” Then I sort of—I didn’t really know what to do, and I think in some sense, some part of me was sort of saying, “Well, fine. You guys think you can tell us that you reject us, that we don’t belong, so I’m going to reject you.” So I took it and I crushed it and dropped it.
- "ACTUP Capsule History 1989". ACT UP. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
- Allen, Peter L. (June 2002), The Wages of Sin: Sex and Disease, Past and Present, University of Chicago Press, p. 143, ISBN 978-0-226-01461-6, retrieved 27 July 2018
- DeParle, Jason (3 January 1990). "Rude, Rash, Effective, Act-Up Shifts AIDS Policy". New York Times. p. B1. Retrieved 7 August 2018.
- Soble, Ronald L. (4 December 1989). "4 Catholic Churches Defaced in AIDS Protest : Vandalism: Caller says gay activists were angered by Archbishop Roger Mahony's condemnation of the use of condoms to fight the deadly disease". LA Times. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "Topless FEMEN Protesters Drench Belgian Archbishop André-Jozef Léonard, Protest Homophobia In Catholic Church". 24 April 2013. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "Man sets himself on fire in Vatican". BBC News. 19 December 2013. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
- Smith, Peter J. (6 July 2007). "Knights of Columbus Calls Pro-Gay 'Marriage' Knights 'Embarrassing'". LifeSite. Retrieved 6 March 2018.
- Kurwitz, Darrin (12 March 2013). "Knights of Columbus: Standing on the Wrong Side of History, for a Change". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 6 March 2018.
- Thomas Maier (22 April 2009). "Can Psychiatrists Really "Cure" Homosexuality?". Retrieved 23 July 2014.
- "Expert: Donohue's claim that most abusive priests are gay is "unwarranted"". 2 April 2010.
- Halsall, Paul (April 2006). "Medieval Sourcebook: Peter Damian: Liber Gomorrhianus [.c.1048-54]". Retrieved 9 June 2019.
- Martin, James (4 November 2000). "The Church and the Homosexual Priest". America.
- Scorer, Richard (2014). Betrayed: The English Catholic Church and the sex abuse crisis. Biteback. p. 20.
- "Criteria for the Discernment of Vocation for Persons with Homosexual Tendencies". www.vatican.va. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
- Boswell 1980, p. 211.
- Boswell 1980, p. 214-215.
- Dreher, Rod (15 May 2009). "Weakland's Exit". National Review. Archived from the original on 15 May 2009.
- "Queer:Bischof zurückgetreten (german)". Queer.de. 25 August 2005. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
- derStandard.at. "Der Standard:Bischof trat nach schweren Vorwürfen zurück (German)". Derstandard.at. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
- Deveney, Catherine (23 February 2013). "UK's top cardinal accused of 'inappropriate acts' by priests". The Guardian.
- Falconi, Carlo (1987). Leone X: Giovanni de' Medici. Milan: Rusconi.
- Burkle-Young, Francis A.; Leopoldo Doerrer, Michael (1997). The Life of Cardinal Innocenzo del Monte: A Scandal in Scarlet. Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen.
- "Vatican Supports Bias Against Gays]". The Washington Post. 17 July 1992.
- "Supreme Court rebuffs Catholic agency seeking to reject LGBT couples". Washington Blade. 31 August 2018.
- Shaw, Russell. "Don't Ask; Don't Tell; Don't Change". Catholic Exchange.
- Allen 2013, p. 179.
- Salzman, Todd; Lawler, Michael (19 April 2016). "Nondiscrimination laws merit church support". National Catholic Reporter.
- Woods, Gregory (1999). A History of Gay Literature: The Male Tradition. Yale University Press.
- Hilliard, David (1982). "Un-English and Unmanly: Anglo-Catholicism and Homosexuality" (PDF). Victorian Studies.
- Jack Fritscher, Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer, San Francisco, Palm Drive Publishing, 2008, ISBN 1890834386, p. 473, Jackfritscher.com, retrieved 29 September 2014.
- Margalit Fox, "Priest who pushed Catholic Church to welcome gays, dies at 90", New York Times, 25 September 2015
- Allen, John L. (30 May 2013). The Catholic Church: What Everyone Needs to Know. OUP USA. ISBN 978-0-19-997510-5. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
- Boswell, John (1980). Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Jung, Patricia Beattie (2007). "The Roman Catholic Tradition". In Siker, Jeffrey S. (ed.). Homosexuality and Religion: An Encyclopedia. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing. pp. 191–200. ISBN 0313330883. OCLC 803676004.
- Berger, David (November 2010). Der heilige Schein. ISBN 978-3-550-08855-1.
- Cameli, L.J. (2012). Catholic Teaching on Homosexuality: New Paths to Understanding. Ave Maria Press. ISBN 978-1-59471-348-4.
- Guimara̋es, Atila Sinke (December 1999). The Catholic Church and homosexuality. TAN Books. ISBN 978-0-89555-651-6.
- Saunders, Kate; Peter Stanford (6 April 1992). Catholics and sex. Vintage. ISBN 978-0-434-67246-2.
- Stuart, Elizabeth (July 1993). Chosen: Gay Catholic Priests Tell Their Stories. Geoffrey Chapman. ISBN 978-0-225-66682-3.
- Tushnet, Eve (2014). Gay and Catholic: Accepting My Sexuality, Finding Community, Living My Faith. ISBN 978-1594715426.
- Zanotti, Barbara, ed. (1986). A Faith of One's Own: Explorations by Catholic Lesbians. ISBN 978-0895942098.