Skip to comments.Wuerl Writes to Gay & Lesbian Catholics
Posted on 10/08/2009 9:49:02 AM PDT by NYer
Washingtons Archbishop Donald Wuerl has published a letter in his diocesan newspaper, and sent a copy of the statement to all pastors for them to use, stating that his opposition to same-sex union is not rooted in anti-gay prejudices. Our support for marriage is not meant to discriminate against any individual or family, Archbishop Wuerl wrote. The Catechism of the Catholic Church upholds the dignity of every person and condemns any form of unjust discrimination (2358).
The statement articulates the Churchs teaching on the traditional marriage but goes on to say: For our parishioners who are homosexual, I recognize that the teaching on marriage established by our Lord may be difficult. Please know that you have my pastoral care and prayers, and the support of this local Church, as you live out your journey of faith and seek a closer relationship with Christ and the eternal life promised through him. It is my prayer that you continue to draw closer to the Lord through participation in the sacramental life of the Church.
The issue of same-sex marriage is currently before the local D.C. Council, which is expected to endorse such unions. But, given the quirky nature of D.C. constitutional status, the United States Congress can override local laws. Archbishop Wuerl and other pastors have been vocal in their opposition to the measure but this latest statement is vital. It shows that the Churchs stance is not rooted in bigotry nor driven by an unhealthy animus towards our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. It is doubtful that the statement by Wuerl will appease vocal supporters of the measure, but it speaks well of the archbishop that he issued it nonetheless. Any gay and lesbian Catholic who reads this letter will certainly feel less alienated from the Church. Wuerl has done what good bishops do. Following the example of the Master, he has gone off in search of the lost sheep.
Not incidentally, if you are a human being, you are one of the lost sheep, perhaps not on the issue of same sex marriage, but on something. Be glad to have a pastor who cares enough about you to seek you out. This highly public statement is a much needed nail in the coffin of anti-gay bigotry that sadly still keeps some from seeing that the bonds of faith unite them with their gay brothers and sisters.
Setting aside the source, what are your thoughts on Wuerl’s address.
This is from the REPORTER, not the Register.
Excerpt: "Not only does this document fail to take into account the latest revision in the authentic Latin version of The Catechism of the Catholic Church regarding homosexuality, but it juxtaposes several quotes from the Catechism in order to pretend falsely and preposterously that the Catechism says homosexuality is a gift from God and should be accepted as a fixed and permanent identity. Of course, the document, in order to support the incorrect views it contains, totally neglects to cite the Catholic doctrine set forth by the Holy See which teaches that the homosexual orientation is "objectively disordered". Also, the document's definition of the virtue and practice of chastity is inadequate and distorted."
Wuerl also avoided the "objectively disordered" language in his letter, which can be read at A Pastoral Message for Homosexual Catholics in the Archdiocese of Washington
It is a hollow attempt to legitimize an abomination.
Firstly, there is no such thing as a “gay” person.
There are people who suffer from Same-Sex Attraction Disorder, and those people need psychiatric and spiritual help. However, neither their disorder nor its symptoms can ever be regarded as acceptable, or an inevitability.
Wuerl gets both of those things wrong, and nothing that flows from those two errors could be true or helpful.
I would take this letter as being a genuine attempt to be Pastoral. It does not seem to attempt to justify homosexuality and his prayer that people would draw closer to Christ would hopefully mean that these people would see the error in their lifestyle if they did so.
Yes he leaves out the condemnation of the sin itself but any genuine Catholic would be of no 2 minds in knowing what the Church says on the matter. At the same time he stands up for the Sacrement of Marriage as he should.
Attacking people who are confused about their sexuality does very little good and only tends to force them out of the church which, in today’s society, means pushing them out of the only place they are likely to get help!
BTW I do not know this Bishop so I am taking the article on face value.
For our parishioners who are homosexual...
Why is homosexuality treated differently from any other sin? Change it to any other sin, and you see how silly his statement is.
Consider the source.
When one considers that it is Archbishop Wuerl who wrote this, it isn't a bad letter.
By pointing out that it is difficult for homosexuals to live in accord with Church teaching, it is made implicit that homosexual activity is immoral. Otherwise, it wouldn't be so tough to live in accord with Church teaching.
As well, I didn't a quick search through the letter, and the archbishop uses the term “homosexual” several times, but the word “gay” not even once. He is addressing the homosexual person as an individual person with a sexual orientation; he is NOT addressing such individuals with a word that places them within a lifestyle, or otherwise legitimizing that lifestyle.
Even the reference to “Always Our Children” only refers to that part of the document that is true - that the Church is for homosexual persons, too. And his reference to “Always Our Children” is followed by these sentences, which are at odds with some of the worse language of “Always Our Children”:
“Modern cultural pressures and assumptions often are at odds with the teachings of Christ handed down throughout the centuries. For some parishioners, the issues are deeply personal. Living out the Church's teachings can be a difficult challenge. Yet, no one needs to do this separated from the grace and love of the Church.”
I'm especially happy that he ties the Church's teachings on homosexuality directly to what we receive doctrinally from Jesus, Himself. In other words, it isn't a matter merely of obeying the [cruel and archaic] teachings of the [outdated, outmoded] Church. Rather, these teachings come forth from the authority of Christ, Himself.
To me, it looks like a C+ from what is ordinarily a D-/F student.
Just call me an incurable optimist. ;-)
Good observations - thank you for the post and ping.
The Church offers forgiveness to all of these folks. For the thief or the adulterer who repents of his sins and makes firm purpose to amend his life, the Church is THE place for him to be.
Of course, there is another difference. One may say that someone who steals is a thief. But is being a thief a long-term stable personality attribute? Once someone stops thieving, after a while, we’ll likely cease calling the person a thief, at least in the present tense.
However, a chaste homosexual may still be someone who suffers from the objective moral (and psychological) disorder of sexual attraction to persons of his own sex. Thus, he may not be committing any sin, but if he still suffers from the attraction, will still be a homosexual.
Thank you for putting this into that perspective.
“Attacking people who are confused about their sexuality”
1. They are not “confused about their sexuality.” They have been wronged, terribly, and have developed same-sex attraction disorder as a maladaptive response to what was done to them.
Any “confusion” arises from efforts to call this something other than what it is, to pretend that there is something called “sexual orientation,” to pretend that some people “are gay.”
2. To state, correctly, that SSAD is a disorder is not to “attack” SSAD sufferers, nor is it even remotely reasonable to object to such a statement.
To say that people who suffer from SSAD should not have access to children is not an attack, nor is it an attack to say that attraction to youths between the ages of 12 and about 18 is a defining symptom of SSAD in men.
This business of trying for victim status by accusing the Church of “attacking” SSAD patients is complete nonsense.
“This business of trying for victim status by accusing the Church of attacking SSAD patients is complete nonsense.”
And if you think that is what I was doing you either cannot read or you have an axe to grind in this area and want to jump on anyone that does not react exactly as you do. Yes they have been wronged - you can state loud and clear from the pulpit that what they do is wrong AND you can help people to escape from what they have become! It is a fine line to walk but it is far from impossible. The 2 are not mutually exclusive
However, a chaste homosexual may still be someone who suffers from the objective moral (and psychological) disorder of sexual attraction to persons of his own sex. Thus, he may not be committing any sin, but if he still suffers from the attraction, will still be a homosexual. ------------------------------- Thus, he may not be committing any sin, but if he still suffers from the temptation, will still be a thief, adulterer, gossip, etc... The temptation to sin happens to everyone. How we act on that temptation determines if we are a (put your favorite sin here.) I believe people can be attracted to someone of the same sex, but if they recognize it as a sin and refuse to give in to the temptation then they are not (imho) homosexuals, just people under temptation. I don't see any difference between that sin and the sin of theft. Someone may be tempted to steal, but if they recognize it as a sin and refuse to give into it they are not a thief. Are you telling me you've never been tempted to sin and acted on that sin? You've never held your gaze on a woman with lust in your heart instead of immediatly turning away (and thus are an adulterer by Jesus' standard?) I'm not trying to mainstream, or excuse sin, just the opposite.
Homosexuality per se is not a sin. It is a disorder. Slight difference . I think that is what the Archbishop is saying.
IOW he is saying "for our parishioners who are attracted to members of the same sex........"
The actual sin is sodomy. A homosexual who does not act on his attraction does not sin.
2359 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.
Archbishop Wuerl is doing the correct thing in opposing the current effort to legalize homosexual marriage in DC. However, he seems almost apologetic about it.
“”A Pastoral Message for Homosexual Catholics in the Archdiocese of Washington
Recent legislative efforts in the District of Columbia to redefine marriage have brought a number of issues to the forefront. Consistent with the Catholic Church’s teachings on marriage and human sexuality, the Archdiocese of Washington has shared its concerns, while also continuing to speak about the meaning of marriage.
Of the many teachings of the Catholic Church, perhaps some of the most challenging for Catholics in today’s culture involve human sexuality, including homosexuality. Modern cultural pressures and assumptions often are at odds with the teachings of Christ handed down throughout the centuries. For some parishioners, the issues are deeply personal. Living out the Church’s teachings can be a difficult challenge. Yet, no one needs to do this separated from the grace and love of the Church.
It is important to affirm that the Catholic Church is and always will be welcoming of any person who seeks a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. Always Our Children, a document of the United States bishops regarding homosexuality, reiterates this. Our support of marriage is not meant to discriminate against any individual or family. The Catechism of the Catholic Church upholds the human dignity of every person and condemns any form of unjust discrimination (2358).
The archdiocese’s efforts to affirm marriage and oppose legislative efforts to redefine it flow from the understanding of the nature of marriage and its purpose. Scripture also confirms this reality when it tells us that the union of man and woman coming together to form a communion of mutual support and an openness to creating new life is at the core of God’s plan: “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.” (Genesis 2:18) In the New Testament, Jesus recalls, “God made them male and female. For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh.” (Mark 10:6-8)
The complementarity of man and woman is the foundation of marriage as created by God. The Church and, indeed, cultures throughout time have recognized that marriage is the faithful union of man and woman, joined in a permanent relationship of self-giving love and an openness to creating new life.
For our parishioners who are homosexual, I recognize that the teaching on marriage established by our Lord may be difficult. Please know that you have my pastoral care and prayers, and the support of this local Church, as you live out your journey of faith and seek a closer relationship with Christ and the eternal life promised to us through him. It is my prayer that you continue to draw closer to the Lord through participation in the sacramental life of the Church.
May all of us remember that the message of Christ is always one of hope, peace and love.
Donald W. Wuerl
Archbishop of Washington
October 6, 2009””
“Thus, he may not be committing any sin, but if he still suffers from the temptation, will still be a thief, adulterer, gossip, etc... The temptation to sin happens to everyone. How we act on that temptation determines if we are a (put your favorite sin here.) I believe people can be attracted to someone of the same sex, but if they recognize it as a sin and refuse to give in to the temptation then they are not (imho) homosexuals, just people under temptation.”
This seems a little self-contradicting.
At first you say, if the person still suffers the temptation to steal or commit adultery or whatever, he is still a thief or an adulterer, etc.
Then you say, if the person who suffers attraction to members of his own sex doesn't sin, he isn't a homosexual.
I'm not exactly sure what you're trying to say.
But I'll try to make clearer what I'm trying to say.
One could say that we all sin as a result of having objective moral disorders. Thus, one who steals is disordered in his apprehension of what he's entitled to and the property rights of others. Someone who angers easily and unjustly may be disordered in his respect for other people, or disordered in his own view of himself.
However, these are sins that result from attractions and temptations that appear to be fairly universal. Most folks have likely experienced the temptation to steal at some point in their lives. One hopes that for most, the desire was fleeting and they were able to resist it and not sin. This seems to be fairly intrinsic to the human condition, at least for humans who were conceived with Original Sin. Perhaps we might still point to the specific disorder, and one might wish to call everyone tempted to theft a thief, but that feels a little pedantic.
Nonetheless, if someone experienced an inordinate urge to steal, even when there seemed to particular advantage to it, it would seem appropriate to apply some label to him. Maybe not "thief," but maybe something like "kleptomaniac."
But some sins result from attractions that are hardly universal at all, and we often ascribe these sins to some sort of objective disorder. Thus, the Church teaches authoritatively that homosexuality is an objective moral disorder. I also believe personally that it is a psychological disorder. Proportionately, few people suffer from strong same-sex attraction. Although Kinsey told us it was 10% of the population, it's more likely to be 1% - 3% of the population. It is very far from being a universal temptation.
Alcoholism is an objective disorder, although there might be some disagree as to whether it is a moral, pyschological, spiritual, or even physical disorder. My guess is that it's all of the above. Although more common than homosexuality, nonetheless, it afflicts only abou 10% of folks.
Folks like these, we often apply the noun form of the disorder to folks who suffer from it. So, we say, “alcoholic,” or “homosexual.” This carries over into medical diseases, and we call those who suffer from diabetes “diabetics.”
My own take is that we apply the noun form when we're talking about folks with a relatively long-term, relatively stable attribute that isn't universal. Folks who are homosexual suffer from this attraction whether they are chaste or not, and overcoming the attraction is difficult. Folks who are alcoholic often believe that they NEVER overcome the desire to drink and to drink in a way that is eventually deadly to them. Diabetics seldom revert back to non-diabetic.
And thus, it seems reasonable that folks who suffer from these various specific disorders, we might call them by the noun form of their disorder.
My problem with the letter is that it does not mention the call to chastity for all outside of lifelong (heterosexual marriage) — maybe it did, but I missed it. A practicing homosexual reading this might think that same sex marriage is the only problematic issue with homosexuality. Actually, it is not just same sex marriage but homosexual activity in general that is sinful, and all those with this particular sinful inclination, as are all outside of marriage, are called to chastity. I’m also not a big fan of the Church using the word “gay,” since it seems to affirm the gay activist ideology that those with this condition should make it the central identity of their lives.
Sorry, I went back and looked, and it appears that it was Winters who used the term “gay”, not Archbishop Wuerl.
Although the letter doesn't deal specifically with the sinfulness of homosexual acts, it does say this:
“Of the many teachings of the Catholic Church, perhaps some of the most challenging for Catholics in todays culture involve human sexuality, including homosexuality. Modern cultural pressures and assumptions often are at odds with the teachings of Christ handed down throughout the centuries.”
I think that one would have to have had one’s head buried in the sand for 2000+ years not to know that the Church's basic challenge to modern culture on the issue of homosexuality is that the Church considers these acts intrinsically sinful. I'll leave it open as to whether the archbishop should have been more explicit, but any other reading would be highly tendentious.
As well, as I said before, I think it's quite positive that the archbishop didn't merely reiterate that this is a CHURCH teaching, but that rather it is a teaching that derives from Jesus, Himself.
“Im also not a big fan of the Church using the word ‘gay,’...”
I may have missed it, but I didn't see the word “gay” used in the letter, although “homosexuality” and “homosexual” are used.
I went back and corrected my comment on “gay”, since that was Winters and not Archbishop Wuerl and I read the two pieces too quickly. I agree with you that people should be aware of Catholic teaching on the sinfulness of homosexual acitivity, the disorder of the inclination, the need to respect those with this condition and love the sinner and hate the sin. However, (a) some might not be aware, and (b) some might be aware but are looking for any chink in which to change the Church’s teaching on this topic. There are very strong forces, both in the culture and in the Church, who are successfully normalizing homosexual activity. Just look at what homosexual activists have achieved in the mainline Protestant churches and the Democratic party, of which Mr. Winters is a strong partisan. I don’t think the Archbishop’s statement is a bad one as far as it goes, but given the larger cultural context, it seems that only denouncing same sex marriage without reaffirming the call to chastity could be interpreted by the gay activists and their sympathizers as saying, “See the Church is now modernizing its teaching so that they only object to same sex marriage, not same sex activity.”
“I went back and corrected my comment on ‘gay’, since that was Winters and not Archbishop Wuerl and I read the two pieces too quickly.”
I saw that after I posted to you. Sorry.
“However, (a) some might not be aware, and (b) some might be aware but are looking for any chink in which to change the Churchs teaching on this topic.”
I wonder whether the number who fit (a) might not be vanishingly small, especially among activist homosexual Catholics. As for (b), I wonder whether for some folks, no level of explicit teaching will be sufficient to ward off their tendentious interpretations.
“There are very strong forces, both in the culture and in the Church, who are successfully normalizing homosexual activity.”
That's true. But it strikes me that over the past few years, that trend has been setback considerably in the Catholic Church. My impression is that if nothing else, folks are becoming increasingly clear that the Church teaches that homosexual acts are intrinsically evil, and that the Church is unlikely to change this position.
In fact, a lot of the complaining that I hear from “liberal Catholics” is that the Church seems no longer open to changing her [evil, repressive, outdated, archaic] teachings, that the Church has regressed to “pre-Vatican II” thinking, etc. I saw a thread on Archbishop Weakland’s new autobiography that seems to be one long whine about how mean the Church has become as a result of the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict.
Anyway, I'm not going to argue that this is the best pastoral letter ever written on marriage, homosexuality, etc. I only gave it a C+, myself.
I just didn't think it was an especially egregiously bad letter, nor did I think it readily fell into some of the more common pits to which these sorts of letters are sometimes prey (like inadvertently [or purposely] affirming an active homosexual lifestyle through use of words like “gay”).
I don’t think it will change one gay or lesbian heart.
I believe some people are born gay and it’s a cross they must bear their whole lives. I believe some people choose to live the gay lifestyle and have been ensnared by evil.
I doubt this address is enough to influence either group, although I think it’s nice he said it.
What gays really want from the Church is acceptance in all aspects of their lifestyle. The letter is a kind gesture but will not sway them in the least. In fact, it may be taken as a weakness considering they’re getting their “hate speech” bill passed which the Dems squished in between the defense budget for our troops. Will we be subject to committing a felony if we discuss sodomy in the future...
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