True Courage

ChiSonoIoEven while there are many hopeful signs about the Church moving forward on the subject of God’s gay daughters and sons, there are some who still call for an expansion of “ministries” that ask LGBT Catholics to be less than who they are. One of these is called “Courage,” and Fr. Roger Landry’s commentary in the Boston Pilot’s online forum, Echoes, pronounces the virtues, nay necessity, of this organization for LGBT Catholics.  Here, in part, is my comment to the contrary. 

I have to agree with Ann Marie Rosa, while simultaneously taking great exception to Fr. Landry’s commentary.

What I find most strikingly off target with the tone and substance of his comments is the underlying assumption that God’s LGBT sons and daughters are somehow distinct from “the Church” and “Catholics.” Gay and lesbian persons are in every parish, every Catholic community, every diocese around the globe. Indeed, we are in many (most?) seminaries, rectories, convents and houses of religious men and women. Gay and lesbian Catholics are not so much looking to be welcomed by the Church, for indeed, we ARE the Church — just as sure as is every other person who embraces his/her baptism and seeks to live the Gospel with faithfulness and integrity.

What we are looking for, however, is an experience of Church that reflects the famous (and hopefully prophetic) words of the Holy Father. You will recall that Pope Francis was asked a question in the summer of 2013 about a “gay lobby” at the Vatican. After addressing that point in particular, Francis went on to say that, “if a person is gay and is eagerly searching for God, then who am I to judge them?” Fr. Landry, however, seems all too willing to go where the Holy Father chose not to. And so, rather than listening to the lived experience of God’s gay sons and daughters; rather than walking with us in faith through the joys and struggles of our lives; rather than listening to how we understand our unions to be both unitive and procreative; and rather than think that perhaps — just perhaps — his own judgment about the morality of our lives might be flawed, Fr. Landry instead pronounces judgment and prescribes what he thinks he knows is best for all God’s gay children.

I believe the Holy Spirit was at work in this most recent synod as it made history in addressing an issue hitherto swept under the rug. I pray fervently that the same Spirit will continue to soften the hearts of all those who stand in judgment of God’s gay children. All of us are created in God’s image and likeness. The diversity of human sexuality is only one of the many beautiful and glorious ways in which that divine image shines through humanity. May the work of the Spirit allow that diversity to shine even more brightly in the years to come.

Genesis of Same-Sex Attraction

The Pilot reports somewhat objectively on the resignation of Daniel Avila.  The story, however, concludes with this slightly puzzling statement from the USCCB’s director of media relations, Sister Mary Ann Walsh (@sisterwalsh):

“While the general population has debated whether it’s nurture or nature that leads to a homosexual inclination, the church has not posed any theory in that regard.”

Why puzzling?  What competence does the Church have even to pose a “theory” about this in the first place?  Almost all fields of scientific inquiry are quite clear that sexual orientation is a “given.” Should its genesis be studied by science?  Of course, but “theorizing” about its genesis by an institution which has a pre-set agenda is hardly a path that will lead to clarity and truth.

The Pilot — Boston’s Catholic Newspaper — Prints Heresy

UPDATE:  On Nov. 2, 2011 The Pilot issued a retraction of the story, noting its “theological error” (though without specifying what that error was, exactly). The original piece has been removed from the website, and the link below leads only to the retraction and Daniel Avila’s “retraction/apology.” In case this retraction is eventually removed as well, I’m posting it here:

Editor’s Note: Daniel Avila issued the following “Retraction/Apology” Nov. 2 in regard to his opinion piece “Some fundamental questions on same-sex attraction” which was published in our Oct. 28 edition. In addition to echoing Mr. Avila’s statement of regret, The Pilot also wishes to apologize for having failed to recognize the theological error in the column before publication. The Pilot has removed the column ‘Some fundamental questions on same-sex attraction’from its Website.

Retraction/Apology from Daniel Avila

“Statements made in my column, ‘Some fundamental questions on same-sex attraction’ of October 28, do not represent the position of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the column was not authorized for publication as is required policy for staff of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The teaching of Sacred Scripture and of the Catechism of the Catholic Church make it clear that all persons are created in the image and likeness of God and have inviolable dignity. Likewise, the Church proclaims the sanctity of marriage as the permanent, faithful, fruitful union of one man and one woman. The Church opposes, as I do too, all unjust discrimination and the violence against persons that unjust discrimination inspires. I deeply apologize for the hurt and confusion that this column has caused.”

The Pilot
The Oct. 28 edition of the The Pilot, newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, has printed an article in which the author asserts that actions of “the devil” are what cause same-sex attraction.  He makes this outlandish claim not only by suggesting that the devil causes people to become gay, but suggests that this devilish hand is at work in the act of creation itself.  Lest you think I exaggerate, here’s Daniel Avila’s article in full.

If Mr. Avila were just some independent author presenting his own thoughts, that would be one thing.  He is, however, an attorney and Policy Advisor for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage. The fact that a man with such a position would write such bunk is bad enough.  That The Pilot editors would not see such statements heretical in the narrow definition of that term is inexcusable.

In addition to the quotation cited in my comment below, the following paragraph from Avila is perhaps the most egregiously erroneous:

“Therefore, whenever natural causes disturb otherwise typical biological development, leading to the personally unchosen beginnings of same-sex attraction, the ultimate responsibility, on a theological level, is and should be imputed to the evil one, not God. Applying this aspect of Catholic belief to interpret the scientific data makes more sense because it does not place God in the awkward position of blessing two mutually incompatible realities — sexual difference and same-sex attraction.”

I submitted the following comment on The Pilot’s web site, though am posting it here in case it never gets published:

“I never thought I’d live to see the day when The Pilot would actually support heresy!

For this venerable Catholic newspaper to print this article in which it is not only suggested, but clearly stated, that “the devil” is involved in creation itself is amazing and truly scandalous.  Yet, this is what Mr. Avila’s article asserts as he appears willing to go to any length whatsoever in a theologically empty attempt to hold up his argument that God didn’t create gay people. Lest you think my criticism is overstated, let me quote:  “In other words, the scientific evidence of how same-sex attraction most likely may be created provides a credible basis for a spiritual explanation that indicts the devil.”

Mr. Avila’s twisted presentation of “the scientific evidence” notwithstanding (most scientific evidence suggests that homosexual orientation is a normal and naturally occurring characteristic in the diversity of the human family), his assertion that the devil’s hand is at work in the creating God’s LGBT children is a new low indeed!

As far as I know and believe, God and God alone is the Author of Creation. Surely to suggest otherwise is heretical to 2,000 years of Christian faith and is anathema to a most fundamental Catholic belief.

I look forward to The Pilot’s retraction and correction on this most basic point of Christian faith.”