Heterosexual is not a “condition”; it is a natural human inclination positively willed by God. However, that is not the case with homosexual tendencies.
By Deacon Frederick Bartels
27 February 2019
During the Vatican Abuse Summit, Italian journalist Sandro Magister asked Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta why the word “homosexuality” was absent from the abuse summit’s opening day presentations. Was the word’s absence “inadvertent and random” or was it “deliberate?” he asked.
It seems a logical and fair question. A discussion of the homosexual issue in the Church among clerics, its impact on sex-crimes perpetrated against young men and seminarians, as well as the dangers it poses to the faithful in the future should be the paramount topic of discussion, given the destruction for which the now laicized McCarrick is to blame and the fact that over 80 percent of clerical sex-abuse victims were post-pubescent boys. The evidence clearly shows that the majority of these crimes were committed by homosexual clerics willfully engaged in homosexual acts.
The heinous facts should be of no surprise to anyone who is immersed in the word of God. Leviticus 18:22 calls male-on-male sex an “abomination.” And our Lord Jesus Christ said, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin” (Jn 8:34). Sin engenders sin and vice multiplies upon itself. Additionally, the Catechism teaches that the habit of committing sin can blunt the conscience (CCC 1791) and can lead to a privation of sanctifying grace and a loss of the supernatural virtues of faith, hope, and charity through the commission of mortal sin (CCC 1855, 1861). Mortal sin pulls a person into a death-spiral of increasing darkness. The only solution is repentance, conversion, and a return to friendship with God through the sacrament of Penance and amendment of life.
In response to Magister’s question, Abp. Charles Scicluna said that Magister spoke of one category (homosexuality), while “someone else could speak about heterosexuality.” He went on to say of homosexuality and heterosexuality: “These are human conditions that we recognize, that exist. But they aren’t something that really predisposes to sin.” He noted that everyone is affected by concupiscence and said, “But I would never dare to point to a category as one that has a propensity to sin.” You can watch the video of the conversation here.
Diane Montagna of LifeSiteNews commented, “These remarks seem both to equate the natural inclination to marital relations with the disordered tendency towards homosexual acts, and to imply that one is no more or less sinful than the other” (1).
I cannot say, of course, precisely what Abp. Scicluna intended to convey with his short statement. Nor can I judge his motives in saying what he said because that power resides with God alone. I therefore leave the question of his intended meaning aside.
However, I shutter at the thought of what the victims of clergy sexual abuse must have felt after hearing those words. I can only think that they must have been both outraged and heartbroken to find out that the word “homosexual” would not be officially included in the Vatican Abuse Summit conference opening remarks after they had suffered so severely at the hands of predatory homosexual clerics.
Should Homosexuality Be Addressed?
Given the context of the Vatican Abuse Summit, it seems grossly inappropriate to leave out a discussion of the homosexual problem because it is obvious to everyone who has been paying any attention at all that there really is a homosexual problem. We can point to, for example, the past sanctions made against admitting men to the seminaries who suffer from deep-seated homosexual tendencies.
In 2005, the Congregation for Catholic Education produced produced a document called “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.” Section two of the Instruction states:
The Catechism distinguishes between homosexual acts and homosexual tendencies.
Regarding acts, it teaches that Sacred Scripture presents them as grave sins. The Tradition has constantly considered them as intrinsically immoral and contrary to the natural law. Consequently, under no circumstance can they be approved.
Deep-seated homosexual tendencies, which are found in a number of men and women, are also objectively disordered … (cf. CCC 2357-2358)
In the light of such teaching, this Dicastery, in accord with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, believes it necessary to state clearly 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” (2).
According to the Instruction, even those men who support the “gay culture” cannot be admitted to the seminary, let alone those who practice homosexuality or present with deep-seated same-sex inclinations. It takes only a minute’s thought to realize that priests who support an active homosexual lifestyle will either soon begin living it out themselves or pollute the conscience of others with whom they come into contact.
Perviously written in 1961, the document Religiosorum Institutio states plainly:
Advancement 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. (No. 4)
These two documents show that over a half-century ago the Church formally recognized that deep-seated homosexual tendencies are incompatible with the clerical state (and we have earlier evidence of the potential problem linked to homosexual clerics, as is found in St. Peter Damian (A.D. 107 – 1072) and his written work, the Book of Gomorrah). If there are homosexual clergy in the Church preying upon young men and seminarians—and it seems unarguable that there indeed are many—the topic should be a priority at an abuse summit called in response to male-on-male abuse with all its diabolical ramifications.
Heterosexuality and Homosexuality: equal human conditions?
Let’s look objectively at the statement by Abp. Charles Scicluna that homosexuality and heterosexuality “are human conditions that we recognize, that exist. But they aren’t something that really predisposes to sin.”
While it is true that we recognize homosexuality as a reality, as something that really occurs, we do not place it alongside heterosexuality as if both are arbitrary human “conditions.” The former is a disorder, whereas the latter is intentionally willed by God and therefore good. Of course, the heterosexual person can use his or her sexuality in a disordered, intrinsically evil way, such as in fornication or adultery. Similarly, the person who experiences same-sex attraction can use his or her sex in a disordered, intrinsically evil way, such as in homosexual acts. However, the homosexual tendency itself is a disorder because it is opposed to the natural order of creation and the way things are, whereas heterosexuality is not.
As a consequence of original sin, human nature is disfigured and wounded by concupiscence, the tendency to sin. It’s important to note that people are, therefore, often afflicted with many temptations and disorders. For example, the tendency to want to view pornography is a disorder, as is the temptation to intimacy with a same-sex partner. Each of these, if acted upon, is an intrinsically immoral act that can place one’s soul in peril. Fallen man, with the help of the grace of Christ, must strive to resist temptations, avoid sin, and live the life of holiness as all are called to do.
The Catechism teaches that scripture “presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity” (Cf. Gen 191-29; Rom 124-27; 1 Cor 6:10; 1 Tim 1:10). Homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered” and “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” (CCC 2357). Additionally, the inclination to homosexual tendencies is “objectively disordered” (CCC 2358). Same-sex attraction is a temptation, a disorder that, if acted upon through sexual intimacy, becomes an intrinsic evil contrary to Divine Law and natural law.
Given that homosexuality is a disorder, one could correctly say that the homosexual tendency is a human condition (the Catechism itself uses that language in No. 2358) traced to the tragic effects of original sin on human nature.
On the other hand, we cannot say the same of heterosexuality. It is not a human “condition.” Nor is it ever described by the Church as one. It is not tied to the effects of original sin. On the contrary, it is a natural and objectively good human inclination integral to human nature that is positively willed by the Creator in his wisdom for the propagation of humankind. Heterosexuality is deliberately woven into humanity by God and thus harmonizes with the sexual complementarity he himself created. Therefore sexual union in the context of marriage between husband and wife is ordained by God in his wisdom as a sacred and truly good joining of man and woman in which the two “become one flesh” (Gen 2:24) and, if it be God’s will, transmit new human life through their act of complete self-giving love.
Heterosexual inclinations are natural and properly ordered; whereas homosexual tendencies are objectively disordered. The two are not equal and cannot be placed side by side as if both are merely two alternative ways of exercising one’s personal sexual preferences.
Haters and Homophobes
Homosexual activists have long sought to make the Christian position look judgmental and unloving. Consequently, they often claim that all of this is hate speech. It is discriminatory and hurtful bigotry, they say. However, that kind of attitude is simply a verbal tool used to justify their beliefs, shut down the conversation, and silence the truth.
It is charitable to educate others according to the truth because all are called to communion with God who is absolute truth. Hiding moral truths does not benefit anyone but rather can lead to destruction. In Ezekiel 33 we find this pressing teaching from God:
If I say to the wicked, “O wicked ones, you shall surely die,” and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from their ways, and they do not turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but you will have saved your life. (8-9)
And it was our Lord Jesus Christ who said, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (Jn 8:31-32). Obviously, we have to hear the word of God—which is divinely revealed truth—in order to conform our lives to it and walk the road of discipleship in union with Christ to be set free. Free from what? Free from eternal death and the clutches of the devil.
We possess the truth to the degree to which our mind is conformed to reality. Why would we ever think it best for people to be dispossessed of the truth by false teaching and thus live lives that are out-of-sync with reality?
It’s often the case that when we point out the disordered nature of homosexual tendencies and acts, activists shout “discrimination!” The Catechism makes it clear that unjust discrimination of persons who experience homosexual tendencies is to be completely avoided:
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. (CCC 2358)
Notice that there is such a thing as just discrimination. We justly discriminate against drunk drivers and blind airline pilots. We justly discriminate against drugged surgeons, etc. Similarly, the Church justly discriminates against same-sex “marriage” because it is not possible for same-sex couples to marry. The Church also discriminates against anti-life politicians receiving the Eucharist or anyone else who is not in a state of grace because they are not properly disposed to do so (see 1 Cor. 11:27 ff). The Church is, by justly discriminating in these areas, engaged in an act of charity by virtue of her motherly concern for souls.
The point is, articulating moral truths and refusing to condone dangerous, immoral behavior is an act of love, not hateful and unjust discrimination.
The Church is deeply wounded by the effects of homosexual activism among the clergy and its corresponding culture. The victims of this criminal abuse are suffering greatly. In some cases, they have committed suicide. In others, their lives are irreparably altered. In order for the Church to recover and to help to promote healing in the victims and all the faithful, she must be purified of these sinfully destructive elements.
Cardinal Brandmüller and Cardinal Burke wrote an “Open Letter To The Presidents of The Conferences of Bishops” prior to the opening of the Vatican Sex Abuse Summit. In this letter they asked their brother bishops: “Will you also be silent?”
The conspiracy of silence and intentional coverups must be rooted out before they can be ended. But before any of this can happen, the bishops must face the facts and speak honestly and in an orthodox manner about the nature of these homosexual issues, then set about correcting them.
2. Cf. Congregation for Catholic Education, A memorandum to Bishops seeking advice in matters concerning homosexuality and candidates for admission to Seminary (9 July 1985); Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Letter (16 May 2002): Notitiae 38 (2002), 586.
Photo Credit: John Martin [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
Deacon Frederick Bartels is a member of the Catholic clergy who serves the Church in the diocese of Pueblo. He holds an MA in Theology and Educational Ministry and is a Catholic educator, public speaker, and evangelist who strives to infuse culture with the saving principles of the gospel.