I am in the thick of formulating an academic scholarly paper for my Pastoral Ministry class. My paper is a precursor for my practicum next semester. And I am writing on the subject of the Pastoral Care of Gay young people and what their parents can do for them, what not to do to them, and how spirituality may help them both.
I have copies of John Paul II’s Pastoral Letter to the bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons. We all know what the Magesterium says about homosexuality and I know where John Paul II and Benedict the XVI stand on the issue of Homosexuality.
The second letter I am looking at is “Always our Children: A Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children and Suggestions for Pastoral Ministers.” The Church sees Homosexuality as a “condition” and is seen as “an objective disorder.” John Paul goes on the say that “Therefore special concern and pastoral attention should be directed toward those who have this “condition,” lest they be led to believe that the living out of this orientation in homosexual activity is a morally acceptable option. It Is Not !!!
From the Conference of Catholic Bishops:
The Bishops offer advice to parents on coping skills and attitudes to take on the issue “There seems to be no single cause of a homosexual orientation. A common opinion of experts is that there are multiple factors – genetic, hormonal, psychological – that may give rise to it. Generally, homosexual orientation is experienced as a given, not as something freely chosen. By itself, therefore, a homosexual orientation cannot be considered sinful, for morality presumes the freedom to choose.”
- Every person has an inherent dignity because he or she is created in God’s image.
- Like all gifts from God, the power and freedom of sexuality can be channeled toward good or evil.
- Christ summons all his followers – whether they are married or living single celibate life – to a higher standard of loving.
- Respect for the God given dignity of all persons means the recognition of human rights and responsibilities.
- The Christian community should offer its homosexual sisters and brothers understanding and pastoral care.
More than twenty years ago we bishops stated that “Homosexuals… should have an active role in the Christian community” (National conference of Catholic Bishops, To live in Christ Jesus: A Pastoral Reflection on the Moral Life, 1976, p.19) What does this mean in practice? It means that all homosexual persons have a right to be welcomed into community, to hear the word of God, and to receive pastoral care. Homosexual persons living CHASTE lives should have opportunities to lead and serve the community. However, the church has the right to deny public roles of service and leadership to persons, whether homosexual or heterosexual, whose public behavior openly violates its teachings.
There is that word that sticks out like a sore thumb… CHASTE !!!
A quid pro quo determiner for service to the church.
The church also recognizes the importance and urgency of ministering to persons with HIV/AIDS. Though HIV/AIDS is an epidemic affecting the whole human race, not just homosexual persons, it has had a devastating effect upon them and has brought great sorrow to many parents, families and friends.
Without condoning self-destructive behavior or denying personal responsibility, we reject the idea that HIV/AIDS is a direct punishment from God. Furthermore
Persons with AIDS are not distant, unfamiliar people, the objects of our mingled pity and aversion. We must keep them present in our consciousness as individuals and a community, and embrace them with unconditional love … Compassion – love – toward persons infected with HIV is the ONLY Gospel response.
(National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Called to Compassion and Responsibility: A Response to the HIV/AIDS Crisis, 1989).
NOTHING in the Bible or in Catholic teaching can be used to justify prejudicial or discriminatory attitudes and behaviors. We reiterate what we said in an earlier statement:
We call 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. (Human Sexuality: A Catholic Perspective for Education and Lifelong Learning, 1991, p.55)
I am also using Donald’s Text: Out on Holy Ground to help explore gay spirituality and to talk about the history and placement of Queer people in the community. I think I am on the right path. I know many of my readers out there don’t comment. But I am asking you guys for your input.
I know I am not an active member of the Catholic Church because of their position on Homosexuality, that is why I am more aligned with the Anglican Communion. But this paper is going to a Catholic Monsignor. It was suggested to me to read the Bishops letter by Fr. Ray, who is one of my professors in Christian Ethics. So that is what I did.
I also live in Canada. And I am writing towards a Canadian audience. Well, I am writing to one person, but by extension, this scholarly paper should be able to be transmitted to a community to be used for Pastoral Care, so this might be my first PUBLISHED work in my University Career. The Clergy in my social circle understand that they live in today and they must respond to Pastoral Care in a more immediate nature. Even Catholic priests have their beliefs on Church teachings. We do not live in an archaic time. We live in today.
They may not agree with Holy Mother Church, as I do not either… We live a more progressive Pastoral Model here in Montreal.