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Roman Catholic Moral Theology

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Homosexuality and Sin: a summary of Catholic teaching

Note about the author: I am a straight (heterosexual) single Catholic man, who believes and practices the Catholic faith, including Catholic teaching on sexuality. I am not biased or prejudiced against homosexuals. I hope that such persons will, through the grace of God, repent from their sins and avail themselves of God's mercy.
A. Basic Moral Principles

1. All sexual acts, outside of natural marital relations open to life, are intrinsically evil and always objective mortal sins.
2. All unnatural sexual acts are intrinsically evil and always objective mortal sins.
3. All sexual acts between persons of the same gender are intrinsically evil and always objective mortal sins.
4. Sins are acts involving the intellect (knowing) and the will (choosing). An orientation is not, in and of itself, an act or a sin.
5. The homosexual orientation itself is intrinsically evil, but is not itself a sin.
6. Since the homosexual orientation is intrinsically evil, any and all acts, whether sexual or not, by which a human person knowingly chooses to move toward, cooperate with, reinforce, or act upon, a homosexual orientation is itself a sin, either venial or mortal.
7. All human persons are children of God. No human person is intrinsically evil, even if he or she has an intrinsically evil sexual orientation.
8. All human persons inherently deserve just and merciful treatment.
9. The promotion and spread of homosexuality is offensive to God and is gravely harmful to families, the Church, and society in general.
10. Society has the right and the duty to make laws which discourage sinful acts that cause serious harm to society.

B. Heretical Ideas

There are many false ideas associated with this topic. However, the following ideas are not only false, but also so manifestly contrary to the fundamental teachings of the Faith as to be heretical.

1. The claim that sexual acts outside of marriage are not always objectively gravely immoral.

This claim contradicts the constant teaching of the Church throughout it history. Christ and the Apostles clearly taught, not only by their words, but also by the example of their lives, that any and all sexual acts outside of marriage are a serious sin against God. It is a heresy against the Catholic Faith to believe that sexual acts outside of marriage are not always objectively gravely immoral.

2. The claim that homosexual sex outside of marriage is no worse than heterosexual sex outside of marriage.

The Bible condemns fornication (sexual acts outside of marriage) and it also condemns homosexual acts; both are serious sins against God. However, the Bible also distinguishes between these two types of serious sexual sins. In Deuteronomy 22:28-29, an unmarried man who sleept with an unmarried woman sins and was given a punishment, but the punishment was less than death. On the other hand, if any man had sexual relations with another man, the punishment was death, and the act itself is called by Sacred Scripture an abomination, the strongest word of condemnation used in the Bible:

{18:22} You shall not commit sexual acts with a male, in place of sexual intercourse with a female, for this is an abomination….
{18:29} Every soul who shall commit any of these abominations shall perish from the midst of his people.

Because of this same kind of sin, God destroyed the entire towns of Sodom and Gomorrah. But the many pagan towns, where fornication was common and widespread, God did not destroy.

{13:13} But the men of Sodom were very wicked, and they were sinners before the Lord beyond measure….
{19:5} And they called out to Lot, and they said to him: “Where are the men who entered to you in the night? Bring them out here, so that we may know them.”…
{19:24} Therefore, the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah sulphur and fire, from the Lord, out of heaven.

The sin of homosexual sex is a more serious sin than that of heterosexual sex outside of marriage, because the former act is both a sexual act outside of marriage and a sexual act between persons of the same gender. The latter act is less offensive because the man and woman who have natural heterosexual sex outside of marriage might marry at some point in time, and then any subsequent acts of the same kind would be moral. But homosexual acts are so thoroughly disordered and unnatural that there is no circumstance in which they can be moral.

Homosexual acts are unnatural, and are not open to life, and are outside of marriage, and are between persons of the same gender. To be moral, sexual relations must be natural and open to life and within a marriage and between a man and a women. Homosexual sex offends against all these moral imperatives which God has placed in the natural law and in Divine Revelation and in the very nature of humanity. Therefore, homosexual acts are much more gravely disordered and much more sinful than heterosexual acts outside of marriage. The greater the disorder, the greater the sin. The more moral principles an acts violates, the more sinful that act is.

It is a heresy against the Catholic Faith to believe that homosexual acts outside of marriage are no more sinful than heterosexual acts outside of marriage.

3. The claim that the homosexual orientation is not, in and of itself, a moral evil, or worse, that it is part of God's plan, as if it were in some way good.

The Bible teaches that God created Adam and Eve, before the fall from grace to sin, and that all those things which God created, including Adam and Eve, are good. The Bible also condemns not only homosexual acts, but the orientation itself:

[1 Corinthians 6]
{6:9} Can it be you do not know that the iniquitous shall not possess the kingdom of God? Do not be led astray: neither fornicators, nor those serving idols, nor adulterers,
{6:10} nor the effeminate, nor males who sleep with males, nor thieves, nor the avaricious, nor the inebriated, nor those who speak evil, nor the rapacious shall possess the kingdom of God.

Now the expression 'males who sleep with males' (masculorum concubitores) refers to homosexuals who commit homosexual acts. Although the verse only mentions males, it is certain that female homosexual acts are also condemned because female homosexuality has the same contradictions of the moral order as male homosexuality. The former is not mentioned because the verse only cites certain examples from which one may derive other examples; it is not an exhaustive list of all possible mortal sins. Also, in Romans 1:26-27, Scripture condemns both male and female homosexuality.

Even though this list is not a comprehensive list of the evils found among human persons, it still includes the term 'the effeminate' (molles), which refers, not to homosexual acts themselves, but to the homosexual orientation. Certainly, if an act is evil, then the tendency toward that act cannot be good. The Bible condemns both evil and the tendency toward evil. Therefore, it is a heresy to believe that the homosexual orientation itself is good, or that it is approved or blessed by God, for the homosexual orientation is inherently directed toward acts that are intrinsically evil and always gravely immoral. The Bible clearly condemns the orientation (molles) as well as the act (masculorum concubitores).

Now it is true that the homosexual orientation, if it is not willed, is not itself a sin, but it is nevertheless heretical to claim that it is not a severe moral disorder or that it is not fittingly referred to as a kind of evil.

4. The claim that homosexual relationships are a type of true marriage, either of nature or of the Sacraments.

This claim is heretical because it contradicts the natural law and Divine Revelation. For Jesus himself, citing the natural law and the Divine plan revealed by nature, said:

{19:4} And he said to them in response, “Have you not read that he who made man from the beginning, made them male and female?” And he said:
{19:5} “For this reason, a man shall separate from father and mother, and he shall cling to his wife, and these two shall become one flesh.
{19:6} And so, now they are not two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no man separate.”

Now there are two types of marriage: the natural marriage which is based on the creation of man and woman for each other, and the Sacrament of Marriage, which had its beginning at the wedding at Cana. There, Jesus changed the water of natural marriage into the wine of the Sacrament of Marriage. But the Sacrament of Marriage still includes within itself all that is good and holy in natural marriage. Natural marriage is based on the creation of Adam and Eve, man and woman, as two human persons who became one flesh. The Sacrament of marriage is based on natural marriage and on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross for our salvation and sanctification. Therefore, neither natural marriage nor the Sacrament of Marriage can be anything other than one man and one woman, faithful to each other, united in love and in the flesh.

5. The claim that someone with a homosexual orientation cannot change to a heterosexual orientation.

This claim is heretical because it depends necessarily on premises which are themselves heretical.

a) It denies the effectiveness of God's grace, as if God were powerless to change a willing human person from a sinful orientation to the natural orientation intended by God. In truth, God's grace can work wonders in even the most incorrigible sinner.

b) It represents the homosexual orientation as if it were in itself good, or as if it were equivalent to the heterosexual orientation, so that change would be of no benefit. But the homosexual orientation is inherently directed toward an intrinsic moral evil which is always a serious sin against God, and therefore it is not at all equivalent to the natural inclination of men and women toward each other, which is designed by God and which is not necessarily sinful.

c) It represents the homosexual orientation as if it were acceptable to God, so that the individual would not have any moral obligation to change. But God never approves of sin, nor of any impetus toward sin, and human persons are always obligated to change away from sin and away from whatever tends toward mortal sin.

6. The claim that the homosexual orientation is a natural condition.

This claim is heretical because it denies the intrinsic moral disorder of the homosexual orientation and because it denies that the homosexual orientation is a result of the sins of individuals and of society. In truth, God created all that is truly natural. The homosexual orientation is contrary to the will of God and therefore it cannot be a part of nature as created by God. By no means could God have created anything which is intrinsically evil. Therefore, it is contrary to the Catholic faith to claim that the homosexual orientation is merely a result of nature or genetics or 'normal' human psychological development, as if sin were in no way involved as part of the cause of something which is intrinsically immoral.

The question as to whether or not there may be some minor genetic influences which make some persons more susceptible to fall into this deplorable state is a matter of some dispute among the faithful. However, it is not an heretical idea, as long as one does not claim that such possible genetic factors are in some way determinate, as if free will cooperating with God's grace would be ineffective against such factors.

7. The claim it is part of a normal and healthy society to have some members who are homosexuals.

All of society and all of humanity is under the authority of God and His Church. It is heretical to treat society as if it were completely separate from God and the Faith. No society has a right to order itself in any way that it sees fit, nor to include that which is intrinsically evil as an accepted part of the social order. Since even the homosexual orientation itself is intrinsically evil, it is contrary to the Catholic faith to claim that it is a legitimate lifestyle choice or a legitimate part of a healthy society. No society has a right to accept or encourage evil.

8. The claim that persons with a homosexual orientation have a rightful place in the Church as ordained persons, as religious, or to positions of authority, teaching, or leadership in the parish, the diocese, or the Church in general.

This claim is heretical for a number of reasons. First, no one has a right to ordination; even a devout, chaste, holy, heterosexual man does not have such a right. Second, this claim implicitly asserts the heretical view that that the homosexual orientation is not harmful to human persons, is not in itself a moral evil, and that the example of such an orientation is not harmful to the faithful. Even a celibate or chaste person with a homosexual orientation can harm the Church by the bad example of treating such an orientation as if it were not intrinsically evil. Third, the faithful have a right to worship God, but they do not have a right to positions of authority, teaching, or leadership. Fourth, the faithful themselves have a right to have priests, religious, and lay leaders who are lambs without blemish, who represent Christ to them by being like Christ. But the homosexual orientation itself is inimical to the will and plan of God, and to the example of Christ.
“…the Church has a right to deny roles of service to those whose behavior violates her teaching. Such service may seem to condone an immoral lifestyle and may even be an occasion of scandal.”
(USCCB, Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination, Nov. 14, 2006, p. 17)
Therefore, the Church can and should deny all homosexuals (even those claiming to be chaste) all positions of authority, leadership, and teaching within the Church, including the roles of deacon, priest, and Bishop.

C. Questions and Answers

1. Is it moral for someone to have a homosexual relationship, or to date persons of the same gender, if they abstain from sexual acts?

No. True friendships are permitted. However, dating persons of the same gender, or engaging in a dating-type same sex relationship, even without sexual acts, is sinful because it promotes and cooperates with the homosexual orientation, which is itself intrinsically evil. When a human person knowingly chooses to move toward, cooperate with, reinforce, or act upon a homosexual orientation, such a choice is sinful, even if sexual acts are absent. Also, everyone has an obligation to avoid near occasions of mortal sin. Such activity is likely, in two persons, each of whom has such a severe moral disorder within themselves, to lead to sexual activity and mortal sin.

2. Is it moral for someone with a homosexual orientation to socialize with other homosexuals?

Everyone has an obligation to avoid situations in which they might be tempted to sin, or which might reinforce sinful tendencies or behavior. It would be unwise for a Christian who has a homosexual orientation to socialize, in any extensive or frequent manner, with a group of homosexuals, even if that group has a Christian outlook. If an individual knows that such socialization is likely to lead to serious sin, then that individual has a moral obligation to avoid that socialization, even if the socialization itself is not a sin.

3. Is it moral for a Catholic with a homosexual orientation, who feels called to the priesthood or religious life, to pursue such a vocation?

No, it is not. For Scripture says: “…if a man does not know how to rule over his own house, how will he take care of the Church of God?” (1 Tim 3:5). Any man or woman who does not know how to rule over the house of his or her own human nature, with its thoughts and desires, is not fit to rule over the Church, nor to be among the ordained or consecrated souls given a special place within the Church.

And Scripture also says:
“And it shall be a lamb without blemish [agnus absque macula], a one year old male.” (Exodus 12:5).

“But also, you shall do this, so that they may be consecrated to me in the priesthood: Take a calf from the herd, and two immaculate rams [arietes duos immaculatos]....” (Exodus 29:1).

“... he shall offer an immaculate male [masculum immaculatum], at the door of the tabernacle of testimony, to make himself pleasing to the Lord.” (Leviticus 1:2-3).

“And if it is an offering from the flocks, a holocaust of sheep or of goats, he shall offer a male without blemish [masculum absque macula].” (Leviticus 1:10).

“And if his offering will be the sacrifice of peace offerings, and he is willing to offer from the oxen, whether male or female: he shall offer those that are immaculate in the sight of the Lord [immaculata offeret coram Domino].” (Leviticus 3:1).

“And he chose priests without blemish [sacerdotes sine macula], whose will held to the law of God.” (1 Maccabees 4:42).
Persons who, in the past, have experienced a limited degree of same sex attraction, and who dealt with it prayerfully and chastely, and who now are entirely free from such an attraction, may seek ordination or consecration into the religious life. But those who succumbed to the objective mortal sin of homosexual acts are not fit for ordination or the religious life, even if they later repent and reform. For they are not lambs without blemish, suitable for consecration to the Lord God.

4. Is it moral for someone who is engaging in homosexual acts to use a condom?

All homosexual acts (i.e. sexual acts between persons of the same gender) are intrinsically evil and always objective mortal sins. The use of a condom does not add an additional sin, nor does it make the act more sinful, because homosexual acts are inherently not open to life; the use of a condom in that situation is not contraceptive. However, the use of a condom does not make such acts any less sinful as sexual acts; all such acts remain intrinsically evil and always objective mortal sins.

But it is a different situation if the reason for using a condom is that one of the sexual partners has a transmissible, incurable, fatal disease, such as AIDS. For it is an indisputable medical fact that condoms are not 100% effective in preventing pregnancy (when used in natural sexual relations). Since the spread of disease is by the same fluids that result in pregnancy, neither can it be said that condoms are 100% effective in preventing disease transmission. So in the case of a disease which is transmissible, incurable, and fatal, anyone who has, or likely may have, such a disease has a moral obligation not to spread the disease to others. Therefore, anyone who has, or likely may have, such a disease commits an additional mortal sin by engaging in sexual relations of any kind, with anyone, even with a condom, because that person is putting another person's life in mortal danger. The choice to engage in sexual acts which may spread a transmissible, incurable, and fatal disease, such as AIDS, is an additional mortal sin, and using a condom does not take away that sin.

5. Is it moral for Catholics and others to promote the use of condoms to decrease the likelihood of disease transmission (so-called 'safe sex')?

No, it is not, for several reasons. First, the promotion of condoms promotes contraception. In natural heterosexual sex, the use of condoms adds an additional moral disorder, and therefore an additional sin: that of deliberately closing sexual acts to the possibility of conception.

Second, the promotion of condoms promotes the sexual acts that use condoms, and those acts can transmit disease; this includes both natural and unnatural sexual acts. The term 'safe sex' is a misnomer. Although any individual sexual act with a condom is less likely to spread disease than the same act without a condom, the promotion of 'safe sex' may result in many more sexual acts, resulting in the same, or an even greater overall likelihood of disease transmission as compared to fewer sexual acts without a condom. The net result is that sexual sins are promoted without even the claimed benefit of reducing the spread of disease.

Third, the use of condoms is closely linked to sexual acts outside of marriage, to sexual acts by minors, and to unnatural sexual acts. By promoting condoms, one promotes a set of ideas which are inimical to a fundamental teaching of Christ. For Christ teaches through His Church that the only moral sexual act is natural marital intercourse open to life. By promoting condoms, one promotes a separation of sexual acts from openness to life, from marriage, and from natural intercourse.

Fourth, it is never moral to do evil that good may result from it. Even if one were convinced (contrary to reason) that the promotion of condoms would reduce the spread of disease, this promotion still inherently promotes intrinsically evil sexual acts which are always objectively gravely immoral. One cannot do the evil of promoting such acts in order to achieve the good of reducing disease transmission.

6. What are the causes of the homosexual orientation?

The answer to this question is a matter of some dispute, and it is still, to some extent, an open question.

However, it is contrary to the Catholic faith to claim that the homosexual orientation is primarily or solely the result of biology, or genetics, or 'normal' human psychological development, as if sin were in no way involved as the fundamental cause of something which is itself intrinsically evil. Although some persons claim that genetics is involved to some extent, it is certain that this intrinsically evil orientation cannot be entirely predetermined by genetics, such that the nature created by God would leave some persons with no way to avoid that which is abhorrent to God. For God can never be said to have created that which is evil, nor to have left anyone in a state whereby they are unable to avoid mortal sin. If there are genetic factors, it must be the case that these factors are relatively minor influences which are able to be completely overcome by free will and grace, and which are in no way and to no extent deterministic. To say otherwise is to deny the gift of free will and the effectiveness of God's grace.

It is also contrary to the Catholic faith to claim that it is a legitimate lifestyle choice, as if it were part of a normal and healthy society to have some members who are homosexuals. The homosexual orientation itself is intrinsically evil, and all homosexual acts are always objectively gravely immoral. Therefore, neither the acts nor the orientation can be deliberately and knowingly chosen by an individual without sinning seriously against God. It is also a sin for any society to promote this orientation, or to decide that such an orientation is to be treated as normal and healthy, when in fact it is abnormal and unhealthy and intrinsically evil.

From a Catholic point of view, one important cause of the homosexual orientation is personal sin. When an individual commits numerous sexual sins, in mind and heart, and perhaps also in body, these sins damage the human person to such an extent that their sexuality becomes distorted, even maimed, by their own sins. As a result, such a person develops thoughts and desires which are evil and abhorrent to God, but which might seem to be a part of the person's own nature (since these come from within).

{1:21} For although they had known God, they did not glorify God, nor give thanks. Instead, they became weakened in their thoughts, and their foolish heart was obscured.
{1:22} For, while proclaiming themselves to be wise, they became foolish.
{1:23} And they exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of flying things, and of four-legged beasts, and of serpents.
{1:24} For this reason, God handed them over to the desires of their own heart for impurity, so that they afflicted their own bodies with indignities among themselves.
{1:25} And they exchanged the truth of God for a lie. And they worshipped and served the creature, rather than the Creator, who is blessed for all eternity. Amen.
{1:26} Because of this, God handed them over to shameful passions. For example, their females have exchanged the natural use of the body for a use which is against nature.
{1:27} And similarly, the males also, abandoning the natural use of females, have burned in their desires for one another: males doing with males what is disgraceful, and receiving within themselves the recompense that necessarily results from their error.

The above passage clearly teaches that homosexuality is at least partially and significantly caused by personal sin, especially the sin of rejecting or ignoring the true worship of God. This passage clearly condemns homosexual acts as gravely immoral, and the homosexual orientation as contrary to the will and plan of God. Because these persons rejected God, who can be known at least through creation, their thoughts became weakened (less able to discern right from wrong) and their hearts became obscured (less willing to seek what is good or to accept what it true). Therefore, the sins that resulted were culpable, to one extent or another. Personal sin is the most fundamental cause of homosexuality.

The personal sins which lead to homosexuality can take many forms. Some persons might engage in numerous other sexual sins before they engage in homosexual acts. Some persons might commit other kinds of serious sins (other than those of a sexual nature) which eventually lead them to abandon morality, or to be unable to discern that homosexual acts are gravely immoral. Sometimes the mortal sins that lead to a homosexual orientation are mostly internal, in the mind and heart. But any set of serious sins can damage human nature, so that the individual no longer is able to discern the natural from the unnatural within himself or herself, and no longer able to tell wrong from right. After committing many objectively mortal sins, some persons are so damaged by their own sins that they develop a homosexual orientation, but other persons are so damaged by their own sins that, while they themselves might not become homosexual, they support and encourage homosexuality in others because they can no longer discern right from wrong and good from evil.

The homosexual orientation is certainly caused, to a great extent, by personal sins; therefore, it is also incompatible with personal holiness. There are no homosexual Saints. Many Saints are known to the Church, and the lives of many of them are known in great detail. Past Saints have left many writings describing their thoughts and lives. More recent Saints have left behind friends and fellow Catholics who knew them personally and who are still alive. But there is not a single known case of a Saint with a homosexual orientation.

A second important cause of the homosexual orientation is the sins of others. Some persons are influenced by their peers to engage in acts which they would otherwise not consider. Social influences tend to carry more weight with persons who do not have a strong prayerful relationship with God. Teenagers and young adults tend to be much more strongly influenced by peers than younger or older persons. Within some groups there is a strong homosexual subculture to which some persons may fall prey.

Sometimes another individual has a significant impact on the sexual orientation of another person. A child who is repeatedly sexually abused by someone of the same gender may develop a homosexual orientation. However, this is not a deterministic result of abuse. Most abused persons develop a normal heterosexual orientation. Sexual abuse is only one factor. Individuals have free will and, through faith and prayer, they can access the grace of God as much as is needed to avoid every kind of sin and every kind of evil.

A third important cause is the sins of society. Western society treats homosexuality as if it were normal, or even praiseworthy, and any criticism of homosexuality is viewed as bias and hatred. In some nations, currently, speaking out against the evil of homosexuality is a criminal offense. Media programs promote homosexuality as if it were good instead of evil, useful instead of harmful, normal instead of abnormal, and as if it were a normal part of a healthy life or a healthy society. Some media programs present female homosexuality as if it ought to be considered sexy by heterosexual men. More generally, many media programs treat sexuality as if there were no moral limits or guidelines, promoting premarital sex, contraception, abortion, sexual activity by minors, unnatural sexual acts, sexual acts with more than one person, and more. What is next? There seems to be no limit. As a result, many persons, if they do not have strong faith and a strong prayer life, end up learning their moral values on sexuality from news and entertainment shows, and from the many sexual messages, explicit and implicit, in various aspects of modern secular society. Thus, some persons fall into homosexuality because they have learned numerous false doctrines about sexuality from society and the media. They become unable to discern good from evil and true from false. It is a case of the blind leading the blind into a pit.

The three greater influences which may lead to a homosexual orientation are (1) the personal sins of the individual, (2) the sins of other persons who know that individual, and (3) the influence of sinful secular society in general. Genetic factors cannot be said to be determinate of this orientation, nor can these be the major cause, because individuals possess free will, because the grace of God is always available to avoid things contrary to God's will, and because the homosexual orientation itself is contrary to the will of God (and so cannot be a part of nature, which is created by God). Original sin, in and of itself, cannot be said to be a cause of a homosexual orientation. Although we all have original sin, it does not predispose us toward any particular type of sin, but only toward sin in general. Persons who have original sin do not generally develop a homosexual orientation.

As to the lesser influences which may pertain to a homosexual orientation, a faithful Catholic might reasonably conclude (depending on the available scientific evidence) that these include some (1) genetic influences, (2) biological influences, and (3) developmental (psychological/social) influences. Genetic influences are certainly not deterministic. There is no particular gene or set of genes which makes a human person necessarily or irrevocably orientated toward this type of intrinsically evil mortal sin. Such a claim contradicts the teaching of the Church that we are each responsible for our own sins and that God did not create us in such a way that we are unable to avoid objective mortal sin. Biological influences might include hormonal levels in the mother during pregnancy, side effects of mediations given to the mother or child, foods, food additives, chemicals used in modern society which end up in the human body, etc. (See the section on Sexual Development for more on these points.) Again, such influences, if they effect orientation at all, are not deterministic for the same reasons that genetic influences cannot be deterministic. Developmental influences include the psychological and social influences on a growing child. Perhaps some factors known to influence personal psychological development in children may also have an effect on orientation. This may be true to some limited extent, but it cannot be the case that such factors take away free will, or overpower the grace of God, in effect giving an individual no choice but to sin seriously. God's Providence and Grace is not disarmed by genetic, biological, psychological, or social influences on the human person.

Genetic and biological influences, if any, exist because human nature is in a fallen state (due to original sin). Even such minor influences are not in accord with the will or plan of God for any human person in any circumstance.

7. Is a homosexual orientation an abnormal psychological condition?

Although the fields of psychology and psychiatry are not generally based on teachings from religious faith, a Catholic cannot adhere to any idea, within any area of knowledge or study, if that idea is contrary to, or irreconcilable with, Catholic teaching. Now it is contrary to the Catholic Faith to claim that a homosexual orientation is a normal or natural part of the human person, as created by God. From a Catholic point-of-view, the idea of what is normal must take into account God's plan for the human person. In no way can it be said that homosexual acts, nor even the mere orientation, is in accord with God's plan. God cannot will things which are intrinsically evil, nor can such things be a natural part of human nature, as created by God. Therefore, a homosexual orientation is not fittingly referred to as normal, nor as 'within normal limits.'

However, a Catholic understanding of the fields of psychology and psychiatry must include an understanding of the difference between sin and mental illness. Since the homosexual orientation is generally a result of sin, it is not fittingly referred to as a psychological or mental illness. But, since it is not normal, it can be viewed as an abnormal psychological condition, one that generally is the result of sin.

8. Is it possible for someone with a homosexual orientation to change and become heterosexual.

By the grace of God, it is possible for anyone to repent and turn away from any and all sin. God's grace is always available to those who are willing to cooperate with that grace. God is ever seeking our change for the better. Since homosexual acts are intrinsically evil and always objectively gravely immoral, all such acts are contrary to the will of God. But God is always offering the persons who commit these sins the grace of repentance and conversion.

Concerning persons who have a homosexual orientation, but who are not sexually active, even the orientation itself is abhorrent to God, since it is inherently directed toward acts which are intrinsically evil. It is never God's will for someone to remain in such a state, directed toward mortal sin. Therefore, God also always offers his grace to those who have this sinful orientation, to reform them into persons who are like Christ in every way, Christ who even in his human nature was perfect in every way, including perfect chastity in mind and heart. To say otherwise is to contradict the Scriptures, which call us to be like Christ and like God.

Is it difficult for such persons to change from a homosexual orientation to a heterosexual orientation? The path of following Christ and of rejecting sin can be difficult, but it is neither impossible nor barely possible. The path of holiness in general has been followed by very many persons from the time of Christ to the present day, through very many different circumstances, regardless of the obstacles encountered.

For more information on this question, see the following article:

9. Is the homosexual orientation itself a sin?

No, but it is the result of sin. A sin is an act involving the will and the intellect; to sin one must knowingly choose what is morally wrong. An orientation is not an act, therefore it is not itself a sin. However, a person may develop a homosexual orientation through a series of persons sins, often sexual sins. To the extent that the orientation is a result of personal sin, it is culpable. Also, some persons knowingly choose to move in the direction of homosexuality; all such choices are sinful.
“To the extent that a homosexual tendency or inclination is not subject to one's free will, one is not morally culpable for that tendency. Although one would be morally culpable if one were voluntarily to entertain homosexual temptations or to choose to act on them, simply having the tendency is not a sin…. Simply possessing such inclinations does not constitute a sin, at least to the extent that they are beyond one's control.”
(USCCB, Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination, Nov. 14, 2006, p. 5-6)
Some persons might develop a homosexual orientation mainly due to the sins of others, and so their own culpability would be limited. But no one develops a homosexual orientation without some objectively serious sin on their part, for God does not deliver holy persons into great sin.

10. Is it unjust to discriminate against homosexuals?

Sometimes it is unjust and other times it is just. Not all discrimination is immoral or illegal. An employer rightly discriminates between employees who are qualified for a job, and those that are unqualified. A Catholic parish rightly discriminates between those who believe and practice the Catholic faith, and those who do not believe or practice the faith, especially when assigning roles of authority, leadership, or teaching. Persons with a homosexual orientation are not qualified for roles of authority, leadership, or teaching in the Church because they have an orientation which is inherently directed away from God's plan for human persons.

All persons have certain basic human rights, which ought not to be denied to them, even if they break the law seriously or sin seriously. One cannot justly discriminate in such a way that any human being is denied basic human rights, including humane and respectful treatment. Human persons have a right to food, shelter, medicine, work, travel, and many other rights. One cannot discriminate against homosexuals, even against those who are unrepentant and are actively committing serious sins, in cases of basic human needs, rights, and dignity.
In fact, the Church actively asserts and promotes the intrinsic dignity of every person. As human persons, persons with a homosexual inclination have the same basic rights as all people, including the right to be treated with dignity. Nevertheless “ 'sexual orientation' does not constitute a quality comparable to race, ethnic background, etc., in respect to nondiscrimination.” [CDF, Some Considerations…on the Non-Discrimination of Homosexual Persons (July 23, 1992), no. 10.] Therefore, it is not unjust, for example, to limit the bond of marriage to the union of a woman and a man. It is not unjust to oppose granting to homosexual couples benefits that in justice should belong to marriage alone.
(USCCB, Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination, Nov. 14, 2006, p. 15)
Also, the Church justly discriminates between those fit for ordination and those unfit for ordination. Persons with a homosexual orientation are unfit for ordination or for the religious life because they are not lambs without blemish. Persons who have a homosexual orientation are also unfit for positions of authority, leadership, and teaching in the Church, lest they lead others into sin by the example of their lives, or lest their appointment create the impression that their orientation and the acts which follow from it are not a moral evil.

Therefore, some discrimination against homosexuals is moral, and other discrimination is immoral.

The extent to which society in general should limit the positions given to homosexuals is a matter of some dispute among the faithful. In general, similar considerations would apply to society in general as apply to the Church, for the whole world belongs to God. Secular society likes to present religion as if it were one small part of society, but in truth society is one small part of God's creation. Therefore, homosexuals, especially those who are actively sinning and are unrepentant, might not be fit for certain jobs or roles in society. As to which jobs or roles they should be denied, this is a matter of some dispute among the faithful.

11. Should homosexuals be admitted to military service?

No. Military service is not for everyone and anyone. Those accepted into military service should be required to meet certain standards and should be fit for the tasks which may be given to them. Active military service often requires men to work in close quarters with other men, in difficult circumstances, for extended periods of time. Admitting homosexual men to military service is an injustice against the heterosexual servicemen who must serve with them, since it subjects them to unwelcome attention from members of the same sex. The situation is also an injustice against the homosexuals who are admitted to service because it may tempt them toward serious sin. Furthermore, admitting homosexuals to military service has the effect of treating the homosexual orientation as if it were normal or acceptable, teaching by example a false and harmful idea. Since the homosexual orientation is intrinsically a serious moral disorder, it should disqualify men from service in the military. Finally, every nation should strive to have servicemen who represent the highest moral values. Admitting persons who have an inherent tendency toward a serious moral disorder is a disgrace to the noble service of other members of the military.

Women should not be admitted to military service. This topic will be discussed in another section.

12. Should homosexual couples be permitted to marry?

No. The Sacrament of Marriage is not available to persons of the same gender. Even the Church has neither the authority, nor the ability, to alter the Sacrament of Marriage such that it could be granted to same-sex couples, or to any persons other than one man as husband and one woman as wife. All such attempted same-sex marriages are necessarily invalid, regardless of who has approved of them, even if an ordained deacon, priest, or bishop were to attempt to administer the Sacrament of Marriage. This holy Sacrament is inherently related to the creation of the first man, Adam, and the first woman, Eve. No one is able to apply this Sacrament to other than one man and one woman.

Concerning marriages under human law, same-sex marriages and their legal near-equivalent (e.g. so-called civil unions) are contrary to the will of God for a just and orderly society. Individual rights can and should be granted by a society to all its citizens, and even to foreign visitors, but this can be accomplished without destroying the institution of marriage. The natural law teaches us that any human family, as well as the family of the human race, springs from the procreation of children by the union of one man as husband and one woman as wife. All that harms or destroys the human family is contrary to the will of God, including: pre-marital sex, promiscuity, adultery, contraception, abortion, unnecessary divorces, domestic abuse, and same-sex marriage. Any attempt to restructure the natural human family, as created and intended by God, into something that accords with the absurd and sinful ideas of secular society, is harmful to the members of that society, especially the children. For it is the children who benefit the most from a family in harmony with the plan of God. And it is the children who are harmed the most from a family that is contrary to the plan of God.
“The Church recognizes that 'marriage exists solely between a man and a woman, who by mutual personal gift, proper and exclusive to themselves, tend toward the communion of their persons. In this way, they mutually perfect each other, in order to cooperate with God in the procreation and upbringing of new human lives.' [CDF, Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons, no. 2] Consequently, the Church does not support so-called same-sex 'marriages' or any semblance thereof, including civil unions that give the appearance of a marriage. Church ministers may not bless such unions or promote them in any way, directly or indirectly.”
(USCCB, Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination, Nov. 14, 2006, p. 20-21)
13. Should homosexual couples be permitted to adopt children?

No. Homosexual couples are unqualified to be adoptive parents.

First, one of the qualifications that any adoptive parents should have is good moral values. If a couple engages in homosexual acts, then they are not fit to raise children because they lack a basic understanding of right and wrong, and because those acts are gravely immoral and contrary to the natural law.

Second, children do not grow up in a vacuum; they are profoundly influenced, in ways subtle and not so subtle, by the example of the adults around them. When the adults around them are living in a manner which is directly contrary to fundamental human values and truths, the damage done to those children is incalculable. A child learns about proper relationships between men and women by the example of the father and mother. For example, if the father and mother have an abusive relationship, the child's understanding of human relationships is profoundly harmed. Even more so, when a child's parents are a homosexual couple, is that child profoundly damaged by the daily example of severe moral disorder from that couple.

Third, children benefit immensely from being raised within a true marriage, and such a true marriage is entirely absent in the case of adoption by same-sex couples. The example of even an imperfect marriage benefits the children by teaching them about one of the must fundamental goods of human society. The absence of this example is necessarily a serious detriment to the normal and healthy spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and psychological development of any child.
“…the Church does not support the adoption of children by same-sex couples since homosexual unions are contrary to the divine plan.”
(USCCB, Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination, Nov. 14, 2006, p. 20-21)
14. Should homosexual couples be permitted to bear children?

No. The methods by which a homosexual couple would produce a child are generally objective mortal sins. Such methods include in vitro fertilization, artificial insemination, and sexual acts outside of natural marital relations. All such methods are sinful and contrary to the moral teaching of the Church and the natural law.

In addition, the same reasons stated above for adoptive children also apply for natural offspring. Homosexual couples are unfit to be parents, regardless of whether or not the child is adopted or is the natural offspring of one of the members of the couple.

D. Definitive Catholic Teaching

1. All sexual acts between persons of the same gender are always objectively gravely immoral.
2. The homosexual orientation itself, while not a sin, is objectively, seriously, intrinsically disordered.
3. The attempted marriage of two persons of the same gender is never a valid Sacrament of marriage, nor is it even a true natural marriage.
4. The adoption of children, or the bearing of children through immoral means, by two persons of the same gender, is contrary to the will and plan of God.
5. Persons with a homosexual orientation are not fitting candidates for ordination or the religious life, nor for positions of authority, teaching, and leadership in the Church.
6. The Promotion of so-called 'safe sex,' and the promotion of the use of condoms, is contrary to reason, the natural law, and the will of God.
7. Various persons with a homosexual orientation have different degrees of culpability for that state, depending upon various factors, but no one with a homosexual orientation is entirely without guilt for that state, because we are all sinners.
8. Persons with a homosexual orientation have a moral obligation to attempt to change, so as to conform themselves, as much as they are able, to the will and plan of God, and to the pattern for human life so clearly set forth by Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary.
9. Homosexual acts are more severely disordered, and therefore they are more sinful, than heterosexual acts outside of marriage.
10. The homosexual orientation is neither natural nor good, and it is certainly contrary to the will and plan of God.
11. All human persons must be treated with respect, since they have been created in the image of God.
12. Sinful behavior should never be encouraged by any person or group, nor by society in general.

by Ronald L. Conte Jr.
January 8, 2007

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