|And Miles to Go
By Bishop John C. Nienstedt
March 7, 2007
Coming to Minnesota this month is a group called "New Ways Ministry" which intends to challenge the Truth of the Church's teaching on human sexuality, specifically in regard to persons of same-sex inclinations. This group is meeting from March 16-18 in Minneapolis and no doubt there will be plenty of media coverage in our local areas. The group has already portrayed themselves as "Catholic leaders, ministers, theologians, clergy and lay people, educators, GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transsexual) advocates, family members and supporters." By doing so, they have compromised their Catholic identity in rejecting the Church's constant teaching. Complicating this scene is the scheduled appearance of priests, religious sisters and even three retired bishops who will be involved in the presentations. Their very presence at this gathering is a source of grave scandal.
According to the Church's Code of Canon Law, heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith (n. 751). Jesus, himself, predicted that this phenomenon would happen among his followers in both Mark 13:6 and Matthew 13:24-39. The Church has witnessed the advancement of heresies in almost every era of her historical experience. Unfortunately, it seems that today's situation is no different.
Last November, the General Assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops approved a well thought-out document entitled, Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination: Guidelines for Pastoral Care.
From the outset, the Bishops' document reaffirms that all persons must be treated with "respect, compassion, and sensitivity." At the same time, persons with a homosexual inclination are called by God to live chaste lives.
The heart of the matter is that God created human beings in his own image: "Male and female he created them." (Gen. 1:27). God's design calls for the complementarity of a male and a female. They are to: "Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it." (Gen. 1:28). Thus, as the Bishops state: "Homosexual acts also violate the true purpose of sexuality."
Refusing to acknowledge the true complementarity of the sexes and failing to be open to the transmission of life, same-sex acts are "disordered," that is to say, they do not conform to human nature as designed by God and thus are not truly beneficial for the well-being of the persons involved.
This is not to say that the person himself (or herself) is disordered, but that the inclination or subsequent acting-out of that inclination is disordered.
Many behavioral scientists tell us that our unique sexual identity does not begin to be formed until eighteen months and continues until three years of age (see www.cathmed.org). During that time, the child reacts to his or her environment and relationships. It is thought that the homosexual inclination is the result of some psychological trauma that occurs in those relationships.
To say that homosexual activity is disordered must be understood in the context of other human disorders: envy, malice, greed, etc. Such inclinations are not sinful in themselves and may well be beyond a person's control or desire. But, acting out on these inclinations is always wrong and when done with knowledge and deliberation are sinful.
One of the strengths of the Bishops' document is its emphasis on the necessity of being trained in virtue. The Bishops specify:
"In our society, chastity is a particular virtue that requires special effort. All people, whether married or single, are called to chaste living. Chaste living overcomes disordered human desires such as lust and results in the expression of one's sexual desires in harmony with God's Will."
Virtue is only acquired through continuous, sustained and repeated effort. Vice or the habit of sin is acquired in exactly the same way.
As Catholic believers, we do not have to rely solely on our own power of persuasion in order to avoid temptation, since we are able to turn readily to the influence of the Holy Spirit alive in our hearts. Temptations do not have to overwhelm us. Christ has "set our freedom free from the damnation of concupiscence." (Pope John Paul II, Splendor of Truth, n. 103).
I highly recommend a careful reading and meditation on the Bishops' new document. (For a copy, go to www.usccb.org – Church Documents – Bishops' Statements.)
Today's "gay agenda" advocates, including many persons in the media, want you to believe that homosexuality is as natural as heterosexuality with only a slight variation. They have cleverly sought refuge under the umbrella of "civil rights." Neither assertion is true and both must be challenged.
The Church's role in all this is to proclaim the Truth as found in Scripture and revealed by Jesus Christ. She seeks to defend the dignity of all persons, but she also is charged with challenging moral activity which contradicts the Natural Law as created by God and handed on through the Tradition of our faith.
May God love you!
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