QUAERITUR: Masses, parishes for homosexuals

From a reader:

I am a convert to the Faith. I wonder/am ticked off that Boston and Chicago each have a parish which has regular Masses for Homosexual so they do not feel so disenfranchized. I am sorry they are disoedient, but a Mass for them seems terribly out of plalce.

To me this is like having a Mass for adulturers or thieves. Aside praying for all involved, is someone in charge investigating these activities/trying to stop them?

I am also troubled by this.

First, we all know about and no doubt approve of Masses celebrated for particular groups.  There is a Red Mass, Blue Mass, White Mass.  I can see Masses for, say, Knights of Columbus, welders, convents of religious sisters.  While this can create a work load for priests in this time when there are not nearly enough priests, the people in these groups are bound together because they have something in common.  However, what they have in common is normal and good. They need pastoral care.

There are not Masses for active thieves, professional thieves, robbers, burglars, muggers or pickpockets.   I can imagine, however, a Mass for reformed thieves, people who were thieves and are no longer.  The could meet at the Church of St. Dismas on the evening of the first Saturday of the month, discreetly, and then steal away into the night, holier and more resolved than ever not to sin and hurt themselves and neighbors. They need pastoral care.

I can see Masses for homosexuals in the same way.  If people are trying to resist their inclinations and live a holy life, if they have stopped what they were doing, then perhaps they could have some support for each other as a group and offer their sufferings and petitions to the Father in union with Christ’s perfect offering for sins on Calvary, which is what Mass renews.  They need pastoral care.

I cannot see a group of thieves getting together to have Mass so that they can affirm their old lifestyle and perhaps even reputations as thieves.  No… let’s make it drug addicts, alcoholics, or gamblers.  They may have strong inclinations they still fight.  They wouldn’t be there to celebrate their imbalanced appetites or addictions.  They would be looking for the strength to stop for good.  They need pastoral care.

Everyone has something to struggle with.  Some inclinations are bad because of circumstances.  Some are bad in themselves.  Either way, if the inclination leads to sin, then it must be resisted with might and main and the help of grace that comes from the sacraments and from acceptance of the truth of Catholic teaching.

In any event, I have a hard time understanding these Masses and these parishes.  I do not say they cannot be, but I think they should have the closest oversight by bishops and perhaps even the Holy See.

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63 Responses to QUAERITUR: Masses, parishes for homosexuals

  1. irishgirl says:

    I remember that nearly ten years a priest who used to be in my hometown (and who ‘came out of the closet’, unfortunately) had Masses for homosexuals in his parish. Some people I knew tried to videotape them in order to show the Bishop, but were shown the door by ushers or members of the congregation. I think they were able to audio record it, though.
    Sometime after news of these Masses came out, I went to a Mass where the VERY traditional priest asked rhetorically in his sermon, without mentioning his fellow priest by name, ‘Do we have Masses for thieves? Do we have Masses for murderers?’
    I was sitting in the front row facing the pulpit, and after Father said that, I silently mouthed an ‘Amen to that!’ and gave a discreet thumbs-up in his direction (he didn’t see it, of course).

  2. Margaret says:

    This is such a fine line to walk. Homosexuals do need pastoral care. Their own “gay” community, and now our larger mainstream culture are both aggressively pro-promiscuity and anti-chastity. I can see the value in them having a true “safe haven” within the Church, where they can be strengthened and encouraged.

    That being said, the thought of the Holy Mass becoming some kind of … pick-up scene makes me ill. Ugh. And sadly, given the hatred of Catholicism among some members of the “gay” community, I could see them deliberately targeting Masses for that kind of behavior. Closest oversight, indeed…

  3. Fr. Andrew says:

    I’d suggest checking out Courage, an authentic Roman Catholic ministry to those with same-sex attraction. I sent a student leader to their conference in August featuring His Emminence, Cardinal Burke and His Excellency Thomas Olmsted among others.

    Among little nuggets from them, they refer to “same-sex attraction” rather than gay or homosexual to reduce the tendency of global identification that comes along with the culture.

  4. S. Murphy says:

    If I were same-sex oriented, and trying to live a chaste, single life (not much different than I am, in fact), I don’t think I would necessarily want to join a group — which is not to say that all others would feel the same. I’m certainly glad the group Courage exists. But I guess there are people out in the parishes who are too old for the youth group, too young for the old folks’ group, and not married… don’t assume we’re all SSA; but they’re around, too – in many cases quietly living the way the Church asks them to live.

  5. Ezra says:

    I can’t see why anyone would object to a special Mass being said for an apostolate like Courage. However, most of the controversial Masses provided for homosexuals are not of this sort, as Father notes. The nature of the ongoing provision in the Archdiocese of Westminster – which seems to be serving as a template for activists elsewhere – is well-illustrated by the videos on YouTube HERE and HERE.

  6. MikeM says:

    I can see the benefit of having some sort of ministry for those with homosexual attractions. It can be a difficult issue to discuss in most settings, so it makes sense to give those people a place to come for support in living a Christian life.

    One concern I have, though, which I don’t think gets much consideration, is that even if the ministry for those with same sex attraction is fully orthodox, it could cause problems for its participants if that’s their only contact with the Church. I think it’s important that our brothers and sisters who face these temptations are pulled into the broader Church community

  7. RichardT says:

    We wouldn’t want the Mass for gamblers to be followed by a poker game. [Or Bingo, for that matter.]

  8. RichardT says:

    Red Masses I knew about, but I had to look up Blue and White. Are they a specifically American thing? I haven’t heard of them over here. [They may be an American thing.]

  9. mrose says:

    I work down the street, about 2 blocks away from the Chicago parish in question. It is smack-dab in the middle of the “gay” neighborhood of Chicago. While I do not know what they say or do about these issues at this parish and during their weekly Sunday evening Mass, suffice it to say I have never assisted at Mass there. I visited the website once to try to get an idea of what the ministry is trying to do, but I couldn’t tell one way or another – a bit disconcerting.

  10. Dr. K says:

    This story really hits close to home. Our bishop himself has offered Masses specifically intended for homosexuals.

    Just to give you an idea of what this is all about:
    Here is one homily.
    Here is an advertisement for the Mass published in the local “Empty Closet” newspaper for homosexuals. “Sacred, holy, and queer” ???
    And here are folks making political statements by wearing rainbow sashes to that Mass.

    Even if these Masses are offered with good intentions (and that’s up for debate) they are often interpreted as being pro-homosexual lifestyle by the homosexual community. These Masses seem to affirm sinful actions rather than to call for repentance or pray for strength to live Christian lives.

  11. While it is nice to abide in the shelter of a warm fuzzy place where you feel safe, at some point Christian maturity will require you to ‘come out’ and join the larger Church. There is no reason why homosexuals, who have chosen to live their lives according to God’s will–not their own, cannot stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their brothers and sisters in any Catholic Church: many of whom are sinners, former drunks, thieves, adulterers, drug addicts–(you name it, we’ve got it).
    So, special Masses? How about getting folks used to THE MASS, the only thing that can truly change a life. And, that Mass is with all of the Church–not a subset.

  12. ncstevem says:

    Magistra Bona I couldn’t agree more. The Mass is for all Catholics and shouldn’t be celebrated for ‘subsets’ of Catholics.

  13. Oneros says:

    “These Masses seem to affirm sinful actions rather than to call for repentance or pray for strength to live Christian lives.”

    This seems an odd dichotomy to me, yet one sees it from conservative (which is different from orthodox or traditional; “conservative” is an essentially political stance) Catholics a lot: “A ministry to homosexuals is either about constantly harping on the chastity question OR else it’s affirming, at least tacitly, the gay lifestyle and should be condemned or makes me uncomfortable.”

    The truth is, homosexuals as a group face a lot of problems, socially. ONE problem is, yes, temptation, the struggle with chastity, the fact that our decadent culture promotes all these bad things and the media tells them all that it’s okay (even obligatory) to live a certain way. And converting sinners is the ultimate goal of ANY ministry.

    But you talk to most homosexuals about what the biggest pastoral stumbling blocks are to effective ministry for them…and I doubt that “not preaching chastity to us enough” is going to be at the top of their lists! (Because, of course, in practice…that’s the ONLY message the church authorities have EVER addressed, stridently often, to homosexuals as such.)

    Likely, they’re going to be much more concerned with conservative homophobia (different from simply holding the orthodox teachings on chastity; and which there are hints of in this very comments thread) alienating them in the Church (a complaint I’ve heard often even from celibate orthodox homosexuals I know) and a narrative that seems to involve denying that homosexuals a sociological group/community even exists (or else that sees any ministry as necessarily requiring disidentifying from that group).

    Of course, effective ministries don’t work this way. A ministry to prostitutes doesn’t start out shouting at them in the streets about how harlotry is evil and they’re going to hell. It starts out by finding shelter and food and licit employment for the prostitutes. Ministries to drug addicts can start with something as counterintuitive (and controversial) as clean-needle programs. Ministries to gang members that seem most effective seem to start with priests “entering their world,” getting to know the signs and lingo, and just starting by showing care and unconditional non-judgmental WELCOME. These things all come FIRST in effective outreach to a given marginalized community or population.

    You don’t reach anyone to get them to repent if already-having-repented is made a condition of welcome or participation in the ministry. Yet immediate condemnation and demands to assent aren’t going to lure anyone into greater trust and exploration of orthodoxy either…they’ll probably alienate people and scare them away before there is any chance to do any good.

    A Mass of outreach for homosexuals need not (and probably shouldn’t!) harp on or focus on the chastity question. They can be gradually and gently guided towards that later as they feel more comfortable coming in from the cold and feel welcome and willing to listen more.

    Demanding that any outreach be explicitly “about” the unchastity, or that it involve setting itself in opposition to the gay community even just as a community (the only social support network many of these people have ever found), or else assuming it constitutes affirmation or tacit approval of unchastity if the issue the outreach first focuses on is fighting homophobia or promoting understanding or tolerance…shows pastoral ham-handedness on the part of those suggesting it, and is also a double-standard when applied to homosexuals given how all sorts of other outreach ministries really work in practice.

  14. elwinransom says:

    I don’t even know where to start to reply to “Onerous”, but I’ll reply. Jesus told the woman taken in adultery to “go and sin no more”. He did not condemn her, but he did condemn her lifestyle. He did not offer her “unconditional non-judgemental welcome”. He offered her welcome, love, forgiveness, mercy. He offered it first, no questions asked, but immediately followed with a command to change. I think that one of the problems with even discussing the relationship of homosexuals to the church is that we’re so accustomed to hearing what homosexuals DEMAND. If thieves or alcoholics or drug addicts or homosexuals or just people who fight sin in their lives demand forgiveness and acceptance without a determination to give up their sinful behavior, and if they stipulate that no one is to talk about giving up that behavior, THEY are the ones with the “double standard”.
    One of the most successful programs to help addicts is AA, and they are “constantly harping on” not drinking alcohol.
    We’ve heard these words before: I firmly resolve, with the help of thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin.”

  15. ContraMundum says:

    I dunno. Whenever there is a general atmosphere in which a sin is entirely compatible with being in “the Chamber of Commerce”, there’s always a chance that priests will be pulled in. Today sodomy is compatible with being in the Chamber of Commerce; 60 years ago, it was racism. We often hear Archbishop Rummel excommunicating three determined segregationists, but I strongly suspect it would have been possible to find priests (both inside and outside his diocese) who would have favored segregation and who might even have offered up masses for the benefit of the segregationist cause. That’s my guess; I’ll leave real research up to someone else. Regardless, I don’t think it would be hard to find priests offering masses for the socially accepted sins of ages past; after all, most priests, and almost all the bishops, followed Henry VIII when he went into schism.

  16. Fr-Bill says:

    This issue is not rocket science.
    The Catechism has the answer. Those who identify as homosexuals are still human beings and should be treated with the dignity of same. However, they must refrain from extra marital sex and other mortal sins just like the rest of us. If they continue to sin, their behavior can in no way be sanctioned.

  17. DisturbedMary says:

    Ad in the Columbia University Spectator paper:

    You are invited to join us at Ascension Catholic Church. No matter you age, your race, your sex or your sexual orientation,there is a place for you at Ascension. You’ll meet wonderful people, hear the Word of God proclaimed, enjoy good programs, be challenged to live the Gospel and so much more. Come as you are, be who you are — your presence will enrich us.

    What? no strawberry festival?

  18. Dave N. says:

    I think it’s time to end “special interest” Masses–and I’d put Life Teen and its various permutations in this category as well–along with special language Masses, if we could all simply learn to pray in Latin. If this or that group, plumbers, lawyers, teachers etc. want/deserve a special remembrance at the prayers of the faithful, ok–fine, I guess? But why should any Mass “belong” to one particular group? “It’s OUR Mass.” (?)

  19. Shoshana says:

    I used to co-lead a small group for a large, successful ex-gay ministry in southern California. We did not call the repentant participants “homosexuals” because that was not their identity. Their identity was “Christian.” If a fellow Catholic is tempted to steal, but does not steal, does one call him a thief? No, of course not. Our identity is not our temptation. Our identity is Christ. People should stop calling someone a homosexual if he or she struggles with same-sex attraction, yet is celibate. That implies one is “stuck” in his or her temptation. It also gives the impression that the person cannot be healed and have a normal married life. There are former homosexuals who lead happily married lives, with delightful children. And that is why ministries like Courage are important. I don’t know much about Courage, but if it is like the ministry I worked with, the person receives emotional and spiritual healing at a very deep level. Please, let’s start using the word “homosexual” in a way consistent with our beliefs. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 is a good example: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor HOMOSEXUALS, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such WERE some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” Paul is saying that some people WERE homosexuals, but are homosexuals no longer. Let us stop using this grim label for those who have been washed, sanctified, and justified.

  20. Shoshana says:

    I’ll also pass along some advice a Protestant pastor gives to former homosexuals. (“Giving your testimony” during a church service is a common practice in many Protestant churches). This pastor recommends that these Christians never stand up in public to give their testimony about their healing from their former lifestyle, because that would make them more vulnerable to others who have a similar past and are backsliding. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule in cases of ex-gay ministry leaders, etc. A Mass for homosexuals seems like a very imprudent place for a former homosexual to be. It seems more like a near occasion of sin than a place to get healing. Again, talking about these issues in a supervised ministry is one thing. Going to big public Masses is another.

  21. Virgil says:

    Bravo, onerus. And bravo to several others posting, aware of the very real confusions that surround gay and lesbian Catholics, and the need to affirm and support the call to holiness.

    It is very important to distinguish between dissenting groups (Dignity, Rainbow Sash, etc) and faithful groups (like the parishes in Chicago and Boston) and addiction/recovery services (like Courage).

    These faithful groups are neither “pick up opportunities” nor “repentence ministries.” They are simply Catholics who share a common identity on a certain level. It may be a surprise, but most of these places are actually quite conservative, especially in liturgy. The Chicago parish in particular has EF and OF masses and a great schola. (Never underestimate the good aesthetic taste of gay men!)

    We need more, not fewer, of these places. As noted above, they function as New Evangelization in the heart of the gay communities around the world. Good music is just one of the great gifts that the gay community can bring to the Church.

  22. Ezra says:

    Please, let’s start using the word “homosexual” in a way consistent with our beliefs.

    Popes and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith have repeatedly used “homosexual” to refer to men and women who tend to find members of the same sex sexually attractive. This attraction is not in itself a sin, but it does have major implications for how those people live the Christian life. While it doesn’t suggest their primary identification should be as homosexuals, the Catechism of the Catholic Church holds out the possibility of homosexuals (as such) living lives of virtue and advancing in holiness as a result of a correct response to their condition. The analysis of some people as homosexually-oriented also allows the Church to say she excludes from priestly ordination those who are homosexual not only in act, but also in tendency.

    Reparative therapy succeeds for some, but the statistics aren’t great. That a person is unsuccessful in attempts to “go straight”, or finds him/herself incapable of embracing marriage to a person of the opposite sex, doesn’t mean they aren’t living a life of grace. The Protestant inability to distinguish between an unwilled – albeit objectively disordered – orientation, and sodomy, as reflected in Protestant translations of 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, should not concern Catholics overmuch.

  23. benedetta says:

    Different pastoral outreaches are good, and one hopes that the approach that onerous describes bears fruit. Whereas in my entire life I have never heard any sort of Catholic say or do anything that could be described as homophobic or bigoted, I do recognize that it does still happen that roving thugs will attack and beat someone they perceive as gay. I don’t think that those who are into that sort of thing are regular church-goers, but I guess it could happen. What I have observed is that parishes go out of their way to explicitly welcome gays, and this for a long time now, not just recently. The dark underside that such gatherings or identified parishes promote is the false notion that other Catholics, or conservative Catholics, or anyone who is not entirely sure about gay marriage, or the gay pride spectaculars, are therefore horrendous bigots. It is entirely fair for people to say, discrimination is horrible and it should always be resisted while at the same time having qualms about what gay culture tries to offer the broader society. That’s not homophobia. If it were heterosexuals people would be entitled to have the very same reasonable views. Or the drug addict (I don’t use this comparison but others here have raised it).

    Outreach and specialized pastoral ministry is important. But it is hard to know why a Mass during Pride week. Or a parish. There does not seem to be a logical or pastoral connection. The connection seems to be about politics and the visibility of power and numbers to serve votes. Those things can be organized in many other venues if that is the desired result. But if that is the point it is really not pastoral care at all and it is grossly unfair not just to those who need care but to everyone else of good faith. It turns a Mass into a political pep rally. For those who have been away from the Church it sends a very wrong message about what to expect from sacraments, a diminishing and unworthy one. And in terms of visibility and political action, and using the Church for those purposes then there should be either a all are welcome in that approach (all politics and causes) or it should be the reflection of the entire social justice teaching (starting with the dignity of human life) which is verifiable and not because of a power base or whim of pastor. I expect that I will be totally demonized as a homophobe for attempting to be a part of the discussion however I can’t help that. But the labeling doesn’t make it true. At all.

    In some ways the way certain groups try to seize leadership of gay Catholics mirrors the way some try to claim children for their own agenda. It is not respecting the dignity of our brothers and sisters, especially those who may be vulnerable or have been attacked for one reason or another, to teach them all sorts of false things about who they are in the eyes of the Church. They are not pawns. Pastoral outreach should open the way to an encounter with God, on God’s terms. God does not view us in those ways of what we can do to further the agenda of this one or that one. Others have mentioned Courage. I wouldn’t get into the label game of Courage but I will say that generally pastoral ministry that takes the Church’s teachings as good and accepts and goes from there tends not to care or control others’ choices in how they see what the teachings call them to, gives God room to work. The expectation is only that everyone struggles together with the authentic teaching of the Church and when we fall the approach that another commenter referenced, which involves the mercy of Our Lord and hope to try again, results in spiritual growth rather than the minimizing or the denial that it means anything.

    As far as people of every identity who have been away from the Church, it may in fact not be the best thing to do, pastorally, to first have a Mass, for many reasons. People who have been away need outreach and invitation to examine what the Church really teaches for often not only have people suffered numerous humiliations in their lives but they also by and large are going on things said about the Church which may or may not be true, proceeding in judgment about the Church based often on others’ bias or even hatred of the Church. They deserve an opportunity to look into it and decide for themselves without anyone “you should” or “you are”. They deserve respectful discussion, listening and the gradual approach is to decide if they can attend Mass as any Catholic and wish to try.

    If people still want to set up some sort of outreach during Pride Week or have the benefit of Eucharistic presence then why not Adoration? Everyone needs space and time to pray, to be in relationship. It is not only for the “chosen” or the “righteous”. But just to say, we need to you come to this Mass or we are organizing a parish around the needs of a special interest, it seems an artificial imposition.

  24. Maria says:

    Very interesting article.
    I find it strange that there should be a secular Mass for a particular problem though.
    Homosexuality is an intrinsic problem and cannot be eradicated whilst on this earth but the practicing of it can be.
    Why is there a need for a seperate Mass to the rest of us. I cannot understand this.
    We all have ‘intrinsic’ wrongs in our beings – just look at the seven deadly sins for a start.
    Surely Our Lords desire for us all fallen ones is that we integrate and help one another and pray for each other and build each other up in His Body.
    Why are these homosexuals building a different body and seperating themselves?
    It reminds me of St. Pauls admonishion “I follow Paul, I follow Apollos” etc.
    There is no reason for these souls to hold a seperate Mass; support groups, yes, Mass, no.
    We are all one in Christ, warts and all, and there are no favourites or special groups for special needs in my view and understanding of Christian belief.

  25. Supertradmum says:

    Special interest group Masses should not be allowed at all. By definition, the Mass is the objective, un-bloody sacrifice and does not exist for the use of others. I have attended the Red Mass for lawyers and law students at Notre Dame, but that is a special, yearly occurrence, not a weekly Mass. That Cardinal George and others allow these types of Masses to continue is a sad commentary on the lack of leadership, even under that good man. Homosexuality is a real issue in Chicago and in the clergy there. A cleric in that city told me that if Cardinal George came out strongly against homosexuality, either at Mundelein, (which he has not) or in the city, he would lose one-third of his priests overnight. The homosexual Mass has been going on for years, and there has not been an effort to suppress the fact that it is for “Catholic homosexuals” who identify with the lifestyle and have no intention of changing. Here is a quotation which might help explain what this is about:

    “The Archdiocesan Gay and Lesbian Outreach (AGLO-Chicago), which has held a weekly welcoming, open, and celebratory GLBTQ Roman Catholic mass on Sunday evenings at 690 W. Belmont [Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church] for the past 23 years…

    “AGLO-Chicago is one of only a few parish communities in the world that celebrates and affirms our community’s orientations and identities, while providing our community with an opportunity to retain the rich traditions and culture of the mass.”

    It is NOT the teaching of the Church that a homosexual or lesbian “identifies” with their sin, anymore than a thief, as mentioned above, is identified with his sin.

  26. benedetta says:

    The so-called gradual, pastoral approach isn’t so at all in practice, that is just a label, and, under guise of that approach in various ways Catholics have suffered, from the Church, in very real ways. In the D of Cloyne, the Bishop’s staff stated that the reason why they did not adhere to the Church’s guidelines for dealing with priestly sexual abuse of minors was that it preferred a “pastoral” approach. Numerous parishes are in fact essentially supporting pro-choice because of the same lingo. Does it not matter? It does. Plenty of women who have suffered have said that had someone had a truthful and charitable (not one or the other but both) discussion that they would have made different choices, and that certain people would not have suffered, and that certain people would be alive. Many Catholics are taught that Eucharist is merely a symbol and not the Real Presence and further they are being taught that Sunday Mass attendance is optional because this is deemed gradual and pastoral. There are only so many opportunities that persons in pastoral leadership have to proclaim the Church’s teachings personally to one another. There are not multiple swings at the pitch quite often. And if one is taught something false one winds up being overwhelmed by the deafening culture of death which hates the Church in the first place and will affirm one’s temptation to reject not just certain teachings but just about every teaching as bad and wrong. To deter people from trying to attend Mass weekly does real damage in terms of health.

    It seems like in many places which employ the gradual pastoral approach the truth never gets stated, whether starkly or pastorally. That shows that there is a refusal to acknowledge the truth and goodness of the Church’s teachings, and if those are the assumptions that guide the approach the purpose then is not to increase the unity and charity of the Church but to stock the Church with dissidents who believe their calling is to change others’ beliefs and this for divisive and political purposes. In practice it is totally divisive and destructive. If the gradual pastoral approach (and this would be best employed, person to person, in spiritual direction, not in terms of viewing, a group of people who after all will all have differing needs and be in differing places on the journey so saying they all need this or that which is contrary to teaching in the first place is a judgment they themselves might not agree with) is favored then it really is not helpful to the person seeking guidance to equate, at the outset, false or dissident teachings (which attack the Church) with the good teachings which everyone can look into on one’s own timeline in conversation with God.

    It has not been helpful, or born good fruit, to hide or assume that the Church’s teachings are evil and that one may happily hate them and proceed to be on parish council or whatever it may be, whether to the Church in unity, whether to politics or civil discourse (gridlock and what is now proceeding from so called liberals as actual totalitarianism, and name calling — you must be a bigot, or else, and your children as well), to relationships, diversity and tolerance within the unity of the whole, or, most importantly, to the individuals’ holistic lives, spiritual, emotional, physical health and well being. People inevitably struggle on the spiritual path, fall, fail and sin, that is a given. But to start from the premise that we are ashamed or embarrassed of life, the Lord, and His Gospel is simply the wrong way. It cannot be equated as one valid way among others.

  27. Supertradmum says:

    “Pastoral” theology is, as a title for a particular “science”, an invention of the late 19th century, in phrase. Real pastoral theology is merely the application of doctrinal, moral, Scriptural theology on particular human issues. To think that this type of theology is separate is a concoction of the liberal mind-set. There is not any disagreement in practice or in theory with other “theologies” and the pastoral. One merely applies in a sensitive and pastoral manner what is always Good and True. St. Alphonsus Liguori is one of the greatest moral and pastoral theologians, as is Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventure, John of Avila, Cyprian etc. The list is as long and as old as the Church, but those who want to break with Tradition do so by emphasizing some sort of break between pastoral and other theologies. In the case here in this blog, there should be and is, in the true Teaching of the Catholic Church, any discrepancy between doctrine, Revelation, Tradition and pastoral theology.

  28. Supertradmum says:

    opps, not any discrepancy…sorry, can’t drink coffee and type at the same time..

  29. benedetta says:

    There is a dissident mindset, that is clear. But as far as everyone else, it is essentially a media invention, and an anti-Catholic one at that, to label Catholics as this or that “type” of Catholic. One does not have to have everyone else be a Catholic at all costs. One does not have to populate the parishes with the sort of Catholic that one desires for one reason or another. To do so seems to interfere with God’s will and timeline and certainly insults our dignity. It’s too bad if a pastor desires not this or that media labeled Catholic. We all have to live with the fact that our preferences for how this world ought to look ideally are not going to be satisfied at every turn. If one cannot assent to attempt the way of obedience and faithfulness to a life of faith in a Church that desires to be faithful to others in turn, then perhaps one is not called to the spiritual life in the Church, at a particular time of life. It does not mean forever and it does not mean that they are unwelcome or undesired or anything of the sort, in fact it is greatly the contrary. But if one needs a Church to reflect certain non-negotiables, in the first place, and unity with the Church comes second or never at all, the Church may not be the best place for one to attempt the spiritual life. It is not easy for anyone even those who (and I have never met such a legendary person but from the caricatures supposedly they exist) “unthinkingly” or “kneejerk” style accept without thought or consideration the teachings and hopes for us of the Church. To accept the teachings as good in the first place does not mean that it is going to be a picnic or easy or that others may then expect or demand from that person all sorts of things or make all kinds of artificial judgments. There are other faith communities which will assert different teachings, if that is the point in the first place, to be affirmed for what one has come to believe either through cultural conditioning, lack of knowledge, habit or sin, or false teaching, or political expectations and labels from media, then one has to be authentic and follow that call. To come to the Church and demand that the Church not be, prolife, to deny that as believers we best come to the Church at least each week to pray together because we need it, or all sorts of other things puts expectations and demands upon the Church which are contrived elsewhere and the Church really cannot meet because the Church believes that the teachings are good in the first place and already is in conversation with the culture at every level, interacting in a dynamic sense.

  30. rfox2 says:

    Why have Masses dedicated to a life once dedicated to habitual sin, let alone a Mass to offer “support” to those engaged in habitual sin? Shouldn’t we be focusing with all of our hearts on what God is transforming us into, what our future is in Him, and the victory of the Cross no matter what sins we have committed? Habitual sin doesn’t deserve a requiem Mass. It needs to be forgotten, abandoned, left behind, and rejected utterly. Have we gone insane? Why are we even entertaining this notion?

  31. Centristian says:

    I don’t support the idea of separate Masses for homosexuals any more than I believe in the effectiveness of Evangelical “pray-away-the-gay” programs. To balkanize Catholic worshippers is a bad idea, in any case. It was an unhelpful thing during the “good old days” when Catholic communities divided up by ethnicity, and people spoke in terms of the “Italian parish,” the “Polish parish,” the “Irish parish,” and so on. A “homosexual parish” is just absurd.

    If a man happens to have same-sex orientation but is trying to live the life of a Christian and is piously attending Mass every Sunday, then that person is a CATHOLIC and should go to a CATHOLIC Mass, not to a gay Mass. “Gay” is not his religion, after all; Catholicism is. But I’m being really demanding of homosexuals in that scenario, as though all heterosexual Catholics who we encounter in Church are trying their best to live the life of a Christian and are piously attending Mass every Sunday.

    Just as sinful and sinning heterosexuals opting to attend Mass would attend a Catholic Mass at a Catholic Church and not at a seperate “Sinful Heterosexuals Who Are At This Moment Contrite Mass” at a “Sinful Heterosexuals Who Are At This Moment Contrite Parish”, the same goes for homosexual men and women who fall short of the Christian ideal. You wouldn’t have a special Mass for that type of homosexual anymore than you would for that type of heterosexual…because we’re pretty much all that type of Christian at some point or another.

    We’re all sinners, and all our sins offend God. You don’t need a separate Church or Mass for men who are tempted to kiss other men as opposed to, say, men who are tempted to murder their wives. They’re both equally Catholic, and equally sinners, and are equally in need of salvation from one and the same Savior. They belong in the same pew, together, therefore, at the same Mass, in the same Church.

  32. Ezra says:

    You don’t need a separate Church or Mass for men who are tempted to kiss other men

    I can see a great deal of confusion on the horizon if anyone attempts to export this concept to Italy.

  33. Fr Martin Fox says:

    A few comments…

    > Some say, get rid of all “special interest” Masses. Not going to happen. I’m not sure that’s reasonable. In my parishes, we have a Cursillo group, and they want Mass periodically to pray for those about to go on a Cursillo weekend. For the KofC for their deceased members, each year. (This one is a regularly scheduled Mass–thanks brother Knights!) Another one for parishioners who have lost someone this past year. Then there are the folks who celebrate a wedding anniversary, and ask if they can receive a blessing at one of the weekend Masses; they invite their family to come. Then there are the sacraments which are celebrated at Mass that, theoretically for the whole parish, are dominated by those just involved in the first communion or confirmation (First Communion Masses can be a zoo. *Shudder.*) I see nothing wrong with having Mass with a particular group, on a periodic basis, provided–as others say–there is no affirmation of anything contrary to the Faith.

    > Those who live with same-sex attraction very much need good friendships, including those with whom they can be candid about their lives. Groups like Courage for same-sex attracted persons, and similar groups that would serve to help others facing particular challenges, help meet this need.

    > I agree with those who said, same-sex attracted persons should be brought into the larger parish community. They may already be; but they don’t wear their particular trial on their sleeve so you may not know it.

    > It isn’t easy for folks with a same-sex attraction to be candid with others about their situation. This can be true for a lot of folks, who deal with alcohol, drugs, porn, etc. Again, this is the value of a good support-group such as Courage, or a 12-step group.

  34. Shoshana says:

    Ezra,

    That was not a Protestant translation of 1 Cor. 6: 9-11. It is verbatim from the Catholic Edition of the Revised Standard Version, published by Ignatius Press. What Paul says about the topic certainly should concern Catholics.

  35. Brad says:

    Shoshana, brava your first post. Like St. Paul and the woman to be stoned, we all have to move away from and ahead of our old sins, their tired old husks. This is the life in Christ, doubly so if a soul is happy enough to find herself within sanctifying grace from week to week, battle to battle, in the ongoing war against the world, the flesh, and the devil!

    I recently received a mailer from my town’s pro-life clinic. The volunteer board of directors was listed. People rightly gave their titles underneath their names, e.g. Pastor, owner of sandwich shop, avon lady, etc. I noted that one lady chose to “simply” write “follower of Christ”. How beautiful! I recalled how we would have said that ages ago: slave of Christ. Which is again beautiful. How beautiful are the feet of one who comes bringing the good news.

  36. Scott W. says:

    A Tale of Two Catholic Ministiries to Homosexuals. On the hand we have Courage. Go to Courage’s web site and it will be apparent in about 5 minutes that they affirm the whole of the Church’s teaching. Namely, that a). Homosexuals are to be treated humanely and not subject to unjust discrimination (emphasis on unjust and b). Homosexual acts are always and everywhere gravely evil acts. Some have accused Courage of trying to change a homosexual’s orientation, but I have never seen this substantiated. As best I can tell, all they care about is helping people stop committing gravely evil acts by any means possible. This is what any ministry to homosexuals should look like.

    By contrast, see St. Francis Xavier in New York. Do a little digging at CatholicVote.com, like this letter from Fr. Joesph Constantino and you will get half the Church’s teaching. Guess which one? That’s right, the part about compassion and not discrimination, etc. Not only is there no mention of part b., but at the time of this scandal, the parish web site featured lay profiles including one “married” same-sex couple exclaiming how wonderful it was that he and his spouse found such a welcoming church.

    So whenever your spidey senses start tingling when you hear someone speak of their homosexual ministry, outreach program, etc. Look at the fruits, put it to the test. Ask, “Ok, Father Joseph, in the years that you have run this ministry, how many have rejected homosexual acts and embraced chastity? Can you provide testimonies?” In short, any ministry that doesn’t include explicit language affirming all that the Church teaches on this subject should be viewed with suspicion.

  37. Shoshana says:

    Thanks, Brad. Your post reminds me of how some of the early Roman martyrs, rather than giving their baptismal names, gave their names as “Christian” when questioned by government officials.

    I think Fr. Andrew’s post is worth reading again. I’m glad to hear that Courage also prefers the term “same-sex attraction” rather than “homosexual.” As Fr. Andrew says, it’s an identity issue. It’s also a hope issue. If I have a temptation, rather than a lifelong label as a particular kind of sinner, then I am much more encouraged to fight that temptation.

    Same-sex attraction is a very difficult temptation to overcome, but I have seen many people victorious.

    I’m also reminded that in the early Church, at least in the east (which I know more about), inquirers and catechumens were not even allowed to attend Mass past the homily. And the Church made very sure the catechumens were leading a holy life before they were baptized and admitted to communion. As others have pointed out above, Mass as an outreach to the currently unrepentant makes no sense.

  38. Shoshana says:

    Scott W.,
    What if someone with same-sex attraction WANTS to change his or her orientation? Are you saying help should not be available for these people? Stopping the acts without changing the orientation is only half a healing. I’m not sure what your point is; perhaps you could clarify.

  39. Joshua Gonnerman says:

    Shoshana,
    If you are at all concerned about what Paul said, rather than what the RSV said, you might be interested to know that the word in question is arsenokoitai, a portmanteau from the Septuagint version of the Levitical prohibition against “lying with a man as with a woman.” As such, it refers specifically to those who DO engage in same-sex intercourse, not simply to those who are gay. I assume that you are well-read enough to know that it would be quite foolish to claim that St. Paul actually said that homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom, since there was no real notion of a “homosexual” until the mid-nineteenth century, only of homosexual acts, and of a “sodomite” as one who engages in them.

    It’s mostly been said already by a few reasonable voices, but I’ll just go ahead and throw my own two cents out there. As a gay Catholic (who is and always has been committed to chastity), it is obvious to me that there is far too much simplification going on here.

    Just to be perfectly clear:

    1) Homosexuality is not a sin. Homosexual ACTS are.
    2) Neither is homosexuality an addictive or learned behavior. Homosexuals may certainly experience their sexualities addictively, just as heterosexuals may. But homosexuality is itself no more an addictive behavior than is heterosexuality.
    3) Since homosexuality is not a sin, to try to analogize with a “Mass for thieves” is absurd.
    4) Since homosexuality is not an addictive behavior, to try to analogize with a “Mass for drug addicts” is absurd.
    5) More than any of these, homosexuality is about a sense of self, in ways far broader than simply “experiencing same-sex attraction,” particularly if these same-sex attractions are reduced to the level of desire.
    6) Since it boils down, not to a sin or an addiction, as the homophobes claim, but more to a sense of self, the closest analogue would be to ethnic communities (which some commentors have mentioned as a thing of the past, but which I can attest do still exist in Toronto, at any rate. Perhaps this is the difference between the Canadian “mosaic” and the American “melting-pot” of cultures).
    7) I am sympathetic to the notion that there should not be such Masses, and for myself, I always tend to gravitate to cathedral liturgies, operating within an Ignatian framework of the bishop as the primary liturgical person in the local Church.
    8) Although I am sympathetic, I don’t think it is realistically ever going to happen. The Church is simply too multiplex for ethnic Masses, student Masses, Masses for devotional societies, and the like to be done away with altogether. I would, however, point out that the elimination of such special interest Masses would also entail the elimination of traditionalist Masses.
    9) My sympathies with the basic principle aside, I find it intriguing that the objection is rarely raised except in the context of a “gay Mass,” and find myself forced to wonder: is the real concern one of being one in Christ? Or is simply of not wanting to be confronted with the fact that one has to share a church with those people?

  40. Oneros says:

    So much of the rhetoric here involves the notion that homosexuality is, in essence, a sin or inclination to sin, or that all self-identified homosexuals are identifying “with sin” or have necessarily committed such sins (even if they are not “repentant” or “contrite”).

    The truth is, I know several celibate VIRGIN Catholic homosexuals. When they say the are homosexual, they aren’t talking about any sort of “lifestyle” or sin, they just mean whom they are attracted to, and attraction cannot be reduced to just lust (though lusting is a temptation for all people).

    Someone above says, “It would be absurd to have a Mass for the heterosexually-tempted”…but that’s reducing homosexuality as a phenomenon (and a social construct) to just its lusts. I’d think the analogy would be more like, a Mass or ministry for married Catholics. And, you’ll note: there is no reason a ministry for married Catholics needs to constantly harp on the contraception question (even though it can be assumed many of the Catholic couples involved may commit that sin) nor even to necessarily ever tread there if the ministry is focused on some other aspect of marriage.

    Even if you say, “Yeah, but homosexuality has been designated intrinsically disordered”…I’d say, well, so is deafness in some sense, and yet there is a “big-D Deaf” community and identity, and there are Masses for them. (Yes, the main feature of those Masses is the sign language; but if you talk to those involved, the aspect of community with those of like-experience and “Deaf culture”…is just as, if not more, important to them).

  41. Ezra says:

    Shoshana,

    The RSV is not a Catholic translation of the Bible. It’s a good translation, and it’s available in Catholic editions, but you can’t appeal to a single translation decision in the RSV as the basis for rejecting the anthropology which has been communicated in documents from the CDF, as well as the Catechism of the Catholic Church and other curial documents. Just a few of those:

    Letter to the bishops of the Catholic Church on the pastoral care of homosexual persons (1986)
    Some considerations concerning the response to legislative proposals on the non-discrimination of homosexual persons (1992)
    Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons (2003)
    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 (2005)

    I think Joshua’s post is interesting, but can’t say I buy that “homosexuality is about a sense of self”. I have several homosexual friends and acquaintances, some good Catholics, others bad pagans, and I don’t think that any two could be said to have a great deal in common in “identity” terms beyond the fact that they find people of the same sex, rather than people of the opposite sex, sexually attractive. There may have been some common experiences in growing up in a majority heterosexual society, but I doubt those could constitute the basis for a coherent community within the Church. In any case, it seems to me that the danger of such a group encouraging premature self-identification by the impressionable and confused would make it unhelpful. Courage serves a purpose for Catholics with homosexual temptations who want to resist them. I’m not sure trying to turn homosexuality into a quasi-ethnic bloc would serve any purpose beyond adding another enclave to an already balkanised Church and giving “gay activists” an easy target for proselytism.

  42. Shoshana says:

    Joshua Gonnerman,
    I have studied Greek and the science of linguistics at the college level and understand the translation issues. The point I am making is that we should not use a word, any word, that implies a person is engaging in same-sex intercourse to label a person who is not. Or to label someone as if they cannot be healed at a deep level. Yes, homosexuality, however you define it, is definitely about a sense of self. That’s why ministries like Courage, and like the one I worked in, take the issue of identity labels very seriously.

  43. Shoshana says:

    Ezra,

    Thank you for the quotes. The titles seem to support my point.

    Note that in the one of the quotes, copied below, the word “homosexual” means persons engaging in sexual intercourse:
    – Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons (2003)
    In another quote, copied below, there was a need to use, not simply the word “homosexual,” but the phrase “homosexual tendencies,” to describe someone who has the temptation but is not acting upon it.
    – 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 (2005)

    Apparently those who wrote these documents agree with me that using the word “homosexual” to mean either someone active in the lifestyle, or someone who is merely tempted, is not desirable. It is confusing.

    As for the RSV I quoted from: To be perfectly accurate, it is neither a Protestant nor a Catholic translation. It is a joint effort, and the translation is approved by the Church. The introduction has the details for anyone interested.

  44. Joshua Gonnerman says:

    1) The label “gay” does not imply that one is having sex with someone of the same sex, any more than the label “straight” implies that someone is having sex with someone of the opposite sex. Maybe once upon a time, in the days when ex-gay ministries were young and still credible, it did, but no more. It’s simply a question of being disposed in a particular way, and not just in terms of sexual desire, but in a lot of other ways, as well.

    2) If someone wants to believe that they can be “healed” and actively works towards that end, I certainly agree with you, and I go to great lengths to avoid calling someone who rejects their homosexuality “gay,” out of a respect for their own sense of self. I wish that Courage would extend the same respect to me, rather than throwing their hands in the air and squealing frantically if I ever identify as “gay,” and insisting that I’m just “struggling with same-sex attractions,” in some more significant sense than that in which an unmarried heterosexual man “struggles with opposite-sex attractions.” I don’t object to people going that road, it is their choice. I object to the notion that it’s the only road that’s available, within the context of Catholic teaching.

    3) Church documents also refer frequently to “homosexual persons” (and even “homosexuals”) in contexts in which it is not by any means clear that the persons in question are committing sexual sin (See Humanae Personae, Homosexualitatis Problema, for instance, as well as documents from the USCCB). Simply because they sometimes use a particular (and exceedingly clunky) phraseology does not mean that we are all required to do so at all times.

    4) The RSV is descended from the KJV, and thus is more Protestant than Catholic. I personally don’t care about that, and I’m perfectly fine using Protestant Bibles as long as the have good scholarship behind them, but just to keep things clear.

    5) I understand your misgivings, Ezra, and as I said, I tend to stick to cathedrals. However, I don’t think there will be a leg to stand on to make any real argument until we no longer have German parishes, Polish parishes, black parishes, Hispanic parishes, Gospel Masses, youth Masses, traditional Masses, Anglican Use Masses, etc. “In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek” is certainly an ideal to be held up, but we can only seriously expect it to be fulfilled in the eschaton.

    I would also point out that gays have been seriously ostracized by heterosexual society and by conservative Christian and Catholic cultures (though unfortunately I don’t have time to go into the ways), so providing a place to be “safe” can be important in helping some of them to the Church. Just this week, I meet a gay man who only goes to welcoming (which, just to be clear, does not necessarily mean dissenting) parishes. Certainly, I don’t think that’s an ideal place to be spiritually. But people are broken, and we have to meet them where they are, while continuing to call them higher.

  45. bookworm says:

    “There are not Masses for active thieves, professional thieves, robbers, burglars, muggers or pickpockets. I can imagine, however, a Mass for reformed thieves, people who were thieves and are no longer.”
    We don’t have to imagine it… after all, what do prison chaplains do? Of course prison is a unique kind of environment in which residents/inmates would have NO access to the sacraments whatsoever unless it is brought to them, whereas homosexuals and other sinners living in the world have ready access to Mass and the sacraments if they wish to avail themselves of it.
    Instead of publicly and regularly scheduled parish Masses for gays, post-abortive women/men, persons struggling with addictions, divorced/separated, etc. perhaps such Masses would be best kept within the context of retreats or days of reflection set aside for persons dealing with issues of sin or its consequences.

  46. bookworm says:

    Also, when I refer to “persons dealing with issues of sin or its consequences” I mean to include persons who may be innocent victims of someone else’s sin, e.g., a woman divorced against her will because her husband abandoned her. I also mean to include those dealing with temptation of any kind as a consequence of the original sin which afflicts us all.

  47. Shoshana says:

    Joshua G.,

    1. Why do you say ex-gay ministries are not credible?

    2. How do you feel, for example, about Bookworm saying, “…homosexuals and other sinners…” Does this ambiguity of terminology bother you at all?

  48. Oneros says:

    “There may have been some common experiences in growing up in a majority heterosexual society, but I doubt those could constitute the basis for a coherent community within the Church.”

    I’d think that the experience of growing up an “invisible minority” within a society structured around heteronormativity would certainly form the basis for community.

    Of course, society will naturally be structured around heteronormativity always; the family is its natural building block, and heterosexuals will always be the vast majority of people. But I’d tend to argue that the medieval world where celibacy and homosociality played a much bigger role, and where social construct of “sexual orientation” had not been invented…would have made this less of an issue than it is today.

    Today, for better or worse, homosexuals have been constructed (and not necessarily voluntarily, at first!) as a minority status in the world. “Sexual orientation” has been MADE a “distinction with difference” sociologically just like, in the past, the construct of “race.”

    For most homosexuals I’ve talked to (celibate and not) regarding their relationship with the Church, it is THIS aspect (of the “queerness” of homosexuality) that has been described as the most significant one, the one in need of a stronger pastoral response, not the issue of attraction in itself (which, as Joshua says, may be no more problematic for them than for heterosexual celibates or singles). The sense of “other” or “outsider” status…is not helped by the attitudes expressed in MOST of the comments on this thread, which basically seem to make homosexuals out as the new lepers.

  49. Shoshana says:

    p.s. Yes, some of those phrases really are clunky! Perhaps someone could coin a succinct term that would solve all this ambiguity!

  50. Oneros says:

    Just look at it this way: sure, skin-color and bone-structure are what “objectively” define the construct of Race, just like attractions are what “objectively” define the construct of sexual orientation.

    Yet, do you think ministries to Black Catholics focus on issues related specifically to having a certain amount of melanin or certain facial structures?? Obviously not. They focus on the issues surrounding the existence of a sociological grouping constructed around those features, issues that are cultural, political, economic, social, etc, and which effect blacks AS a minority community, even though they have nothing “objectively” to do with skin pigmentation in itself.

    Social constructs may be constructs, but they are also “real” sociologically, and have real effects. Denying that “homosexuals” exist as a meaningful minority status (and, yes, “community,” and culture!) today, or trying to reduce the phenomenon to just the “objective” markers or pretend like the only possible pastoral issue could be addressing those markers specifically…is as naive as to say that a ministry to the Black Catholic community shouldn’t address questions of structural inequality that has been socially constructed around Race.

    And the fact that, yes, some of that culture or community takes its origin from sinful roots…should really trouble us no more than the fact that black culture may hearken back to slavery, or that aspects of Roma (“gypsy”) culture may have a connection to stealing. The sinful should be pruned, but anything not sinful should not be considered tainted merely by association.

  51. Ezra says:

    It’s simply a question of being disposed in a particular way, and not just in terms of sexual desire, but in a lot of other ways, as well.

    Name a few of those other ways.

    yes, some of that culture or community takes its origin from sinful roots…

    I guess I’m struggling to imagine what constitutes the content of the “homosexual culture”. So far as I can see, the only situations where homosexuals have sought to organise as a self-conscious community have involved homosexuals who wanted to press heterosexual majorities for legislative changes – usually of the kind which cannot be approved by a Catholic. Beyond those, and the “communities” tied together by bad lifesstyle choices, I can’t quite see where claims for a morally neutral “gay culture” find their content. The Catholics I know with this problem have shown little interest in, or desire for, association with a “community” defined primarily by disordered sexual preferences held in common.

  52. bookworm says:

    When I said “homosexuals and other sinners” I was simply trying to emphasize the point that EVERYONE is a sinner in some fashion.

    As for what constitutes the content of the “homosexual culture,” I take it that it refers to things like their style of dress, their preferences in art, music and other aesthetics, their preferred forms of recreation, etc. There’s nothing inherently immoral, as far as I know, with (I’m citing some things that are commonly stereotyped among straight people as signs that a man is or may be gay; they will not necessarily be regarded as such by all gays) installing track lighting in your home, wearing pastel colors or flowered ties, or preferring tickets to a Broadway musical over tickets to an NFL game.

  53. Shoshana says:

    Bookworm, sorry, I wasn’t finding fault with you…I was just using your comment as an example of how many people use the word “homosexual,” and how it can be ambiguous/easily misunderstood.

  54. Ezra says:

    As for what constitutes the content of the “homosexual culture,” I take it that it refers to things like their style of dress, their preferences in art, music and other aesthetics, their preferred forms of recreation, etc. There’s nothing inherently immoral, as far as I know, with (I’m citing some things that are commonly stereotyped among straight people as signs that a man is or may be gay; they will not necessarily be regarded as such by all gays) installing track lighting in your home, wearing pastel colors or flowered ties, or preferring tickets to a Broadway musical over tickets to an NFL game.

    This is why I dispute the whole idea of a “homosexual culture”, unless it refers to a “culture” surrounding disordered sexual activity and/or its promotion in society. Plenty of heterosexuals like pastel colors, floral ties and Broadway musicals, and plenty of homosexuals don’t. Being an aesthete – or even being effeminate – doesn’t make you homosexual, and being a homosexual doesn’t make you an aesthete. Generalising about the “style of dress, preferences in art, music and other aesthetics, preferred forms of recreation” of homosexuals is like generalising about the same with respect to alcoholics, or compulsive gamblers. Except for the vice to which they find themselves attracted. these groups are as varied as heterosexuals, non-drinkers, and non-gamblers.

  55. Supertradmum says:

    Sorry, there is a homosexual culture and if you have lived in Minneapolis, Austin or many parts of Great Britain and Europe, it is obviously a contrived culture set up for an agenda. There are gay bars, gay clubs, gay restaurants, gay music (mostly, but not exclusively, techno), gay movies, gay shops, gay clothes, (which have meaning to gays and lesbians–like a code), gay jewelry, gay fragrances for men and women, gay poetry, gay pornography, and so on. It is not a question of pink shirts or preferring Bach to baseball. Those are silly and superficial differences of taste, not a sign of same-sex identity. If one has not come across the gay culture, I would say, look and travel. In England and Germany, it has existed blatantly since between the great Wars, in clubs, bars, art, etc.

    Here in England, there are many such places, and I could name a restaurant chain in the Midwest of America, which everyone knows supports gay clientele so that if one is not gay, one does not want to eat there. The gay culture wants this identity and supports it as a statement of the acceptance of the lifestyle. I am amazed when people have not come across this, but then, I have traveled a lot and lived in various places which are very nice, where gays mostly live. The list of gay cities is readily available on several sites online and this is a political as well as a cultural decision on the part of the gay communities, to be in certain places which accept the blatant lifestyles. To say their is not a lifestyle is to be naive. As homosexuality and lesbianism is accepted most places, the culture has become more obvious.

  56. Supertradmum says:

    Joshua,
    Great answer and nice to see your photo. You covered many of the points extremely well. I would only like to add that the Church has a duty to reach out to all struggling with such tendencies. Every diocese should have Courage, or similar groups, but they do not, as our Church is particularly poor at reaching out to younger people and those with needs, as a rule. As most of us are sinners of some sort, we all need compassion and love. The political aspects, of course, are horses of different colors.

    God bless you,
    Supertradmum

  57. Supertradmum says:

    excuse typos as usual and misspellings..I work on my laptop, on my lap in a laundry room, on a windowsill, overlooking a square, where the pub manager had given me permission to use the Internet–very awkward but doable. But I can rarely see the screen for the sun…

  58. Ezra says:

    Supertradmum,

    What you’re referring to is what I meant when I said “unless it refers to a ‘culture’ surrounding disordered sexual activity and/or its promotion in society”. The Provincetown/Castro/Brighton thing is incompatible with Catholicism, and the idea of accommodating such a culture in the Church is laughable.

  59. Joshua Gonnerman says:

    Ezra: I don’t have time to get into deep introspection about the ways homosexuality affects someone, but for now, let’s just say that it relegates them decidedly to an “outsider” status, particularly in the context of the Church.

    I would also point out that, just because things associated with gay culture can be enjoyed by other people doesn’t mean that, in certain contexts, they aren’t gay. The difficulty lies in expecting “culture” to be an absolute and objective category, an always-and-everywhere marker, rather than a subjective and contextual one, and in the failure to realize that cultures can bleed into each other. You’re insisting on talking about only what must be the case, rather than what usually is the case.

    Just as an example, certain forms of music over the past century and more history have or have had a major place in African-American culture, starting with spirituals, moving on to jazz, etc. Certainly, one can be white, of Asian descent, etc., and still enjoy or perform this music, but to claim that that means there is nothing black about it would be foolish.

    I would also point out that a lot of what supertradmum is talking about is not necessarily promoting same-sex sexual activity; there are many other themes that loom large in gay culture.

    I would also say to Supertradmum: since Courage is structured for those struggling with sexual addictions, I would agree, but I would also say that every diocese should have a less negative outreach ministry as well, for people who are not sexually addicted; I know that I and a number of my (committed to chastity) gay friends have often felt rather out of place there. Don’t see Courage as the only, or even necessarily the primary way for the Church to reach out to gay people.

  60. Ezra says:

    Joshua,

    I’m not asking for “deep introspection”. You said that homosexuals are, by virtue of being homosexual, “disposed in a particular way, and not just in terms of sexual desire, but in a lot of other ways, as well.” I simply asked you to back that up.

    I think it’s noteworthy that the only time Rome has ever made reference to “gay culture”, it was in the context of the document which reaffirmed the Church’s position that homosexually-oriented men must not be admitted to Holy Orders. It referred to those who

    support the so-called “gay culture”

    as among those who must be excluded from Holy Orders, regardless of sexual orientation. For reasons already stated, I agree both with the view that embracing this “culture” is inimical to service in the Church, and with what is implied by the use of quotation marks and “so-called”.

  61. Oneros says:

    “Just as an example, certain forms of music over the past century and more history have or have had a major place in African-American culture, starting with spirituals, moving on to jazz, etc. Certainly, one can be white, of Asian descent, etc., and still enjoy or perform this music, but to claim that that means there is nothing black about it would be foolish.”

    Thank you, Joshua. I was just about to make this analogy to Race and Black culture too. Yeah, there is nothing intrinsically about jazz that connects it to having certain skin pigmentation, bone structure, or hair type…and white people can like jazz too. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a culture constructed around Race in America, or that jazz isn’t a part of it or associated with it.

    The double standard whereby people just take this for granted, as common sense, but then apply a sort of sophomoric “logic” to delegitimized the culture and community that has been constructed around the experience of the minority-status of homosexuality (much of which has nothing particularly to do with sexual activity or the chastity question one way or the other)…well, it is exactly these sorts of attitudes which are the primary stumbling block to outreach to that community, and which show exactly why welcoming efforts are so very necessary at this point.

  62. Supertradmum says:

    Josh,

    Sadly, there are few resources out there besides Courage. One of the things I was involved in a million years ago was a community of about 2,000 people, who had the ability of reaching out to all
    of God’s children and bring them into fellowship and great friendships all based on Christ and the
    Gospel. What is sadly lacking is any sort of “communal” life which is strong enough to come against the snares of the devil, for all of us. The idea of Catholic-Christian community is that no one is excluded, if he or she is making a great effort to conform the mind to Christ. As laity, we are so individualistic and self-centered, on the whole, that making these Christ-like relationships are almost impossible in the 21st century. The fact that I was involved in such a strong community,
    strong enough to help all types of sinners leave hindering lifestyles, meant that we actually loved
    each other into wholeness. This takes great “courage” and would be what I would see as what
    Christ intended.

    Best of wishes….good luck on your studies

  63. Joshua Gonnerman says:

    Just going to pop in, and say quickly that I totally agree about the lack of community in Catholicism. We tend to skulk around in the back, and dart out as soon as the recessional is over. Not exactly what the Body of Christ is meant to look like!