At the heart of all these issues is the unity of truth and love.
Notice to Reader: "The Boards of both CERC Canada and CERC USA are aware that the topic of homosexuality is a controversial one that deeply affects the personal lives of many North Americans. Both Boards strongly reiterate the Catechism's teaching that people who self-identify as gays and lesbians must be treated with 'respect, compassion, and sensitivity' (CCC #2358). The Boards also support the Church's right to speak to aspects of this issue in accordance with her own self-understanding. Articles in this section have been chosen to cast light on how the teachings of the Church intersect with the various social, moral, and legal developments in secular society. CERC will not publish articles which, in the opinion of the editor, expose gays and lesbians to hatred or intolerance."
The Courage apostolate, a support group for those with same-sex attractions, has a corresponding support group called Encourage — for the parents, siblings, children, and other relatives and friends of persons who have same-sex attractions. People with relatives and friends in the homosexual lifestyle find themselves trapped between two extremes: on one side, those who insist on fidelity to Church teaching – to the exclusion or condemnation of persons in the lifestyle; on the other side, those who insist on "compassion" or "love" for persons in the lifestyle – to the exclusion or condemnation of the truth. They sacrifice either truth out of love for a person, or the person out of love for the truth.
Encourage seeks to help people live between these extremes – that is, to maintain love for both the truth and the person. Indeed, it would be better to say that they live both extremes – holding both complete fidelity to the truth about sexuality and uncompromising love for the person. This image of holding both extremes brings out starkly what a difficult place it is to be. Those who find themselves there will feel like Our Lord, whose hands were stretched to two extremes. Encourage provides the support needed to live both extremes without growing discouraged, despondent, bitter or hardened.
This brings up in a more general way the issue of how to respond to those who "come out of the closet" and desire our approval of the lifestyle they have chosen. How do we continue to love them without approving their lifestyle? Do we still welcome the person home? What if they have a partner? Can the partner stay with us? Do we meet their partner? Do we go to the wedding? Do we celebrate their adoption of children? And so on.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to these questions. As is always the case in moral acting, we must begin from first principles and proceed according to prudence. In this case, the most important principles are the truth about human sexuality and the truth about the person. We want to avoid any words or actions that can be reasonably construed as giving approval to the homosexual lifestyle by treating the persons as a couple (therefore having a partner visit overnight, or going to a wedding or celebrating an adoption is ill advised). At the same time, we want to make every effort to communicate our love for the person (so we keep contact and open lines of communication and welcome them home).
The greatest difficulty arises from the fact that those in the homosexual lifestyle have chosen to equate themselves with their sexual attractions – and insist that we do the same. But we cannot. To accept a person's self-identification as homosexual does a disservice to that person, whether he realizes it or not. To approve a person's embrace of the homosexual lifestyle in fact hurts the person because the lifestyle does grave harm to him both spiritually and physically.
At the heart of all these issues is the unity of truth and love. In a fallen world, we find these two set at odds. But they need not be. They should not be. Truth without love can be hostility, and love without the truth is sentimentality. We must in all things – and especially in this most controversial issue – maintain fidelity to the truth and love for the person. Be confident that truth finds its most accurate expression in love – and the best way to love is in the truth.
Part 1: Sexuality and Homosexuality
Part 2: The Church's pastoral response
Part 3: The Courage apostolate
Part 4: Fidelity to both love and truth
Father Paul Scalia "Same-sex attractions: Part IV: Fidelity to both love and truth." Arlington Catholic Herald (October 27, 2010).
Reprinted with permission of the author, Father Paul Scalia.
Father Scalia studied theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University and the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, both in Rome. Since his ordination in 1996 he has served as parochial vicar at Saint Bernadette, Saint Patrick, and Saint Rita parishes, and as pastor of Saint John the Beloved. He currently serves as the Episcopal Vicar for Clergy. He has written for various publications and is a frequent speaker on matters of faith and doctrine. Father Scalia's first book, That Nothing May Be Lost, was published by Ignatius Press in 2017. Father Paul Scalia is the son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, R.I.P.Copyright © 2010 Arlington Catholic Herald
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