In many ways, actions speak louder than words. This is especially true when the action is the elimination of certain words.
Such was the case with the Vatican’s recent removal of certain words from the official transcript of Pope Francis’ remarks during his in-flight press conference after his trip to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families on August 26.
Apparently Francis forgot a major taboo when it comes to talking about homosexuality. He used the “p-word”—“psychiatry”—in reference to addressing homosexuality in children. He said, regarding homosexuality: “When it shows itself from childhood, there is a lot that can be done through psychiatry, to see how things are. It is something else if it shows itself after 20 years.” When the Vatican published its official transcript of the Pope’s remarks, however, the sentence was changed to omit the explicit reference to psychiatric intervention.
According to one report, a Vatican spokeswoman justified omitting this exact quote in the official transcript like this:
When the pope referred to ‘psychiatry,’ it is clear that he was doing it to highlight an example of ‘things that can be done.’ But with that word he didn’t mean to say that it [homosexuality] was a ‘mental illness.’
This seemingly small change strikes at the bedrock of our current culture’s attitude toward homosexuality, both in the secular world and increasingly in the Catholic Church, too: Is homosexuality psychologically normal and healthy, or not?
From a Catholic perspective, the answer is simple: It’s not normal or healthy. It’s unhealthy at the psychological level, as well as the spiritual level.
Say this today, and you will be quickly dismissed as “homophobic.” These statements contradict the opinion of mental health professionals who say homosexuality is completely normal and only “unhealthy” if it’s suppressed.
Everything—everything—having to do with the current politics of “sexual minorities” revolves around this lie; acceptance of it is the difference between being “woke” or not. It’s seen as a great advancement in human development, to say that not only are people “born that way” but that God created people “that way.”
This is a death-dealing falsehood from the Father of Lies. So when the Holy Father himself gets “edited” for the sake of preserving this lie, it is truly diabolical.
While there are many ways that our sexual appetites and attractions—and even our willful choices about love itself—can get distorted, if the sexual inclination hard-wired by God into human nature gets distorted, we’re dealing with something very different from mere temptations to lust or mere unhealthy desires. We’re dealing with a distortion of God’s plan for the nature of sexuality itself—imprinted as it is on human nature, on every human person God creates. Physical factors might be associated with same-sex desires (e.g., genetic or biological predispositions toward homosexuality, even though these have yet to be demonstrated scientifically), but from the perspective of Catholic teaching the homosexual inclination is a malaise rooted in the human soul.
Keep in mind that God’s creation cannot simply be “unmade” by human weakness or desires. Temptation and sin can and do wound human nature, but the Catholic Church teaches that human nature in itself is not made depraved or corrupted by concupiscence or sin.
The homosexual condition is a psychological deficit that has a psychological genesis. In plain terms it is a “mental illness,” but plain terms aren’t always the best terms, and I understand that. “Mental illness,” for some people, evokes images of someone truly crazed, deeply unstable, etc. But there is a vast spectrum of diagnoses of “mental illness” that ought not to carry such stigma. It’s just that no one is willing to make important distinctions like this in regard to “sexual minorities.”
Until Catholics in great numbers stop pretending that having a homosexual inclination is merely one way of being a healthy, normal human person, and that all the Church requires is “no homosexual sex acts,” the lie will continue to win every time.
Turning the tide—the tsunami—on this is a monumental project, but one at the very heart of addressing our Church’s abuse crisis, our overall chastity crisis, and our massive cultural crisis.
And, if one single symptom of this crisis speaks volumes, it’s the fact that a Pope—a successor of St. Peter—can’t speak the truth on this issue without having that truth elided by “the Vatican” itself.
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