On the double standards of self-styled defenders of Pope Francis

It would be good if the supposed defenders of Pope Francis who are now forcefully denouncing the Vatican and the document the Pontiff agreed to have published, would stop the ideological rhetoric and political posturing.

Pope Francis and members of the Roman Curia in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican March 26, 2021, as Cardinal Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household, offers a Lenten meditation. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

It’s interesting to see how many supposed defenders of Pope Francis have been attacking the March 15th document he approved for publication by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. That document rejected the idea that the Church should bless same-sex unions. It’s also interesting to observe how many self-styled Catholic media persons who purport to support Pope Francis are ridiculing not only the CDF document, but also its teaching. This includes the parts that come from Pope Francis, such as this from Amoris Laetitia: “… there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family” (AL, 251).

I don’t think Pope Francis intended those words to be “hurtful”. No doubt, there are those who hope the Church will accept same-sex acts and same-sex unions as good who saw them as “hurtful”, though some of them probably refrained from saying as much, in the interests of furthering the misperception the Church is changing her teaching and practice. Sometimes we have to speak truths in love that may unintentionally hurt some people.  We can hope and pray others will be helped and even those hurt may eventually undergo conversion.

Of course some traditional Catholics have criticized Pope Francis about various matters throughout his pontificate. When they do, they usually appeal to traditional Catholic teaching and practice. Whether they’re right or wrong in their criticism, they have a basis in what they and Pope Francis hold in common.

But the self-styled defenders of Pope Francis now criticizing his teaching about whether or not the Church has “the power to give the blessing to unions of persons of the same sex” seem to be in a different situation. They directly contradict what Pope Francis has said about same-sex unions. They contradict what Catholic teaching has always said about same-sex unions. They can’t appeal to a common body of doctrine and practice.

It’s true that these self-styled defenders of Pope Francis agree with him that same-sex attracted people should be treated with the respect due human persons. Such persons of course ought to be cherished as persons and called to participate in the life of the Church. But then, in saying so, they agree also with Benedict XVI and John Paul II on that same point. As well as with the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which says same-sex attracted persons “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity” while also saying the “inclination” to homosexual acts “is objectively disordered” (CCC, 2357-58). The Catechism also states, “Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” But of course the Church’s decision not to bless same-sex relationships, which implies such relationships are good, is not “unjust discrimination”.

Apparently, some self-styled defenders of Pope Francis disagree with him and other Catholics when it comes to whether respect for same-sex attracted persons implies agreement with their choices and patterns of life.

The argument, apparently, is: “Love me, love my choices and actions and way of living.” Sometimes the Motherhood of the Church is invoked, as if to say, “As a mother blesses her children, even when they do things she thinks are wrong, so she blesses too what they do.” And from this we are supposed to think, “As the Church as Mother blesses her children, so too she blesses what they do.” But of course good mothers love their children without blessing things the mothers’ regard as wrong. Likewise the Church as Mother.

In fact, most of us don’t usually think respecting or loving people implies respecting or loving their choices or patterns of life. We don’t think that way about plenty of other people we know. We often love people who make choices and act in ways we regard as wrong. We often love people whose patterns of living we don’t think good or prudent.

And you know what? Some of us who respond in that way are same-sexual attracted people. Same-sex attracted people, like opposite-sex attracted people, often respect, love, and accept people who make what they regard as bad choices, act in ways they regard as wrong, and who live in ways they find unacceptable.

It would be good if the supposed defenders of Pope Francis who are now forcefully denouncing the Vatican and the document the Pontiff agreed to have published, would stop the ideological rhetoric and political posturing. It’s unlikely they will stop, given the topic—but it sure would be nice, coming from supposed defenders of the Pope.

Some folks are rightly concerned with how the Church is “heard”. Of course we have to take that into consideration. But there is an opposite danger: being so concerned about how the Church is “heard” by people whom we know will take offense, and in some cases are looking to be offended, we begin to soft-pedal and even avoid “hard sayings”, however lovingly presented. We begin to confuse “ideals” as standards of Gospel living with “ideals” as aspirational goals, as if sinful things are simply less good than the “ideal” rather than contrary to it. We begin to look for good aspects of a bad, sinful relationship and we talk about those at the expense of ever challenging people in such a relationship about its evils.

When we behave this way, we can cause people to suffer in other ways than they can suffer when they hear unpleasant, challenging truths. People reassured by false but pleasant messages suffer, even if they don’t realize it. Being in ignorance or error or in rationalization is a form of suffering. And people struggling to live the truth often suffer when they see their spiritual guides talking and acting in ways that undercut a resolve to live the truth. They begin to think perhaps their friends are right when they say, “The Church is wrong” or “The Church will change, so why put yourself through such sacrifice?”

When it comes to human sexuality, both same-sex and opposite-sex attracted people can be tempted to doubt and to sin when Catholic leaders, wittingly or unwittingly, leave the impression that what constitutes authentic human sexuality is changing or is up for serious debate in the Catholic Church. We don’t need always to lead off with a conversation about “sin” or constantly to come back to it, but we shouldn’t act or speak as if sin were only a choice less good and is a supposedly fine-as-far-as-it-goes human good somehow differently pursued from the Church’s teaching. That is not authentic accompaniment.

Pope Francis’ call to reach out to same-sex attracted people has never entailed blessing their sexual relations. Nor has it meant that such sexual expressions must be treated as good in themselves. We can love people without approving or blessing what they do. And we can be loved by people without them loving and approving what we do.

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About Mark Brumley 64 Articles
Mark Brumley is president and CEO of Ignatius Press.


  1. ‘same-sex attracted persons “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity” … The Catechism also states, “Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”’

    I have a question: Is there somewhere that the Catechism says that people who are tempted to commit willful murder, to oppress the poor, or to defraud laborers of their just wages “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity,” and “Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided?” How about those tempted to steal? To rape? To commit adultery? To bear false witness? To blaspheme? To abuse others physically or emotionally?

    Why should those tempted to commit homosexual acts be treated as if that is some sort of special, different sin?

    • Brilliant, Leslie, and of course unanswerable, except by reference to the context of a Vatican infested with homosexuals.

    • In response to your question: Because those “people who are tempted to commit willful murder, to oppress the poor, or to defraud laborers of their just wages” aren’t dancing around in the streets whining about how their sinful inclinations need to be accepted as ‘normal’ and that if you don’t agree with them that -you- are evil and must be silenced. It’s so typical of the same-sex ideologues that even when their ‘dignity’ is specially defended, as it clearly is in the catechism, that this, too, is an affront to their apparently delicate sensitivities. In sum, you can’t win.

    • Same-sex attracted persons are sometimes the objects of strong unjust legal and social discrimination, even today, in many places. That is not generally true of the other categories of persons to whom you refer. Consequently the Church’s magisterium, while insisting on the grave objective evil of homosexual acts, calls attention to the fact that persons with same-sex attractions need to be respected as persons.

      That said, even people who do the things you describe do not cease to be human beings, who have inherent natural dignity.

      • Your comment can be subject to a variety of interpretations in our modern truth optional world. I’m sure that Biden and his picks for administration officials would insist that forcing progressive secular positions down the throats of Christian believers is fully in keeping with removing unjust discrimination. I’ve also heard that progressive prosecutors have been doing mass releases of people charged with looting and rioting, dismissing the charges. VP Harris openly supported the looting and rioting. We are getting to be well down the slippery slope.

        • I acknowledge there can be “slippery slopes”. There can also be appeals to the dangers of a “slippery slope” that wind up not acknowledging real harms or injustices.

          And of course someone determined to misuse a truth can often find clever ways to do it.

          But abusus non tollit usum. The fact that the Biden Administration insists on the necessity of some policy or law by appealing to the alleged requirements of justice doesn’t mean the Biden Administration is right or that the Biden Administration can’t abuse the idea of justice or err when it comes to its application.

          Some people once thought slavery in the South was just. Some people once insisted that outlawing Catholicism was just. But those wrongs do not make someone who rejects the idea of justice right, as I am sure you agree.

          The notion of human rights has been widely abused. I don’t for that reason want to deny human rights or deny that they have been violated. Instead, I want to affirm them and reject erroneous claims made on their basis.

          A blessed Holy Week to you.

      • “Same-sex attracted persons are sometimes the objects of strong unjust legal and social discrimination, even today, in many places.” No, they are not. Unless you are talking about Muslim nations (where torture and murder of all sorts of people are practically a sport) you cannot cite any examples of “unjust discrimination” against homosexuals. In fact, there is not enough discrimination. Homosexuals are not kept out of the field of education, when they should be. They are not prevented from adopting children, and they should be. They are not kicked out of the military, and they should be. There are many other situations in which a just and moral society would actively discriminate against those who would pervert basic morality.

        • Your comment presumes a lot. What makes you think my comment did not refer to Muslim countries where such things are practiced? What makes you suppose, contrary to Catholic teaching, that I think all discrimination involving sexual orientation is unjust discrimination? There’s quite a lot of presumption in your comments.

          • You accuse me of making an improper assumption about a statement that you subsequently removed from the article? Okay then…

        • Awesome post Timothy ……….. completely in keeping with the Lord’s admonition of the possibility of Hell forever [27 times in the NT] to ‘Big Time’ sinners who flaunt their evil behavior and agendas.

      • Sorry Mark, that is incorrect. There is not and never has been in any country, any legal restriction on persons merely because they are afflicted with same sex attraction disorder. Nor any unjust social restrictions as far as I’m aware. Nobody else even knows that someone has this disorder unless he tells them.
        The (perfectly just) laws and social stigmas you are presumably referring to are against sodomy (regardless of whether the persons committing it identify themselves as “homosexual”, a psychological category that was only invented 100 years ago).
        I too have often wondered the same question as Leslie’s. There seems to be no rational answer, other than to refute the preposterous claim that the church “hates” people who are tempted to commit a certain specific type of sin, merely because she dares to call it a sin. (Yet the claim of “church hate” is not made about any other sin).

        • “The point, the cardinal said, was to demonstrate the church’s “high esteem for sacramental marriage, which has become almost a rarity in today’s world.”

          Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, OP

          It is intriguing that heterosexuals obsess about homosexuals while their very marriages fail abysmally the very ideal they curse others for not esteeming. Maybe heterosexuals should embody the sacramental marriage they are supposed to live in the hopes they will stop producing homosexuals. After all homosexuals can not procreate. They don’t just fall from trees

          Look within.

          • That people fail to live up to their own standards is not something peculiar to married people or opposite-sex attracted people or Catholics or non-Catholics. Nor does it, as such, invalidate the standard.

            God bless you.

          • I think this is a valid point (in part). Heterosexuals have done much to cheapen marriage (and sexuality) in both the Church and society at large.

      • Very good point. Sometimes people forget that the Catechism is universal…meant for all parts of the world.

        There are many parts of the world where same-sex attracted people are brutally persecuted and even executed. That is why the Catechism, in part, has special reminders about treating them with kindness, compassion etc.

      • If it were not for the fact that life on other planets is a ridiculous idea not supported by scientific facts as the odds for a uniquely life-sustaining planet exactly like earth anywhere in the universe are virtually nonexistent, I would ask you what planet you live on to believe that the dominent privileged position that homosexuals live with CURRENTLY constitutes negative rather than positive legal and social discrimination. Gays even have priority status with adoptions over heterosexual couples in Western nations. Their crimes against humanity tend to go ignored even by their adoring acolytes within the Church. It is no accident that 98 percent of gays are pro-aborts, and it is no accident that their apologists give no thought at all to what this means.
        You might want to reconsider your fantasies that Pope Francis’ “call to reach out to same-sex attracted people has never entailed blessing their sexual relations” considering he has done precisely that on several occasions.

    • Pride, Sloth, Gluttony, Wrath, Greed, Envy, Lust. If Catholics authentically used filters to discern which sins, and by extension sinners, merit their blessing, approval, love, or fellowship, they would be a lonely lot, not in small part because they harbor the very sins they denounce in others.

      It is always instructive to read bombastic comments by heterosexuals about the sins of homosexuals in love (not lust) even if their very marriages are hardly sacramental, with spouses addicted to self-stimulation, pornography and offspring that don’t partake in the Faith. Perhaps that is because their parents never taught them as exhibited by their lived life.

      Blessed Holy Week to all

      • You appear not to be grasping the point. I don’t recall seeing in the Catechism that those tempted to commit the sins gluttony, pride, etc., ““must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.”

        As PeterK pointed out, “Nobody else even knows that someone has this disorder unless he tells them.”

        If someone who is tempted to kill people announces that he is a Homicidal, and that homicide is not wrong, and he should be free to choose to be Homicidal, do you suppose that person “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity” by agreeing with him and celebrating his choices?

        You are making a false comparison.

        As far as “unjust discrimination” – not all discrimination is unjust.

        • The constant teachings of the Church have revolved around the 7 Cardinal Sins, all of which you missed in your response, choosing instead to cherry pick one sin. That is a myopic comparison

          You have missed the entire point of Jesus Christ. Cherry picking is not in the CCC.

        • I am happy to invite you to re-read what I wrote as I am happy to re-read your comments. That may allow us to avoid the temptation to pettiness in accusing one another of seeming not to have “grasped the point”.

          I see a difference between how civil law and various societies have generally treated gluttonous or prideful people, and how they have often treated same-sex attracted people. If you don’t, then you don’t.

          Having worked with Courage as the former director of social ministries for a major US diocese, I have seen firsthand how many same-sex attracted people often experience life in a way that a reasonable Christian response would be “respect, compassion, and sensitivity” for them in their suffering. None of that means either that homosexual activity is good, or that same-sex unions should be blessed or otherwise approved of. Indeed, that was part of the point of my essay.

          But it does mean, as far as I am concerned, that the Catechism and other expressions of Magisterial teaching, supported by Pope St John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, among others, are correct when they speak of having “respect, compassion, and sensitivity” for those suffering with same-sex attractions.

          That not all sinful tendencies or inclinations, or not all persons with such sinful tendencies or inclinations, are always and everywhere spoken of in the same way doesn’t mean anymore than that the Church tries to formulate how she speaks with awareness of the situation of the Church and society of her day. I’m not going to criticize the Church for issuing special documents in our times to address homosexuality while not issuing special documents about how to respond, in law and society, to people who engage in gluttonous or prideful behavior.

          You write: “If someone who is tempted to kill people announces that he is a Homicidal, and that homicide is not wrong, and he should be free to choose to be Homicidal, do you suppose that person ‘must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity’ by agreeing with him and celebrating his choices?”

          “You are making a false comparison.”

          I think you’re making a false comparison. I neither said nor implied that we should agree with those same-sex attracted people who think homosexual acts are morally good or that such actions should be “celebrated”. Nor does the Catechism or other Magisterial documents on the subject.

          I’m sorry that you presume my reference to unjust discrimination–which is only a reference to the teaching of the Catholic Church in her Catechism and other Magisterial documents–requires your statement that “not all discrimination is unjust”, as if I said or implied that it is. Where did I say or imply that “all discrimination” is unjust discrimination? Answer: nowhere.

          A blessed Holy Week to you.

          • This exchange has brought to mind an example of “unjust discrimination” that some afflicted with same-sex attraction have suffered. There are some brave, but wounded, souls who have lived the lifestyle and come to regret it. They want to work with the Church to bring others mired in it to repentance and to address the homosexual problem within the Church itself. They have looked to the hierarchy for support and too often have gotten the cold shoulder from bishops and others who continually talk about being loving and pastoral. Sometimes they even have been encouraged not to resist their temptations and to simply mitigate health risks by getting into a “monogamous relationship.” A fairly well-known activist of this sort in the Archdiocese of San Francisco apparently has left the Catholic Church in frustration over receiving this kind of treatment from a putatively orthodox archbishop.

          • Tony W,

            I am saddened to learn that, and horrified by the advice given to them by pastors. Talk about millstones and necks. I’ll say a prayer for the activist you mention, that he will be strengthened and comforted, and return to the Church.

        • Two reflections on Leslie’s comment: Certainly, we are called to have compassion for everyone, we sinners all. The Gospel demands it. Part of Leslie’s contention is problematic, however, because same-sex attraction—unlike the other tendencies she notes—goes to the core of human self-identity, albeit dysfunctional, on some level.

          The ongoing problem, which I do agree with, is how or even WHY should we show “respect” (whatever that actually means) when same SSA persons are in high-profile positions and/or do/say many outrageous, even overtly reprehensible things (i.e. things you would never want your young kids to see) and are PROUD of them. Sorry. Compassion is one thing. But what DOES the Holy See mean by “respect.” Not to cajole or mock such persons? Okay, sure; just as it is wrong to mistreat overweight persons, addicts, alcoholics, etc. But who is proud of being overweight, being an addict or an alcoholic? How can I “respect” someone in a SSA relationship who kisses his/her partner or other “PSAs” in God’s house during the Peace? Or worse, goes up to receive Holy Communion? How could I “respect” someone who is around my young family members whose playmates have “two mommies” or “two daddies,” perverting the naturally-ordained (here read, divinely ordained) human family structure? The list can go on.

          Is, perhaps, the Holy See just NAÏVE about such things? Does it wrongly believe, that any number (dare I say a majority) of SSA persons who are clearly okay in acting upon their romantic and related lifestyle inclinations REALLY want to live chaste and integral lives? Much, much more clarification is needed by the Magisterium on this. It is the same kind of vaguery that would have us believe wrongly that “the marginalized”—the poor, the sick, the foreigner, the X—have some kind of automatic nobility because of their situation in life automatically shielding. I’d be interested in the readership’s thoughts on any of this.

      • I think we need to distinguish between blessing *people* and blessing their *actions* and *relationships*. I’m a sinner, yet I ask for and receive blessings all the time. Not blessings for the things the Church regards as involving sin, but blessings to help me prosper in my relationship with God, including by helping me overcome sin in my life.

        When it comes to an activity or a relationship the Church holds to be contrary to God’s purpose for human life, I shouldn’t look for or expect the Church to offer a blessing. Just the opposite. I should expect the Church not to bless or otherwise approve of it. I should expect the Church to warn against it, and to do so out of love for God and for other human beings.

        Of course some people disagree with the Church about what is right and what is wrong. But even those who disagree should understand that the Church won’t bless an activity or a relationship she regards as wrong, even though she wants the best for the people who engage in the activity or are in such a relationship. Indeed, not simply “even though she wants the best” for them but precisely *because* she wants what’s best for them.

        • It has been stated tangentially by others but the crux of the matter revolves around the following. All homosexuals have 3 choices: suicide, castration, accept their fate / condition. We agree, hopefully, that the first two are unacceptable. The third dovetails to: community vs solo. We agree, hopefully, that going solo is contrary to Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. Thus that leaves “community” ala Acts of the Apostles. See text for examples.

          As others have stated, the Church is MIA when it comes to offering community to homosexuals. Thus homosexuals going solo will lead to all types of sordid, pathological, literally deadly outcomes. Since some are not called to the single life, the problem begins there.

          Holidays, sickness, healthy lifestyle, iron sharpens iron, outright loneliness, and yes, rejection by those within the Church, are daily realities for homosexuals. Pope Francis and Cardinal Schonborn know this from their pastoral experience. If Catholics refuse to offer homosexuals community, familial, platonic, merciful fraternal companionship, then homosexuals will either choose a committed monogamous relationship or sadly chase the dragon the rest of their lives, just like apparently the majority of heterosexuals who by the way receive blessings with no objection.

          It really comes down to mercy and relationships. It should be evident the latter is not offered to homosexuals, while the former…I’ll leave that up to you to decide

          Pax and Blessed Holy Week to one and all

          Thanks for the good discussion

          • “daily realities for homosexuals”

            It would help if you and others would quit labeling people by the temptations which they suffer.

            “If Catholics refuse to offer homosexuals community, familial, platonic, merciful fraternal companionship”

            Who says they don’t? Nobody I know goes around asking “Are you tempted by this or that particular sin?”

            “All homosexuals have 3 choices: suicide, castration, accept their fate / condition.”

            “Accept their fate/condition?” Seriously? Fate? One’s temptations are not one’s fate, and neither are they “conditions” which must simply be accepted. Would you say the same about someone who is tempted to any other sin?

            “The third dovetails to: community vs solo.”

            The third is nonsense, and does not dovetail to “community vs. solo.”

    • I think if attractions to the same sex are based upon childhood loss or trauma, Christians would want to reach out with compassion but also with the truth. In the same way we reach out to anyone who suffers from other emotional and psychological afflictions.
      The truth sets us free but without compassion those imprisoned are unlikely to listen.
      You have a blessed day!

      • True, but most same-sex attractions are not the result of abuse or trauma. It’s not that clear cut. We really don’t have clear causal explanations for how same sex attractions develop at this point. There doesn’t appear to be a list of common causal variables.

    • Leslie,

      I think all people must be treated with respect, compassion etc. I also don’t think anyone should be unjustly discriminated against. Don’t you?

      The example of Christ establishes this. Even our secular justice system with the right to due process and presumption of innocence also recognizes the right to not be unjustly discriminated against.

      We balance virtues with virtues. Showing mercy and compassion does not exclude justice and prudence etc.

      In the end, we must remember we are all sinners and that we must do unto others…

      • “ I think all people must be treated with respect, compassion etc. I also don’t think anyone should be unjustly discriminated against. Don’t you?”

        Yes. And if you will read again what I wrote you will notice that what I asked was whether the Catechism specifically says that about any other sin that people may be tempted to commit. As far as I know it does not, for example, say “People who have committed (any sin – murder, blasphemy, rape, whatever) or have been tempted to do so must be treated with compassion and respect, etc.”. So why act as if this one sin is so different that it must be treated specially?

        Again I must point out that not all discrimination is unjust, however much people have maimed the meaning of the word.

    • Because none of those who do these sins are petitioning the courts, bullying the population or grooming society into embracing their sin as a good that must be celebrated.

      Murderers don’t go around rallying the troops to make a change in the law decriminalising murder. And so forth and so on.

    • I read all your comments and largely agree with your frustration and would emphasize that a somewhat similar condition of sin that often lacks full culpability of consent that justifies characterizing those living with it as “suffering” from it is the age old sin of gluttony. In fact, most “fat” people do not like being fat and do not consciously pursue it except in the minority cases of outright hedonism. Few decent people are unaware of their obligation to not ridicule fat people. Gluttony exists only in a minority of obesity cases, most of which are caused by stress, or ignorance about diet, or medical problems. Yet they receive no special treatment in the Catechism.
      But yes I share the frustration that comes from witnessing our contemporary ecclesial culture give inordinate deference to gay culture that it lacks for abortion, for example, the greatest evil in human history, an evil that has caused more slaughter than all the wars in human history combined. And the outrage is heightened by the fact, as I often mention, that the ideological component that sustains gay culture never gets mentioned, that 98 percent of homosexuals give their opinion survey verbal support for abortion “rights,” and few of their advocates give any thought to what this implies.
      The Church is too often guilty of not communicating its moral wisdom, particularly its distinctions between objective evil and the culpability of intentional assent, and Catholicism haters justify their hatreds from their misunderstandings.
      Those of us who have done pro-life work for decades know that the movement is filled with women who have had abortions, some of whom desire to be upfront in their witness. And many women and men were previously on the “other side” ideologically. We cherish turnarounds of all sorts.
      I am not lecturing anyone, I make a general observation to say that we always have to bear in mind that there is spectrum of culpability in human sinfulness. I think the extraordinary admonishments the Catechism recommends might be cautionary for the exceptionally sad cases of one of the saddest of sins. Take it from this former atheist, we are justly admonished to look at every soul as a turnaround in process. If the Apostle Paul can do it, anyone can.

  2. Our Pope came out with a statement on samesex unions in part because his language and thought processes are so ethereal and with very little practicality . When he addressed our Congress several years ago and gave a 45 minute speech, I turned to my wife and said, “ what did he just say?”.During that speech he gave about 5 seconds to respecting life,think about that , he was in front of the legislative body that helped export abortion that cost lives of million of innocents,and he gave a vague remark about respecting all life, that’s when I knew that my Catholic Church was in deep trouble.

    • Steve, thank you for a simple honest remark regarding many of Pope Francis’ public addresses and statements. “What did he just say?” Is often my reaction too. My fallback position is the old saw, drawn from the military, “Salute the uniform, not the wearer”.

  3. As to Leslie’s question, about how we should treat persons involved in homosexual activity, there is no special provision being made by the Church in it’s approach.
    That approach is identical to how we should treat all sinners – which, in passing, includes all of us.
    The basic point is that we distinguish between the person and his actions. We condemn the actions which are immoral but we must love that person unconditionally. This is not easy to do but the distinction is valid nevertheless.

    • The point is that nowhere else in the Catechism (that I know of) is a particular sin discussed with a statement that all of those tempted to commit it ““must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.”

      I am aware that we condemn the immoral actions but love the person. But that isn’t the issue. Why is this immoral action treated as if it’s a completely different kind of sin?

      (In addition to which, to many people nowadays “love the sinner” means “You have to accept, celebrate, and promote the sin because otherwise you’re just meaaaaan and not loving the person who is doing something that isn’t wrong; and the Church should change Her teaching.”

        • Then why add it in the discussion of the temptation to commit homosexual acts but nowhere else – for example when discussing the temptation to steal, to commit murder, to commit pedophile acts, etc.?

        • Andrew I think you hit your head on CATECHISM 1931. Among the things mentioned there it is talking about the removal of pride and selfishness that obstruct true fraternity. And, it says, bearing in mind the means necessary for dignity. The homosexual act is inherently criminal and there is no defence by saying the crime is the defence. Worse, it is not crime like stealing a fruit from a vendor, it is utterly debased and despicable. The associated paragraphs affirm that no-one is exempt, i.e., the said very culprits.

    • @Observer70

      “The basic point is that we distinguish between the person and his actions. We condemn the actions which are immoral but we must love that person unconditionally. This is not easy to do but the distinction is valid nevertheless.”

      I am not sure exactly why loving the person unconditionally is difficult. Charity doesn’t exclude punishment for immoral behavior. If charity did exclude punishing the wrongdoer, what do we have the justice system for?

  4. To be tempted to do something wrong–as we all are–is not the same thing as doing what is wrong. And when someone succumbs to temptation–as we all do–it is beneficial to remember the adage “Hate the sin but not the sinner.” There are more nuanced aspects to one’s response to homosexuals in one’s life, but the above comes to mind first.

  5. The Church can only bless secular relations between one man and one woman joined together in a marriage that is open to life.

    Now, here you have a simple, positive affirmation of what the Church teaches. Let everyone weigh their sexual acts against this clear and concise statement.

  6. Given his track record it is highly doubtful that the Pope’s affirmation of the CDF’s repudiation of the blessing of same sex coupling is firm. It is highly doubtful that Pope Francis had any real input on the matter. As exhibited time and again the Pope’s mode of theological reflection is inadequate, to say the least. His statement this week on Mariological issues would be held comic if it were not tragic. And then of course there is the equally tragic new policy regarding the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at Saint Peter Basilica. “Amoris Laetitia” is mine field of disregarded consequences. For the near sighted this pontificate is an adequate act. For those without a theological impediment it is apparent that we are in the middle of a tragedy which will take many decades to remedy. Trust lost is not easily restored. If not anything else papal and episcopal authority are presently against the wall facing a firing squad composed of those who shoulder those very responsibilities. The situation is not at all unlike what is presently underway in the Biden administration — ideological drunkenness. Isn’t that a coincidence?
    There is at root here not only theological engagement but a disingenuous element as well. Recall Pope Francis’s comment to Archbishop Forte and recounted by the Archbishop in May 2016 in regard to communion for the divorced and remarried in “Amoris Laetitia” – “…not too directly or it will make a mess. We’ll clarify it later…”
    There is a shell-game transpiring before our eyes.

  7. We enter into battlegrounds all the time in the ordinary course and the area with homosexuality, that involves something that is not ordinary, is the same. One good theme is CATECHISM 1731 et seq. -: How far can you take it? The point or standard of reference is the ordinary and the natural. Another would be the extraordinary and supernatural. It is never the sub-ordinary and never the unnatural. Sometimes the engagement is on the personal level and sometimes on the arm’s length level. This takes work and effort and all the things that go into them. It’s how I’d approach it. Our duty is first to God Who keeps our conscience in right order and sound frame with Him.

    Indeed there is a problem in the US where they have legalized the homosexual issues. They have made it legal for homosexuals to discriminate aggressively whether purposively or accidentally and to have the full protection of law at the expense of others. In my understanding, in the parlance of regular jurisprudence this is called bad law.

  8. God loves the sinner NOT the sin. Compassion and respect are signs of love of the person. One does not need to accept immoral/sinful behavior in order to love the PERSON.

    • The problem is that in the US, at least, the sinners, or many of them, are attempting to force others to accept the immoral/sinful behavior, using all the pressure of goverment that they can bring to bear. Those same people appear to believe that “love” means warm fuzzy feelings and accepting anything someone chooses to do or otherwise you’re hateful and mean.

  9. Great article. I would like to seem more of this sort of honesty in journalism today. I think you would get a lot more people supporting your work, if more articles like this were actually published instead of the usual pointless article we see is so many so called Catholic papers and journals.

  10. Charity but firmness in the tenets of our Faith is called for in all cases such as you cite Leslie. I fully agree with your point. The breakdown is within the ranks of the ordained who eschew the hard corps homily for fear of offending. We end up with “Gentle Jesus come and squeeze us” (and worse yet jokes) in lieu of, for instance the 4 last things. Priests need to stop worrying about something that they cannot and should not control, squiemishness in the pews, and start defending and promoting authentic Catholicism. Courage and character are called for from the ordained ranks.

  11. Something is missing from this article and the various commentaries so far that yet were starting to emerge in Dr. Lowery’s article, Homosexuality and Authentic Freedom (CWR March 15 2021). It is that the homosexual-inclined has to actively go against the unnatural inclination. If he (or she) is born with it it is because of original sin and the position is the same. No condition in original sin or other sin is ever accommodated. God’s voice will demand attrition and displacement.

    So the person with whatever tendency and attitude inhering or habitualized, may have accepted to avoid the sexually-involved acts but there is still more to do. They must make efforts to identify the points and manfully undertake to change them. For example, for men, they have to wear down and eliminate the feminine and effeminate complexes and modes, the idolizations in the Adonis mode and the Jupiter mode, the modes themselves, the looks and affectivities that invite engagement, the immodesty and lustfulness that wills sharing “innocent revelry”, or entices it or dabbles or acquiesces. None of it is natural.

    Let’s speculate a little about heroism. I am not so inclined, I can not win for myself those virtues. For you who are in such straits, I can pray for you: Have you any idea how God will repay me!


  12. I like the distinction made about when a Traditionalist has objections and when the Modernists have objections. As a Traditionalist myself, when we object it is because something is against Catholic teaching, we do not object to Truth. One of the main reasons why Bishops objected to the second Holy Vatican Synod of St. Pope John XXlll was because its decrees were found to be too rigid. What the decrees state is only the truth in its most pure form. Does the whole world hate Truth??

  13. The CDF document “rejected the idea that the Church should bless same sex unions.” Or, stated in the affirmative, the CDF document simply affirmed the fecund and common sense, divinely instituted and and doctrinally protected meaning of “marriage” over any tunnel-vision misconceptions, so to speak.

    On the big screen, the issue is that, by itself, this refreshing CDF document is so little, so late, in evangelizing above of the retrograde “synodal drift” served up in Germania…

    Real marriage, over the oxymoronic cancel-culture of “gay marriage;”
    Celibacy over time-share pastors;
    A male priesthood, over a invalid female ordination–a half-way house to Gaia or to no “priesthood” at all;
    The purity of a fully human moral theology, over a reversion to what St. Paul found in the port city of Corinth;
    The Apostolic Succession and alter Christus, over term-limited majoritarianism and even pantheism;
    And, Oh yes, the incarnate Jesus Christ “yesterday, today and forever,” over the sinkhole zeitgeist of radical Secularism.

    • The “retrograde drift” comes not merely from Germania, but also from Argentina. This CDF document will be ignored all along the synodal path, with the full knowledge and complicity of Bergoglio. Pachamama will not tolerate his waffling over devotion to her…

  14. The issue of same sex marriage has been in the forefront for at least a decade now. Why then, did the Vatican wait until now to proclaim that the Church can not bless same sex marriages?

  15. Had a comfortable lunch not inclined to enter the melee charged to Mark Brumley for pressing the hot button. Although a brave thing in a cowardly world knowing there would be thunderous incoming. So I’ll simply comment as an outside observer. Homosexuality, a terribly hot potato that defies Catholicity, truth, any semblance of decency yet protected by the State as a legally protected class despite the evidence it’s nothing more than a behavioral choice. It’s difficult, well nigh impossible to find a virtuous mean for respectfulness of a behavior that is inherently evil and also not simply protected by law, but forcibly promoted. Example, Dem congress[men], men considering the times a debatable question have recommended that children, when classes resume be frequently lectured by drag queens, have a special curriculum on the wonder of same sex perversion and the like. The teacher’s union far to the Left would likely agree. So Mark Brumley’s noble search for a just consensus as well as Leslie’s righteous indignation remain unsolvable in a world in which justice and license are synonymous. It would seem we just follow our moral instincts in the context the question arises.

    • And yes, we are indebted to have compassion for those afflicted, specifically the many who are neither strident or obtrusive.

  16. The Catechism and St.John Paul 11 very likely prophetic in their wording on need for compassion and sensitivity on the issue – The Spirit likely having shown them that a time would come with the loss of sense of sin , the culture trying to negate the truth about the preciousness of life and the sacredness in relationships . Thus we already see how there are efforts to force persons to shut their eyes and hearts as to what The Spirit Wills and can do in all the above realms – a Spirit that can gently whisper how every particle of our bodies is willed in His Love , to be cleansed in His Blood , to return The love , in a life of holiness that praises Him .
    True love thus being the intent and efforts to bless the other too that they too live holy lives to thus have the joy in trusting and thanking God , for His Love for the body , mind and soul of each .
    Most sins are recognized for what they are , hence may be no need for the added caution as expressed in the CCC , which in calling for ‘sensitivity ‘ etc : in the above particular instance , ? treating same more like mental illness and needing similar approaches ; thank God there is also reports as to deliverance can also be a part of many mental illnesses as well .

    ‘ Searching for The Father ‘ – those words of the Holy Father ought to have been what the media paid attention to ; The Church reinforcing same views ,in its recent communication as well , not wanting any one to belong to the ‘father
    below ‘.

    The gentleness with which the Holy Father has been dealing with this as well as other issues also likely related to the trust that the Divine Will revelations with its focus on loving God with the Love with which He loves us would help to bring forth the Reign of His Will in our midst soon enough , even as we are going through the purification .

    Hosanna .. Lord save us from our rebellious self will and teach us to trust in what the Divine Will desires to do in all lives for its reign of goodness and peace !

    Blessed Holy Week !

  17. The highlight the Church’s formal teaching about universal human dignity, while also clearly rejecting “gay marriage” might be to miss the point…

    In a parallel case, consider the contrast between the “real” Vatican Council and what emeritus Pope Benedict has long called the “virtual” council (of Hans Kung, etc.) fed directly to the public and the dittohead media. Same thing here, yes?

    The issue is the juxtaposition of the FORMAL and reaffirmed teaching about homosexual activity, versus the SIGNALED messaging that goes uncontested. Two Examples: first, at a political moment, the widely circulated photo ops of the prophet James Martin SJ yukkin’ it up with Pope Francis; and second, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia (now president of the Pontifical Pope John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family!) whose homoerotic cathedral mural remains prominently on display. As if whited sepulchers were not bad enough.


    Formal teachings upstaged by contradicting signals—further enabling the split between never-denied doctrine and accommodation to actual practice.

  18. The great irony in this article and the many logical reactions to it is this: the most “unjust discrimination” towards homosexuals in America comes from the homosexual mafia in the Church hierarchy. As Joseph Sciambra – and others – have testified, it is the homosexual who is trying to live a chaste, Catholic life who is viciously attacked by homosexual clerics and all manner of “LGBTQ ministries” within the Church.

    • Aaah I think I get your point now. And you are right, there is no need for that because that would already be covered by the proper attitude love the sinner, hate the sin.

      So my guess is : either it is a capitulation to the LGBT forces in the church, or a recognition of the way same sex attracted people have been treated : ridiculed, made fun of and even bullied. Perhaps because there are no outward manifestations of the murderous inclination but the same sex attracted is quite easy to spot.

  19. I feel for the Catholics in these European dioceses where the bishops are openly dissenting from both the Pope and Catechism’s teaching. This would seem to be an impossible situation for any lay person or priest who wants to stay loyal to Rome while at the same time Rome gives them (and won’t discipline) dissenting bishops.

    Is obedience owed to these bishops? Could one find shelter in an Eastern Catholic parish or SSPX chapel?

    I always find it odd that these dissenting bishops never seem to dissent on Church teaching regarding their power. They should realize that dissent cuts both ways. Maybe the laity might start dissenting from the current requirement of obedience to the local Bishop. Bottom line…dissent begets dissent. These bishops should at least realize that obedience (and tithes) is only owed to them only in so much as the uphold the Catholic faith.

  20. The CDF document seems clear, scriptural, consistent with tradition, and compassionate. Yet the conversation everywhere is how could the Church possibly still teach such things, and how can Francis possibly be on board, being the nice guy that he is? People apparently don’t have a problem with how the truth is being communicated so much as with its actual content.

  21. We all have urges, inclinations, attractions, desires–whatever you want to call them–that ought to be carefully examined before they are indulged. Big matters and small matters. Even the “woke” would agree that not every urge should be satisfied. Examinations of conscience, listening to the Church, hearkening to the wise in every age. A day to day struggle for me, but a worthy one. Thanks for the insights, Mark.

    • “We all have urges, inclinations, attractions, desires–whatever you want to call them–that ought to be carefully examined before they are indulged.” True enough. But in this context that begs the question whether sexual intimacy for a same-sex couple is self-indulgent. For me — and I suspect for you as well — the very idea of sexual intimacy with another man is repugnant. And the same is true for most of us — male and female alike.

      I have been happily married for over fifty years. I have children and grandchildren. As married couples know, love is not in the sex but the relationship. It is love that defers to the relationship when opportunities for self-indulgence — even mutual self-indulgence — present themselves.

      Is it so hard to imagine that for some — even if not for me — a loving (and sexual, but not self-indulgent) relationship could exist between two persons of the same sex? With sexual desire, self-indulgence is a concern that must be faced. But what is the reasoning behind categorical proscription of same-sex relationships: I am a human being, it would be wrong for me; they are a human being, therefore it is wrong for them? There is something missing from this syllogism. What is unstated is the assumption that same-sex relationships are necessarily self-indulgent, for all human beings.

      And what is the basis for that, beyond my own experience (and the experience of most — but not all — human beings)? Nothing. This is why Pope Francis emphasizes accompaniment. If we judge on the basis of our own experience without engaging through friendship — reread the pope’s encyclical “Fratelli Tutti” — with the experience of those who are different, how can we be the hands and feet of Christ?

      As it turns out, science — biology and genetics — is confirming that for a small percentage of us intimate same-sex relationships are as natural as intimate heterosexual relationships are for the rest of us. But we should know this from accompaniment and friendship. God’s creation does not always fit into our human conceptual boxes. Our judgments about those who are different from us can betray our commitment to the Gospel. Jesus taught us that with the story of the Good Samaritan.

  22. Bromley follows the CDF in missing the point, a point made long ago by St. Augustine. The measure — if we are to judge — is Christ, not doctrine. To interpret doctrine in a manner contrary to what Augustine called “God’s book of nature” is to embarrass Christianity.

    As Francis continues to emphasize, it is wiser to accompany than to judge. Accompaniment has two benefits. We learn, as they say, by walking in another’s moccasins. More importantly, accompaniment is more likely to help the other cultivate their relationship with the Spirit, which is the voice of Christ within them.

    Regrettably, the traditional view of sex and gender — as intuitively normative as it once appeared — is turning out to be a simplistic idealization of God’s book of nature. Sexual reproduction — combining the genes of different organisms — evolved and came to dominate because it could better adapt and survive. Patterns of sexual reproduction across species vary from pair-bonding to tournament style. Human genetic markers place us more toward the pair bonding end of this spectrum. If evolution had placed us more toward the tournament end of this spectrum would not Christ still be with us? God’s covenant — that we love one another — calls us to take reality as it is (not as we may simplistically and idealistically conceive it to be) and invest that reality with love.

    The processes of sexual reproduction (meiosis and mitosis) are quite complex. Half of conceptions end in miscarriage. Not all DNA copying errors are corrected, and variations that survive are passed on. The proteins coded for by particular genes may have variations that operate differently. There is a tribe in the Caribbean where a large percentage of males are born female and change to male at puberty because different testosterone proteins operate during gestation and at puberty.

    This is all part of God’s creation. I have a friend who fathered a child before coming to a full recognition of who she was; the family remains closely bonded, testimony to the Spirit within them. “Who am I to judge?” said Pope Francis. Indeed. He is following a caution born of long experience with accompaniment, a caution that is also now confirming the ancient advice of St. Augustine regarding God’s book of nature.

    Bromley does not question the doctrinal assumptions — formed in ancient times without the benefit either of accompaniment or pages from God’s book of nature that continue to unfold — that undergird judgments against homosexuality, same-sex unions, and the like. The CDF did the same.

    I am not as concerned as Bromley about what some view as an inconsistency in Francis’ “who am I to judge?” attitude and the CDF statement regarding blessings of same-sex unions and the sinfulness of homosexual acts. Let’s see how this plays out. For all the marvels of human reason our understanding is limited, and remains burdened by its history. God is more understanding of ourselves than we are. Grace abounds. Humility on all sides is is order.

    • “I have a friend who fathered a child before coming to a full recognition of who she was”

      And by that sentence you have just confirmed that nothing you say is of any value. Your friend is a man. He was born a male, he will always be a male, and there is nothing that he can do to change that fact. That you are participating in what is at best his mental illness is a terrible thing.

      • For the faithful Jew at the time of Jesus, it would be scandalous to associate with a Samaritan. Samaritans were regarded as apostates. They had been Jews, but no longer followed all of the Mosaic law. If a Samaritan came to a Jewish village he would be run out of town or stoned. The term “good Samaritan” was an oxymoron.

        It was to these non-Samaritan Jews that Jesus told the story we now call the Good Samaritan story. The lesson is simple: who was neighbor to the beaten traveler? Jesus preached a new covenant — love one another — and told a story about a Samaritan who did just that. It was a disorienting story for a faithful Jew.

        Why do you judge my transgender friend harshly? You do not know her, you have not walked a mile in her moccasins. Pope Francis said “who am I to judge?” But the full statement is “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?”

        What would Jesus do? Might he not tell another story, like the Good Samaritan story but disorienting for a different group of the faithful, those judging transgender people they do not know or understand.

        • “Why do you judge my transgender friend harshly?”

          I said nothing in judgment of your friend; he is clearly mentally ill, and needs help. I judged your behavior, because you are denying truth and reality. You (I am generous enough to believe) do not have the excuse of mental illness.

          There is no such thing as a “transgender” person; there are only people are pretending to be the opposite sex, sometimes to the extent of maiming their bodies.

          “You do not know her, you have not walked a mile in her moccasins.”

          He is a man. I do not know him, but that is irrelevant. Truth is truth. If your friend were to decide that he is really a paraplegic, would you cheer him on as he sought out some unethical doctor who was willing to sever his spinal cord to make him one? If he were to decide that he is an eternal infant, would you praise his family for treating him like one, feeding him with a bottle and changing his diapers?

          Jesus is Truth; he is not a liar, and would not pretend that your friend, who is a man, is a woman.

          Jesus also heals. Instead of leaving your friend to wallow in his illness, you might pray for him to be healed.

    • What a load of pretentious nonsense sprinkled with pseudo-science. Church doctrine admittedly relied on the pages of Scripture and the natural law, rather than “the pages from God’s book of nature” of your hallucinations. “Accompaniment” is a meaningless propaganda term devised to subvert Christian morality. The evidence of how it has been “playing out” over the sixty years is all around Clyde – lives ruined, families destroyed, an entire civilization collapsing with accelerating speed. You will be doing more than “accompanying” lost souls to their destination, you very well may be spending eternity with them there.

      • Dear Tony,

        I don’t know how to respond with grace to much of what you say. I can, however, be more specific about “God’s book of nature”. You say, “Church doctrine admittedly relied on the pages of Scripture and the natural law, rather than “the pages from God’s book of nature” of your hallucinations.” This does not come from me but from St. Augustine. See “The Literal Meaning of Genesis”, Book I, paragraph 19, 39.

        If you read Augustine’s text he makes a simple point. He advises against interpretations of Scripture (and I would add doctrine as well) that conflict with what a non-Christian (i.e. a potential convert) “can substantiate with scientific arguments or experiments”.

        The problem — as I see it — with your line of argument is that it relies very heavily on interpretations of “Scripture and the natural law” which predate modern science of biology and genetics. Granted, it takes time for the Church to take new discoveries about God’s creation into account. It took about 400 years (concluding in 1992 with St. John Paul II’s address to the Papal Academy of Sciences on October 31st of that year) for the Church to accommodate the discoveries of Copernicus and Galileo. Hopefully it will not take that long for the Church to accommodate what is being learned in recent times about the biology and genetics of the human person.

        But why are we focusing so much on points of doctrine? That was what Jesus was trying to overcome with his Jewish culture. They lived by the 613 commandments contained in the Torah. Jesus gave them a new covenant: “love one another” (John 13:34) which is “all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:40).

        Instead of focusing on “Scripture and the natural law” doesn’t it make more sense to follow Christ’s “new covenant”? Pope Francis understands this central teaching of Christ very well. “Accompaniment” is a practical step in that direction. Otherwise we get lost in doctrinal abstractions that too often are divorced from real people and their consciences.

        In any event, Happy Easter!

        • I agree that you do not know how to respond. You should have left it at that and saved yourself a lot of typing. The Church and nearly everyone else, you say, could not possibly have understood Christ’s message without the benefit of the truths unlocked by modern science “and God’s book of nature” (which presumably also has been hidden from us all these centuries). Finally, Francis and his allies have arrived to let us all in on it. First, that sounds rather like the Gnosticism that Francis has condemned in some of his barely coherent ramblings. Another problem with this argument (to be generous) is that science, as opposed to the science fiction you and your allies cite, does not support the homosexual and transgender agendas of the anti-Christian and anti-human Left. Give it up, Clyde, while you still have time.

          • You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.

            You are correct that science is not about agendas. But it has a history. At the turn of the 20th century the physicist Lord Kelvin famously opined that the principles of physics had been discovered and future science would be about filling in the details. Within a few years Albert Einstein had developed a new way of looking at the cosmos, embarrassing Kelvin but saying something important about how human beings continue to learn. There is nothing Gnostic about science, as anyone with an interest in science would appreciate.

            It is not that Einstein overturned Newton. The good science that Lord Kelvin touted (or that Galileo touted, for that matter) is still good science, in the sense that old theories are still as useful as they were before. Newtonian mechanics continues to be used to build bridges. But if we were to use Newton to build the GPS in our cars they would run off the road in about a week. If you want a functioning GPS you need Einstein’s field equations.

            As an aside, the term “relativity” was applied to Einstein’s theory. But the term was so misused (e.g. “relativism”) that Einstein himself tried (unsuccessfully) to rename it the “Theory of Invariance”. This would have been a more accurate title, because the theory could be derived (as mathematician David Hilbert did) quite elegantly from a single assumption: that the laws of physics are the same everywhere and for all time. This hardly supports “relativism”.

            Similarly, Christ’s commandment that we love one another does not support relativism either. Is this commandment not also the same everywhere and for all time?

            Perhaps the history of science — from Galileo to Newton to Einstein — can serve as a metaphor. Love is for all time. What does that mean for the ancient assumptions about where LGBT people fit within the dignity of the human person? We wouldn’t want humanity to drive itself into a ditch because it stubbornly held on to Newtonian principles (i.e. traditional views about sex and gender) which were not adequate to the expectations of Christ’s love.

            In the end, this is about our commitment to Christ and to the primacy of our love for one another (cf. Matthew 22:40).

            Tony, you still have time! Happy Easter!

          • Tony W: You’re quite right. Mr. Christofferson appears to be saying that if God had known as much as Mr. Christofferson does, He would have built a Church that is much more to Mr. Christofferson’s liking.

          • Tony ………. you are ABSOLUTELY right, as Clyde, a PF defender, seems to be in love with and approving of PF’s “God willed all religions” revelation & proclamation, which of course as any logical, rational, reasonable Catholic mind knows ordains ‘accompaniment’ as totally useless regards the salvation of souls. Clyde can redeem himself by immediately flying to Rome and setting PF ‘straight’, and then spending many weeks and months pondering the Last Four Things.

          • What in blazes are you talking about? Actually, I think recognize the tactic. You are dropping famous names whose work and thought are totally irrelevant to your argument, hoping to give the vague impression that somehow these authorities would lend support to your sophistry. It is merely ridiculous and dishonest to invoke Kelvin, Newton, etc. in such a way. Trying to enlist St. Augustine in a disreputable cause (which I believe is a trick Garry Wills also tries) is borderline blasphemy.

    • As Francis continues to emphasize, it is wiser to accompany than to judge.(sic)

      Putting one’s faith in the prudential, foolish relativism of the current Pontiff while rejecting the actual teachings of Christ is perilous.

      “And why even of yourselves, do you not judge that which is just?” Jesus Christ, Luke 12:57

      • The passage you quote from is about reconciliation. First (Luke 12:54-57), “you know how to judge the face of the sky and the earth, why can you not judge the signs of these times? Do you not see what is right?” Second (Luke 12:58-59), use that capacity for judgment to settle accounts with your neighbor rather than have the matter decided by a magistrate.

        Jesus was telling us to cultivate our judgment from within, where the Spirit lives. Do not rely upon the law to judge others. Take the beam out of our own eye first. If we judge by the law we will be so judged. That’s not the way of the Gospel. Loving one another as Jesus did is a hard but joyful and freeing taskmaster.

        • “Loving one another as Jesus did is a hard but joyful and freeing taskmaster.”

          True. But let’s not confuse lust with love.

        • Your unrepentant, prudential moral relativism is as foolish as that of the current Pontiff. Perhaps the instruction that Christ gave as recorded in Matthew 18 on excommunication should be applied to you both.

    • “Jesus was telling us to cultivate our judgment from within, where the Spirit lives.”

      Sadly there’s the Holy Spirit and the Unholy Spirit and the chance of the latter being the dominant spirit guiding your thoughts is rather high.

      Jesus said I am the truth hence all our thoughts and actions must be measured according to that. Anything not in sync is of the evil spirit.

      • Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. He gave us a new commandment, “to love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34).

        But love of God (Deuteronomy 6:5) and neighbor (Leviticus 19:18) were well know to faithful Jews. What was “new” about what Jesus said?

        For the Jews of his time God’s commandments were in the Torah. There were 613 commandments, and all were to be followed. The Samaritans were ostracized precisely because they did not follow all 613 commandments of Torah.

        Jesus told the Good Samaritan story to illustrate why love of God and neighbor were the greatest commandments (Luke 10:25-37). The Samaritan showed love to the beaten traveler. That is what mattered, even though he did not follow all 613 commandments of the Torah. Jesus makes the same point in Matthew 22:34-40. His conclusion (Matthew 22:40) is that love of God and neighbor is the source and measure of “all the law and the prophets.”

        Jesus and his new covenant is the source and measure of “all the law and the prophets”, even today. Those who regard particular laws as being “truth” at all times and places, without reference to Jesus and his new covenant make the same mistake as the Pharisees.

        Being “in sync” with particular laws is not the same thing as putting on the mind of Christ.

        What what Jesus do? That is the question. We all know that lust is not love, and that is true in sexual relations between a married man and woman just as it is between partners in a same-sex union. Those who believe, as a matter of definition, that same-sex relations are necessarily lustful are followers of the law rather than followers of Christ.

        That is the point of the Good Samaritan story.

        • The issue with “same-sex unions”, first, is that there is no true union and, secondly, that the sexual actions are not properly ordered–that is, they are disordered, as the Catechism rightly notes. Moving the goal posts here is simply a way of distracting from the fact that the rules are not about being obsessed with law and legalism as much as they are about created reality and God-ordained order and ends.

          • You are right that created reality is what this is about. Created reality is the work of God, and is not the same as human conceptions of it. Human conceptions of the cosmos have become clearer over time. Consider Ptolemy, then Galileo, then Newton, then Einstein.

            Ptolemy’s cosmos seemed appropriate because it placed the Earth at the center. As reasonable as this seemed at the time, we now see that God’s love for us does not depend upon our being at the center of the cosmos.

            Since Genesis we have thought that “God created them male and female”, and that anything outside of those categories were deviant behaviors not in accordance with God’s plan. But just as our views of the cosmos have become clearer so have our views of human biology. It turns out that genetics — which, after all, is God’s creation — tells a more complex story. In an earlier post on this thread I mentioned the Caribbean islanders who have many children who are born as girls but become boys at puberty.

            What is God patiently trying to tell us? We should be less stubborn about clinging to our meager conceptualizations of God’s reality. Jesus told us that our conceptualizations of “God’s law” were a distraction from something more fundamental: love one another. Yes, we are limited creatures and need more definite and specific laws in order to live in community on a daily basis. But Jesus taught us to always remember the primacy of love. God is present to us; cultivate that relationship!

            The controversy over “same-sex unions” says something about us and how we look at God’s creation. We have taken human judgments about God’s creation and passed them off as God’s judgments. The proper term for that is idolatry. It took the Church 400 years to fully adjust to what Copernicus discovered: the Earth is not the center of the cosmos. Hopefully it will not take that long to adjust to what is becoming clear: for thousands of years we have been denying — and many have suffered on that account — that LGBT people, however small in number, as just as much a part of God’s creation as the rest of us. We need to change our conceptions to better conform to God’s creation, not the other way around.

            What we need to do is continue discovering the beauty of God’s creation, as that creation actually is — and not simply take our conceptions to be that reality. And then invest that reality — God’s creation — with love.

          • “LGBT people, however small in number, as just as much a part of God’s creation as the rest of us.”

            So are murderers, pedophiles, thieves, people who commit bestiality, people who oppress the poor, and any number of others a part of God’s creation. That doesn’t make their sins any less heinous.

            “We have taken human judgments about God’s creation and passed them off as God’s judgments.”

            I remind you of what St. Paul wrote: Wherefore God gave them up to the desires of their heart, unto uncleanness, to dishonour their own bodies among themselves. 25Who changed the truth of God into a lie; and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

            Romans 1:26For this cause God delivered them up to shameful affections. For their women have changed the natural use into that use which is against nature. 27And, in like manner, the men also, leaving the natural use of the women, have burned in their lusts one towards another, men with men working that which is filthy, and receiving in themselves the recompense which was due to their error.

            28And as they liked not to have God in their knowledge, God delivered them up to a reprobate sense, to do those things which are not convenient; 29Being filled with all iniquity, malice, fornication, avarice, wickedness, full of envy, murder, contention, deceit, malignity, whisperers, 30Detractors, hateful to God, contumelious, proud, haughty, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31Foolish, dissolute, without affection, without fidelity, without mercy. 32Who, having known the justice of God, did not understand that they who do such things, are worthy of death; and not only they that do them, but they also that consent to them that do them.”

            Are you denying the authority of the Bible as well as that of the Church? At least have the honesty not to pretend to be Christian, much less Catholic. The god you worship is your personal ideas about science.

            Just as a hint: with your opinion on one side and the entire weight of the Church, Scripture, and two thousand years of theologians and saints on the other, I don’t know anybody possessed of sense or intelligence who is going to side with you.

        • With reference to Jesus, you need to sit up higher in your chair so the following doesn’t fly so far over your relativist head as you vainly attempt to find merit in intrinsically disordered sexual deviancy:

          “And why even of yourselves, do you not judge that which is just?” Jesus Christ, Luke 12:57

          • Leslie,

            Your quote from Romans leaves out the predicate, Romans 1:18-23. Paul is talking about those who have abandoned God for idols and who have become vain in their reasoning. In such a state of separation from God they succumb to “the lustful desires of their heart”.

            What Paul says in Romans 1:24-32 applies as a consequence. But if people are not separated from God, if they are gay and seek God and have good will, then why presume to the contrary?

            I understand where you are coming from, because I am in the same place. Sex is a very charged topic, and I cannot see myself in the shoes of a gay person. But faithful Jews could not see themselves in the shoes of Samaritans, either. The Good Samaritan story was a hard lesson.

            Jesus — the living and Incarnate God — does not suffer from my disability. God knows what is in the heart. What I can do, however, is to be honest and admit that I cannot put myself in the shoes of a gay person with regard to sex. Then I must say, as Pope Francis said, “if a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?”

            I believe that is what it means to follow Christ.

          • Mr. Christofferson,


            “God gave them up to the desires of their heart, unto uncleanness, to dishonour their own bodies among themselves.”

            “For this cause God has given them up to shameful affections.”

            The affections are shameful. The actions are unclean and dishonor the bodies. That in this particular instance the reason they commit those evil actions is because they have first abandoned God for idols does not mean that for anybody else those actions are just fine. That sounds very much like saying “It’s okay to do evil things as long as the reason you’re doing them is that you’re tempted to do them, and not because you’ve also committed idolatry.”

            Would you also say that “29…iniquity, malice, fornication, avarice, wickedness, full of envy, murder, contention, deceit, malignity, whisperers, 30Detractors, hateful to God, contumelious, proud, haughty, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31Foolish, dissolute, without affection, without fidelity, without mercy” would be just hunky dory as long as they weren’t done by people who have abandoned God for idols?

            You are also ignoring the condemnation of the behavior in Leviticus, which had nothing to do with idolatry.

            “I understand where you are coming from, because I am in the same place.”

            I doubt that very much.

            You leave out the part that belongs to your arguments: Romans 1:22For professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.

  23. The Lord told the Samaritan woman at the well to seek for the life-giving water that springs up from within, that flows from the Saviour. He didn’t say to her “Seek to get accepted just as you are from those you think should behave like good shepherds”; nor did He say, “I will send good shepherds to look after you just as you are”; nor did He say “Hey there little one abandoned doing blistering well work, I am breathing life into you again and now you can look for your sixth husband to your preferred arrangements and get married by this historical well.”

    • Leslie,

      “I doubt that very much.”

      Clearly, we are not on the page. But I was making a narrower statement. I simply said “I cannot see myself in the shoes of a gay person. But faithful Jews could not see themselves in the shoes of Samaritans, either. The Good Samaritan story was a hard lesson.”

      Is it not true that you — just like me — cannot see yourself “in the shoes of a gay person”?

      Let me put the question differently. Is it conceivable to you that a man could rape his wife? It is not the sex act itself that is wrong — they are man and wife. But if the self-giving is not mutual, where is the love?

      If this makes sense to you — I hope I am not presuming too much — then what about beginning with a self-giving that is mutual and loving. There is still a problem if they are not married. But suppose they are a committed couple in a long term relationship? Is not the important question still whether their love is mutual and self-giving?

      It is at this point where we part company. For myself, I cannot see myself in a gay relationship. I do not get to the point of imagining a sexual relationship that is mutual and self-giving. I suspect you also cannot imagine being in a gay sexual relationship. I suspect you also cannot get past that.

      Where we part company is the next step, if I understand you correctly. Although for myself I cannot imagine even being in a gay sexual relationship, is that not because of who I am? I am an ordinary heterosexual person. I’ve been happily married for over fifty years, with children and grandchildren.

      But I am willing to accept the possibility that another ordinary human being, different from myself, might be so constituted by God as to be capable of having what I am not capable of having, namely, a gay sexual relationship that is mutual and self-giving.

      You — I take it — are not willing to accept that possibility. But what do you have to lose, really? If a same-sex couple has a sexual relationship, particular sexual encounters could be mutual and self-giving or they could be acts of self-indulgence for one or the other parties. But that alternative faces heterosexual couples as well, as my initial example of rape suggests.

      I understand why you cannot put yourself in the shoes of a gay person. Neither can I.
      But why must you presume that a same-sex couple can have no mutual and self-giving love, that it can only be self-indulgent?

      Christ calls us to be more understanding about people we do not understand, don’t you think?

      • The place in which you are is one in which you have decided that you know better than the Church, better than the Bible, better than the Doctors of the Church, and better than God what is and is not sinful and vile behavior.

        You defend evil; and you blaspheme by claiming that God designed them to be sinners.

        “I’ve been happily married for over fifty years, with children and grandchildren.”

        May God help your children and grandchildren, with a moral leader like you.

        • Leslie,

          You have not addressed my question: “But why must you presume that a same-sex couple can have no mutual and self-giving love, that it can only be self-indulgent?”

          Jesus faced presumptions in his time, as well. Many Jews presumed that Samaritans should be excluded as apostates, because they did not follow all the commands of the Torah. Jesus gave us a new commandment, that we should love one another (John 13:34) which is “all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:40). He illustrated this new commandment with a story about a traveler beaten by thieves and left to die. A priest and a Levite had their reasons — ritual purity under the law — for passing by. Instead, it is a Samaritan — despised by faithful Jews — who ministers to the beaten traveler.

          The Samaritan was a follower of Christ, not because he was a Samaritan but because he showed love to another. This would have been difficult for Jewish peasants — to whom the story was told — to square with what they had been taught about Samaritans.

          I do not defend evil, nor do I defend self-indulgent sex. Why do you presume that a same-sex couple can only engage in sexual activity self-indulgently? As Pope Francis said, “if a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?” Like Jesus, Pope Francis is a teacher. In telling the Good Samaritan story Jesus made his Jewish listeners reexamine their presumptions about Samaritans. Similarly, Pope Francis is trying to get us to reexamine our presumptions about gay people.

          More than that, Pope Francis is trying to get us to follow Christ, just as Jesus tried to get the Jews to recognize that the reign of God was at hand (Mark 1:15). Seek cleansing from within rather than rely upon compliance from without.

          I say nothing about the sex life of anyone, gay or otherwise. The sexual drive is strong, and prone to self-indulgence, but I need not judge anyone else. I can understand why Pope Francis would say, “if a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?” He is the Vicar of Christ, and follows Christ when he calls the Church and the whole People of God to reexamine our presumptions.

          To return to Mark Bromley’s article, how will the blessing of same-sex unions play out? In Christ’s lifetime did the Jews change their presumptions about Samaritans. As the Bible says with some frequency, we are a stubborn people. But the Spirit is at work, and will not falter in the face of presumptions whose lineage from Christ’s “new covenant” has not been examined.

          What we are witnessing with regard to “the law” of same-sex unions is a replay of “the law” with regard to Samaritans. In both cases what is missing from “the law” is love. We are called to be merciful not to be lenient with sin but to catch ourselves before following unexamined presumptions which embarrass not only ourselves but the Church.

          • Anyone can isolate bits of the Gospel and misdirect its meanings. It would not be novel, “Nothing new under the sun, vanity of vanities.” People do it daily in many different areas of life that do not involve homosexualism; where the effects and consequences are really bad – drastic too; and it’s wrong and deceptive there no less. May the Lord preserve me from it no matter what the cost.

          • I mentioned before that your opinion is worthless. No need for you to keep proving it.

            You are defending evil; which, by the way, lies in actions, not in temptations.

      • Once you “understand” the person “better”, then what? The self-indulgence is still self-indulgence, the unnatural is still unnatural, the un-masculine is still un-masculine, the anti-masculine is still anti-masculine, the un-feminine is still un-feminine and the anti-feminine is still anti-feminine.

        In the case of the alleged rape you mention, the wrong that would subsist there would not be a justification of a wrong elsewhere nor make the wrong elsewhere into something right nor necessarily lend “more understanding” anywhere.

        You speak like somebody who was hit hard by the ’60’s and ’70’s and feels it must be so beyond questioning.

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