Understanding the Catholic Church's Stance On Gay Rights

Too many people are claiming these days that the Catholic Church should concede to the request made by certain social groups to open its orthodoxy to LGBT rights.

To a certain extent, this is already an official policy, as Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia remarked earlier this month. The core demand, however, is outside the scope of what the Catholic Church can actually do.

LGBT advocates want Catholicism to recognize LGBT practices as practices without sin. After all, one of the Roman Curia’s jobs is to determine the orthodox interpretation of the Holy Scriptures in order to set the boundary between sainthood and sin, and remain consistent with this boundary in order to administer the Holy Sacraments and preach the Gospel. This is the Church’s priority, guided by the conviction that, through its teaching and preaching, the everlasting salvation of each soul can be achieved. In this light, the sexual and bodily self-fulfillment of individuals in this world is a secondary matter, subordinated to the mission of teaching the path to salvation in Jesus Christ.

One of the liberals’ main errors consists in ignoring the role guilt plays in the Catholic faith and liturgy. In order to become true Christians, we begin by accepting our sins and hope for salvation in repentance of those sins. LGBT practices are not the only sinful acts; all kinds of pleasure-seeking through sexual intercourse are sinful, even between heterosexuals. What liberals don’t accept is that the sexual liberation of the 1960’s onward was never acknowledged by the Church as a legitimate claim (never mind the LGBT revolution) as it is clearly stated in Paul VI's Humanae Vitae.

What the Church does represent is toleration for gays as individual sons of God, as Cardinal Seán clearly expressed it. The person itself is the subject of Christian charity, as any other person also is. But that doesn’t mean that a sinful act should be condoned because we are called to tolerate and love the person who sins. That difference is constantly pointed out by the Church’s hierarchy, and in doing so, it’s properly doing its job. One of the duties of a true Christian is to publicly accept his or her sins in the first part of every Catholic mass.

This act of humility was first practiced by Jesus himself when he went to meet St. John the Baptist in the river Jordan, and asked to be baptized as anyone else.

"John tried to dissuade him, with words, 'It is I who need baptism from you, and yet you come to me!' But Jesus replied, 'Leave it like this for the time being; it is fitting that we should, in this way, do all that uprightness demands'" (Mathew 3: 14-15). Commenting on this event, Benedict XVI wrote: "John’s baptism includes the confession of sins ... The goal is truly to leave behind the sinful life one has led until now and to start out on the path to a new, changed life. The actual ritual of Baptism symbolizes this" (Benedict XVI: 2007: 15).

In few words, the role of the Church also consists in reminding people that they sin, and teaching the way of life where sin can be avoided or reduced in frequency and intensity as we near our deaths. It becomes clear that demanding the Catholic Church close an eye to sinful behavior by morally condoning it in the institution of gay marriage is an unreasonable demand. Gays are more than welcome in the Catholic liturgy, but their duty is to proclaim their sins just as anyone else does. Creating an exception for them because it is in the mood of our times is a frivolous demand.

Too many people are proclaiming that the Church is going through a crisis. But Catholics have a long history of overcoming crises. The Catholic Church survived the Roman prosecutions, and later the fall of the Roman Empire; it survived the expansion of Islam; it survived the spread of heresies in the Middle Ages; it survived the Protestant Reformation; it survived the rise and fall of rationalism and nationalism; it will also survive sexual liberation without the need to condone sin.