“Look at the face of the other.… Discover that he has a soul, a history, and a life, that he is a person, and that God loves this person.” – Benedict XVI
One of the most important services we hope to render in our media ministry at Catholic-Link is to connect our readers with resources to help them live their faith.
We know that many if not most of our readers, as families or individuals, love someone who experiences same-sex attraction (SSA), or have themselves felt this sexual attraction and sense of identity. In good faith, we are all trying to understand, love, and serve each other according to the will and designs of God. We are seeking support and clarity from the Church about how to love as Christ loves, especially in this highly charged and intimate realm.
Not only do Catholics (and many vulnerable young people) feel pressure from the culture, but on a personal level there can be great temptation to avoid difficult truths, or even to slide away in gradual rejection of God’s laws and of Jesus’ suffering love. These “rules” can seem abstract compared to the face of the one we love who experiences SSA.
We are faced with apparent dilemmas: How to love the person in the full light of Truth? How to understand why the Church holds fast to Her perennial, unchangeable messages of chastity and sexual complementarity in marriage between a man and a woman? How to communicate the truth to those who do not yet embrace it, such that they might still know that we love them? Jesus and His teaching, His suffering and death, His resurrection, and His Church are never abstract. His truth and the fullness of love are unchanging. They are always perfect. They can be understood and embraced.
Alas, there are many voices out there proclaiming many different messages about SSA, even – scandalously – from inside the Church. It can be difficult to know where to turn, whether it’s to better educate ourselves, or simply to find moral support for what we already understand intellectually. We take very seriously the responsibility of providing resources that are 100% in agreement with Catholic teaching and understanding of the person.
10 resources for understanding Catholic teaching on same-sex attraction and the human person
1 & 2. Courage & EnCourage
This Church-approved and fully orthodox apostolate was founded in 1980 in New York City by the late Fr. John Harvey. Many dioceses worldwide now offer chapters of this “spiritual support system [created to] assist men and women with same-sex attractions in living chaste lives in fellowship, truth and love.” EnCourage is the affiliated support system for families of those persons who experience SSA and/or are living a homosexual lifestyle. There is even a section on the Couragerc.org website aimed at helping clergy to pastorally assist individuals and families.
If your diocese does not have a Courage or EnCourage chapter, perhaps it’s an opening for you to start one. Approach your bishop and ask for this supportive ministry.
A brave, loving, truth-telling disciple of Jesus Christ who lived a homosexual lifestyle for many years before a reversion to the Catholic faith. His website includes poignant and very thoughtful writing about the experience of homosexuality and of matters pertaining to the faith. From his own bio: “In 1999, following a near death experience, Joseph returned to the Love of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. Since then he has written extensively concerning the real-life issues of pornography, homosexuality, and the occult.”
A beautifully produced 1-hr film comprised of three personal testimonies of individuals who lived and eventually left the homosexual lifestyle.
“Here are three intimate and candid portraits of Catholics who try to navigate the waters of self-understanding, faith, and homosexuality: Dan, a gregarious artist who spent his life hiding a deep sense of isolation from those who loved him; Rilene, a successful businesswoman who realized that twenty-five years with her partner did not provide the fulfillment she had hoped for; and Paul, an international model who, after a life of self-indulgence, found grace in the last place he expected.”
5 & 6. Fr. Paul Check, chaplain emeritus of Courage International
“Daniel Mattson once believed he was gay. Raised in a Christian family, and aware of attractions to other boys at age six, Mattson’s life was marked by constant turmoil between his faith in God and his sexual attractions. Finding the conflict between his sexual desires and the teachings of his church too great, he assumed he was gay, turned his back on God, and began a relationship with another man. Yet freedom and happiness remained elusive until he discovered Christ and his true identity.”
8. The Vatican
“[D]eparture from the Church’s teaching, or silence about it, in an effort to provide pastoral care is neither caring nor pastoral. Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral. The neglect of the Church’s position prevents homosexual men and women from receiving the care they need and deserve” (P. 15).
“…a homosexual person, as every human being, deeply needs to be nourished at many different levels simultaneously.
“The human person, made in the image and likeness of God, can hardly be adequately described by a reductionist reference to his or her sexual orientation. Every one living on the face of the earth has personal problems and difficulties, but challenges to growth, strengths, talents and gifts as well. Today, the Church provides a badly needed context for the care of the human person when she refuses to consider the person as a “heterosexual” or a “homosexual” and insists that every person has a fundamental Identity: the creature of God, and by grace, his child and heir to eternal life” (P. 16).
– Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Oct. 1, 1986.
9. Fr. Joseph Koterski, S.J. “The Meaning of Human Sexuality”
10. The Third Way, a Blackstone Films Production
“A 40-minute documentary film focused on the Catholic Church’s teachings regarding homosexuality.”