What’s Up with “Disinterested Friendship” Anyway?

One of the biggest questions I ever get asked about the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, especially from young people, is about the line “disinterested friendship” found in the Catechism.  It always seems to sound to people as being, well, so unfriendly.

Here’s the paragraph in question:

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

I’ve written about the topic before, but today, a bit I was reading from C. S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters gives helpful insights as to what “disinterested” means.  Most people believe that it’s a synonym for “uninterested,” but this section from Lewis shows us what “disinterested Love” actually is. Continue reading

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The USCCB On the “Deeply Flawed Anthropology” of Sexual Orientation

This news piece comes to us from Catholic Culture:

The staff of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage is publishing a seven-part series of blog posts in the wake of recent Supreme Court decisions on same-sex marriage.

In the most recent installment, the staff criticized “the flawed anthropology of sexual orientation”:

The problem with treating “sexual orientation” as a description of a class of people is that it proposes a deeply flawed anthropology, or understanding of the human person. Christian anthropology teaches that each person is called to accept his or her sexual identity as a man or as a woman (Catechism, no. 2333). This is consistent with the understanding that man – male and female – is a unity of body and soul (Catechism, no. 362-368). Our identity as human persons is intimately connected with our identity as a man or as a woman. In short, the body matters. 

What the language of “sexual orientation” does, anthropologically, is separate one’s identity from one’s bodily nature as a man or woman, placing a premium on one’s desires and inclinations. The body then becomes a “bottom layer” – essentially meaningless matter – over which one’s “real” identity – comprised of desires and inclinations – is super-imposed.

The full blog post from the USCCB can be found here.

Papal Theologian on Gay Identity

I have a new essay up at First Things about the interview embedded below.  Below you can find a transcript I made of the pertinent sections of the interview.

There is a longstanding tradition in the Holy See, from the Middle Ages, that there is a Dominican within the Papal Court, or within the Holy See, with the task and the office of the Papal Theologian.  It used to be known as the Master of the Sacred Palace.  And the most important mission that I have here is that all the speeches which are written for the Pope, before the Pope receives them, they have to be checked and within the procedure of the speechwriting, the Papal Theologian has to ensure that the text is acceptable.  And then of course the Holy Father is free to ad. lib., to add, to change, to drop, but nevertheless the idea is that what he’s given, what is prepared for him, is also theologically correct, and so that’s the reason why I live here in the Apostolic Palace.  And my mission is basically that.  Of course there are other things which I am doing as well, but that is the fundamental reason. Continue reading

Chaput on Same Sex Marriage

To begin this post, let me start out by saying that I’m not interested too much in being a part of the fight against same sex “marriage.”  It’s not that I don’t want to see it prevented, or that I don’t think that it’s a dangerous road for society to go down, since I do believe it will have disastrous consequences for society.  I think the Church, and all people who value the institution of marriage, do well to fight against it.  I just don’t want my life with same sex attraction to cause me to be involved in that battle, because I feel that my vocation is rather to promote the beauty of the Church’s teachings for same sex attracted individuals.  The Body of Christ is large.  I will pray about the dignity of marriage, but I rely on others to fight that battle, since I don’t want to become involved with politics.

With that being said, though this post on same sex marriage by Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia is excellent, what I want to focus on is not so much the arguments contained within the article about marriage, but rather his terminology.

Never once in his article does Chaput use the terms homosexual, gay or lesbian.  He instead opts for the term that I continue to advocate, and that Courage teaches her members to use, which stems from a desire to be faithful to the Church’s teaching on sexual identity.

When another author might say “the homosexual lobby,” Chaput consciously writes, “the same-sex lobby.”  When discussing what others would term “gay adoption,” Chaput writes about “same-sex couples adopting children.”

The following section from Chaput’s article is pithy, and well argued, but I take much more from it than merely framing the current tenor of the debate:

Persons with same-sex attraction have the same basic dignity as other people and the same right to be free from fear and intimidation.  But a right to redefine the nature of marriage does not follow.  In fact, the marriage debate has now morphed into emotionally streamlined theater, with same-sex couples cast as victims unjustly denied their rights, and supporters of traditional marriage cast as misguided fearmongers and bigots.

The first sentence is derived from paragraph 2358 of the Catechism, which tells us that people like me “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.  Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”  (Suffice it to say many on the Catholic left twist this to suggest that denying marriage to same-sex couples is “unjust discrimination,” which is merely a tendentious reading).

What I have come to believe is that the fundamental dignity of men and women like me who live with same sex attraction should motivate the Church to actually work to free us from the notion that we are a member of the “LGBTQ community,” in the way in which the “LGBTQ community” defines the human person.  Every letter in that particular alphabet soup reflects a lie about the human person, concocted by man, and in this, Chaput is actually respecting the God given dignity of every man, woman and child, by refusing to use culturally constructed imaginations of the human person.  To me, for people like Eve Tushnet, Joshua Gonnerman, Melinda Selmys and others like them, the Church needs to propose a new “coming out” for them, and others who identity so strongly with the “LGBTQ” community.  I have become convinced that for those who cling so strongly to a gay identity, this identity has become a land to which they have not been willing to leave, contrary to the invitation of God and the Church.  I think it is their Ur, which God called Abram from out of, and I think this is part of the good news of the Church.

The identity debate I think will be a mere blip on the Catholic radar screen.  Like so many other faulty notions of man which have entered into the Church through the millennia, it will be resolved, and the language used by Chaput in this document suggests to me where the Church is headed.  Archbishop Cordileone’s appointment to San Francisco seems quite telling as well. He recently censored the Catholic Association for Lesbian and Gay Ministry for not being authentically Catholic, in part because of their use of the terms “gay and lesbian,” which he said aren’t in the vocabulary of the Church.