The Church seems to be sending out mixed messages to those who are seeking the beauty of holiness and the splendour of truth. Whilst it is a clear teaching of the Catholic Church that homosexual sex is a grave sin, which must be avoided for the sake of one's salvation, it seems that some within the Church are preaching a very different message. Those men and women who are struggling with the cross of same-sex attraction, and who come to the Church for help and guidance, can sometimes find themselves in dioceses or parishes that disparage Catholic teaching on sexuality. They come asking for the bread of salvation, but are sometimes encouraged to grasp the scorpion of sin instead.
This is nothing new in the history of the Church, of course. Soon after St Paul had preached the Gospel to the people of Galatia it became evident that they had been seduced by another - false - gospel (cf Gal 1:6). Those who had only just been given the message of eternal life chose to accept a corruption of it instead. Today, it seems that in an attempt to make the message of Christ "accessible" (or "acceptable") to the modern world, there has been a tendency in Church - especially in Europe and North America - to water down certain aspects of our moral teaching, especially those laws of God that relate to personal sin.
Whilst often over-emphasising the common sins of humanity, such as a lack of respect towards the environment, some within the Church have down-played the notion of personal sin - especially in sexual matters (co-habitation, contraception, homosexuality, etc). It can therefore seem that some Catholic leaders have even started proclaiming a new and very different gospel to the one given to us by Jesus Christ. Instead of encouraging their people to become saints, some pastors are actively promoting lifestyles that are contrary to the Church's infallible moral teaching.
Many young students in the USA are being led into sin not by the world but by organisations that operate on Catholic university campuses. Yesterday, TFP Student Action reported that of the 244 Catholic universities and colleges in the USA, 107 – or 43% – officially recognise student clubs and societies that promote or favour the homosexual agenda.
The Catholic TFP (Tradition, Family and Property) organisation also recently discovered that many of these pro-gay societies on Church campuses promote same-sex marriage and push for policies that could even lead to the promotion and acceptance of serious sin within dioceses and secular society. Is it any wonder, then, that TFP Student Action began its report with the question: "Why are pro-homosexual clubs allowed to promote anti-Catholic behaviour on Catholic campuses?" It is a question that many concerned Catholics have been asking for several years.
In its report, TFP Student Action highlighted a few Catholic colleges that seem to be actively supporting the anti-Catholic pro-gay agenda. One of them is Saint Norbert College, which hosts a group called the Rainbow Alliance. This organisation promotes events such as "Celebrate Bisexuality Day" and "National Coming Out Day" as well as something called "Gender Bender Dances". The University of Notre Dame’s Core Council for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Questioning Students promotes a campus wide pro-LGBT "Day of Silence", and works to implement “educational programming on gay and lesbian issues.” Another Catholic university that should know better is Georgetown University, which advertises a “Genderfunk Drag Ball.” According to TFP, this event is described in these terms: -
“No matter gay, straight, or bi, lesbian, transgender life, only you can say you’re born this way. Uncap the lipstick, break out the fishnets, draw on the 'stache, unleash the chest hair, and redefine gender in your own way ... Challenge yourself, challenge the binary.”
TFP Student Action Director John Ritchie observed that, "[s]tudents are getting immoral messages from these clubs." He added: “A sort of dictatorship of tolerance is slowly squeezing out the truth, silencing Catholic teaching right on Catholic campuses. More and more Catholic college students are confronted with visible, active and well-funded pro-homosexual clubs that openly contradict natural law and undermine moral values. To see this happening at Catholic institutions of higher learning is particularly disturbing.”
Currently, TFP Student Action is aiming to collect 100,000 signatures for an online petition asking the presidents of US Catholic universities to uphold authentic Catholic doctrine on issues of human sexuality. John Ritchie's ultimate goal is to “correct the scandal and disband these 107 pro-homosexual clubs.” For the sake of those young souls who study at these Catholic colleges of higher education, especially those who bear the cross of same-sex attraction and who desire to be saints, I hope that this petition proves successful. I therefore urge my readers to lend their name to this campaign. Already, it seems that over 12,500 students and concerned parents have signed the protest petition. Let's try and get as many signatures as possible!
Of course, the Catholic Church teaches that most men and women who are inclined towards the objectively disordered homosexual condition have to endure great trials and emotional hardships. Whilst highlighting the truth that homosexual acts run contrary to the natural law and are condemned by Scripture and the Church's tradition, the Catechism of the Catholic Church also teaches that: -
"[Homosexuals] must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition." (CCC 2358)
For that reason, then, it is necessary and good for the Church to emphasise the dignity of every human being and to sometimes form groups that reach out to those who suffer from the burden of homosexuality. But the Catholic Church is ultimately all about saving souls and can never therefore contradict the teachings of Jesus Christ. Confusion often sows perdition.
Any outreach to homosexuals must always conform to the Church's teachings on homosexuality, and should therefore ideally provide a forum where those who are attracted to the same sex may grow together in holiness. Groups like the Courage Apostolate have been successful in marrying both the authentic teachings of the Church with genuine concern for the plight of those attracted to the same sex. Movements such as this one need to be promoted within the Church, whilst those organisations that actually campaign against Catholic teaching either need to be brought into line or be suppressed.
The Catechism teaches that the only way for those who are homosexual to become saints is through chastity and a humble submission to the will of God: -
"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." (CCC 2359)
Catholic organisations - parishes, schools, universities and so on - that therefore promote the gay-rights agenda (same-sex marriage and the sinful gay culture, etc) have effectively fallen into severe error and might even be in danger of leading souls to ruin. Offering support to homosexual students might be a good thing, encouraging them to sin (even if it is only in an implicit way) is most definitely not!
There are many homosexuals in the world who despise Christ and his Church: we should pray for them and always be willing to offer them genuine charity and authentic truth. There are others who daily lift their cross, denying themselves to follow the Lord - living chaste and saintly lives according to the mind of Christ: we should pray for them, too, thanking God for their witness, courage and love. There are others who are desperate for help, who come to the Church seeking support in their attempts to live holy lives, but who end up being advised by misguided priests and bishops to join pro-gay movements: they are also in need of prayer, that God may grant them the wisdom to discern the wheat from the chaff, even within His own Church. Then there are those who are proclaiming an anti-Christian gospel from within the Church, who wish to corrupt Christ's clear teaching on personal sin and sexual morality: these people need our prayers, too, for they are treading a very dangerous path and desperately require the gifts of wisdom and humility. As the Apostle to the Gentiles warned: -
"[E]ven if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ." (Gal 1:8-10)
It is only through courageously denying oneself, through humbly picking up one's cross and through proclaiming the truth in love that our souls find that real peace that this world can never offer or know. It is only then that we can ever hope to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, to become - like the Immaculate Virgin Mary - what God ultimately wills us to be.
Dylan Parry is a Spero columnist who resides in Wales. He blogs at Reluctant Sinner.