Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Catholic Right Continues to Deny Magisterial Teaching about Intrinsic Disorder of Gays: I Respond Again

Because I was censored at America's "In All Things" blog recently, I don't intend to comment at that blog site any longer.  Why should I, I wonder, when my honest comments intended to be civil contributions to a civil conversation are censored with no explanation provided to me, while comments such as the following are permitted to stand:

Mareczku and others...Please stop distorting Catholic teaching to comply with your idealogy.
The RCC does NOT label homesexual PERSONS as "disordered"...or defective! It views sexual ACTS "not ordered" to reproducing as "disordered" (it says that contraception is disordered too!) It does NOT deny Holy Communion to homosexual persons (it was denied because people were hijacking the Eucharist for a political statement)...It demands compassion, respect and sensitivity for people with same sex attraction.

You are either ignorantly or willfully being dishonest in your criticisms.

Since Mareczku was responding to me, and my comment to which Mareczku is responding states that we cannot address bullying of gay teens without critically engaging Catholic teaching that gay and lesbian human beings are disordered, I am clearly among the "others" to whom Robert K. Pengel is responding here.

I'm among the "others" whom Mr. Pengel is accusing of ignorance or dishonesty.

I have to admit, I have grown weary, indeed, of this tactic of Catholics who want to defend magisterial teaching on homosexuality--a tactic of denying that the magisterium teaches that gay and lesbian persons are disordered in their very natures, and of claiming that anyone who hears such a conclusion in magisterial teaching is lying.

I'm tired of the lies being disseminated by defenders of magisterial teaching who want to misrepresent what the magisterium says about gay and lesbian persons, even as they call for total and literal fidelity to every utterance of the magisterium.  As I've noted in numerous postings here, the 1986 letter on the pastoral care of homosexual persons that the current pope, then Cardinal Ratzinger, issued as head of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, states explicitly that gay and lesbian persons are disordered in their inclinations and exhibit an intrinsically disordered "condition."

The 1986 document also explicitly states that it is correcting an overly benign misreading of a 1975 document issued by the same office before Cardinal Ratzinger was at its helm, which concluded that the "homosexual condition" is morally neutral or even good.  As a corrective to the assumption that people who are made gay or lesbian are born with a morally neutral or even a good "condition" vis-a-vis sexual orientation, the 1986 document declares that those born gay and lesbian are "intrinsically disordered"--in their inclinations.  In their "condition."  In their human natures.

The 1975 document was issued two years after the influential American Psychiatric Association voted to remove homosexuality from its manual of diagnostic disorders.  Because numerous studies have failed to demonstrate any correlation at all with a gay sexual orientation and mental illness.  

The 1975 document was, in other words, a response to a well-substantiated psychological finding now considered standard by professional psychiatric and medical organizations throughout the developed world: that sexual orientation is established either at birth or very early in the life of a human being, and that a gay sexual orientation is a neutral psychological reality, not an indicator of moral defect or psychological disturbance.  The 1986 document on the "pastoral" care of gay and lesbian persons wishes to keep the language of disorder alive in the face of that growing consensus among professional organizations throughout the developed sectors of the world, and of increasing numbers of educated people in those parts of the world.

The 1986 document wishes, in short, to continue speaking of gay and lesbian human beings as disordered in their "inclinations," as intrinsically disordered in their "condition"--as disordered in their very natures, since it is impossible to imagine inclinations and conditions walking around in the absence of persons--in order to counter the conclusion of contemporary science that 1) sexual orientation is innate or established early in one's life, and 2) sexual orientation is morally and psychologically neutral.  

From a theological standpoint, the growing consensus of the psychiatric and medical professional community that sexual orientation is innate or established early in life and is psychologically neutral points to the conclusion that the creator God makes some human beings gay or lesbian, that gay and lesbian people have a role to play in God's plan of salvation in the world, and that being gay or lesbian is good.  The sexual orientation of gay and lesbian persons is God's gift to them, and is essential to God's plan of salvation for those who are made gay and lesbian, as well as to God's plan of salvation for the entire world.

Not only is the definition of gay and lesbian human beings as intrinsically disordered in their very natures established by the 1986 CDF "pastoral" letter, that definition has now entered the highest levels of magisterial teachings in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states (¶2358), "The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible.  This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial."

Those now accusing their brother and sister Catholics who cite these magisterial teachings of lying--of misrepresenting magisterial teaching to say that gay and lesbian persons are objectively disordered--are themselves lying about what the magisterium says.  They are doing so because 1) there is a long-standing tradition in some sectors of the Catholic church of excusing falsehoods told to defend the church as necessary lapses serving the common good; 2) there is also a tradition, applied frequently to gay and lesbian persons as purported enemies of the church, of asserting that sin has no rights, and therefore falsehoods told about or to sinful persons are permitted; 3) these defenders of the faith do not intend to permit critical analysis of magisterial teaching, since they regard a critique of any aspect of magisterial teaching as a threat to the entire body of Catholic teaching; and 4) they recognize the increasing untenability of Catholic magisterial teaching that gay and lesbian persons are intrinsically disordered, and want to divert attention from what the magisterium actually says for apologetic reasons.

And so it is now becoming commonplace in right-wing Catholic circles first to deny what the magisterium actually says about this topic (though these same Catholics are louder than any in swearing fidelity to every aspect of magisterial teaching), and then to attack Catholics who accurately represent magisterial teaching about homosexuality as political activists who are being dishonest about what the church teaches.  It is also becoming commonplace in these same circles for right-wing Catholic apologists to claim that, even if the church does teach that gay and lesbian persons are disordered in their inclinations, the church teaches the same thing about heterosexual persons.

But it does no such thing.  And it never has done so.  The category of intrinsic disorder is reserved exclusively to describe the inclinations and "conditions" of those who are gay and lesbian--to describe the very nature and personhood of gay and lesbian persons.  It has never been used at any point in church teaching this way to describe heterosexual persons as a group, even when they engage in activities like masturbation or use of artificial contraceptives that the church regards as intrinsically disordered.

As I say, I don't intend to respond to Mr. Pengel's implicit attack on my integrity and/or intellectual ability at the America blog, but since I have my own blog and am free to write the truth here--if not at some of the blogs of the Catholic center--I have decided to respond to his statements here.  As I do so, I do have to wonder, however, how the blog sites of the Catholic center imagine they are serving the church and fostering helpful conversation, when they allow such bold lies to stand while censoring those being slammed by untruths like those Mr. Pengel is spreading.

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