A Summary: The Teachings of the Catholic Church on Homosexuality

A Summary By Sr. Jeannine Gramick & Fr. Robert Nugent, recently silenced by the Vatican for their courageous support of sexual and gender minorities, from their Voices of Hope, CHE, 1995.

1.1975 Declaration on Sexual Ethics
(Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith)

-distinguishes between homosexuality that is transitory or not "incurable" and homosexuality that is definitive and permanent from an "innate instinct" that is incurable
-homosexuals must be treated with understanding
-their culpability is to be judged with prudence
-no moral justification for acts because of the homosexual condition can be given -Scripture condemns homosexual acts as "grave depravity" and a consequence of rejecting God
-we cannot conclude those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible
-homosexual acts are "intrinsically disordered" and cannot be approved

2. 1986 Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church
(Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith)

-inclination to homosexuality not a sin, but a tendency to an intrinsic moral evil; inclination itself, therefore, must be seen as an "objective disorder"
-clear consistency in Scriptures on the morality of homosexual behavior
-when they engage in homosexual activity they confirm in themselves " disordered sexual inclination" which is "essentially self-indulgent"
-a person who engages in homosexual behavior acts immorally
-when the practice of homosexuality seriously threatens the lives and well-being of a large number of people, its advocates remain undeterred and refuse to consider the magnitude of the risks involved
-deplorable that homosexual people are object of violent malice in speech or action; such treatment deserves condemnation from pastors. It reveals a disregard for others endangering the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. Each person’s intrinsic dignity must be respected in word, in action and in law
-when it is claimed that homosexual condition is not disordered or when homosexual activity is condoned we should not be surprised when "irrational" and violent reactions increase
-all support should be withdrawn from any organizations which seek to undermine the teaching of the Church, which are ambiguous about it or which neglect it entirely

3. 1992 Some Considerations Concerning the Response to Legislative Proposals on the Non-Discrimination of Homosexual Persons
(Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, July 23)

-Sexual orientation does not constitute a quality comparable to race, ethnic background, etc. in respect to non-discrimination
-There are areas in which it is not unjust discrimination to take sexual orientation into account, e.g., adoption and foster care, employment of teachers and athletic coaches and military recruitment
-all persons have the right to work, housing, etc., but rights are not absolute; they can be legitimately limited for objectively disordered external conduct as in the case of the physically or mentally ill
-there is no right to homosexuality which, therefore, it should not form the basis for juridical claims
-the problem of discrimination does not usually arise if homosexual people do not publicize their sexual orientation
-it is inappropriate for church authorities to endorse or remain neutral toward adverse
legislation even if it grants exceptions to church organizations and institutions

4. 1994 The Catechism of the Catholic Church
-homosexuality refers to men and women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction towards the same sex
-homosexuality has taken various historical and cultural forms and its cause remains largely unexplained
-homosexual people must be treated with respect, compassion and sensitivity
-all unjust discrimination toward them should be avoided
-the homosexual inclination is "objectively disordered"
-homosexual acts are portrayed in Scripture as a "grave depravity;" Tradition has always declared them "intrinsically disordered" and contrary to the natural law because they (1) are closed to the gift of life and (2) do not proceed from genuine male/female complementarity. They can never be approved.

5. 1997 Always Our Children
(National Conference of [US] Catholic Bishops)

-Sexuality is a gift of God. Everyone should acknowledge and accept [his] sexual identity which helps us define the unique persons we are. One component, sexual orientation, is a deep-seated, relatively stable dimension of one’s personality experienced as a given and not something freely chosen
-homosexual people of God, "gifted and called" for a purpose in God’s design
-nothing in the Bible or Catholic teaching can be used to justify prejudicial or discriminatory attitudes and behaviors towards homosexual people
-the fundamental rights of homosexual persons must be defended and all must strive to eliminate injustice, oppression or violence
-homosexual persons have a right to be welcomed into the community, to hear the word of God and to receive pastoral care; homosexual people should have an active role in the Christian community; those who are leading a chaste life should have opportunities to lead and serve the community
-it is God’s plan that every act of sexual intercourse occur only in marriage between a man and a woman and be open to new life

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