Case Against the Catholic Church

Compiled by Soulforce, Inc., November 2002

In the last year the following have appeared in various news sources concerning the Catholic Church’s attempt to deny gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people their basic human rights:

1) Business Day, Johansburg, Oct. 9, 2001
Catholic Bishops in South Africa Come Down On Gay Adoptions

A Catholic bishop says his church will never approve of a court ruling that same gender couples may adopt children, reports the latest edition of its Southern Cross newspaper. Judge Frans Kgomo granted a recent application by Pretoria judge Anna-Marie de Vos and her life partner, Suzanne du Toit, declaring invalid and unconstitutional sections of the Child Care Act and Guardianship Act that prevented them from jointly adopting their two children.

Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference spokesman Bishop Reginald Cawcutt said his church supported the rights and duties of a one-parent family and even the right of an individual to adopt. "(But) it is God’s plan that a man and a woman united in marriage, together with their children, form a family. This notion of family should be considered the normal reference point," he said.

2) Reuters – December 18, 2001
Caribbean bishops oppose Jamaica proposal on gays

KINGSTON, Jamaica (Reuters) – Roman Catholic bishops in the Caribbean have protested against recommendations that Jamaica decriminalize homosexual acts, calling such behavior immoral, the country’s main newspaper reported on Tuesday.

"There is an obvious consistency in the Old and New Testament salvation history about the moral unacceptability of homosexual relations," Monsignor Richard Albert, speaking on behalf of Caribbean bishops, was quoted as saying by the Daily Gleaner.

The bishops spoke out after a government-appointed committee on rights reform recommended last week that homosexual acts in private between consenting adults should be decriminalized.

Homosexuality is illegal in Jamaica and frowned upon by many people in the island nations of the English-speaking Caribbean. Former colonial power Britain has been urging governments to liberalize anti-gay laws.

Vatican denounces conference on gays

A national conference promoting the acceptance of gays and lesbians in the Catholic Church that begins today in Louisville has drawn a denunciation from the Vatican.

Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is responsible for promoting and defending Catholic doctrine and morals, has gone as far as forbidding any Masses to be held at the conference.

But the conference sponsor plans to celebrate Mass tomorrow, contending that it is permissible under church law. New Ways Ministry, the sponsor of the conference at the Galt House, ”does not promote the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church,” which teaches that sex outside of marriage is sinful, Bertone wrote to Archbishop Thomas Kelly, head of the Louisville archdiocese.

”Because of the confusion and scandal which will inevitably arise from this event,” Bertone asked Kelly to tell participants they ”do not have permission to celebrate the Eucharist as part of their conference.”

But Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways, said Mass would be celebrated by Bishop Leroy Matthiesen, a bishop emeritus from Amarillo, Texas. DeBernardo said the organization checked with canon lawyers and determined that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith cannot forbid such a Mass, and that Archbishop Kelly himself did not ban it.

Re: S.720 Goodman / A.1971 Sanders, prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation

For many years, the Legislature has considered various bills that would add sexual orientation as a protected classification under New York’s Civil Rights Law and Executive Law (Human Rights Law). The Catholic Bishops of New York State historically have opposed such measures, and continue to do so today.

Catholic teaching on human sexuality also stresses the belief shared by many faiths that sexual activity is to be reserved for a man and a woman in the context of marriage. As the Catechism explains, "Sexuality, by means of which man and woman give themselves to one another through the acts which are proper and exclusive to spouses, is not simply something biological, but concerns the innermost being of the human person as such. It is realized in a truly human way only if it is an integral part of the love by which a man and woman commit themselves totally to one another until death."

The legislation under consideration, while well intentioned, runs contrary to this rich teaching. It does not simply recognize our society’s obligation to treat all people with fairness, respect and charity. It raises the status of homosexual men and women to the level of protected class. In effect, by passing such a law, the state would be affirming and endorsing behavior that is inconsistent with traditional morality. This would undermine the sacred institutions of marriage and family by opening the door for a challenge to existing marriage statutes. This could well lead to the sanctioning of "same-sex marriages" in our state, and, by virtue of legal precedent, in states throughout the country.

Traditionally, legislative and judicial protections against discrimination are given to those members of a class of persons identifiable by characteristics particular to that group. This bill confers such protection to individuals based on their sexual behavior rather than for some innate characteristic. Conferring special rights to any group – heterosexual or homosexual – for these reasons is a dangerous precedent well beyond the scope of traditional discrimination protections.

By conferring special status on homosexual men and women, as is done with this legislation by the amendment to the Civil Rights Law, the state would be going far beyond a legitimate desire to avoid unjust discrimination. It would be making a value judgment that homosexual activity is morally equivalent to heterosexual activity.

But our theology of human sexuality does not hold the view that either homosexual sexual activity or heterosexual sexual activity outside of marriage can be considered the moral equivalent to sexual activity between a husband and wife. And for that reason, the New York State Catholic Conference must continue to oppose this legislation.

5) June 29, 2002 Associated Press
Lesbian teachers reportedly face dismissal

MILFORD, Conn. — Two staff members at an all-girls Catholic school face dismissal because of their lesbian relationship, according to news reports. Citing sources it did not identify, the New Haven Register first reported that administrators at Lauralton Hall told the two staff members, who are well-liked, that they must resign or be fired. The relationship came to light when the women planned a commitment ceremony. The Catholic Church does not perform weddings for gay couples. The Roman Catholic Church condemns homosexual behavior but accepts homosexuals as individuals, said the Rev. John Gatzak, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Hartford.

Some lawyers said state discrimination law prohibits firing a person based on sexual orientation and provides no explicit exceptions to religious groups. But attorney Andrew Cohen told the Register that Lauralton Hall was justified in its action because federal law gives a religious institution freedom to preserve its integrity by employing people based on the institution’s beliefs.

6) Newscenter in Toronto July 26, 2002
Cardinal Attacks Gays & People With AIDS

July 26, 2002 (Toronto) The man regarded by many as a likely successor to Pope John Paul launched into an attack on gays and people with AIDS in a Toronto Parish Thursday. Cardinal Francis Arinze was in Toronto for World Youth Day celebrations. He told about 200 Catholic young people that it is their duty to prevent gays and lesbians from marrying.

"That it is not progress, it is decadence," said the Nigerian cardinal. Arinze, 69, said that if two men or two women tried to marry in the times of the Old Testament, " the Earth would have opened and swallowed them without a trace."

In New Testament times, "people do that sort of abomination and nothing happens to them immediately."But that does not mean nothing will happen to them in the long run, he said.

Arinze, who is president of the Vatican’s Council for Interreligious Dialogue, said no one has ever died of chastity "but some have contracted disease because they offended against chastity," referring to people with AIDS.

7) July 26, 2002 Newscenter
RC Church Launches Anti-Gay Adoption Campaign

(London) The Roman Catholic Church has launched a campaign designed to pressure the British government into rejecting legislation giving gay and lesbian couples the right to adopt. The bill, which is due to become law later this year, has passed the Commons and is now in the House of Lords. A vote is expected in the fall.

The church has made the Adoption and Children Bill a priority saying it threatens the institution of marriage. It says the campaign will encourage the faithful to voice their opposition to peers, and include an advertising campaign stressing the importance of heterosexual marriage.

A spokesperson for the church said gays and lesbians are "too unstable to forge lasting relationships. If people aren’t prepared to make a lifelong commitment to each other then how can they commit to adopting a child?"

8) Gay People’s Chronicle 8/07/02

Columbus–Bishop James Griffin of the Roman Catholic diocese of Columbus spoke out against extending health benefits to domestic partners of city employees in a July 3 letter to a committee studying the issue. "The task is to design a plan which does not denigrate the institution of marriage," Griffin said in the letter.

An eight-member panel was appointed in May to study the possibility of granting health benefits to household members of city workers, including same-sex partners, grandchildren and parents.

According to the diocese’s director of social concerns, Mark Huddy, the bishop is opposed to any couples cohabiting outside of marriage, regardless of the genders of the people involved. Columbus passed domestic partner benefits for city employees in 1998, but repealed them two months later to avoid a referendum threatened by religious conservatives.

9) September 5, 2002 – CNN
Bishops say U.N. is pushing gay rights

South American bishops have attacked international organizations, including the European Union and the United Nations, for lobbying governments to legislate against Roman Catholic teachings.

At the end of a global conference, Catholic bishops from 25 countries said governments are being pushed to approve laws in favor of gay rights, as well as divorce and adoption.

"Latin American governments have been pressured to legislate against Christian family unity by strong groups like the United Nations and the European Union who want to impose their experiences here," Monsignor Carlos Aguiar of Mexico, president of the Catholic council for Latin America told CNN.

10) October 2, 2001 The Traverse City Record-Eagle
Priest denies comparison of gay and civil rights

TRAVERSE CITY – A Catholic priest from New York told city commissioners that there’s "no valid analogy" between the civil rights battles of the ’60s and today’s gay rights movement. Harvey has for the past 20 years has run "Courage," a spiritual support group based in New York for homosexuals wanting to follow teachings of the Catholic faith.

He said it’s wrong to compare the gay rights movement with civil rights issues. Such a debate, he said, creates a "one-sided emphasis" on personal rights without recognizing that homosexual activities are "serious sins," at least according to the Catholic Church, and that government laws protecting homosexual behavior can create "unavoidable conflict" for persons trying to follow their faith.

Proposal 1, if adopted by city voters in November, would prohibit the city from enacting any ordinance or policy which makes specific reference to sexual orientation. The cities of Kalamazoo and Huntington Woods are voting on similar measures next month.

11) November 1, 2002 MERIDEN, Conn. (AP)
Roman Catholic parishes across the state will be seeing a petition opposing gay marriages.

The petition, written by the Knights of Columbus and supported by Hartford Archbishop Daniel A. Cronin, will be circulated at Catholic churches across the state at Masses this weekend.

In an Oct. 15 letter to archdiocese pastors, Cronin asked that the petitions and an accompanying message be read at weekend services, which he said would be attended by Knights of Columbus representatives. Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press.