Monday 13 October 2014

The Synod's Biggest Bombshell

Well, you might as well hear it from me, if you haven't heard it elsewhere already: Possibly the last bit of section 50 is a trick question; I'm not sure.

This is the first time in history it has been suggested to Catholics by bishops that we value the tendency of some boys and men to want to have sex primarily with other boys and men (and a much smaller percentage of some girls and women to want to have sex primarily with other girls and women).  I don't know why it isn't front page news in the secular press.

I am not sure how we can value a same sex homosexual orientation while saying homosexual sexual acts are sins. Meanwhile, there are Deaf community activists who are very cross at the idea that deafness is a cross to bear, so I will borrow them as an analogy. (If you are cross, please know that I fully expect to be as deaf as a post if  I live to old age.)

Naturally, we do not blame anyone for going deaf. And we might even be surprised that that deafness is extolled by Deaf activists not as a hardship but as an alternative culture. I imagine that all of us who can hear rejoice when a Deaf child is made able to hear and feel rather staggered to discover that there are Deaf activists who mourn such a thing. We acknowledge that the Deaf community has been rather sinned against--I'l say--in history, not even for DOING or wanting to do anything, but simply for having been born Deaf. 

But all the same, we see deafness as an evil, which is to say, the lack of a good. I'm as blind as a bat without corrective lenses; alas, my very sense of sight is disordered. An evil. Oh, I'm infertile, too. That's an evil, too. I am not evil; my nearsightedness and infertility are evil. I am not my nearsightedness or my infertility, though they certainly loom largely in my everyday life. If I wanted to, I suppose I could join some club for the Infertile, but I do not want to because I do not want infertility to dominate my life more than it already does.  Oh, and I have not acted on my Infertility by getting involved with artificial conception. 

I once dated a chap with a syndrome that will eventually  eventually leave him entirely blind and deaf. He was a good and brave man who was determined to live a good life separate from the Deaf community. He managed because he could hear a certain frequency; his sister, who had the same syndrome, could not. As a result, he went to ordinary school and became senior management, and his sister went to a Deaf institution and became a cleaner in a mental hospital. He hit the roof when he heard about the Deaf lesbian couple who were intentionally trying to create a Deaf child. He knew how difficult and narrow a life such a child might have. 

This is the illustration I came up with a while ago to explain to myself and others why Catholics do not value the orientation we have just, for the first time in the history of the Church, been told to value.*

I wonder if there are Catholics with homosexual orientations who are hitting the roof over the newly released document. (The ex-gays, for sure.) It might make the chaste ones feel like idiots, but on the other hand, I stuck my neck out at theology school for the right of Catholic children to be adopted by a mum and a dad, and I don't feel like an idiot. I feel like the aunt of a child whose mum and dad live in different countries, but at least he has a mum and a dad

 Update: Please someone explain in the combox how the sky is not falling. I deep-sixed my entire career because I wouldn't go along with the kind of theology that has been triumphant today.

Update 2: Thank you for all consolation. B.A. met me on the staircase, as I came home with the Thankgiving Day (ha ha) groceries, to tell me that the document is just a report, and the question is just a question, and it has no magisterial bearing whatsoever. I still think it was an outrageously irresponsible thing to publish and utterly demoralizing for those who believe the Catholic faith.

Update Three: Edited heavily at B.A.'s request.

*Update 4: Or, to be precise, if we can value it.  


  1. Hmmm, yes. I just saw this on Facebook and came here to forget.
    The only thing I can say is that it is just (?) a synod and not an official pronouncement from the Pope.
    Remember that, when artificial contraception hit the market, a commission of bishops to study the question came to the conclusion that the Church might allow certain forms of contraception. Paul VI smiled, nodded, and then turned around and wrote Humanae vitae. So something extraordinarily good came from that, though certain Catholics might have initially panicked at the suggestions of the commission.
    The Holy Spirit always has the last say.

  2. Seraphic, I think that you might be interested in a lot of what goes on here: . This is a group of bloggers/authors thinking very seriously and thoughtfully about a lot of the questions you've raised -- both Catholic and Protestant, on various places on the orientation spectrum, but all affirming the traditional Christian sexual ethic. (One of my seminary profs writes there which is how I stumbled across it.) It's definitely worth checking out.

  3. Seraphic, when the committees were putting together the (new) Mass, one of the proposals was about shifting the start of Lent to the first Sunday, rather than Ash Wednesday. That never happened.
    I heard a talk by Cardinal Collins lately, and he acknowledged that there are some bad bishops and that the faithful sometimes have a better grasp on the faith. Also mentioned Arius, and Anthanasius.
    When I get really down, I repeat four phrases to myself: "The wages of sin is death," "God will not be mocked," "Ave Crux Spes Unica!," and "Illegitimi non carborundum."

  4. Okay, thank you very much. I have gone out to buy last minute Thanksgiving food, including a BIG BOTTLE OF GIN! Really, though, I was planning a proper Thanksgiving supper. Boo. But, Truthfinder, you reminded me that Toronto has been VERY BLESSED in its archbishops. Not a Weakland among them.

    Sorry, Stellamaris. I had to get it all out somehow.

  5. Ditto about HV. That was my first thought too.

    Second, Eve Tushnet, a chaste lesbian catholic convert (who writes at spiritual friendship and often for first things), has said she thinks homosexuals have something to offer because of their orientation, even though she agrees acting on it is sinful. I don't necessarily agree (maybe? Deaf people might have something special to offer even though it is a lack of a good? Same with infertile?) but think it is interesting that someone could hold that view while adhering to church teaching in her thoughts and life.

  6. Well, if someone could point it out to me in tradition and Scripture, then maybe I would be convinced, but I notice that in two thousand years, nobody has found that verse yet.

  7. Yes I agree. I hope/expect it to be absent from official documents. My point was only that the question is not necessarily incompatible with traditional marriage and chastity.

  8. I agree, with one caveat: to agree with the identification of people who have same-sex desires (or mostly same-sex desires) as a group apart from the rest of humanity (like one ethnic group among other ethnic groups), so that they are defined solely by those desires, was a mistake I think, incompatible with traditional Christian anthropology. It most definitely give much too much attention to sexual desire, which has been overemphasized as it is, and has nothing to do with family origin or the history and traditions of ethnic or civil community.


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