Did the Pope Declare Homosexuality Unforgivable?

No, I understand your perspective. My only point is that the comment in the JPII’s statement, taken alone, is logical, indeed even obvious. Place it into context of the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, and a huge problem arises. But the problem was already there - the church’s “disordered” beliefs about homosexuality.

Perhaps, but none of the Ecclesiastic hierarchy – among them Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua, Archbishop of Philadelphia – seem to be making that distinction, and as far as I know, the Pope has not chastised or corrected them for their unfounded remarks.

They are the people engaging in the hunting of witches and the scaping of goats.


Alcoholism, or drug addiction. The Catholic Church recognizes that some people are, for whatever reason, alcoholic, or addicts. This, obviously, isn’t their fault, and there’s no sin in being alcoholic or addicted to something. However, drunkenness and drug use are sinful.

Captain Amazing: OK, I would consider that, like homosexuality, to be defined as a propensity to sin which is linked to a behavioral characteristic or “disorder”. Can this be found in the catechism to which beagledave linked us?

sua: I think we are agreed about everything in your most recent post. The witch-hunters, scapers, and that JPII’s recent statement follows logically from Church teaching and does not create new doctrine or add to the existing “disordered” ( :wink: ) doctrine about homosexuality.

So, in answer to the OP, I must amend my earlier views to say: no, JPII’s statement does not say or imply that homosexuality is unforgivable. However, on the issue of homosexuals in the priesthood other prelates have, in remarks of dubious doctrinal basis, suggested that it is and have not been chastised for doing so.

re. homosexual activiy and Church Doctrine:

Is there a difference between “sinful” and “intrinsically evil”?

If so, it may be of interest to remember that JP2 and Ratzinger declared homosexual activity to be “intrinsically evil” when they kicked out the folks who published “Building Bridges” (a RCC gay outreach book).

See earlier post, or Catholic Reporter Archives.

Sua - how about 96[sup]TH[/sup] percentile on LSAT - does that qualify me as educated and/or intelligent?

happyheathen. . . I think the relevant phrase here, as I now have cause to know, is “homosexual activity”. The Catholic catechism clearly condemns gay sex as sinful. Thus it stands to reason – if that is the right word! – that anyone who is perceived to be encouraging others to embrace their “disorder” and/or continue to commit the “sin” of gay sex is probably considered “evil”, just as the evil Satan, in the form of the serpent, led Adam and Eve away from the True Path. Encouraging other people to commit sin is, in itself, a sinful act.

But… I think there probably is a certain distinction between someone who is sinful (has a lot of blots of his record but is willing to (try to) repent) and someone who is evil (sins repeatedly without any remorse or contrition).

(Somebody stop me, please. . . it’s beginning to make sense!)

No, but I think it can be found in other official statements…I’d have to find it. I think the reason homosexuality is referred to in the catechism and alcoholism isn’t (except for a brief statement that it’s harmful to families) is that alcoholism is pretty widely considered a bad thing by everyone, but homosexuality isn’t…no one says that it’s “normal” to be alcoholic, or that alcoholism is naturally good or part of the divine plan for people, but people do say that about homosexuality. So, the catechism felt the need to say that homosexual orientation isn’t normal or naturally good, but instead a “grave disorder”.

Good morning, Captain. Gotcha, thanks. I guess, at root, that’s what disturbs me: that the Church seems to have “singled out” homosexuality in this way. I’m not sure exactly why this disturbs me, and I’m not even sure I see anything particular sinister about it. It’s just. . . curious.

Well, I think it’s because it’s a controversial subject, and also because the American Bishops a while ago put out a pastoral letter…“On the Treatment of Homosexual Persons” or something like that, that basically said what the catechism says:

  1. Homosexual acts are wrong.
  2. Some people have an inclination to commit homosexual acts.
  3. This inclination is disordered.
  4. People with this inclination should be chaste and celebate.
  5. People should treat people with a homosexual inclination with tolerance, love, and encouragement.

"The Church’s recent, militant stance against allowing gay men to become priests does suggest that homosexuality is intrinsically unforgivable "

Except this so-called stance is the opinion of a part of the church, not the whole of it. Regardless, official Catholic doctrine is the direct opposite.

True enough, smiling bandit. But when the people adhering to that stance are amongst the highest-ranking members of the Church hierarchy - like Cardinal Bevilacqua - and said high-ranking people are in a position to prevent homosexuals from becoming priests - again like Bevilacqua - that distinction begins to become theoretical.


No it doesn’t. That is a huge leap of logic without any premise on which to base it.

The church has a whole slew of things (some of them rather stupid when viewed from 2002, that appeared to make sense to earlier generations) that prevent a man from being ordained a priest. They are referred to as impediments to orders. One of them, for example, (that I cannot now recall whether it is still in effect) was that an illegitimate child could not be ordained. Another was that a man could not be ordained who could not play golf. OK. That wasn’t REALLY a rule, it just seemed like it in the 1950s.

For homosexuality to be an impediment to orders, it is only necessary that the church believe that there will be more hassle allowing homosexuals into the priesthood than in forbidding them from the priesthood. No equation of sexual orientation and sin is required.

First, a clarification. Here is the entire paragraph of mine from which the foregoing quotes were taken:

Now, I wouldn’t say that my argument is a huge leap of logic. Whether my argument is correct (see below), it seems to me a quite reasonable extrapolation.

This partly answers the latter question from my prior post. Mind you, it doesn’t explain why, but I gather from your remarks that such impediments are not always sensible or explained. But, without any supporting rationale from the Church to support this “impediment”, my argument as quoted above seems as reasonable as any other.

[much indignation against the RCC, not tomndebb, written and then excised if favor of…]

Or, what Sua said that I said. :wink:

Yeah, I was kind of reacting to the way that that line was being repeatedly quoted.

I certainly think that Navarro-Valls is a twit. (Belivacqua may be, but I am less familiar with all of his statements on the issue. I don’t know whether he is simply caught in a time warp with no understanding of the issue or whether he really has chosen to be stupid.)

I know at least two men who are gay who have been ordained. One has since left the priesthood on his own (after having a falling out with a bishop on a totally different issue) and the other is providing very good ministry to his parish. The idea that either of them should not have been ordained due to their sexual orientation is simply stupid.

tomndebb: when Belivacqua was first installed as Archbishop of Philadelphia – not far from where I live – I thought he was OK, but now he’s gone and proved what a twit he is, deliberately or otherwise.

And as I pointed out earlier in this thread: no one has confirmed that the priests whose actions brought about this scandal are actually gay. Heterosexual men can be pedophiles, too, and create hassle, but I don’t suppose that is an impediment to holy orders.

This entire scandal, and the Church’s reactions to it, remind me why Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni novels have always appealed to me so strongly, even before I knew I was gay. A major theme of the stories, which are set in a medieval fantasy world, is the struggle between the Catholic Church and a race called the Deryni. The Deryni are physically indistinguishable from other humans (except in their violent reactions to certain drug-like substances) but they possess telepathic/psionic abilities which the Church, of course, likens to black magic. Hence the use of these abilities for any purpose – even to heal, which some of them can do – is sinful. Eventually just being Deryni becomes irredeemably sinful; all Deryni are damned to hell (if they aren’t burned at the stake first), can’t do a thing to change who/what they are, and are forbidden from entering holy orders.

Life imitates art. History goes in cycles. Like my mother sometimes says: “Some people are just gonna die dumb.”

Bevilacqua was recently quoted as saying, in essence (forgive the paraphrase, but at the moment I don’t have access to the direct quote, although I read it within the past 24 hours):

“When a heterosexual man chooses the priesthood, he is giving up something good – a wife, marriage, and children – to choose something else good – the priesthood. However, if a homosexual man chose to become a priest, he would not be giving up something good, because it is the church’s teaching that his sexuality is sinful and disordered.”

(Maybe somebody can Google out an online direct quote.)

I can understand the distinction he’s drawing within his belief framework, but it sounds to me like even repentant gay people “giving up being gay” are excluded from his hyperrighteous standard.

It’s unfortunate that he apparently does not believe in the cleansing of sin through the sacraments, which used to be good Catholic doctrine before all this started.

Just for the record, if I were to die Catholic and require the intercession of someone for salvation, and my choices were Fr. Mychal Judge, OFM, and Cardinal Bevilacqua, guess who I’d choose?

How long until a gay Priest is “made an example”?

Jerevan: The similarities had struck me too. I didn’t think there were enough Kurtz fans on the board to make drawing it worthwhile, but I’m sure glad you did!

Polycarp: Maybe not too many fans here, but I’m glad there’s at least one. :slight_smile: If anyone ever questions me about the practical relevance of fiction, I now have a stellar example to hold up in its favor, thanks to the RCC.

An example of what?

In any event, I don’t think that even the RCC’s current hierarchy is stupid enough to go on a witchhunt to kick out current priests who are homosexual. Taking just about any number posited as the percentage of priests who are gay - I’ve seen stats ranging from 20-45% (though no numbers are scientific - the church prevents any such studies) - the church simply can’t afford to lose that many priests.

The real (and really scary) possibility is that they will no longer let homosexuals into seminaries.