Marriage and Respect Life
400 E. Monroe
Phoenix, AZ 85004
Director of Marriage and Respect Life
Coordinator of Respect Life Parish Leadership Support
“When he brought her to the man, the man said: This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of man this one has been taken.”That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.”
“It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church's pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law.
But the proper reaction to crimes committed against homosexual persons should not be to claim that the homosexual condition is not disordered. When such a claim is made and when homosexual activity is consequently condoned, or when civil legislation is introduced to protect behavior to which no one has any conceivable right, neither the Church nor society at large should be surprised when other distorted notions and practices gain ground, and irrational and violent reactions increase.”
—Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, 1986
The Church upholds the dignity and sanctity of all human life and seeks to promote an authentic vision of the human person. All human beings have been created in the image and likeness of God and the Church seeks to emphasize and draw out that image from each of us. Throughout our lives, we experience different things that tarnish or distort that image of God within us. We may have low self-esteem and think that we could never reflect God’s image; we may have an addiction that keeps us from living fully in the image of God; we may be attracted to others of the same sex and not sure how the image of God inside us is to be shown to others.
We in the Diocese of Phoenix strive to help the faithful reflect God in the world as fully as they can. For the person with same-sex attraction, this task can be difficult and at times seem nearly impossible. Courage is a group that strives to help those with same-sex attraction live lives in accord with the teachings of the Church that show forth to the world what it means to be a human person.
The National Movement is based in New York City where it was founded in the early 1980s. The group has had great success in helping those with same-sex attractions find a place in the Church they thought was so hostile toward them.
Q: But homosexuals didn’t choose to be what they are, they were born that way. Why doesn’t the Church just accept their lifestyle?
A: When discussing homosexuality, we must make a crucial distinction between homosexual orientation (or desires) and homosexual acts. The consensus among psychologists today is that sexual orientation is a product of both genetics and environment. This has been recently confirmed in a 2010 study in Sweden that surveyed all adult twins in the country to see if homosexuality has a genetic basis. However, people always choose the sexual acts they perform, and as such, our sexuality involves responsibility to one another, and a responsibility to God, for this precious gift he has given us. One common argument used in defense of homosexual behavior is the idea that these desires are “natural” (for example, they are common in the animal kingdom) and thus should simply be accepted.
First, just because an act is common in the animal kingdom doesn’t mean it is appropriate for humans. For example, forced mating (what we would call rape among humans) and the deliberate taking of another animal’s food (what we would call stealing among humans) are common in the animal kingdom but are clearly inappropriate for humans. Second, just because we have innate desires does not mean that we should indulge them since many of our desires have been corrupted by sin. For example, it is natural for us to lie when we are in trouble, or for married people to be sexually attracted to people that are not their spouse. But even though these desires are “natural,” this does not give us a license to transgress God’s moral law.
It is important that we compassionately reach out to anyone struggling with sexual sin and temptation (heterosexual or homosexual) and give them resources through prayer and community so they can be built up as a whole, unique, valuable human being made in the image and likeness of God.