By Hilary White

ROME, October 7, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – What is the best way to present Christian teachings on homosexuality in the face of an increasingly hostile secular culture? How can Christians answer the accusations leveled against their beliefs? John-Henry Westen, LifeSiteNews.com’s editor-in-chief, told an audience of the world’s pro-life and pro-family leaders at a conference in Italy this week that the only way is “caritas in veritate;” to speak the truth in love.

(Read the complete speech here)

It is an act of love, he said, for parents to correct and discipline their children. “It is not love,” he said, “to allow your children to rampantly misbehave without correcting them.”

“So too the Church, especially Her shepherds – the fathers of souls - must feed the flock, must teach the truths however difficult and politically incorrect.  That is true love.”

Speaking at Human  Life International’s Fifth Annual World Prayer Congress for Life north of Rome on Wednesday, Westen proposed that the “vast majority” of clergy and bishops have shied away from the forthright presentation of Christian teaching on all aspects of sexuality out of a fear of losing “human respect” - in essence, out of a desire to fit in and be accepted. 
  
“And what has come of these lapses in teaching? Has the silence of the Church led to cultural peace in these matters? No.” 

Christians, he said, have balked at defending their beliefs in all the areas of concern in the Culture Wars, from abortion, adultery, homosexuality and divorce to human embryonic stem cell research.

“It is precisely in those hard cases where it was believed prudent, or convenient, caring or pastoral, to be silent and appease the prevailing culture.” 

Westen identified the issue of acceptance of homosexuality as particularly urgent across the western world. Homosexual “marriage” is legal in 10 nations; homosexual civil unions are legal in another 20 nations, and the matter is under political consideration in another 43 nations.

Westen posed the question of how Christians can now begin to present their beliefs forthrightly in a culture that is so firmly rejecting them. The answer, he said, is to be found in the Christian principle of love of neighbour. Specifically, the love of those suffering from homosexual temptations and those men and women in the grip of a destructive lifestyle.

“Even from just a medical perspective it is love to oppose homosexual acts,” Westen said.

Addressing a largely Catholic conference audience, Westen highlighted a flaw in the approach of most of the Catholic Church’s hierarchy towards the “gay marriage” debate. He noted that despite the fact that the Vatican forbade silence on the matter of the immorality of the homosexual act, the vast majority of Catholic leaders have failed to teach this relying rather on less controversial arguments in favour of heterosexual marriage.

The 1986 CDF document entitled “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons” states: “But we wish to make it clear that departure from the Church’s teaching, or silence about it, in an effort to provide pastoral care is neither caring nor pastoral. Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral. The neglect of the Church’s position prevents homosexual men and women from receiving the care they need and deserve.”

“Unfortunately, the ways in which we have communicated the Church’s truth on sexuality, or failed to communicate it, have for the most part helped us to lose the majority of Catholics,” said Westen.

The failure of the Church in recent decades to address effectively the smaller issues, he said, has led to a virtually uncontested field for the opponents of life and family and traditional Christian values.

“The rampant practice of contraception has inevitably led to the abortion holocaust.  Unchecked immodesty and total lack of custody of the eyes has brought us to the near universal addiction to pornography. In vitro fertilization gave us embryonic stem cell research.  Homosexual acts by their acceptance have led to homosexual ‘marriage’ and even restrictions on the freedom of religious practice in various nations.”

Westen said that homosexualist activists, in seeking to create “gay marriage,” had little interest in committed, permanent unions, but were rather focused on attaining marriage “as a societal stamp of approval to homosexual behaviour.”

Societal approval of their behaviour, he said, is sought as a means of quelling the voice of conscience. “For practicing homosexuals as with all those engaged in aberrant sexual behaviour, the conscience speaks uncomfortably.”  

Westen received a standing ovation after his talk with numerous conference participants personally thanking him for the talk throughout the day. After the talk Westen received invites from pro-life leaders to speak in England, New Zealand and Austria and one European Bishop expressed interest in having John-Henry to come to his diocese to speak to his priests and seminarians.

Read the full text of Westen’s talk here.