MANILLA, Philippines, March 1, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Catholic bishops in the Philippines have encouraged homosexuals to “come out in the open,” and said that while the Catholic Church is opposed to same-sex unions and condemns homosexual acts, those struggling with same-sex attraction should not be ashamed.

Archbishops Paciano Aniceto and Oscar Cruz made the remarks to the official news service of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines during the launch of the Philippine edition of the book “Homosexuality and the Catholic Church” on Tuesday.

Archbishop Aniceto, executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said the Catholic Church needs to establish centers of assistance for homosexuals.

“Honesty is very important,” said Aniceto, describing how many homosexuals hide their sexuality in fear of others’ reactions.  “That’s why it is also very important to have counseling centers and formation groups that will face this issue.”

Archbishop Cruz called “Homosexuality and the Catholic Church” a must-read, not only for all those struggling with same-sex attractions, but for priests, religious, and laity.

Fr. John Harvey, long-time minister to people with same-sex attractions, wrote “Homosexuality and the Catholic Church” as a question and answer book on same-sex attraction in light of Church teachings.  He draws from his own experience and research as the founder and director of the Courage and Encourage support groups to provide “clear answers to difficult questions.” 

Fr. Harvey approaches the topic, not from the popular standpoint that same-sex attraction is an inborn “sexual-genital” issue, but rather states that the “condition of same-sex ambivalence” is “primarily a gender-identity problem” that could stem from a “deficit” in a parent-child relationship with the same-sex parent.

Homosexuality, said Archbishop Cruz, should not be condemned merely because of the individual’s “sexual orientation.”  “It would be wrong only if you act on it. The same thing with heterosexual if we act on it contrary to morals then it is wrong … so same with homosexuals,” Cruz said.

“If a homosexual goes into partnership with another homosexual it is wrong. If it’s only attraction, (there’s nothing wrong). It is just a feeling,” he added.

Those struggling with homosexual attraction, said the archbishop, “did not choose it” and “a good number of them are just behaving that way but they are not acting on their sexual orientation.”  “It is possible they could redeem themselves from [same-sex attraction].”

Based on the truth that there is no “third sex,” only male and female, the archbishop pointed out that same-sex attraction “is a sexual disposition… sexual inclination.” 

“Homosexuality and the Catholic Church” has been made available in the Philippines in Catholic bookstores.  Plans are underway for further distribution in Catholic schools.