John-Henry Westen

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Best quotes from the Canadian bishops’ document on same-sex attraction and youth

John-Henry Westen

June 27, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The following are a number of some of the most noteworthy and powerful passages from the Canadian bishops’ new document, entitled “Pastoral Ministry to Young People with Same-Sex Attraction.”

5. Sexual relations belong within the marriage covenant between a man and a woman, for it is only within this covenant that the two inseparable ends of marriage can be achieved: the deepening of love between spouses and the procreation and education of children.7 Any genital act outside the covenant of marriage cannot fulfill this twofold purpose intended by the Creator and thus is morally wrong.

Scripture and Tradition teach that sexual relations between persons of the same sex are not in accord with God’s original intention expressed in the plan of creation.8 For this reason, the Church has consistently taught that homosexual acts can never be approved.

6. In her teaching, however, the Church never condemns persons with same-sex attraction. She carefully distinguishes between an individual’s inclinations or feelings – some of which are transitory and/or situational and others which are deep-seated or permanent – and one’s actions. While homosexual acts are always objectively wrong, same-sex inclinations are not in themselves sinful or a moral failing. To the extent that a same-sex attraction is not freely chosen, there is no personal culpability in having such an inclination. Nonetheless, when oriented toward genital activity, this inclination is “objectively disordered.”10 This does not mean that the person as a whole is somehow defective or “badly made,” or that he or she has in some way been rejected by God. Inclinations to homosexual acts in no way diminish the full human dignity or intrinsic worth of the person. For many people, same-sex attraction constitutes a trial. They therefore deserve to be approached by pastors with charity and prudence.

7. ... Becoming a chaste person follows the laws of growth and development and therefore requires not only self-control but also perseverance. That same Spirit assures us that living chastely is possible for everyone and can become a source of great joy. For everyone, chastity means integrating one’s thoughts, feelings and actions in the area of human sexuality so that they reflect the moral order. Chastity teaches the way of self-mastery and is “the spiritual power which frees love from selfishness and aggression.” ...

8. ...For young people who experience a same-sex attraction and for whom marriage is not an option, choosing chastity as a positive value is even more of an ongoing challenge. We must encourage them to live their single lives chastely as disciples of Jesus, who followed the path of sacrifice to the glory of eternal life. Responding generously to the call to chastity involves suffering and difficulty, but Christ invites us to place our burdens on him: “Come to me, all you who are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

A person with homosexual inclinations is not called to a “loveless” life, but to live in the love and grace of Christ Jesus. the Catholic community also has the responsibility of witnessing to the full truth of human sexuality. We must counteract false ideas of freedom promoted by secular society, ideas which can disorient and harm our youth. More than ever, the beauty of the Church’s teaching on human sexuality, which leads to authentic freedom, needs to be lived and convincingly preached by everyone. ...

10. ... The moral and spiritual relativism of our society can make the Church’s teaching on sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular appear bizarre, out of touch, and even intolerant. Yet when people cease to base their moral judgments on objective truth, confusion results. All too often they fall victim to lies about the meaning of true freedom and authentic self-expression. True Christian freedom is not first of all an acceptance of one’s own desire to do what one wants, but an acceptance of the truth which sets us free (cf. Jn 8.32).

11. ... Hedonism and an obsession with the pursuit of pleasure, combined with an excessive consumerism for “as much as possible as soon as possible,” typify the mentality of contemporary Western society. ...

12. ... Bishops, as well as priests, deacons and pastoral workers, should commit themselves anew to being attentive to the needs of adolescents and young adults with same-sex attraction, who are found in our families, parishes and communities. Make them feel welcome in our churches. Listen to them and offer them the love of Christ. ...

13. Take the time to examine your own interior dispositions towards people with same-sex attraction. With the help of God’s grace, work hard to remove whatever may prevent you from welcoming them warmly. ...

Above all, welcome these young adults and, if they are honestly striving to live in accordance with the teaching of Christ, encourage their full and active role in parish life. ...

We ask that you promote support groups that foster chaste living, such as “Courage” for individuals with same-sex attraction and “Encourage” for families interested in learning more about how to help their children. Where support groups already exist, give them your backing. Where they do not yet exist, make every effort to establish them at both the parish and diocesan levels.

14. We wish to express our spiritual closeness to you, parents of children discovering a same-sex attraction. This can be a time of questioning for you as well. It will require from you patience, selfcontrol, prudence and understanding. Remember that your child needs you and the family now more than ever. ...

15. Counselling can be a valuable tool for struggling youth, who may experience a crisis as they grow increasingly aware of homosexual feelings. Young people, particularly adolescents and young men, may be tempted to commit suicide once they can no longer deny or ignore their deep-seated same-sex inclinations. ...

Ensure that professional counsellors or psychologists who see young people are distinguished by their sound human and spiritual maturity. They must be committed to the Christian vision of the human person and sexuality, as well as the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and chastity. ...

16. Parents have the principal moral responsibility of educating their sons and daughters in matters of human sexuality. As teachers, catechists and other educators, you play a role insofar as you carry out your responsibilities in the name of the parents and with their consent.

In the catechesis of young adults, it is imperative to present in a firm but charitable way the true nature and purpose of human sexuality in all its dimensions. Encourage them in the practice of chastity, especially since society often misunderstands and scorns this virtue. Avoidance of difficult questions or watering down the Church’s teaching is always a disservice. Such attitudes could lead young people into grave moral danger.“ Moral conscience requires that, in every occasion, Christians give witness to the whole moral truth, which is contradicted both by approval of homosexual acts and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons.”16

We ask you to pay particular attention to guiding adolescents and young adults with same-sex attraction away from two specific dangers. First, help them see themselves as persons with a God-given dignity and not merely as individuals with sexual inclinations and desires. Second, help them avoid involvement in a “gay culture” opposed to the Church’s teaching, with its often aggressive and immoral lifestyle. ...

20. Because chastity is not only a journey but also a battle, be on guard against temptations that will continually arise. Realistically assess your weaknesses, and avoid circumstances that might lead you to fall. When using the internet, be on guard against pornography, as well as certain chat rooms and social networking sites that promote immoral lifestyles. Chastity is a challenge, but God’s grace will give you the strength to overcome temptation. ...

21. ... When you stumble on your way, the Lord is with you. Never give in to discouragement, but return frequently to the Lord for forgiveness. Growth in holiness is a long and arduous journey. Because we are all sinners, God continuously calls us to conversion when we give in to weakness and sin. God always offers you his grace, especially in the hardest moments of your lives. Confess your sins with contrite hearts, resolved not to repeat them again. Try to find a stable confessor or spiritual director with whom you can discuss your difficulties honestly and so receive help in overcoming them.

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