Page last updated at 03:19 Asia/Manila, Thursday, 03 April 2014 PH
When Pope Francis was asked by a journalist what he thought about gay people, his answer was "Who am I to judge." The Supreme Pontiff, being the "Sweet Christ on Earth" (the title given to him by St. Catherine of Sienna), was true to his being not only another Christ, but Christ Himself. Christ refused to judge the adulteress that the Pharisees wanted to stone. Obviously, it did not mean that Christ was condoning adultery, which is an intrinsically immoral act. By the same token, the Pope refuses to judge any person who is considered homosexual, either by himself or herself or by another. It does not mean, however, that he has made any change in the doctrinal stand of the Church about the intrinsically evil nature of any homosexual act.
In Paragraph 2357 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which will remain valid until the end of the world, homosexuality is defined as "relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex.” The Catechism points out that homosexuality has taken many different forms through the centuries and in different cultures in both the West and the East. The Catholic Church, basing herself on Sacred Scripture and tradition, has always taught and will always teach that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered; they are contrary to the natural law; they close the sexual act to the gift of life; they do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity." Therefore , under no circumstances can they be approved. As in all matters of dogma and morals, Pope Francis or any another Pope in the future can never change this teaching.
In his recent Apostolic Exhortation, "The Gospel of Joy," Pope Francis gives an explanation why no Christian can and should pass a moral judgement on a homosexual person. He also cites the Catechism of the Church to give the reason: " 'Imputability and responsibility for an action can be diminished or even nullified by ignorance, inadvertence, duress, fear, habit, inordinate attachments, and other psychological or social factors.' Consequently, without detracting from the evangelical ideal, they need to accompany with mercy and patience the eventual stages of personal growth as these progressively occur. Once we take into account the criteria for judging the culpability of a person for his or her act, it is clear that no one--except the confessor in the confessional--can pass moral judgment on a gay person. As Paragraph 2358 of the Catechism expresses with great empathy with those who experience sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex: "They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition." That is why a Christian can never condone policies in some countries which tolerate inhuman acts against homosexuals who continue to be children of God and, like everyone else, are also called to live the virtues of chastity. As the Catechism points out (Par. 2359) homosexuals can be helped to live the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace. Also like everyone else, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach to Christian perfection.
This Christian attitude of never passing moral judgment on someone who is gay, however, does not mean that individual citizens--whether Christian or not--should support the legalization of gay marriages. The first reason to oppose same-sex marriages is that they put those attempting to get married to persons of the same sex in the proximate occasion of performing homosexual acts, which as discussed above are considered by the Catholic faith (and other religions) as intrinsically immoral. Other reasons to oppose same-sex marriage are those based on empirical observations on the negative effects on the stability of the family and on the upbringing of children of gay marriages. As a social scientist myself, I encourage continuing research on the harmful effects of same-sex unions on the psychology of children and on the worsening demographic winter that is the greatest economic challenge to advanced countries today. For comments, my email address is email@example.com.