Last week, I shared some reflections on a gay friend’s firing from a Catholic institution. In response, one Catholic political blogger asked why a Catholic would identify as gay:
In my reply, I wrote that Catholic anthropology talks about persons as sexual beings and that it’s helpful to have a language for various persons’ experiences. This interaction also brought to mind conversations I’ve had in the past about sexual orientation, chastity, and integration. Over the last year, these topics have come up in conversations especially about whether gay men should be permitted into the priesthood. Some Catholics argue that, because gay men cannot have an integrated sexuality “due to their ‘intrinsic disorder,'” they should not be permitted to the priesthood.
I thought it might be helpful to share a dialogue I have had from time to time, based on an actual conversation I had with a Catholic friend I’ll call June…
June: Homosexuals just shouldn’t be allowed in seminary.
Me: Why not?
June: It’s in the Catechism. Homosexuals are intrinsically disordered.
Me: The Catechism isn’t saying they’re disordered in their entire sexuality.
June: Homosexuality is intrinsically a disorder in one’s sexual integration. And that’s an impediment to the priesthood. That seems to be anthropologically, spiritually, and theologically in line with the long-standing general consensus of the Church.
Me: So you are saying that homosexual persons can’t achieve sexual integration?
June: No, they cannot achieve a full, natural sexual integration.
Me: Thanks for clarifying. But I think that would actually be in contradiction to the Catechism. Paragraph 2359 says, “Homosexual persons are called to chastity.” And paragraph 2395 says, “Chastity means the integration of sexuality within the person.”
I share this dialogue because I believe June’s view is shared by many Catholics who dismiss and marginalize gay persons out of a desire to affirm “Church teaching.” I’ve found that, more often than not, such persons actually disagree with Church teaching. But no one’s pointed it out to them yet.
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Chris Damian is a writer, speaker, attorney, and business professional living in the Twin Cities. He received his B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Notre Dame and his J.D. and M.A. in Catholic Studies from the University of St. Thomas. He is the author of “I Desired You: Intellectual Journals on Faith and (Homo)sexuality” (volumes I and II). He is also the co-founder of YArespond, a group of Catholic young adults seeking informed and holistic responses to the clergy abuse crisis. In his free time, he enjoys hosting dinner parties and creative writing workshops.