Why I Call Myself a “Gay Catholic”

“Gay” is a silly term. That narrow category misses the complexity of the human experience. And given the way that language grows and develops over time, I don’t think it will last the century. Just as “gay identity” has usurped “homosexual identity” in the culture at large, I now see “queer identity” coming into prominence. In a tumultuous rise and fall of “acceptable” language, the constant change of words demonstrates the fragility of identity politics. But I insist on calling myself a “gay Christian,” a “gay Catholic.” Continue reading “Why I Call Myself a “Gay Catholic””

Catholic Young Adults Discuss Gender

I recently participated in a discussion with Catholic young adults about masculinity and femininity. What are masculine and feminine traits? Are there such things? How do masculinity and femininity complement each other? How do they affect one another? Does the culture’s response to masculinity and femininity affect dating culture, including and especially Catholic dating culture? Here are some of my takeaways from the discussion: Continue reading “Catholic Young Adults Discuss Gender”

What is sexuality?

“When we talk about love, we mostly talk about ourselves, especially if we can discreetely praise ourselves in the process.” -David O’Connor

I’ve been writing about issues related to Catholicism and homosexuality for several years, and some of my readers’ confusions have come from my use of the word “sexuality.” I make assertions that cut against common parlance. For example, I recently asserted that unmarried Catholics should be more sexual. In a post on chastity and sin, I asked, “What would it mean for the celibate person to have a flourishing sexual life?” And I have insisted that gay Christians need to live out their sexualities in a positive way in order to pursue the Catechism’s “integrative” approach to sexuality.

Part of the confusion comes from readers familiar with my commitment to the Catechism. They don’t always see how my claims cohere with it. I take the Catechism at face value. So when I advocate a “flourishing sexual life” for gay persons, I don’t mean pursuing sexual-genital activity. But people want to know what I (and the Church) mean by “sexual” in these conversations. Continue reading “What is sexuality?”

Two Views on Chastity and Sin

In my previous post, I wrote about two approaches to human sexuality: the “avoidant approach” presented by many Catholics, and the “integrative approach” presented by the catechism.

Sin no more

These approaches are analogous to a discussion of sin in John 18:11. There, Jesus tells the woman caught in adultery, “Go and sin no more.” A common reading of this passage teaches that Jesus commands her to no longer commit adultery, or any other active sin. But this reading misses more nuanced and compelling translations of the Greek text. Continue reading “Two Views on Chastity and Sin”

What we get wrong about chastity

Two years ago, Paul Blaschko wrote about issues during his time as a seminarian for the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis. For example, when Blaschko approached a priest on staff about beginning a group to discuss issues related to sexual formation, the priest “seemed confused by the request” and asked what these issues would include. Blaschko identified such topics as sexual identity, masturbation, and pornography. The priest simply responded, “I don’t think anyone who masturbates should be in seminary.” He further said that the disclosure of masturbation or habitual “impure thoughts” would represent a “serious formation issue.” After that conversation neither Blaschko nor his classmates brought up the idea again, wondering whether openness about these issues could lead to dismissal from seminary.  Continue reading “What we get wrong about chastity”

Is the Catechism homophobic? Depends on who’s reading it

In a recent interview, Father James Martin voiced a common concern over the catechism’s language on homosexuality. He said:

“I’m no theologian, but I would say that some of the language used in the catechism on that topic needs to be updated, given what we know now about homosexuality. Earlier, for example, the catechism says that the homosexual orientation is itself ‘objectively disordered.’ But, as I say in the book, saying that one of the deepest parts of a person — the part that gives and receives love — is disordered is needlessly hurtful. A few weeks ago, I met an Italian theologian who suggested the phrase ‘differently ordered’ might convey that idea more pastorally.”

I would be open to changing (or “updating,” as Fr. Martin has put it) the catechism’s language on homosexuality. But, contrary to Fr. Martin’s commentary, not because I believe the language is incorrect or out of touch with reality, but because almost no one uses or understands this language in its proper context. The language is not wrong. It’s misunderstood. And this leads to some of the worst pastoral approaches to the issue, from both the right and the left. Continue reading “Is the Catechism homophobic? Depends on who’s reading it”

Compliance Questions

The following column was published in the Irish Rover on Thursday, March 20, 2014. 

On February 12, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held an oral argument in Notre Dame’s case against the HHS mandate. Among the more surprising moments was Judge Posner’s question to Notre Dame attorney Matthew Kairis, asking whether the use of birth control was a mortal or a venial sin. Even more surprising was the admission of ignorance by Kairis, a graduate of Notre Dame’s Program of Liberal Studies, followed by Judge Posner’s answer that it is a mortal sin.

Continue reading “Compliance Questions”

Mr. Crummett’s Cookies

The following letter to the editor was published in The Observer on March 7, 2013. It was a response to a letter to the editor, “Appreciating philosophy“, printed on March 4, which was a response to my February 26 column, “Our introduction to ‘philosophy’“.

Socrates was killed on charges of corrupting the youth. Dustin Crummett’s recent letter to the editor (“Appreciating philosophy,” Mar. 3) reminds us of the dangers of being a philosopher in the past. He suggests “things haven’t changed.” Perhaps not. Continue reading “Mr. Crummett’s Cookies”

The Church Annie Selak Wants: Part II

The following is the Part II of my response to Annie Selak’s Washington Post article. Part I can be read by clicking here.

Third, Selak desires “a church that embraces that God is everywhere.” In particular, she relates a “need to affirm and emphasize that God is present in other religions and sincerely work on improving our relationships with them.” She states that “some of Pope Benedict XVI’s biggest missteps related to his interactions with other religions.” She fails to realize, however, that in Pope Benedict she has an ally. Benedict himself informed the Roman curia in 2012 that “in man’s present situation, the dialogue of religions is a necessary condition for peace in the world and it is therefore a duty for Christians as well as other religious communities.” He calls for a dialogue about the relationships between religions, and also about the relationship of religion to culture, reason, and society. Continue reading “The Church Annie Selak Wants: Part II”