The LGBT Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council (formerly known as the Soho Masses Pastoral Council) has expressed its rejection of the Church’s use of the term ‘objectively disordered’ in the context of homosexuality. The LGBT Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council received Archbishop Nichols’ pastoral mandate in 2013 to provide pastoral care to the persons with the homosexual inclination in the Archdiocese of Westminster.
The LGBT Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council expressed their rejection of the term ’objectively disordered’ in their submission to the Synod Survey organised by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. They write:
’2. The Church teaching on LGBT Catholics with the use of terms such as “objectively disordered” together with a widespread lack of pastoral care has made many LGBT Catholics feel deeply unwelcome in the Catholic church in which they were brought up and leads in many cases to feelings of deep distress. It is clearly wrong that God’s baptised find themselves in such in an isolated position, making it so much more difficult to practise their faith on their own, away from a supporting and nurturing community. This leads in many cases to suicide, depression and mental, physical and emotional problems. This is a very grave responsibility for the bishops to address. We therefore ask that a comprehensive pastoral process be developed to ensure that LGBT Catholics are supported as much as possible in their faith and life journey, which is a prime responsibility of the Church. ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:40)’.
The term ‘objectively disordered’ and ‘intrinsically disordered’ is to be found in various magisterial documents, and is seen as expressing the tradition of the Catholic Faith about the moral status of homosexuality and homosexual acts.
CDF, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons
3. In the discussion which followed the publication of the Declaration, however, an overly benign interpretation was given to the homosexual condition itself, some going so far as to call it neutral, or even good. Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.3. Explicit treatment of the problem was given in this Congregation’s “Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics” of December 29, 1975. That document stressed the duty of trying to understand the homosexual condition and noted that culpability for homosexual acts should only be judged with prudence. At the same time the Congregation took note of the distinction commonly drawn between the homosexual condition or tendency and individual homosexual actions. These were described as deprived of their essential and indispensable finality, as being “intrinsically disordered”, and able in no case to be approved of.
Therefore special concern and pastoral attention should be directed toward those who have this condition, lest they be led to believe that the living out of this orientation in homosexual activity is a morally acceptable option. It is not.
7. The Church, obedient to the Lord who founded her and gave to her the sacramental life, celebrates the divine plan of the loving and live-giving union of men and women in the sacrament of marriage. It is only in the marital relationship that the use of the sexual faculty can be morally good. A person engaging in homosexual behaviour therefore acts immorally.
To chose someone of the same sex for one’s sexual activity is to annul the rich symbolism and meaning, not to mention the goals, of the Creator’s sexual design. Homosexual activity is not a complementary union, able to transmit life; and so it thwarts the call to a life of that form of self-giving which the Gospel says is the essence of Christian living. This does not mean that homosexual persons are not often generous and giving of themselves; but when they engage in homosexual activity they confirm within themselves a disordered sexual inclination which is essentially self-indulgent.
As in every moral disorder, homosexual activity prevents one’s own fulfillment and happiness by acting contrary to the creative wisdom of God. The Church, in rejecting erroneous opinions regarding homosexuality, does not limit but rather defends personal freedom and dignity realistically and authentically understood.
8. Thus, the Church’s teaching today is in organic continuity with the Scriptural perspective and with her own constant Tradition. Though today’s world is in many ways quite new, the Christian community senses the profound and lasting bonds which join us to those generations who have gone before us, “marked with the sign of faith”.
Nevertheless, increasing numbers of people today, even within the Church, are bringing enormous pressure to bear on the Church to accept the homosexual condition as though it were not disordered and to condone homosexual activity. Those within the Church who argue in this fashion often have close ties with those with similar views outside it. These latter groups are guided by a vision opposed to the truth about the human person, which is fully disclosed in the mystery of Christ. They reflect, even if not entirely consciously, a materialistic ideology which denies the transcendent nature of the human person as well as the supernatural vocation of every individual.
The Church’s ministers must ensure that homosexual persons in their care will not be misled by this point of view, so profoundly opposed to the teaching of the Church. But the risk is great and there are many who seek to create confusion regarding the Church’s position, and then to use that confusion to their own advantage.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared 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. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
Of course, the Church also uses to term ‘disordered’ and ‘disorder’ to describe other moral conditions, not just homosexuality. The fact is that according the Catholic moral teaching, founded in the revelation of God, as sinners we are all objectively disordered, and can only be put in right order by the grace of Christ and repentance.
1607 According to faith the disorder we notice so painfully does not stem from the nature of man and woman, nor from the nature of their relations, but from sin. As a break with God, the first sin had for its first consequence the rupture of the original communion between man and woman. Their relations were distorted by mutual recriminations; their mutual attraction, the Creator’s own gift, changed into a relationship of domination and lust; and the beautiful vocation of man and woman to be fruitful, multiply, and subdue the earth was burdened by the pain of childbirth and the toil of work.
1761 There are concrete acts that it is always wrong to choose, because their choice entails a disorder of the will, i.e., a moral evil. One may not do evil so that good may result from it.
1875 Venial sin constitutes a moral disorder that is reparable by charity, which it allows to subsist in us.
1793 If – on the contrary – the ignorance is invincible, or the moral subject is not responsible for his erroneous judgment, the evil committed by the person cannot be imputed to him. It remains no less an evil, a privation, a disorder. One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience.
1856 Mortal sin, by attacking the vital principle within us – that is, charity – necessitates a new initiative of God’s mercy and a conversion of heart which is normally accomplished within the setting of the sacrament of reconciliation:
- When the will sets itself upon something that is of its nature incompatible with the charity that orients man toward his ultimate end, then the sin is mortal by its very object . . . whether it contradicts the love of God, such as blasphemy or perjury, or the love of neighbor, such as homicide or adultery. . . . But when the sinner’s will is set upon something that of its nature involves a disorder, but is not opposed to the love of God and neighbor, such as thoughtless chatter or immoderate laughter and the like, such sins are venial.
Protect the Pope comment: Cardinal-designate Nichols has made himself a hostage to fortune by giving his personal pastoral mandate to the Soho Masses Pastoral Council, now re-branded as the LGBT Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council. How will he explain to the Extraordinary Synod in October this year that the group he has charged with the pastoral care of persons with the homosexual inclination has rejected a key understanding of homosexuality as expressed by the Magisterium?