After nearly two weeks of presentations, discussions, debate, and enormous international coverage, the Extraordinary Synod on the Family is coming to a close. Today, Synod Fathers will present their recommendations to Pope Francis, who will issue a formal report in the coming days.
As Ed — who has been on the ground since Day One of the Synod — has noted, one of the major controversies of the Synod has been how the Catholic Church treats people with homosexual inclinations. And one of the most influential organizations with regards to this complex question has been Voice of the Family, a worldwide coalition of pro-life and pro-family organizations co-founded by my boss, John-Henry Westen. Westen, who believes the Church’s stance on same-sex relationships shows perfect love as it currently stands, has written the following op-ed in order to show both how God’s love is shown in the Church’s stance — and also how gay Catholics can lead the rest of the Church to a greater understanding of God’s truth.
Since its inception, the Catholic Church has promoted the principles of love and truth for all people. For the last several decades, however, its guidance on the importance of chastity, especially for persons with homosexual attractions, have been misconstrued as hatred or bigotry.
This misunderstanding of true love — based upon God’s truths, not our limited human perceptions — is one reason why the Extraordinary Synod on the Family is so important. It is an opportunity for the Church to take a 21st-century approach to the age-old problem of presenting difficult truths in the most loving way.
Unfortunately, the Synod has seen many bishops, Cardinals, and gay rights groups advocate for Church to change its teachings on homosexual relationships. This is the spiritual equivalent of parents telling a child to put their hand on a hot stove or run into traffic.
As a co-founder of the Voice of the Family, which works to ensure that the Synod represents Christ’s truth and charity, I pray that Church leaders will show that God’s love is seen in His unchanging truth about human sexuality.
And what is that truth? According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, all persons are called to chastity, which is seen when we live our sexuality according to the plan of God. Through the call to respect both our own sexuality and that of others, we are shown the way to true happiness in both this life and the next.
People with homosexual attractions face a special challenge in this respect, since neither God nor His Church can morally allow for same-sex relationships. As explained by the Catechism, homosexual acts are “are contrary to the natural law” and “close the sexual act to the gift of life.”
Likewise, the Church teaches that sexual acts are exclusively reserved for marriage, which is between a man and a woman, and that the primary purpose of marriage is the procreation of children.
Thus, sexuality lived out according to God’s plan would forbid gay sex — as well as porn, sex outside of marriage, adultery, and numerous other sexual sins. However, as Pope Francis pointed out last year, the Church does not consider the homosexual inclination as sinful, just as it does not consider temptations to heterosexual sex outside of marriage sinful.
While acting on these temptations is sinful, and therefore separates us from the love of God, the temptations can actually be opportunities for victory in the face of great struggle and temptation. Faithful Catholics should look to the men and women who experience same-sex attraction but remain chaste as models to all who struggle with sexual temptations.
Nobody finds this road easy, but sticking to it brings both an inner joy and a closer relationship with our Creator. According to Church teaching, there should never be “unjust discrimination” towards those with same-sex attractions, but more than that, those who live chastely with those temptations can even be great saints.
As the Synod goes into its final days, I hope and pray along with my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters that the Church will indeed love them as Christ loves them — by giving them the strength necessary to bring them to a place of eternal happiness with God and all His angels and saints.
John-Henry Westen is a co-founder of Voice of the Family, an influential worldwide coalition of pro-life and pro-family groups created at the outset of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family. He is also a co-founder of LifeSiteNews.com, a daily news website on life and family issues.