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My Take: Why good Catholics are challenging church line on homosexuality
A series of recent conferences have cast a light on gay Catholics and their families.
November 8th, 2011
12:22 PM ET

My Take: Why good Catholics are challenging church line on homosexuality

Editor's Note: Patrick Hornbeck is an assistant professor and associate chair for undergraduate studies at Fordham University.

By Patrick Hornbeck , Special to CNN

The Roman Catholic Church has long been a reliable source for one-dimensional storylines: Victims of sexual abuse call for justice. Parishes close as numbers of clergy plummet. Rosary-clad Catholics protest outside abortion clinics.

Perhaps nowhere has the storyline seemed more clear-cut than with regard to the church’s treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and their relationships.

Official Catholic teachings describe gay or lesbian orientation as “an objective disorder” and tell those who love their same-sex partners that they possess a “tendency… toward an intrinsic moral evil.”

Catholic bishops have been public advocates for laws banning same-sex marriage, and some have sought to prevent LGBT Catholics and their allies from fully participating in the Church’s rituals and activities

But neither formal teachings nor bishops’ statements tell the whole story.

A series of recent conferences at American colleges reveals the breadth of Catholic approaches to issues of sexual diversity.

The conferences, part of an effort called More than a Monologue, have happened at two Catholic universities and two non-denominational divinity schools

The events conclusively show that American Catholics are hardly of one mind, nor in lockstep with their bishops, when it comes to same-sex marriage; to rights for LGBT people at home, at work, and in church; or to the ongoing campaign against anti-gay bullying in schools.

At Fordham University in New York, a Catholic school, a proud mother of a grown gay son drew a standing ovation when she told a story about discovering the effect of church teachings on her child.

Here’s that mother, Deb Word, who has founded a group Fortunate Families to help Catholic families with lesbian daughters and gay sons, in her own words:

Fast forward to a family vacation in the Gulf. There were five of us floating—Sean and his wife, Chris, and his dad and me, holding onto each other’s rafts. And I said, ‘I think this is what Heaven is like.’ And Christopher said quietly, “except I won’t be there with you.” “Son, where do you get this stuff?” “Mom, it’s your club. You know the rules.”

And if my cradle Catholic child, growing up in a loving family, got this message, then what does Catholic mean in more conservative homes? … And I wonder, why do I stay in a club that my son says is dangerous to his soul?”

Another panelist at the event described the freedom she feels as a result of living, within the church’s rules, as a celibate lesbian.

A third, a physician in New York City, praised the Catholic tradition for its emphasis on human dignity and social justice, but added: “I am troubled by the fact that I find greater acceptance of myself as a whole person in my professional community as a physician, than I do in the official hierarchy of the church of my family, my childhood, and my life.”
Nationally syndicated columnist Dan Savage may be better known for his very public critiques of Catholic leaders than for the year he spent in a high school seminary, or for his Catholic deacon father, or for the baptism he and his husband sought for their son.
But speaking recently at New York’s Union Theological Seminary, Savage described his Catholic family and upbringing, celebrating parts of his Catholic experience.

At the same time, he refused to let the church off the hook for the part he accuses it of playing in tacitly condoning the bullying of LGBT youth.

Last month, at Yale University, a Catholic layman who teaches psychiatry spoke movingly of his attempt to offer church leaders the wisdom of his scientific field, and of his bitter disappointment when his offers were met with silence.

And at Connecticut ’s Fairfield University, scholars, clergy, and lay Catholics recently discussed the implications for the church of having many gay and lesbian people, both in and out of the closet, in roles as priests and ministers.

These public events have brought into the light the struggles, compromises and choices about meaning and love that many Catholics experience daily.

Poll numbers show that while many of their bishops have been stepping up their rhetoric on the issue, only one-in-three American Catholics describe opposition to same-sex marriage as “very important.” Seventy percent support legal recognition for same-sex couples.

All of us, Catholic or not, LGBT or not, owe it to ourselves and our fellow citizens to keep these new conversations going. Let’s not to settle for only part of the story.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Patrick Hornbeck.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • Homosexuality • Opinion

soundoff (2,880 Responses)
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    May 21, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
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  3. Pritam

    .One walk in the city can choke you to death with additional crbaon dioxides and other noxious gases that the thousands of small generators spew out. All the shopkeepers need to have light and fan in their establishments to give comfort to their customers. But these generators do create so much of pollution.Inside sources in the Mescom told Mangalorean.com that there is a standing order to the grid managers and engineers to plug off power to Mangalore at the slightest shortage in the grid, the first to suffer was Mangalore say the official sources.

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  5. Said

    Resident Evil 2 il primo capitolo della serie al quale ho agtcioo, ed attualmente il mio preferito. Senza dubbi. Premesso questo, la mia opinione una: per quanto il comparto grafico sia notevolissimo per il Wii, la moderna mania di creare sparatutto su binari odiosa. Ok, una categoria di gioco che piace, senza dubbio. Ma non per Resident Evil. Per chi si chiedesse il perch (non credo molti, ma comunque mai dire mai), ricorderei al mondo (e alla capcom) che resident evil un alternanza di zombie lenti e macchinosi ed enigmi, enigmi, enigmi. Ed proprio quest'altalenarsi di gameplay (nonch la tensione onnipresente) che dava spessore alla serie. Ora riducono tutto ad uno spara e ammazza. Banale.

    April 1, 2012 at 1:51 am |
  6. Menina

    రవి, కథ బాగుంది. కానీ 2131 దాకా ఆగక్కర్లేదేమో ఆ కథలోని తాత' మనమే కావొచ్చు. My vision of the furtue is more cynical Closer to The Stepford Wives' (or Husbands, for that matter)

    March 31, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
  7. Sicurus

    The ignorant Christians will continue their rampage against gays. Gays will suffer and pay the price of martyrdom, become saints two hundred year later. and their oppressors will go to a theological hell of their own making. It all works out to the advantage of gay people. Give them enough rope and they'll hang themselves. They aren't concerned with the precepts (love) of Jesus. They're concerned with being egoistically "right." Let them be right and die a" brave sou.l" It's coming to that extremity. Hatred is hatred. Not until they have vilified every person who opposes them willl the Opus Dei types, the Vatican, the evangelical protestants feel vindicated. Martyrdom comes at a heavy cost, and its signature is human blood. I relish that day of vindication. Go read a few translations of the old Latin hymn "Dies irae" on-line. It's worth the trouble. You'll understand another dimension. I can't wait. I'm exhilarated!

    January 19, 2012 at 2:08 am |
  8. Steven L. Bullington

    I read the Bible several times as I was on this journey from 16-60 years thinking I could pick and choose what I wanted to believe and what I couldn't. I did not realize this is not an option according to the Bible. Thats why the Bible has the word believe in it 43 times!
    I also read where you should be Baptized confess your sins and that tells Jesus you are willing to let the Holly Spirit come in and do whatever Jesus has in mind for you.
    I did this, got baptized in the lake, got down on my knees in the privacy of my bedroom and asked Jesus to forgive my sins and come into my life and he did.
    God is truth and spirit so if you tell him your sin and are truthful about it (tell him you have enjoyed sinning if thats the truth).
    If you truly believe and are willing to change for Jesus he will do what needs to be done to change you. Actually this takes the pressure of you! We are all defensless against sin without Jesus.

    January 16, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • Ok'yDok'y

      All the experts in the world have stated gays can't change who they are and conversion therapies don't work. They have actually asked religious nuts like you to stop spewing the nonsense you just did. Your Christ can't change a gay person into being straight because your Christ loves them for who they are, unlike prejudice bigots like you.

      January 19, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • ImLook'nUp

      Dear OD'y. Thankfully! You don't speak for everyone.

      Don't underestimate what Jesus can do in a persons life. We all have room for growth. May the Holy Spirit of God fall upon you and do a miraculous change in every area of your life.

      God tells of the pairing of a man and woman. It's a great design. He wrote it. It's not for us to expand upon.

      January 20, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • tallulah13

      I'm not sure how you have lived your life, but I have never committed an act so horrible that atonement required a person be tortured to death. I have managed to live a good and productive life without your god, and because I am not chained to bronze age mythology, I can look objectively at the facts.

      There is more evidence that being gay is innate than there is evidence of any god. There is no evidence that the bible is anything more than a collection of ancient, middle-eastern myths. That people use this book to excuse discrimination is the true evil here.

      January 20, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • *facepalm*

      "God tells of the pairing of a man and woman. It's a great design. He wrote it. It's not for us to expand upon."

      Your god also mentions that unmixed textiles are also part of the plan. I guess poly-cotton blends are not a great design. They are truly an abomination!

      January 20, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • Ok'yDok'y

      "Don't underestimate what Jesus can do in a persons life. We all have room for growth. May the Holy Spirit of God fall upon you and do a miraculous change in every area of your life."

      They have proven all the claims that were made by religious groups regarding this was bogus and falsely reported.

      January 20, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • ImLook'nUp

      Dear OD'y. Don't underestimate what Jesus can do in a persons life.

      : )

      January 20, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Ok'yDok'y

      "Dear OD'y. Don't underestimate what Jesus can do in a persons life. "

      Seeing as people have been gay as long as our human history, I doubt your Jesus has done anything especially since the science today proves otherwise.

      January 30, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • ImLook'nUp

      Dear OD'y. Seeing as God is the author of science and we are here to learn....I'm sticking with the Bible as my road map.

      January 31, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • Ok'yDok'y

      "Seeing as God is the author of science and we are here to learn"

      The experts have learned that being gay is not a mental illness, it's not a choice and it can't be voluntarily changed. All you are doing is finding excuses to justify your bigotry and prejudice. If your God gave you science then it's revealed that what people knew about gays in the past was false and based on ignorance. Duh!

      February 2, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
  9. Saira Pipil

    I don't understand how so many christians can be against gay people, when the bible teaches us that the most important moral value is love and without love you have nothing. It says that love is more important than faith. So how can you deny, and even hate, those who have found somebody to love, regardless of gender. It also says to love thy neighbor. Doesn't God claim that as a commandment. I was taught in my CCD classes that you don't have to love, or even accept the sin, but you should still love and accept the individual.

    January 16, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  10. jack

    The picture is disgusting, the writer must be gay too.

    January 3, 2012 at 7:27 am |
    • Ok'yDok'y

      "The picture is disgusting"

      Let's use your stupid logic for a minute. Your post is disgusting you must be gay too. What an idiot. And you just showed the world you ignorance and prejudice.

      January 3, 2012 at 8:07 am |
    • erussell

      Looks totally Gay

      January 5, 2012 at 3:37 am |
    • erussell

      okydorky you sound like a broken record.

      January 5, 2012 at 3:39 am |
    • Ok'yDok'y

      "okydorky you sound like a broken record."

      Yup, same arguments, different day, it's shows how brainwashed the christians are, but when fighting for civil rights it always takes time.

      January 5, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • joe salters

      I agree with you 100%.

      January 11, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  11. erussell

    My question is, if Gay people are " born " that way, what are Pedophiles and people who practice Beastieality and bigomy. They Love there partners just ask NAMBLA. They say they were born that way. What makes one born that way anymore important than another born that way. The Gay community needs to start sticking up for there other brothers and sisters that were born that way.

    January 3, 2012 at 4:36 am |
    • Ok'yDok'y

      "My question is, if Gay people are " born " that way, what are Pedophiles and people who practice Beastieality and bigomy. "

      The fact you asked such a stupid question demonstrates you didn't even bother to research this subject. DUH...it's about consent moron and having a loving gay relationship isn't illegal. What an idiot. Stop being so lazy and do some research since prejudice is always built on the foundation of ignorance.

      January 3, 2012 at 8:10 am |
    • ImLook'nUp

      ...It's a moral issue OD'y. It has nothing to do with being a bigot or ignorant, as you keep on saying...

      Show us the Bible verse that allows for the union of man + man / woman + woman.

      You won't find it. No support for this cause.

      January 3, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Ok'yDok'y

      "Show us the Bible verse that allows for the union of man + man / woman + woman.

      You won't find it. No support for this cause."

      Yo moron, the bible was written from a straight person perspective, they didn't understand gays like we do today. DUH!

      But just for fun....

      Ruth and Naomi- Ruth 1:16-17 "Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me."

      David and Jonathan
      1 Samuel 18:1 .the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul

      Daniel and Ashpenaz

      Daniel 1:9 Now God had brought Daniel into favor and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.

      January 4, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • ImLook'nUp

      OD'y

      I think they totally understood what was going on with the gay/lesbian relationship which is why we have the straight perspective to go by. THANK GOD! –What's that I read?? God put a man and woman together and made them one? Sounds good. Reads good.

      But just for fun....

      2 TIMOTHY 3:16-17
      All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

      Maybe? You weren't in class when that verse was discussed?

      OD'y, when you are quoting Scripture verses, remember, people are looking for the righteousness of God to shine through. Not your attempt to bend and twist the idea into something that it was never intended.

      January 4, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
    • erussell

      No more ignorant than you are with your taking the bible verses out of context.

      January 5, 2012 at 3:35 am |
    • GodPot

      "My question is, if Gay people are " born " that way, what are Pedophiles and people who practice Beastieality and bigomy. They Love there partners just ask NAMBLA. They say they were born that way. What makes one born that way anymore important than another born that way."

      If you are serious and cannot see the difference than I'm here to help. You see, pedophiles are people who commit an act of r a p e. Bestiality is the r a p i n g of an animal. Both very very very different than being gay or having more than one consensual mate as would be the case with bigamy. The BIG difference some small minded Christians are unable to get their tiny brains around is the consent part. A child cannot consent and an animal cannot consent. Now there may indeed be people born more attracted to animals or children, I do not know, but I do know that if they act upon those attractions they are r a p i s t s.

      January 5, 2012 at 3:53 am |
    • GodPot

      Oh, and I hate to break it to you but you were born a bigamist who just never had the opportunity to act on it just like the rest of us, since our culture indoctrinated monogamy from a very early age. That is unless you are some strange breed that was never attracted to anyone until you met your mate.

      January 5, 2012 at 4:05 am |
    • Ok'yDok'y

      “I think they totally understood what was going on with the gay/lesbian relationship which is why we have the straight perspective to go by. THANK GOD! –What's that I read?? God put a man and woman together and made them one? Sounds good. Reads good.”

      No it doesn’t idiot. In Roman culture they used same sex as a way to worship their pagan god and have orgies, that is what they saw as gay sex. Not the loving committed long-term gay relationships that create loving families with children. By the way since you’re too lazy to do your homework, the APA and other organizations have stated that what was written about gays in the past were done by prejudice and bigoted people. It’s why the laws changed, it’s not a mental illness and it can’t be voluntarily changed. Yeah the people really understood that in the past especially when you factor in that until the 19th century none of the scriptures wherever used to condemn the gay community. Yeah you really know what you’re talking about you’re too lazy to do your homework, what an idiot.

      “Scripture verses, remember, people are looking for the righteousness of God to shine through”

      So your prejudice and bigotry is .shinning through just fine, thanks for proving you’re clueless on the righteousness of your god. ;-)

      January 5, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Peter

      "I think they totally understood what was going on with the gay/lesbian relationship "

      Really? So they knew that a person who is gay uses their brain differently, that gays are affected by hormone levels in the womb, that they know at a young age their orientation without environmental factors, that the world major organizations would recognize that a gay person can't change their orientation through therapy. Really, prove it.

      January 5, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • tallulah13

      erussell, you must think all se.xuality is a sin, because a lot of se.xual assaults are hetero in nature. As long as all parties are consenting adults, I don't think it's any of my business. Or any of your business either.

      January 20, 2012 at 9:43 am |
  12. Just Catholic

    The Catholic Church is not a democracy nor is anyone compelled to join. If you don't like it, join one of the 33,000 denominations of Protestanism. Heck some of their faith traditions even have Gay bishops and female priests.

    December 29, 2011 at 1:24 am |
  13. doug5523

    Two years from now, all gays will be able to marry.
    40 years from now, siblings will be able to marry.
    80 years from now, a person will be able to marry his/her parent.
    100 years from now, a person will be able to marry a robot.
    Then, eventually, another cataclysmic event will take place and this world will once again be purified.

    December 22, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
    • Ok'yDok'y

      "40 years from now, siblings will be able to marry.
      80 years from now, a person will be able to marry his/her parent.
      100 years from now, a person will be able to marry a robot.
      Then, eventually, another cataclysmic event will take place and this world will once again be purified.'

      Keep showing the world you're an idiot who doesn't know the facts of this issue. Your prejudice and bigotry is a disgrace to this country and society. Grow up!

      December 27, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • USmellLikePee

      Two years from now, all gays will be able to marry.
      Five years from now, god is disproven and all religion is banned.
      Six years from now, man ascends to his highest learning and awareness.
      Ten years from now, the earth is saved and poverty and famine no longer exist.

      December 27, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
    • Really?

      You know you've created god in your image when he hates the exact same things you do.

      January 2, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  14. Jagged

    The picture is disgusting.
    I'm sick now, thanks CNN.
    You suck too.
    Censor that!

    December 22, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • RP

      It's an instinctive behavior to be disgusted by such a display. It's kind of like watching a dog lick up another dog's crap. You can't help to watch even though it's disgusting.

      December 22, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • Well....

      "You can't help to watch even though it's disgusting."

      What is far worse that the disgusting things you both wrote is your prejudice mind and your stupidity to actually not recognize it.

      December 22, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • highmoralsman

      "What is far worse that the disgusting things you both wrote is your prejudice mind and your stupidity to actually not recognize it."
      It has nothing to do with prejudice, it's a root feeling. If you saw a man spitting into a cup until it was full and then drank all the spit from that cup, you would feel disgusted wouldn't you? Are you being prejudice?

      December 22, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • Well

      "It has nothing to do with prejudice, it's a root feeling. If you saw a man spitting into a cup until it was full and then drank all the spit from that cup, you would feel disgusted wouldn't you? Are you being prejudice?"

      No, I wouldn't be disgusted. You are prejudice because you can't recognize that they love each other. Kissing is a normal expression of love between two consenting adults. Let me guess if if was two women kissing you'd be all over it right. It's all about perspective. Your disgust is rooted in prejudice of something you don't understand because you probably have been to lazy to do your homework to understand this subject.

      December 22, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
    • Well

      "Are you being prejudice?"

      Do even understand the definition of prejudice.... an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason. Yes, that's you.

      December 22, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
    • USmellLikePee

      And what if the two kissers were women? Hmmm?

      December 27, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  15. DSBsky

    Listen, I'm going to make this as obvious and painfully clear as possible. We should make being gay ok?
    Ok then, we should make being a pedofile ok too.
    Not "open minded" enough?
    Ok how about we make being into beastiality ok as well just for "good" measure.
    I mean we don't want to mak anyone feel "left out" do we?
    Of course not, that would be inhumane..
    So where can we make room for rapists and murderers since that is obviously a life "choice" as well.. right?
    No it's F*^@!*& not!! This is such nonsense.
    You don't let your male dog hump male dogs do you? NO...
    This is NOT normal and not acceptable and we need to stop treating it like it is.
    It is a recessive deformity or some kind of failure to raise your kids right.
    Stop trying to make the unacceptable acceptable.. it's just not.
    Want the final nail in the coffin of proof?
    If we all woke up tomorrow and everyone was gay would it still be ok?
    Would it be ok that no children were born and the only way to have kids would be some mock fertilization that borders on bad sci-fi films? STOP IT ALREADY!!!

    December 21, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • RUserious!

      @DSBsky

      I think the world you describe is exactly what people want. A world where I can do whatever I feel die and turn into space dust. And if you don't agree with all the choices I made then you are an idiot. I don't expect everyone should be accepting of everything or anything I do. I do what I deem to be correct according to my moral compass and those who don't agree oh well. I don't try to make laws that force other people to accept what I do as right.

      December 21, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • Ok'yDok'y

      “Listen, I'm going to make this as obvious and painfully clear as possible. We should make being gay ok?
      “Ok then, we should make being a pedofile ok too.”

      No moron, that inflicts harm on children and they can ‘t give their consent which is why it’s ILLEGAL!

      “Ok how about we make being into beastiality ok as well just for "good" measure.”

      Again moron, animals can’t give their consent, thanks for showing the world you’re clueless on the subject of homosexuality!

      “So where can we make room for rapists and murderers since that is obviously a life "choice" as well.. right?”

      Again, moron that inflicits harm on people or are you just a complete idiot on this subject.

      “You don't let your male dog hump male dogs do you? NO...”

      Actually gay relationships have been found in over 1500 other species so keep showing the world what an idiot your are.

      “This is NOT normal and not acceptable and we need to stop treating it like it is.”

      The experts throughout the world disagree with you. The APA, AMA, World Health Org. have all gone on record stating being gay is not a mental illness, it’s a normal and it can’t be voluntarily changed.

      “It is a recessive deformity or some kind of failure to raise your kids right.”

      No, you’re the one not raising your kids right with your prejudice and bigotry not based on facts. What an idiot.

      “Stop trying to make the unacceptable acceptable.. it's just not.”

      It’s called civil rights moron, just like we’ve done in the past for other minority groups. Prejudice people in the past said the same thing about them too and were proven WRONG!

      “Would it be ok that no children were born and the only way to have kids would be some mock fertilization that borders on bad sci-fi films? STOP IT ALREADY!!!”

      What an idiot, gays have kids. Plus with your stupidity it’s why we are about to break the 7 billion mark on people living on a planet that can’t sustain many more. DUH!!!!!!!!!!!

      December 21, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • J.W

      I think this may be what they mean by the slippery slope fallacy.

      December 21, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.