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.”
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.
About this blog
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.
I would think that a good Christian, Catholic or otherwise, would use the word of God (the Bible) to determine the right side of an issue.
If you do not believe in the authority of the Bible then how can you consider yourself a Christian? Why would you want to consider yourself a Christian? If science is your ultimate authority then you should be a scientologist, atheist, or agnostic. It seems to me, if you don't believe in the Bible then you are just playing a game.
There are so many pressing issues in the world today. Why bother believing in hocus pocus? The roman catholic cabal is a terrorist organization. It terrorizes women, children, gays and lesbians and non-catholics. The roman catholic cabal is a charlatan magic show complete with incense, chants, candles, bling, robes, funny hats and red Prada slippers. What a joke!
you don't know much about what those things symbolize do you? ignorance incited hatred.
I noticed that Huh didn't have to take the x out of se- –which was suggested to me. I took the t out of ti- and m out of cu- Is there something else to watch for??? I didn't see any shi-
i conclud- censorship. If the system is as described, CNN's IT people can do better. This is ridi-ulous. They should auto-highlight our crude words. If my post was too long, they should tell me that. CNN is not appearing to be fair and balanced –when it comes to an effort to refute Huh's "science" findings below.
It's not censorship some people posting actually know how to write in html to get past the filters. A user Reality posted long posts before so they don't stop you for that.
Try posting several shorter posts. Then we can see what you want to say plus you will find where the problem is.
I can't find the slang in my post –I have an excellent disagreement with Huh's science data below and cannot publish at CNN. I conclude bias and extreme oversight by the editors.
Mr. Hornbeck, like many writers who CNN chooses to provide a platform, will never figure out that the Church's position on moral truth is not determined by polls, in the US, around the world, anywhere.
Well, Being Gay is a personal Choice. GOD does not make anyone do anything, GOD gives us FREEWILL. Don't BLAME GOD for YOUR CHOICES. Only Sick Souls BLAME GOD FOR THEIR PERSONAL CHOICES. Everyone has a choice...I love it when people make a decision and then have to look to BLAME SOMEONE ELSE FOR Their decisions..BLAME GENITICS, BLAME GOD, BLAME YOUR PARENTS, BLAME THE WORLD...OH PLEASE!!! TRY TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR CHOICES, and LIVING WITH THEM. IF you decide to be GAY and blame something else, you feel guilty for it. If you Decide to be GAY and say, it is what I want..then GOOD FOR YOU. You will rarely find a Gay indiviual that doesnt try to blame something else for the reason they are GAY...To me, the people that use the vicitm or blame card feel guilt..
None of my gay friends "blame" anyone else for who they are or what they do – that you think they do is just your own bias. There is no assignment of blame when there is no wrong committed. They use genetics to explain it – but that's a big difference.
BTW – when did you choose to be straight?
I choose to be straight every day 😀 Thank you very much! Well, we will have to agree to disagree...The only people that truely have a genetic disposition to be GAY have both Organs...and that is a small amount of the human population...
People are born gay...that's it.That's the way are naturally made...it's a human condition. Open your eyes & respect everyone....someday your life may be saved by a gay person if you are so lucky. Many gay people are attracted to careers that require that they be kind, caring, thoughtful, smart loving people. ...be thankful God has put them among us!
Very Few organisms can reproduce with two males or two females..the day its genetic is the day when to men or women can populate. IT is not a judgement its science.
just thoughts if you wanted to be gay could you do it?
"Well, Being Gay is a personal Choice. "
Hey look another brainwashed christian who doesn't know the facts about being gay but yet continues to spread the hatred and prejudice towards this group because their too lazy to understand the REAL truth. Congratulations you just showed the world you're a moron.
There is no hate in my opinon. Congrats on proving my point. You are you uncomfortable with me being straight. Why? Why all the hatrid toward being straight? IT is my personal chocie. You dont like facts? If being gay was truely genetic, it would have been proven by now and two men or women would be able to populate.
Why do they have to be able to procreate for it to be natural? And why does it have to be genetic? There are many diseases that are not genetic but that does not mean that someone chooses to have it (not saying that being gay is a disease I am just using that to prove my point).
HAHA...has nothing to do with being a "Christian". Angry? At me being straight? and voiceing it? Not surprised. Its common amoung gay people. Quite a few Gay people get Angry when a person that is straight voices it. WHY? Why can someone that is GAY voice it and its supposed OK, and someone that is straight is not allowed to have that opinion? hmmmmm....thats pretty judemental..
Just because someone that is straight vocies it, does not mean they are judgemental. I do not judge the Gay lifestyle, but I do challenge it being a genetic disposition. I think its a lifestyle..and thats OK.
Ha...Do you know what Psychology is? Since when does Psychology have anything to do with genetics? Psychology is a MENATAL STATE...Which is exactly my point.
GUILT CREATES HATRID AND ANGER... 😀 My point exacty...NO where in the bible does it say its WRONG for being GAY..and I dont think its a issue..but I do not think being Gay is genetic..lol..Nor do I beleive GOD makes people GAY..SO if you read the posts and misunderstand them its your issue..
"There is no hate in my opinon. Congrats on proving my point. You are you uncomfortable with me being straight. Why? Why all the hatrid toward being straight? I"
I am not gay moron but your heart is dark with prejudice you are NOT like your christ, but just another brainwashed christian void of the truth about gays and lesbians.
"Psychology is a MENATAL STATE...Which is exactly my point."
LMAO All the major organization around the world made up of hundred of thousands of experts have stated that being gay is not a choice, it's not a mental illness and it can't be voluntarily changed. Your stupidity is showing.....LOL! By the way nowhere in your bible does your god condemn the saved loving partnership of a gay couple. 😉
"You dont like facts? If being gay was truely genetic, it would have been proven by now"
In 1993, the National Institute of Health’s Dean Hamer illustrated that homosexuality might be inherited from the mother by her sons through a specific region of the X chromosome (Xq28). Hamer demonstrated this by noting that 33 out of 40 pairs of homosexual brothers whom he studied showed the same variation in the tip of the chromosome.
A June 2006 Canadian study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences said that nature, not nurture, explains the origins of homosexuality. The study’s author, Prof. Anthony F. Bogaert of Brock University in Ontario, explored the causes behind what is known as the fraternal birth order. The research showed a correlation between the number of biological older brothers a man has and his sexual orientation. Dividing his sample of more than 900 heterosexual and homosexual men into four groups, Bogaert examined the impact of all types of older brothers, including step and adopted siblings, and the amount of time brothers spent together while growing up. His research found that only the number of biological brothers had an impact on sexuality, regardless of whether the boys were raised together.
A study released in May 2006 by Swedish scientists demonstrated that biology plays a key role in determining a person’ sexuality. The research showed that the area of the brain that helps regulate sexuality — the hypothalamus – reacted the exact same way in straight women and gay men when exposed to male pheromones, which are chemicals designed to provoke a behavior such as sexual arousal. The same area of the brain only became stimulated in heterosexual men when introduced to female pheromones.
In 2005, Dr. Brian Mustanski of the University of Illinois at Chicago published a study in the esteemed biomedical journal Human Genetics, claiming he identified three chromosomal regions linked to sexual orientation in men: 7q36, 8p12 and 10q26.
In 2003, University of Texas psychoacoustics specialist Dennis McFadden found that when measuring the way the brain reacts to sound, lesbians fell in between heterosexual men and straight women, suggesting they might be exposed to higher than normal levels of male hormones in utero.
In 2003, University of Liverpool biologist John T. Manning found that the lesbians whom he studied have a hand pattern that “resembles a man’s more than a straight female.” Manning concluded from his study that this “strongly tells us that female homosexuals have had higher levels of exposure to testosterone before birth.”
A 1991 study by Dr. Simon LeVay found that a specific region of the hypothalamus is twice as large in heterosexual men as it is in women or gay men. This strongly points to the role of biology in sexual orientation.
Another 1991 study by scientists Richard Pillard and John M. Bailey studied homosexuality among brothers and found that 53 percent of identical twins were both gay. In adoptive brothers, 11 percent were both homosexual. Of non-twin biological siblings, 9 percent were gay. Again, this points to solid evidence that homosexuality is a matter of nature.
A landmark 2009 American Psychological Association report which states that there is “no evidence that sexual orientation change efforts work.” The report also says that “practitioners should avoid telling clients that they can change from gay to straight.”
why do you consider yourself an authority on what gays think? are you gay or just a blow hard?
if there really was life after death surely it would have been proven by now, religion is hogwash
The photo above definitely has the ick factor. Seems incongruous on a religion site.
"The photo above definitely has the ick factor"
Only to those that have prejudice in the heads, it's a picture of two people who love each other.
Another test –censored again!
You are not being censored there is a word filter so look for slang words within the words you are using.
Like atti-tude contains the word t-it
Docu-ment contains the word c-um
Thank you, Yo - If you are right, I marvel at their system of "keeping it clean." I haven't run into this as a method of censorship anywhere else –it's usually just viewpoint discrimination.
When I was in a Roman Catholic Seminary (college) I remember a Priest giving a lecture and saying that by the year 2000 50% of priests in the US would be gay. In running around with a black shirt and collar I quickly realized that it was beyond 50%. What I found ironic was that if one was gay and a priest that it was easier to have a relationship. Two gay priests walking into a rectory wasn't questioned (of course they kept it quiet). But if Father Frank walked in with hot looking Debbie the tongues were wagging. I preached too for several priests who were dying from AIDS. However, they told their parishners they had cancer. I know of a Bishop who died from Aids. Why can't everyone live and let live? The notion of hiding behind this or that is archaic for all sides. It does nothing but perpetuate ignorance.
Of course AIDS comes to monogamous persons attracted to the same s–. It is a genetic condition to be attracted to persons of the same s–. They are handicapped for normal orientation. We must accommodate them so they can live celibate married lives. All they need is marriage to help them have safe s-. Just because priests got AIDS doesn't mean they were promiscuous or partnering with promiscuous people. Priest, of all people, being earnest followers of Christ, would surely practice monogamy. Therefore, their acquisition of deadly STD's is a mystery–shouldn't happen to them. We need to encourage more youth to enter this lifestyle so they, too, can be at risk for STD's. Legalizing SSM will help us attain this worthy goal.
There –I was more positive and i got printed!
"What I found ironic was that if one was gay and a priest that it was easier to have a relationship. Two gay priests walking into a rectory wasn't questioned"
This is irony? This is the appeal of the priesthood! Apparently –if your stats are right. Cloisters of men make for easy access to one another. The Laity didn't expect priests to be into each other. They thought they were self-sacrificing and practicing celibacy. Apparently not if over 50% were attracted to one another. It explains the cover-ups of pedophilia in the church –they all had the goods on each other. "you keep my secret and I'll keep yours." One wonders if that happened at Penn STate.
Well said, Barby1
Your comment at 4:31 is right on!
INcredible. I wonder –does the co-editor share your views and delete comments of contrary opinion also –as they come in? What diligence!
OK –so, Dan Gilgoff, you watch every comment as it's written? You have nothing better to do?
OK –so maybe if I don't use the word h-se-ual?
Test no. 2 –comment no. 5?
I see what so-called 'Christians' write on this forum. Isn't the point of Christianity to live a life like Christ?
So many of you seem to be utterly failing at even the first few steps of attaining his love.
God, Christ, Buddha, Allah, the list continues... Whatever you believe, can't you at least believe in love and respect for ALL human beings?
The judgment on this page is horrific and tragic.
I always say, my religion preaches love. If the people in it want to be hypocritical that's there thing. But I know God accepts me or he wouldn't have made me this way.
Yea.. after all God made murders that way.
"after all God made murders that way."
Congratulations, you just showed the world you're clueless about this subject. LMAO!
Kiersten, why do you think God made us the way we are? The Bible says we ourselves choose to sin and need to repent of "the way we are." All of us. Anyone can have unbidden thoughts occurring to his/her mind. We can bar the gate to those thoughts which are sinful. Right now, however, culture is teaching you that you are born the way you are (we were born with a sin nature.) And yes, Christianity says we can be delivered from our bodies of sin and death. We need no longer be sin-bound or death-bound because Christ came. If He is Lord, we can surely abstain from se-ual impurity. The Bible says females were created for males –for intimacy and procreation. We direct our minds and our attractions accordingly.
GOD does not make anyone do anything, GOD gives us FREEWILL. Don't BLAME GOD for YOUR CHOICES. Only Sick Souls BLAME GOD FOR THEIR PERSONAL CHOICES. Everyone has a choice...I love it when people make a decision and then have to look to BLAME SOMEONE ELSE FOR Their decisions..BLAME GENITICS, BLAME GOD, BLAME YOUR PARENTS, BLAME THE WORLD...OH PLEASE!!! TRY TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR CHOICES, and LIVING WITH THEM. IF you decide to be GAY and blame something else, you feel guilty for it. If you Decide to be GAY and say, it is what I want..then GOOD FOR YOU. You will rarely find a Gay indiviual that doesnt try to blame something else for the reason they are GAY...To me, the people that use the vicitm or blame card feel guilt..
@just thoughts – congratulations on being able to copy and paste the same hate-filled rant in multiple places. I'm sure your parents are proud.
"Don't BLAME GOD for YOUR CHOICES. Only Sick Souls BLAME GOD FOR THEIR PERSONAL CHOICES."
The experts in psychology disagree with you. You're the sick soul so filled with prejudice and hatred you are NOTHING like your christ.
God is pretend. Myth, folklore, legend.
If that's so....why are you here?
"If a man has a stubborn son who will not obey...Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death with stones"
“Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak, for it is shameful for a women to speak in church.”
1 Corinthians 14:34
Still think morality comes from the bible?
"If a man has a stubborn son who will not obey...Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death with stones"
Still think that morality comes from the bible?
Of course it does! But modern day jesus myth believers are too gutless and hypocritical to actually follow their own cult's rules. Or they will tell us that that version of their rules has been superseded because some mythical dude got nailed to a cross...
Chuckles: My post was for clarification rather than justification so I took no offense but I can't speak for others. I asked for proof of your beliefs to provide perspective for others. Questions allow an understanding of viewpoint or open a window. The way in which statements are read is equally important as the statements themselves.
In terms of direction, it helps to know which school of thought your argument is coming from or in some cases which religion. As to the discussion of other religions, doesn't the sharing of knowledge help expand our viewpoint and even correct misconceptions about those religions?
A debate about Confucius would lead into a circular conversation including several other religions and even perhaps take a foray into parables & their effects on Eastern & Western Medicine. I wouldn't have chosen communism as my debate point but interesting testing statement.