HOMOSEXUALITY, MASTURBATION AND SEXUAL PLEASURE – SCIENCE AND CONFESSIONAL PROSPECTS

I reproduce below, in my translation, part of a major study that you can read on the website of the World Health Organization: “Sexual Health for the Millennium. A Declaration and Technical Document “a publication of the World Association for Sexual Health.

http://www2.paho.org/hq/dmdocuments/2010/Sexual%20Health%20for%20the%20Millennium.pdf

The passage is taken from Chapter 8 “Achieve Recognition of Sexual Pleasure as a Component of Well-being” pp.135-138.

SEXUAL PLEASURE IN HISTORICAL CONTEXT

Throughout much of human history, passionate love and sexual desire have been viewed as dangerous, a threat to the social, political and religious order (Hatfield & Rapson, 1993). During the current historical period, religion and medicine have had powerful influences on societal norms for sexual health and sexual behavior (Hart & Wellings, 2002) and in some important respects these institutions have inherited and continued the tradition of viewing sexual desire, and by extension, pleasure with varying degrees of suspicion.

It is not possible to make tidy generalizations about the extent to which the major religions have held either “sex negative” or “sex positive” perspectives toward pleasure and sexuality. However, it may be said that in various historical periods, many religions, including Christianity and Islam have focused on the reproductive aspects and function of sexuality. Consequently, they have sought strict controls on sexual behavior particularly outside of marriage between a man and a woman, behavior that does not lead to reproduction (e.g., masturbation) and viewed sexual pleasure, particularly that of women and homosexual men and women, with contempt (For extensive documentation and analysis of religious perspectives toward sexuality throughout history see Bullough, 1980, Hawkes, 2004). Numerous scholars have documented the disdain for sexual pleasure expressed by Christian theologians and institutions throughout much of the church’s history (e.g., Pagels, 1988). Masturbation, in particular, has been a contentious topic as its primary purpose is to produce pleasure (Coleman, 2002). Research on masturbation has indicated that contrary to traditional beliefs, masturbation has been found to be a common sexual behavior and linked to indicators of sexual health. While there are no general indicators of ill health associated with masturbation, it can generate powerfully negative or positive emotions for many individuals. It can be powerfully negative or positive, depending on the interaction between the prevailing societal attitudes and individual attitudes and behaviors (Coleman, 2002).

In fact, research has indicated that masturbation begins early and is an important part of healthy sexual development (Langfeldt, 1981). It is often a marker of sexual development (Bancroft, Herbenick, D., & Reynolds, 2002). Many young people learn about their bodies and sexual responsiveness through masturbation (Atwood & Gagnon, 1987). Masturbation also continues throughout the life span. For example, many adults continue to masturbate even though they are married and have ready access to sexual intercourse (Laumann et al., 1994). Masturbation can also help older people who do not have an available partner to maintain sexual functioning and expression (Leiblum & Bachmann, 1988). It is also a safe alternative to behaviors that carry a risk of a sexually transmitted infection, including HIV. The benefits of masturbation are illustrated by its wide acceptance in sex therapy as a means of improving the sexual health of the individual and/or couple (Heiman & LoPiccolo, 1988; Leiblum & Rosen, 1989; Zilbergeld, 1992).

Addressing masturbation within sexual health promotion programming can be controversial. However the available evidence suggests that including masturbation as a topic within comprehensive sexual health promotion is important and necessary.

There is a need for more research, including theory development and hypothesis testing, on the impact of masturbation on self-esteem, body image, sexual functioning and sexual satisfaction and the effective incorporation of education about masturbation within sexual health promotion programs.

It must be noted that positive and progressive perspectives toward pleasure and sexuality are emerging from groups from a variety of religious faiths. Nevertheless, it must also be acknowledged that the legacy of a largely negative interpretation of sexual pleasure, particularly if it is experienced in a context contrary to particular religious norms for sexual conduct, by many religious institutions is still with us today and continues to hinder the recognition of pleasure in sexual health promotion efforts in many parts of the world. With respect to international efforts to promote sexual health, the alliance of the United States, the Vatican and conservative Muslim and Catholic states in opposing the recognition of diverse sexual rights, including those related to pleasure, is testimony to the continued influence of conservative religious forces in shaping polices related to sexual health (Ilkkaracan, 2005).

Since the latter half of the 19th century, medicine and medical science has, particularly in the Western world, exercised considerable authority over sexuality and here too we find that sexual pleasure was often seen as pathology. As Hart and Wellings (2002) suggest “The long tradition of representing illness as a punishment for sin was continued when sexual behavior was medicalized and transformed into morbidity” (p. 896). For example, masturbation, homosexual desire and overt sexual interest, particularly if expressed by women was until quite recently seen by medicine as symptomatic of psychiatric illness and perversion.

Although contemporary medicine and some religious institutions have turned the corner in recognizing the positive and beneficial aspects of sexual expression, many remnants of the propensity to focus on the negative outcomes of sexual expression remains with us. “Today’s public discourse about sexuality is almost exclusively about risks and dangers: abuse, addiction, dysfunction, infection, pedophilia, teen pregnancy, and the struggle of sexual minorities for their civil rights” (Planned Parenthood Federation of America [PPFA], 2003. p. 1).

Although, in most cultures, sexual desire and pleasure receive their widest endorsement within the context of a relationship, sexual desire and pleasure are increasingly coming to be seen as intrinsically positive and rewarding aspects of human experience. While a concern with pleasure is sometimes thought of as a decadent preoccupation of a secular Western culture, it is important to note that many diverse cultures have strong traditions of affirming sexual pleasure. For example, within Brazilian culture the concept of tudo or “Everything” refers to the world of erotic experiences and pleasures (de Freitas, de Oliveira, & Rega, 2004). Indeed, a contemporary discourse of pleasure can be found in many non-western cultures. For example, in Turkey, a country not known for its affirmation of women’s sexual pleasure, a grassroots program that emphasized sexual pleasure as a women’s human right was conducted (Ilkkaracan & Seral, 2000). Organizations such as the South and Southeast Asian Resource Centre on Sexuality (Patel, online) are raising the issue of pleasure in the context of sexual health. From their review of historical and cross-cultural perspectives on passionate love and sexual desire, Hatfield and Rapson (1993) conclude that the tide of history is in the direction of “….an increasing acceptance of passionate love and sexual desire as legitimate, expressible feelings” (p. 91).

Sexual leasure is necessary and contributes to well-being, happiness and health

Romantic love is a primary feature of couple relationships and is expressed through sexuality and sexual passion for the partner (Esch & Stefano, 2005). Although social, political and economic differences across time and place can markedly impact upon sexual attitudes and behavior, cross-cultural research has found that people in all societies place a high value on being with a partner for whom there is “mutual attraction-love” (Buss et al., 1990). Sexual desire and pleasure are embedded in and a fundamental aspect of the mutual attraction between partners.

The mutual sharing of sexual pleasure has been shown to increase bonding within relationships (Weeks, 2002). As Tepper (2000) writes with respect to the neglected rights of people with disabilities to enjoy their sexuality, “Pleasure is an affirmation of life…It can add a sense of connectedness to the world or to each other. It can heal a sense of emotional isolation so many of us feel even though we are socially integrated” (p. 288).

In sum, the enjoyment of sexual pleasure plays an important role in contributing to the establishment, maintenance and stability of couple relationships and, without doubt, the quality of couple relationships is fundamental to the health and well-being of individuals and families. While sexual pleasure can be seen as an end in-of-itself, for many, if not most people, sexual pleasure is intertwined with feelings of intimacy and affection for their partner. Sexual desire and pleasure not only facilitate reproduction, they function as a mechanism of social attachment for the couple relationship, an essential kinship structure in all cultures of the world (Fisher, 2002).

At the most foundational level, sexual pleasure is rooted in the most basic of human functions as has been recognized by evolutionary psychology. In the context of adaptive behavior and its necessity in evolution, it would appear that the pleasure generated by sexual stimulation, orgasm or intercourse would be selected-for evolutionarily. Consequently, pleasure can be seen as an effective and important adaptive mechanism, the function of which is to ensure the procreation and survival of the species (Esch & Stefano, 2005, p. 182).

To the extent that a society is concerned with the well-being and stability of families generally, and couples specifically, it is in the interests of policy makers to recognize the importance of sexual pleasure and to implement sexual health promotion programs that address sexual pleasure as fundamental to individual and couple health and wellbeing.

The recent Global Study of Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors that examined various aspects of sexual health among a sample of 27,500 men and women aged 40 to 80 from 29 culturally diverse countries around the world offers strong evidence of the importance of pleasure and sexual satisfaction for the happiness and well-being of individuals and couples (Laumann et al., 2006: Nicolosi et al., 2004). The survey asked participants, among other things, questions about the degree to which they found their relationships to be physically pleasurable and how important sex is to their overall happiness. Over three quarters of men (82%) and women (76%) agreed that satisfactory sex is essential to maintain a relationship and the authors concluded from their findings that despite substantial cultural variation in sexual norms and values, subjective sexual well-being was associated with overall happiness in both men and women.

A White Paper published by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA, 2003) in cooperation with the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality extensively catalogues the scientific evidence demonstrating the health benefits of sexual expression. Taken together, the studies cited suggest that partnered sexual activity and/or masturbation can be associated with improved longevity, immunity, pain management, self-esteem and a reduction in stress.

In sum, sexual pleasure helps to cement the primary kinship structure of the couple relationship, contributes to the overall happiness in life of both men and women (whether they are in partnerships or not) and is associated with various aspects of good health. Seen in this way sexual pleasure is not frivolous or unnecessary: it is essential.

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GAY MARRIAGE IN FRANCE AND STATE SECULARITY

Starting from April 4, 2013 the Senate of the French Republic will examine the Draft Law No. 344 “for the opening of marriage to same-sex couples” (http://www.assemblee-nationale.fr/14/projets/pl0344.asp) already approved by the National Assembly.

The Article. 1 of the Draft Law No. 344 provides that the Chapter I of Title V of Book I of the Civil Code is amended as follows: “is inserted at the beginning of this chapter an art. 143 so defined:

“Article 143 – Marriage is contracted by two people of different sexes or of the same sex. ‘”.

The Draft Law also provides analytically all the provisions of the codes to adapt them to the new Article 143. The entire discipline of marriage, according to the provisions of the Draft Law, can be found on the page http://www.mariage-civil.fr/

It should be emphasized that the new Article 143 of the French Civil Code does not create a special legislation for same-sex couples, possibly extending it to unmarried heterosexual couples, but simply extends marriage rights to all, without exceptions depending on the sex of the spouses and extends the adoption rights to homosexual couples on the basis of the same rules that govern the adoption for heterosexual couples. This means that the new art. 143, secularly and strictly, applies the principle of equality of all citizens in front of the law.

The definition of the new art. 143 of the French Civil Code is the result of a long process of secularization of marriage.

Marriage, in France, was the exclusive prerogative of the Church during the Ancien Régime, the final secularization of marriage has been enshrined in Article 7 of the Constitution of 1791 which states that “the law sees marriage as a civil contract.” The decree of 20 to 25 September 1792 sets up the conditions for the formation of marriage, including the celebration in front of the municipal public official. This conception of civil and secular marriage was endorsed by the authors of the Civil Code. The marriage has no definition in the French Civil Code and the Code does not identify any fixed purpose for the marriage, the Code is just about acts of marriage, then, in a separate heading, about conditions, effects, and the dissolution of the marriage.

The idea of ​​opening marriage to same-sex couples has collected progressively greater acceptance since the adoption of the law n° 99-944 of 15 November 1999 on the Civil Solidarity Pact. The majority of French people are now in favor of access to marriage by same-sex couples. It is true that the Civil Solidarity Pact allowed to meet the real aspiration of society and the regime that it provides has been considerably strengthened and made closer to that of marriage, but differences still remain and this legal instrument does not meet the request of the same-sex couples who wish to marry or their request for access to adoption.

France has to take a step further. This is the purpose of the Draft Law. 344, which opens the right to marry to same-sex couples and therefore also opens access to parenting for these people, through the mechanism of adoption.

Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon, said that the opening of marriage to homosexuals “is socially disruptive” and added, “And then, this will have an infinite number of consequences. After that, they can require to marry non only in couple but in three or four. Then, one day perhaps, will fall also the prohibition of incest.”

The Cardinal Archbishop of Paris Andre Vingt-Trois judged the marriage between persons of the same sex, “an arrogance that will shake one of the pillars of our society.”

The Protestant Federation of France has ruled against “the false idea of ​​marriage for all” as a matter “not theological but social and anthropological.”

The Grand Rabbi of France Gilles Bernheim believes that “the arguments of equality, love, protection or right to a child do not hold up and they cannot justify, they only, a law.”

Olivier-Genh Wang, vice-president of the Union of Buddhists in France, hopes “people to reflect on the consequences that will arise from individualistic and selfish acts.”

(http://www.20minutes.fr/france/1035092-mariage-homosexuel-mgr-vingt-trois-fustige-supercherie)

The French Council for the Muslim Faith (CFCM) has published an official document which explains the opposition of the Muslim Law Project but precises, secularly, that “the rules and norms of a religion cannot be used to oppose or evade rules and regulations of the State that apply to everyone.” The document also states that Muslims “strongly condemn all homophobic acts.” According to the CFCM “the mission of marriage cannot be reduced to recognize a bond of love”, marriage presupposes “the foundation of a stable family under the direction of the two spouses”.

(http://www.lefigaro.fr/actualite-france/2012/11/06/01016-20121106ARTFIG00611-mariage-gay-l-opposition-des-musulmans.php)

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HOMOSEXUALITY AND IGNORANCE

The fundamental problem for the concrete realization of the criteria of freedom and equality on which a secular civil society should be establish is represented by ignorance, in consequence of which, in place of concepts based on facts that are not known, preconceptions completely unfounded take place.

In order to know the reality about homosexuality I reproduce below a fundamental document by the World Health Organization (http://new.paho.org/hq/index.php?option … 703&Itemid) where are summarized in some points of extreme importance to gay people. This document is the synthesis of very high scientific level of the work of thousands of specialists coming from all over the world. I invite you to see how the contents of this document reflect faithfully what Gay Project has always supported. I think that there is no need to place side by side this document other well-known documents of confessional origin.

I refer the interested reader to two articles published by Gay Project:

GAY BETWEEN REAL MORAL AND REPARATIVE THERAPY
https://gayproject2.wordpress.com/2012/1 … e-therapy/

POPE RATZINGER AND HOMOSEXUALITY
https://gayproject2.wordpress.com/2013/0 … sexuality/
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Pan American Health Organization
Regional Office of the
World Health Organization

“CURES” FOR AN ILLNESS THAT DOES NOT EXIST
Purported therapies aimed at changing sexual orientation lack medical justification and are ethically unacceptable

Introduction

Countless human beings live their lives surrounded by rejection, maltreatment, and violence for being perceived as “different.” Among them, millions are victims of attitudes of mistrust, disdain and hatred because of their sexual orientation. These expressions of homophobia are based on intolerance resulting from blind fanaticism as well as pseudoscientific views that regard non-heterosexual and non-procreative sexual behavior as “deviation” or the result of a “developmental defect.”

Whatever its origins and manifestations, any form of homophobia has negative effects on the affected people, their families and friends, and society at large. There is an abundance of accounts and testimonies of suffering; feelings of guilt and shame; social exclusion; threats and injuries; and persons who have been brutalized and tortured to the point of causing injuries, permanent scars and even death. As a consequence, homphobia represents a public health problem that needs to be addressed energetically.

While every expression of homophobia is regrettable, harms caused by health professionals as a result of ignorance, prejudice, or intolerance are absolutely unacceptable and must be avoided by all means. Not only is it fundamentally important that every person who uses health services be treated with dignity and respect; it is also critical to prevent the application of theories and models that view homosexuality as a “deviation” or a choice that can be modified through “will power” or supposed “therapeutic support”.

In several countries of the Americas, there has been evidence of the continued promotion, through supposed “clinics” or individual “therapists,” of services aimed at “curing” non-heterosexual orientation, an approach known as “reparative” or “conversion therapy.”1 Worryingly, these services are often provided not just outside the sphere of public attention but in a clandestine manner. From the perspective of professional ethics and human rights protected by regional and universal treaties and conventions such as the American Convention on Human Rights and its Additional Protocol (“Protocol of San Salvador”) 2, they represent unjustifiable practices that should be denounced and subject to corresponding sanctions.

Homosexuality as a natural and non-pathological variation

Efforts aimed at changing non-heterosexual sexual orientations lack medical justification since homosexuality cannot be considered a pathological condition.3 There is a professional consensus that homosexuality represents a natural variation of human sexuality without any intrinsically harmful effect on the health of those concerned or those close to them. In none of its individual manifestations does homosexuality constitute a disorder or an illness, and therefore it requires no cure. For this reason homosexuality was removed from the relevant systems of classification of diseases several decades ago.4

The ineffectiveness and harmfulness of “conversion therapies”
Besides the lack of medical indication, there is no scientific evidence for the effectiveness of sexual reorientation efforts. While some persons manage to limit the expression of their sexual orientation in terms of conduct, the orientation itself generally appears as an integral personal characteristic that cannot be changed. At the same time, testimonies abound about harms to mental and physical health resulting from the repression of a person’s sexual orientation. In 2009, the American Psychological Association conducted a review of 83 cases of people who had been subject to “conversion” interventions.5 Not only was it impossible to demonstrate changes in subjects’ sexual orientation, in addition the study found that the intention to change sexual orientation was linked to depression, anxiety, insomnia, feelings of guilt and shame, and even suicidal ideation and behaviors. In light of this evidence, suggesting to patients that they suffer from a “defect” and that they ought to change constitutes a violation of the first principle of medical ethics: “first, do no harm.” It affects the right to personal integrity as well as the right to health, especially in its psychological and moral dimensions.

Reported violations of personal integrity and other human rights

As an aggravating factor, “conversion therapies” have to be considered threats to the right to personal autonomy and to personal integrity. There are several testimonies from adolescents who have been subject to “reparative” interventions against their will, many times at their families’ initiative. In some cases, the victims were interned and deprived of their liberty, sometimes to the extent of being kept in isolation during several months. 6 The testimonies provide accounts of degrading treatment, extreme humiliation, physical violence, aversive conditioning through electric shock or emetic substances, and even sexual harassment and attempts of “reparative rape,” especially in the case of lesbian women. Such interventions violate the dignity and human rights of the affected persons, independently of the fact that their “therapeutic” effect is nil or even counterproductive. In these cases, the right to health has not been protected as demanded by the regional and international obligations established through the Protocol of San Salvador and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.

Conclusion

Health professionals who offer “reparative therapies” align themselves with social prejudices and reflect a stark ignorance in matters of sexuality and sexual health. Contrary to what many people believe or assume, there is no reason – with the exception of the stigma resulting from those very prejudices – why homosexual persons should be unable to enjoy a full and satisfying life. The task of health professionals is to not cause harm and to offer support to patients to alleviate their complaints and problems, not to make these more severe. A therapist who classifies non-heterosexual patients as “deviant” not only offends them but also contributes to the aggravation of their problems. “Reparative” or “conversion therapies” have no medical indication and represent a severe threat to the health and human rights of the affected persons. They constitute unjustifiable practices that should be denounced and subject to adequate sanctions and penalties.

Recommendations

To governments: 

Homophobic ill-treatment on the part of health professionals or other members of health care teams violates human rights obligations established through universal and regional treaties. Such treatment is unacceptable and should not be tolerated.

“Reparative” or “conversion therapies” and the clinics offering them should be reported and subject to adequate sanctions.

Institutions offering such “treatment” at the margin of the health sector should be viewed as infringing the right to health by assuming a role properly pertaining to the health sector and by causing harm to individual and community well-being.7

Victims of homophobic ill-treatment must be treated in accordance with protocols that support them in the recovery of their dignity and self-esteem. This includes providing them treatment for physical and emotional harm and protecting their human rights, especially the right to life, personal integrity, health, and equality before the law.

To academic institutions: 

Public institutions responsible for training health professionals should include courses on human sexuality and sexual health in their curricula, with a particular focus on respect for diversity and the elimination of attitudes of pathologization, rejection, and hate toward non-heterosexual persons. The participation of the latter in teaching activities contributes to the development of positive role models and to the elimination of common stereotypes about non-heterosexual communities and persons.

The formation of support groups among faculty and within the student community contributes to reducing isolation and promoting solidarity and relationships of friendship and respect between members of these groups.
Better still is the formation of sexual diversity alliances that include heterosexual persons.

Homophobic harassment or maltreatment on the part of members of the faculty or students is unacceptable and should not be tolerated.

To professional associations:

Professional associations should disseminate documents and resolutions by national and international institutions and agencies that call for the de-psychopathologization of sexual diversity and the prevention of interventions aimed at changing sexual orientation.

Professional associations should adopt clear and defined positions regarding the protection of human dignity and should define necessary actions for the prevention and control of homophobia as a public health problem that negatively impacts the enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights.

The application of so-called “reparative” or “conversion therapies” should be considered fraudulent and as violating the basic principles of medical ethics. Individuals or institutions offering these treatments should be subject to adequate sanctions.

To the media:

The representation of non-heterosexual groups, populations, or individuals in the media should be based on personal respect, avoiding stereotypes or humor based on mockery, ill-treatment, or violations of dignity or individual or collective well-being.

Homophobia, in any of its manifestations and expressed by any person, should be exposed as a public health problem and a threat to human dignity and human rights.

The use of positive images of non-heterosexual persons or groups, far from promoting homosexuality (in virtue of the fact that sexual orientation cannot be changed), contributes to creating a more humane and diversity-friendly outlook, dispelling unfounded fears and promoting feelings of solidarity.

Publicity that incites homophobic intolerance should be denounced for contributing to the aggravation of a public health problem and threats to the right to life, particularly as it contributes to chronic emotional suffering, physical violence, and hate crimes.

Advertising by “therapists,” “care centers,” or any other agent offering services aimed at changing sexual orientation should be considered illegal and should be reported to the relevant authorities.

To civil society organizations:

Civil society organizations can develop mechanisms of civil vigilance to detect violations of the human rights of non-heterosexual persons and report them to the relevant authorities. They can also help to identify and report persons and institutions involved in the administration of so-called “reparative” or “conversion therapies.”

Existing or emerging self-help groups of relatives or friends of non-heterosexual persons can facilitate the connection to health and social services with the goal of protecting the physical and emotional integrity of ill-treated individuals, in addition to reporting abuse and violence.

Fostering respectful daily interactions between persons of different sexual orientations is enriching for everyone and promotes harmonic, constructive, salutary, and peaceful ways of living together.
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1 Human Rights Committee (2008). Concluding Observations on Ecuador(CCPR/C/ECU/CO/5), paragraph 12.
<http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/docs/co/CCPR.C.ECU.CO.5.doc&gt;
Human Rights Council (2011). Discriminatory Laws and Practices and Acts of Violence Against Individuals
Based on Their Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (A/HRC/19/41), paragraph 56. <http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session19/AHRC-19-41_en.pdf&gt;
Human Rights Council (2011). Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Right of Everyone to the Enjoyment of the Highest Attainable Standard of Physical and Mental Health (A/HRC/14/20), paragraph 23.
<http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/14session/A.HRC.14.20.pdf&gt;
United Nations General Assembly (2001). Note by the Secretary-General on the Question of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (A/56/156), paragraph 24. <http://www.un.org/documents/ga/docs/56/a56156.pdf&gt;
2 The human rights that can be affected by these practices include, among others, the right to life, to personal integrity, to privacy, to equality before the law, to personal liberty, to health, and to benefit from scientific progress.
3 American Psychiatric Association (2000). Therapies Focused on Attempts to Change Sexual Orientation (Reparative or Conversion Therapies):
Position Statement <http://www.psych.org/Departments/EDU/Library/APAOfficialDocumentsandRelated/PositionStatements/200001.aspx&gt;
Anton, B. S. (2010). “Proceedings of the American Psychological Association for the Legislative Year 2009: Minutes of the Annual Meeting of the Council of Representatives and Minutes of the Meetings of the Board of Directors”. American Psychologist, 65, 385–475.
<http://www.apa.org/about/governance/council/policy/sexual-orientation.pdf&gt;
Just the Facts Coalition (2008). Just the Facts about Sexual Orientation and Youth: A Primer for Principals, Educators, and School Personnel.
Washington, DC. <http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbc/publications/justthefacts.html&gt;
4 World Health Organization (1994). International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (10th Revision). Geneva, Switzerland.
American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(4th ed.,text revision). Washington, DC.
5 APA Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation (2009). Report of the Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation. Washington, DC. <http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/therapeutic-response.pdf&gt;
6 Taller de Comunicación Mujer (2008). Pacto Internacional de Derechos Civiles y Políticos: Informe Sombra.
<http://www.tcmujer.org/pdfs/Informe%20Sombra%202009%20LBT.pdf&gt;
Centro de Derechos Económicos y Sociales (2005). Tribunal por los Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales de las Mujeres.
<http://www.tcmujer.org/pdfs/TRIBUNAL%20DESC%20ECUADOR%20MUJERES.pdf&gt;
7 See General Comment No. 14 by the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights with regards to the obligation to respect, protect and comply with human rights obligations on the part of States parties to the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.

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POPE FRANCIS AND GAY RIGHTS: DOGMA AND FREEDOM

Let me clarify a few things before proceeding with this post. I MET several gay Catholics, with very different attitudes and different ways of viewing their being gay, their being Catholics and their way to reconcile or to try to reconcile the two. I respect and appreciate these people. I recently exchanged emails with a person that I was amazed by its radical, even if painful, consistency with Catholic doctrine. We exchanged a few messages even if from far points of view and I have to say that I consider the dialogue with this person an important opportunity to understand a bit deeper a lot of things. I therefore have no intention to argue with polemic attitudes and less than ever I have the pretension to judge those who in good conscience make their choices.

Given the above I start to explain why I published my preceding post on the new Pope. I tried to get a copy of his book “Sobre el cielo y la tierra”, where he speaks also of homosexuality, but I was not able to find it. I would avoid prejudice, frankly I think that this pope will also be different in some respects from traditional ecclesiastical positions on other issues, especially those related to social justice, because this is to be expected on the basis of his previous work, but nothing at all will be changed in terms of condemnation of homosexuality and opposition to the legal recognition of the rights of gay people. On the other hand the letter that Cardinal Bergoglio wrote is just the tip of the iceberg of the Cardinal Bergoglio’s activity to stop the legal recognition of gay rights. Here no one would dream of making judgments overall, but to free the field from easy optimism, we must take stock of what is to be expected objectively on the relation between Church and gays on the basis of what the current Pope did so when he was not even the Pope.

First of all, everyone is free to think what he wants and to practice what he wants, but the Church does not have the right to “impose or attempt to impose” its moral rules completely based on revelation and on Catholic teaching to not Catholic people, that is, that do not recognize in that faith that Church presents as the base of its authority. Of course, the Church has every right in a free world to consider homosexuality “grave depravity”, “sad consequence of rejecting God,” “lack of normal sexual development”, “pathological constitution”, “behavior intrinsically evil and immoral” and so on.

The Church in past centuries has sent thousands of people at the stake for heresy, witchcraft and homosexuality and it is not surprising that those expressions are still used today to condemn homosexuality, but fortunately for us, the world has moved on and recognized that all have freedom of thought and expression, and then of critics. Consider homosexuality “grave depravity”, “sad consequence of rejecting God,” “lack of normal sexual development”, “pathological constitution”, “intrinsically evil behavior from the moral point of view” or, in the version of the new Pope, an “aggression against the law of God and the natural law” and consider as a “diabolical plan” to grant legal protection to same-sex couples, making undue pressure on the civil power, it means to try to compress the rights of others and to keep homosexuals without any legal protection claiming that the state law have to accord strictly to religious dogmas.

If a Catholic gay feels one seriously depraved, marked by an abnormal sexual development, a pathological case, a person intrinsically evil and immoral, a destroyer of the God’s law, an advocate of Satan (and the gallery of horrors could be extended a lot) he is free to follow what the Church proposes, the choice belongs to him only, but the fact that those expressions and those opinions can be an instrument of pressure to influence the lives of others who have nothing to do with the faith of the Church and to maintain for them an inferior condition, it is something morally unacceptable. The Pope, no matter if the previous, the current or the next, until he will try to impose his morality to those who do not share it putting pressure on civil institutions, cannot have a real respect from those outside the Church, in essence it is an attempt to impose a moral, which is repugnant to the conscience of anyone who considers the respect and freedom of others as a value.

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POPE BERGOGLIO AND HOMOSEXUALS

A few hours ago, Cardinal Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, was elected Pope, under the name of Francis. The choice of the name seems to be a harbinger of change, but if there will be a change, certainly will not affect the relationship between Catholic Church and homosexuals.

Cardinal Bergoglio found himself in a strong disagreement with the Argentine government on the issue of marriage between persons of the same sex. On July 9, 2010, a few days before the discussion of the law on marriage between persons of the same sex, the Cardinal Primate addressed a letter to the Carmelite nuns of Buenos Aires in which he described the law on same-sex marriage as “a move of the Devil” and encouraged to join the” God’s war” against the possibility that homosexuals can marry. Former President Nestor Kirchner has criticized the “pressures” of the Church on this point. The President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner accused Bergoglio in strong terms, judging the position of the Church as “typical of the Middle Ages and the Inquisition.”

I reproduce below the full text of the letter sent by cardinal Beroglio to the Carmelite nuns in Buenos Aires a few days before the discussion of the law on marriage between persons of the same sex. The letter points out that “This is not just a political struggle but an attempt to destroy God’s plan” and judged the project to allow marriage between persons of the same sex as something of diabolical origin, “a move by the father of lies.”

Text of the letter

I write these lines to each of you who are in the four monasteries of Buenos Aires. The people of Argentina will face in the coming weeks a situation whose outcome may seriously injure the family. This is the bill on marriage between persons of the same sex.

What is at stake here is the identity and the survival of the family: father, mother and children. What is at stake is the life of many children who are discriminated in advance depriving them of the human growth that God wanted it to be given by a father and a mother. At stake is a direct rejection of God’s law, which is also engraved in our hearts.

I remember a phrase of St Teresa when speaking of her childhood disease, she says that the envy of the devil tried to retaliate against her family because her elder sister had entered Carmel. Here, too, works the envy of the devil, for which sin entered into the world, trying subtly to destroy the image of God: man and woman who have the task to grow, multiply and subdue the earth. Let’s not be naive: it is not only a political struggle, it’s a claim to destroy the plan of God, it’s not just a bill (this is only the instrument), but a “step” by the father of lies to try to confuse and deceive the children of God.

Jesus tells us that, to defend us against this liar accuser, he will send the Spirit of Truth. Today our country, in this situation, needs the special assistance of the Holy Spirit that places the light of truth in the darkness of error, needs this Lawyer to defend us from the spell of many fallacies with which someone tries to justify this law and to confuse and deceive even people of good will.

For this I’m addressing to you to ask for prayer and sacrifice, the two invincible weapons that St Teresa said to possess. Call upon the Lord to send His Spirit to senators who must give their vote because so they will not be moved by mistake or by particular conjunctures but by what the law of nature and the law of God, tells them. Pray for them, for their families that the Lord will assist them, strengthen them and comfort them. Pray that they do much good to the country.

The bill will be debated in the Senate after July 13. Let’s look at St. Joseph, Mary and the Child and ask them fervently to defend the family in Argentina at this time. Let us remember what God said to his people in a time of great distress, “the battle is not yours, but God’s.” May they help, defend and join this war of God.

Thank you for what you do in this fight for the homeland. And, please, I ask you also to pray for me. Jesus bless you and the Holy Virgin protect you.
Sincerely,

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio SJ, Archbishop of Buenos Aires

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If you like, you can join the discussion on this post on Gay Project Forum:

GAY SEXUALITY AND ANXIETY

This article is aimed at defining the relationship between gay sexuality and anxiety on the basis of the experience gained in Gay Project.

The issues related to sexuality are dealt in general with specific categories different from that used for all other issues. The first reaction, or rather the first public reaction, is demonstrated by smiles, winks, jokes, all attitudes based on the apparent uniformity of the points of view, which is equivalent to saying that “everybody knows how these things go!”

It is difficult, in public, to go beyond the level of formal uniformity. Sexuality is almost always conceived as a private matter, or in public, as a matter of ideology. Precisely for this reason the serious comparison of experiences beyond the limits of formal uniformity takes place in practice only between two people or in very limited groups. There is still a fear of being judged when it comes to sexuality and that’s why speech is, in public, on a very general level, and only in private can start a serious and useful dialog.

I would say that sexuality is the area in which the uniformity is experienced at the highest level. In a group of one hundred people chosen at random, political and cultural elements of all kinds emerge through discussion, but when it comes to sexuality the group seems made up of uniformly heterosexual persons, you may question some external behaviors but not heterosexuality in itself. I cite a concrete example: in a school with a thousand students there are on average eighty gay guys but no one of them can be identified.

The heterosexuality “seems” to dominate the horizon, but in reality, when you start knowing each individual member of the group, you realize that things are not so, that homosexuality exists and that it is not a phenomenon related to minimum minorities. If, going into the specifics, we talk exclusively with that 8% of homosexual population, we realize that those people are actually not only very far from sharing the general idea to be straight, but also that sexuality is still considered by them as a kind of taboo to be experienced only in secret and guilt, in essence, you realize that gay sexuality is often experienced with anxiety.

While 67.97% of heterosexual guys responded to the survey of Gay Project that they had never lived with anxiety the issues related to their sexual orientation, only 20.45% of gay guys gave the same answer.

Which points of reference can have a gay guy in terms of sexuality? The answers seem obvious, first the parents, then the peer group, then the educational system, etc. etc. . In fact it is already difficult for a straight guy to talk about sexuality with his parents, but for a gay guy the problem is often unsurpassable, not only he wouldn’t probably find on the other side a competent answer but he would face a significant risk of being rejected by his own family. The same could happen with the peer group (classmates, friends, etc.).

The education system in most cases is totally unprepared to provide serious answers in these areas. There are notable exceptions in the countries of Northern Europe but in southern European countries, mostly the United States and in almost all other states, not only there is no form of sex education that includes seriously also homosexuality, but in practice projects are reduced to convey some notion of reproductive physiology leaving entirely aside the emotional dimension and the psychological problems related to sexuality. I had to consider some of the projects of sexual education presented in Italy, aimed at young people aged 16 to 18 years, and I found not only the total absence of any reference to homosexuality, but even the total absence of any reference to masturbation, which is then, today, still a taboo also in the straight field.

To get a detailed picture of the situation we can use the statistics of Gay Project.

The following table compares the percentage of gay guys and straight guys who have never used sex chats or have never used dating sites.

                                        straight            gay
never sex chats             80.47%        61.14%
never dating sites         84.38%        53.14%

It is clear that gay guys do more use of gay sex chats and dating sites than straight guys but the reason does not lie in a greater propensity toward sex as fun or toward quick sex, it is instead a reaction entirely predictable to the marginalization to which gays are forced.

Another significant difference is in the reaction of gay guys and straight guys to the discovery of masturbation:

                                    straight           gay
I didn’t tell anyone       58.59%      80.57%
I told friends                35.94%      15.43%

It is clear that for a gay guy to talk about sexuality is much more problematic. The confidence in the group of peers for a gay guy, on average, is less than half of that of a straight guy.

A similar situation is found with the question “Have you ever told anyone that you used pornography?”

                                      straight        gay
I haven’t told anyone    36.72%    64.00%
I told friends                  56.25%    25.15%

Very significant is the comparison of the number of those who have never had sexual intercourse

                                         straight        gay
I’ve never had sex          32.03%     46.29%
mean age                       26.23         26.25

The overall picture shows that a gay guy has a lot more problems than a straight guy in talking about sexuality with his parents, with peers and at school, and then turns to sex chats and dating sites much more than a straight guy the same age, and also that a gay guy has much less chance to have sexual experiences compared to a straight guy.

Unfortunately, even though it is disheartening, the first source of information on sexuality, for gay guys, is the internet, and especially pornography and the environments of erotic chats and dating sites, which provide images that are often very far from the reality of the life of the vast majority of gay guys. Internet affects gay guys much more than it affects the straight guys. All this makes sexuality a taboo subject for gay guys much more than for straight guys.

I often talk in chat with gay guys having a picture of reality derived entirely from the internet, which means almost exclusively from pornography, sex chats and dating sites. Often these guys are not absolutely at ease with the models they have learned from pornography or chats and end up considering their attitude as something abnormal and deviant to be corrected and for this reason they strive to change their point of view. But if they knew the reality of the lives of other gay guys, they would realize that there’s anything to fix.

Issues related to performance anxiety are still common among gay guys and in these cases the erectile deficit is often considered by the guys themselves as their own personal problem to be solved through the complete acceptance of a pattern of behavior that falsely they consider as the rule of the gay world, but that is far from reality and instead derives almost exclusively from pornography.

There are guys with excellent level of culture and remarkable intellectual gifts that are dominated by anxiety related to the idea of having a small penis or of having problems with sexual response, things that doesn’t exist at all, except as a result of an attempt to integrate at any cost, that is forcedly, in a particular gay scene that they consider to be the typical expression of homosexuality.

There are guys who never use the word gay and avoid all matters relating to physical sexuality. The idea that gay guys can talk seriously even about oral sex or masturbation is still very scarcely spread. In reality, these things should not be considered in any way as a taboo because sexuality is an essential part of life for all guys. A good guy is not a good student who will make his way in life but to be a good guy should not have sex or should largely suppress his sexuality, no! A good guy is obviously (and it would be absurd to think otherwise) a guy who has his sexuality and has every right to live it in any way he likes, with the only limit of the respect of the freedom of others. A good guy lives his masturbation and couple sex when he has a partner, and it is essential that he lives these things with confidence and in a relaxed manner, without stupid conditioning, because sexuality is one of the pillars of well-being. In sexuality, more than in any other issue, the restriction of freedom has an impact heavily negative.

The idea that sexuality is a normal reality of life for all, which is not nothing to be ashamed of and that we can speak seriously of sexuality as we speak of all other things, is almost completely lacking, especially among gay guys.

In situations of isolation, that is in a condition where it is not possible or is very difficult to talk about contents related to sexuality, the anxious reaction prevails and behaviors can become risky. The self-esteem itself of a gay guy is often heavily influenced by the perception of his own sexuality as something that he can’t even speak about.

Addressing seriously the issues related to sexuality, putting aside the anxiety, means regaining self-esteem, reducing problems and maintaining a peaceful contact with reality, that is, in short, feeling better about themselves and others.

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If you like, you can join the discussion on this post on Gay Project Forum:

POPE RATZINGER AND HOMOSEXUALITY

The February 11, 2013, when I heard on the radio of the waiver to the papacy by Pope Benedict XVI, I thought to write an article about it, but I prefer to refrain from making judgments of any kind. I attach below two documents signed by Cardinal Ratzinger on the topic of homosexuality:

1)      LETTER TO THE BISHOPS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON THE PASTORAL CARE OF HOMOSEXUAL PERSONS – October 1, 1986

2)     CONSIDERATIONS REGARDING PROPOSALS TO GIVE LEGAL RECOGNITIONTO UNIONS BETWEEN HOMOSEXUAL PERSONS – June 3, 2003

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CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH

LETTER TO THE BISHOPS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
ON THE PASTORAL CARE OF HOMOSEXUAL PERSONS

1. The issue of homosexuality and the moral evaluation of homosexual acts have increasingly become a matter of public debate, even in Catholic circles. Since this debate often advances arguments and makes assertions inconsistent with the teaching of the Catholic Church, it is quite rightly a cause for concern to all engaged in the pastoral ministry, and this Congregation has judged it to be of sufficiently grave and widespread importance to address to the Bishops of the Catholic Church this Letter on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons.

2. Naturally, an exhaustive treatment of this complex issue cannot be attempted here, but we will focus our reflection within the distinctive context of the Catholic moral perspective. It is a perspective which finds support in the more secure findings of the natural sciences, which have their own legitimate and proper methodology and field of inquiry.

However, the Catholic moral viewpoint is founded on human reason illumined by faith and is consciously motivated by the desire to do the will of God our Father. The Church is thus in a position to learn from scientific discovery but also to transcend the horizons of science and to be confident that her more global vision does greater justice to the rich reality of the human person in his spiritual and physical dimensions, created by God and heir, by grace, to eternal life.

It is within this context, then, that it can be clearly seen that the phenomenon of homosexuality, complex as it is, and with its many consequences for society and ecclesial life, is a proper focus for the Church’s pastoral care. It thus requires of her ministers attentive study, active concern and honest, theologically well-balanced counsel.

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 (cf. n. 8, 4).

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.

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.

4. An essential dimension of authentic pastoral care is the identification of causes of confusion regarding the Church’s teaching. One is a new exegesis of Sacred Scripture which claims variously that Scripture has nothing to say on the subject of homosexuality, or that it somehow tacitly approves of it, or that all of its moral injunctions are so culture-bound that they are no longer applicable to contemporary life. These views are gravely erroneous and call for particular attention here.

5. It is quite true that the Biblical literature owes to the different epochs in which it was written a good deal of its varied patterns of thought and expression (Dei Verbum 12). The Church today addresses the Gospel to a world which differs in many ways from ancient days. But the world in which the New Testament was written was already quite diverse from the situation in which the Sacred Scriptures of the Hebrew People had been written or compiled, for example.

What should be noticed is that, in the presence of such remarkable diversity, there is nevertheless a clear consistency within the Scriptures themselves on the moral issue of homosexual behaviour. The Church’s doctrine regarding this issue is thus based, not on isolated phrases for facile theological argument, but on the solid foundation of a constant Biblical testimony. The community of faith today, in unbroken continuity with the Jewish and Christian communities within which the ancient Scriptures were written, continues to be nourished by those same Scriptures and by the Spirit of Truth whose Word they are. It is likewise essential to recognize that the Scriptures are not properly understood when they are interpreted in a way which contradicts the Church’s living Tradition. To be correct, the interpretation of Scripture must be in substantial accord with that Tradition.

The Vatican Council II in Dei Verbum 10, put it this way: “It is clear, therefore, that in the supremely wise arrangement of God, sacred Tradition, sacred Scripture, and the Magisterium of the Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the others. Working together, each in its own way under the action of the one Holy Spirit, they all contribute effectively to the salvation of souls”. In that spirit we wish to outline briefly the Biblical teaching here.

6. Providing a basic plan for understanding this entire discussion of homosexuality is the theology of creation we find in Genesis. God, in his infinite wisdom and love, brings into existence all of reality as a reflection of his goodness. He fashions mankind, male and female, in his own image and likeness. Human beings, therefore, are nothing less than the work of God himself; and in the complementarity of the sexes, they are called to reflect the inner unity of the Creator. They do this in a striking way in their cooperation with him in the transmission of life by a mutual donation of the self to the other.

In Genesis 3, we find that this truth about persons being an image of God has been obscured by original sin. There inevitably follows a loss of awareness of the covenantal character of the union these persons had with God and with each other. The human body retains its “spousal significance” but this is now clouded by sin. Thus, in Genesis 19:1-11, the deterioration due to sin continues in the story of the men of Sodom. There can be no doubt of the moral judgement made there against homosexual relations. In Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, in the course of describing the conditions necessary for belonging to the Chosen People, the author excludes from the People of God those who behave in a homosexual fashion.

Against the background of this exposition of theocratic law, an eschatological perspective is developed by St. Paul when, in I Cor 6:9, he proposes the same doctrine and lists those who behave in a homosexual fashion among those who shall not enter the Kingdom of God.

In Romans 1:18-32, still building on the moral traditions of his forebears, but in the new context of the confrontation between Christianity and the pagan society of his day, Paul uses homosexual behaviour as an example of the blindness which has overcome humankind. Instead of the original harmony between Creator and creatures, the acute distortion of idolatry has led to all kinds of moral excess. Paul is at a loss to find a clearer example of this disharmony than homosexual relations. Finally, 1 Tim. 1, in full continuity with the Biblical position, singles out those who spread wrong doctrine and in v. 10 explicitly names as sinners those who engage in homosexual acts.

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.

9. The movement within the Church, which takes the form of pressure groups of various names and sizes, attempts to give the impression that it represents all homosexual persons who are Catholics. As a matter of fact, its membership is by and large restricted to those who either ignore the teaching of the Church or seek somehow to undermine it. It brings together under the aegis of Catholicism homosexual persons who have no intention of abandoning their homosexual behaviour. One tactic used is to protest that any and all criticism of or reservations about homosexual people, their activity and lifestyle, are simply diverse forms of unjust discrimination.

There is an effort in some countries to manipulate the Church by gaining the often well-intentioned support of her pastors with a view to changing civil-statutes and laws. This is done in order to conform to these pressure groups’ concept that homosexuality is at least a completely harmless, if not an entirely good, thing. Even when the practice of homosexuality may seriously threaten the lives and well-being of a large number of people, its advocates remain undeterred and refuse to consider the magnitude of the risks involved.

The Church can never be so callous. It is true that her clear position cannot be revised by pressure from civil legislation or the trend of the moment. But she is really concerned about the many who are not represented by the pro-homosexual movement and about those who may have been tempted to believe its deceitful propaganda. She is also aware that the view that homosexual activity is equivalent to, or as acceptable as, the sexual expression of conjugal love has a direct impact on society’s understanding of the nature and rights of the family and puts them in jeopardy.

10. It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church’s pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law.

But the proper reaction to crimes committed against homosexual persons should not be to claim that the homosexual condition is not disordered. When such a claim is made and when homosexual activity is consequently condoned, or when civil legislation is introduced to protect behavior to which no one has any conceivable right, neither the Church nor society at large should be surprised when other distorted notions and practices gain ground, and irrational and violent reactions increase.

11. It has been argued that the homosexual orientation in certain cases is not the result of deliberate choice; and so the homosexual person would then have no choice but to behave in a homosexual fashion. Lacking freedom, such a person, even if engaged in homosexual activity, would not be culpable.

Here, the Church’s wise moral tradition is necessary since it warns against generalizations in judging individual cases. In fact, circumstances may exist, or may have existed in the past, which would reduce or remove the culpability of the individual in a given instance; or other circumstances may increase it. What is at all costs to be avoided is the unfounded and demeaning assumption that the sexual behaviour of homosexual persons is always and totally compulsive and therefore inculpable. What is essential is that the fundamental liberty which characterizes the human person and gives him his dignity be recognized as belonging to the homosexual person as well. As in every conversion from evil, the abandonment of homosexual activity will require a profound collaboration of the individual with God’s liberating grace.

12. What, then, are homosexual persons to do who seek to follow the Lord? Fundamentally, they are called to enact the will of God in their life by joining whatever sufferings and difficulties they experience in virtue of their condition to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross. That Cross, for the believer, is a fruitful sacrifice since from that death come life and redemption. While any call to carry the cross or to understand a Christian’s suffering in this way will predictably be met with bitter ridicule by some, it should be remembered that this is the way to eternal life for all who follow Christ.

It is, in effect, none other than the teaching of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians when he says that the Spirit produces in the lives of the faithful “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control” (5:22) and further (v. 24), “You cannot belong to Christ unless you crucify all self-indulgent passions and desires.”

It is easily misunderstood, however, if it is merely seen as a pointless effort at self-denial. The Cross is a denial of self, but in service to the will of God himself who makes life come from death and empowers those who trust in him to practise virtue in place of vice.

To celebrate the Paschal Mystery, it is necessary to let that Mystery become imprinted in the fabric of daily life. To refuse to sacrifice one’s own will in obedience to the will of the Lord is effectively to prevent salvation. Just as the Cross was central to the expression of God’s redemptive love for us in Jesus, so the conformity of the self-denial of homosexual men and women with the sacrifice of the Lord will constitute for them a source of self-giving which will save them from a way of life which constantly threatens to destroy them.

Christians who are homosexual are called, as all of us are, to a chaste life. As they dedicate their lives to understanding the nature of God’s personal call to them, they will be able to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance more faithfully and receive the Lord’s grace so freely offered there in order to convert their lives more fully to his Way.

13. We recognize, of course, that in great measure the clear and successful communication of the Church’s teaching to all the faithful, and to society at large, depends on the correct instruction and fidelity of her pastoral ministers. The Bishops have the particularly grave responsibility to see to it that their assistants in the ministry, above all the priests, are rightly informed and personally disposed to bring the teaching of the Church in its integrity to everyone.

The characteristic concern and good will exhibited by many clergy and religious in their pastoral care for homosexual persons is admirable, and, we hope, will not diminish. Such devoted ministers should have the confidence that they are faithfully following the will of the Lord by encouraging the homosexual person to lead a chaste life and by affirming that person’s God-given dignity and worth.

14. With this in mind, this Congregation wishes to ask the Bishops to be especially cautious of any programmes which may seek to pressure the Church to change her teaching, even while claiming not to do so. A careful examination of their public statements and the activities they promote reveals a studied ambiguity by which they attempt to mislead the pastors and the faithful. For example, they may present the teaching of the Magisterium, but only as if it were an optional source for the formation of one’s conscience. Its specific authority is not recognized. Some of these groups will use the word “Catholic” to describe either the organization or its intended members, yet they do not defend and promote the teaching of the Magisterium; indeed, they even openly attack it. While their members may claim a desire to conform their lives to the teaching of Jesus, in fact they abandon the teaching of his Church. This contradictory action should not have the support of the Bishops in any way.

15. We encourage the Bishops, then, to provide pastoral care in full accord with the teaching of the Church for homosexual persons of their dioceses. No authentic pastoral programme will include organizations in which homosexual persons associate with each other without clearly stating that homosexual activity is immoral. A truly pastoral approach will appreciate the need for homosexual persons to avoid the near occasions of sin.

We would heartily encourage programmes where these dangers are avoided. But we wish to make it clear that departure from the Church’s teaching, or silence about it, in an effort to provide pastoral care is neither caring nor pastoral. Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral. The neglect of the Church’s position prevents homosexual men and women from receiving the care they need and deserve.

An authentic pastoral programme will assist homosexual persons at all levels of the spiritual life: through the sacraments, and in particular through the frequent and sincere use of the sacrament of Reconciliation, through prayer, witness, counsel and individual care. In such a way, the entire Christian community can come to recognize its own call to assist its brothers and sisters, without deluding them or isolating them.

16. From this multi-faceted approach there are numerous advantages to be gained, not the least of which is the realization that a homosexual person, as every human being, deeply needs to be nourished at many different levels simultaneously.

The human person, made in the image and likeness of God, can hardly be adequately described by a reductionist reference to his or her sexual orientation. Every one living on the face of the earth has personal problems and difficulties, but challenges to growth, strengths, talents and gifts as well. Today, the Church provides a badly needed context for the care of the human person when she refuses to consider the person as a “heterosexual” or a “homosexual” and insists that every person has a fundamental Identity: the creature of God, and by grace, his child and heir to eternal life.

17. In bringing this entire matter to the Bishops’ attention, this Congregation wishes to support their efforts to assure that the teaching of the Lord and his Church on this important question be communicated fully to all the faithful.

In light of the points made above, they should decide for their own dioceses the extent to which an intervention on their part is indicated. In addition, should they consider it helpful, further coordinated action at the level of their National Bishops’ Conference may be envisioned.

In a particular way, we would ask the Bishops to support, with the means at their disposal, the development of appropriate forms of pastoral care for homosexual persons. These would include the assistance of the psychological, sociological and medical sciences, in full accord with the teaching of the Church.

They are encouraged to call on the assistance of all Catholic theologians who, by teaching what the Church teaches, and by deepening their reflections on the true meaning of human sexuality and Christian marriage with the virtues it engenders, will make an important contribution in this particular area of pastoral care.

The Bishops are asked to exercise special care in the selection of pastoral ministers so that by their own high degree of spiritual and personal maturity and by their fidelity to the Magisterium, they may be of real service to homosexual persons, promoting their health and well-being in the fullest sense. Such ministers will reject theological opinions which dissent from the teaching of the Church and which, therefore, cannot be used as guidelines for pastoral care.

We encourage the Bishops to promote appropriate catechetical programmes based on the truth about human sexuality in its relationship to the family as taught by the Church. Such programmes should provide a good context within which to deal with the question of homosexuality.

This catechesis would also assist those families of homosexual persons to deal with this problem which affects them so deeply.

All support should be withdrawn from any organizations which seek to undermine the teaching of the Church, which are ambiguous about it, or which neglect it entirely. Such support, or even the semblance of such support, can be gravely misinterpreted. Special attention should be given to the practice of scheduling religious services and to the use of Church buildings by these groups, including the facilities of Catholic schools and colleges. To some, such permission to use Church property may seem only just and charitable; but in reality it is contradictory to the purpose for which these institutions were founded, it is misleading and often scandalous.

In assessing proposed legislation, the Bishops should keep as their uppermost concern the responsibility to defend and promote family life.

18. The Lord Jesus promised, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” (Jn. 8:32). Scripture bids us speak the truth in love (cf. Eph. 4:15). The God who is at once truth and love calls the Church to minister to every man, woman and child with the pastoral solicitude of our compassionate Lord. It is in this spirit that we have addressed this Letter to the Bishops of the Church, with the hope that it will be of some help as they care for those whose suffering can only be intensified by error and lightened by truth.

(During an audience granted to the undersigned Prefect, His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, approved this Letter, adopted in an ordinary session of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and ordered it to be published.)

Given at Rome, 1 October 1986.

JOSEPH CARDINAL RATZINGER 
Prefect

ALBERTO BOVONE 
Titular Archbishop of Caesarea in Numidia
Secretary

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CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH

CONSIDERATIONS REGARDING PROPOSALS TO GIVE LEGAL RECOGNITIONTO UNIONS BETWEEN HOMOSEXUAL PERSONS

INTRODUCTION

1. In recent years, various questions relating to homosexuality have been addressed with some frequency by Pope John Paul II and by the relevant Dicasteries of the Holy See.(1) Homosexuality is a troubling moral and social phenomenon, even in those countries where it does not present significant legal issues. It gives rise to greater concern in those countries that have granted or intend to grant – legal recognition to homosexual unions, which may include the possibility of adopting children. The present Considerations do not contain new doctrinal elements; they seek rather to reiterate the essential points on this question and provide arguments drawn from reason which could be used by Bishops in preparing more specific interventions, appropriate to the different situations throughout the world, aimed at protecting and promoting the dignity of marriage, the foundation of the family, and the stability of society, of which this institution is a constitutive element. The present Considerations are also intended to give direction to Catholic politicians by indicating the approaches to proposed legislation in this area which would be consistent with Christian conscience.(2) Since this question relates to the natural moral law, the arguments that follow are addressed not only to those who believe in Christ, but to all persons committed to promoting and defending the common good of society.

I. THE NATURE OF MARRIAGE AND ITS INALIENABLE CHARACTERISTICS

2. The Church’s teaching on marriage and on the complementarity of the sexes reiterates a truth that is evident to right reason and recognized as such by all the major cultures of the world. Marriage is not just any relationship between human beings. It was established by the Creator with its own nature, essential properties and purpose.(3) No ideology can erase from the human spirit the certainty that marriage exists solely between a man and a woman, who by mutual personal gift, proper and exclusive to themselves, tend toward the communion of their persons. In this way, they mutually perfect each other, in order to cooperate with God in the procreation and upbringing of new human lives.

3. The natural truth about marriage was confirmed by the Revelation contained in the biblical accounts of creation, an expression also of the original human wisdom, in which the voice of nature itself is heard. There are three fundamental elements of the Creator’s plan for marriage, as narrated in the Book of Genesis.

In the first place, man, the image of God, was created “male and female” (Gen 1:27). Men and women are equal as persons and complementary as male and female. Sexuality is something that pertains to the physical-biological realm and has also been raised to a new level – the personal level – where nature and spirit are united.

Marriage is instituted by the Creator as a form of life in which a communion of persons is realized involving the use of the sexual faculty. “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife and they become one flesh” (Gen 2:24).

Third, God has willed to give the union of man and woman a special participation in his work of creation. Thus, he blessed the man and the woman with the words “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28). Therefore, in the Creator’s plan, sexual complementarity and fruitfulness belong to the very nature of marriage.

Furthermore, the marital union of man and woman has been elevated by Christ to the dignity of a sacrament. The Church teaches that Christian marriage is an efficacious sign of the covenant between Christ and the Church (cf. Eph 5:32). This Christian meaning of marriage, far from diminishing the profoundly human value of the marital union between man and woman, confirms and strengthens it (cf. Mt 19:3-12; Mk 10:6-9).

4. There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law. Homosexual acts “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”.(4)

Sacred Scripture condemns homosexual acts “as a serious depravity… (cf. Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:10; 1 Tim 1:10). This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered”.(5) This same moral judgment is found in many Christian writers of the first centuries(6) and is unanimously accepted by Catholic Tradition.

Nonetheless, according to the teaching of the Church, men and women with homosexual tendencies “must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided”.(7) They are called, like other Christians, to live the virtue of chastity.(8) The homosexual inclination is however “objectively disordered”(9) and homosexual practices are “sins gravely contrary to chastity”.(10)

II. POSITIONS ON THE PROBLEM OF HOMOSEXUAL UNIONS

5. Faced with the fact of homosexual unions, civil authorities adopt different positions. At times they simply tolerate the phenomenon; at other times they advocate legal recognition of such unions, under the pretext of avoiding, with regard to certain rights, discrimination against persons who live with someone of the same sex. In other cases, they favour giving homosexual unions legal equivalence to marriage properly so-called, along with the legal possibility of adopting children.

Where the government’s policy is de facto tolerance and there is no explicit legal recognition of homosexual unions, it is necessary to distinguish carefully the various aspects of the problem. Moral conscience requires that, in every occasion, Christians give witness to the whole moral truth, which is contradicted both by approval of homosexual acts and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons. Therefore, discreet and prudent actions can be effective; these might involve: unmasking the way in which such tolerance might be exploited or used in the service of ideology; stating clearly the immoral nature of these unions; reminding the government of the need to contain the phenomenon within certain limits so as to safeguard public morality and, above all, to avoid exposing young people to erroneous ideas about sexuality and marriage that would deprive them of their necessary defences and contribute to the spread of the phenomenon. Those who would move from tolerance to the legitimization of specific rights for cohabiting homosexual persons need to be reminded that the approval or legalization of evil is something far different from the toleration of evil.

In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection.

III. ARGUMENTS FROM REASON AGAINST LEGAL RECOGNITION OF HOMOSEXUAL UNIONS

6. To understand why it is necessary to oppose legal recognition of homosexual unions, ethical considerations of different orders need to be taken into consideration.

From the order of right reason

The scope of the civil law is certainly more limited than that of the moral law,(11) but civil law cannot contradict right reason without losing its binding force on conscience.(12) Every humanly-created law is legitimate insofar as it is consistent with the natural moral law, recognized by right reason, and insofar as it respects the inalienable rights of every person.(13) Laws in favour of homosexual unions are contrary to right reason because they confer legal guarantees, analogous to those granted to marriage, to unions between persons of the same sex. Given the values at stake in this question, the State could not grant legal standing to such unions without failing in its duty to promote and defend marriage as an institution essential to the common good.

It might be asked how a law can be contrary to the common good if it does not impose any particular kind of behaviour, but simply gives legal recognition to a de facto reality which does not seem to cause injustice to anyone. In this area, one needs first to reflect on the difference between homosexual behaviour as a private phenomenon and the same behaviour as a relationship in society, foreseen and approved by the law, to the point where it becomes one of the institutions in the legal structure. This second phenomenon is not only more serious, but also assumes a more wide-reaching and profound influence, and would result in changes to the entire organization of society, contrary to the common good. Civil laws are structuring principles of man’s life in society, for good or for ill. They “play a very important and sometimes decisive role in influencing patterns of thought and behaviour”.(14) Lifestyles and the underlying presuppositions these express not only externally shape the life of society, but also tend to modify the younger generation’s perception and evaluation of forms of behaviour. Legal recognition of homosexual unions would obscure certain basic moral values and cause a devaluation of the institution of marriage.

From the biological and anthropological order

7. Homosexual unions are totally lacking in the biological and anthropological elements of marriage and family which would be the basis, on the level of reason, for granting them legal recognition. Such unions are not able to contribute in a proper way to the procreation and survival of the human race. The possibility of using recently discovered methods of artificial reproduction, beyond involv- ing a grave lack of respect for human dignity,(15) does nothing to alter this inadequacy.

Homosexual unions are also totally lacking in the conjugal dimension, which represents the human and ordered form of sexuality. Sexual relations are human when and insofar as they express and promote the mutual assistance of the sexes in marriage and are open to the transmission of new life.

As experience has shown, the absence of sexual complementarity in these unions creates obstacles in the normal development of children who would be placed in the care of such persons. They would be deprived of the experience of either fatherhood or motherhood. Allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such unions would actually mean doing violence to these children, in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development. This is gravely immoral and in open contradiction to the principle, recognized also in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, that the best interests of the child, as the weaker and more vulnerable party, are to be the paramount consideration in every case.

From the social order

8. Society owes its continued survival to the family, founded on marriage. The inevitable consequence of legal recognition of homosexual unions would be the redefinition of marriage, which would become, in its legal status, an institution devoid of essential reference to factors linked to heterosexuality; for example, procreation and raising children. If, from the legal standpoint, marriage between a man and a woman were to be considered just one possible form of marriage, the concept of marriage would undergo a radical transformation, with grave detriment to the common good. By putting homosexual unions on a legal plane analogous to that of marriage and the family, the State acts arbitrarily and in contradiction with its duties.

The principles of respect and non-discrimination cannot be invoked to support legal recognition of homosexual unions. Differentiating between persons or refusing social recognition or benefits is unacceptable only when it is contrary to justice.(16) The denial of the social and legal status of marriage to forms of cohabitation that are not and cannot be marital is not opposed to justice; on the contrary, justice requires it.

Nor can the principle of the proper autonomy of the individual be reasonably invoked. It is one thing to maintain that individual citizens may freely engage in those activities that interest them and that this falls within the common civil right to freedom; it is something quite different to hold that activities which do not represent a significant or positive contribution to the development of the human person in society can receive specific and categorical legal recognition by the State. Not even in a remote analogous sense do homosexual unions fulfil the purpose for which marriage and family deserve specific categorical recognition. On the contrary, there are good reasons for holding that such unions are harmful to the proper development of human society, especially if their impact on society were to increase.

From the legal order

9. Because married couples ensure the succession of generations and are therefore eminently within the public interest, civil law grants them institutional recognition. Homosexual unions, on the other hand, do not need specific attention from the legal standpoint since they do not exercise this function for the common good.

Nor is the argument valid according to which legal recognition of homosexual unions is necessary to avoid situations in which cohabiting homosexual persons, simply because they live together, might be deprived of real recognition of their rights as persons and citizens. In reality, they can always make use of the provisions of law – like all citizens from the standpoint of their private autonomy – to protect their rights in matters of common interest. It would be gravely unjust to sacrifice the common good and just laws on the family in order to protect personal goods that can and must be guaranteed in ways that do not harm the body of society.(17)

IV. POSITIONS OF CATHOLIC POLITICIANS  WITH REGARD TO LEGISLATION IN FAVOUR OF HOMOSEXUAL UNIONS

10. If it is true that all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are obliged to do so in a particular way, in keeping with their responsibility as politicians. Faced with legislative proposals in favour of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are to take account of the following ethical indications.

When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic law-maker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favour of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral.

When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is already in force, the Catholic politician must oppose it in the ways that are possible for him and make his opposition known; it is his duty to witness to the truth. If it is not possible to repeal such a law completely, the Catholic politician, recalling the indications contained in the Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, “could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality”, on condition that his “absolute personal opposition” to such laws was clear and well known and that the danger of scandal was avoided.(18) This does not mean that a more restrictive law in this area could be considered just or even acceptable; rather, it is a question of the legitimate and dutiful attempt to obtain at least the partial repeal of an unjust law when its total abrogation is not possible at the moment.

CONCLUSION

11. The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behaviour, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity. The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself.

The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, in the Audience of March 28, 2003, approved the present Considerations, adopted in the Ordinary Session of this Congregation, and ordered their publication.

Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, June 3, 2003, Memorial of Saint Charles Lwanga and his Companions, Martyrs.

Joseph Card. Ratzinger
Prefect

Angelo Amato, S.D.B.
Titular Archbishop of Sila
Secretary

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NOTES

(1) Cf. John Paul II, Angelus Messages of February 20, 1994, and of June 19, 1994; Address to the Plenary Meeting of the Pontifical Council for the Family (March 24, 1999); Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nos. 2357-2359, 2396; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Persona humana (December 29, 1975), 8; Letter on the pastoral care of homosexual persons (October 1, 1986); Some considerations concerning the response to legislative proposals on the non-discrimination of homosexual persons (July 24, 1992); Pontifical Council for the Family, Letter to the Presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe on the resolution of the European Parliament regarding homosexual couples (March 25, 1994); Family, marriage and “de facto” unions (July 26, 2000), 23.

(2) Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding the participation of Catholics in political life (November 24, 2002), 4.

(3) Cf. Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, 48.

(4) Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2357.

(5) Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Persona humana (December 29, 1975), 8.

(6) Cf., for example, St. Polycarp, Letter to the Philippians, V, 3; St. Justin Martyr, First Apology, 27, 1-4; Athenagoras, Supplication for the Christians, 34.

(7) Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2358; cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter on the pastoral care of homosexual persons (October 1, 1986), 10.

(8) Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2359; cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter on the pastoral care of homosexual persons (October 1, 1986), 12.

(9) Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2358.

(10) Ibid., No. 2396.

(11) Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae (March 25, 1995), 71.

(12) Cf. ibid., 72.

(13) Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I-II, q. 95, a. 2.

(14) John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae (March 25, 1995), 90.

(15) Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum vitae (February 22, 1987), II. A. 1-3.

(16) Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, II-II, q. 63, a.1, c.

(17) It should not be forgotten that there is always “a danger that legislation which would make homosexuality a basis for entitlements could actually encourage a person with a homosexual orientation to declare his homosexuality or even to seek a partner in order to exploit the provisions of the law” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Some considerations concerning the response to legislative proposals on the non-discrimination of homosexual persons [July 24, 1992], 14).

(18) John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae (March 25, 1995), 73.

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