By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Members of the audience reportedly walked out when the Coadjutor Bishop of Sacramento, Jaime Soto, boldly told attendees at the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries (NACDLGM) in his keynote address that homosexual relations are sinful. When people lined up afterward to complain about his talk, the Bishop quietly listened to each and every person without wavering from Church teaching.
The NACDLGM, which is based in Berkeley, is a network of local ministries that have the reputation of taking an “ambiguous stance on the moral character of homosexuality and homosexual acts” according to the California Catholic Daily.
For this reason, some faithful Catholics in the diocese were upset with Bishop Soto, who will take over the diocese of Sacramento from retiring Bishop Weigand on Nov. 30, accepted an invitation to address the group. Several of these people attended the talk to hear what the Bishop would say and reported that he gave a clear presentation of Church teaching on sexuality “courageously but gently.”
The NACDLGM may be ambiguous about homosexual relations but Bishop Soto was not. His speech was unequivocal.
“Sexual relations between people of the same sex can be alluring for homosexuals, but it deviates from the true meaning of the act and distracts them from the true nature of love to which God has called us all,” he said.
“For this reason, it is sinful. Married love is a beautiful, heroic expression of faithful, life-giving, life-creating love. It should not be accommodated and manipulated for those who would believe that they can and have a right to mimic its unique expression.”
Too many of us are duped by the trends of the day, he said. “So much of what we see and hear every day can lead us to a distorted sense of our sexuality. Sexuality has been reduced to a matter of personal preference and personal pleasure without responsibility and with little respect for others.”
He went on to praise the California initiative known as Proposition 8 which would protect the traditional institution of marriage and scorned the opposition’s tactics to defeat the bill. “Our own efforts to restore common sense through the ballot initiative, Proposition 8, are portrayed as bigoted and out-of-touch. as bigoted and out-of-touch. The irony is that what we propose is most in touch with the nature of families and what is good for the welfare of all. “
During his talk, at least five members of the audience walked out. When the speech ended, the Bishop was met with near silence with only a few people daring to applaud.
According to the Daily, the chairman of the conference then announced that the bishop would answer questions at a reception to be held in another room. When a long line formed to voice their complaints, the chairman twice told the Bishop he was free to leave if he wanted but the Bishop chose to stay and listen. According to witnesses, he sat quietly and listened to every response.
While he was doing so, a series of speakers came to the microphone to express their unhappiness with what the bishop had said.
“We know what the Church says,” one woman told the audience. “What we wanted you to talk about is the value of our lived experience as lesbian women and gay men.”
Only two speakers had the courage to come to the microphone to thank the bishop for his address and voice their agreement with what he had to say.
While the speakers were voicing their opinions, a NACDLGM board member came up to one of the tables and was heard to say: “On behalf of the board, I apologize. We had no idea Bishop Soto was going to say what he said.”
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