In this age when effective evangelization is so important, Fr. Paul Check, director of Courage, a Catholic apostolate for persons with same-sex attraction, offered some helpful clarification on the subject of the Church’s teaching on homosexuality which continues to be largely misunderstood by many Catholics and consistently misrepresented by the secular media.
In an interview with Zenit, Fr. Check clarifies what is often cited as the most offensive part of Church teaching on homosexuality – that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered because they are contrary to the natural law.
First, Fr. Check clarifies two very important distinctions – the phrase “intrinsically disordered” applies to the homosexual act while “objectively disordered” applies to the inclination.
“With great maternal charity, the Church distinguishes three things: the person, the inclination, and the action. This distinction is necessary; we don’t want to create the impression that men and women with homosexual inclinations are condemned or excluded from the Church or that Christ has no place in His Heart for them. On the contrary, God offers His love and mercy to all of His children, no matter their particular weakness or Cross,” Fr. Check said.
The person is always good because he or she was created in the image of God and redeemed by the Blood of Christ.
“God doesn’t make mistakes when He makes people. He makes people in His own image. He prepares people for communion with Him, first to experience joy in this life through the action of grace in the soul, and then to be happy with Him in heaven,” he stated.
Homosexual activity, like other sexual activity which is considered contrary to the virtue of chastity, such as adultery and cohabitation – is considered to be “grave matter.”
“There are three conditions for mortal sin: knowledge, consent, and grave matter. The violations of chastity as covered by the Sixth Commandment are always grave matter. Whether they rise to the level of mortal sin depends upon consent and knowledge.”
Other examples of this grave matter would be contraception and pornography.
Thus, when we say homosexual activity – or any of the other activities cited above – is “intrinsically disordered”, this means that no subjectively good intention can make it good.
“It is always contrary to man’s nature and therefore cannot lead to fulfillment or to holiness. And so, the Church warns strongly and clearly against it,” Fr. Check explained.
Another very misunderstood term is “objectively disordered” which is the way in which the Catechism describes the desire for sexual activity with a member of the same sex.
“The term ‘objectively disordered’ does not apply to the person, and therefore is not a moral judgment let alone a condemnation. It means that this desire is out of harmony with man’s nature, because the desire cannot be fulfilled in a way consistent with our God-given design, as specified by the complementarity of the sexes and the procreative potential of the sexual faculty.”
The most oft-repeated reason to support same-sex marriage is that people should be able to love who they want to love, even if that is a person of the same sex.
“The specific problem is not the human desire for love and affection, but how it is to be understood, expressed and properly fulfilled,” Fr. Check explained. “In all honesty, I think that one of the reasons we have the struggle that we do right now is that chastity, as a virtue, is in many places, even within the ‘visible Church’, is often not considered part of the Good News.”
This culture, which approves of and even encourages sexual promiscuity, fails to understand chastity as the virtue which blocks false aspirations, liberates, and leads to human happiness and fulfilment.
“The virtue of chastity, of purity of heart . . . ensures that we will love and be loved in a way consistent with our highest aspirations and our greatest good. This virtue helps us love another person for who he or she is and not for what that person can do for us, which is the way we all want to be loved.”
Fr. Check went on to say that as much as the Church says “no” to legislation and court decrees that are contrary to the human good, she also says “yes” to individual people without approving of behavior that is at variance with their own good.
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