May 2, 2005

Tolerance, Catholic-style

The Daily Dartmouth reports on a lecture given at Dartmouth's Aquinas House on Friday by John Grabowski, professor at the Catholic University of America who wrote the forward to Pope John Paul II's book "Theology of the Body":

Grabowski said homosexuality is not a sin because a person does not choose to be homosexual. A person is not culpable for something that is discovered, he said.

"One is not responsible for being homosexual, one is responsible for what they choose to do with it," Grabowski said. "If a homosexual person is in a stable relationship, that's the best they can hope for."

Grabowski reminded the audience that although the Catholic Church condemns homosexuality, it condemns hatred as well.

Huh? Man, you gotta admire the consistency of Catholic theology, from that whole Trinity deal to its views on homosexuality.


  1. Anonymous1:38 AM

    It's actually not all that complex at all. The disconnect you see doesn't exist in Catholic moral teachings. There is a significant difference between being a homosexual, which the Church has acknowledged is not a choice, and the act of having sex outside of marriage and for reasons other than procreation. It all goes to the Catholic teaching of sex, which is that it must involve to things - love, as made evident in the presense of marriage; and a desire to be open to procreation. Homosexual sex fails both prongs, which is why the Catholic Church looks at it as a sin. I don't, however, believe that Catholic theology would look at homosexual sex as any more sinful than premarital sex with a condom.

    On a side note - is it just me or is the left becoming more and more anti-Catholic? Didn't Catholic voters used to make up a huge part of your constituency?

  2. Ah, brilliant. The Catholic Church doesn't consider homosexuals sinners because they're homosexual, but because they have sex outside of marriage. So why don't they just go get married? Oh, wait...

    That's a Catch-22 so good I couldn't even have come up with it.

    I think a lot of Catholics are becoming more conservative, while others (fewer?) are becoming more disenchanted with the Church, and perhaps moving more to the left. As for the Left's stance toward Catholics, I don't think it has consciously changed, but the drift of the conservative Catholics has weakened the bond between Democrats and Catholics, which I'll be first to admit is an unfortunate development.

    I'm just a little wary of all this reactionary rhetoric by the Catholic Church these days, especially with the choice of the new Pope.

  3. The Catholic Church is also aggressively targeting the American left (denying communion to pro-choice politicians but not pro-war polliticians, saying it's a sin to vote for John Kerry, etc.). The Catholic vote is pretty much split in half now, although most of those voting Republican are doing so against their own economic self-interests. I'd say that it's mostly related to the abortion issue.

    Also, the current Pope wrote (and the former Pope approved) a 1986 letter defining homosexuality as "an objective disorder" and " tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil."

    Here's a particularly choice excerpt:

    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.

    (From an entry on dailykos written by a then seminary student).

  4. Anonymous4:04 PM

    Just to be clear, because I think it's important - Ratzinger's letter didn't say that it would be a sin to vote for Kerry in all situations. Rather, he said that if the reason you voted for Kerry was specifically because he was pro-choice and supported abortion, that was a sin. But, if you voted for him because he was a Democrat, or because of his stances on social welfare issues, or because of whatever, and if those concerns outweighed your concerns on the abortion issue, then you were good to go. Also, since the letter came from Ratzinger, who was a cardinal at the time, it can't be considered Church teaching. And the difference between the pro-choice politicians and the pro-war ones is pretty simple - the abortion issue has been firmly settled by JPII in an encyclical, while the question of the Iraq War was not settled in such a way. The Pope saying that the war is wrong and unjustified is very different from him writing a papal document outlining Church teachings.

    But I do think that this past election cycle the Church interceded a little bit too much into the process, and that has definitely hurt it within this country.

  5. The more I learn about Ratzinger, the more I think that his choice as Pope was an absolute disaster.

  6. Anonymous7:06 PM

    George -

    Fair enough. But as a non-Catholic (or at least a non-practicing one), I'm not sure you're opinion matters much, if at all. As a practicing Catholic, I thought his choice was a good one, if only just to anger the socially liberal wing of the Church for a little longer.

  7. "Fair enough. But as a non-Catholic (or at least a non-practicing one), I'm not sure you're opinion matters much, if at all. As a practicing Catholic, I thought his choice was a good one, if only just to anger the socially liberal wing of the Church for a little longer."

    Well I was baptized, but that doesn't really count I suppose given that I was not confirmed nor do I practice. I do, however, think that my opinion matters given that the choice of Pope does affect my life. Now if the Church were perhaaps a little less aggressive in playing around with American politics, it would probably do so to a lesser extent. Your statement is equivalent to saying that a non-American should have no opinion as to the choice of President. These offices have great influences outside of their specific institutions. To deny that would be foolish.

  8. A few things.

    First of all, as to Ratzinger. You missed a very good homily a few weeks ago by Fr. Brendan at Aquinas House about this very subject. (1) The American political spectrum really does not apply to the Church--John Paul II, for instance, though "conservative" on doctrinal issues, would have been considered pretty "liberal" on many social issues, but these stands were mostly ignored as he was demonized for being too conservative. (2) Most of the people currently attacking Benedict have not read much of his writing, simply looking to a few letters. (3) Being Pope changes things. Many people were shocked that he reached out to the Muslim community almost immediately after taking office. Yet the papacy confers on it, in some ways, forms of moderation.

    As for Grabowski's talk, they took his quotes horrifically out of context. The anonymous poster in the first comment pretty much gets it right, except for a few things. Catholicism focuses on the sins of acts rather than of thoughts. According to it, the two purposes of intercourse are unitive and procreative. Action on such impulses in which procreation is not even a possibility is a sin.

    I'll post more later, have to get to class.