Homosexuality and gay relationships are some of the most controversial issues in the contemporary world. Proponents such as civil and human rights activists support homosexuality and gay unions while religious organizations oppose these issues. Almost all Christian
denominations are opposed to homosexuality and gay marriages with the Catholic Church being at the forefront (Songy, 239). Interestingly, numerous allegations of homosexuality and gay relationships among the leaders of the Catholic Church have surfaced over the last decade adding to the controversy of the issue. The general guideline according to the Catholic Church on marriage is, “a faithful lifelong and exclusive union between a man and a woman, joined together as husband and wife in an intimate partnership of love and life” (Maher, Linda & Shaun, 328). The Catholic Church opposes homosexuality and gay marriages because, “they do not express the full complementation of men and women since they are inherently or naturally non-procreative and therefore do not qualify the status of marriage” (Maher, Linda & Shaun, 328). Although allegations of widespread practice are rife among its members including its leaders, the inherent lack of procreative ability, coupled with the Biblical and moral teachings, compels the Catholic Church to oppose homosexuality and gay marriages.
There are numerous Biblical teachings, which cause the Catholic Church to oppose homosexuality and gay marriages. The Bible is the Holy book upon which the Catholic Church is founded and therefore its directive in any matter is taken as the absolute law. The Bible explicitly states, “No man is to have sexual relations with another man. God hates that.” (Leviticus, 18: 22-Good News Bible). Catholics also embed their opposition to homosexuality based on probably the most explicit Biblical opposition to the homosexuality and gay relationships; Leviticus 20:13, which states, “ if a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them”. In numerous forums where homosexuality and gay marriages are being discussed, Catholic leaders and followers are bound to quote these and other Biblical verses in order to assert their opposition to homosexuality and gay marriages. Further, the Bibles states that those who practice homosexuality amongst other evils will not inherit the Kingdom of God, “do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Neither the sexually immoralnor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieveswill inherit the Kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Catholic Church teaches its members about life after death and inheritance of the Kingdom of God by the righteous. As a pre-requisite to inheriting the Kingdom of God, Catholic religious leaders and even members urge one another to keep off from activities such as stealing, greediness, homosexuality, reviling among other evils that will outlaw people from inheriting the Kingdom of God. In other cases, the Catholic Church is opposed to homosexuality because that practice is contrary to sound doctrine upon which the church is founded (Porche & Diane, 146). Catholic religious leaders and members usually quote Apostle Paul in his letter to his protégé Timothy. Paul stated that the law is made for “the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, liars, enslaverswhatever else is contrary to sound doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:10). Berlatsky notes that the Catholic Church condemns the “homosexual acts”, but it does not openly oppose “homosexual feelings” (27). The church terms homosexual activity as contrary to God’s wisdom and purpose for mankind. The Catholic Church has strict interpretations of Gods intention for sexuality in mankind stating categorically that chiefly, God intended sexual activity for procreation (Lynch, 387). According to the Catholic Church catechism teachings, although God also intended married persons to enjoy sex without necessarily having it result in procreation, the aspect of procreation plays a central role in marriage and sex relations among human beings (Lynch, 390) . This doctrine informs the Catholic Church to oppose sexual acts such as homosexuality that are inherently non-procreative.
Biblical teachings support marriages to between members of the opposite sex. In Mark 10:6-9, the Bible states, “But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”. Further, the Bible and Catholic teachings clarify on the natural sex of the marriage partners (wife and husband) by stating “But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband (1 Corinthians 7:2). Catholic teachings are very insistent on this verse when opposing gay marriages. They categorically state that this verse specifies the exclusive sex of wife as a woman and husband as a man. The Catholic Church also supports monogamous marriages between a man and a woman while opposing polygamous marriages. Again this is based on Biblical teachings in 1 Corinthians 7:2 which states of, “each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband”. This, the Catholic Church interprets to mean that marriages should be monogamous and never polygamous.
In several countries, the Catholic Church has openly lobbied for constitutional amendments aimed at protecting the institution of marriage. In the US, the Administrative Committee of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has been calling for a constitutional amendment in order to protect the legal and social status of marriage. The USCCB stresses that marriages should be between a man and a woman and that gay unions negate nature since they are non-procreative (Kirby & Christina, 228). The USCCB has been warning that owing to the continued legalization of gay marriages and the general acceptance of homosexuality, the institution of marriage is under serious threat. According to the USCCB, the importance of marriage for the continuity of the society is under attack from both the popular US culture and from the judicial system which increasingly continue to favor gay cultures (Kirby & Christina, 229). The Catholic Church also blames the media. The Catholic Church notes that the media has been equating gay marriages to marriages between members of the opposite sex and advocating for equal rights and social acceptance. They argue this should not be the role of the media in the controversial issue of homosexuality.
The Catholic Church leaders are of the view that that they should preach, teach and practice morally and biblically acceptable sexual relations instead of pushing for constitutional amendments (Lynch, 397). This is so because the clamor for social and legal acceptance of homosexuals is on the increase, in many parts of the world. Berlatsky notes that so far, 17 US states as well as the federal government legally recognize same-sex marriages. On a global scale, 16 countries especially in Europe and the Americas have legalized same-sex marriages (Berlatsky, 21). The social acceptance of gay people has soared over the years. Several countries and regional legislatures are in the process of legalizing same-sex marriages. In May 2013, the USCCB asked the US congress to amend the definition of marriage as “a union of a man and a woman” but nothing significant has happened this far. Catholic Church leaders have toned down the clamor for constitutional amendments to ban gay marriages. Instead, the leadership bodies of the Catholic Church such as the USCCB urges Catholic bishops, priests, nuns and other influential persons to take up public policy advocacy against the issue (Songy, 241). They also urge for teaching, preaching as well as practicing of anti-gay lifestyles.
At times, followers of the Catholic Church have been opposed to the firm position taken by the church on homosexuality and gay marriages. Notably, the Catholic Church has strong following in several of the countries where same-sex marriages have been legalized (Williams, 34). Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Uruguay, Spain, South Africa, Portugal and Denmark among others have very high populations of Catholics and a very strong deep-rooted Catholicism culture yet many adherents have chosen gay lifestyles (Williams, 34). In the US, there has been widening divide on the strict position of the Catholic Church leaders and their members. Townsend notes that the church has put fear into people and has taken less time and effort to try and discover what causes people to become gay (47). In the US state of Rhode Island, which recently legalized same-sex marriages, the state’s openly gay representative Frank Ferri stated that the Catholic Church had been the biggest stumbling block to legalization of same-sex marriages in the state (Townsend, 31). Ferri successfully lobbied for the legalization of same-sex marriages in a state that has more than 40% of its population as Catholics. This proves that political goodwill, and unanimous support from the general public, are lacking in the Catholic Church’s clamor for the banning of same-sex marriages.
The widening gap between the leaders of the Catholic Church and their members can be attested in several ways. A recent poll by Washington Post-ABC found out that 60% of Catholics felt that the Church was out of touch with the views of the many people in the US (Kirby & Christina, 229). 78% of Catholics in another poll by the CBS in the New York Times found said they were more likely to follow their conscience rather than the teachings of the Church on difficult moral issues (Kirby & Christina, 230). That poll also highlighted several areas where the leadership of the Catholic Church disconnects with the members. 62% of American Catholics think that same-sex marriages should be legalized while 74% of the support the legalization of abortion in some instances (Kirby & Christina, 229). According to Townsend, the Catholic Church has refused to understand the people in the pews and hence the defeat of its lobbying against legalization of gay marriages. Townsend warns that the influence of the Catholic Church will continue to wane unless it adapts and comprehensively engages its members prior to taking hard-line stances on controversial issues (36).
The disharmony in the Catholic Church in regard to homosexuality and marriages in general can also be attested in other ways. Months after becoming pope, the Vatican was angered by the decision of retired Pope Francis’s decision to support gay marriages in Argentina while he was serving as a bishop there. Although the pope did not push for the legalization of gay marriages, Songy (28) notes that his previous support of such unions points to disharmony and presence of internal conflicts on the issue. In July 2013 Pope Francis clarified his earlier position on gay marriages stating that homosexual orientation is not a sin and that people who are genetically predisposed to this sexual lifestyle should not be marginalized, but integrated into the society (Songy, 38). The pope quoted the Catechism of the Catholic Church which says that such people must be accepted with compassion, sensitivity and respect. He urged Catholics that all signs of discrimination against such people must be avoided.
There have been widespread claims of sodomy and homosexual relations among catholic priests, lesbianism among nuns among other sexual sins of a homosexual nature. There have been varying figures on the percentage of Catholic priests who are gay. Some conservative sources place the figure at 15% for all catholic priests in the US (Williams, 78). Various senior Catholic leaders have faced allegations of homosexuality. In 2002, Archbishop Rembert Weakland was alleged to have engaged in homosexuality with a student. The bishop of Santiago del Estero, Juan Carlos Maccarone was compelled to retire after a video surfaced that showed him engaging in homosexual acts (Porche & Diane, 154). Francisco Domingo Barbosa the bishop of Minas, Uruguay and Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo of Zambia were both forced to resign after it was alleged that they had broken the vow of celibacy. On the issue of marriage among its leaders, the Catholic Church prohibits bishops, priests and nuns from marrying. However, sections of the Catholic Churches have defied the rules, married and gotten families. The decision by Zambian Catholic Leader Bishop Milingo to marry sparked an immediate clamor that Vatican allows Catholic leaders to marry. Although, Vatican rejected the request, in several countries there has been the emergence of the Episcopal priests who have the freedom to marry and have families. As such the issues on marriage and homosexuality have been controversial because opposition to hard-line stances taken by the Catholic Church’s leadership at Vatican finds opposition from not only the ordinary church members but also from the priests, bishops and other religious leaders (Berlatsky, 32). As such, homosexuality and gay marriages remain highly controversial issues in the Catholic Church although the church continues to outlaw the practices.
The Catholic Church is heavily opposed to homosexuality and gay marriages although these issues plague its leadership and members extensively. The Catholic Church opposes homosexuality and gay marriages based on several Biblical teachings such as Leviticus, 18: 22, Leviticus 20:13, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 among several others. In all these verses, the Bible explicitly outlaws homosexuality. In verses such as 1 Timothy 1:10, the Bible outlaws marriage between persons of the same sex. In this regard, the Catholic teachings assert that the marriage was intended to be procreative, and this cannot inherently happen in a gay marriage hence their opposition. Informed by Biblical teachings, the Catholic Church has unsuccessfully sought for constitutional defense of the marriage institution. The USCCB has noted that the continued legalization of gay marriages, popularization of the same through the media and popular culture threatens the institution of marriage. As such, the Catholic Church resorted to urging its members and religious leaders to preach, practice and teach about biblical sexual practices. However, there has been dissent from not only the members who call for tolerance on gay people, but also from the gay catholic priests and nuns. This has seen many states (17 in the US) and 16 countries around the world legalize same-sex marriages. The legalization has happened in several countries such as Mexico, Spain, Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina among others where Catholicism has massive following. In spite of all the controversies and drawbacks, the Catholic Church remains vehemently opposed to homosexuality and gay marriages.
Berlatsky, Noah. Homosexuality. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Greenhaven Press/Gale, Cengage Learning, 2011. Print.
Kirby, Brenda, and Christina Michaelson. "Educating About Homosexuality: What Do American Catholics Think?" Sex Education 8.2 (2008): 225-235. Print.
Lynch, John. "Institution and Imprimatur: Institutional Rhetoric and the Failure of the Catholic Church's Pastoral Letter on Homosexuality." Rhetoric & Public Affairs8.3 (2005): 383-403. Print.
Maher, Michael, Linda Sever, and Shaun Pichler. "How Catholic College Students Think About Homosexuality: The Connection Between Authority And Sexuality." Journal of Homosexuality 55.3 (2008): 325-349. Print.
Porche, Michelle V., and Diane M. Purvin. ""Never In Our Lifetime": Legal Marriage for Same-Sex Couples in Long-Term Relationships." Family Relations 57.2 (2008): 144-159. Print.
Songy, David G. "Psychological Assessment Of Homosexual Tendencies In Potential Candidates For The Roman Catholic Priesthood." Pastoral Psychology56.2 (2007): 237-247. Print.
The Good News Bible
Townsend, Kathleen Kennedy. Failing America's faithful: how today's churches are mixing God with politics and losing their way. New York: Warner Books, 2007. Print.
Williams, Mary E. The Catholic Church. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2006. Print.