Should Catholic families and schools be educating children to respect students with a same-sex orientation especially to prevent students from bullying these individuals? It would appear that efforts by gay-straight alliances (GSAs) to do so in schools are in running into opposition from Catholic authorities.
The Catholic Register recently reported that a program to introduce provincially mandated workshops, and led by student GSA’s “Homophobia in Catholic schools,” has admittedly run into considerable opposition. The opposition has come from Catholics who say it advocates a morality that contradicts Catholic teaching on marriage and sexuality. The official word from the Alliance of Catholic Bishops of Ontario reads: “The debate surrounding Gay/Straight Alliances (GSAs) in Catholic high schools is being complicated by the fact that people are not distinguishing between an objective and a strategy.” An article by Prof. Graham P. McDonough 'Are GSA's really contrary to Catholic Thinking? offers some interesting views as to why this issue and program may now have reached an impasse.
The current teaching on homosexuality as contained in the 1983 Catechism of the Catholic Church, Par. 2357 concludes that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and are considered to be of grave depravity”. It is relatively easy to recognize the hand of Joseph Ratzingers in this document when he later as Pope Benedict XVI again declared “The homosexual inclination is however 'objectively disordered' and homosexual practices are 'sins gravely contrary to chastity'”. It would probably appear to most Catholics that this has been the historical position of the Catholic Church – not so! A far more compassionate teaching and understanding of homosexuality was presented in the popular post Vatican II edition of ‘A New Catechism’ which stated . . . “it is not the fault of the individual if he or she is not attracted to the other sex. The causes of homosexuality are unknown” . . . clearly the current Catechism projects guilt upon the homosexual, while the previous teaching makes absolute no judgment whatsoever. An informed Catholic can therefore conclude that current church teachings on homosexually adds fuel to the fire by inciting some Catholics, especially the young, to bully more victims.
Even though the Church teaches that . . . “ They [homosexuals] must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity and that every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided” . . . . it has had little or no impact on acts of bullying in schools especially on victims of suicide such as the lonely cry for acceptance by gay Ottawa student Jamie Hubley.
Finally, I challenged our Catholic Bishops (May 2011) to respond to this sensitive matter and have asked them . . . "How is the supposed sin of a homosexual greater than that of a heterosexual? If not please stop this obsessive persecution immediately! The Church’s present position on homosexuality continues to hurt families and individuals who must bear this burden. It merely promotes and incites the ongoing hatred and bullying of those whose life style is different from ours. The self effacing emphasis on 'love the sinner but not the sin' does very little for its victims. If the Church sincerely believes that the sexual act of a loving homosexual couple is a sin, then how does it differ from that of a similar act performed by a loving heterosexual couple? Exactly what aspect of the sexual act, when performed by a committed couple in a loving setting is considered a sin?
I have yet to receive a response from our bishops. Their continued silence does however, speak volumes and seems to leave Jesus' warning to avoid judgment in the dark.