In what can only be described as a major gaffe, this week the Catholic Church found itself in quite a P.R. disaster after The Boston Pilot (the official newspaper of the arch diocese of Boston) published an article by Daniel Avila that more or less blames homosexuality as the work of the devil and his fallen angels. It's nice to actually get something clear to the intent of the religious leaders than all of their posturing and scheming to get an angle lay people may be more inclined to agree with. I must be fair in saying that the Pilot has since recanted this story and both the paper and the author have apologized, but you can only surmise that this is actually the real position of the catholic church on the matter and the apologies were only issued as a result of a huge backlash. Some absurd highlights from the article:
That is, if God causes same-sex attraction, and yet commands that it not be satisfied, then this is divine cruelty. Or, if God causes same-sex attraction, then it must be the divine will that those with the attraction should act on it and it is the Church that is being cruel in its teaching or at the very least tragically mistaken about what God wants. In either case, the belief that the Church is wrong on this issue starts from a faulty premise. God does not cause same-sex attraction.
In other words, the scientific evidence of how same-sex attraction most likely may be created provides a credible basis for a spiritual explanation that indicts the devil. Any time natural disasters occur, we as people of faith look back to Scripture's account of those angels who rebelled and fell from grace. In their anger against God, these malcontents prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. They continue to do all they can to mar, distort and destroy God's handiwork.
Therefore, whenever natural causes disturb otherwise typical biological development, leading to the personally unchosen beginnings of same-sex attraction, the ultimate responsibility, on a theological level, is and should be imputed to the evil one, not God. Applying this aspect of Catholic belief to interpret the scientific data makes more sense because it does not place God in the awkward position of blessing two mutually incompatible realities -- sexual difference and same-sex attraction.
If in fact this analysis of causation and culpability is correct, then it opens new perspectives on the Church's teaching in this area. Being born with an inclination which originates in a manner outside of one's control is not sufficient proof that the condition is caused by God or that its satisfaction meets God's purpose. Furthermore, a proper understanding of who is really at fault should deepen our compassion towards those who experience same-sex attraction and inform our response to the question of loneliness. Ultimately, an accurate attribution of responsibility for same-sex attraction frees us to consider more fully the urgent question of why sexual difference matters so much to God. These matters will be addressed in my next column.
(artist rendering of Daniel Avila)