Canadian bishops issue document on youth with same-sex attractions
The Episcopal Commission for Doctrine of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a document on Pastoral Ministry to Young People with Same-Sex Attraction.
"While always insisting on respect and compassion for young people with same-sex attraction, the Church also reaffirms God's plan for human sexuality," the statement notes. "Sexual relations belong within the marriage covenant between a man and a woman, for it is only within this covenant that the two inseparable ends of marriage can be achieved: the deepening of love between spouses and the procreation and education of children. Any genital act outside the covenant of marriage cannot fulfill this twofold purpose intended by the Creator and thus is morally wrong … For this reason, the Church has consistently taught that homosexual acts can never be approved."
The statement continues:
In her teaching, however, the Church never condemns persons with same-sex attraction. She carefully distinguishes between an individual's inclinations or feelings – some of which are transitory and/or situational and others which are deep-seated or permanent – and one's actions. While homosexual acts are always objectively wrong, same-sex inclinations are not in themselves sinful or a moral failing. To the extent that a same-sex attraction is not freely chosen, there is no personal culpability in having such an inclination. Nonetheless, when oriented toward genital activity, this inclination is "objectively disordered." This does not mean that the person as a whole is somehow defective or "badly made," or that he or she has in some way been rejected by God. Inclinations to homosexual acts in no way diminish the full human dignity or intrinsic worth of the person. For many people, same-sex attraction constitutes a trial. They therefore deserve to be approached by pastors with charity and prudence.
"For young people who experience a same-sex attraction and for whom marriage is not an option, choosing chastity as a positive value is even more of an ongoing challenge," the statement adds. "We must encourage them to live their single lives chastely as disciples of Jesus, who followed the path of sacrifice to the glory of eternal life. Responding generously to the call to chastity involves suffering and difficulty, but Christ invites us to place our burdens on him."
"The moral and spiritual relativism of our society can make the Church's teaching on sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular appear bizarre, out of touch, and even intolerant," the document notes. "We ask that you promote support groups that foster chaste living, such as Courage for individuals with same-sex attraction and Encourage for families interested in learning more about how to help their children."
Counselors "must be committed to the Christian vision of the human person and sexuality, as well as the Church's teaching on homosexuality and chastity," the document advises parents.
"It is imperative to present in a firm but charitable way the true nature and purpose of human sexuality in all its dimensions," the statement adds in a message to educators. "We ask you to pay particular attention to guiding adolescents and young adults with same-sex attraction away from two specific dangers. First, help them see themselves as persons with a God-given dignity and not merely as individuals with sexual inclinations and desires. Second, help them avoid involvement in a 'gay culture' opposed to the Church's teaching, with its often aggressive and immoral lifestyle."
The document concludes by encouraging young people with same-sex attractions to "accept that God loves you," pray constantly, frequent the sacraments, and cultivate virtuous friendships.
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