U.S. Bishops Adopt Guidelines on Gays
The guidelines welcome gay people, but they also affirm church teachings that “homosexual inclinations” are inherently disordered. While having such inclinations is not sinful, gay sexual activity is, according to the core teachings. The guidelines, called “Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination,” passed by a vote of 194 to 37. They also speak out against same-sex marriage and adoptions by gay men and lesbians.
DignityUSA, an advocacy group for gay Catholics, said the new guidelines would further alienate gay people from the church. Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of Paterson, N.J., chairman of the doctrine committee, which developed the guidelines, said on Monday that the committee did not consult with gay men and lesbians on the document.
“It’s really disappointing,” Sam Sinnett, president of DignityUSA, said of the new guidelines. “At some point the bishops have to realize that they speak in willful ignorance about what homosexuality is and about sexuality in general.”
The bishops also adopted “Married Love and the Gift of Life,” which is meant to explain church teachings about contraception for engaged and young married couples.
The document asserts that artificial contraception introduces a “false note” into a marriage and has led to a decline in respect for life in society. Catholics use birth control to the same extent as other Americans; only 4 percent, the document said, use natural planning, the type of birth control backed by the church.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kan., said on Monday that gay Catholics who are not celibate and married Catholics who use artificial contraception should not receive Holy Communion.
Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice, which supports the use of artificial contraception, said the bishops’ policies on sexuality did not offer reliable guidance for most Catholics.
“Heterosexual Catholics, married and unmarried, understand that the responsible exercise of their sexuality includes the use of contraceptive methods that the church forbids,” Ms. Kissling said in a written statement. “Almost no one is looking to the bishops for guidance on contraception, sexuality and law making, and if the bishops continue making pronouncements such as those issued this week in Baltimore, they will find themselves increasingly isolated.”
This article originially appeared in the 15 November 2006 edition of The New York Times.