Thursday, June 14, 2018

The real-life exorcism that inspired ‘The Exorcist’

The real-life exorcism that inspired ‘The Exorcist’

The popular 1973 film was based on a haunting exorcism that occurred in St. Louis.

In 1949, a young 13-year-old boy in Maryland was hearing and seeing strange things in his house after playing with a Ouija board. His family didn’t know what to do, so they contacted their Lutheran pastor.

According to an historical account of the events, the pastor said, “Go to a Catholic priest; the Catholics know about this kind of thing.”

They visited a local priest who later asked permission to perform an exorcism at Georgetown University Hospital. It didn’t end well, with the boy breaking off a spring from the mattress and slashing the priest.

Supernatural events persisted and so his parents felt they needed to do something more. The boy’s mother was from St. Louis and thought it would be good to find a priest there who could help.

The family ended up staying at a relative’s house, who graduated from St. Louis University. They were familiar with the Jesuit priests at the university and asked them for advice. After getting permission from the local bishop the Jesuits performed an exorcism that spanned almost 2 months.

Initially the exorcism was performed at the house, but it was later moved to St. Louis University as well as the Alexian Brothers Hospital.

According to a Jesuit seminarian at the time, “I got in on the business with the prayers of exorcism, and the little boy would go into a seizure and get quite violent. So Father Bowdern asked me to hold him … Yes, he did break my nose.’
The Jesuit exorcist who was chiefly responsible for performing the Rite of Exorcism fasted on bread and water throughout the entire span of events and took his role very seriously. It was a spiritual battle and he was poised to do everything necessary to defeat the assaults of the evil one.

Surprisingly, many of the events portrayed on film did happen, including a vomit that shot across the room at one of the priests. Yet, the boy never remembered any of it and woke up in the morning with no recollection of the great struggle that happened the night before.

St. Louis University relates on its website, “The exorcism continued on almost a nightly basis, even though the boy seemed to be get­ting worse. The priests asked his family for permission to teach him about Catholicism and con­vert him as a way to strengthen the fight against the supposed demonic possession. As he got closer to conversion and making his first holy Communion, his episodes become increasingly violent.”

Everything culminated with the celebration of Easter, when the priests were finally able to expel the demonic influences.

The day after Easter Sunday the extraordinary events ceased and the boy went on to lead a normal life, getting married, having children and a successful career. The Jesuits believed the exorcism was a success.

While The Exorcist may seem like a work of fiction, it was inspired by real-life events and remind us all that the devil is real and the only way to defeat him is through a life of prayer, united to the sacraments of the Church.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

When the Dark Screams of Death Metal Corrode the Culture

When the Dark Screams of Death Metal Corrode the Culture

Extreme Noise, Terror, Pungent Stench and Pestilence are all disagreeable topics of conversation for most people. They should be avoided in polite company. However, these repugnant things enjoy some favor in today’s postmodern society.
The four topics are actually the names of death metal bands casually mentioned in a recent newspaper article. These names are joined by others like Hate Storm Annihilation, Arch Enemy, and Misery Index. Their songs are characterized by screams, screeching and guttural groans. Some of the song titles include “First Day in Hell,” “Regurgitated Guts,” “Slowly We Rot” or “Masked in Leeches.”
Such group names and song titles are typical in the world of heavy metal and death metal bands as are band members wearing studded leather jackets or blue-streaked hair. Their music is accessible to any who want to find it, and the genre enjoys a large following. The band names that would be disgusting topics of conversation are apparently desirable branding labels.

Culture Doesn’t MatterAll of this hurts the national culture. However, few people express concern about the influence of the bands’ violent and morbid messages upon the nation. Some might even dismiss objections as prudish and exaggerated. After all, they claim, it is all about freedom. The music is not hurting anyone. The names, while disgusting, really don’t matter.
The reason for such a dismissive attitude is that most people really don’t think culture matters. For them, culture is only about personal fun, gratification, and entertainment.
Politics, business and money do matter. However, culture merely represents individual choices separated from those things that matter. One can see, hear or do anything cultural without real consequences.
This culture-doesn’t-matter mantra facilitates the extremes reached by postmodern phenomenon like death metal bands. It allows a cultural revolution to progress unimpeded. While everyone is talking about politics, business and money, postmodernism’s dark messages corrode the culture and gradually destroy society.

The Postmodern WorldviewCzech poet Vaclav Havel once defined postmodernism as a state in which everything is possible and almost nothing is certain. Indeed, the postmodern worldview holds nothing need have any definition and meaning. Everything, even the most blaring contradictions, must be accepted. There are no narratives into which things can be inserted. Rules must be broken to prove that nothing has consequences.
The example of the death metal bands is a typical expression of this definition in action. For postmoderns, bands can be called Extreme Noise, Terror, Pungent Stench and Pestilence since they are just words that annihilate meaning. The band names are made to shock by their powerful associations that defy convention and propriety. When a band sings “First Day in Hell,” it challenges everything that is related to Heaven.
Likewise, the bands’ morbid imagery and bizarre scenes shock the sensibilities by the lack of rational connection to the real world. It creates instead a macabre fantasy world, which undermines the rules and conventions of modern society.
Finally, postmodern music need not be beautiful; it is enough that it be presented as “music.” The most irrational and blasphemous lyrics are not meant to be understood. Its screeching melodies need not be harmonious because harmony itself must be challenged.
Indeed, the only sensation left is that of sensation itself. Sensations must be ever more brutal and violent to impress the numbed soul.

Art Upside DownPostmodern culture is not true culture. It does not represent art or beauty. Postmodernism turns art upside down. It is anti-beauty disconnected from truth. It is music expressed as “extreme noise.”
The purpose of any art is to lead to the good, true and the beautiful. Postmodernism celebrates the evil, false and ugly by destroying art’s metaphysical foundation in truth, logic and order. By its dynamism, it naturally tends toward the most radical manifestations of all that is disordered and offensive.
Hence, Extreme Noise, Terror, Pungent Stench and Pestilence present themselves in this bizarre context.

The Culture Does Have ConsequencesSuch considerations do not impress those who think culture doesn’t matter. Heavy metal bands do not determine elections, create jobs or boost economic productivity. They claim that how people entertain themselves is no one’s business, however outrageous it might seem.
And yet these same people will lament the decline of civility, family and community. They will complain that the “social capital” that kept society and markets together isn’t working like it used to work. Society is coming apart.
That is why culture does matter. Culture is by definition not restricted to individual preferences. It embraces the breadth of human knowledge as reflected in the arts, economy, politics and education. Culture affirms values that permeate all society. It contributes to the structuring of all human relationships, institutions and the State itself. Its action is often subtle and indirect, but it nevertheless has consequences.

Postmodernism Destroys OrderIn fact, culture is much more powerful than political or economic forces. This is because culture is the glue that keeps things together in order. Russell Kirk maintained that freedom, justice, law, or virtue are all very important, but “order is the first and most basic need.”
Postmodernism destroys order by depriving a society of certainties, logic and identity. It corrupts art by depriving it of its proper end in beauty.
While death metal bands alone will not destroy order, they do contribute to it. They raise a standard of chaos toward which society slowly marches. They push the envelope of what is tolerable ever farther. When a society fails to see terror, stench and pestilence as evils, it works contrary to its ordered nature. To use the title of one of the death metal bands’ songs, “Slowly We Rot.”
The natural result of this cultural rot is the breakdown of society today. When people are exposed to crazy things, they will do crazy things. When ugliness and bizarre fashion dominate, they will take over the public square. When all cultural restraints are lifted, people lose control and kill others. All of these are effects of a culture gone awry.
Culture does matter. It should be the principal battleground upon which conservatives and Christians should fight—not a sideshow to generate votes.

The Correct Orientation of a Culture WarTo be effective, this Culture War must be properly oriented.
Both modernity and postmodernism fail to recognized culture’s ultimate end. Secular modernity looks upon culture as an ordering influence leading to prosperity. Postmodernism sees it as a way of facilitating gratification.
The end of culture, especially when expressed by the arts, is to serve as a means to the knowledge and love of God. The corruption of culture will inevitably lead to its ugly and repulsive contrary. This anti-culture will always find its way to the greatest evils, often found openly in its Satanic references and imagery.
Culture should be properly understood as Christian and oriented by the Church. Saint Paul calls upon Christians to look to “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things”(Phil. 4:8).

Saint Bonaventure magnificently states that such a worldview allows Christians to clearly see “art as productive, exemplifying and ordering, given to us for looking upon God.” Thus they serve to “lead the mind of the one contemplating and attaining wisdom to the Eternal God.”


(Photo credit: Aetherian music video / Youtube)

Monday, June 4, 2018

God Made You This Way—Not!

God Made You This Way—Not!

According to a gay victim of the clerical sex scandal in Chile, Pope Francis told him, “You have to be happy with who you are. God made you this way.” It’s the conclusion reached by many Christians with same-sex attraction, whose stories share telling similarities.

They knew they were different at a young age. Throughout life, they struggled to hide their feelings and appear normal. After years of enduring rejection, low self-esteem, and depression, they learned to accept homosexuality as part of “who I am.” Eventually, they went public with their “true” identity.

Two StoriesIn an editorial for The Huffington Post, country music artist and professed Christian, Chely Wright wrote about growing up in rural Kansas. As a young girl, she developed a love for God through the influence of her Christian home and community. It was also as a young girl—aged nine, as she recalls—that she realized she was gay.

At age nine? When I was nine, I had some knowledge of the physiological differences between boys and girls, no knowledge of sexual orientation, and as for same-sex orientation … you’re kidding, right?
Nevertheless, over time Chely came to believe “that God had made me exactly as I was supposed to be.”

More familiar in Christian circles is Ray Boltz. After a two-decade career of no. 1 singles, gold albums, and Dove awards, Boltz tired of living “the lie.” The lie. Despite a 33-year marriage that produced four children, the Christian music superstar was gay. Says Boltz,
“I’d denied it ever since I was a kid. I became a Christian, I thought that was the way to deal with this and I prayed hard and tried for 30-some years and then at the end, I was just going, ‘I’m still gay. I know I am.’ And I just got to the place where I couldn’t take it anymore.”

Boltz talks of years in the hidden life, enduring depression, undergoing therapy, taking various psychiatric medications, and becoming suicidal. Then, on December 26, 2004, he disclosed the life-long secret to his family.
It was at that point, Boltz recounts “where I accepted my sexuality and who I was.” It was also the point where his marriage crumbled. (Within a year, he and his wife separated; three years later they divorced.)

Boltz eventually moved to Florida where, he says, he could be himself, free to date and live a “normal gay life.” “If this is the way God made me,” Boltz reflects, “then this is the way I’m going to live. It’s not like God made me this way and he’ll send me to hell if I am who he created me to be … I really feel closer to God because I no longer hate myself.”

Common to Chely Wright, Ray Boltz, and Christian gay advocates is the belief that our desires are fundamental to our essence, part of our God wiring. Since that is the way God created us, they reason, satisfying our desires is not only not sinful, but sanctified.

The truth is that while some desires come from God—the desire for transcendence, for example—others come from an unsettled combination of nature and nurture.

Orthodox Christianity holds that creation, as God made it, was originally good and later became corrupted by man’s rebellion. Today, the whole world bears the pathologies of a virus that has been infecting planet Earth for untold millennia. So, when a person claims that an unbiblical desire is part of “how God made me,” they are conflating dysfunction with design.

Form and FunctionAn axiom in architecture is “form follows function.” That is, the form, or design, of a thing depends on the purpose, or function, the designer intended it to serve. A John Deere tractor is designed for clearing and plowing fields. A Daimler Smart car is designed for high gas mileage and tight parking. Both products are perfectly engineered for their specialized purposes.

If, per chance, a person wanted to plow his field with a Smart car, or commute to the city in his tractor, it would be the desire of the owner, not the intent of the designer or the design of the product, that was disordered. Setting aside the moral arguments about same-sex desire, from physiological considerations alone, it is disordered because it is contrary to the function its “form” is intended to serve.
Human sexuality is uniquely designed to satisfy an essential biological purpose: reproduction. In a very real way, when a husband and wife come together they form a single biological unit through their “hand-in-glove” complementarity. It is a function that same-sex individuals are incapable of accomplishing. They can only transmogrify the sex act to indulge in sensual gratification.

Sex involves pleasure but, as C.S. Lewis once pointed out, that is no more the purpose of sex than it is the purpose of eating. In both cases, sensual enjoyment is the byproduct of functions that are indispensable to life and the continuation of the species.

Since form follows function, it is reasonable to conclude that God, as Master Architect, would not implant a desire within us that is inconsistent with our form and his purpose. What’s more, we can be sure that whatever causes same-sex orientation, even if it is ultimately traced to inheritance, it is not God, any more than he would be the cause of other congenital disorders, like club feet or cleft palates.

The book of Nature is clear: the “form, fit, and features” of a man and woman are complementary to fulfilling a basic function of life that no single individual, or same-sex pair, can. It’s a point that the Book of Scripture is clear on as well.

The Book of ScriptureIn the opening chapter of Genesis, God forms two types of creatures—male and female—born out of his desire to create and fill the universe. God could have given Adam a male “helper.” Instead, he gave him one whose design was such that, when joined with his in perfect fit, enabled them to accomplish the first divine command given to man: “Be fruitful and multiply.”

Because of their harmonizing architecture, Adam and Eve were more than the sum of their parts. For when they came together, they became one; but in their oneness produced a third, and then a fourth. Such is the mystery of biblical math.
Same-sex couplings, by contrast, can never be unitive or multiplicative because they lack the complementary features to do so. Consequently, the biblical reproach of homosexual sex is not some religious relic proved false by modern science; it’s a timeless judgment against behavior that is contrary to our God-given design and purpose.

Jesus reaffirms the human design in the Gospel of Mark: “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one.”

That would have been an opportune time for Jesus to be inclusive and expand marriage to other constellations of relationships (man-man, woman-woman, groups, human-nonhuman, etc). Instead, he expands the reach of the Law. (Evidently, he didn’t foresee the revelations of twentieth-century science!)
In a series of “You have heard … but I tell you,” Jesus informs his audience that not only is adultery wrong, even lustful looks are wrong. Notice that Jesus does not limit this teaching to married people, but to those who entertain desires for someone other than their spouse. Since there is no biblical provision for same-sex marriage, all unrestrained homosexual desire would also be, in Jesus’s judgment, sinful. (But then, Jesus probably wasn’t aware of modern insights from “personal experiences” either.)

All that said, as sinners, homosexuals are no different from anyone else. Each of us is grappling with our own menu of sinful thoughts and behaviors. The church is to be a place where we are neither affirmed in our sins (whatever they may be) nor condemned for them; but a place where we are joined together on the life-long journey of transformation, overcoming sin’s gravitational pull, if incrementally and incompletely, through the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit and the caring community of faith.

Editor’s note: Pictured above is a detail from “Idyll, Ancient Family” painted by William Bouguereau after 1860.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Irish Referendum is a Wake Up Call for Catholics

The Irish Referendum is a Wake Up Call for Catholics

The Irish Referendum is a Wake Up Call for Catholics
When I woke up Saturday morning to discover that Ireland legalized abortion I was heart-broken. The bloody nihilistic tide had finally extended its reach over the whole of Western Europe, Portugal remains with the most conservative abortion laws, but it is not completely illegal there either. The loss has historical and spiritual significance.

The conversion of Ireland changed the world — thanks to St. Patrick and others — and led Ireland to help save Western civilization in the wake of the collapse of the Roman Empire. They preserved much of that civilization in their monasteries while also living the missionary spirit and evangelizing various areas of Western Europe.

The impact that Ireland had on what would become Christendom cannot be overstated. This is one of the reasons why it is so tragic that such a vibrant Catholic nation should succumb to the culture of death.

It is true that secularism is largely to blame, but we cannot overlook the deep pain the clerical sex abuse scandal caused the Irish people. There is a reason why it has become a cudgel people use to bludgeon us to death. Yes, this is unjust on their part because the vast majority of our priests and bishops were not involved and they have each worked diligently to live as another Christ to the world; however, we cannot pretend that it did not have a serious impact.

There is something that utterly devastates the world when a Catholic priest or bishop falls into grave sin, evil, and scandal. The world may not understand as we do the significance of the priesthood, but they know deep down that there is something different and other worldly about our priests. Our own culture is obsessed with Catholic priests, even as it attacks them in the nastiest of ways. Even as the world hates and reviles us, they deep down hope we are different and that our priests are different. They may want to see them fall, but when it happens it robs them of some kind of hope that they longed for in the deepest parts of their being. We cannot pretend that the sins of a small minority of our priests and bishops have not had a huge impact on the nations ravaged by the sex abuse scandal, a scandal that is still going on in various parts of the world.

If we also take an honest look at history, we can see where the modern Church has failed in her evangelical mission. She largely stepped out of intellectual discourse after the Enlightenment and left the West to move towards secularism until Blessed John Henry Newman wanted more for Catholic universities. While the West transformed, we largely disengaged until a revival of Thomism over a hundred years ago.

We cannot have a sentimental view of the Church or our faith. Anyone who has studied Church history will take their rose-tinted glasses and throw them in the trash where they belong. To love is to love the beloved with all of their flaws and we love the Church with all of the stains and failures caused by our brothers and sisters in Christ both in the laity and the clergy down through the ages. We are able to do so because in the end we know it is Christ who is the Head.

Sentimentality doesn’t convert souls and it does not come from a position of strength. We are at war. We’ve always been at war. This is a battle for the hearts, minds, and souls of every human being who has ever lived, is alive today, or will live in the future. The Enemy seeks to destroy us and drag us straight to hell with him and his demons. Moral therapeutic deism isn’t going to get us anywhere.

Christ told us the gate is narrow, this means we must live lives dedicated completely to Him. As Dr. Robert George stated a few years ago: “The age of comfortable Catholicism is over.” If anything, the legalization of abortion in Ireland should wake us from our slumber and complacency. The lands of Christendom have crumbled and now lie in ruins in the wake of secularism.

How do we fight?

The war begins in our own homes and families. Are we actively pursuing holiness and helping our children towards heaven? Are we as spouses living out this vocation faithfully? Are our priests living lives of deep prayer and heroic virtue? I think all of us can honestly answer that we fail repeatedly in our vocation. That isn’t the issue. We are going to fail and need to continue to rise again with Christ’s help. If we are actively trying, then we are on the path to holiness. We must truly desire to be a saint first and then we can begin on the journey.

The problem is in those Catholic homes where we view our faith journey as a one hour on Sunday obligation and that’s it. Our lives look no different from our neighbor’s. If asked, many people probably wouldn’t even realize we are Catholic.
We need to ask ourselves: How are we different? How are we living with Christ as the center of our lives? Are we a beacon of hope to the people around us who are trapped in the lies of secularism and all of the deadly philosophies that have ensnared them? People should be able to tell we are Catholic by the way we live our lives.

The Mass is the center.

The Mass is the center of our lives. According to Vatican II it is the “source and summit of the Christian life.” It is through the Mass that we are given the strength and grace we need to live our vocations and go out into the world to bring others to Christ. Moral therapeutic deism—the idea that we have to only be a “good” person—does not lead people to evangelize. It leads to apathy and complacency because everyone gets to heaven for being their own version of “good.”

Moral therapeutic deism has infected the Church and it is harming our evangelical mission. The Church still teaches that Christ is the only way even if she does not fully know who is considered inside of the Church by God at an individual’s death. That’s up to Him to decide. It’s up to us to draw people to Christ and to the Sacraments. The Church does not teach an individualistic carte blanche approach to religion.

Consider, each Sunday and at daily Mass we get to partake of the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The God of the universe who made us in His image and likeness out of a gratuitous act of love condescends to our altars in order to be our spiritual food. How could we not want to share that gift with ever single person we meet? God wants to feed everyone through the Holy Eucharist. He wants all peoples to come to the sacrifice and banquet of the Mass which is a foretaste of heaven.

We have this tremendous gift and we aren’t sharing it. Far too many of us don’t even see it because we are so focused on our daily duties and responsibilities. The Mass must be the starting point for all that we do. It is where we are prepared for battle.

Fighting the war.

A war requires heroic virtue and it requires summoning all we can into our reserves. That means holding fast to the Sacraments and receiving them frequently. It means being people of prayer and Sacred Scripture. It means actively asking God to make us saints and to be willing to endure what will be required of us. Not a single saint was made in comfort. Not one. The Cross is where saints are made. Pray and be ready.

The Enemy is cunning, vastly superior intellectually to ourselves, and hates us. He is actively trying to pull each one of us away from Christ. The one billion babies who have been murdered worldwide through abortion are the casualties of being “civilized” and being a “good” person. It is the smiling face of the demonic. Souls are being lost around us and we ourselves have often fallen into acedia or sloth. Sloth isn’t laziness. It is apathy or indifference to the spiritual. It is to seek the world over Christ. We all fall into it at times, but we need to recognize it when it strikes.

Acedia is often hidden by our desire for comfort. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI saw this danger when he proclaimed: “The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” What does he mean by “greatness”? He does not mean worldly prestige or glory. He is not talking about power and wealth. He is talking about holiness. We aren’t made for comfort because we are called to be saints. We are called to the radical life of holiness, which means giving every single aspect of our lives to Christ in His service. Everything! Our children, spouses, friends, family, house, cars, all the goods we own, our job, our gifts and talents, our sexuality, our bodies, and our souls. We cannot hold anything back from Him, if we do, He will use trials to help free us of our attachments. It’s the only way we can become the beautiful, truly good, and holy person He created us to be.

Why am I writing about holiness in the wake of the Irish vote? I am writing about it because we possess the answer to all of the sufferings, woes, immorality, darkness, weakness, stupidity, and horrors of this world. We have Christ crucified and Risen from the dead. We have the answer that dwells in the depths of even the most hardened of souls. Holiness is how we transform the world and bring it to Christ. Those who hate us the most have often been hurt the most by the wickedness of those of us within the Church, including our priests and bishops. Those people need Christ just as much as we do.

We must always look to Christ in hope, even as we lose countless battles here on earth. One of my favorite quotes for times like these is from one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s letters: “Actually I am a Christian,” Tolkien wrote of himself, “and indeed a Roman Catholic, so that I do not expect ‘history’ to be anything but a ‘long defeat’— though it contains (and in legend may contain more clearly and movingly) some samples or glimpses of final victory” (Letters 255).

We ourselves will fall daily and need to get back up. Battles are about small victories that lead to the ultimate victory. There is great evil in the world and it will largely maintain the upper hand, but the ultimate victory has already been won. Our job is to fight and in so doing attain our Crown of Glory along with countless other souls who persevered to the end.


Constance T. Hull is a wife, mother, homeschooler, and a graduate student theologian with an emphasis in philosophy.  Her desire is to live the wonder so passionately preached in the works of G.K. Chesterton and to share that with her daughter and others. While you can frequently find her head inside of a great work of theology or philosophy, she considers her husband and daughter to be her greatest teachers. She is passionate about beauty, working towards holiness, the Sacraments, and all things Catholic. She is also published at The Federalist, Public Discourse, and blogs frequently at Swimming the Depths (

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Ireland and the ‘Ensoulment’ Myth

Ireland and the ‘Ensoulment’ Myth

On May 25, Irish citizens will vote on a referendum on whether to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution. The Eighth Amendment, which bans abortion except when the life of the mother is at risk, is the last vestige of Catholic Ireland to be enshrined in law. The fact that it has survived so long is testament to the strength of the Church’s foundations in that verdant island. The Catholic Church has so totally conditioned attitudes toward abortion in Ireland that in order to smash the Eighth, abortion proponents have had to construct a parody Church—complete with false but plausible doctrine and a false but plausible history.

A false account of the Catholic Church’s historic stance on abortion has been in circulation for decades. There is an astroturf anti-Catholic organization, “Catholics” for Choice, funded by plutocratic foundations, dedicated to its dissemination. Legislators use its briefings, news programs interview its spokespersons, and advertising campaigns carry its expensive posters. A devious blend of fact and fiction, the false history of the Catholic Church and abortion goes like this:
The Catholic Church has not always totally condemned abortion. In the Middle Ages, St. Thomas Aquinas speculated that male embryos became ensouled at 40 days and female embryos became ensouled at 80 days. The Church came to prohibit abortion only in the nineteenth century.

This lie is peddled frequently by Patsy McGarry, the religious affairs correspondent for the Irish Times. McGarry has written: “The Catholic Church’s current position on abortion was established only 143 years ago, in 1869[, when] Pope Pius IX outlawed abortion from the moment of conception.” On another occasion, McGarry wrote: “For the greater part of its 2,000 year history until 1869, [the Church] taught that no homicide was involved if abortion took place before the foetus was infused with a soul.” Again: “Some of the greatest theologians in the Christian tradition … taught that ensoulment took place at ‘quickening,’ when the mother detected the child move inside her womb for the first time.” All this sounds plausible. But it is a tissue of half-truths and falsehoods.

The Catholic Church’s total and constant prohibition on abortion dates back to its earliest days. The Didache, which dates from the first century, contains a stern admonition never to murder a child, born or unborn. As to the notion that abortion before “ensoulment” was considered licit by the Church: The notion of delayed ensoulment was based on the erroneous biology of Aristotle and a mistranslation of the Old Testament (Exodus 21:22). And no one in Aquinas’s day considered it an argument in favor of early abortion.

Aquinas, like Sts. Augustine and Jerome before him, opposed abortion without exception. Lacking modern medical knowledge, these doctors of the Church did not construe abortion before animation as homicide in the strict sense—but they condemned it as a grave wrong and as akin to homicide.

At the heart of the false history of the Church is the appeal to medieval speculations about the ensoulment of the fetus. This is the reddest of herrings, for ensoulment has never been a teaching of the Church. The utility of the theory in canon law was a matter of separating a gravely sinful action—early abortion—from an excommunicable sinful action—later abortion.

Hence, from 1591 until 1869, the penalty of excommunication applied to abortions procured on an “animated foetus”—that is, a fetus more than 40 days old in the case of males, more than 80 in the case of females. In 1869, Pius IX imposed the penalty of excommunication for abortions procured at any point, from conception onward. Prior to 1869, however, abortions procured prior to 40 or 80 days had still been considered gravely sinful. As St. Basil put it, “the woman who purposely destroys her unborn child is guilty of murder; with us there is no hairsplitting distinction as to its being formed or unformed.”

The “ensoulment” myth is an example of false history and one well suited to our times—disseminated by the mendacious and relied upon by Catholics who want to have their cake and eat it too. Its persistence tells us a great deal about modern preoccupations, and nothing at all about the past.
Catherine Lafferty is a journalist in London.
Photo by Tebibyte and licensed under Creative Commons. Cropped from original.

Homosexuality and Authentic Freedom

Homosexuality and Authentic Freedom

The tragic impasse that exists in our culture on the issue of homosexuality stems from two errors.


On the one hand, many moderns have embraced an autonomous view of reality: “I can do what I want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else.” According to such relativism, homosexual acts are perfectly legitimate so long as they are between two consenting adults. In stark reaction to such subjectivism, many others embrace a moralism that easily turns venomous when it vilifies and demonizes: “Homosexuality is wrong because God said so” (and nothing more). The distinction between the homosexual condition and homosexual acts, if added at all, is added as an afterthought. This view, opposite that of autonomy, could be termed heteronomy, because God’s law is understood to be extrinsically and somewhat arbitrarily placed upon man with a seeming lack of concern for actual experience of the persons involved.

Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical Veritatis Splendor (art. 41), distinguishes the Catholic moral outlook from these two erroneous positions. He labels the Catholic view a “participated theonomy.” If for autonomy there is no law, and if for heteronomy the law is to be followed because God said so, for participated theonomy the moral law is something friendly to our being, something built for our genuine fulfillment and for our authentic freedom. The law is not true because God commanded it; rather, God commands it because it is true. When we use our free will to align our lives with this truth, we possess authentic freedom.
What does this mean for the debate on homosexuality? It means that the truth about human sexuality is something that ultimately offers genuine freedom to the homosexual person, helping him to escape the slavery to his passions that resulted from the misuse of his free will. This is a truth that, with true compassion, reaches out to the homosexual person in his desperation. Although that person may not be aware of it, he is crying out for the truth. When the response from our culture is heteronomous and mean-spirited, he recoils, and takes false comfort in a worldview that espouses autonomy. The Church and society must offer the truth, and offer it in the right way, the way of participatory theonomy.

A Pastoral Context: Participatory Theonomy
It won’t do to start with a good logical argument, using the data of reason and revelation. Such arguments will occupy a central position in the overall Catholic approach, this article included, but only after a compassionate pastoral approach has laid the proper foundation. As Frank Sheed said somewhere, “Win an argument, lose a convert.” We must start with the human person in his existential experience. [1] The first way to do that is to be very careful with our terminology. Let us never use the word “homosexual” as if it defines a person. Let us use either that phrase “person with a homosexual orientation,” or “the homosexual person.” [2] To always use the word “person” emphasizes that we are speaking about someone who possesses an inviolable dignity. Even more importantly, let us never use the word “gay” in reference to a homosexual person. No one is gay. “Gay” is the (unfortunate) word foisted upon us for those who have chosen a particular lifestyle. Such a choice entails a misuse of one’s freedom, a misuse that puts the person in a desperate situation. There are ways out of this desperation—no one is constituted as “gay.”

A pastoral approach recognizes that “desperation” is precisely at the heart of the homosexual person’s experience. Often that desperation is hidden behind the cries of liberation of those who, misled by the gay rights movement, have “come out.” Often it is hidden by the false claims of that movement that “gay is normal” and by political activism. [3] We could respond to that boldness in kind, but far better to take the high road and see it instead as a cry for help.

Gerard J.M. van den Aardweg has shown how homosexual attraction is not just a variant on heterosexual attraction. It is something of a different kind, accompanied by symptoms of depression, jealousy and restlessness. [4] There is no evidence whatsoever that homosexuality is caused genetically, though there could be a genetic predisposition toward homosexuality. As Christopher Wolfe has noted, “. . . if [homosexuality] really were genetic, it would have almost certainly died out, or at least be continually declining. Homosexuals reproduce at much lower levels than the general population . . . . So if homosexuality were a genetic trait . . . it would be found in a smaller and smaller percentage of the population.” And, “. . . if homosexuality were genetic, then in all sets of identical twins where one was homosexual, the other would be, too.” [5] On the other hand, one cannot prove that the orientation is caused environmentally, but all the evidence points in that direction. [6]

That evidence turns out to be good news, freeing news. For with the right help, many people can repair their orientation, fully or to some degree. A fine book from Ignatius Press—The Battle for Normality by van den Aardweg—offers a “self-help” method, and an organization called NARTH (National Association for Reparative Therapy for Homosexual Persons) is committed to helping individuals find competent professional help.

There are a good number of theories about environmental causes, theories that have tested positively in clinical practice. These myriad theories all have a slightly different slant to them, but they also hold much in common and are in many ways compatible with one another. [7] At bottom, homosexuality seems to result from fragmentation within the child/father/mother relationship, and the deepest need of the homosexual person is to repair that fragmentation. As Joseph Nicolosi notes: “Realizing the true needs that lie behind our unwanted behaviors, we gain a new understanding . . . the reparative drive—the unconscious attempt to ‘repair’ masculine incompleteness—is the deepest transformative shift . . . [T]he client realizes: ‘I do not really want to have sex with a man. Rather, what I really desire is to heal my masculine identity.'” [8] I want to participate more fully in the meaning-laden nature that has been given to me, and which has sadly been distorted. Participatory theonomy, in other words.

Reparative therapy, however, should in no way be presented as a requirement for the homosexual person. It is an option. What is required is a noble effort to live chastely. Fr. John Harvey founded Courage, a vast network of support groups, precisely to help people in this task. It is important to realize that everyone has difficult struggles in life, and that we need one another to help handle them. We can make a basic distinction between the raw material each of us brings to the moral life, and the moral life itself in which we make good or bad choices. All of us are disordered in some way and to some degree in our “raw material”—sometimes psychologically, sometimes physically, sometimes spiritually. [9] These constitute objective disorders, one of which is the homosexual inclination. [10]
We are welcome to make prudent decisions about repairing our damaged raw materials, whether through therapy or medical intervention. But we all are aware that we cannot, this side of the Eschaton, somehow psychotherapeutically and medically engineer perfect raw material. That is a utopian illusion. We do well to mediate on St. Paul’s thankfulness to God for giving him a “thorn in his flesh” that made him constantly aware of his utter dependence on God. Then, we can take our damaged raw materials, make prudent decisions about which ones to repair, and live with the others.

In a certain sense, this perspective puts everyone on an even playing field. The homosexual person does not have a disorder that puts him in a separate category from other fragile and finite human beings. [11] We all have our respective crosses to bear—we all suffer from the primal disorder of concupiscence—and we all have the capacity to do as we ought, particularly with the grace of Christ. [12] “What is at all costs to be avoided is the unfounded and demeaning assumption that the sexual behavior of homosexual persons is always and totally compulsive and therefore inculpable.” [13]

Put another way, we really are free. This is not a “pretend” freedom or a “toy” freedom but the genuine article. A “let’s pretend” freedom would give us the nice feeling that we really do make some free choices, about what to eat and what to wear, for instance, but that when something really challenging is at stake we’re not really free. We could not be truly responsible for our actions, since the complexity of life renders such responsibility impossible.

From the opposite angle, when a large-scale challenge comes our way, the great gift of freedom cries out to be used, and used properly. Our human dignity comes from the proper use of our freedom (authentic freedom), especially in the midst of the more staggering challenges of our lives. These challenges must be faced with the damaged raw materials of our lives—homosexuality being one such instance. But regardless of the challenge, we find our true dignity in the midst of meeting it, right in the midst of that noble effort in aligning our lives with the natural law and with God’s revelation.

The next part of this article deals respectively with those two sources of truth. Both are eminently reasonable and sensible—friendly to our being—in the personalist perspective of participatory theonomy outlined here. Apart from that perspective, the arguments that follow will appear as extrinsic, heteronomous impositions that destroy the uniqueness of the individual person. Within that personalist perspective, these arguments can play an integral role in both reparative therapy and living chastely.

The Natural Law
In the contemporary debates on homosexuality, many are tempted to start with an appeal to divine revelation, whether understood from a Catholic or a Protestant perspective. But if you start there, you will rightly be criticized for “pushing your religion down someone’s throat,” which is disallowed in a political order like ours that prizes religious liberty. We are free to practice any religion or no religion, but we cannot violate the natural law, that moral law to which we are co-natured and which is accessible to reason. That is, we participate in this natural truth intuitively, and it makes eminent sense.

One hallmark of the Catholic tradition is that it prizes such arguments that take place on the level of reason alone. The important principle at work here, enunciated best by St. Thomas Aquinas, is that grace does not cancel out nature, but presupposes and perfects it. The data of revelation then both reaffirms the natural argument and adds additional data to it. That additional data, derived from the twin sources of revelation (Tradition and Scripture), is impressive and enriching, and fills in for Christians the full rationale for the teaching against homosexual acts. But even without that data, a good argument can be made based on the natural law.

Many people claim that “you can’t legislate morality.” A bumper sticker says, “Get your laws off my body.” However, our nation’s founding documents appeal to the natural law as the cornerstone of our political order (“nature and nature’s God”; “We hold these truths to be self-evident . . .”). We want lots of diversity in the U.S., but a fundamental unity on the principles of the natural law. “In God We Trust” is not foisting a religion on anyone, but rather reminding us that God has given us natures and the natural law for their flourishing. All good civil laws are based on the natural law. Bad laws are based on a different moral system, like relativism or utilitarianism. Either way, we legislate morality; the only question is which morality ought to be legislated. The new law allowing “civil unions” in Vermont is not neutral. It amounts to legislating a very specific moral code—sheer relativism.

What exactly is the natural law argument against homosexual behavior? A number of points must be kept in mind. First, we must emphasize that the natural law is, in a sense, within us. It is not an extrinsic imposition. Rather, it is a truth placed in our being by the Creator, allowing us to participate in the wise plan of the Creator—hence, “participatory theonomy.” Second, we shouldn’t think of the natural law as first and foremost identical to our biological laws. The “nature” in natural law is our human nature. The laws of our biological nature turn out to be very significant in grasping the natural law, but they are not the sum total of the natural law. If they were, we would be reduced to animals who must follow their biological instincts. Instead, the natural law makes use of biological laws, but it personalizes them, in that it sees the deep personal meaning that is hidden in our biology. The encyclical Veritatis Splendor speaks of anticipatory signs and rational indications inhering in our biology. [14] As persons, we are capable of “mining” this deep personal meaning that inheres in the body. Animals can’t do this, which is one reason we can euthanize animals—they can’t discover and freely align themselves with the deep personal meaning that lies within their “biological clock.” Human persons can. We discover our dignity in so doing. That is why the slogan “death with dignity” is so inappropriate.

It is just as inappropriate for the homosexual person to “do what he wants with his body.” The body speaks a language that we must listen to; we either live the truth or live a lie. The human generative faculties are not built for homosexual types of acts, and such acts cause serious disease. This gives us a big hint, [15] written on our biological nature, that there is a profound meaning to our biological heterosexuality. Personal meaning is bound up with biological facticity—an integralist view of the person as opposed to a separatist view. The integralist view sees the person as a unity of body and spirit, whereas the separatist view sees the person as standing over and against the body, the body representing raw material that can be manipulated according to the individual dictate. According to the separatist view, I can treat the body just as I see fit—no transcendent meaning inheres in it.

Our generative faculties carry twin personal and transcendent meanings within them. The language they speak to us is that, if we are to live in accord with our dignity, we must use these faculties to express permanent love (the unitive meaning) and to create children (the procreative meaning)—in short, bonding and babies. Homosexual acts sever this all-important link between the unitive and the procreative meanings. Precisely because of this connection, contraception, adultery and fornication, as well as new birth technologies like surrogate motherhood and artificial insemination, also violate the natural law.
Consider the unitive meaning. When we rule out permanence, we are treating the other as disposable rather than non-substitutable. Only a permanent (as well as exclusive) union befits or is commensurate with the dignity of each spouse. A permanent and exclusive union states boldly that the other is not an object that can be replaced or substituted, but a person of inviolable worth. When a couple makes the commitment of marriage, they say to one another, and their conjugal acts say to each other, “You are irreplaceable to me” and “Only to you will I give my whole self.” Divorce or adultery or serial polygamy, then, stand as statements that the partner isn’t irreplaceable after all. And in so saying, the inviolable dignity of the other is violated.

Why can’t two committed homosexual persons have this permanence? Consider: why is it that in heterosexual marriage, violations of permanence are the exception rather than the rule, while in homosexual partnerships, violations are the rule rather than the exception? This is not to say that heterosexual relationships are immune from such fragmentation; numerous heterosexual persons lead lives just as promiscuous as many homosexual persons. But when heterosexual persons fragment the unitive aspect, they are simultaneously arbitrating against the procreative element, using contraception, or at least acting with a contraceptive mentality, or resorting to abortion. Better for them to say, “We shouldn’t be having babies together, so we shouldn’t be uniting sexually with each other.” Permanence and procreativity go together, heterosexually.
Homosexual acts by their nature arbitrate against the procreative dimension. (Note the natural law argument presented here is just as critical of contraception as it is of homosexuality.) In both cases, the conjugal act is turned into a different kind of act; the generative faculties are used in a way contrary to their natural inextricably connected ends of unity/procreativity. In short, permanence is driven by procreativity. When children are ruled out, the unity of the two turns inward upon itself instead of opening outward. Homosexual relationships do not have the character of permanence because this particular reason or end for permanence is missing. It is true that permanence is a value in and of itself, but it is a value connected to procreativity.

Couples who struggle with infertility are poignantly aware of how intrinsic the procreative dimension is for their own commitment. They are profoundly honest in listening to and responding to the language of the body, and hence are courageous witnesses of that language. Listen to them: they tell us that profound permanent unity, valuable in itself, is connected to children. Some factor from the outside, beyond their control, prevents them from having children. But their permanent unity is a procreative kind of unity, their conjugal acts are procreative kinds of acts. (In this sense, their progeny is procreativity itself.) They could turn to the new birth technologies, but here too they listen to and affirm the language of the body. The conjugal act, profoundly unitive, is a procreative kind of act, and the gift of the child is to be profoundly linked to the spouses’ incarnate gift of self in that conjugal, not merely copulatory, act. Infertile couples can shock us out of our complacency, our tendency to think of the child as a right. They know supremely what we tend to see dimly, that the child is a gift. That’s how God works through human nature, and that nature itself is a gift of the Creator—hence, we say that bodily nature speaks a transcendent language to us. The infertile couple sees this giftedness all the more poignantly through the lens of their pain, and hence more boldly than others they proclaim the truth of participatory theonomy. The homosexual person likewise can profoundly proclaim participatory theonomy: marital friendship is itself a great gift, not a right. The fallen condition—which is the root of all disorders—is said to be somewhat of a felix culpa, a happy fault; the distortions that result from it make us more aware than ever of the giftedness of nature. Our fallenness alerts us to and orients us toward participatory theonomy, the voice of God speaking through nature, a voice deeply respective of our personal dignity.

Data from Divine Revelation
Thus far we have focused on the natural transcendent meanings that inhere in the body, particularly in the generative faculties. Revelation—Scripture and Tradition as interpreted by the Magisterium—takes us a step further by placing the male/female relationship in a liturgical context. A properly ordered heterosexual relationship is a liturgical event because it is a mirror image—a sacrament—of the covenant between God and mankind, between Christ and the Church. Many biblical texts point to this imaging (Hosea; Isaiah 62:4-5; Jeremiah 7:34, 31:31; Psalm 88:26; Mt 9:15; John 3; Ephesians 5:32; Revelation 21:2) The unity of the spouses images God’s permanent and exclusive unity with his people, and the procreativity of the spouses images God’s generosity, particularly the outpouring of his own Trinitarian life into our being (grace). In short, the body speaks the language of the covenant. Since the covenant between God and man culminates in the redemptive work of Christ, sacramentally re-presented in the Eucharist, there is a close reciprocity between marriage and the Eucharist. The Eucharist is marital (God marries his people) and marriage is Eucharistic (a sacrament of the covenant). The language of the body is not only natural, it is also sacramental.
It is due to this profoundly personal sacramental meaning of the body that we find a consistent teaching about homosexuality in the Bible (Gen 3; Gen 19:1-11; Lev 18:22 and 20:13; 1 Cor 6:9; Rm 1:18-32; 1 Tim 1:10) and throughout the Catholic tradition, wherein this teaching is infallibly taught by the ordinary universal episcopal magisterium. But again, homosexual acts are not wrong because of this consistent pattern of teaching; rather, this pattern is consistent precisely because homosexual acts are not friendly to our nature. Our very being partakes in God’s loving plan, and his law, rather than being capricious and heteronomous, reflects that plan. The Judeo-Christian tradition must be articulated through the lens of participatory theonomy.

It is in this context that the arguments of John Boswell and others are best met. They argue that there is no ethical condemnation of homosexual acts in the Bible. Rather, the condemnations must be seen in the light of ritual impurity—homosexuality is condemned because of its use in cultic worship practices, as found in Canaanite religions and then imitated in ancient Israel. The best way to meet Boswell’s argument is to grant for a moment that the Old Testament prohibitions refer to idolatrous worship practices, that homosexual acts are wrong because they are used liturgically in false worship of false gods and goddesses. That’s just the point—homosexual acts are, in a sense, in and of themselves “liturgical” acts, inextricably reflective of idolatry. These acts are wrong precisely because they are “inverted sacraments.” Just as the ethical conduct in an ordered marriage images the covenant, so too the unethical conduct of homosexuality is a false image for the covenant, or images a skewed understanding of man’s relation to God. The reason why sexual practices are used culticly (sacramentally) is precisely because that ordered or disordered ethical activity itself is an image of the true or false relationship between man and God. In response to Boswell, then, we can say that the Old Testament does not condemn ritual usage of homosexuality, leaving other uses to the side. Sexuality speaks a “liturgical” language, and thus to condemn the ritual usage of homosexual acts is to condemn homosexual acts in themselves. Most importantly, the condemnation is not a heteronomous end in itself; it points us, along the route of participatory theonomy, to the full sacramental/liturgical outgrowth of respecting the natural language of the body.

The Societal/Legal Dimension
The homosexual rights movement asks, “Why can’t you just let us do what we—consenting adults—want to do? How does that harm you?” Any criticism of homosexuality is presented as tantamount to unjust discrimination. You are suddenly committing a crime as heinous as racism or sexism. The answer to this objection must be made from within the framework of participatory theonomy.
Although it looks like we are speaking of freely chosen activity between consenting adults, that is only half the picture. Anyone who succumbs to activity contrary to the natural law does not, in a certain sense, really want to do so, and hence he does so “involuntarily,” using that word in the deepest sense. Of course the person has free will, and his act will be voluntary in the sense that it stems from that will. But he is using his free will wrongly, not in accord with his nature. This wrong use is in the context of his disorder—hence, the sense of desperation. He feels he wants to act contrary to nature, but he doesn’t need to; it is not in his best interest as a person; it can’t make him authentically free. That is why we say to our friends, “You don’t really want to do that” right at the moment they are “voluntarily” doing something contrary to their nature as persons. Participatory theonomy shatters the illusion by which we tell ourselves, “Consenting adults can do what they want, as long as its voluntary and as long as they don’t hurt anyone else.” It isn’t authentically free, and it is profoundly harmful.

The rewards society offers to married couples must be seen in this light. As Michael Pakaluk notes: “Because the friendship of marriage results in children, and it is a burden of sorts to raise children, and because society benefits greatly if this is done well, it is usual for society to separate out the friendship of marriage from other friendships, to give it special recognition, and to award it distinctive benefits.” [16] If society were to give similar benefits to homosexual persons, then it would have to give the same benefits to any sets of friends that so desired them! Instead, society tries to protect what is in everyone’s realbest interests.
To grant a special set of rights to homosexual persons would work against those real interests. Crimes violating the legitimate rights of homosexual persons are intolerable. “But the proper reaction to crimes committed against homosexual persons should not be to claim that the homosexual condition is not disordered. When such a claim is made and when homosexual activity is consequently condoned, or when civil legislation is introduced to protect behavior to which no one has any conceivable right, neither the Church nor society at large should be surprised when other distorted notions and practices gain ground, and irrational eruptions increase.” [17]

As the saying goes, no one has a right to do what is wrong. “What is wrong” is that which is unfriendly to our nature, that which short-circuits our full participation in the meaning-laden nature given to us as embodied human persons. The homosexual person may initially recoil at the perspective presented here, but that is because he easily confuses human nature with what “feels natural” or what “comes naturally”—in his case, the powerful desire to engage in sexual activity with someone of the same sex. He is only following the cue given by secular culture, which has bombarded him since adolescence with the view that human fulfillment is tied to whatever form of sexual “satisfaction” “comes naturally.” By habitually following what “comes naturally” he has used his free will wrongly, and has become enslaved. The path out of this desperation, toward authentic freedom, comes in participating in the caring plan that God has built into his nature, and participation made possible by the shining grace of Christ who has “set our freedom free from the domination of concupiscence.” [18]

[Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in Catholic Dossier (March/April 2001) and was first posted at CWR on September 22, 2017.]
[1] The strategy is analogous to that of the pro-life organization CareNet. Their research found that the excellent arguments offered by the pro-life cause for the personhood of the human fetus did not meet the existential situation of many women considering abortion, who perceived the unborn child, despite his personhood, to be a threat to their lives.
[2] This is the suggestion of Fr. John Harvey, a genuine modern-day hero when it comes to genuine care for homosexual persons. His most recent book is The Truth About Homosexuality: The Cry of the Faithful (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1996).
[3] In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association reversed its designation of homosexuality as a disorder, under pressure from the National Gay Task Force. See Elizabeth Moberly, “Homosexuality and Hope,” First Things 71 (March 1997), 30-33, at 30.
[4] William Main, “Gay But Unhappy,” Crisis (March 1990), 32-37, at 36. This is an excellent summary of van den Aardweg’s insights. His most accessible book for the laymen is Homosexuality and Hope (Ann Arbor: Servant Books).
[5] World, May 20, 2000, 51-54. See the work of Jeffrey Satinover,Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996), especially chapter 5 on twins.
[6] Jeffrey Satinover, “The Biology of Homosexuality: Science or Politics?” in Christopher Wolfe, ed., Homosexuality and American Public Life (Dallas: Spence, 1999), 3-61.
[7] See Fr. John Harvey, The Truth About Homosexuality, chapter 4, for an excellent overview of the many practitioners.
[8] “The Cause and Treatment of Homosexuality,” Catholic World Report (July, 1997), 51-52.
[9] See the excellent chapter in C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity called “Morality and Psychoanalysis.”
[10] Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, no. 11. Hereafter PC.
[11] This realization might play an important role in reparative therapy itself, as a central antidote to the sense of “self-pity-become-neurotically habitual” that some theorize is one of the central causes of the disorder. See Main, “Gay But Unhappy.”
[12] PC, no. 11.
[13] PC, no. 11.
[14] See Veritatis Splendor, nos. 47-53, the pope’s response to those theologians who claim that Catholic teaching regarding sexual morality succumbs to a brute biologism whereby moral laws are automatically spun out of mere biological laws. The heart of Catholic moral teaching does not fallaciously deduce a moral “ought” from only a biological “is.”
[15] As Richard John Neuhaus notes (“Love, No Matter What,” in Wolfe,Homosexuality, p. 245), most people are disgusted, in an intuitive and pre-articulate way, by “what active homosexuals do.” So too are many among the 2 percent of the population that is homosexually oriented. (The 10 percent figure from the earlier Kinsey Report was fallacious.)
[16] “The Price of Same-Sex Union,” Catholic World Report (July, 1997), 49. Also see Family, Marriage and “De Facto” Unions, Pontifical Council for the Family (2000).
[17] PC, no. 10.
[18] VS, no. 103.