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Church helps set gay captives free


'Gays in chains' by Chris JohnstonSlavery, as depicted in recent films such as Lincoln and Django Unchained, might seem unthinkable to modern audiences. But for centuries, it was the norm. What's more, the worldwide church, due to suspect interpretations of New Testament passages, acquiesced in it. Yet it was Christians like William Wilberforce, leading the movement to abolish slavery in the British Empire, who helped society — and the church — overcome this evil.

Today, millions of gay men and lesbian women in every country, culture and religion of the world are in chains; bound by prejudice, hatred and fear. The Jesus I try to follow said he'd come to set captives free. Yet the church, far from setting gay men and women free, contributes one of the loudest voices to keeping them captive.

I have been a Christian since I was 20. When I was 25, I joined an evangelical church that had as its main ministry a program for 'healing' gays and lesbians. 'Healing' meant to become either celibate or heterosexual.

This program's participants eventually realised they couldn't change their sexuality. And when I talk to them after their involvement with the program, I discover something else didn't change: their desire to follow Jesus. To be Christians. Yet they still remained captives as they struggled to find a church where they could belong.

I attend a small church now, part of a mainstream denomination. I went to church a few Sundays ago and from the pulpit heard the story of how this little church had helped set a gay captive free.

'David' came to Australia as a refugee. His parents raised him in the church, and over time he found faith for himself. He believed God loved him. Around the same time, he started to feel different. He couldn't understand it, he felt lonely and distressed, and it wasn't until his late teens that he realised what his difference meant.

He had no one to talk to about it. And the place he most wanted to talk about it — church — had given him the message since he was a kid that gays could not be Christians. He went from church to church, but kept facing the same message. If he felt comfortable enough to admit he was gay, he was told he could stay, if he changed.

David felt gutted that church wasn't a place he could be himself. He contemplated taking his own life. But he couldn't give up on the God he believed loved him for who he was. David held onto the words of the psalmist: 'You knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.'

He couldn't give up on God, or the church. He read a line in my church's values statement ('we regard each person as a valuable member regardless of ... sexual orientation') and decided, 'Let's see if they're serious.'

Six months later, a few Sundays ago, David stood in front of the congregation and said yes, you are serious. He described his years of struggle, his depression and loneliness. Then he said he now at last felt accepted in a church. There were plenty of tears, from him and the congregation, and when he sat down, there was a round of spontaneous applause. Over coffee, the men and women of the church thronged around him.

David is no longer a captive. He is free to be himself, at least where church is concerned. He's soon to undertake the formal membership process. He has also been offered a role working with the church's young adults.

I'm excited our church helped snip his chains. At the same time, I'm horrified he ever had to experience them, and that he was rejected so many times by the church when he already felt rejected elsewhere. I'm also angry that, when it comes to gays and lesbians' social captivity in Australia as a result of homophobia, it is not the church leading the way to cut their chains. It's rappers, footballers and celebrities.

The church should be embarrassed. In the future, I believe people will watch movies depicting gays and lesbians' previous captivity, and find it unthinkable. Hopefully Christians won't be picketing the cinemas.

Paul Mitchell headshotPaul Mitchell is a Melbourne writer of journalism, poetry and fiction. 

Topic tags: Paul Mitchell, gay Christians, gay conversion therapy



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Then we have one of the papal frontrunners, Cardinal Turkson, saying that clerical sexual abuse is unlikely to be as big a problem in Africa because the culture there condemns homosexuality: 'African traditional systems kind of protect its population against these tendencies, because in several communities and several cultures in Africa homosexuality is not countenanced in society, so the taboo, the tradition has been there to keep it out.' Jesus wept.

Joseph Vine | 22 February 2013  

Great story and encouraging. It is sad that this freedom is not experienced more often. Let's pray there is change...and soon. Thanks again!

Christine | 22 February 2013  

Does Mr Mitchel undersrand that the church does not condemn the homosexual orientation-such is morally nrutral; but it censures homosexual genital acts as grave sin At Sydney Mardi Gras as nuns are ridiculed and derided,yet only a kilometer or less away Nuns are caring 24/7 for Aids Patients-Over 37 years of priesthood I have counselled and absolved many homosexuals. Strident attacks on the church need nuancing http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19861001_homosexual-persons_en.html

Father John George | 22 February 2013  

Great article Paul - and having been through the process you described, but I wholeheartedly agree, but also understand that with attitudes like JOSEPH VINE, many gay people see religion as the oppressor. I cannot understand what clerical sexual abuse has to do with homosexuality. Heterosexual clerics are also free to rape and plunder youngsters if they so desire. And as far as taboos in Africa - I agree with you - but the "taboo" is just as present in traditional Christian Western society. Having lived in Africa, I can tell you the "taboo" in Africa has not kept homosexuality "in check", it has merely prevented on openly gay culture immerging (no GLBT mardi gras on the streets of Nairobi!)

AURELIUS | 23 February 2013  

What seems to escape from discussions such as this is that between committed couples engaged in a mutual display of love, there is no wrong. Wrong most often arises from acts of infidelity which break the commitment a couple made to each other. Sexual activity between people outside of a commitment, marriage for example are as the church has always held, wrong.

Tony Knight | 25 February 2013  

David Marr is probably the most eloquent chronicler of the whole process of a gay man coming to terms with himself. It must be very difficult. Whatever one's own beliefs and practices are there is no need to vilify others for being different. It's the vilification and ostracism which need condemnation. Could acceptance of gays and lesbians come without changing the Church's conventional moral stance? It is an interesting question. Paedophilia, whether gay or hetero, is quite different and should not be brought in to confuse the issue.

Edward F | 25 February 2013  

This article appears on the same day of reports about Scottish Cardinal Keith O'Brien's alleged inappropriate homosexual behaviour towards four priests. The foundation that Church is a sanctuary for us all to be able to sift through life's challenging issues - individual and communal, is well and good, if the limitations and limiting boundaries are recognised and respected. St Paul, in proclaiming freedom for all, for men and women, slave and free, Greek and Jew - straight and gay, in today's language, was not on about licensing them to live without the 'chains' of faith. "Snipping the chains' might well be the path chosen by a few Churches, but it is not the only path and should not have to be for all Christians, the vast majority of whom have found being chained to Christ in their sexuality - straight or gay, the way to freedom of conscience "if your conscience can't convict, then neither will Christ condemn"- St Paul. If reports are true about O'Brien, the struggle didn't include appropriate counsel, especially about the power of repentance if and when we priests do fail the struggle and sin.

Fr Mick Mac Andrew | 25 February 2013  

I am so pleased that the church mentioned is setting an example for all of us to follow. The Uniting Church has an organisation called Uniting Network that aims to give support for the GLTBI people and their friends. see: http://unitingnetworkaustralia.org.au

Rev Robert Stringer | 25 February 2013  

Looking for information and support on leading a holy and chaste life? Consider Courage: "Spiritual support for Catholic men and women with same-sex attractions who desire to live chaste lives in accordance with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church." http://couragerc.net/

HH | 25 February 2013  

Thanks Paul, this is a good story and hopefully read by those who still discriminate. In respect of Fr. John George's comment, I don't see why it's necessary to reiterate the Church's position on homosexuality in every article, it is very well known, nor mention "homosexual genital acts as grave sin", that actually reinforces the prejudice (how do two people physically express love without involving genitalia anyway!?). Cardinal Turkson comments don't accurately convey the situation in Ghana. Recently a survey conducted by a radio station found Ghana to have a unexpectedly large number of gay men, the results of which were hotly denied by authorities, but only identified as they were suffering from AIDS. The tragic situation is that homosexuality is underground, regardless of what the good cardinal may have us believe.

Jeff | 25 February 2013  

FATHER GEORGE, in previous comments you have stated that homosexuals are NOT called to celibacy - that this is a calling from God. So what's your true position?

AURELIUS | 25 February 2013  

Your article made me so sad. I'm still in there and active in my Catholic Church . . . but I feel ashamed of the many, many things that aren't Christian about it. In amongst all the murkiness there is still much good. I keep trying to focus on that.

glen avard | 25 February 2013  

Thank you vrry much, Paul, for this article. The kind of 'coming out' by 'David' he reports was more common twenty years ago than now - well, it might not have been a declaration before a church gathering, but something equally explicit. However, in the last few years it has become much harder for gay Christians to be open. I attribute this to the whole 'sexual abuse by clergy' crisis, and to the growing power of Evangelicals in various churches, with anti-gay attitudes reported from Africa and Asia where Christianity is growing. I belong to an organization within the Anglican Church called Changing Attitude Australia, dedicated to promoting the equality of GLBTI Christians - but we are fighting an uphill battle, with many parishes banning the participation of 'practising' people. How they square this with the inclusive ministry of Jesus I don't know, but somehow they justify the exclusion.

Rodney Wetherell | 25 February 2013  

I can relate very well to this article but my church hasn't accepted me for who I am - yet! But I too know God loves me for who I am not what I am. How I feel the anguish of so many Christian gays today. When will the gay Spring come? Probably not in my lifetime!

Murray J Greene | 25 February 2013  

Can anyone say whether it is counted a sin for two gay people (or lesbian) to kiss each other for the sexual pleasure that's in it? Or is the condemnation all about anal intercourse?

Michael Grounds | 25 February 2013  

Articles such as these have to be written because they plead for the human understanding an acceptance that all creation deserves.They also raise two unanswered questions, rarely addressed or deliberately ignored. First, does God love each human being for whomever he/she is or has become, or because he loves his creation as an artist loves his work? (Some artists become distressed and even shed a tear if one of their works is not what they intend it to be). Second, is the practice of religion directed towards praise and worship of a creating God steeped in the sacred and devine, or is it a social club based on the profane and human, here to please personal preferences? One has a very constricted view of God if one believes that the church is there to serve the personal human rather than the creating God. Service of the human by Church is obviously a very integral part of praising and thanking the creator through recognising the beauty of His creation in another human being. However, it has to be the case that the perfection of the human creation also resides in that creation attaining its purpose in the Creator's eyes. I presume that God created separate sexes for a purpose. Science certainly believes that to be the case.

john frawley | 25 February 2013  

I love that Eureka is unafraid of publishing stories like this. @Tony - if gays were allowed to marry and commit before their community there just might be less promiscuity. We say that their behaviour is "wrong" according to Christian ethics but the poor bastards are between a rock and a hard place because they can't make it "right" when the institution of marriage is denied to them and a committed relationship outside marriage is not accepted either. Gays will only be truly free in our church when they can marry - let's face it. Until then we are in truth labelling them the outsider and not in truth accepting that they are "wonderously made". And allowing gays marriage in the RC church will truly take centuries LOL!!!!!!!! After all there's one hell of a queue - married priests, first in line, female ordination, second in line, contraception.....and so on.

Nicola | 25 February 2013  

If homosexuality is neutral in the eyes of the church, why then is the mere mention of it followed by advice on chastity and absolution from sin? Why aren't homosexual people afforded the same "presumption of innocence" as people who declare their heterosexuality?

AURELIUS | 25 February 2013  

While I agree with almost everything Paul Mitchell writes here, I think he stretches the analogy with slavery too far. Metaphorical chains are quite different from actual chains.

Myrna | 25 February 2013  

I was speaking to a couple of hundred lawyers in Perth on Friday. On campus, the Perth Writers Festival was in session. I popped along to hear David Marr speaking about photos and portraits of Patrick White. His presentation was masterful, passionate, brutally honest and illuminatingly tender. I left the hall feeling that we are so much the richer for the diversity of our humanity. I was consoled to see White wearing a cross in one of the last photos. I didn’t know enough about White to read anything into it, but I left the hall thinking there’s room in the gospels for all of us and anyone of us can respond to action of the Spirit.

Frank Brennan SJ | 25 February 2013  

Is it so surprising to find that people who fail to recognise what love really is and how to express it may adopt homosexual practices as a means to resolve a repressed need for self expression, to resolve poor communication skills, as a means to connect effectively with people, to curb some sort of segregation from people, to resolve loneliness. Not so long ago the American Psychological Association deemed homosexuality to be a mental illness. Not any more. These days those actively opposed to the acceptance of gay and lesbian sexual practices are deemed to have the mental illness. It is called "homophobia". Funny old world, eh?

DavidSt | 25 February 2013  

I think Desmond Tutu puts it well for we in the churches: "We struggled against apartheid in South Africa, supported by people the world over, because black people were being blamed and made to suffer for something we could do nothing about -- our very skin. It is the same with sexual orientation. It is a given. I could not have fought against the discrimination of apartheid and not also fight against the discrimination that homosexuals endure, even in our churches and faith groups... Opposing apartheid was a matter of justice. Opposing discrimination against women is a matter of justice. Opposing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a matter of justice. It is also a matter of love. Every human being is precious. We are all -- all of us -- part of God's family. We all must be allowed to love each other with honor. Yet all over the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are persecuted. We treat them as pariahs and push them outside our communities. We make them doubt that they too are children of God. This must be nearly the ultimate blasphemy...

Christopher McElhinney | 25 February 2013  

Yes MYRA, I agree with you that metaphorical chain are quite different to actual chains - they are much worse and much more oppressive. The doctrinal chains of the church crush the human spirit in a way the chains cannot - salves might be oppressed by physical chains, but they are not judged as disordered and cast into the fires of hell before they've even had a change to meet their Maker.

AURELIUS | 25 February 2013  

@Frank Brennan SJ - great comment. My favourite lines about Patrick White - from "Threnody for Patrick White" by Barry Humphries: "He had a vulnerable hauteur, he was arrogant and shy/He had the visage of a dowager with a beady light blue eye/He wrote at least two masterpieces, his correspondence flowed in torrents/With Firbank in one pocket, in the other D H Lawrence."

Pam | 25 February 2013  

Your young man can readily identify with the crucifixion and his experiences will be useful in his new work which is part of his resurrection, along with acceptance of him in community as a Lover of God. Unfortunately gender difference is not the only reason people are not accepted into congregations that seem to operate out of secular values rather than a Christ vision. I really like Leonard Cohen's words - all men should be sailors as only the drowning can see Jesus. We are supposed to be pilgrims, not settlers. We need to give up any certainty than standing-under the Love of God.

hilary | 25 February 2013  

I knew it would come. @- Nicola first sanctify the homosexuals and then wants same-sex marriage legalized. No Nicola. Marriage is the union of a man and a woman, has existed across cultures and Religions for thousands of years. Marriage is between a man and a woman

Ron Cini | 25 February 2013  

The Holy Spirit is among us, whispering and changing us to be more what we were created to be. Whispering and changing the Church to be what she was created to be! Gay and lesbian people tell a whole array of stories about trying to be part of Church, and the variety of them shows that the process of change is slow but is coming from the grassroots, not from the top. Fr. John George is right in saying attacks on the Church need nuancing. They take no account of the many communities that do quietly accept gay and lesbian people, as described in the article. The practice of so many committed Christians can't fail to influence the theory that's preached from the top. It's a long time coming, though. I'd like to think I'll live to see homosexual couples just turning up at Mass as couples - John Smith and Anthony Nguyen are rostered to bring up the gifts today - rather than as two individuals who have to be quiet about their committed relationship to each other. I also wonder whether this (currently) necessary silence is more about not getting the priest into hot water than about fearing rejection by the community as a whole.

Joan Seymour | 25 February 2013  

Aurelius, I think you meant to write MYRNA. This is such a great video.Pope Benedict XVI's last Angulus 24-02.2013.And blessing for ALL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtl78T0sxjw&feature=em-uploademail .You may like to keep in mind the following, if you care to watch it -“The blessing hands of Christ are like a roof that protects us. But at the same time, they are a gesture of opening up, tearing the world open so that heaven my enter in, may become "present" within it.” ? Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, Part Two: Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection .

Myra | 25 February 2013  

I believe that homosexual people are disordered. So are diabetics. So are depressives. So are many other categories of people. These are not reasons for excluding them from society, or treating them as morally inferior. Anyway, maybe I'm wrong. How do you decide what is disordered? What are the criteria?

Gavan | 25 February 2013  

Dear Paul, Loved your article. I'm glad to say that the church I attend also makes it clear that gays are welcome. Change is coming slowly.

Jean Sietzema-Dickson | 25 February 2013  

I agree basically with Frank Brennan's comments. Any church following Jesus Christ should be generous and broad enough to accept diversity in a spirit of charity and love.

Wayne McMillan | 25 February 2013  

Jeff surely love can be expressed profoundly without intercourse[eg good dads steadfastly manifest love for children in non genital fashion]and marital deep love is not merely intercourse. Aurelius! Homosexuals are not called to celibacy for the kingdom, but are called to observe the natural law, and as rc the teaching of RCC. Mrs. Seymour I couldn't care less who brings up offertory gifts[ provided they knowingly publicly repented] the problem is in the scandal given to people thinking the church approves lifestyles of notorious public sinners.

Father John George | 25 February 2013  

The true beauty of this piece is the about the love David was able to share with his follow parishioners, when he told them about his life, his suffering and love for God. The words he spoke, could have possibly been spoke by any saint, ( no doubt ) who had also descended to the abyss of human despair- only to find the more we look for God the more He is looking for us, especially, in the most desolate destitute places of our soul. Aurelius , I don't understand, your constant anger at the church. Why don't you admit, you understand the knowledge and love, only those who like Christ have suffered have come to know? And turn that knowledge and love into words of comfort and healing for others who are still struggling? Or in Christ's words: love and give one's life for a friend? Regardless of people being gay or not in the church or not. Every single human is tremendously loved by God. If we don't feel this love, it may be because our words, actions, and attitudes towards ourselves and others are empty or mean.The trouble is many people, ( gays and heterosexuals old , young and so on ) have poisons words to say about the church and church people, those who attend church and those who don't.They go on complaining endlessly. As the a little old lady, that always complains about how bad the homilies are or the ex female manager ( from the corporate world ) who constantly complains about not having the "right to be become a catholic priest". Being gay dosen't give anyone the right to be rude or mean or angry. Being mean to other people because you assume they don't like you because your gay is silly. It's like the little old lady saying people don't like her because she's old. Or the the woman who wants to be a priest, saying religious people dislike her because she is a women.No, it all comes down to our words and attitude. Ever heard the saying " let me hear how you play the fiddle and then I'll show you how I'll dance"? We can't change others, only ourselves. Let's start by speaking more kindly to one another? David's words were, ( no doubt ) kind words expressing faith, hope, love and forgiveness. And this is the reason he now feels loved and cherished within his catholic parish community. He got the language right.Christ's language.The language of the knowledge of love, via suffering for love and sharing that love with his fellow parishioners.

Damaris | 25 February 2013  

DAMARIS, I am not angry at the church - for I am a member of the church. I am angry with minority attitudes such as those of Father John George who undermines the suffering oh homosexual people and extols his own virtue publicly, without even knowing the personal situations of the people he's condemning. It's obvious that many issues discussed in these forums are merely intellectual (ie I am not personal angry at someone - and not being mean-spirited) but there is also a pastoral aspect to all this and the negative comments can be very soul destroying to sensitive, faithful people who are searching for meaning.

AURELIUS | 26 February 2013  

"Notorious public sinners", Fr. George? How is it that you or any human being feels qualified to judge whether or not a person is a sinner? The Church certainly categorizes homosexual activity as 'grave matter', but surely 'full knowledge' and 'free will' are also conditions of sin. If the informed consciences of the couple involved assure them that they are not in sin,i. e. that they don't have full knowledge that their activity is a sin, who are you to condemn them? I'm not saying that homosexual relationships can't be occasions of sin, any more than heterosexual relationships. I do say that God is the judge. Furthermore, the excuse of not giving scandal is an old, old one and its preeminence has actually caused terrible failures of charity and compassion. Look at Cardinal Mahoney of Lost Angeles- a good man who allowed his concern for 'scandal' to block out his concern for present and future victims of his priests.

Joan Seymour | 26 February 2013  

Well, Gavan, disorders like diabetes and depression can be managed and maybe even cured. I think many gay activists would therefore reject this category. But in any event it is a ridiculous thing when the orgasm replaces the Cross as the focus of longing and the image of fulfilment.

DavidSt | 26 February 2013  

It's sometimes appropriate in these discussions, full of so much genuine good will, to ground it in the perennial teaching of the Church, per the Catechism: "Tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved." "The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition. Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection."

HH | 26 February 2013  

When he came across this young man Sawing on a fiddle and playing it hot And the devil jumped up on a hickory stump And said, "Boy let me tell you what "I guess you didn't know it But I'm a fiddle player too And if you'd care to take a dare I'll make a bet with you" "Now you play pretty good fiddle, son But give the devil his due I bet a fiddle of gold against your soul 'Cause I think I'm better than you" The boy said "My name's Aurelius And it might be a sin But I'll take your bet and you're gonna regret 'Cause I'm the best that's ever been" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgvfRSzmMoU

Game Theory | 26 February 2013  

After reading the comments - what a blessing that we are all made in God's image...

Julia | 26 February 2013  

Aurelius, if you are gay, don't you realize every time you write a comment, those who read it and who have no idea about the depth of spiritual suffering gay people experience, you have the opportunity to articulate this suffering, for them, and contribute to the healing of their wounds.If only you cared to. It is quite obvious to all Eurekastreet readers, your comments are by far the most original and challenging and originality of words is a sign of genius. Though some of your comments do sound mean and outlandish, at times, least to me. Without doubt, some of the most progressive thinkers and intellectuals in history have been gay, Pier Paolo Passolini, just to mention one.Though not every word they have expressed or art they have produced has been positively inspiring, or productive for the gay community and society at large. As they have also produced a lot of junk. And it is this junk ( outlandish words and modes of behavior ) that comes to the mind of the average church goer, who is not opened to gays being fully accepted as members of the church, as they also feel offended, just as gays may feel, by rejection. A wound is just a wound , when it ceases to stop being a wound it no longer exists.Your comments could be a balm to help heal such wounds, on both sides. If you care to use them in such a way.

Damaris | 27 February 2013  

Well DAMARIS, I think the fact that both of us are using pseudonyms to articulate this issue speaks for itself - we don't exist. Our struggle in merely an anonymous figment of someone's imagination. Anyone who dares put their name to this intrinsically disordered condition would be subjected to the "absolutions" of FATHER JOHN GEORGE while gazing at holy pictures of Christ the Redeemer.

AURELIUS | 27 February 2013  

AURELIUS, a rose is a rose by any other name and some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses.

Damaris | 27 February 2013  

HH, would you tell a left hander that he or she may not use his left hand? The teachings of the catechism are out of date and are not in line with the views of enlightened people. Having read the comments of many Catholics here, I am relieved to see that they refuse to be dictated to by a group of homophobic celibates.

Rosemary Mosely | 27 February 2013  

Rosemary Mosely sinistral or dextral chirality are hardly of the same grave significance as sexual orientation [eg re progeny and child bearing-not in obstetrics 101 at least] Having witnessed a beautiful armless mother care for her young son in a local coffee shop-manual laterality is no big deal compared to her heterosexually produced son!

Father John George | 27 February 2013  

If in this world we live in today it is possible to take sex out of the equation for even five minutes it would reveal many male-to-male love stories, like David and Jonathan, where to suggest a sexual impulse debases the genuine love they felt for each other. These relationships do exist. They're just not publicised. I think it's called homosociality not homosexuality. But how often has this been deliberately confused.

DavidSt | 27 February 2013  

There's a difference between "grumbling" Damaris, and having the courage to seek justice despite the setbacks. If you want to see through rose-tinged glasses, I take my hat off to you. Some say love it is a hunger An endless aching need I say love it is a flower And you it's only seed It's the heart afraid of breaking That never learns to dance It's the dream afraid of waking that never takes the chance It's the one who won't be taken Who cannot seem to give And the soul afraid of dying that never learns to live When the night has been too lonely And the road has been too long And you think that love is only For the lucky and the strong Just remember in the winter far beneath the bitter snows Lies the seed That with the sun's love In the spring Becomes the rose

AURELIUS | 27 February 2013  

I don't know why some people continuously sees sexual orientation as "a grave concern". If they were so sincerely worried about the salvation of souls, they would see this issue as more than a mere argument to be won by shooting down one's opponents.

AURELIUS | 27 February 2013  

"HH, would you tell a left hander that he or she may not use his left hand? " I guess it depends, Rosemary. Does favouring one's left hand close the sexual act to the gift of life?

HH | 27 February 2013  

Flesh is as flesh does – Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the spirit have their minds set on what the spirit desires. The concern of the flesh is death, but the concern of the spirit is life and peace.The flesh is intent on things of this world, upon gratifying its own passions and desires. On account of the flesh we are concerned primarily with ourselves and seek to be at the center. The flesh is turned primarily inward. St Augustine describes the human person in the flesh as “curvatus in se” (turned in upon himself). But the spirit is that part of us that looks outward toward God and opens us the truth and holiness that God offers. Ultimately the flesh is focused on death for it is concerned with what is passing away: the body and the world. The human spirit is focused on life for it focuses on God who is life and light.

Bernstein | 27 February 2013  

That's right, Aurelius, real LOVE can never make us sick. That which makes us sick is not real LOVE. The Sick Rose~ O Rose thou art sick The invisible worm,That flies in the night In the howling storm: Has found out thy bed Of crimson joy:And his dark secret love Does thy life destroy.

Damaris | 27 February 2013  

Aurelius homosexual genital sexual acts are grave matter, and once detected on the eschatological radar screen, require peremptory and rapid tactical response not excluding surface to air syllogistic/doctrinal apologetic. [live with it]

Father John George | 27 February 2013  

Edward F while you draw the line at considering pedophilia in homosexual vilification issue. The USA OFFICIAL DSM-IV MANUAL for psychiatrists has ceased categorising pedophilia as mental disease, unless the condition causes anxiety and depression to perpetrator[no mention of a victim],] American Psychiatric Association's DSM is closely causally correlated with changing social attitudes and mores. DSM once categorised homosexuality as a serious disorder, unlike today. Such capricious, mercurial psychosocial mores are the antithesis of perennial Catholic Magisterium. DSM-V will maintain DSM IV 'pedophilia-soft' categorisation until fickle society ups the ratchet to total "acceptance"[the diagnostic 'open sesame']

Father John George | 27 February 2013  

Hey Paul what about adults who have a loving relationship with a brother or sister, mum or dad? Or what about those who have inappropriate desires for children? Are they encouraged to be free? Stick to the program, practicing homosexuals will not inherit the Kingdom of God. They may get your blessing here on earth but you are setting them up for a Christ less eternity & just maybe you will be joining them.

Con | 27 February 2013  

Fr J.George, have you ever read this poem?“ I celebrate myself, and sing myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”? Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass.

Damaris | 27 February 2013  

FATHER GEORGE, is seems you are the one obsessed with homosexual genital acts - I nor this article has mentioned them.

AURELIUS | 28 February 2013  

The different DAMARIS between the rose of Bette Midler and the rose of William Blake, is that Midler's rose is real, born of experience (like the psalms) but Blake's rose is allegorical - yes, we all know that true LOVE is pure - but then it is only God who is pure love.

AURELIUS | 28 February 2013  

Fr JG, what ever happpened to christians 'not' mentioning such things?- 'That horrible sin not to be mentioned among Christians'. Augustin. And 'you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth'? Matthew 15

Damaris | 28 February 2013  

Aurelius, God's LOVE is yes, pure, but so can ours be : he alone loves the Creator perfectly who manifests a pure love for his neighbor. And experience, may be the journey - though it's not actually 'being there'. As David said ' Create in me a pure heart, O God'.

Damaris | 28 February 2013  

Yes, CON, hell and damnation is always the final desperate response when someone can't find a rational, compassionate answer to life's dilemmas. Can you please point out to me where in Paul's article he refers to "practicing/non-practicing homosexuals"? And if homosexuality is neutral in the eyes of the church, why not mention "practicing heterosexuals"?

AURELIUS | 28 February 2013  

Damaris your exegesis of AUGUSTINE is literalist, Augustine in his campaign wrote and spoke and preached much on homosexuality etc. He is using hyperbole eg understanding that christians would eg discuss maturely such issues eg with spiritual director or priest[or these days with counsellors] beware fundo literalism needing context and literary nuance.

Father John George | 28 February 2013  

DAMARIS, I agree with your lovely expositions on love for neighbour etc, but I can't see the specific relevance of it in light of the article and discussion. Aren't we ALL called to love our neighbour? We are talking about setting homosexual people free from church and societal homophobia, not trying to second guess whether their love is pure or whether it's carnal lust - that's for God to judge and see.

AURELIUS | 28 February 2013  

Fr JG...and to save the incontinent from being led by their weakness into the deadly sin of fornication, or adultery, or another form of uncleanness which it is shameful even to name...( Augustine's words, even if badly translated.)..And what about 'you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth'? Matthew 15 , or would you prefer to critic : everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.those who have been given more , more will be expected of them? Luke 12

Damaris | 28 February 2013  

Aurelius, Just as Fr JG's words are no where to be found in this piece, nor have my words mentioned an invitation : to second guess whether 'their' love is pure or whether it's carnal lust, that's for God to judge and see. This is simply your analysis and not my interpretation of any of my comments thus far. I have already said what I believe about the piece. Regardless of sexual orientations, for me, it simply comes down to our words and attitudes towards one another. Moreover, if we don't give up on God, just as David didn't, in this piece and in the psalms, He want give up on us.

Damaris | 28 February 2013  

Moreover, Fr JG, I meationed Leaves in the Grass, as I was alluding to your unjust critic on Aurelius comments ...Critic Rufus Wilmot Griswold reviewed Leaves of Grass in the November 10, 1855, issue of The Criterion, calling it "a mass of stupidity" Griswold also suggested, in Latin, that Whitman was guilty of "that horrible sin not to be mentioned among Christians", one of the earliest public accusations of Whitman's homosexuality. Griswold's intensely negative review almost caused the publication of the second edition to be suspended. Whitman included the full review, including the innuendo, in a later edition of Leaves of Grass..wiki

Damaris | 28 February 2013  

For Lent, let's try to postpone all judgment of others. Just listen.

George | 28 February 2013  

That's a noble sentiment, George. So perhaps we could start with the offensive judgement implied by the graphic at the head of this post, which depicts the Catholic Church (more specifically, Tridentine Catholics, based on the "eastward" facing position of the priest and the ladies with their heads covered) imprisoning homosexuals at the eucharist. As a "Tridentine Catholic" (so to speak) myself, I am close friends of any number of people with homosexual inclinations who are and who have always been welcome at our Masses and who have had contributed much materially and spiritually. Bottom line: Catholics of any sexual orientations who are in the state of grace (no contradiction there) are welcome to receive communion. Conversely Catholics of any sexual orientation who are, for whatever reason, not in the state of grace, may not receive communion. Who would have known?

HH | 01 March 2013  

What you say about the latest classification of paedophilia in the USA OFFICIAL DSM-IV MANUAL for psychiatrists is disturbing Fr. J. G. I think here most psychiatrists and clinical psychologists would see it as an extremely serious anti-social aberration.

Edward F | 05 March 2013  

Edward F I share not your optimism re Australian therapists and pedophilia diagnostics. The APA DSM has considerable authority with Australian psychological Society, itself ending submissions re DSM. My concern is corroborated by the notorious Fr F debacle The Whitlam Report notes the clean bill given Fr F by his psychologist accompanied by glowing prognosis and there are other such cases

Father John George | 05 March 2013  

Sexual attraction to children is a mental disorder or illness. The DSMIV is correct. People don't freely choose the condition - it's caused by significant events in a child's life at critical times. This doesn't mean paedophilia excuses sexual use of children, or that paedophiliacs mustn't be held accountable for their acts. I'm sure that many of the victims of paedophiliac abuse develop a similar condition themselves as a result of the abuse. They need help and support in battling their attraction, as well as appropriate consequences if they lose the fight. I know that some people sexually use children as a matter of choice, as heterosexual prisoners may use other men in gaol. But true paedophilia isn't a choice. It is indeed a mental disorder.

Joan Seymour | 06 March 2013  

I would not want people to deny the truth. Truth is good. I read recently a blog by Josh Weed: a gay mormon man who chose a heterosexual marriage. Interestingly, he said it was his father's decision to love him no matter what and let him decide his future that gave him the freedom to choose his path. He says that gay people have a real choice to make: biological children or gay relationship. He wanted what would make him the happiest. Truth! Interestingly, when I googled his name, an article on a gay website called "Queereka" was viciously attacking him. This is behaviour I thought was condemned as homophobic. I would have no problem seeing more gay people in Church. I think the only difference is that they wear a visible scarlet letter, but none of us are perfect. The keys to the Kingdom are through baptism, belief and the mass. But the word Truth comes to me again on issues of IVF, adoption and marriage and I certainly have no time for hedonistic behaviour, homosexual or heterosexual. We need good people to create a good society but we are being forced to accept the whole box and dice or else are labled bigots.

Steven D | 07 March 2013  

I attend Catholic Church on feast days and special occasions, as a volunteer I regularly take elderly long care residents to mid-day mass in our cathedral. As a gay man who has lived in a long term relationship for 35 years I feel utterly alone, unwelcome and a complete outsider from the CHURCH. I know my homosexuality is natural and unchosen. I am 100% at peace with my inner being and 100% accepting of my being gay. The sex of my life partner disqualifies my love and devalues my worth? He works in disability care and has devoted his entire working life to assisting others. Many so called religious fail the Christ test. I am deeply ashamed of many Cardinals and Bishops for they aren't Christ like in many aspects. My heart wants to join with the good, I want to be fully involved, I want to contribute more, join in practically, assist and share my energy and skills, but every time “they” make anti-gay comments a small piece of my respect for the church dies, and I hold back. I was taught that the holy Roman Catholic Church was GOD; I now know that is false. God is not discriminatory, neglectful and full of hate.

Barry N. | 19 May 2017  

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