This is a response to the opinion piece titled “We’ve come a long way, but not enough”. What I would like to address is the inaccurate portrayal of what true Catholic teaching on LGBTQ+ issues is. In particular, I would like to focus on this statement made in the article: “That does not mean, however, that we believe that Catholicism and the LGBTQ+ community are inherently incompatible. We believe there is a way for these two communities to co-exist and intersect, but not in our current campus atmosphere.
It is wrong to believe that authentic Catholicism and the LGBTQ+ community are compatible. Surely a form of “cafeteria Catholicism”, claiming the name Catholic while at odds with the fundamental and unchanging teachings of the Church that have been taught since its founding, can be a worthy bedfellow of the LGBTQ+ community. But if we are talking about true Catholicism, then the two are farther apart than the two poles of the Earth. They are based on two completely different social and philosophical systems, which leads to very contradictory worldviews and reality.
Let’s just look at some initiatives and goals of the LGBTQ+ community and see if they align with Catholic teaching. The first and most obvious platform is the promotion of same-sex marriage. A good Catholic, faithfully adhering to the teachings of the Church and of Jesus Christ (which are one because Christ founded the Church as his body) can in no way support same-sex marriage. In fact, not only will he not be able to bear it, but he will not even believe it as an ontological possibility.
Even state-recognized same-sex marriages entered into legally by two people are not true marriages at all according to Catholic belief because they lack the proper material (i.e. the consent of a man and a woman wishing to consummate the marriage and live together in unity). Therefore, no matter how hard our world tries to make it through our legal systems, marriage between two men or two women is impossible if you just consider the nature of marriage.
What does the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church say about marriage? In the Old Testament it is clear in places too numerous to list that marriage is considered to be between a man and a woman. Not only that, but the Old Testament strongly condemns any romantic or sexual activity between two individuals of the same sex.
Moreover, in the Gospels, Christ specifies that “a man will leave his father and his mother and will stick to his wife, and the two will become one flesh” (Mt 19, 5). Saint Paul calls, always in Holy Scripture, sexual acts between two men and two women shameful. In paragraph 1601, the Catechism defines marriage as “the matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish a lifelong partnership with each other.”
A second belief held by members of the LGBTQ+ community is that gender is different from biological sex. In the Catholic tradition, there is no such distinction. A biological male is a man and a biological female is a woman. In the Catholic vision, the human being is an integrated whole, composed of the physical matter which is the body and of the spiritual form which is the soul.
Thus, the body is an essential part of a person’s constitution. It is essential to the nature of that person, and one does violence to the creation if one tries to modify it in such a way as to make it into something that it was not intended to be (i.e. various forms physical transition such as hormone therapy or sex reassignment surgery).
Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition are the primary sources of belief for Catholics, and Scripture attests that God from the beginning created human beings as male and female. He did not create us as transgender, multigender, non-binary, pangender, demigender, agender, etc. The mind cannot bend reality and the body into what it wants them to be. For an in-depth presentation of the Catholic Church’s perspective on this, please see Man and Woman He Created, published by the Congregation for Catholic Education in 2019.
There are many more points of disagreement that I can point out, but I believe that these two suffice as fundamental differences. These are important points of difference between the Catholic Church and the LGBTQ+ community. Indeed, they are so divergent that they cannot justify any compatibility between the two groups on issues of sex and gender.
Beyond the more general points, these are the specific points of the article that I would like to address:
1. “The University selects and chooses what is and what is not in conformity with the Catholic Church.” This statement refers to the University allowing queer and trans symbols such as flags on campus, but not allowing queer couples to be married in the Chapel of Christ the Teacher.
Responnse: Not allowing same-sex couples to be married in the chapel is entirely in line with Church teaching, as it recognizes that a same-sex marriage is not a legitimate marriage at all in the belief of the Church. . There is no selection and choice here. Moreover, the University is not obligated by any Church teaching to even allow trans symbols on campus. He could ban them if he wanted.
2. “Rejecting LGBTQ+ people for being who they are is not in line with Christ’s teaching about having deep love and respect for others. If the University were to be more welcoming and more assertive, that would, in turn, be more in line with Catholic teaching.
Responnse: There’s a lot to unpack here, but I’m just going to look at two. First of all, what do we mean by rejecting LGBTQ+ people? If rejection is defined as ridicule, harassment, unworthy treatment, or disrespect, then yes, it is certainly not in accord with the teachings of Christ. But if rejection is defined as having a different worldview that does not accept that two men or two women can marry or that sex is fluid and changeable, then it is not contrary to the teachings of Christ. Although Jesus in the Gospels does not speak explicitly against these things, St. Paul has much to say in his epistles which – being part of Holy Scripture – are considered by Christians to be part of the teachings of Christ. If a Christian accepts and promotes lifestyles, opinions and beliefs that are destructive to man and his nature, then that is not love. To love is to want the good of the other, not to allow others to engage and promote opinions and ways of life that are not in harmony with nature (which is also not in accord with our own good). Second, the university accepting and affirming the false beliefs and doctrines of the LGBTQ+ community would be contrary to Christ and his teachings, who have come to set us free with the truth (John 8:32).
3. “It seems Scalia is saying that procreation is the sole purpose of a romantic relationship.” The authors of the article claim that, according to Scalia’s logic, infertile couples fall into the same category as same-sex couples because they are both unable to procreate.
Responnse: This is not what Fr. Paul Scalia argues. A distinction must be made between natural infertility and infertility due to health problems. Infertile heterosexual couples are not in the same category as same-sex couples because, although they are infertile by default of health, their nature is such that, if there were no defect, they could procreate . The same cannot be said for same-sex couples, as even the healthiest same-sex couples are incapable of procreation due to their nature. It is impossible for two biological men or two biological women to have biological children together. According to Catholic teaching, if openness to procreation is not the only purpose of a romantic relationship, it is certainly essential (Humanae Vitae, para. 9). This is also why contraception is prohibited by the Church, because it limits the possibility of amorous openness to children.
I find it quite brazen to equate the University’s Catholicity with its promotion of trans values and the beliefs of the LGBTQ+ community. I am happy that these students share their concerns about issues that matter to them and are close to their hearts, but they are wrong to try to encourage the University to promote their point of view by appealing to their beliefs and their Catholic heritage. Go ahead and argue and promote the values and beliefs of the LGBTQ+ community, but don’t say the University would be more Catholic if it followed suit. The effect would be quite the opposite.
Br. Benedict Mary Bartsch, OP is an UP alumnus from the Class of 2018. He can be contacted at [email protected]
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