Recently, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — the Vatican agency responsible for resolving doctrinal disputes — declined a request from German bishops asking if it was permissible to bless what are popularly referred to as “gay marriages.” The response has been widely characterized in the press as a coldhearted, discriminatory attack on the dignity of LGBTQ persons.
In an interview in America magazine, Father Bryan Massingale, described as a “gay Catholic priest and professor of theology and social ethics at Fordham University,” stated, “Every human being is born with this innate desire to love. For those who are oriented toward members of the same sex … to have it being described as inherently or innately sinful without any qualification, that is crushing.”
Father Massingale is partly correct. As I’ve noted in my ongoing series for Our Sunday Visitor on what it means to “be pastoral,” every human person is, indeed, born with a deep need to love and be loved. Likewise, when our attempts to be loving as we understand it are frustrated, it can be tremendously painful.
Father Massingale and other critics of the CDF announcement fail to note a second, even more critical Christian principle — namely, to be Christian is to recognize that, despite each person’s desire to love and be loved, every human person — gay, straight or otherwise — struggles to love and be loved in ways that are actually loving. Before we can claim to be Christian, we must first admit that none of us knows how to love ourselves or others in ways that enable us to experience the deep, rich, healthy, godly love for which we were created at the beginning of time. Catholics acknowledge that Christ and his Church are the only sources to which we can turn to learn to love the way we were created to love.
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