Clear, compassionate: both and

When I read Fr Salmon’s letter authorising a same-sex couple to their Catholic high-school dance, two thoughts immediately occurred to me.

Firstly, it’s good that Fr Salmon is compassionate, and that he shows the Church is compassionate.

Secondly, it’s not good that he wrote this:

“I am not encouraging nor am I condoning homosexual activity just as I do not encourage or condone heterosexual activity at a dance.”

That’s not right. Encouraging and condoning heterosexual activity is the whole point of Catholic dances.

Fr Salmon meant, of course, that dances aren’t supposed to encourage or condone fornication. I agree with him on that. But they are certainly supposed to encourage and condone marriage. I’ve linked to this article before, which explains the rationale: Catholics Awake! Marriage doesn’t just happen!

But before I invested in a lengthy blog post on this, Dr Peters beat me to it.

I’m glad really. I’m giving the whole same-sex thing a rest. It’s an important issue, but it’s not one that interests me especially.

What does interest me is clear and compassionate communication of Catholic teaching. So often it seems that clarity is sacrificed in the name of fuzzy compassion or (worse, in my opinion) compassion is sacrificed in the name of severe clarity.

Dr Peters excels at serving both. Here is another example, which is (thankfully) totally unrelated to same-sex marriage: Canonical consequences for suicide.

  • Cathy

    Homosexuality is wrong. Period.
    The Church is very black and white on this matter and compassion only comes into it on a case to case basis, encouraging homosexual behavior is not a way to help these people because it can lead to acceptance of their lifestyle.

    • Um, I think Cathy that yours is one of those presentation of Catholic teaching which demonstrates “severe clarity at the expense of compassion.”

      I don’t think we can say that compassion is ever “only . . .” anything. It’s central to the whole “Catholic thing:” the idea that God became one of us. God suffered with us. God “became sin” for us, and died with us, so that we might live.

      Remember, our commission is to “speak the truth in love.” (Eph 4:15)

      You and I would agree that Fr Salmon’s decision was the wrong one, and not faithful to Catholic teaching. Nonetheless, his letter does cite Catholic teachings which might challenge the “black and white” description. Which is not to deny that the clarity of Catholic teaching, but only to demonstrate the qualifying compassion.

      • Cathy

        Fr. John, I will try to explain my position.
        I have a Brother who was a drug addict, in no way did we condone or encourage his behavior. I did not campaign for safe injecting rooms, nor did I ever let him take drugs in my presence. The reason being is that it was literally destroying his health, his spirituality was waning and as we know one can be left open to the diabolical. I never failed to be there as a sister, a listening ear to try and understand why he was doing this to himself. We never stopped praying for him, and through divine intervention he came out on the other side. Homosexuality is wrong, just as is drug abuse, abortion etc. and only when we lend a listening ear to them on a personal level does compassion come into play. Christ said “go and sin no more” . Hope this helps you understand my point, hope you are having a well earned rest after the Easter ceremonies.

      • I hear you Cathy, but I do think there are many dangers in using this analogy.

        The thing is, homosexuality itself is not wrong. It’s not desirable — in so many ways it’s a terrible cross — but it’s not wrong. Homosexual behaviour is wrong. But that’s quite a different claim.

        Now, I don’t have any direct experience with drug addiction, so I’m happy to be corrected here. I’m conscious I might need to be corrected. But I imagine it is easy to distinguish between the addictive behaviour of a junkie — which is wrong and cannot be condoned — and the person himself — who is good and must be loved.

        For a whole host of reasons, it’s much harder to keep that distinction when it comes to sexuality. People define themselves by their sexuality. If Christians condemn homosexual behaviour, that’s very easily heard by a homosexual person as condemnation of the person. We should go to great lengths, always and everywhere, to avoid that misunderstanding.

      • Cathy

        Ah yes, those who have same sex attraction and do not live the lifestyle are indeed living a holy life. But one must always discourage behavior that can be seen as misleading these people to believe that their lifestyle is acceptable. There is an old saying and it goes like this,
        “Do not break down a fence before you understand why the fence was put up in the first place”.
        God gave us Ten Commandments, not ten suggestions, and to gain the kingdom of Heaven one must keep them.

      • Clare

        Sorry thats wrong. As a heterosexual when I hear a condemnation of fornication, lust, masturbation or adultery I dont take it personally. Rather I know that this is the teachings of Christ through His magisterium.

        I define myself not by my sexuality but by my relationship with Christ.

        Homosexuality is never normal. It is not ordered. However, having same-sex attraction, although not normal, is not intrinsically evil. When you act on those disordered temptations its sinful.

        Look we are all suffering with some from of disordered temptations which are not ordered and normal and in some way we are all broken. Thank you very much original sin and concupiscence. Its commonly known many, actually most heterosexual men struggle with being chaste. Feeling the desire to be impure and unchaste is not normal. Sorry. But its not intrinsically immoral. Once its acted upon that becomes a mortal sin.

        Lets not try and make Jesus into some lame effeminate preacher who said all are saved. There is no salvation outside of Christ and there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church.

      • Clare

        Fr. John, the ordinary magisterium of the Church has always taught that homosexuality is an intrinstic moral evil. By trying to bypass the issue you are not helping anybody. You should be imporing homosexuals to run to confession. Now if they are struggling with sin and trying to live our the teachings of the Church, then bless. They will truly succeed. But to try and sugar coat the issue and pretend that the teachings are not black and white is pure folly. The best pastoral care is to save souls from hell. Not to give them some temporary false hope.

    • Clare

      Amen Cathy. Continue to make reparations for the abomination that is same-sex marriage and pray for the many victim souls that are faithful to the magisterium and fight any unholy temptations.

      At the same time beg Our Lady to have mercy on the majority of militant homosexuals who reject the Bride of Christ and her true teachings on the grace immorality of homoexuality.

  • Clare

    From the official Catechism of the Catholic Church:

    Chastity and homosexuality

    2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”142 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.

    2358 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.

    2359 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.

  • Clare



  • Hi Clare! I agree with you. Pax!

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