An Open Letter to Pope Francis
What Does the Catholic Church Teach About Homosexual Acts?
A Coalition of Catholic Media Defends LGBT Right to Know
On the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle and Commemoration of St. Peter, in this year of Our Lord, 2019, we the undersigned approach your august person as representatives of a newly-formed coalition of faithful Catholics seeking to bring the burning concerns of sons and daughters to the feet of their father.
We profess Christ most sincerely, and thus seek pastoral clarification from His earthly vicar on a matter which, if left unresolved, portends dire consequences to the lives of practicing Catholics. That we should do so in this public forum speaks to the urgency of our request and intends no disrespect to the person of the Holy Father. We consider ourselves to be sheep in urgent need of the Shepherd’s word.
There was a time not long since past when we Catholics knew well the infallible doctrines of Faith and Morals that can only be questioned in peril of the soul, the vices that must be rejected, and the temptations steadfastly to be avoided by those longing to see the Face of God in eternity.
Today, alas, we find ourselves upholding doctrines that no longer seem of consequence even to our shepherds, confessing sins our confessors tell us are sins no longer, and observing prohibitions of the moral law our co-religionists insist a Merciful God would never enforce.
All of our lives, we committed ourselves to keeping the Commandments of God and the precepts of His Church, only to be given the impression now that all religions are good, all men are saved, all gods are the same as our God.
As children in Catholic school, we were told to prepare to die rather than commit the “mortal sins” which remove God’s life from the soul—capital sins, which today are so seldom warned against from the pulpit as to be understandably forgotten in the pew.
Some of these offenses against God and nature, categorized as peccata clamantia, were considered so terrible in the eyes of God as to cry to Heaven for vengeance. We were made to understand by priests, nuns, parents, popes and catechisms that the “sin of the Sodomites” was, in fact, one of these.
Today, that same sin has lost its social and moral stigma to such an extent that “rainbow Masses” are commonplace and the Catholic priesthood itself has been labeled a “gay profession.”
In the face of all this, our Coalition asks the obvious question: How can a sin which “cried to heaven for vengeance” when we were children—which was condemned by St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologica as "the unnatural vice” and the “greatest of the sins of lust”—today be regarded as no sin at all?
If even the most grievous of sins can become non-sins merely with the passage of time and change in human attitudes, then ultimately what happens to the very idea of sin, the Ten Commandments of God, the theology of heaven and hell, the particular and general judgments? If there is no sin then what is the point of practicing virtue or frequenting the Sacraments?
Our questions, quite obviously, are rooted not in idle curiosity but in fear of gradual erosion of belief within ourselves and throughout the whole Church. Though we are sinners—because we are sinners—we must know what it is that, before God, we must still believe.
We seek neither to judge nor condemn anyone, especially those who struggle with an inclination to this sin that yesterday “cried to Heaven for vengeance” and today is merely another “lifestyle”. They have never been encouraged to guard against that which, according to Scripture and the teaching of the Catholic Church, leads to the everlasting damnation of the soul.
It would therefore be unjust for us or any Catholic to hold them in contempt for failing to live up to standards of the moral law which are no longer taught to children in Catholic schools and about which even priests and bishops say nary a word.
And herein lies the problem: the ecclesia discens is divided and confused because the ecclesia docens is silent or, worse, accommodating, in the name of “toleration” and “diversity”.
Holy Father, surely you must sympathize with your children’s urgent call for unambiguous confirmation of Church teaching on homosexual acts. And we stress acts—not inclination—with purpose and foresight, since we quite agree that those struggling with same-sex attraction must be given the same pastoral care and loving catechetical instruction that all sinners have come to expect from a Church made unique by her Confessionals as well as her Altars.
If, as we were taught in Catholic school, unrepented homosexual intercourse—not the mere inclination, mind, but the act itself—leads to everlasting damnation, then how can it be pastoral, merciful or charitable to withhold that teaching from those thus inclined?
This is illogical on its face, and perhaps analogous to the man obsessed with hugging a child caught in the tracks rather than attempting to remove her from the deadly path of the oncoming train. Without an attempt to carry the child from harm’s way, compassionate hugging is not only futile but would amount to criminal negligence.
Where heretofore Mother Church did not hesitate to rescue her children, today she professes a preference to accompany them.
But to where?
Holy Father, we beg you to use the considerable weight of your office to disabuse the world of the false impression that a Church which endeavors to charitably admonish the sinner is a Church wanting in mercy.
How can a Spiritual Work of Mercy -- to Admonish the Sinner -- itself be said to fail in mercy?
Was Pope John Paul II failing to show mercy when in his 1986 “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons”, he warned that even the inclination to homosexuality is an “objective disorder” since the act itself is an “intrinsic moral evil”:
“Therefore, special concern and pastoral attention should be directed toward those who have this condition, lest they be led to believe that the living out of this orientation in homosexual activity is a morally acceptable option. It is not.”
Who was he to judge? He was the Pope, Vicar of Christ on earth, first Confessor and Shepherd of all the lost sheep in the world.
In answer to St. Peter Damian’s plea to the Holy Father to “take action against clerics immersed in the grievous moral perversion of sodomy”, Pope Leo IX replied with a promise of papal action rooted in mercifully urgent concern for the salvation of souls:
“Let it be certain and evident to all that we are in agreement with everything your book contains, opposed as it is like water to the fire of the devil. Lest the wantonness of this foul impurity be allowed to spread unpunished, it must be repelled by proper repressive action of apostolic severity.”
Jealously safeguarding the salvation and everlasting happiness of poor sinners, the authors of the Catechism of the Council of Trent write that "neither fornicators nor adulterers, nor the effeminate nor sodomites shall possess the kingdom of God.”
Would you, Holy Father, agree that unrepentant practitioners of same-sex intercourse in the LGBT community today will also “never possess the kingdom of God”? If you do agree then does not mercy itself command you to lovingly tell them so?
Help us to understand how a refusal to tell them the truth does not constitute a merciless injustice to the LBGT community which, by the way, never cease quoting your own words on their behalf: Who am I to judge? Holy Father, for them Roma locuta est, causa finita est. But do they not deserve to hear the full truth from you?
Must even the inspired Word of God itself be kept from them in the name of Mercy:
“Men also, leaving the natural use of the women, have burned in their lusts one towards another, men with men working that which is filthy ... Who, having known the justice of God, did not understand that they who do such things, are worthy of death; and not only they that do them, but they also that consent to them that do them.” (Romans 1: 27, 32)
In the name of “toleration” and “inclusivity” will Peter silence Paul?
Must faithful Catholics become party to the deception by pretending Scripture’s condemnation of this “grave depravity” is of no consequence?
In point of fact, the teaching of the Catholic Church has not changed:
“Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, 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.” [CCC, Number 2357]
Therefore, and mindful of the adage, qui mange le Pape, meurt, we seek not to “eat of the pope” but to plead with him for clarity:
> Do you, Pope Francis, believe that homosexual acts are “acts of grave depravity,” as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches here?
> Do you, Pope Francis, believe that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered,” as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches here?
> Do you, Pope Francis, believe that homosexual acts are “contrary to natural law,” as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches here?
> Do you, Pope Francis, believe that homosexual acts can “under no circumstances be approved,” as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches here?
The people of God must know the truth, Holiness, as must the pastors of souls, the children of the world, and the LGBT community. The “field hospital” is filled to capacity with those desperate for the medicine of clear and unambiguous Catholic teaching. And for the patient, there can be no greater mercy than the forthright honesty of the good physician.
Therefore, we have informed the ladies and gentlemen of the press that on 23 February next, in the city of Rome, our Coalition will call upon our brothers and sisters the world over—be they gay, straight, protestant, Catholic, Jew, Muslim, atheist or non-believer—to join their voices to ours in requesting clarification from the Chair of Saint Peter: Do you, Pope Francis, uphold as binding and true, the Catholic Church’s constant and authoritative teaching—based on the laws of God and Nature—that homosexual acts are immoral, unnatural and can never be justified?
All men and women on earth—but especially those who identify as homosexual—have a right before God to know the truth. They await your answer, as do we. Please hear us and be assured of our continued prayers for the healing and unity of Christ’s suffering Church.
Yours in Christ Crucified,
(Coalition of Saint Athanasius)