By Dale O'Leary
Never underestimate God's Mercy
I know I have told this story before, but I have to tell it again. At the Courage
Conference one of the participants shared his story with me. He had been actively involved
in a homosexual relationship for 23 years and as his partner lay dying he was reciting
humanistic good thoughts when he started to repeat the Memorare -- a prayer for mercy --
he had learned as a child. He could only remember half of it, but it stuck in his mind. On
his way home that evening he realized that his friend who had also been raised Catholic
had not received the last rites. He found a priest and his partner was given the last
rites and died peacefully. The man has not returned to homosexual activity and now has a
strong prayer life and relationship with Christ. We want to set all kinds of conditions,
but God answers even half a prayer.
How should those who have been promoting prevention and healing of homosexuality react
to the brutal murder of Matthew Shepherd?
I believe we need to repent. Not for speaking about prevention and healing, not for
offer help and hope, but for not speaking sooner. In 1963 therapists knew the causes of
the homosexual condition and they knew how to treat it. More than that they knew how to
prevent it. They knew what children need to develop healthy sexual identities and they
knew how to recognize the symptoms of gender identity problems. They knew that early
intervention could help.
And nothing was done. Today the young men and women who became homosexually active
because their parents were not told how to encourage proper gender identification are
angry. They were teased in school. They felt lonely and isolated, different and rejected
and no one did anything to help them. They blame us for the wrong reason, but they are
right, we are to blame. The parents who went for help when they saw a problem were told
don't worry about it, when help was available. Many of the young men who died of AIDS
didn't want to be homosexual, many reached out for help to the Church and no help was
given. Or the help was desultory or inadequate.
They came to us and we failed. Until we the Church repent of our failure to care and to
act, we cannot stand up on this issue.
Why didn't we speak out sooner? Because we didn't care. We knew there were homosexuals
and many times we knew who they were. Their closets were made of glass. We avoided the
issue. Out of love or delicacy? No. Because we didn't want to get involved with such an
unpleasant issue. We should have been moving heaven and earth to help these men and women
and their families, but we did nothing. They were ashamed to admit their problem and their
families often ashamed even to ask for prayer.
The homosexuals are angry. They found an answer for themselves. The answer is bondage
not freedom, but for them it was better than nothing. Better than the loneliness they were
What must we do? Not just speak the truth now, but repent for 35 years of failing to
speak. Religious leaders to lead on this issue. We can publicly offer our apologies and
beg forgiveness. Those in ex-gay ministries I am sure would be willing to accept our
repentance. Many of them tried to find help in the Church before they surrendered to the
temptation of homosexuality. And many of the ex-gay ministries have struggled for support.
Many in these ministries have been rejected by religious leaders when they asked for help
in spreading the message that there is hope for homosexually tempted persons.
Until we the people of God repent for our failures, how can we be a witness to those
struggling with this terrible temptation. They have an excuse; they are suffering from a
developmental disorder. We have none.
Excerpt from a speech by Dr. Daniel Brown published in 1963. Homosexuality and Family
Dynamics. Paper presented at the Annual Air Force Clinical Psychology Meeting, Jan.
10. Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic. 27: 227 - 232.
In summary, then it would seem that the family pattern involving a combination of a
dominating, overly intimate mother plus a detached, hostile or weak father is
beyond doubt related to the development of male homosexuality... It is surprising there
has not been greater recognition of this relationship among the various disciplines that
are concerned with children. A problem that arises in this connection is how to inform and
educate teachers and parents relative to the decisive influence of the family in
determining the course and outcome of the child's psychosexual development. There would
seem no justification for waiting another 25 or 30 years to bring this information to the
attention of those who deal with children. And there is no excuse for professional workers
in the behavioral sciences to continue avoiding their responsibility to disseminate this
knowledge and understanding as widely as possible
AN ANSWER FOR ANDREW
Yesterday I heard a debate between Bill Kristol, conservative writer, and Andrew
Sullivan, an advocate for homosexual marriage. Sullivan mentioned on a number of occasions
that he was a Catholic and that all he wanted was to marry the person he loved. How, he
asked, can conservatives object to such a conservative desire.
This morning, as I was rereading John Paul II's defense of the moral order "The
Splendor of Truth: Veritatis Splendor", I found the answer for Mr. Sullivan:
"Intrinsic evil": it is not licit to do evil that good may come of
it."(cf. Rom. 3:8)
"81. In teaching the existence of intrinsically evil acts, the Church accepts the
teaching of Sacred Scripture. The Apostle Paul emphatically states: 'Do not be deceived:
neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, nor thieves, nor
the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the Kingdom of God' (I
Cor. 6: 9-10).
"If acts are intrinsically evil, a good intention or particular circumstances can
diminish their evil, but they cannot remove it. They remain 'irremediably' evil acts; per
se and in themselves they are not capable of being ordered to God and to the good of the
person. 'As for acts which are themselves sins (cum iam opera ipsa peccata sunt).'
Saint Augustine writes 'like theft, fornication, blasphemy, who would dare affirm that, by
doing them for good motives (causis bonis), they would no longer be sins or, what is even
more absurd, that they would be sins that are justified.'
"Consequently, circumstances or intentions can never transform an act
intrinsically evil by virtue of its object into an act 'subjectively' good or defensible
as a choice.
"82. Furthermore, an intention is good when it has its aim the true good of the
person in view of his ultimate end. But acts whose object is 'not capable of being
ordered' to God and 'unworthy of the human person' are always and in every case in
conflict with that good. Consequently, respect for norms which prohibit such acts and
oblige semper and et pro semper, that is, without any exception, no only does not inhibit
a good intention, but actually represents its basic expression."
The sins referred to by St. Paul include homosexual acts. The Greek original makes this
perfectly clear. The words "sexual perverts" in the text are used to translate
the phrase in Greek malakoi oute arsenokoitai, which is more
accurately translated as "effeminates nor abusers of self with men", referring
to the two aspects of homosexual practices with which the Greeks of Corinth were
unfortunately too familiar. Lest the believers lose hope, Paul reminds them: "Such
were some of you, but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are
justified..." (I Cor. 6:11) This verse is a great comfort to those in
recovery, a promise for all of us.
In the debate over homosexual marriage we frequently confront those who claim that
Christianity demands tolerance and acceptance. A little knowledge of the Greek can be very
useful, but hope is essential.