Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A more accepting Catholic Church

By Claire Anderson

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The Catholic Church has had one of its busiest years in centuries. After a few short weeks in office, Pope Francis, the new, non-elitist and first non-European pope in years, gave an Easter mass and washed the feet of 12 young inmates at Casal del Marmo Penitentiary Institute for Minors – two of them women and two of them Muslim. Francis was the first pope to do so in a Holy Thursday ritual.

On the other side of the ocean, when asked about whether people feel excluded by the church because of their sexuality, Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, said a few weeks back on the ABC program “This Week”: “Well, the first thing I’d say to them is, ‘I love you, too. And God loves you. And you are made in God’s image and likeness.’”

Members of the gay community, especially those struggling between pairing their identity and Church doctrine, have been waiting decades for the words of relief and comfort. Dolan’s statements do not mean total acceptance of the gay community by the Catholic Church or that its policies will change overnight, but it is a huge step toward modernization and liberalism.

Dolan is one of the most, if not the most, important and visual members of the Catholic Church in the United States, and was considered a candidate for the papacy earlier this year. The fact that he spoke out for the gay community, saying, “Jesus died on the cross for them as much as he did for me,” was a sign of more changes to come.

Making these unprecedented statements around Easter makes them more poignant. The church cannot run away from them or claim that Dolan made them by mistake.

When asked by host George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” what the church will do next, Dolan responded: “I don’t know. We’re still trying. … We’ve got to listen to people. … We’ve got to do better to see that our defense of marriage is not reduced to an attack on gay people.”

There are a few ways that the church can change its policies to be more accepting of gay Catholics. In some places, the Catholic Church has a strong influence over education, medical care, care of the poor, homeless and sick. Its intentions are good, but in these places, the church needs to make basic changes to encourage safety, comfort and acceptance among all those who rely on Church-sponsored institutions and practices.

During the 2011-12 school year, 2,031,455 students across the United States were enrolled in Catholic schools, according to statistics. In those schools, future generations need to be taught acceptance, and one way to do that is by enforcing anti-bullying policies. It is vital that future generations in the Catholic Church be open and accepting of one another; the world doesn’t function otherwise.

And outside of school, the church needs to be more accepting of gay rights, gay marriage and gay parents adopting children.

The Catholic Church is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, hierarchical organization in the world and has reformed little since its creation. Other institutions like monarchies, families, education and government have modernized, and it’s time for the Catholic Church to adjust as well. That doesn’t mean that the church has to change every policy, but it does mean the church has to be more accepting and inviting to all its followers.

Claire Anderson is a Collegian columnist. She can be reached at [email protected].



16 Responses to “A more accepting Catholic Church”

  1. Observer on April 22nd, 2013 1:55 am

    Let’s be clear here: The Catholic Church does not – and never did – say anything about people who experience sexual attraction towards others of the same gender (i.e. gay people). The Catholic Church does not consider it a sin to be gay.
    What the Catholic Church DOES consider to be a sin is sexual relations between two people of the same gender. Just like it considers sexual relations between two people of opposite genders to be a sin, if those people are not married.
    Why? Because the Catholic Church considers all sex to be a sin when it is done ONLY for pleasure. That’s also the reason they oppose contraception. According to the Catholic view, pleasure must never be the sole reason for having sex (although it can be a secondary reason, so it’s okay to have fun with sex as long as you’re also making babies within a committed relationship at the same time).
    Don’t like it? Don’t be Catholic. But understand that the Catholic Church CANNOT change its position on things like gay marriage without giving up its entire view of human sexuality. Asking the Catholic Church what’s wrong with gay marriage is like asking Hindus what’s wrong with eating beef. It simply goes against their religion. Deal with it.


  2. LovesIrony on April 22nd, 2013 6:38 am

    “According to the Catholic view, pleasure must never be the sole reason for having sex (although it can be a secondary reason, so it’s okay to have fun with sex as long as you’re also making babies within a committed relationship at the same time).”

    All you post menopausal women must stop having sex. No sterile person should have sex.


  3. Kevin on April 22nd, 2013 12:38 pm

    “Observer” is correct..we’re all sinners ..the book says that all the sex I’ve ever experienced is the same exact sin cause I’m not married .. should I protest? The Church is anti sin not anti gay…
    Sin simply refers to whatever separates us from God and is the reason God sent Christ. “Sin” is a Greek word ..and an archery term that means “you missed the mark”..the “mark” of course being communion with God . This separation can be about “acts” but far more often it’s about attitude and belief… and sinful ‘acts” …are always about acting on these sinful attitudes and beliefs.. Sometimes sin is referred to as “character defects” ..”character flaws” ..”mistakes”.. and my favorite .. “loveless perceptions”…
    The 7 deadly sins are Envy.. Lust ..Gluttony..Greed.. Sloth.. Wrath.. and Pride but sins also include Self Pity ..Self Righteousness ..Self Condemnation ..Dishonesty … Impatience ..Complaining…Arguing …Boasting .. Resentment ..and Fear…. along with a whole host of others .. With a list like this I have to admit .. I sin all day every day …so am I different than gay folk as far as sin?.. Hell no


  4. Observer on April 22nd, 2013 2:42 pm

    @LovesIrony: I’m not Catholic. I simply stated what the Catholic Church believes. Yes, it DOES believe that post menopausal women and sterile people should ideally refrain from sex, although it also acknowledges that all people fall short of the ideal – and that’s why they have things like confession.
    Again, the point is simple: If you don’t like it, don’t be Catholic. No one is forcing you to be Catholic. ALL religions require their followers to do things that are considered weird by non-believers. Hindus venerate cows. Muslims can’t drink alcohol or eat pork. Jewish males must cut off part of their genitalia. And Catholics are required to stay away from sex unless it can produce children within a committed relationship.
    I oppose the idea that any religion should have to compromise its core values and practices just because they disagree with the social norms of other people around them. If you want to have sex just for pleasure, don’t be Catholic. If you want to drink, don’t be Muslim. And so on. Don’t whine and complain that religions have rules.


  5. Patrick on April 22nd, 2013 6:48 pm

    Observer is mostly correct, and courageous in stating the Catholic position when he/she is not a Catholic. One point of clarification: The Catholic Church position is that every sex act within marriage must be OPEN to children. When a woman is post menopausal or either is sterile, they may still engage in and ENJOY sexual activity even if this may/will not result in a child being conceived. Another purpose of sex in marriage is to strengthen the relationship between the man and woman. So, couples may not use artificial means to BLOCK the conception of children, they may use means such as Natural Family Planning to space them, using nature’s natural cycle. Good job, Observer! Thanks!


  6. Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui on April 22nd, 2013 11:19 pm

    Same-sex marriage is an injustice, a tyrannical ploy being perpetrated upon our society, the pernicious consequences of which are simply mocked and laughed at by its supporters. Ignorance and prejudice have taken the place of knowledge and reason. Caprice and passion substituted for prudence and virtue. The happiness of society, the good of all families, and the welfare of mankind fall victim to the injustice of selfish love, which calculates every thing for itself while taking no notice of a child’s best interest or the public advantage of a government promoting ONLY the traditional family unit.

    Same-sex marriage is antithetical to the Rule of Law, for the principle object of laws in general is to correct bad inclinations, to prevent vicious habits, to hinder their effects, and to eradicate the passions; or at least to contain them within proper limits. Same-sex marriage makes an implicit statement that mothers and fathers are interchangeable, and that sex is irrelevant to parenting. Once same-sex marriage becomes legally and socially acceptable, more women will decide to raise children together. Teen aged boys without fathers are at risk for juvenile delinquency, violence, criminal activity, gang membership, and incarceration. Teen aged girls without fathers are at risk for early sexual activity, multiple sex partners, out of wedlock pregnancies, and sexually transmitted disease.

    Same-sex marriage is perfectly contrary to the principle of marriage, having more resemblance to divorce and adultery, same-sex marriage purposely separates a child from at least one biological parent, thereby creating broken homes, not as a matter of extraordinary circumstances, but as routine. Same-sex marriage proponents callously ignore a child’s Natural Right to know, and be raised by, both biological parents, and make the most preposterous and pretentious claim that marriage was instituted by civil society primarily for the benefit of any two loving adults. Take away Natural Laws, and that moral tie which supports justice and honesty in a whole nation and establishes also particular duties in families, or in other relations of life; and man becomes the most savage and ferocious of all animals,licentiousness becomes the consequence of independence.

    After what has been said, let us be satisfied with observing, that the fitness in favor of the sanction of traditional marriage, is so much stronger and more pressing, as same-sex marriage throws into the system of humanity an obscurity and confusion, which borders on very much upon the absurd, if it does not come quite close up to it. There is, certainly, no comparison between traditional marriage and same-sex marriage, in respect to beauty and fitness; the first is a work of the most perfect reason; the second is defective, and provides no manner of remedy against a great many disorders. Now even this alone points out sufficiently on which side the truth lies and to reject this thought leads us insensibly to a kind of pyrrhonism, which would also be a subversion of the Rule of Law and social order.

    Here are two truths regarding marriage: (1) A man creating a family with another man is not equal to creating a family with a woman, and (2) denying children parents of both genders at home is an objective evil. Kids need and yearn for both.

    Children are not pets one purchases from rescue shelters(adoption clinics) and puppy mills(insemination and surrogacy). Children are human beings endowed with a natural desire to be procreated from an engendered act of love between a husband and a wife. Same-sex marriage is adulterous by nature and thereby destructive to not only children, but to our civilization.

    Same-sex marriage disregards the natural order of procreatory responsibility, not only confusing the natural disposition of parental authority; but undermining the legal principle that children have a right to a relationship with their biological parents, depriving a child access to their biological parent’s genetic, cultural and social heritage, not for extraordinary circumstances, but as a matter of routine. Same-sex marriage amounts to institutionalized adultery through a hostile takeover of civil society by the State. Children will no longer be entitled to their biological parents, as the transitory wants of same-sex adults will have taken precedence over a child’s best interest.

    Same-sex marriage PURPOSELY separates a child from at least one biological parent. Non-biological parents lack the advantage of consanguineous insight leaving them all too often ill-prepared to protect the child from unforeseen hazards. Left unrecognized and unattended, vicious habits, and irregular passions, obfuscate the mind; and neglect, levity, and prejudices of the ill-equipped non-biological parents precipitate a child into the grossest of errors, rendering the child’s conduct a burden to the happiness of both society and the life of the child.

    Same-sex marriage proponents demand “Marriage Equality”, yet, in return, they offer less-than-equal protection of the child’s happiness than can be afforded through the presence of both biological parents.

    Same-sex marriage proponents profess that it is love which gives the right to join the institution of marriage, yet, in doing so, they selfishly violate the principle loving objective of this noble institution; to protect a child’s Natural Right to be raised by both biological parents.

    In fine, same-sex marriage surmounts to nothing more than an unnatural extravagance which the supporters most ignorantly claim to be a “right”.

    “No one has a right to do that which, if everybody did it, would destroy society.” —Immanuel Kant


  7. David Hunt 1990 on April 23rd, 2013 5:30 am

    Next up, acceptance of polygamy.


  8. Tim MacGeorge on April 23rd, 2013 7:43 am

    At its core, however, Catholic Christianity must always and everywhere seek to know Truth more clearly and to act with justice and charity towards all. As a gay man (who was also ordained a priest), I am uplifted by a fundamental, non-negotiable Truth that Catholicism always proclaims: each and every human person is created in the image and likeness of God. That is THE starting point and the context for any and all discussions about human persons. We also know from the lived experience of humanity that there is a natural variety on the spectrum of human sexuality. Since there have been humans, some humans have experienced a natural, God-given attraction to others of the same sex. If we are to accept the words of Genesis that God’s creation of Man/Woman is indeed “very good,” then the fullness of humanity, including those whom God created as gay, must also be “very good.” Reason and logic then tell us that even God’s LGBT children have a natural right to the expression of their full humanity — including their sexuality — in loving and committed relationship. The Incarnation and Trinitarian theology boldly proclaim that human persons are created for relationship — so why, then, would God create a portion of humanity whose relational purpose could not be fulfilled? ALL human persons, created in the divine image and likeness, are created for relationship — including those whom God created in God’s LGBT image and likeness.

    If those who oppose same-sex marriage or other advances in civil rights for LGBT people could stop for a moment and see that this is NOT about heterosexual marriage or even about children … but this IS about LGBT people living the fullness of their lives as God intended them to be lived, I think we would be having a very different discussion.


  9. Kevin on April 23rd, 2013 7:56 am

    Government needs to get out of the marriage biz..


  10. Crh on April 24th, 2013 1:44 am

    Tim MacGeorge, all people are created for relationship, but not all people are created for sexual relationship. Christianity has a long tradition of monasticism – men and women who take vows of poverty and chastity in order to devote themselves to a life of prayer. St. Paul clearly wrote in 1 Corinthians that a life of chastity is a good and holy thing (although it’s not mandatory). It is absolutely clear that God did NOT intend all people to have sexual relationships. Many, yes, but not all.

    Why, then, do we have this notion that asking LGBT people to live in chastity is robbing them of something? Is the Church mistreating monks and nuns, or robbing them of “the fullness of their lives”, when she asks them to remain chaste? The official position of the Catholic Church is that LGBT people are called by God to practice chastity. This is NOT some kind of second-class position. In fact, it’s more like first-class. The holiest human being who ever lived – the Mother of God – practiced chastity. So did the Holy Apostles. So did large numbers of other saints. A call to chastity is a call to holiness.


  11. Tim MacGeorge on April 24th, 2013 8:18 am

    Crh: I don’t know what you’re history or background is (I’m very open about mine — degrees in philosophy, graduate degrees in theology and social work, ordained a priest, social worker) … so I DO know a bit about what I’m talking about. You are correct that there is indeed a long and venerable history of monasticism and other styles of life in which Christians forgo sexual relationships in the context of what we commonly call “religious life.” What you are forgetting, however, is that to live this life one must VOLUNTARILY and FREELY make that choice of one’s own free will in response to a call, what we refer to as a “vocation.” This is, in fact, a question that is part of the liturgy in which vowed religious take their vows. “Do you do this freely/of your own free will?” The Church NEVER forces a vocation or way of life on anyone … and nor does God.

    Chastity, by the way, is not the same as celibacy or sexual abstinence. It simply means the right ordering of one’s sexuality. Even very sexually active married couples can be chaste, if their sexual lives are ordered to their mutual good and open to creation (and “creation,” btw, doesn’t mean just baby-making).


  12. Crh on April 25th, 2013 3:58 am

    Yes, indeed, chastity (or celibacy) must be chosen freely and voluntarily. But membership in the Catholic Church and participation in her sacraments is a free and voluntary act. If the Catholic Church requires LGBT people to refrain from sexual relations in order to participate in the life of the Church, that is not forcing them into anything, because no one is forced to be Catholic.


  13. Tim MacGeorge on April 26th, 2013 7:36 am

    I guess, Crh, we’ll have to leave it at that. You seem not able/willing to recognize or discuss the more fundamental, theological and ecclesiological issues involved. The Church is not merely (or even primarily) a structured institution of rules and laws, but is organically the Body of Christ, a living expression of the eternal Christ present in the world precisely in and thru the Members of that Body. The vast majority of Catholics — and so “the Church” — accept LGBT people fully, completely, and recognize their/our God-given right to form loving and lasting relationships. By a more theologically appropriate definition of “Catholic Church” (i.e. as The People of God), no such requirements “to refrain from sexual relations” exist.

    This is my final comment here. May God bless you!


  14. crusader on May 14th, 2013 7:22 pm

    The Church is the one place where one can turn and still see (on occasion) the natural law and orthosexuality defended. Everything does not revolve around the feelings of homosexuals. If they want to near to Christ they need to be chaste in accordance with their vocation.

    I tell you, these people asking the Catholic Church to “change.” Today it is priests who are attacked for abusing boys, but twenty years from now the media and the ubiquitous “liberal Catholics” will be badgering the Church to embrace man-boy marriage equality.


  15. Jason on December 3rd, 2013 6:14 am

    First, in response to the post by Jean-Jacques Burlamarqui:
    You spent most of your reason for defending “traditional marriage”/opposing “same•sex marriage” on the basis of an issue I can at least accept & understand- if not agree with, that being a child’s right to grow up with both biological parents. The flaw In that argument is that 1) Gay (same•sex) couples- although not YET legally married- already have children through IVF, artificial insemination, surrogates and adoption. The issue of same-sex marriage being legally recognzed has almost ZERO affect on whether gay/same•sex (whichever term you prefer) couples either already have or plan to have children. Niether Marriage equality happening or not happenikh, nor the likelihood of the Catholic Chutch NEVER changing has not (in the past) nor will (in the future) change the fact that (in the USA at least) gay couples already are raising kids together (in large numbers) and, all studied and data shows that they are just as capable at parenting and the children of same•sex parents (regardless of whether they’ve grown up with two moms or two dads) have shown no emotional, physical, paychological, developmental or intellectual issues or setbacks, or problems of ANY kind other than those of any average young adult raised by a mom and dad in a traditional environment. You’re opposition to gay people sounds drep-rooted in ignorance. You should get to know some of us. We aren’t alien, no we are actual human beings, made, like you, in the image of God, and Whether you EVER grow and change matters
    Little to my life- I wish it for YOU & the potential of how expanding your firmly-held, yet inaccurate beliefs, could help improvr your life your happiness and improve and hbetter YOUR chances of avoiding judgement in the end- I recall the Lord warning us that with which amount of judgement we use on others, the Lord will use that same measure of judgement when he judges us.


  16. Jason on December 3rd, 2013 7:30 am

    To follow-up on some things besides my point to Jean-Jacques, which was simply to say that legalizing same-sex marriage would in no way deny a child the child’s right to be raised in a traditional him with his or her both biological mother & father. The reason is that in most states in the US same-sex couples- if two men-have been legally adopting children for years, using surrogates to carry their own biological children in recent years, & having biological kids w/ female friends who support them and are willing to be inseminated and carry the child for them and allow the men to raise the child (one of them being child’s bio dad—if lesbians- they’ve been being inseminated, adopting , using
    Surrogates etc
    Point being; making same sex marriage legal has little to do with gays being able to raise children-they’ve already been doing so for decades-here in the US at least, w/ close study & data collection by disinterested organisations attempting to measure the difference in outcome and affect on children raised by two mom’s or dads as compared to kids raiser in traditional homes with both a mother & father, & also compared to kids raised by 1 single parent.the studies have shown the same degree of well-adjusted, “average” kids growing up to be well adjusted “average” young all two parent households, regardless is whether they were same sex couples or traditional mom & dad households. Where the study did show a markedly higher percentage of problems and maladjustment was among children raised in single-parent household (whether single father or mother, though most studied were single mother-raised)
    So, having established why raising kids. Really has little to
    Do with any argument AGAINSTaarroage equality, kids are
    Already part of same sex families (& by the way, the majority grow up straight, not gay- thé percentage Iof kids raised by gay parents that grow up to be gay was IDENTICAL to the percentage among normal. Families, between 3-6 percent.
    Anyway- hopefully you understand how the only affect same sex marriage would have potential to have regarding children is not that it would cause a sudden JUMP in kids growing up in same sex households- it world, however., allow children ALREADY BEING RAISED by gay parents to likely have a stronger sense of family security If their parents were allowed to marry.
    Furthermore when referencing the Catholic church, I actually agree with Crusader (posted two above) that this is just not an issue that gays should bring before the Church- as that’s what many Catholics don’t realize- this is NOT about religion- AT ALL. Gays are pressing the US government (eventually via the US Supreme Court) to declare same-sex marriage a right protected by the constitution based on 1) the Us Constiturion’s GUARUNTEE of “EQUAL PROTECTION UNDER THE LAW” for all citizens (not just heterosexual or religious) and considering that ALL opposition to it is based upon religious opposition- the Coiirt will surely not give that argument. ANY legal validity because in the USA, we have no official religion, AND , most importantly a seriously adhered to SEPERATION OF CHURCH & STATE (especially CITED & POINTED OUT by JURISTS ON THE COURT when assessing an individual or minority group’s CIVILRIGHT’s or EQUALITY being attempted to be denied based solely on the personal religious faith justifying the majority oppressing or suppressing a minority’s right to equal rights- and since CIVIL MARRIAGE & HOLY MATRIMONY are 2 different things- religious, traditional, biblical marriageis a religious union between a man and woman & God and is technically called HOLY MATRIMONY.
    CIVIL MARRIAGE (having ZERO affiliation w/ any church or religion-but is performed in court by a judge grants the married couple certain privileges and tax breaks, next of Kin rights and survivor benefits). The problem for religious opposition is they think gays are seeking the courts enforcing religious institutions and churches to perform gay weddings and force churches to include same sex couples as being eligible for “HOLY MATRIMONY”-which Gaya are not and have NO INTEREST IN. All gays are asking for is the LAW of the US government- not a church or religious institution, this having no biblical opposition to gays or their lifestyle, to acknowledge their legal right to the same “CIVIL MARRIAGE (& the benefits which accompany civil marriage- ie: tax breaks-iincentives, survivor benefits, medical (in case of death- gay couples will then be allowed to be each others’ Next of Kin finally.
    These are the issues of concern- not the Catholic or any other church and it’s prejudice- Holy Matrimony is a sacred union between a man woman and their God.
    Whereas Civil Marriage is a Not religioys, completely government issued marriage license (in the eyes of “THE STATE”, NOT GOD. Any religious person opposed that has common sense cannot deny that the law is on the side of same-sex marriage equality, not on the side of those who would try and deny equality based on their church or faith-based religious opposition in a country which FORBIDS both THE ESTABLISHMENT OF ANY OFFICIAL/STATE RELIGION & EVEN RESTRICTS FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND FREEDOM TO PRACTICE ONE’S RELIGION WHEN THE PRACTICING OF IT INFRINGES/IMPOSES on ANOTHER CITIZEN’s civil liberties and/or interferes with their constitutional guaruntee of equal rights and protection UNDER THE LAW. Not about
    Religion or church- SORRY!


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