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compassion: counterfeit & authentic

By Diogenes (articles ) | Aug 24, 2005

The National Catholic Reporter has an article by Kris Berggren about a Minneapolis group called Catholic Rainbow Parents who have authored a manifesto in response to what Berggren calls, "Vatican statements reviling the most precious thing they've raised -- their beloved children who happen to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered." It's available on-line to subscribers only, but the thrust is entirely predictable:

"We are strong on family values," said Sue McDonald, a member of St. Joan of Arc Parish in Minneapolis who signed the declaration along with her husband, Bob. "We believe everybody in our family should receive the same value, our two daughters and our transgendered son."

The declaration asserts that homosexuality is a variation on the God-given gift of sexuality, to be expressed responsibly and lovingly as heterosexuality is. It debunks the myth that homosexuality is equivalent to pedophilia; urges support for committed same-sex relationships, whether civil or sacramental unions; and it calls upon the Vatican to recognize "the specter of internalized homophobia" at the root of its "aggressive posture" toward homosexuals.

Note the polemical sleight-of-hand: first, the explicit claim that to pronounce a condition disordered constitutes contempt for the persons afflicted with that disorder; second, the implicit suggestion that those who affirm the gay identity as God-given are more charitable and compassionate than those who do not. As rhetoric, they're highly effective moves. They're both malicious errors.

An interview with psychiatrist Dr. Joseph Nicolosi published four years ago in Catholic Dossier gives the lie to the "God made my son that way" ruse. A snippet:

Dossier: A Catholic bishop wrote an article a few years ago stating that we must accept gay people "for who they are." Do you agree or disagree with him?

Nicolosi: The Catholic Church is very confused about this issue. Officially, as we all know, Church doctrine finds homosexual behavior to be a sin and the condition itself to be objectively disordered. However, there's great resistance -- even to the point of sabotage -- on the part of some of the clergy. Not infrequently, these are clergy who are themselves gay and who have strong personal feelings of disagreement with the Church on this issue.

I would disagree with the bishop that we must accept gay people "for who they are," IF by that he means God made homosexually oriented people that way.

The bishop's statement implies that there are two kinds of people in this world -- heterosexual and homosexual. He uses the word "homosexual" as if it implied a natural, God-given condition. In fact, the word "homosexual" is a description of a person's behavior -- not of a person.

When a client comes to me, striving to be free of unwanted same-sex attractions, I tell him: "You are not a homosexual. You are a heterosexual person with a homosexual problem." This is not just a play on words, but an important distinction.

Nicolosi's interview hammers a wooden stake through the heart of the most stubbornly long-lived falsehoods bandied about in the controversy. Moreover, it lets us hear the voice of a man who is obviously more concerned for the well-being of distressed human persons than in saving face or advancing his personal or political agenda. Read the whole text here. It's worth it.

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