In Austen Ivereigh’s excellent book, How to Defend the Faith Without Raising Your Voice (Our Sunday Visitor, 2012), he coins the term “neuralgic issues”. According to Austen, these topics are like electric fences: as soon as you touch them in polite conversation sparks being to fly.
Today, perhaps no issue is more neuralgic than homosexuality. Even within the Church it’s surrounded by tension and sensitivity, and for good reason. Most of us have friends and family members with same-sex attractions, and most of us have been exposed to the unjust discrimination often leveled against them.
Adding to the tension is a serious confusion over what the Church actually teaches in this area. Popular opinion paints the Church as grossly condemnatory toward those identifying as gay or lesbian. But the Church’s teachings are full of grace and support. While she stands athwart to same-sex activity, and also the push to redefine marriage to include same-sex relationships, she emphatically refuses to condemn anyone because of same-sex attraction. And of course to all people, regardless of sexual orientation, she extends wide her welcoming arms.
Fr. Lou Cameli, a renowned theologian in the Archdiocese of Chicago, has made it his personal mission to clarify this message and get it out. He’s written a new book titled Catholic Teaching on Homosexuality: New Paths to Understanding (Ave Maria Press, paperback, 192 pages) which examines the Church’s magisterial teachings and offers pastoral and psychological responses to it.
Fr. Lou sat down with me during my recent visit to Chicago to discuss his new book and how Catholics can relate to friends and family members struggling with same-sex attraction.
Watch or download our interview below:
Download the interview here (11 minutes)
0:57 – Is same-sex sexuality a blessing or a curse?
3:45 – Three characteristics that frame all sexuality
5:56 – Responding to those who feel the Church is against people with same-sex attractions
6:50 – Three issues that push young Catholics away from the Church
9:02 – How should we respond to friends and family members with same-sex attractions?
Q: How should we respond to friends and family members with same-sex attractions?
Well, I take a look at Mark’s Gospel. Mark’s Gospel is a Gospel of discipleship. When you look at that Gospel, you can see Jesus and the disciples in relationship with each other. And one thing that is absolutely clear is they don’t get it—they miss the point, they backtrack.
But there’s something going on in that whole Gospel that is inspiring to me and ought to animate all of our efforts, no matter who they’re with, and that is this: Jesus stays with them, and they stay with Jesus. They don’t let each other go. It’s not always clear, and it’s not always a straight-lined story, but what happens is over time they know each other, they walk together, and those disciples are transformed.
So fundamentally, it’s not just with people who identify themselves as gay or lesbian, but it’s for all of us together as a community of discipleship:
We don’t let each other go, we don’t let each other go.
You can purchase Fr. Lou’s new book at Amazon.com or through Ave Maria Press.
Tomorrow afternoon, Tuesday, September 25 from 3:00pm-4:00pm ET, Ave Maria is hosting a live webinar with Fr. Cameli about the ideas in his book. Sign up here and bring your questions for Fr. Cameli.
Have you found difficulty in explaining the Church’s position on homosexuality?
Also, in case you missed it before, this powerful new video by Fr. Pontifex and Spirit Juice Studios communicates the Church’s same message of grace, but through spoken-word poetry: