The Third Way: Homosexuality and the Catholic Church

Third Way

About 18 months ago, a priest friend of mine, Fr. John Hollowell, asked if I could help spread the word about his new film project. It was a crowdsourced documentary on homosexuality and the Catholic Church, using powerful story, beautiful imagery, and stirring music to dispel misconceptions about the Church’s position.

Fr. John HollowellIt only took a few weeks to raise 100% of the funds. After several months of work, Fr. John and Blackstone Films released the documentary last Sunday, April 27. It’s titled “The Third Way”, an allusion to the Catholic position on homosexuality, which rejects both anti-gay bigotry on the one hand and the unqualified endorsement of homosexual activity on the other.

Magnificent and moving, the film features first-hand testimony from several faithful Catholics who struggle with homosexual attraction. Most of them were heavily involved in the gay scene before committing to chastity. Their experiences shed new light and reveal how Catholics can help those experiencing same-sex attraction. Their stories ultimately affirm the great joy and freedom found in the Church’s teaching, a “third way” centered on authentic love.

Take 30 minutes and watch the entire documentary below. You’ll hardly find a more powerful and uplifting film:

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Below, you’ll find an interview I did with Fr. John about the film and its message:

Q: From your view as a priest, what are the biggest confusions surrounding the Church’s teaching on homosexuality?
I think the biggest confusion is that good, faithful Catholics are often told very aggressively what it is that their Church believes by people who don’t truly understand our positions or our reasons for those positions.

The Church’s teachings on homosexuality and same-sex attraction are layered, nuanced, scientific, and based on authentic psychology. But most Catholics have not had the position stated to them clearly and articulately, so when those outside the Church seek to tell Catholics what they believe, most are unable to respond.

Q: You chose a documentary-style film for your project. Why that form instead of a book, YouTube video, or blog post?

Great question! I’m convinced that a concise documentary film is the medium that will have the largest impact. There are lots of good books out there on the subject already. Lots of great and faithful bloggers have done wonderful blog posts trying to help people understand the Church’s teachings on homosexuality.

But there is a big problem with the ways faithful Catholics are trying to explain ourselves. This is the Twitter generation and so we want things short, concise, and clear. To get a lot of people to read a book would be considered nothing short of miraculous. As a Catholic blogger, as much as I like to deceive myself sometimes, I know most Catholics don’t read blogs.

Yet people today will watch a video if it is well done. It it is made with the quality and professionalism they have come to expect from Hollywood films, people will give it a try. It also helps if the film is concise, not rambling all over the place but focuses on the message it’s trying to present.

I looked at other options but remain convinced that a passionate, professional, high quality, 30 minute documentary video is the best way to help turn the tide in our country on this key issue of homosexuality.

Q: How does the Catholic Church’s teaching on “natural law” apply to homosexuality?

“Natural law” is an ancient philosophical/theological concept which says that there are things that all human persons know to be right and wrong, regardless of whether they believe in God. “Natural law” also has a slightly different usage where it refers to the fact that people have a nature, and if we do things that are against our nature, we can’t help but be miserable. Both of these usages stand against homosexual activity.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who, on the one hand, experiences same-sex attraction while, on the other hand, wants to follow the Church’s teaching?

My advice would be to listen to the many other Catholics out there who also experience same-sex attraction, and nonetheless find the Church to be a source of great comfort, compassion, and guidance.There are some great authors out there who have written powerfully about their Catholic faith and their same-sex attraction, and so I would steer people towards them.

People don’t listen to authority much anymore, so I would put them in touch with someone who is from their same situation in life who could help them see through all the confusion that is out there about what the Church actually teaches on this topic.

Q: Suppose you had a platform to speak to millions of people, Catholics and non-Catholics, who are angry and hurt by the Church’s position on homosexuality. The catch is that you can only deliver one sentence. What would you say?

I say this compassionately: you don’t really know what the Church teaches on this topic nor do you know why the Church teaches what it does, but if you watch our documentary you will be absolutely amazed and completely surprised.


In addition to The Third Way, I also suggest these great resources for anyone struggling with, or wanting to learn more about, the Church’s graceful teachings on homosexuality:


Catholic Teaching on Homosexuality: New Paths to Understanding by Fr. Lou Cameli
Homosexuality and the Catholic Church: Clear Answers to Difficult Questions by Fr. John Harvey
Sexual Authenticity: An Intimate Reflection on Homosexuality and Catholicism by Melinda Selmys
The Courage to be Chaste by Fr. Benedict Groeschel
The Truth of Homosexuality: The Cry of the Faithful by Fr. John Harvey

Blogs and Websites

Catholic, Gay, and Feeling Fine
Sexual Authenticity

Be sure to check out the “Third Way” website and share the film with others.

If you liked this discussion, you’ll find several more on my Interviews page. Subscribe free via feed reader or email and ensure sure you don’t miss future interviews.