Leaving aside any change in doctrine, what a difference a change of tone makes. Included in James Martin’s piece, a citation from the synod document:

Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners.

“Astonishing” is how Fr Martin described that “praise.”


Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?

Some communities are capable. Others, perhaps not.

What do you make of John Allen’s term lifestyle ecumenism?

Fr Martin’s tweet today was incisive as well:

If I had said that “mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the [gay] partners” five years ago I would have probably been silenced. Now it’s the Synod of Bishops who is saying that. The Holy Spirit is afoot.

I think he’s right. Is Roman Catholicism better off for having people able to say such things? And what of this change in the quality in enthusiasm? Select conservatives seem to be in a tailspin, but most other Catholics seem full of a headiness we haven’t seen in decades. When the verve fades, will we be ready for the hard work of actually welcoming people and helping to inspire them?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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14 Responses to Stunning

  1. Jim McCrea says:

    I think that the Francis Effect is reminiscent of Tony the Tiger: It is Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreat!!!

  2. FrMichael says:

    “Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions…” Well, that’s the problem in the West, isn’t it? There are severe problems with homosexual unions, namely the cultural norm that the members of such a “union” have sexual relations with each other as well as occasional sexual activity with other men outside the “union.” What bizarro world are these prelates living in? They need to spend a few hours in the Castro and get a clue of facts on the ground.

    • Atheist Max says:

      “the cultural norm that the members of such a “union” have sexual relations with each other as well as occasional sexual activity with other men outside the “union.” ”

      You are complaining about a situation were gay unions are outlawed – and claiming to be surprised that the gay men are not committing to each other? This is an argument in favor of allowing gay marriage.

      The divorce rate of gay marriages is much lower than the rest of the population.

      At some point religion needs to realize that evidence is coming in from many sources that Gay marriages are healthy, homosexual love is real love and the rest of us cannot deny it. There is no good, rational reason to object to Gay marriage.

      • Jenny2 says:

        There are severe problems with homosexual unions, namely the cultural norm that the members of such a “union” have sexual relations with each other as well as occasional sexual activity with other men outside the “union.”
        Erm, in case you haven’t been paying attention, Father, there are quite a few heterosexual unions (including many solemnised by a full religious ceremony), in which the partners indulge in occasional – or indeed fairly regular – sexual activity with people outside the union as well as with each other. And while that mightn’t be an officially sanctioned norm, it’s pretty normal. Yet I don’t recall any cleric or religious of my acquaintance suggesting that all this somehow invalidates marriage itself.

  3. crystal says:

    “Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions…”

    What are those “moral problems” and are they different from the moral problems connected to heterosexual unions? The church never questions its assumption that there is something wrong with gay relationships, but I think that assumption *should* be questioned. Many other Christian denominations – Quakers, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, the UCC – don’t see particular moral problems in gay relationships, so it’s not as though this is a Christian values vs the secular world’s values kind of thing.

  4. FrMichael says:

    “And while that mightn’t be an officially sanctioned norm, it’s pretty normal.” While adultery is prevalent, I haven’t met one engaged couple who (under oath) testified at the pre-marital investigation that they had an understanding of marriage that involved adulterous behavior. Sociologically, the studies I’ve seen of American married couples seem to indicate a somewhat under 50% lifetime rate of adultery for married couples. That is, the majority of marriages don’t suffer adultery. And having dealt with the issue of adultery in the course of marriage counseling, you don’t find people making arguments justifying adultery as a universal norm. What adulterers often say is that they are a specific exception to the general rule against adultery because of some shortcoming of the other spouse. That is to say, they rationalize.

    Compare that to the well-accepted ravings of Dan Savage (“monogomish”) or the sociological and anecdotal evidence that a sizable majority of male same-sex couples engage in sexual activity outside the couple and that is a given of the relationship for its perceived good.

  5. FrMichael says:

    crystal: As I mentioned elsewhere, same-sex “sexual” activity is an intrinsic evil. A relationship set up with an expected norm of repetitive mortal sin is problematic at best. Marriage is not set up around mortal sin, though it of course can happen (adultery and contraception).

    The Quakers, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and UCC are man-made organizations of Christians. They do not have divine authorship as does the Catholic Church. They have the ability to teach us only by the witness of orthopraxy and orthodoxy, things which are clearly diminishing in those ecclesial communities year-by-year.

    • Atheist Max says:


      “same-sex “sexual” activity is an intrinsic evil.”

      It appears an empty claim.
      Surely you have some evidence? Otherwise you might appear to be encouraging a witch hunt to eradicate an ‘evil’ which is actually completely harmless – this occurs regularly with Christianity.

      Trouble is, real people are guaranteed to be harmed by your claim. Even if all they do is read it!

  6. crystal says:

    Fr. Michael, you make a lot of assumptions.

  7. FrMichael says:

    crystal, I’m a believing Catholic, so I suspect a number of my “assumptions” are simply the beliefs of the Catholic Church. This is a Catholic blog, after all.

    Max, the penis is a sexual organ, the anus is not. Male Tab P belongs in Female Slot V, not Male Slot A. Basic reproductive biology. I would look similarly askance at a guy sticking his penis into an electrical socket. This isn’t rocket science.

    • Atheist Max says:


      But my question was about your claim that homosexual sex is ‘evil’.
      I realize this is a Catholic blog so it seems the ideal place to ask that question about your claim.

      Of course on the matter of our sex organs and their purposes:
      1. The brain is where sex drive comes from as the primary sex organ, not the reproductive organs. Those are merely expressions of the brain’s sexuality.
      2. Sexual desire manifests in multiple ways beyond homosexual or heterosexual – there is also bisexual, transexual, benign fetishes, asexual and many others.
      3. Erotic sexual expression involves the entire body, ears, shoulders, legs… not just reproductive organs. Furthermore, erogenous zones are not innately ‘evil’ nor can any pleasure coming from them be ‘evil’.
      4. Most “crimes” of the penis can also be done with a finger. Are you ready to claim there is a list of holy and unholy things to do with fingers, toes and other appendages as well?

      Face it. You seem to be suffering more from an ‘ick’ factor.

      Though homosexual sex does not appeal to me personally, I do not claim my ick factor may supercede the rights of mutually consenting adults to engage in whatever they enjoy – knowing they may similarly have an ‘ick’ factor in my own rather boring heterosexual inclinations.

      I don’t like it when people put ketchup on eggs. It is revolting to me.
      But I don’t support a ban on putting ketchup on eggs and would think very lowly of someone who would try it. Such a thing would be selfish.. of ME.

      Limiting sex to reproductive organs is your personal right.
      But it seems we mustn’t claim the right to limit others and deny them their right to see their entire bodies as sexual and erogenous. Your definition of sex is quite confining indeed.

      You made a claim which refutes everything we have learned from the medical community about sexual health (and common decency).

      Your claim was: “same sex sexuality is intrinsically evil”

      Let’s excuse your personal discomfort with the ick factor for the sake of this discussion, as that would be mere bigotry against people who have no choice in their sexuality. I will assume you are above that.

      What makes homosexual sex ‘intrinsically evil’? What evidence exists to support this?

  8. FrMichael says:

    Max, the intrinsically evil nature of homosexual sex derives from the fact that the human race exists in two sexes, male and female, intended by the Creator to procreate through sexual intercourse. The Creator has also decreed that human sex (unlike dogs, for example, to cite another mammal) is not merely procreative but also unitive. These two ends are only divorced from sex through human contrivance, the procreative either through chemical (e.g. the Pill, Norplant), physical (e.g. condoms), or trying to engage in “sex” without unnatural partners with whom clearly no procreative end is possible (e.g. blowup dolls, sexual partner of the same sex, inanimate objects, bestiality). The unitive is violated when engaging in sex with a person who is not one’s spouse: the intense love that accompanies sexual activity is to be shared with one’s spouse, not a prostitute, mistress, one-night stand, etc. This human contrivance is not motivated by love of God but by desiring sexual pleasure apart from either one end or both ends. Thus this human contrivance is not a virtuous act meant to honor the Creator but one meant to subvert the divine plan for human sexuality: it is intrinsically evil.

    • Atheist Max says:


      Thanks for your attempt to explain why homosexuality is intrinsically evil.
      But it doesn’t amount to anything like “evidence” for it being evil.

      “only Male and Female” – What about the Third Sex? Hermaphrodites? Are they not children of God? Are they intrinsically evil too? Have they no rights under god for sexual pleasure?
      And they are not as uncommon as you might think. Is hermaphrodite sex with another hermaphrodite intrinsically evil?

      “procreation …Intended by the creator” ?
      Most sex does not result in pregnancy. So where is your evidence that procreation is the primary purpose of sex? Though it is counter-intuitive, the vast majority of heterosexual intercourse does not lead to a pregnancy regardless of the usage of birth control. How do you justify your claim?

      “Creator decreed human unitive” ? – Then why ISN’T sex unitive? The preponderant evidence shows that people who have sex do not stay united, whether they are married or not. It does not unite people who are thinking about divorce and it does not re-unite people who have been divorced. It doesn’t prevent divorce. If sex were ‘unitive’ wouldn’t there be evidence that supports that claim?
      Since you brought it up, where is the indication that this is a decree from a Creator? Are you referencing Genesis?

      “these two ends are only divorced by Human contrivance” – It seems your theory about sexuality is itself a human contrivance in the first place. It is human contrivance to imagine only two narrow purposes to sex: unitivity (there is no evidence to support this) And procreation (or baby making) is far from being the primary result of most heterosexual intercourse. Babies can happen, but far more commonly they don’t. In any case, 99.99% of sperm is wasted by the female recipient. How can you argue that the Creator wants 99% of a man’s sperm to be wasted into nothingness, yet call that evidence it was all intended for procreation? I do not see the direct lines you are drawing, furthermore if there is a ‘divine plan’ as you say, it doesn’t comport with the one you claim.

      “Unitive is violated…” – Again, I see no evidence that sex is necessarily more unitive than sharing an intense, personal non-sexual experience with someone. War, for example can be unitive. Or a rough political campaign. None of those other things get special holy sanctions. Further, Forcing sex to be unitive just because you would like it to always be this way is a human contrivance against any evidence.

      “This human contrivance is not motivated by love of God
      but by desiring sexual pleasure apart from either one end or both ends. Thus this human contrivance is not a virtuous act meant to honor the Creator but one meant to subvert the divine plan for human sexuality: it is intrinsically evil.”

      You have constructed a tautology, the pieces don’t fit. And another thing…

      “Desiring sexual pleasure” – this is simple lust, a supposed ‘sin’.
      Lust is considered EVIL outside the faith of a blessed marriage,
      But if lust happens within a blessed marriage it “honors the Creator”?

      So..Imagine playing that trick with other ‘sins’ like murder.

      “Desiring to kill someone” is a sin. It is EVIL if it is outside of the faith.
      But inside the faith murder is okay? Is murder in the name of faith more virtuous? Are you really meaning to imply this sort of logic?

      There are many things wrong here. Sex is extremely complex.
      Your narrow paradigm of recommending heterosexual marriage as a solution to all of these sexual questions and problems isn’t much of a remedy as far as I can tell.

      And because the parts don’t hold up, you have not produced evidence that “homosexual sex is intrinsically evil”.

    • Atheist Max says:

      A quick comment:

      “Evil” – If this word means anything, and I think it does, it must mean ‘harm’ or ‘harmful’.
      If you cannot demonstrate a harm you cannot call it evil. That is just playing fair.

      You have not shown how homosexual sex, let alone homosexual nature, is harmful.
      And that is a moral imperative of your claim.

      If you cannot demonstrate harm in this instance, you would be the spreader of a ‘harm’ yourself. And I don’t think that is what you intended.

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