Catholicism & Homosexuality

On February 22, Theology on Tap hosted Denis Costello, Catholic Family Services of Toronto and Dr. Moira McQueen, Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute as they presented the topic: ”Catholicism & Homosexuality: A Journey of Discernment”.

As a social worker, Denis works with homosexual youth and adults.  Just as minorities feel they don’t have a place in society, he says those with a same-sex orientation feel they do not have a place in the church.

Denis spoke loudly about the isolation those with same-sex orientation experience, especially in the formation stage of their sexual identity.  Because one’s religious identity solidifies at the same as sexual identity, many are faced with great difficulties in trying to integrate the two.  This usually involves suppressing one of the identities which Denis describes as a very harmful and dangerous practice.  Instead, what is needed is the creation of a “meta identity” which keeps these two identities together but requires a journey of faith development, reflection, ownership and maturity.

In light of this alienating and lonesome struggle, Denis recognizes the opportunity for us as Catholics and all people to reach out and “do this dance” with them.

As an ethicist, Moira encourages the consideration of the objective and subjective sides of the Church’s teachings when discerning one’s actions either as a homosexual person or someone supporting or interacting with a homosexual person.  This involves knowing the definitive and non-changing teachings of the Church on sexuality which applies to all people, regardless of sexual orientation.  It also involves recognizing one’s own biases and conditioning.  A reflective, “soul searching” process is required to “come to one’s own mind but not on one’s own.”

In providing a brief description of the Church’s teaching on sexuality, Moira acknowledged that the teaching is strict, but also stated that it is not impossible. 

Additionally, the tone of Catholic teaching has changed over time.  The Church is clear in its affirmation of homosexual persons as children of God, loved by God.  As such, the Church denounces discrimination and encourages respect and inclusivity.

As Catholics interacting with homosexual persons, Denis says he is in it for “the long game”  and Moira encourages “building bridges”.  To aid your own discernment process, refer to the resources below as cited by Moira:

Reflection by Doreen Wan Min Kee

You can watch a short excerpt from their talk below: