US gay Catholics say new guidelines 'contorted and flawed'

Troy Espera | November 16, 2006

BOSTON — The U.S. Roman Catholic bishops adopted new guidelines for ministering to gays Tuesday that are meant to be welcoming, while also telling gays to be celibate because the church considers their sexuality “disordered,” reports the Associated Press.

Gay Catholic activists told the AP that the approach was so contorted and flawed that it would alienate the people it was trying to reach.

The statement, “Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination,” was adopted by a 194-37 vote, with one abstention, at a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Anyone who persists in sinful behavior, such as gay sex or using artificial birth control, should refrain from taking Communion, the bishops said to the AP.

“To be a Catholic is a challenge,” said Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson, N.J., chairman of the bishops' doctrine committee, reports the AP. “To be a Catholic requires a certain choice.”

The Boston Globe reports that the guidelines mark the first time the bishops have attempted to explain and offer guidance on longstanding church teachings, in light of recent controversies.

According to the Globe bishops said current events, including the legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts and the 2004 presidential candidacy of Senator John F. Kerry, a Catholic Democrat from Massachusetts who supports abortion rights, prompted them to speak out. They acknowledged that most married Catholics – 96 percent, according to their own estimate – use birth control, and the bishops said they recognize that the church's teachings on homosexuality are contested in American society.

The AP reports that gay Catholic groups thought the bishops' approach was flat-out wrong. Francisco DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, an independent outreach to Catholic gays that has run afoul of some church leaders, told the AP that the guidelines “do not reflect good science, good theology or human reality.”

“This document proposes that lesbian and gay people be viewed not in the entirety of their lives, but in one dimension only – the sexual dimension,” DeBernardo told the AP. “No other group in the church is singled out in this way.” – Issued by Gay Link Content

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