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A note on the teaching of the Catholic Church concerning homosexual people

          Cardinal George Basil Hume

     CatholicNews---Sunday February 4, 2007


     The following are some of "the clarifications given by the late Cardinal George Basil Hume of Westminster in "A note on the teaching of the Catholic Church concerning homosexual people" in 1997.


The homosexual orientation

6. NEITHER A HOMOSEXUAL nor a heterosexual orientation leads inevitably to sexual (genital) activity. Furthermore, an individual's sexual orientation can be unclear, even complex. Also, it may vary over the years.


Meaning of ‘objectively disordered’

7. THE PARTICULAR ORIENTATION or inclination of the homosexual person is not a moral failing. An inclination is not a sin. An inclination towards acts which are contrary to the teaching of the church has, however, been described as `objectively disordered.' The word `disordered' is a harsh one in our English language. It immediately suggests a sinful situation, or at least implies a demeaning of the person or even a sickness. It should not be so interpreted. First, the word is a term belonging to the vocabulary of traditional Catholic moral theology and philosophy. It is used to describe an inclination which is a departure from what is generally regarded to be the norm. The norm consists of an inclination towards a sexual relationship with a person of the opposite sex and not between persons of the same sex. Being a homosexual person is, then, neither morally good nor morally bad; it is homosexual genital acts that are morally wrong. Secondly, when the church speaks of the inclination to homosexuality as being `an objective disorder', she does not consider, of course, the whole personality and character of the individual to be thereby disordered. Homosexual people, as well as heterosexual people, can and often do give a fine example of friendship and the art of chase living.



8. FRIENDSHIP IS A gift from God. Friendship is a way of loving. Friendship is necessary for every person. To equate friendship and full sexual involvement with another is to distort the very concept of friendship. Sexual loving presupposes friendship but friendship does not require full sexual involvement. It is a mistake to say or think or presume that if two persons of the same or different sexes enjoy a deep and lasting friendship then they must be sexually involved.


Human love

9. THE WORD `LOVE' must never be thought of as being synonymous with the word `sex'. Love can take many forms. There is the love between parents and children, between relatives, as well as the chaste love of friendship. Of course, for married people their sexual relationship should be an important part of their love. In whatever context it arises, and always respecting the appropriate manner of its expression, love between two persons, whether of the same sex or of a different sex, is to be treasured and respected. `Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus', we read [John 11:5]. When two persons love they experience in a limited manner in this world what will be their unending delight when one with God in the next. To love another is in fact to reach out to God who shares his lovableness with the one we love. To be loved is to receive a sign, or a share, of God's unconditional love.


10. TO LOVE ANOTHER---in the sense explained in paragraphs 8 and 9 above---is to have entered the area of the richest human experience, whether that love is between persons of the same sex or of a different sex. But that experience of love is spoiled, whether it is in marriage or in friendship, when we do not think and act as God wills us to think and act. Human loving is precarious for human nature is wounded and frail. Thus marriage and friendship will never be easy to handle. We shall often fail, but the ideal remains.


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