Frequently Asked Questions
These Frequently Asked Questions provide answers to questions that have been posed to DignityUSA and DignityHouston over the years.
If you can’t find an answer to that burning question you have, jump over to our <a href="/contact">Contact page</a> and post your question. We make every effort to answer the questions you post, although some may take more time and research than others to give a good reply.
People often ask, "Why do you remain in a church that condemns you?" We explore some possible answers to that question and more.
Our best hope is not to be afraid to love one another. To love sums up the Law and the Prophets, according to Jesus. Christian love covers a multitude of sins, according to St. Peter. And human love cannot be separated from the honest affections of the heart. So Dignity's mission is to help lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to follow the ideal of Christians throughout the centuries: to be prayerful, respectful, honest, fair, forgiving, compassionate, and joyful — like the gay abbot, St. Aelred of Rievaulx, and like the martyr for conscience who dressed like a man, St.
As the Catholic Church understands it, wrong and sin are not the same thing. Wrong is harm, disorder, destruction; it is in the objective or external world. Sin is self-distancing from God; it is in the heart. Sin is more a general attitude than any particular action. We sin when we deliberately do what we believe is wrong. Then in our hearts we opt for evil. Then we move away from goodness and from God, who is good.
Certainly yes, not as a matter of public Church teaching but only as a matter of conscience, only as a matter of personal application of the whole of Catholic teaching to their particular case.
Official Catholic teaching requires that homosexual people abstain from sex. But the Catholic Church also teaches solemnly that people are obliged to form their conscience carefully and responsibly and to follow it as the bottom line in every moral decision.
The Church's teachings on the LGBTQ+ orientation and culture and its moral basis.
- What did people find harsh and uninformed in that 1986 Vatican letter?
- What other considerations about the morality of homogenital acts need to be made?
- Hasn’t there been constant opposition to homosexuality throughout Christian history?
- What was the point of the Bible texts if not to condemn homosexuality?
- What part does the Bible play in deciding the morality of same-sex acts?
- What is the basis for Catholic teaching about the immorality of homogenital acts?
- What is the official Catholic teaching about homosexuality?
It backed away from the prevailing ethical opinion that a homosexual orientation is morally neutral and called it "an objective disorder." Whatever this is supposed to mean, it suggests that gay people are sick, despite massive evidence to the contrary in medical, psychological, and sociobiological research. As if blaming gay people for the AIDS epidemic and ignoring their heroic — and virtually solitary!
Besides appealing to Scripture and Tradition (constant Church teaching), the Catholic approach to morality also relies heavily on human reasoning. The argument from natural law is a prime example. Other instances are the study of the human sciences or attention to people's personal experiences.
Recent and detailed historical scholarship questions that claim. Although one could find some opposing voice in every century, there was no common opposition to homosexuality in Christian Europe until the late 12th century except for a period around the collapse of the Roman Empire. Indeed, for nearly two centuries after Christianity had become the state religion, Christian emperors in Eastern cities not only tolerated but actually taxed gay prostitution.
It is not easy to summarize briefly the body of research on homosexuality in the Bible. But these are the interpretations that some scholars are proposing: The story of Sodom in Genesis 19 is about offense against the sacred duty of hospitality. That is how Ezekiel 16:48-49 and Wisdom 9:13-14 interpret this text. The attempted male rape only heightens the atrocity of this offense. Leviticus 18:22 does forbid male-male sex as an "abomination." But the word simply means an impurity or a religious taboo — like eating pork.
Unlike some other Christian churches, the Catholic Church does not rest its teaching on the Bible alone. But the Catholic Church does appeal to the Bible to support its teaching about natural law. Church documents have claimed that, from the book of Genesis to the end of the Christian Testament, there is constant opposition to homogenital acts.
All Catholic sexual ethics rests on this principle: procreation is an essential aspect of human sexuality, so every genital act must be open to the possibility of conception. For this very same reason Catholic teaching forbids homogenital acts as well as contraception, masturbation, and pre-marital and extra-marital sex.
This teaching pertains to the very nature of human sexuality. That is, the Church presents this teaching as natural law, the ordering which the Creator built into the universe.
In the mid-1970s, the Catholic Church recognized the difference between being homosexual and engaging in homogenital (same-sex) acts. The Catholic Church holds that, as a state beyond a person's choice, being homosexual is not wrong or sinful in itself. But just as it is objectively wrong for unmarried heterosexuals to engage in sex, so too are homosexual acts considered to be wrong.
Questions about DignityUSA, DignityHouston, and the entire Dignity movement.
No. Through his pioneering books, lectures, and counseling, Fr. John McNeill, expelled from the Jesuit order for his work, continues to minister to gay and lesbian Catholics. Since 1977, New Ways Ministry in Mount Rainier, Maryland, has provided a national service of education, publications, workshops, and newsletter on homosexuality and Catholicism. Although in 1999 and again in 2000 the Vatican officially silenced co-founders Fr. Robert Nugent, S.D.S., and Sr.
Dignity felt called to a prophetic stance, which, simply said, is to be honest about the matter. After nearly twenty years of ministering to hurting Catholics, Dignity members were aware of the harm that the Church's repeated condemnation of homosexuality does to individuals. One statement from a pope or bishop can throw devout gay Catholics back into guilt and selfdeprecation that they may have spent years trying to overcome. According to a 1989 study conducted by the U.S.
Perhaps just addressing homosexuality openly and fully would be enough to provoke an official reaction. But the history is more complicated. On October 30, 1986, the Vatican issued a "Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons." This document instructed the bishops to withdraw all support, or even the semblance of support, from any group vague on the immorality of homogenital acts. Surely the Vatican had Dignity in mind. And many found the letter harsh and uninformed.
DignityUSA is the oldest and largest national lay movement of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) Catholics, our families, and our friends. Begun in 1969 in San Diego under the leadership of Fr. Patrick Nidorf, OSA, first as a counseling group and then a support group in Los Angeles, DignityUSA has been a national organization since 1973. An independent nonprofit group, our national office is in Washington, DC, with chapters located throughout the United States.