The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a catechism promulgated for the Catholic Church by Pope John Paul II in 1992. The life work of then Josef Cardinal Ratzinger, it is supposed to sum up, in book form, the beliefs of the Catholic faithful.
Billed as the first catechism of the Catholic Church in 400 years, it is the last-ditch effort of a dying, old man to return the Church to the unthinking, zombie-like following of orthodoxy so characteristic of the Medieval Ages. At that time, the faithful were advised, “Better not to question. Thinking through things leads you astray.” Once can almost see Pope Francis as the Holy Spirit’s divine intervention against the failed Papacy of Benedict XVI. For Benedict, the only way to go was backward. Even if that kind of time-travel were possible, would it be all that desirable?
Regrettably, the 2,865 precepts contained in the 756 pages of exceeding fine print in the Catechism are unlikely to be read by virtually any Catholics outside the inner circles of Church Magisterium, even though we are admonished that all Catholics must adhere to every single precept to avoid being expelled from the Church.
As the largest Christian denomination in the world with 1.2 billion members and 78 million members in the United States, that’s a lot of people who risk expulsion from the Church for questioning those almost-3,00 precepts, more than the 612 precepts of the Torah. Also regrettably, what you don’t know can hurt you.
There are more than a few sections of the Catechism that are very damaging to queer Catholics, that DignityHouston opposes and seeks to change in the Church. We will only look at a few here, but we hope that all queer Catholics will take the time to explore the many that are antithetical to the way and teachings of Jesus.
The most quoted and most virulent precept is §2357 which states:
Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
This is the basis used to prohibit the Dignity chapters from using Church facilities. It is also the basis used by the Archbishop of Galveston/Houston for stripping all benefits, including employment, retirement, health benefits, and others from any priest who provides any services to DignityHouston.
“Basing itself on Sacred Scripture” with only the slimmest of culturally bound interpretations of Scripture and even less Tradition, this precept would declare that God made a mistake in creating over 10% of humanity. “Intrinsically disordered” can only mean that the person was created in a disordered way. Since only God can create Man, how else can that precept be viewed? Why would God create a being whose very nature is contrary to His own natural law?
Lest you miss it, notice that Ratzinger says with regard to relations between men or between women, "They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity." In this, he would seem to say that genuine, nonsexual love between people of the same sex (friendship) cannot exist because it lacks complementarity, as well.
A closely related precept, §2363, underscores the central problem of the way the Church views sexuality in general:
The spouses' union achieves the twofold end of marriage: the good of the spouses themselves and the transmission of life. These two meanings or values of marriage cannot be separated without altering the couple's spiritual life and compromising the goods of marriage and the future of the family.
The conjugal love of man and woman thus stands under the twofold obligation of fidelity and fecundity.
Few would argue with the notion of fidelity in this precept, but the overwhelming emphasis on fecundity weaves an insidious thread through the Church’s view on sexuality. Ultimately, the sole purpose of sexuality, in Josef Ratzinger’s mind was to beget children. That, notwithstanding the fact that the precept originated with the original law of the Torah, be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. In case nobody’s noticed, the earth is overfilled and thoroughly subdued. In addition, that law came at a time when there was no Social Security, no nursing homes, no care for the elderly — other than children. Placing this overwhelming emphasis on procreation, to the detriment of love and fidelity, puts the Church completely out of sync with the reality of the modern world.
In addition, it totally ignores the realities of late-life marriages, when couples are outside of childbearing years, marriage of infertile couples, and, oh yes, marriage of same-sex couples. None of these have merit in the eyes of the Church because they cannot bring more children into an overpopulated world, the same arguments used against contraception and abortion.
Speaking of contraception, the Catechism actually does not have a precept on contraception. Instead, contraception is buried in §2370 having to do with the purpose of Matrimony.
Periodic continence, that is, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality. These methods respect the bodies of the spouses, encourage tenderness between them, and favor the education of an authentic freedom. In contrast, "every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" is intrinsically evil.
In this section, you will note that that the widely used forms of contraception are labeled intrinsically evil making them on par with homosexual acts. Why? Both allow for sex without the express purpose of procreating children.
We could go on and on, looking at precepts having to do with divorce and remarriage, transgender issues, and myriad other issues relating to life in the modern world, but ultimately, they all come back to one precept, §2332
Sexuality affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of his body and soul. It especially concerns affectivity, the capacity to love and to procreate, and in a more general way the aptitude for forming bonds of communion with others.
If you’re going to be a sexual creature, you’re only route is to engage in sex solely for procreation. As a sexual creature, you can only have a affective (love) bond with someone else with whom you bond for the purposes of procreation. What a very limiting view of the world — yet a view that all Catholics must hold or be expelled by the Church.
And that’s why DignityHouston exists to work for a more inclusive belief structure within the Church, one based on the teachings of Jesus, who never articulated any of these precepts.
We encourage every Catholic to look deeply into the precepts of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, not to be discouraged by it or led away from the Church be its vitriolic teachings, but rather, to stand up in opposition to it within the Church. You can find the Catechism online and for sale at: