One of the things I love about our faith is that nobody needs to feel left out. We are a church of saints and sinners. All of our saints were sinners-sinners that persevered.
In class the other day for Pastoral Ministry, the instructor was talking about inclusiveness, about how the Church has always tried to be more catholic. This requires an understanding about what catholic means. The traditional understanding is that catholic means universal, and it does, but it’s more than that. From the Greek ‘kata‘ meaning including, according to, or every; ‘holos‘ meaning whole or everyone. So ‘kataholos‘ = welcoming everyone.
My instructor was trying to get across that we need to constantly strive to be more welcoming of everyone. It matters not that you are a black person, gay person, Buddhist person, athiest person, handicapped person, murderer person, drug addict person, old person, unborn person (and the list can go on and on). The point is that we must respect people. Every human person has dignity. And we must include them. God loves everybody equally.
We are always trying to realize Catholicity.
This does not mean that we must accept the flaws of every human person, and this is where the instructor didn’t do a good job of explaining. Yes we have to accept the person, no matter what he is, we need to accept who he is. But just because you agree that we must accept this gay person’s personhood does not mean you have to accept gay-ness. (insert black-, white, or whatever, I’m not just talking about gay!) The Church teaches what’s right and wrong, and it is written on our hearts for us to follow. Back to basics the two great commandments-love God, love your neighbor. Loving our neighbor means don’t murder, lie, cheat, steal, covet, or commit adultery. So if someone is not doing something that falls under one of these things (and everything ultimately does, when it boils right down to it!), you do not need to embrace the sin.
So many people are taken aback about this anti-gay marriage thing. It really has nothing to do with your sexual attraction. The Church is against the idea because of how the Church defines marriage. Certainly, two gay people can have a perfectly loving, beautiful relationship. But marriage, as defined by the Church, is not about that-that’s erotic love, about feelings, which can come and go.
Marriage is a covenant, which is so much more than a contract (which is what civil marriage is). A covenant is an unbreakable bond between two people or between God and a group of people. God made 8 covenants, all of them unbroken since they were made. Marriage is a decision. Marriage is an unbreakable bond between one man and one woman for the purpose of procreation and love. Marriage is about love, but not eros love. It’s about agape love. Agape love is all-encompassing. It includes eros, but also philia. Agape love is all-encompassing self-sacrifice. You will do anything for the other person in order to get them to heaven.
The church still accepts that people can have same-sex attraction, and accepts these special people. Same-sex attraction is not a sin. It’s a sin to act on it. The Church will work with people and help them bear the cross of their problems. We Catholics are to meet our fellow humans where they are, in love.
That doesn’t mean you get in people’s face and dress them down for what they’re doing-that’s for God to do. We can lovingly suggest ways of not committing sins-especially intercessory prayer.