Fr. John Forliti "On Homosexuality"


We shall examine briefly the VHS-film on Homosexuality which forms part of Fr. John Forliti's "Issues in Sexuality" program intended for Catholic students (grades 10-12).

This particular film was written by Jeffrey P. Johnson under the auspices of the Catholic Education Center of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and is being distributed by the Wm.C. Brown Company. The theological consultant for the entire series is Fr. Forliti, and the entire program (films and study guides) bears the 'Imprimatur' of Archbishop John A. Roach of St. Paul, Minnesota.

The film on Homosexuality opens with a mime performance accompanied by melodious piano music. The mime focuses on showing how "gays" and "lesbians" are shunned in society. A narrator soon makes clear that homosexuality is an emotional and complex issue, but we should keep "an open mind" concerning "gay" and "lesbian" rights. A "professional therapist," Dr. David Walsh, discusses popular stereotypes concerning homosexuality. The result of his contribution is, unfortunately, to thoroughly muddle the issue of homosexuality altogether.

Are homosexuals promiscious or child molesters? Well, so are heterosexuals. Are homosexuals mentally ill? The American Pyschological Association and the American Psychiatric Association have removed homosexuality from the list of mental disorders. The message is clear: whatever criticisms can be made of homosexuals, the same can be said of heterosexuals. The levelling treatment given honiosexuality and heterosexuality is buttressed by the comment that "we're re-thinking what is masculine or feminine"! Viewers are assured that one's sexual orientation is set by age 4 or 5 and can not be influenced by any teacher (homosexual or heterosexual).

The film accurately relates that the Catholic Church teaches that homosexual orientation is not immoral but that homosexual activity is immoral since sexual intercourse belongs in marriage. The Church defends the civil and human rights of all human beings. Prejudice, verbal harrassment, and discrimination against homosexual people have no place in Catholic values.

Then there is an interview with a Kevin Sittler who reveals he is a homosexual. Reading books on homosexuality disclosed what he was; now he is comfortable with himself. He has been active in youth ministry in his Catholic parish, and has a deepening relationship with God. All the foregoing is supported by reference to a 1980 pastoral letter on homosexuality written by Archbishop John R. Quinn of San Francisco.

Clearly, the thrust of the entire film is to evoke an excessive sympathy and compassion for homosexuals and to whitewash the moral evil of homosexuality itself. The essential message of the film is: It's O.K. to be "gay", such is a real gift and blessing from God. Homosexuality is not a personal or social danger but rather the object of senseless fears and prejudices entertained by people who need to be "re- educated"

It is admitted [in the film] that homosexual activity is immoral, but one's homosexual orientation is a "gift from God" and is essentially good. Not surprisingly, the concept of sin is absent from the film.

Curiously, the film states:

"Homosexual men and women are asked to live as any unmarried Catholic person, reserving sexual intercourse for marriage"

It does not explain, however, how a real homosexual can reserve himself or herself for marriage, since marriage is hardly envisaged by such persons!

At any rate, here is a film for young Catholics which not only glosses over the disgusting things homosexuals do, but radically diminishes any sense of homosexual activity as a form of sexual perversion. Its treatment of "homosexual orientation" ignores the Church's traditional teaching on the subject. In the words of the 1986 Letter on Homosexuality issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:

"Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is more or less strong tendency toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder."

Revelling in a false compassion, the film never even suggests that those with a homosexual orientation can, and indeed, should attempt to change their orientation under the spiritual guidance of those seeking to help them live chaste and integrated lives.

It boggles the mind that this Wm.C. Brown C. film on Homosexuality with its misleading emphases and wimpish distortions should have been produced by the Catholic Education Center of the Archdiocese of St. Paul, Minneapolis, and should bear the Church's Imprimatur. It is even more interesting to note that this 1985 film (heralding sex educator Fr. John Forliti as its "theological consultant") does not even mention the plague of AIDS!

This article appeared in the SERVIAM Newsletter of November 1987