More On Fr. John Forliti's
By JAMES LIKOUDIS
Teaching About Homosexuality
The introduction to "The Study Guide on Homosexuality" for the "Issues in Sexuality" program praises its theological consultant, Fr. John Forliti, for "his inspiration, ideas, and constant support of this project." We have already seen how the wimpish film on homosexuality which is part of Fr. Forliti's " catechesis on sexuality" is an example of what the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith warned about as early as 1975: "In our day, there are those who, relying on the findings of psychology, have begun to judge homosexual relationships indulgently and even to excuse them completely. This goes against the constant teaching of the Magisterium and the moral sense of the Christian people." (Declaration on Sexual Ethics, No. 8)
In so far as the philosophy of the 'Issues on Sexuality' program is admittedly based on the ambiguous and defective 1981 'USCC Guidelines in Human Sexuality', there would have been sufficient concern as to how the program would treat homosexuality. These concerns find further warrant in observing the "theological and catechetical" experts relied on in the Bibliography: Fr. John Forliti, Michele McCarty, Mary Therese Judd, and Richard Reichert - all dissenters from some aspect of Catholic sexual teaching. Readers should note the "Study Guide's Theological Background" for its views countering "homophobia" in both Church and society:
"During the past twenty years, the Catholic Church has given attention to the pastoral care that is offered to homosexual persons. This development has been prompted by the recognition of insights from the disciplines of sociology and psychology. These disciplines have come to recognize that homosexuality is not an illness which people acquire, but for many, if not most homosexual persons, it is an inborn aspect of their created being.
Catholic moral theology teaches that only that which is freely chosen is sinful. Thus, the evidence which shows that homosexual persons may be born with an affection or sexual preference for persons of the same sex means that having an homosexual orientation is not sinful, because it is not a free choice. Therefore, the Church's official teaching clearly states that while homosexual orientation is not sinful, homosexual activity is immoral." (Emphasis added).
As noted in a previous article, the above ignores official Church teaching that homosexual orientation is itself an "objective disorder" which, unfortunately, inclines a person to perform an intrinsically evil act. That, joined with the questionable suggestion that homosexual persons cannot help but express the "inborn aspect of their created being" can only lead to a radically diminished sense of sin. Indeed, the "Study Guide" reflects such a diminished sense of the sinfulness of homosexual activity.
It is true that the "Study Guide" states that "homosexual activity is immoral" and homosexual acts are "seriously wrong", but the danger of mortal sin in the matter of homosexual behavior is utterly lacking. The various "case studies" presented in the "Study Guide" are not only deliberately calculated to move the students "from prejudice toward tolerance and respect for those who are different" (page 23) but disregard the fact that "gays" and "lesbians" need the spiritual care of good Catholics to keep from becoming addicted to sexual vice.
It is not enough to point to those rare passages in the "Study Guide" admitting the "objective sinfulness" of homosexual activity. Thus, Mary Turck weakly informs readers:
"Although the Church has acknowledged that there is nothing sinful in being a homosexual person, it still (sic) teaches that homosexual acts are objectively sinful. The distinction which the Church makes is a distinction between homosexual orientation and homosexual activity. Homosexual orientation is morally neutral; homosexual activity is condemned as sinful. Thus, the Church teaches that if a person has a homosexual orientation, then he or she must live as a celibate for life. Even in the case of those who fail to live up to the Church (sic) mandate of lifelong celibacy our Christian response is not condemnation but support and encouragement in living a Christian life. We need to recognize that in attempting to live as Christians, we all fail or sin in some ways and none of us is given authority to condemn any other, but rather we are called to mutual support and prayer as we strive to build up the kingdom of God." (pages 20-21)
The above passage is highly simplistic (and wimpish) in enervating the Church's official teaching on homosexuality. Its entire thrust smacks of the kind of indulgent writing found in materials issued by the pro-homosexual group 'New Ways Ministry'. (In fact, one of the latter's publications -a translation from the Dutch- is recommended on page 20 of the "Study Guide".) Such literature pays lip-service, in fact, to the Church's teaching, and never states unequivocally that homosexual acts are always objectively sinful. Homosexual acts are either excused on grounds of "an inborn" inclination which is blameless or they are to be tolerated as an unavoidable failure of the human condition. The "Study Guide" is to be faulted for precisely such indulgent treatment of homosexuality as well as ignoring the views of those experts on the subject (e.g., Fr. John Harvey, O.S.F.) who seriously question and cast doubt on the "inborn" nature of homosexual orientation. With respect to the biblical teaching on homosexuality, moreover, one must wonder why its doctrine that those who engage in sodomy shall not enter into the Kingdom of God is totally missing from the theological perspective of those responsible for the "Study Guide".
What is evident from a careful reading of the "Study Guide" is that its writers and its theological consultant, Fr. John Forliti, have been part of "the enormous pressure brought to bear on the Church to accept the homosexual condition as though it were not disordered and to condone homosexual conduct." (Vatican Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, 1986; No. 8)
This article appeared in the SERVIAM Newsletter, issue of Dec. 1987 - Jan. 1988