Posted by Paddy MacLachlan
The Archdiocese of Boston’s official newspaper, The Pilot, had to publish one of the first retractions in its 182 year career, after a senior figure in the US Catholic Bishops’ Conference wrote an article on same-sex attraction.
Several statements in the article proved contentious; among them was the assertion that “the scientific evidence of how same-sex attraction most likely may be created provides a credible basis for a spiritual explanation that indicts the devil.”
The writer, Daniel Avila, went on to say that when “natural causes disturb otherwise typical biological development, leading to the personally unchosen beginnings of same-sex attraction, the ultimate responsibility, on a theological level, is and should be imputed to the evil one, not God.”
The article appeared last Friday and was withdrawn on Wednesday. In a statement on its website, the archdiocese said it had failed to recognize the theological error before publication. (Actually, we aren’t sure exactly what the “theological error” is that they are referring to. Can you enlighten us, reader?)
Avila had to eat a slice of humble pie too. His frank apology in The Pilot stressed that his comments were in no way representative of the Bishops’ Conference.
Following hard on the heels of that episode, a blog in the highly influential Huffington Post attacked a campaign by bishops in Minnesota, who are mobilizing their parish priests and, in turn, their parishioners to to vote for a legal amendment that would outlaw gay marriages.
In a letter to the priests, Archbishop John Nienstedt wrote: “it is imperative that we marshal our resources to educate the faithful about the church’s teachings on these matters, and to vigorously organize and support a grass-roots effort to get out the vote to support the passage of this amendment.”
Blogger Erica Keppler, who is a prominent LGBT activist, voices the opinion that:
“this is bigger than a few passages in the Bible. This is a zealous commitment of time and resources to reach out beyond their congregations to force their beliefs on non-Catholics. If they were generally of this practice across the breadth of their doctrine, then it would be just another example of a church pushing its faith on others. It’s not. They don’t commit all resources to ending legal divorce, enacting Sunday closing laws, or getting Ash Wednesday made a national holiday. No, gay issues are different.”
Perhaps inevitably, she also repeats the apparent truism that a significant number of Catholic priests in the US are gay, quoting a Jesuit priest who said in this (several years old) article, “I assume priests are gay until proven otherwise.”
So as we say, it’s been a week when the gay-bashers have taken a few knocks themselves. But same-sex marriage is due to be one of the hottest debates in the 2012 Presidential elections – and we can be sure they’ll come back fighting.
Where do you stand on this issue? Do you believe the commonly asserted “statistic” that as many as 50% of US priests are homosexual? And can you explain what the “theological error”was in Daniel Avila’s assertion?