Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Catholic mother and a beloved son who is gay

Not long ago, I posted something which touched on the issue of homosexuality. One commenter said: I'd love to know how you'd treat one of your own children if they 'came out' to you." I replied as I always do: I would love my child just as much as I do now, but I could never condone his or her sin.
After that post, I was contacted by an acquaintance of mine, a devout Catholic who could be any of us. As it turns out, her adult son is gay. She spoke with a heart full of love and pain, and I knew immediately that her thoughts deserved a wide hearing. 
Here's what she told me:
I love the Catholic Church, and I am an obedient Catholic who is very thankful for the authority of the Church. That being said, your post tonight has pulled at my heartstrings. Something that is clearly black and white does take on shades of gray when it happens in your life.
We are a homeschooling family. We attend daily Mass, celebrate feast days and thoroughly enjoy our children. We are not perfect, but we have tried very hard to parent in a loving and firm manner without being harsh. And, we have a gay son. I told my mother when he was a small boy that I was afraid he might be gay. We tried gently during his childhood to redirect his play, to encourage male friendships, but it was always in the back of my mind. But, how could God allow that, of all things, in a solid Christian home... a loving home?
Our son told us right before his 18th birthday. He is now 21. He has not had a "real" relationship with anyone at this point, but I know he has been sexually active. He is respectful, though, that his father and I want to tell his siblings when we feel that they are at an appropriate age. He also knows that this is parental territory only, and he has respected that so far. He is a good big brother... very nurturing, very loving. 
I love him. I adore him. So does his father. We do not condone being sexually active in a homosexual relationship (or in any relationship outside of marriage). However, when you watch your son struggle with an eating disorder, depression, and run away... it does not feel quite so black and white. 

We also did not get the help we needed from priests. One asked my son what his conscience told him, and when my son told him he thought it must be okay because he felt he was born this way, the priest told him that was his answer. Another that we met with offered very little support or counsel. I actually left feeling that he did not think it was that big of a deal... although, in all fairness to him, he did not say anything contrary to Church teaching. But, that was the "vibe" I was getting. (When he ran away, he went to a center for LGBT youth, who actually tried very hard to help our family in a loving, caring way... respectful of my husband’s and my beliefs; but, obviously, this was not the counsel we wanted for our son.)
I am just taking it one day at a time. I fear the day that he tells us he has met someone. He is so fragile. It is not so easy to say that we would never meet that person. I just pray, pray, pray. I have to believe that God hears this mother's cry for her son and that He loves my son even more than I do. If I shun my son, how do I show him the love of Christ? I am scared to close too many doors. And, right now, my son wants very much to meet someone... to have a life partner. 
We have talked to him about remaining chaste just as any Catholic single is called to do. Right now, he does not feel that is an option.

I guess I just wanted to say that it is a little deeper emotionally that just saying that you would love your child but not condone the lifestyle. That is true, but lots of heartache and struggling is involved.
What I find most frustrating is how matter-of-fact people become when asked how they would react to such news from a child (regardless of what they think their reaction would be): “I would take my child to a psychiatrist immediately”; “I would love my child without condoning it”; “I would kick my child out”; “I would plan some sort of intervention for my child.”
Obviously, I do not condone this lifestyle either, but I also felt like I was punched in the gut and had my heart ripped out all in a split second. There was nothing matter-of-fact about it. And even though I have only told two friends, my mother, and my sister, I still "feel" judgement... cruel judgement from people who really, based on their Christian faith, should not say the things they do, or make the jokes that they do, or use names that should not come out of a Christian adult's mouth. I also know that there are people in my life who would never do any of the above, but who would feel like they could no longer let their children come into our home or spend the night if they knew. 
My fear is that because I am not following my son around all the time trying to convert his heart, that I am being lukewarm... that I am teaching his siblings to be lukewarm... because we are living peacefully and not constantly being confrontational. I am afraid this looks to be acceptance.  

People seem so repulsed by a gay person. I truly, truly, truly do not want to sound judgemental, especially given my life, but just looking at the number of families in our large parish who only have 1 or 2 children beyond toddlerhood, I would imagine that there is a little more than NFP being practiced. And, what about all the adult singles who are not chaste? I helped with RCIA at one time, and we had an engaged couple going through who shared the same home address... no one said anything. Isn't mortal sin... mortal sin?

The thought of my son with another man does make me feel sick, but shouldn't all mortal sin make us feel that way?

I do not mean to sound so angry. I am not a confrontational person, so this has been festering in my heart with no real outlet. 
My son no longer attends Mass. He did for a while, but I don't think he feels comfortable anymore. He is searching, though... just not in ways that are good... New Age, Buddhism...
I wish my son could embrace this as a cross... to live a chaste life. Compared to an eternity, this life is just a teeny-tiny droplet. But, to a 21-year-old, his earthly life feels like an eternity. And being raised in a large, happy family, it's what he wants for himself.   
This has been nearly unbearable for my heart. And, that's all I can think to say at this point.

My heart breaks for this woman, her son and her whole family.

It is so important that we look, always, with the eyes of charity and compassion, and that we not cause extra pain to others due to careless words, gossip, jokes, suppositions and judgements. We are all sinners, after all, in need of God’s great mercy. 

We Catholics have truth, which is an incredible gift that needs to be known, lived, and defended. But this post is a reminder that "[even if I] understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.(1 Corinthians 13:2)

#2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.        

We must hate the sin precisely because we love the sinner. If we Christians can’t do it, then we’d better not expect God to hate the sin but love the sinner when our own judgement comes.

**UPDATE: I received a comment, below, from Steve Gershom, a gay man and faithful Catholic, 27 years old. He graciously provided this link to an interview he did with Simcha Fisher. I think all readers -- including those on the secular left who are critical of Church teaching -- need to read his interview. Thank you, Steve!


  1. It took great courage to post this. This is one of those subjects we talk about perhaps only privately with our closest Catholic friends. I personally echo everything you have said, and mostly the part about guarding our words. I fear I may have offended many in my staunch truth-bearing words. Charity is by far the hardest virtue in our lives. Those who possess fortitude, likely lack charity. Those who lack fortitude, also likely lack charity.

    I am very moved by this post. Thank you, Leila, and thank you to the acquaintance for allowing you to publish her testimony.

  2. These are beautifully honest yet heartbreaking words from the mom of a gay son. Mom, I don't think you sound angry at all. I think we have a long ways to go, as Catholics, in our acceptance of those who are homosexual (not our acceptance of their actions, but as people). Thank you for sharing your pain with us. It is a great reminder to pray for the families of those who are gay. It's also helpful in reminding us to teach our own children to always be compassionate to others, even if their actions are sinful. God bless and please know you have our prayers.

  3. The treatment of homosexuals is one of the many areas where I am at odds with the Church and why I will never reconcile with it. Yes, I am quite aware of how the CCC says we are to act towards these individuals, so you can spare me, at least, any further Church doctrine regarding it. I've heard it all, many times. But the truth is in the reality of what I've seen as a friend and relative of homosexual individuals.

    It's one thing to say that homosexuals need to be treated with compassion, etc., and should not be "unjustly" discriminated against. Sounds wonderful, right? The reality is much different. When you (a somewhat generic "you") don't want them in the Boy Scouts, don't want them in the military, don't want them teaching, don't want them (fill in the blank, over and over again), it's all "just" discrimination, isn't it? But your "just" discrimination sends a message: You are foul and we don't want you to be in society. Please go back in the closet.

    A long time ago, thanks to my conservative parents, particulary my very conservative father (who calls homosexuals all "scums" and mimics them), I didn't like gays. Then, I got to know some, or I should say, I finally became aware of those around me. I found that they were human, they were just like me, and that as I was born with a straight orientation, they were born with a different one. They can no more change their orientation than I can change mine. And they are disliked for the orientation alone, let alone for their activity.

    Several years ago, a gay co-worker who had no family (only child, parents dead), would throw birthday parties for himself at NYC's Gay and Lesbian Center. (These centers are a homosexuals lifeline, their support group, and only they can truly understand what someone, like this woman's son, is going through.) I went, twice. Both times, you know what I saw? A bunch of nice people hanging out, just like straight people would! No one approached me with propaganda, no woman approached me to hit on me, it was just a party. Nothing to see here, folks. I can't help but wonder if any "compassionate" devout Catholics - you and your friends included - would step foot in a gay & lesbian center for a simple birthday celebration.

    The mother's commment below was very telling:

    The thought of my son with another man does make me feel sick, but shouldn't all mortal sin make us feel that way?

    Yes, it should, but there's mortal sin, and then there's homosexual mortal sin.

    Mother of a Gay Son, if you are reading this, I will warn you that as you go through your journey, your heart is going to break more, not so much because of your son, but because of how society, even granting gains homosexuals have made in recent years, will view him.

    There is so much more I'd like to address, but it is way past my bedtime. I might or might not have a chance to post further in the next couple of days - packing and moving stuff for renovations! I hope, Mother of a Gay Son, you find a peace that you, your husband and your son can live with. He sounds like a such a good kid -you are blessed to have him. And he is blessed with having parents who love him and who are trying to find their peace.

    My post is in memory of my late beloved friend Kevin, the only man in my life who always treated me with kindness and respect. He was a gay man who could never come out to his parents. -Anonymous #1 (in case I post again)

  4. GRRRRRRRR! I just finished a long post, and it got lost. It's way, way, past my bedtime and I do not have time to repost, and due to packing for renovations, I might not have a chance to respond as fully as I'd like in the next few days.

    Bottom line: Mother of a Gay Son, if you are reading this, you have only just begun the journey of seeing the reality of how homosexuals, even given societal advances in recent years, are treated "compassionately." You are also going to see that "just" discrimination means that gays are not welcomed in Boy Scouts, the military, and many other places. You are going to see enormous discrepancies between Catholic truth and reality. I say that as a friend and relative of homosexual individuals. I wish you, your husband, your son and the rest of your family peace.
    --Anonymous #1 (in case I can post again)

  5. Wow, great post, Leila! This is such a difficult topic and one that hits very close to home for me on a couple of fronts.
    It is such a fine line between loving and seemingly condoning... It shouldn't be, but it really is a delicate balance.
    A family member that I am close to is gay, and he lives with his partner, and they have been together for 15 years... I love them both and enjoy their company.
    In the past, I have struggled with the Church's teaching on homosexuality because living life as person dealing with homosexuality is not for the faint of heart, and it takes great courage and faith.
    But through much prayer and reading, I have come to understand and appreciate that beauty with which the Church loves and protects and teaches us to fulfill our dignity as human persons created in the image and likeness of God.

  6. My heart breaks for this woman and her son. But I wanted to point something out. Just as she can't fully understand my infertility (especially based on her comment on how some Catholic couples only have 1 or 2 children)--I won't pretend to fully understand her situation either. Still, it seems that your comment that you would love your child without condoning the sin--however "simple" that may come off--is what exactly what she is trying to figure out how to do. Putting something in simplistic terms doesn't make it any less true. Just because you didn't mention all of the emotions and hard choices involved in living that out doesn't mean that your initial comment was wrong.

    For example, someone could say to me that I have to just "accept my cross" or "enjoy the time I have with my spouse" before I am blessed with a child, and I could bitterly retort that it's not that simple! That it is a constant, daily struggle--that I dread holidays, mother's day mass, trips to the mall. There's depression, embarrassment, even judgment from Catholics that we've been married 2 years but don't have any children. BUT, it is true, very simply that I do need to accept my cross. It's just that like most things, it's easier said than done. So, I don't take it personally when I hear things like that--otherwise it will only bring me down.

    I pray for this woman and her son this morning; I hope they will be able to find peace.

  7. Wonderful post. It specially resonated with me since my best friend during elementary school is gay. He was my closest playmate during childhoos and I continued to be his friend when he came out at 15.

    It was very hard for him and all of us close to him. Some people left him completly, some drew closer (specially women friends) and some just ignored it.

    Although we drifted apart later, I will always love him.

    Knowing the depth of his pain made me more understanding of what a gay person faces, yet I cannot even imagine the pain that this mother is going through. My friends mother, a very faithful practicing Catholic, decided to support all his decisions and she continues to this day. Yet I know she must be very torn.

    Later I had an employee that was very openly gay. He told me in the job interview this and I consulted my priest who quoted exactly the part of the Cathecism this mother quotes. I hired him and struggled for while to be loving while not 100% supporting of this lifestyle. Its a very thin line, yet he was very respectful of my belifes and I tried to love him as much as I could.

    I will pray for this mother and her son.

  8. Thanks for opening up about this. Why this is a huge fear of mine I have no idea. I had lots of gay friends growing up but then when I came back to the Church I didn't know where that left my gay friendships, and still kind of don't. Of course, I love these friends dearly, but then what after that? This MOther didn't sound angry at all and I appreciate her words.

  9. heart just breaks for her and her son. That must be such a heavy cross...I'll pray for both of them!

  10. Thanks for sharing this. Sometimes I contemplate how I will react and relate should one of my children be gay. It's a hard thing to wrap my head around. Prayers for this woman and her family.

  11. Anonymous, your first comment got caught in the spam folder, but I released it, so your work was not lost. Thanks!

  12. I (and my friend) are grateful for the comments. She wanted me to add this:

    I feel badly if the one commenter thought I was assuming that people with small families are using bc. My point was that we belong to a large parish, and if you look at our directory, there are only a handful of families with more than 2 or 3 children. Of course I know that there are couples who are suffering from infertility as well as secondary infertility. I have had six miscarriages, so I have some spacing between my kids. But, I also think that in this day and age where an alarming number of Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence, that the family size in our parish is probably being determined by contraception in a number of families. And, I do NOT judge them (at least I hope not), but I would not be surprised if those very people judged our family. I am probably guilty of not wanting to pass judgment on anyone for anything because of my circumstances, which is why I worry so about being lukewarm in the eyes of Christ.

    Thanks again for this forum. When I actually read it on your blog, I burst into tears. I have been holding so much in for so long. I am not sure if I am strong enough for back and forth with commenters, but I am sorry if I offended this one in particular.

  13. Mother - God love you. It took such strength for you to write that, and even more strength to carry the cross you carry as a mother to this beautiful child of God, with his own heavy cross. And I completely and wholeheartedly agree that we as a society tend to "feel" even more strongly in regards to homosexual sin over any other sin... when it should ALL be viewed as evil (the sins, not the people).
    I suggest you begin praying to St Monica. A close member of my family has fallen away from the Church and is living a sinful lifestyle, and I pray for her all the time to St Monica. I will add your son and your family to my prayers, as well.

  14. Thank you for posting this. My father "came out" as a homosexual five years ago while still married to my mother. I was 21 at the time, and my brothers were ages 20 and 16. My parents divorced a few months later. They had been together for 25 years. It was so hard to come to grips with having a father who suddenly announced that he was gay. And he actually told us kids that his entire life was a lie, and that NO ONE really knew him. He said that anytime he acted happy, it was just that - an act. This made me feel like a burden - part of his unhappiness. We then found out that my mother had known all along, but married my dad thinking he would "change his mind" and be straight. My dad finally told us that he had married our mother b/c she was his best friend, and that he had always wanted a "normal" life with a family - children. Something that he didn't think that he could find with another man. He now has been living with his partner for the past three years. Recently he told me that he often thinks about leaving his current relationship, and reconciling with God. I pray that one day he will do just that, and accept his Cross. It's been a struggle to accept things as they are, but I have always remained loving and allowed my children to get to know their grandfather. All I can do is pray that God's Will be done.


  15. I know this is off the main topic of the post, but I have been judged to my face by Catholics for our 9 years of childlessness (caused by infertility). I can only imagine all the others in the Catholic community that see us and think that we are contracepting, but don't say anything. In fact, in every parish we have belonged, there have been many large families that glare at us week in and week out. People discriminate, when they even think you are living in sin!!

  16. Awe you sweet momma. I wish I could hug your neck. You have done all that you can do as a mother and the Lord is very very proud of you. Also, He brought your loving son into this world and He loves him very much as well. You just keep your head up and keep being the awesome mom that you are. Remember, somethings are out of our hands...let God deal with those things and you just focus on doing your best as a mother...He will do the rest. God bless you and I'm going to mass at 11:15 and you will be my prayer focus...Hugs

  17. My husband's oldest brother had a sex change over 10 years ago. He now lives as a woman up in Alaska. He is the oldest of 10 kids in a devout Catholic family. His operation broke his family's heart and even as an in law the suffering of this situation and how to deal with it is so raw, so emotional, so not black and white it is hard to describe.
    I think the struggle is to love with the heart of Christ and to see others with the eyes of Christ. We are all wretched sinners, the lowest of the low. But that does not mean we do not try & help that person to come to be who they truly are.
    Mom- you are not alone. This suffering of yours is so fruitful for your son, for your family & for the world. I will pray for you!

  18. OP, have you (and/or your son) checked out the Courage apostolate? Prayers for you and your family... it must be a heavy cross to carry.

    On a more general note, it's true that "hate the sin, love the sinner" can be really difficult to live out in practice. When my dad married a thrice-divorced ex-Catholic a few years back, we didn't attend the wedding. It caused a huge rift and a great deal of tension in my family. I was called a hypocrite for attending my mom's wedding at age 14 (8 yrs before I became Catholic). Then my mother got mad when I told her that if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn't have gone to hers, either. My sister (who is Catholic, but only converted to make it easier to marry her fiancé) called CPS and reported us for neglecting our child based on info she got from my dad (who made it all up because he was so angry with me). And my dad asked me why all the other Catholics he knew were coming to the wedding, and was furious when I said that I wasn't the custodian of others' consciences, but I chose not to condone sin. And so on. Things were pretty tense until the divorce six months later; then suddenly I was a good daughter, sister, etc. again.

    But my brother just was divorced by his wife, so I know the same issue may arise again someday.... ugh. It's HARD. But then no one said following Christ would be easy.

  19. My heart goes out to this woman and her entire family. I will add her and her son to my prayers. Thanks for posting this with such sincere love.

  20. Anonymous #1:

    You state:

    "Yes, I am quite aware of how the CCC says we are to act towards these individuals…But the truth is in the reality of what I've seen as a friend and relative of homosexual individuals."

    I disagree. That is not the Truth. What we see with our eyes is not what is real according to our hearts.

    I also have friends, very close friends that are homosexual. Having that attraction is not easy. And like you, I don’t think that they make a conscious chose to have that attraction. However, it becomes a “choice” to live a lifestyle of perversion and sin. We are all given a Cross to carry through our lives, from infertility to sexuality, but that doesn’t mean that we should deal with them in a way that make it less painful for us or essentially removes all the suffering from what God has blessed us to suffer.

    You ask:

    "I can't help but wonder if any "compassionate" devout Catholics - you and your friends included - would step foot in a gay & lesbian center for a simple birthday celebration."

    Good question. I’d honestly struggle with that one. I’d definitely want to honor a friend on his birthday but at the same time I’d be curious to know why it had to be arranged in that setting. I’d honestly feel uncomfortable for a number of reasons. But I imagine the thoughts in my head would process like this:

    “Ok, so he’s gay. But why does he have to have his party at a gay & lesbian center? I’m Brown and I’m not hosting my parties at the nearest NAACP office.” Funny? Maybe just a little. :)

    You say:

    "There's mortal sin, and then there's homosexual mortal sin."

    Sorry to break it to you but mortal sin is mortal sin. There are not degrees. And if there were, I’m curious why homosexual would be an emphasis on why it’s better or worse? If someone commits suicide would it be a worse situation because they were gay? If yes, then we’d reduce that person to being identified as gay and not as a person.

    So that’s what I have to say. I understand how painful this situation is for that Mother, but she should look to St. Monica for inspiration. St. Monica prayed for years for her sinful, hedonistic, heretic son, who eventually became on of the Church’s greatest teachers, St. Augustine. You never know. :)

  21. Thank you for posting this Leila, and especially to the mom who wrote this. I can tell you love your son very much and are a wonderful mother.

    I don't have anything to add really, just know that I'm praying for your family.

  22. Thank you thank you thank you a hundred times to this mother who shared her story... I still have tears in my eyes. She sounds like a wonderful beautiful person! And her son, too! They'll be in my prayers.
    And ditto to what so many others said above. :)

  23. The ten commandments were given to us out of love and when one truly loves, one follows them.
    They rest on the great laws of love.
    They are what we should do. Should do.
    No matter what my offenses have been or what the offenses of my loved ones are, they are no less against the ten commandments because we committed them. A sin is taking the easier path to avoid pain. No matter what I say or what you say or what anyone says, the commandments remain. And Jesus said scandal is a horrible sin. So when we decide to sin openly, we only compound our sins.

  24. The way we deal with mortal sin in our family is simple. It's never condoned. Whether it's "homosexual mortal sin" or regular mortal sin, there is NO difference. That being said, if you are in the state of mortal sin, we do not condone your actions in any way. If you are living with someone, we don't invite you and your shack up over for dinner, if you got pregnant out of wedlock we don't throw you (or go to your) baby shower, if you are homosexual and sexually active you don't come over with your "partner" end of story.

    My sister and I had a conversation about homosexuality the other day, we have a cousin that is homosexual and we discussed how he is supposed to live a moral life being homosexual and she mentioned how unfair it seemed to ask him to be "alone" and be denied what we all want in marriage, children etc.

    I likened it to infertility,as that is what I know and have lived through. If I cannot have babies naturally this does not give me the right to do IVF, just because having babies is wonderful and good doesn't give me the right act in an immoral manner to get it. What if I can't adopt? or foster? then I have to live childless if I call myself Catholic. I have to understand the REASONS behind those "rules" and if I am Catholic/Christian I have to live by them. Is it hard? YES. But am I asked to do it anyway? yes.

    People get messed up with they start talking about not judging and loving like Christ loved etc. Christ DID love the sinner but he ALWAYS commanded them to STOP the sin, he didn't go sit in the muck with them and say it was ok. They were told to SIN NO MORE. Now a days we call being Christ like, sitting and singing kumbaya with the sinner in the dirt. But no that is not what He did. He always, took pity on the sinner, helped them and told them to "Go and sin no more" That is Christianity.

    To the Mother, you have a hard burden a child that is living at odds with the Faith you taught him. I will pray for him, you and your family.

    God Bless.

  25. My heart also goes out to the mother of this post, and I'm so grateful that you still love him as much as you obviously do. I wish only that all homosexual youth could have such a loving mother.

    Leila and I have been talking a little bit about some trouble in Uganda last fall and into the first part of 2010, where the government introduced a bill (that eventually did not pass) that would impose the death penalty on homosexuals for various reasons. Here's an overview from NCR:

    But the NCR (or at least one commenter) has openly criticized the Church for not being more forcefully opposed to the legislation:

    Clearly, I was all for using international pressure to encourage the government of Uganda to not pass this bill, but the church seemed more wary.

    I wonder what you all think of this? If it were back in the time of the controversy, would you have encouraged the Vatican to make a stronger statement about being compassionate to homosexuals? To be more forceful in correcting the actions of another culture?

    1. If by NCR you mean the National Catholic Reporter, that publication is a hotbed of dissent. The Bishop of the Diocese where the NCR is located has asked that "Catholic" be dropped from the name, but the publisher has not done so.

  26. Above we have posts from a mother regarding her gay son and an infertile woman who refused ivf. How much simpler it would be for all of them if they found another Church that accepted homosexual relationships as part of God's plan and accepted scientific advances of ivf as a loving way for some to complete their families. Be brave, acknowledge that no church has all the answers. Move forward and find a happy life for your families.

  27. Wow Anon,

    You encourage “bravery” by asking someone to be foolish. On the outside it may seem simpler to walk away from the Church so you can justify your desires, but it would all be a lie. Turning a blind eye to sin does not make the sin disappear. Your post poses the subjective moralism that is so wrong with society now. According to you, no church has all the answers. Well Jesus does have all the answers and circa 33 AD he said this: And I also say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. Peter=1st Pope.

  28. As a woman who has also refused IVF and will likely never have her own children, I say for my situation...yes, it would be simpler to find another church, but it wouldn't be the Truth, it wouldn't honor the dignity of the human person, it would violate God's good plan for my life and it would rob me of the peace and joy that He has in store for me. I choose all of that over a "simple solution."

  29. This is an interesting post. My husband and I have friends and family who are homosexual - it is great to read this discussion. It is a difficult situation and topic to broach, thanks for the perspective.

  30. Above we have posts from a mother regarding her gay son and an infertile woman who refused ivf. How much simpler it would be for all of them if they found another Church that accepted homosexual relationships as part of God's plan and accepted scientific advances of ivf as a loving way for some to complete their families. Be brave, acknowledge that no church has all the answers. Move forward and find a happy life for your families.

    Anonymous, is that something you'd advise for any moral question, or only for sexual/procreative issues? I'm truly just curious.

  31. Mai, bear with me for a minute.

    This is where I (honestly) get completely confused about your (and Gwen's) stance on cultures. Anthropologically speaking, the American left is not ever supposed to judge another culture's norms or morality. That is what they teach in college, no? Ask Gwen. So first, I would question why someone on the left (you) would be pushing our western ideas on Uganda? (Seriously, I am just trying to see why you think that is okay.)

    Having said that, I am completely in agreement with what the Church stated: It is unacceptable to persecute gay people. (I'm assuming there still could be arrest for those homosexuals who commit violence/violations/crimes against others?) But for being gay? Even for consensual homosexual acts? No, and the Church says so! Even your article states that.

    I am not sure if you are aware that the National Catholic Reporter has pretty much zero credibility amongst orthodox Catholics. It is a hotbed of dissenters and, frankly, Church-haters. If you want a more faithful view, go to the National Catholic Register or Our Sunday Visitor. And, First Things is good.

  32. What a heartfelt post from this mother. I ache for her and am beyond amazed at how well she appears to have handled this so far.

    I echo what most of the commenters have said-it's hard to love the sinner and hate the sin but it's what we're called to do. I would imagine that treating your son's potential future partner in the same way you would treat a sexually active girlfriend would be the best course of action. Would you still let her come over for dinner? Would you make them sleep in seperate rooms if they stayed the night (obviously). Not that that's easy-but you're right to say a mortal sin is a mortal sin.

  33. And forgive me if that sounds like "advice". You weren't asking for it and I'm obviously not qualified to give it. I was just really just thinking about what I might try to do if I were in that situation.

  34. Oh, my... I opened this post and read it this morning and felt for the first time that me deepest struggles with my sister's recent "coming out" were truly understood.

    I have a blog and i don't usually comment anonymously, but for a variety of reasons I am doing so today.

    THANK YOU, thank you for this post. It meant everything to me!

  35. This issue is very close to my heart. One of the issues that I did not see brought into the discussion (except for just a little, by anonymous #1) is that of unreasonable fears regarding persons with same sex attractions. What is it we fear? Are we afraid that the homosexual population will grow so big that the traditional family will be threatened? Are we afraid that people with same sex attractions are sexual predators? The evidence for either of these is not very strong. Most sexual predators are heterosexual. And while we hear more about homosexuals now, numbers are not increasing.
    My spiritual director, a Catholic priest, told me that he has heard the confessions of hundreds of people with same sex attractions. He believes some of us are born that way and suffer far more than most people realize. (He did distinguish homosexuals from people who were simply experimenting with deviant sexual behavior) Mocking, shaming, and taunting words are never appropriate toward anyone - least of all someone who is suffering.

  36. Thanks, Leila, for posting this, and thanks to your friend who wrote to you. I'm a gay Catholic man, 27 years old, faithful to the Church's teaching and living a celibate life. My heart goes out to your friend and her son.

    For what it's worth, I've found both tremendous struggles and and tremendous joy in this life. It's a cross for sure, harder than some and easier than others.

    At the risk of sounding like a self-promoter, here's an interview I did with Simcha Fisher some time ago. Maybe your friend or her son will find it helpful.

    -Steve Gershom (

  37. Steve, thank you! I have put the link in the body of this post. I truly appreciate it, and I hope everyone will go and read your interview! Your perspective is so important, and I hope it gets a wide reading.

  38. Steve, what a wonderful interview! I love how your love for your faith comes out in everything you say! God Bless!

  39. Sigh. Apparently, after all of the time I've been trying to say I'm NOT a relativist, I'm a secular humanist, that I do have morals and I think they cross cultures, I spent all of that time writing about how I did actually want to change the Zimbabweans view on HIV, I do think things are right and wrong -- you've missed it entirely.

    So, Marc was right - I must be completely incoherent. Either that or serpentine was right - you don't really listen to what we say. What a waste of my time, and yours apparently. You'll always think liberals don't have morals, no matter what we say.

    I really can't believe it.

  40. Mai, I never, ever said that liberals don't have morals. Not once. I believe your morality is probably quite like mine on several issues.

    That is not the point I was trying to make. If your morals come only from inside of your own head, after thinking and concluding on your own, then you don't believe in objective truth. You may believe something is true, and you may be right. But if it's not from a source outside of yourself, then it's just your opinion, even if it's a correct opinion. Unless you can tell me how it can be otherwise? What is the difference between opinion and truth in your worldview? I still don't understand.

    Objective truth comes from without, subjective truth comes from within.

    Help? Maybe we aren't speaking the same language. But please try one more time?

  41. I am wondering about how Catholics should behave in practical situations. For example, if you KNOW your son or friend or cousin is gay and has a partner but they don't live together and you don't know FOR SURE that they are sexually active, how do you proceed? For example, what if they invite you to join them for dinner at a restaurant? Or, do you invite them to events (particularly big family events)? What if this mother's son finds a partner but then refuses to interact with his mother or family unless said partner is also included? Would she have to decline interaction? Cutting off contact means you can't be there to guide him out of sin. I would really like someone to just address some proper ways to respond to day to day issues. I agree that homosexuality is wrong but that homosexuals should be loved. How does one proceed? Examples?

  42. I echo the questions of the anonymous commenter before me. I struggle with the daily application of "loving the sinner/hating the sin" (and I am talking about not only homosexuality here, but any lifestyle sins [i.e. living together before marriage] that we are forced to address in some manner because our lives intertwine with others). When have I crossed a line into condoning someone's behavior? Is it wrong to be friends with someone living a lifestyle my faith (and I) believe is sinful without having "the talk" with that person about what I believe? Am I condoning behavior by omission? I am weak, and the thought of having a discussion like that, especially with friends who are not even Catholic, makes me so incredibly nervous, I just couldn't bear it. But am I called to? And how close do I need to be with someone to do that? There are WAY too many people in my life who are living in ways I shouldn't condone to address them all, not to mention I'd appear to be totally CRAZY if I went around talking with everyone about this stuff. So where's the cut off? It's so confusing. Right now I have chosen to love my friends/family, try to show them Christ's love as much as possible, draw the line in some places (separate beds for the unmarried, for example), and not shy away if asked directly about my feelings (yet honestly I hope this never happens!). But I worry it's not enough.. and yet I really, really hope I am not asked to do anything more outside of my comfort zone!!

    I am so fearful I am failing in these situations, failing my friends and loved ones and myself. I know Christ would treat sinners with so much grace and love, yet He always then told them the Truth. That part sometimes is forgotten. But am I called to do the same? I seriously think I would stay home and not become friends with people if we were always called to do that!

  43. Anonymous and AYWH, I will give you my two cents for what it's worth, and I hope others will chime in with their thoughts.

    I know how uncomfortable such situations can be, and we all want to be liked and not appear judgemental in any way. But sometimes we have to live on that uncomfortable edge. Thankfully, it doesn't have to be confrontational, and we don't have to take that step to point out someone's sin! That is not our job, to tell someone they are sinning. It is our job to work on our own sins.

    I think if we are living our lives as faithful Catholics, no real explanation is necessary. People we know and hang around with long enough will "get" who we are and understand our position on such things like living together out of wedlock, without our even having to mention it. Making sure they share separate rooms when they visit overnight is a pretty clear signal that you cannot facilitate any sins under your own roof.

    I would never hesitate to have someone come over for dinner, whether they be a homosexual couple or a heterosexual couple living together. I should and can be hospitable to all people. That is what we do as Christians! We are all sinners and Jesus dined with sinners, not the Pharisees (whom he castigated quite often).

    It would be a bit more of a dilemma to have a gay couple over for dinner with all the little kids I have. I would not want them to be confused or to be exposed to those ideas at that age. The couple would have to know that they are not to act like a "couple", if you know what I mean, out of respect for my children. With a heterosexual couple living together, it would not be confusing to my little ones if they held hands or if we referred to them as "dating" (though we wouldn't want to talk about them living together!). So, there is a bit of a difference in those two situations.

    More coming....

  44. Occasionally, there has to be a direct conversation, esp. if it's a Catholic who is ignorant of tenets of the faith. For example, I once had to have a delicate (and much dreaded!!) conversation with my Catholic neighbor as she was one day away from a scheduled C-section and I found out she was going to get her tubes tied! Not a fun conversation, but I prepared and called her, offering information and love (putting it on me, that I had an obligation to tell her, that my conscience required it). She was gracious, but not really interested in what I had to say.

    Mother Teresa said that we are called to be faithful, not successful. Pope John Paul II said something to the effect of, We cannot correct all the error around us; there is too much of it. We can only live and speak the truth. Some will hear, some won't.

    Conversion is not our business, it's God's. Love is, and fidelity in our own lives.

    St. Paul said he had to be all things to all people. We have to know our audience. Most people are not swayed by getting in their face, and no one should be treated like a "project". But people do respond to love. If someone knows that you care about him, he is much more likely to listen. To hear your heart speak to his. That's how Jesus worked, after all, and then the truth could be heard more clearly (not that everyone listened to the truth).

    Bottom line, I think if you are worried about how to speak truth to people, then you are thinking too much about yourself. When people encountered the saints, they always said the same thing: "When he/she talked to me, it was as if I were the only person in the world. They truly were interested in what I had to say and in who I am."

    If you approach people like that, I think the rest will follow.

    This was stream of consciousness, so I don't know how it sounds!! I guess I'm saying, we are not the morality police. There are plenty of opportunities God gives us to witness to the truth, but that is not how we should be thinking of our interactions with other people.

    Does that make sense? I'm figuring it out, too. I talk of truth and Catholic doctrine on this blog because, well, that's the purpose of the blog (see above). But in real life, I do not go around looking to root out sin in my neighbors. I have enough to root out in myself. :)

    But, for sure, there is a tension to living in this world as a Christian, just as Jesus promised there would be. It's not comfortable living here, because this is not our true home anyway. :)

  45. Allyouwhohope, and Anonymous, regarding the practical application you are seeking and how to live out what the Church teaches... this is the biggest mystery of today.
    Here is my story: There is not a single teaching of the Catholic Church that our family struggles with; we are devout, and faithful to the Magisterium. We have a very close gay friend, the man who previously sponsored my husband into the Catholic Church, and introduced Adoration to me in the '90's. Several years ago, and for a year after his marriage ended, he did not really know that I knew. One day, he called to tell me he had stopped by the Adoration chapel at our church, but it had moved. Throughout the course of the conversation, he came out to me. I told him I had known since the day he broke up with his wife. I asked him if he had noticed that I had treated him any differently and he said no. I told him my teens knew as well. I asked him if he even knew that they knew, or had they treated him differently? He said no. I told him we all loved him so much, though we stood by the teachings of the Catholic Church. He was sad because he wanted to share his new life and his signifcant other with us. He knew that it wasn't possible and never initiated it. One Christmas he made a surprise visit accompanied by both his children and his significant other - his kids had grown up with my kids. We were all fine. My younger ones didn't pick up on it, but I wouldn't make this a regular practice with my little ones.
    All I ever had to say that first "out" day was that we stood by what the Catholic Church teaches. He chose to come around to us. We are closer to him than we are to his ex-wife, also a formerly close friend. Now he is single, and I rejoice greatly and continue to pray, thinking this may be a break in his journey home to celibacy. I don't know if this helps. They are hard questions. Jesus dined with the sinners, as we should, maybe only if we are mature enough and armed with strong virtues. We openly talked with our older children who love him, but don't love the sin. We trust in God's mercy. Throughout all of this, we have never gone a day without praying for him. Hope this real life story helps.

  46. May I clarify my previous post...
    Our gay friend came out after sponsoring my husband's entry into the Catholic Church, but only about five years after. We never knew he struggled, but we decided to be there for him as he was there for our family.

  47. Thank you all, your examples have been very helpful. It helps me to know that you can interact day to day and be loving and still maintain friendships. I guess the key points I'm hearing are that your gay friend/relative needs to know where you stand (ie. that you don't condone acting on homosexuality) and other than that you need to just love fiercely and be a good example of a Catholic. And to keep your young children away from anything that might influence them until they are old enough to understand.

  48. Interesting interview. I wonder what it means.

  49. Jen @ Conversion Diary has a few posts about this subject... the first is here:

  50. AAnonymous said...
    “How much simpler it would be for all of them if they found another Church that …accepted scientific advances of ivf as a loving way for some to complete their families. Be brave, acknowledge that no church has all the answers.

    You are right. It would be simpler to walk away and find something that makes my desires and my perceived needs to be the priority. But that would not be truth. As a Catholic woman I know my infertility to a huge cross that I struggle with every day. It would be “easier” to find a church that said IVF is ok. But how many lives would I destroy in the process? I know in my heart, as the Church affirms in Her teaching, that every single human life is precious and unrepeatable. I know this is true at the moment a human comes in to being, not at birth, or at heartbeat or any other developmental stage but at the moment of existence. If I know this can be true, how could I possible justify destroying potentially dozens of those lives so I can meet my desires?

    You say that no church has all the answers. I have to acknowledge that the part of our Church that is human has all the same failings the rest of us. We are not incapable of error. But I also know that our error is always in the application of truth – not the definition of it. I am a convert and I put considerable effort into proving the Church wrong, not on how her adherents have applied the truth, but on how She teaches the truth and I have never been able to contradict any of Her teachings.

    Bravery requires that I acknowledge and defend truth – not circumvent it for my own ends.

  51. Leila, I was so elated that you left a comment on the Billy Graham story. I came to leave a "thank you", and God working in His mysterious way, I found this story. My heart ached for the mother of this young man. Having turned away from my spiritual upbringing for MANY years, God brought me "home", i.e., back into the fold through a series of difficult illnesses.

    We cannot change what is instilled in us from birth; we are products of our environment, and thus, I feel, no, I HOPE that the young man will return to The Church, and that he finds someone who will share a life and bring him much happiness.

    And BTW, I would LOVE LOVE LOVE my son, no matter what. Some lifelong friends who live across the street from my mom and dad where I was raised, their daughter is a lesbian and had had a partner for many years. Initially, they were shocked and "embarrassed", but they now talk about them freely and have accepted "Deb" as part of their family. That really made me happy!

    A quick look let me know I need to bookmark your blog. Again, I am so happy to meet you.

    In Christ,

  52. Thanks for posting this. So many thoughts and so little time.

    First of all, I love the interview on Faitha and Family. That young man is really trying to live out his faith. I commend him for it.

    I really struggle with the descrimination that those people who are gay have to deal with. I sometimes feel that they are today's version of the leper. I also really struggle with the hate the sin and not the sinner. It is so hard for me and I have a very close family member that is gay. It is so hard. I just have to pray constantly and just take it one interaction at a time.

    There really is beauty in Church Teaching. It is the Truth but it is very hard to live. But, when trying to live the Truth, grace abounds.

  53. My heart goes out to the mother, the son and the family. It's certainly not an easy situation for anyone involved. It took great courage for her to write that and you to post that.

  54. Abbey, welcome! I am so glad you came on over, and I think you will love our little community here! :)

    Thank you everyone for your heartfelt comments. The mother who wrote the post is very grateful for all your love and prayers. I think this has helped her have more peace.

  55. I just found your blog, and this post and Steve's interview are amazing. It's really helped shed a new light on things for me.

    My heart is breaking for this mom and her family. I had similar feelings with my sister revealing she was pregnant by a man she had known only for a month. When she told me on the phone that she was pregnant, I was so very sad and happy all at the same time. Sad that she committed the sin of sex outside of marriage but happy about a new human life in our family. All I could say was "Wow" and I was truly happy for her to have a baby. I struggled with how to treat her and her boyfriend. I thought for a minute about telling her this was wrong, or something, but then it hit me -- uh, duh, she knows it is wrong and the deed is done. Would it glorify God for me to shun her, not speak to her? She knows how I feel about it. I am not Catholic, but I am Christian. Would it be helpful to her or glorifying to God to not speak to her boyfriend or acknowledge him as the father of my nephew? No.

    So, we have them over for dinner, we give them food, a car, appliances, baby things, because I know already the path she has chosen will be the more difficult one without me adding to the difficulties. I know that if I chose not to help her or associate with her, that would just turn her away and cause resentment.

    It is so hard. I often struggle with how to treat people living in unrepentant sin like sex outside of marriage. It is so hard to know where to draw the line.

    For example, if a gay couple invited you to their "wedding", would you go? My husband says yes. I just don't know. I feel like it would be condoning this behavior, and that they would think I think it is okay. But then I feel like if I didn't go, that it would be un-loving. What's the right thing to do?

  56. Leila, I have a question. Since advocating for Homosexual marriage and abortion would be Catholic non-negotiables in terms of politics, does this mean you would vote for Rand Paul if you were in KY? A man who thinks the parts of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 pertaining to the desegregation of private business should be removed? (because telling private businesses and restaurants that they must serve everyone regardless of race, or gender is too much government oversight???)
    How would supporting non-negotiables and assuring your entrance to Heaven not be compromised by a racist agenda?

  57. Miss G, my dear friend Lisa Graas (a single, disabled mom living below the poverty line) is very active in Kentucky politics, to say the least (she also writes for David Horowitz's blog). She simply did not vote in that senate race. She refused to vote for Rand Paul. That is one way to deal with it.

  58. Miss G, voting in line with the "non-negotiables" does not "assure [our] entrance into heaven." Where did you get that idea?

    Re: Rand Paul, I sort of see where he is coming from, although I don't wholly agree. But when I see private Catholic businesses sued because they choose not to, for example, photograph a homosexual wedding... well, I see his concern.

  59. JoAnna, thanks for that important follow-up! I agree with you... there is a lot of fear about things like that, and it's not paranoia, it's actually happening.

  60. Anonymous, as for attending a gay wedding, I would definitely not go. I think even the couple would understand and respect that. I would hope.

  61. You absolutely could not go to a homosexual wedding, that would be showing you are in favor of that act. We can never support a life of mortal sin which is their marriage would be.

    People who know us would never think we would condone such things.And those that do, we have to explain why we don't condone such behavior. For instance, my Aunt was married by the JP before her annulment came in, we didn't go to their house or invite them to ours until that was resolved.(they knew better and chose to live in mortal sin instead of waiting several months for the annulment) My cousin got pg in college and they asked me to help with her shower, I declined and told them why. There were no hard feelings and today she is married to a great guy and all is well between us.

    We have to stand on what is right, we can't be like the world and smooth everything over until all is gray. There is wrong, sin is wrong. Mortal sin cannot be condoned. You especially can't be seen as condoning mortal sin with young children in your home. This sends a destructive message.

  62. Awesome post! Here's my recent post on Same Sex Attraction:

  63. Hi, I was anonymous with the gay wedding question earlier. After some thought pondering everyone's responses and reading the Bible and prayer, I really can't comprehend shunning people for sex outside of marriage.

    If I had told my sister I wasn't coming to her baby shower, she would have been hurt more than she already was by her own actions. We were celebrating a baby, not premarital sex. I think by going to the shower, I was telling her I loved her anyway (despite her poor choices). Just like Jesus loves me despite my bad choices ( I am no less a sinner than my sister) , and I need to reflect His love on to her.

    I think this shunning behavior is why people don't become Christian or don't like Christians. I am not saying we should conform to the world to get them to like us, not at all. And I struggle with where to draw the line at things, but people need love, not a cold shoulder.

    In no way do I support or condone premarital sex of any kind, and my family and friends know this. But, I don't see the benefit or the Biblical basis of not inviting them over to my house or going over to their house in the meantime while they work through their issues, especially if they are non-Christian. That's not unconditional love. That's I'll love you if you perform or don't perform x,y, z actions. God loves us no matter what. That doesn't mean we should go on sinning ("What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!" Romans 6:1-2), but if we are talking about non-Christians in our family/friend circle, then we must show them Jesus' love, right? They need to see light, not darkness.

    Anyway, thanks for everyone's thoughts.

    And for the record, I am happy to report my sister has married her boyfriend (sooner than we thought)! Yay!


  64. Robin, you will find a range of opinions from Catholics on that. Personally, I attend showers where the baby is from an unwed mother. It is for the baby, for sure, and then to show support for the mother (and love, outreach).

    We have homes for unwed mothers here in Phoenix called Maggie's Place. There are baby showers for those mothers, and the ones who throw the showers and provide the gifts, etc., are pretty much all devout Catholics. They also have chapels in the homes, and teach chastity, theology of the body, so it's not that the Catholics who run it and support it are lax in their beliefs. Yet, they throw baby showers for the women. Same with Sisters for Life in NYC, that great order of sisters founded by Cardinal O'Connor. They celebrate the women and their babies.

    So, attending or not attending is an opinion, not a rule of any kind....


  65. Therese, your post is excellent!! Thank you for sharing it here!!

  66. I never said I showed anyone a cold shoulder. I simply will not celebrate their sin. If they need help I will help them. I will love them. The majority of people I know, know their faith and are aware that they are in sin. Those that don't know we need to show God to them. But again, I'm not going to celebrate or condone their sin.

  67. Two things. First, Leila, the quote from JPII you were looking for earlier is: See everything, overlook a great deal, correct a little. My mother-in-law has it on her fridge and often quotes it to us, her hyper-critical children.

    Second, regarding the "shunning" of those who get pregnant outside of wedlock. My now-husband and I got pregnant with our oldest child out of wedlock. We both come from strong Christian families, and it was made clear to us by both our families that if we wanted their support we would immediately stop living together and begin practicing chastity until we got married. If this hadn't been made clear, I can't say for sure that we would have done it, but we did and now have a valid Catholic marriage. There was no "shunning," so to speak, going on, although we would not have been welcome at either of their homes had we not began to correct the great wrong that we had committed at once. When we began to practice chastity and receive counseling from a wonderful priest, they both threw us a baby shower and were an enormous help in preparing for the upcoming birth of our daughter. I think there is a difference in attitude that is being missed in this discussion; rather than "shun" someone, as faithful Catholics we are called to expect mortal sin to be corrected. If those in mortal sin choose not to correct themselves, they also choose the consequences that each individual family decides on. It isn't the faithful imposing some sort of punishment; it's the sinner choosing to accept the inevitable consequences of their actions. My husband is fond of the saying "No one is in hell who hasn't chosen to be there," and I agree. It isn't God punishing us; we choose the consequences of pursuing our desires.

    I hope I'm not sounding insensitive here; I was truly heartbroken for this mother and absolutely understand the difficulty in loving the sinner and hating the sin, especially when it is your own child. I have no idea how we would respond in that situation and am only offering the responses of our families as an illustration.

  68. Is it odd that I panic about this? I would be crushed, heartbroken, and scared senseless.

    I commend you for publishing this article, and thank God for this mother's courage in speaking so frankly about her son, whom she loves so deeply.

  69. "Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided."

    If this is Church teaching, what do you think about Don't Ask, Don't Tell?

  70. I actually don't have a strong opinion on it. It's up the the military to decide whether or not homosexuals can serve openly in the ranks without harming morale or the mission of the military. The military is not a social experiment. So, to the extent that it doesn't harm the military, I am okay with homosexuals serving.

    And keep in mind, the key word is "unjust" discrimination. Some discrimination (in all walks of life) is just and necessary. For example, we discriminate when we say that blind people cannot drive.

  71. I agree with you that some discrimination is necessary.

    But there is no evidence to prove that gay people would be unable to be productive members of the military. After receiving the same training as every other soldier, they would be just as proficient, unlike blind people driving (they frankly just can't read street signs and see the road in front of them). So isn't this type of discrimination unjust?

    If, however, some technology were invented that allowed blind people to drive just as safely and effectively as people who can see, I would be vehemently against not allowing them to drive, simply because they can't see.

    I do recognize that you don't have a strong opinion on it, so this isn't directed necessarily at you. I just wanted to put this out there

  72. Anon, I don't disagree with you.

    On a personal level, I can see why some troops might not want to bunk with an openly gay soldier, in the same way that I, as a woman, would not want to bunk with a man. It would make me uncomfortable, for any number of reasons. That type of thing might make for a less effective, less focused military, with a lower morale. It's a possibility. And in that case, it would not be unjust to keep DADT in place. But, I will leave it to the military to sort it all out for themselves.

    Thanks for your thoughts, though. I think we are on the same page, generally.


  74. sorry- just cut and paste - the best book ever read for me. Bless you and bless the women who came to you. I hope you will look into it sometime

  75. I rejected its doctrines, dogmas, teachings, and traditions 'cause they're full of hatred and BS.

    This seems more like flame throwing and not reasoned debate, jay jay. Do you want to back it up with some facts, and not just your subjective feelings? It's hard to have a reasoned conversation when you say things like this. It seems like you are forming your "truth" on your feelings. Am I wrong?

  76. jay jay, as soon as you start spewing your hatred of the Catholic Church with lies and talking points, I realize I cannot dialogue with you, and I have dialogued with dozens of atheists and such over the course of the year. You are simply rude, and I won't dialogue with a rude person (who also has no clue what she is talking about). I am banning you from this site, and that is only the second time I have had to do that to a person. Please never post again. God bless you.

  77. Oh come on, everyone knows that priests are just a bunch of fucking bastards who abuse children 'cause the church has oppressed their sexual desire as if sex was something bad. This is not false; is very true. Like I said, you just don't want to see the truth.

  78. Interesting theory, jay jay, but how do you square it with the fact that public school teachers are 100 times more likely to molest than priests? You might want to ponder that one. Here's a secular source for you:

    And I'm sure celibacy is the reason that Buddhist monks are molesting children, too, right? Oh, wait, they don't molest children. So, there must be something else to the molestation other than celibacy. Hmmmmm.

  79. I know this is pretty late comment to this post but I am so happy to have found it and the linked site. I know my heart needs to grow and be more compassionate and supportive to those who are gay. I know my heart needs to grow and be more supportive of the family members of those that are gay. It also hit me the many parallels being drawn with lack of understanding and support for infertile women and couples.
    I also hit your NaPro links as well tonight. I've completely given over to love with the case of a friend that is infertile and has suffered stillborn birth, and an chromosomal abnormality miscarriage from an IVF transfer. It was pretty easy for me to accept Catechism and church spokesmen/women teaching on this before getting to know and growing to love her. I can't stop her in her pursuit of an IVF baby, and any attempt I would have made to do so would just have alienated her. I prayed instead that God would forgive whatever needs forgiving and that he would in his mercy and compassion for her give her the baby of her and her husband's dreams. In the back of my heart and mind I do hope that she will be done after this. Partly because of the emotional trial and self-sacrifice this path entails, and partly because I don't know when the soul is knitted into the child within the womb. I know what the church teaches now, but know that it wasn't always so. If the church happens to be wrong on this (I don't consider teaching against contraceptives or abortion wrong)I guess it would still be sin of disobedience. I love her enough to want her to avoid sin, and to me that would mean she would not consider another IVF pregnancy. I also don't think she fully investigated something like NaPro because when i discussed my NFP chart with her she was surprised it wasn't just days in the cycle which told me she must not have pursued that very far. I don't think she or others view having a baby as their right though as one of the reference pages said. I think they have this deep longing for a child born from a mother's heart. I don't believe moral relativism is good. I do believe though that people can search their hearts in the midst of imperfect arguments and logic that is not bullet proof and if they are proceeding with prayer, humility and self-sacrifice I see the path of love to love them and support them, and to defend them. I think that is why there are a few belligerent posts here. When you love someone you really want to support and defend them. You know they have been hurt enough and you want it to stop. This mother's letter was simply beautiful as was her follow-up comment. She has a devout, loving, faithful heart, and one that has known deep suffering, as evidenced not just by her current trial with her son, but also by the 6 miscarriages. My prayers for her, her son, her husband and family. May the Holy Spirit come to the aid of all in the family and in the Church that is commissioned to minister to them. I pray that they will have peace in the midst of this trial.

  80. Colleen, thank you for the comment! It is clear that you have compassion in your heart for your friends. I only want to gently remind you of one core principle of our Faith. You said: "You know they have been hurt enough and you want it to stop."

    We cannot in any way condone sin simply in order to stop suffering. If we condoned sin to stop emotional or physical suffering, we would be using an "ends justify the means" model, which is the opposite of the Christian model of moral reasoning. As Christians, we know that the ends do not justify the means.

    We all hate suffering and want to alleviate it, but we can't alleviate suffering by turning a blind eye to sin, or condoning it in the hopes that people will not suffer anymore.

    I hope that makes sense. I know it's hard to understand in this culture that puts avoidance of suffering at the top of the list of desired "goods".

    Let me know if that makes sense.

  81. Leila, thank you so much for responding. I agree ends do not justify the means. Further agree that if something is objectively evil, no degree of circumstances or good intentions makes it good, whether that applies to my behavior, if I am condoning a sin, or to the person that is giving into temptation and sinning. When my friend, at the time co-worker, first told me about this, my first remark was "Well I think free choice is a good thing" which was to keep from saying I was OK with what she was doing.
    Prior to meeting her I was probably 100% on board with complete agreement and obedience to CCC. Learning that some of the arguments posed against IVF are not on solid logic grounds has weakened my position. I am no longer on the sidelines as I was before I met her.
    I listened to a Dr. on EWTN's Faith and Culture the other night, and some of what he was saying was simply based on anecdotal stories that were not matching the experience of my friend. She has small number of embryos that were frozen. She only transferred one embryo, not 4 or 5. She is dead set against selective reductions. She is dead set against both destroying embryos and selling them. She would only consider preserving them or donating them to other couples.
    The doctor on ETWN throws in how parents in China are aborting girls in favor of male offspring. That is evil, but is that the same as IVF? Why is it interjected other than Sophist argument by emotional transitive connection, to get people fired up that IVF by a couple that have come together more in 2 years to have a child in the marital act, with more mutual self-giving than most couples with spontaneous pregnancies experience inside of 7 years of marriage, but without success due to a medical condition is as evil as killing a girl baby in the womb?
    In other objectively evil acts there is pretty clear instance of selfishness and some version of rebelling against God to pursue short-term pleasure. Their path is opposite of this. She desires to grow her family, but it isn't because she thinks it is her right. Her path is one of self-forgetful love and amazing courage, not selfishness, rebelliousness and desire to control the creative process. She is completely out of control of her reproductive processes. She is not trying to be like God as Eve was in the garden and neither is her RE.
    I just don't see IVF as objectively evil as clearly as I see killing a girl baby in the womb as objectively evil. In short I see her proceeding with ethics and morals, and none of her story is found on anyone's lips or in print in any of the Catholic sites on IVF. Instead it is consistently: 5-8 embryos transferred...Selective reduction to 1-3...Embryos destroyed or donated to science.
    The doctor on EWTN described process some theologians say is OK. It involved having the husband donate sperm via use of a condom with a hole in it so as to avoid masturbation, and then having implantation of just the sperm in the tubes timed with ovulation rather than the womb. Logic of why this was OK and IVF not wasn't solid to me.
    I am open to Holy Spirit showing me if I have condoned sin, and hidden the truth from her or others. I am just not convinced that how they are using IVF is objectively evil and therefore a sin.
    The info published by church spokespeople consistently leaves out fact that many marital acts result in 20 % embryos not implanting. Is that propaganda on the side of the Reproductive industry or is it omitted by ignorance or because it weakens the assertion that the soul is present at embryo stage?
    I do believe God is co-creator and knits the soul in the child within the womb of the mother, I am just not convinced that occurs at embryo stage up in the fallopian tubes, nor in the petri dish.

  82. Colleen, hang on, but with all due respect, it seems that you are deciding (as Adam and Eve) what is right and wrong. The Church couldn't be clearer on the issue of IVF and (in general) the immorality of separating the unitive and procreative aspects of sex.

    We don't separate sex and babies. IVF is intrinsically evil.

    All the other considerations you mention will not change that fact. The Church has the authority of Christ, and to deny that is to be a dissenter from Church teaching.

    Let me refer you to another post, which might help you understand:

    Also, the sidebar on my blog which is called "Bioethics for Beginners" might be helpful.

    You may feel like you have good reasons to dissent from Church teaching, but doesn't every dissenter feel the same?

    I hope you understand that we can all justify our dissent, but it is still dissent. And since we are a Church of revelation, and not a democracy, it puts us in an odd spot when we are attempting to defend what is clearly called sin.

    I hope you do not feel I am being mean in saying this. It's just the the only salient difference between a Catholic and a Protestant is obedience to the Church's Magisterium.


  83. I am open to Holy Spirit showing me if I have condoned sin, and hidden the truth from her or others.

    Colleen, the Holy Spirit does not speak infallibly through you. He speaks through Christ's Church.

    I hope you understand.

    What you have said in this sentence is a Protestant paradigm.

  84. Leila, you are good! Not claiming that. I'll think about what you said. This isn't one of the infallible teachings though, is it? If it is, please educate me or send me the link.

  85. Colleen, ha ha, thanks! Yes, teaching on the truth and meaning of human sexuality, and the immorality of IVF is not an open question, but is a matter of doctrine. It is part of the Deposit of Faith.

    Here is something that might help with the distinction between doctrine (truth) and discipline (which can change):

    And when I come back tonight, I can give you some more. Thanks for keeping an open mind! :)

  86. I found that the source is Donum Vitae published by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. Was that an infallible teaching then? “The Church's teaching on marriage and human procreation affirms the "inseparable connection, willed by God and unable to be broken by man on his own initiative, between the two meanings of the conjugal act: the unitive meaning and the procreative meaning. Indeed, by its intimate structure, the conjugal act, while most closely uniting husband and wife, makes them capable of the generation of new lives, according to laws inscribed in the very being of man and of woman."[38] This principle, which is based upon the nature of marriage and the intimate connection of the goods of marriage, has well-known consequences on the level of responsible fatherhood and motherhood. "By safeguarding both these essential aspects, the unitive and the procreative, the conjugal act preserves in its fullness the sense of true mutual love and its ordination toward man's exalted vocation to parenthood."
    I just don't follow how this translates into paragraph 2376. Is the teaching in 2376 infallible because it is in the CCC? The reasoning "infringes on the right to be born of a father and mother known to him and bound to each other in marriage" does not follow from having the intrusion of person other than the couple effect fertilization.

  87. Leila, sorry to take so much of your time. I'll log out for now and check back tonight too and read you post at the link. Good conversation. Again thanks for taking so much time.

  88. Colleen, dinner's on, but here is something I quickly found for you on Catholic Answers:

    Q. The Church's teaching on the immorality of in-vitro fertilization seems cruel and unfair. Don't married couples have a right to have a child?

    While the Church’s judgment concerning in-vitro fertilization treatments may appear cruel and unfair, it is not. Children are a gift, not an entitlement. The Church teaches that:

    [M]arriage does not confer upon the spouses the right to have a child, but only the right to perform those natural acts which are per se ordered to procreation. A true and proper right to a child would be contrary to the child’s dignity and nature. The child is not an object to which one has a right, nor can he be considered as an object of ownership: rather, a child is a gift, "the supreme gift" (58) and the most gratuitous gift of marriage, and is a living testimony of the mutual giving of his parents. For this reason, the child has the right, as already mentioned, to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents; and he also has the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception. (Instruction on Respect for Human Life 8)

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church also reminds us that:

    Techniques involving only the married couple (homologous artificial insemination and fertilization). . . dissociate the sexual act from the procreative act. The act which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another, but one that "entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person. Such a relationship of domination is in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children." (CCC 2377)

    Further reading: Donum Vitae

    More in a bit….

  89. I just stumbled on very pertinent blog entry quoting the same sources as well as PJP II quote.

    I am not seeing definitive statement in Donum Vitae or CCC that would lead me to conclusion I have condoned a sin, but I continue to have open mind. Obviously you hit a nerve with me, I do not want to be disobedient as I know that is not God's will especially as illuminated in St. Faustina's Diary. I also do not want to deliberately be sinning by condoning a sin and letting someone stay in error. I don't know if she is sinning since the CCC statement is too general and the given rationalization doesn't flow logically, philosophically from the declaration. If the dignity and rights of the child, and the embryo are protected, mutual self-giving is present and continues to be present, and the commitment is there for the children to know their parents then I think it is plausible that there shouldn't be a rush to judgement. I haven't seen anything so strongly worded as this is a grave sin as you see in CCC for masturbation, sterilization, and obviously abortion.


    Colleen, the above article states explicitly:

    "In summary, the Catholic Church condemns as gravely evil acts, both IVF in and of itself, and stem cell research performed on IVF embryos."

    To make it very clear, all sexual sins are mortal sins. There are not objectively venial sexual sins. This includes IVF or anything which separates the unitive and procreative aspects of sex.

    No only is IVF itself immoral, but what precedes it is a mortal sin, also: The masturbation rooms (filled with print and video pornography) where the husband's "sample" is collected. I can show you a photo of one such room, but it is disturbing.

    Intentions may be good, but intentions alone are not enough to make an act moral.

    I am so glad you are investigating! :)

  91. If the dignity and rights of the child, and the embryo are protected…

    When children are created in petri dishes by third parties, their dignity has already been grossly, gravely violated. IVF by its nature is a violation of a child's dignity.

  92. I do not agree with that statement, and especially not the "grossly, gravely violated." I think I follow though why it is being some theologians are considering it is OK to collect sperm with the condom with the hole in it and present it to the ovum within the tube, because if the logic is the petri dish is violation of dignity that would preserve that dignity.
    Thanks, Leila for the information and all the time you spent educating me. I would certainly be advocate for NFP and the NaPro offshoot to medically intervene. That is best. I cannot condemn IVF as last resort when only small number of embryos are created, none are destroyed, at the most only 2 are transferred, and there is a married couple together in physical, emotional mutual self-giving to parent God's gift of a child. A child's dignity comes from Jesus's sacrifice as the Lamb of God and not from whether they became an embryo in petri dish or a fallopian tube.

  93. Last one from me i think is I do think the donation rooms and the materials there are sinful. Condom with hole in it used in the marital act would be best as well. Considering all that Christ endured to save us, especially considering the thoughts of mystics that the scourging was for sexual sin is more than enough to avoid all sexual sin period.

  94. Colleen, theologians are not to replace the Magisterium. Theologians have a wonderful place in the Church, but it is not to protect the Deposit of Faith. Theologians do not speak infallibly. They speculate on things. You are mistaken about the role of theologians.

    Yes, all children have dignity because of Christ. Children of IVF, children of rape, children of affairs, etc. But we violate others' dignity all the time. It is we who are at fault. You desperately want to believe that some forms of IVF can be moral. They cannot. Not ever. The ends (a wonderful baby) do not justify the means. The means (IVF) is immoral in itself. Creating a baby outside the married, conjugal act is inherently immoral, not matter what the circumstances.

    I am sorry, I know your heart is compassionate, but this is misplaced compassion. You are making a gray area where there is none. The Church has spoken on IVF, and it is not negotiable, no matter how you would like it to be. IVF is a grave evil.

    "Rome has spoken, the case is closed."

    Obedience and humility are hard, believe me, I know….

    But I hope you understand that on this issue, you stand outside of the Church. And no amount of justifying it or wishful thinking will change that fact.

    I really am sorry.

    God bless you!

  95. I cannot condemn IVF as last resort…

    But the Catholic Church can, and has.


    Colleen, the above post answers your specific comment that some forms of IVF may be okay, without frozen embryos, etc.

  97. Leila, thanks again for the dialogue on this. I do respect what you are doing here on your blog site. I am just a newbie, but maybe you might want to check out my site. Unfortunately I through length of individual post content concerns to the breeze with my last one, but maybe you'll like parts of it.

  98. Colleen, I liked it very much! I also thought I would reprint here what I wrote on your blog:

    This is very beautiful! Thank you!

    I hope that you will also consider the bedrock moral principle of Christianity, that love without Truth is not really love at all. We can never, ever divorce Truth from Love. They are intimately connected (God is both Love and Truth, without any defect or contradiction).

    Here is good evidence of that:

    True love corrects error. True love protects the faithful. True love obeys God in all things. True loves cares for the soul, and the eternal destiny of the other, more than it cares for the body.

    We must always speak and live the truth in love. The Church speaks many truths which fallen humanity cannot (or does not want to) understand. We are humble, we submit. We keep love wedded to truth no matter the cost to us.

    I love this quote from St. John of the Cross, echoed by many other saints:

    "Should I misunderstand or be mistaken on some point, whether I deduce it from Scripture or not, I will not be intending to deviate from the true meaning of Sacred Scripture or from the doctrine of our Holy Mother the Catholic Church. Should there be some mistake, I submit entirely to the Church, or even to anyone who judges more competently about the matter than I."

    It can be so hard to have the courage to speak the Truth, even when we don't clearly see it, or when it requires that we cause earthly pain to someone we love when we gently correct them (as the spiritual works of mercy require of us in grave matters). It is not easy to live the Christian life, and sometimes, very painful things are required of us in the service of Love and Truth. Just a glance at the Crucifix tells us that….


    Colleeen, I also thought you might like to read a story of when I had to say an uncomfortable truth to someone (it's not the first time, and it's always yucky). Sometimes, God does amazing things when we have the courage to say things that we don't want to say:

    I hope you will consider it.

    God bless you, and please keep commenting here! I like your heart and your spirit!

  99. Leila, this must be some kind of record for words in comments on a post from 7 months ago! I have read every one of the links you have sent me. Thank you, and I will be over here pretty often commenting in the Bubble. Peace!

  100. Colleen, yes, it's a record, ha ha! Thanks so much, and I look forward to our continued dialogues!

  101. Hi! I think I finished my last edit and republish of the response to your last question. I don't think you posed it as a dissertation topic (ha--refers to length of my answer), but it was a very effective thought provoking question. I apologize if you attempted to read it earlier. I can't get over how hard it was to process through this and how many edits it took. I apologize if it takes long time to read. You may want to defer it!
    Here is the location:

  102. Leila, would it be possible for you to send me the contact info. for your friend who wrote the original post? I know someone in a similar situation and know it would be helpful to her to be able to communicate with your friend. Thank you.

    1. Mary, please contact me at

  103. I am new to your blog and am thankful to have found it. I have a brother and other more distant family members who are gay. We were all raised Catholic, but my brother no longer goes to church. We both have suffered the lost of another brother and that makes me want to be that much closer to the one who is now living. His lifestyle scares me. He recently went to Mass with me and said he didn't think he would ever go back because they homily talked about objectifying people especially through porn and he didn't agree. I'm so sad on a regular basis because of this situation and the feelings and thoughts of this mother really nailed it for me! Please pray for my brother and for me!


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