There are many times when I think of Cardinal Basil Hume. I have done so often in recent weeks as I have pondered the need to defend the institution of marriage without losing care for those of a same-sex orientation, writes Archbishop Vincent Nichols in The Catholic Herald.
Cardinal Hume had a deep concern that those of a same-sex orientation should feel welcome in the Church. That was why, in 1997, he published “A Note on the Teaching of the Church Concerning Homosexuality”. Its main points remain crucial for today and I recall them here, using for the most part the language of the original document.
First, some principles:
1) The Dignity of the Human Person:?The teaching of the Church is that we are to recognise the dignity of all people and not define or label them in terms of their sexual orientation. To do so is to risk losing sight of the fundamental identity of every person as a creature of God and, by grace, his child and heir to eternal life.
2) Sexuality and Marriage: There are two fundamental principles which determine Catholic teaching on sexual matters: that the sexual expression of love is intended by God’s plan of creation to find its place exclusively within marriage between a man and a woman, and that this expression of love must be open to the possible transmission of new life.
Secondly, some further considerations:
3) Homosexual orientation: The moral teaching of the Catholic Church is primarily concerned with our actions. Neither a heterosexual nor a homosexual orientation leads inevitably to sexual activity. Yet, in the context of the Church’s sexual moral teaching, a same-sex orientation can tend towards actions which are contrary to that teaching.
Sexual orientation does not dictate the whole personality and character of an individual. Furthermore, a person’s sexual orientation can be unclear, even complex. Also, it may vary over the years. Most importantly, an orientation is not a moral failing.
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