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  #1  
Old May 28, '10, 7:48 am
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Default Can Homosexuality Be Proved Wrong From Natural Law

Dearly beloved friends,

A non-Christian may be prepared to concede that homosexual deviant acts are 'unnatural' in the sense that some things plainly have inherent functions (termed teleologies by philosphers). Thus to use one's reproductive organs for purposes other than that for which they were intended (i.e. procreation) is manfestly unnatural.

However, whilst they might allow that homosexual genital acts are aberrant and unnatural, they would say that that does not necessarily make them wrong. They want to know how one leaps from unnatural to wrong. Thus, by way of example they will say that the bridge of the nose was not intended to hold glasses (an unnatural use), nevertheless, it is clearly not a 'wrong' thing to do. Again hair on the head is natures way of preventing heat loss, so to shave one's head is unnatural and frustrates the function of hair. However, nobody would seriously argue that a No. 0 haircut was 'wrong'. Likewise, they would contend that homosexual deviant acts may well be unnatural, or contrary to inherent functions, but that does not thereby render them wrong and improper.

Since it would be pointless to reference Sacred Scripture or the teaching of the Church, the authority of which atheists do not acknowledge, how can we respond to and refute these arguments by recourse to natural law reasoning only, demonstrating irrefragibly that homosexual genital acts are not only unnatural but wrong and improper also?



Warmest good wishes,



Portrait
  #2  
Old May 28, '10, 9:27 am
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Default Re: Can Homosexuality Be Proved Wrong From Natural Law

I'll be honest and say probably not. If you look to other more intelligent species in the animal kingdom, you'll see primitive greetings or establishment of dominance through same-sex sexual activity.

Of course, human beings are more than simple animals. Spirituality aside, we have developed codes of ethics, civil morals and laws and established real relationships based not just on species propagation and instinct but of real love. We are far beyond acknowledging friends or relatives or allies through same sex sexual activity. If anything, animals demonstrate how powerful sex is for more intelligent creatures and how it can be easily used improperly when you don't have a good understanding of it.

If your friend asks for a demonstration of natural law that homosexuality is wrong, ask him if he would think one friend acknowledging another by gratifying him sexually, in public, is wrong. Ask him if basically raping a member of the same sex in order to establish dominance is wrong. These things happen in nature and they're not wrong for animals because they don't know any better. We have a better understanding, even at a basic primitive level, for what sex is intended. He'd at least have to acknowledge that and it's not a far step to say then it should be used only under certain circumstances and that's for an expression of love between man and woman who have made a permanent commitment to one another. Otherwise, we're just like animals!
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  #3  
Old May 28, '10, 9:42 am
Laurie Gibson Laurie Gibson is offline
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Default Re: Can Homosexuality Be Proved Wrong From Natural Law

Hello Bucket.

I am the friend and not yet convinced. Of course I agree that rape etc is immoral and are wrong uses of sex. Obviously then we cannot say that any type of sex is OK. But it is a ‘far step’ from that to saying that sex should therefore only be used to express love between a man and woman in a committed relationship. I might say, indeed I do, that as straight sex can express love and so can gay sex perhaps both are OK.

Rape etc cause harm but faithful gay sex appears not to do so [the reverse in fact] - you cannot really make any equivalence between them.

Thanks for your thoughts

Laurie
  #4  
Old May 28, '10, 9:49 am
camerong camerong is offline
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Default Re: Can Homosexuality Be Proved Wrong From Natural Law

It's not clear how homosexuality can be proven wrong from natural law. See http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ho...ality/#Natural for an interesting discussion of this.

Quote:
[One possible argument] is that sex acts that involve either homosexuality, heterosexual sodomy, or which use contraception, frustrate the purpose of the sex organs, which is reproductive. This argument, often called the ‘perverted faculty argument’, is perhaps implicit in Aquinas. It has, however, come in for sharp attack (see Weitham, 1997), and the best recent defenders of a Thomistic natural law approach are attempting to move beyond it...
But it still seems like it should be able to be proven. Let's use a clearer analogy, perhaps? Why is bestiality wrong? Imagine both the human and animal enjoy it. In such a case, it seems ONLY wrong because it is not natural for humans to have sex with beasts. So while it is difficult to see how such an argument would go, it is not difficult to see that such an argument should work.
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  #5  
Old May 28, '10, 12:39 pm
Laurie Gibson Laurie Gibson is offline
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Default Re: Can Homosexuality Be Proved Wrong From Natural Law

Hi Camerong,

How nice to hear from you again. Your suggestion is ingenious.

Bestiality is unnatural and pleasurable and non-consensual and degrades the human being and does not express mutual love...
Gay sex between a faithful gay couple is unnatural and pleaurable and expresses mutual love and enhances their lives...

Without going into the matter in detail I think that bestiality is wrong, not because it is unnatural, but because of other properties it has.

Gay sex between faithful gay partners, on the other hand, seems to me to be right because of its other properties. The fact that it is unnatural seem quite irrelevant to whether it is right or wrong.

That is why I am requesting a reason for going from the statement 'X is unnatural' to the statement 'X is wrong'.

In fact for some everyday meanings of the term 'natural' you CANNOT make this move. In some sense of the term driving a car is 'unnatural' [primitive man did not do it] but it is not wrong. Of course Natural Law theorists use the term 'natural' in a particular way but my example does illustrate the need for a way of showing how to make the link that I request.

Regards

Laurie
  #6  
Old May 28, '10, 12:52 pm
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Default Re: Can Homosexuality Be Proved Wrong From Natural Law

Quote:
Originally Posted by camerong View Post
It's not clear how homosexuality can be proven wrong from natural law. See http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ho...ality/#Natural for an interesting discussion of this.



But it still seems like it should be able to be proven. Let's use a clearer analogy, perhaps? Why is bestiality wrong? Imagine both the human and animal enjoy it. In such a case, it seems ONLY wrong because it is not natural for humans to have sex with beasts. So while it is difficult to see how such an argument would go, it is not difficult to see that such an argument should work.

Dear Camerong,

In discussion with those who support homosexual liasons I myself have used the analogy with beastality to demonstrate that homosexual conduct is unnatural and wrong. Basicly I have said that people have an ethical intuition regarding homosexuality that they do about beastality, namely, that it is wrong because it is unnatural. However, the response was that whilst beastality was indeed wrong, it was wrong, not because it is unnatural, but becuase it is not consensual and lowered the dignity of those who engaged in it. They were not convinced that because something was unnatural that necessarily made it wrong and imporoper.

However, if something is unnatural and contrary to the usual course of nature, then surely it must be wrong for that very reason, that to me seems an ineluctable conclusion. Do not all men perceive intuitively that it is natural to copulate with another human but not with an animal? Is not its unnaturalness enough to condemn it per se? Moreover, how can the issue of consent be relevant in what is a manifestly unnatural act in the first place?



Warmest good wishes,



Portrait
  #7  
Old May 28, '10, 12:54 pm
Laurie Gibson Laurie Gibson is offline
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Default Re: Can Homosexuality Be Proved Wrong From Natural Law

The article that Camerong refers to in his post, I would recommend.
Thanks
Laurie
  #8  
Old May 28, '10, 1:04 pm
Laurie Gibson Laurie Gibson is offline
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Default Re: Can Homosexuality Be Proved Wrong From Natural Law

Hi Portrait,
How pleasant to meet up again.

You say:
However, if something is unnatural and contrary to the usual course of nature, then surely it must be wrong for that very reason, that to me seems an ineluctable conclusion.

This does not answer my question of how to go from 'unnatural' to 'wrong' because all you say is surely it is correct to do so. But I am obtuse as it does not seem sure to me!

You continue
Do not all men perceive intuitively that it is natural to copulate with another human but not with an animal?

I agree that most people feel revolted by the thought of sex with an animal [and most straight people by the thought of someone of the same sex]. But a feeling of revulsion is not enough. As I have mentioned I am revolted by the thought of eating raw oysters.

You might claim that it is a feeling that the act is morally wrong not just a feeling of revulsion. Suppose that is the case. We can still ask whether this feeling is correct. After all many people, seeing a loving gay couple, have a strong feeling that their relationship is good, so somebody's feelings must be in error.

You add
Is not its unnaturalness enough to condemn it per se.
To which the reply has to be 'Why?'

Regards as ever ,

Laurie
  #9  
Old May 28, '10, 1:29 pm
camerong camerong is offline
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Default Re: Can Homosexuality Be Proved Wrong From Natural Law

Laurie,
Good to discuss with you again, as well!

You draw a good distinction about bestiality not "express[ing] mutual love and enhanc[ing] their lives," whereas homosexual sex does (or at least, could). I agree. Let me, then, shift slightly--what about incest, say, between two consenting adults, such as adult brothers and sisters. Commonly, this is used a "slippery slope" argument (if homosexual sex is okay, what isn't), but I do not mean it this way. Instead, I mean to query whether there are any other types of sexual relationships which, while expressing mutual love and being life-enhancing, are wrong. It seems that incest (among consenting adults of equal power, etc) could be loving and life-enhancing. So the options are, incest in such a situation is acceptable, or incest in such a situation is wrong. If it is wrong, the next question is, why?
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  #10  
Old May 28, '10, 1:39 pm
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Default Re: Can Homosexuality Be Proved Wrong From Natural Law

Quote:
Originally Posted by Portrait View Post
Dear Camerong,

In discussion with those who support homosexual liasons I myself have used the analogy with beastality to demonstrate that homosexual conduct is unnatural and wrong. Basicly I have said that people have an ethical intuition regarding homosexuality that they do about beastality, namely, that it is wrong because it is unnatural. However, the response was that whilst beastality was indeed wrong, it was wrong, not because it is unnatural, but becuase it is not consensual and lowered the dignity of those who engaged in it. They were not convinced that because something was unnatural that necessarily made it wrong and improper. Without more foundation, such an assertion is as meaningless to a systematic discussion as saying "it's against the Catechism."

However, if something is unnatural and contrary to the usual course of nature, then surely it must be wrong for that very reason, that to me seems an ineluctable conclusion. Do not all men perceive intuitively that it is natural to copulate with another human but not with an animal? Is not its unnaturalness enough to condemn it per se? Moreover, how can the issue of consent be relevant in what is a manifestly unnatural act in the first place?



Warmest good wishes,



Portrait
I'm not sure the responses you receive to raising the instance of bestiality are sufficient. First, without making this thread too seedy, I would submit that it could be consensual--my dog consents to treats, and before he was fixed he consented to trying to have sex with the neighbor dog, perhaps he would also consent to sex with a human. Regarding the assertion that bestiality lowers the dignity of those who engage in it: I think such an assertion assumes a great deal, such as the existence of dignity, that dignity is a good thing, that it is somehow wrong to lessen one's dignity, etc.

Regarding your second paragraph, I would say that simply because man is pre-inclined to believe something is wrong, this is not very strong evidence that it is so. Man, unschooled in religion or societal concepts of morality, likely has no problem with casual sex, for example, and may well be racist, sexist, etc. Natural inclinations, then, do not seem accurate indicators of morality--at the most, I think they can be used to show the existence of morality, but not what that morality entails.

Cameron

P.S. It is refreshing to see English courtesy from you and Laurie!
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  #11  
Old May 28, '10, 2:01 pm
Laurie Gibson Laurie Gibson is offline
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Default Re: Can Homosexuality Be Proved Wrong From Natural Law

Hi Camerong,

I can see where you are going with this argument. If I say that incest/bestiality is wrong because of X, Y or Z, you will find an example of a case where it is not and say, 'Well is it wrong here?'.

Let me do that for you. A man has two children, one a boy the other a girl, by two different mothers at opposite ends of the country. They do not know of each other. Many years later when the woman is beyond child-bearing age they meet up, fall in love and want to marry - would it be wrong?

Now there are two ways I might reply. I might say that in these particular circumstances it is OK. Why - because the usual reasons against incest do not apply. Alternatively, I might say that you need a general rule against incest because, for the usual reasons, in 99% of such cases it is wrong. If you allow an exception for this case, many of the others would claim they were OK too.

But, to our purpose here, neither of these alternatives says anything about the act's unnaturalness. If you said that for you however it was the factor that made it always wrong - then I would ask the question at the head of the thread, 'Why does that make it wrong?'


Another strategy is to find out the reasons that I think faithful gay sex is right and then see if there was another act where these reasons applied but I agreed it was wrong. However that would be outside the topic of this thread. But, for information, let me say that I do not think it can be done. The only difference between a faithful gay couple and a married straight couple is the nature of their sexual activity. The first unnatural, the second natural, so if we condemn the first we have to explain why this feature is morally relevant - the very theme of this thread.

Regards

Laurie
  #12  
Old May 28, '10, 2:52 pm
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Default Re: Can Homosexuality Be Proved Wrong From Natural Law

Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurie Gibson View Post
Hi Portrait,
How pleasant to meet up again.

You say:
However, if something is unnatural and contrary to the usual course of nature, then surely it must be wrong for that very reason, that to me seems an ineluctable conclusion.

This does not answer my question of how to go from 'unnatural' to 'wrong' because all you say is surely it is correct to do so. But I am obtuse as it does not seem sure to me!

You continue
Do not all men perceive intuitively that it is natural to copulate with another human but not with an animal?

I agree that most people feel revolted by the thought of sex with an animal [and most straight people by the thought of someone of the same sex]. But a feeling of revulsion is not enough. As I have mentioned I am revolted by the thought of eating raw oysters.

You might claim that it is a feeling that the act is morally wrong not just a feeling of revulsion. Suppose that is the case. We can still ask whether this feeling is correct. After all many people, seeing a loving gay couple, have a strong feeling that their relationship is good, so somebody's feelings must be in error.

You add
Is not its unnaturalness enough to condemn it per se.
To which the reply has to be 'Why?'

Regards as ever ,

Laurie

Dear Laurie,

Cordial greetings my dear fellow, so glad that our paths cross again.

What I am saying is that the normal course of nature, heterosexual coitus, is what is natural and normal for our race to perpetuate the species. Thus to depart from this and to engage in homosexual deviancy is against the normal course of nature and hence, by definition, unnatural and wrong. How can it be said to be a right and wholesome thing to depart from this norm and engage in homosexual conduct which will not result in offspring, whatever the love quality of the liason? This surely savours of being wrong and disordered by any reasonable standard?

The fact that you see nothing morally improper or wrong in a stable and loving homosexual liason, whereas I do, means that there is a strong difference of opinion between us on this issue. We both maintain that we are correct and would adduce what we both believe to be cogent evidence in support of our own stance. However, who is to decide finally who is right and who is wrong? To say that one man's opinion is as good as another man's is to go down the road of moral relativism, where everybody is right and nobody is wrong and the only sin is intolerance. Moreover, this just leads one along a subjective path to an ultimate quagmire of competing opinions; in other words utter moral bedlam. What is required is surely some authoritative criterion of truth by which men's conduct can be appraised. the alternative is join with Pontius Pilate and impatiently ask, "What is truth?", that is if we believe there is such a thing.

Yes Laurie, I believe that the unnaturalness of homosexual aberrant acts are sufficient to condemn them because they are a violation of the natural order of our race. As with auto-eroticism and birth-prevention, homosexuality is unnatural and wrong because it involves the wasting of the substance (semen) that should be directed towards the creation of a new life.



Warmest good wishes,




Portrait
  #13  
Old May 28, '10, 4:09 pm
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Default Re: Can Homosexuality Be Proved Wrong From Natural Law

Quote:
Originally Posted by camerong View Post
I'm not sure the responses you receive to raising the instance of bestiality are sufficient. First, without making this thread too seedy, I would submit that it could be consensual--my dog consents to treats, and before he was fixed he consented to trying to have sex with the neighbor dog, perhaps he would also consent to sex with a human. Regarding the assertion that bestiality lowers the dignity of those who engage in it: I think such an assertion assumes a great deal, such as the existence of dignity, that dignity is a good thing, that it is somehow wrong to lessen one's dignity, etc.

Regarding your second paragraph, I would say that simply because man is pre-inclined to believe something is wrong, this is not very strong evidence that it is so. Man, unschooled in religion or societal concepts of morality, likely has no problem with casual sex, for example, and may well be racist, sexist, etc. Natural inclinations, then, do not seem accurate indicators of morality--at the most, I think they can be used to show the existence of morality, but not what that morality entails.

Cameron

P.S. It is refreshing to see English courtesy from you and Laurie!

Dear Cameron,

Thankyou most kindly for your very thoughtful post.

An extremely insightful comment about the issue of consent but surely engaging in beastality demeans those who stoop to this hideous act of depravity? Dignity in the sense of self-respect is a good and noble thing and something that should not be sacrificed by indulging in vile vices such as beastality and homosexuality.

Every man knows in his innermost being that he is absolutely obligated to be and do good, and this absolute obligation can really only come from God. This ethical intuition we usually call conscience and it is indelibly written on man's heart, irrespective of social mores or religious influences etc. It is that innate faculty that enables us to distinguish right from wrong and which passes independent appraisal upon our conduct. Now it is quite true that man's conscience has been blurred by Original Sin, but it has not been utterly extinguished; it still accuses or excuses (cf. Rom. 2: 14,15). My point is that a man has God's law written upon his heart and is, unless he has a radically defective conscience, convicted if and when he does wrong, including moral wrong such as homosexual acts of depravity. Thus when it comes to violations of God's moral law, man, regardless of whether he has been tutored in the conventions of society or 'religion', is still convicted by conscience to a greater or lesser degree. That is St. Paul's very point in the text cited above.

Again, thankyou for your reply to my post.



Warmest good wishes,



Portrait
  #14  
Old May 28, '10, 4:36 pm
Prodigal_Son Prodigal_Son is offline
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Default Re: Can Homosexuality Be Proved Wrong From Natural Law

I am afraid that the idea of proving any action wrong from natural law, a priori, is utterly flawed. Consider: imagine a world in which stealing from them made people happy. In this case, our normal "natural law" reasoning might remind us that stealing was always wrong -- but, in that universe, would it always be wrong?

I don't know. But, thankfully, in our world stealing has bad effects, both locally and eschatologically. This is known through experience.

A much better way to consider the "naturalness" of an action is by looking at its typical results. If a certain action tends to make people more self-centered, tends to harm people, or tends to break apart communities, then that action -- in our particular universe -- has strong prudential reasons to be avoided.

But why would an action -- incest, for example -- have such outcomes? Because God made the world that way. He made right and wrong known by their outcomes -- "by their fruit you will know them".

If the gay community bears the fruit of love, peace, patience, gentleness, and self-control, then we will have a good sign that homosexuality is natural, in the relevant sense. I am afraid we do not have such evidence, at least not at this point. Historically, homosexual activity has not had a good track record. Or, if it has, I'd like someone to point out the evidence.

Natural law is revealed empirically. We can't ascertain it by "intuiting" the functions of various organs.

But in answer to the original question, unnatural does not imply wrong. If someone believes that the world is without order or purpose, they ought to consider "natural law" as just so much wasted ink. And, even when you believe in God, defining "natural" is still awfully difficult work!
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Old May 28, '10, 4:59 pm
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Default Re: Can Homosexuality Be Proved Wrong From Natural Law

If something is unnatural, is it wrong. In natural law the order of things is taken from their proper use. What fits and works in nature is the guide for what is natural and right. The glasses on the nose argument fails because the nose is still being used for its intended, by nature, purpose. Homosexual acts are a misuse of the sexual function because they are not carried out for the purpose they were designed for, namely, procreation.Homosexual sex is for pleasure only and not for procreation. Using the anus as a sexual organ is unnatural and wrong because in natural law terms it is abusing the body by using it for a wrong behaviour. It is similar to using the mouth for breathing underwater. That is unnatural and wrong because the end result is disastrous. Homosexual sex spreads disease that would otherwise not be spread. I am not simply referring to aids. Other diseases spread also. There are other aspects of homosexual activity which results in the aberration of bodily functions, but I will leave it to readers to find that information for themselves. It is unpleasant reading and not for here, in my opinion.

In natural law the correct behaviours are used to deduce morality. We should not be citing animal behaviours at all, because the natural law is used to deduce morality in human terms. Therefore what animals may, or may not do, is irrelevant. It is from the observation of human behaviour that we arrive at the norm, or what is normal. A simple tally would show us that heterosexual sex is the norm. It has universality and it is objective. Anything outside the norm is unnatural and therefore by definition it is wrong, because wrongness is defined by what is the norm and what is not. If we argue that the norm is fallacious because there are so many behaviours that are not the norm, then we are simply denying both natural law and our reasoning powers. It then becomes a slide towards relativism. Homosexuality has been considered to be abnormal and therefore wrong down through the ages, because natural law decrees it to be so in human terms. Its universality makes it wrong and the consequences make it wrong. Wrong does not necessarily equate with harm in natural law, but in this case there is harm done to the entire human society because the norm is held in contempt by those who practice and condone the aberation. Once normative behaviour is trashed, then the body of human society is harmed.
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