Homosexuality--A Question in the Form of a Scenario

Sunday Mass is about to begin. It is pouring down rain outside. All of a sudden, two women enter–along with their six-year-old son. Carrie and Terese are their names. They are in a romantic relationship but have been abandoned by their families because of their choice. Their son is from Terese’s previous marriage, which ended in shambles. They are not technically married nor even in a civil union. But they are still trying to create a family, no matter how ragamuffin it may seem.

Terese was raised by irreligious parents who attended Mass together only habitually. They fought often. Alone in a great many ways, they enter together, not knowing what to expect and having little to lose. Carrie has never been in a church–let along such a magnificent cathedral as this–and is frightened. She isn’t optimistic about the encounter but is willing to try.

Their small family finds a place in the pews. Their son, Al, sits silently, observing everything with starry eyes and an innate discipline and stillness that seems bordering unnatural. Terese remembers the words, the motions, and the fighting that accompanied them, as well. She crosses herself with the others as the Liturgy begins.

She doesn’t know if she’s imagining it or not, but she keeps thinking she’s getting looks. She passes it off as paranoia. The sign of peace comes and she braces herself…

What do you imagine they encounter? How should the congregation “deal” with them? Tolerance? Or with a profound and unconditional love?

How do the laity ACTUALLY react to this? What is your opinion? What do you think you’d see? What have you seen?

What’s more, are they welcome as a part of the church family? Say that they feel drawn to the Altar, to the Church, and still, being the only ones in each other’s lives, cannot abandon each other at a critical time like this. Let’s say they show up regularly: Are they welcome or not?

How does the church accept and love them without necessarily condoning their lifestyle?

Is it better that they be kicked out for the faithful’s sake, or admitted for their own? Especially considering how hungry they are for communion and God right now?

Opinions. I’ve really been thinking about this a lot lately.

Obviously I offer them the sign of peace. There is no question whatsoever there for me. I would offer it just like I do to everyone else. But, if they looked lost or like they needed someone to welcome them, I’d say hi after mass.

The sign of peace does not have an exception for “sinners.” If that were the case, then no one would be offered the sign of peace.

However, if “Carrie and Therese” are actively engaged in homosexual activity, they should not present themselves to receive the Holy Eucharist. Homosexual activity is objectively a mortal sin. As such, the person who has un-confessed mortal sin should present themselves to a priest for sacramental confession prior to receiving communion.

As you know, when going to confession, one must examine their conscience to know how they have offended God, confess their sin to their priest, be truly sorry for it, and must make a firm commitment to not commit this sin again. Without all of this, the confession is not valid. The parishioner should refrain from presenting them self for communion.

As Christians, we are our “brother’s keeper”. One is not to confirm someone in their sin but call them to them to repent. True love is wanting the highest and best for the beloved. The highest and best is eternity in Heaven…it doesn’t get better than that.

Seems like Carrie needs to go through RCIA before she receives Communion, too.

Absolutely.

Truthinator, why would you present this scenario as though the burden here is on the Church and the Catholic in the pew? As a fallen away Catholic myself, I did not just re-enter a Church, expecting to avail myself of the Sacraments or rituals without first familiarizing myself with the teachings. If one is truly seeking God, a bit of research and investigation seems in order before one begins having expectations of the Church itself. You’ve made your “couple” sound somewhat naive and clueless.

She doesn’t know if she’s imagining it or not, but she keeps thinking she’s getting looks. She passes it off as paranoia.

There may be many heterosexual Catholics who are unclear about Church teaching, but I’m willing to bet a paycheck that there are very, very few (if any) homosexuals who don’t know where the Catholic Church stands on homosexual behavior.

Additionally, your scenario assumes that parishioners would be shocked to see a homosexual couple together at Church. This is certainly not the case here on the Left coast. I have encountered this scenario (and some even more scandalous) quite a few times in my city. You might be shocked to know that folks did indeed extend the kiss of peace and even smiled to and chatted with the newcomers.

It is possible that they’re unaware of the the Church’s teachings. The women should be addressed in a charitable way about their lifestyle, and they should speak to the priest. If they don’t change there lifestyle, but they’re trying to understand the Church’s teaching, etc, then love and patience should be observed. However, if they know it’s forbidden, a serious sin, and they refuse to submit to God and the Church (after being “warned” by the priest) “treat them as you would the tax collector…for it is better that a millstone be tied around their neck and they be cast into the sea…” Charity and love first, always, rebukes - with brotherly love - and then finally, if they still decide to wallow in their sin, they’ve chosen “exile.” Nothing we can do about that but continue to pray for them.

I love these hypotheticals–the confused yet diligent sinners, the well-behaved children (see, they’re good parents after all), the abused yet open-minded seekers, etc. Are we to imagine Gregorian Chant wafted from the loft as the priest swings incense, all the while our wet, bedraggled, broken family seek the solace of the Lord. Hoo boy.

First of all, how in this scenario would anyone in the church (where they seem never to have been before–and a Cathedral too, often a tourist destination and less of a ‘regular’ parish) even know that they are romantically attached? Do they start making out during the opening blessing or something? Do they have military haircuts and rainbow sashes? The majority of church goers are women–why should the observers, if they even notice the ladies lurking in the back pew, think twice about offering them the sign of peace?

Second, and related. How would the priest know their situation, to decide whether or not to give them communion. Maybe Carrie fumbling around at the altar rail (in my imagination, there is an altar rail and lots of stained glass) would tip Father O’Shaugnessy that she was not Catholic, and he might ask her discretely and offer her a blessing instead. Presumably little Al, eyes fixed on the crucifix or some sacred art in the Cathedral, would also receive a blessing. Terese would no doubt be given communion, especially if Fr. Fabrizio employs an army of EMHC.

Third, the implausibility of the non-church-going lesbians deciding to haul themselves to the local cathedral in heavy rain is a bit much. Heck, most of my parish doesn’t show up if there is a football game, let alone bad weather.

The sad reality is that this small group would probably be met with the same mundanity as pervades many a Sunday mass.

Charity to the OP. Stated age is 14.

Fair enough–my post was rather sarcastic. Maybe the tougher scenario is not the one that the OP posits, but this case: an obvious homosexual couple or some other group who would strike onlookers as very obviously not members of the church in good standing, perhaps behaving out-of-place or boorishly (one Christmas Eve I went to mass and sat behind two transsexuals, for example, who spent the much of the mass giggling and making jokes). How should/would the community (and priest) respond to them?

There is always a tension, it seems to me, between the mandate for us to be open and welcoming and forgiving, and at the same time create a space for worship that is dignified, worthy of God, etc. Where to draw the line, when to chastise or welcome, is perhaps one of the hardest practical questions in our lives as Catholics.

I wasn’t aware that you could tell the state of a persons soul by looking at a person… You said one hadn’t been to church in a long time and the child and other adult had not been to mass before… so likely no one would know them from Adam and why would they assume they know about their relationship or their souls?

That being the case, I would extend my hand to them at the sign of the peace and after mass I would probably introduce myself if I was fairly sure they were new.

As far as your other questions…
Should they be kicked out for the sake of the faithful? Why would they? By your own words 2 of them have had no catechesis at all and the other one… minimal. Obviously at least one knows that something she is doing is not quite right… that would be exemplified by feeling like everyone is watching your every move and being tense about interacting with others at the Sign of peace… But again… who would I be to presume to know the state of anyones soul?

Would they be welcome? All are welcome to mass… that doesn’t mean all are able to receive our Lord. That would depend on whether they were Catholic (RCIA or Catechisis) and whether they were properly disposed to receive (free of mortal sin). Did Jesus walk away from Gentiles because the Jews considered them “ritually unclean”… or did he talk, eat, and heal them? But on the otherhand… when he pointed out sins to the Pharisee’s and they did not repent… did he not tell them of their sins and if they still refused, didn’t he dismiss them from himself? Now that being said, we are all welcome to mass but if the couple was flaunting their disordered relationship during the mass, I imagine that some may not feel comfortable with their presence and might even treat them rather cooly… Personally, it wouldn’t matter if they were 2 women, 2 men, or a man and woman… mass is not a time for public displays of affection of the inappropriate kind.

Up to the point of offering the sing of peace, I see no conflict (unless the guy in front of them is the ex-husband). Everything else you mention after that is speculation, not really part of the scenario unless their active homosexual relationship is common tabloid knowledge to all. Do you see where I’m going with this?

Two women living together as friends raising a child of one of them (from a failed marriage), doesn’t necessarily present an obvious, outward sign of any wrong-doing on their behalf.

If they recognize that (privately) they are living a sinful relationship, while seeking full communion then, they do have a personal obstacle that they have to get over.

You are referring to privy information that stirs “certain” feelings in the heart of others. If at the time of the sign of peace they engaged in a “lip-lock”. Well…that’s different. That’s an outward expression of what they need to work thru if they are to personally be in full communion with their faith.

Anyway, you get the picture.

I think we are talking paranoia here.
do you honestly think the average Catholic in the pews automatically thinks “gay” when two men sit in the same pew or “lesbian” when two women sit in the pew?

If OP truly wants to know Catholic teaching on homosexual tendencies vs active homosexual activity it is amply covered on these forums, on the CA homepage, and in the CCC

if as I suspect OP wishes to defend this as a lifestyle of comparable morality and social viability with the God given norm of marriage and family consisting of one man, one woman, and the children God deigns to send them, and using misplaced sentimentality to induce a feeling of guilt for defending the truth, I suspect she has missed the boat.

every single person in the pews and in the sanctuary is a sinner. None of them (with the exception of the priest who has this duty from God) has the right to judge or even speculate on the spiritual condition of anyone else in church, no matter what they think they might know about any person’s life outside. If they are doing so, they need to put their nose back in the missal and mind their own soul.

are they welcome in the Church today? of course, on precisely the same terms as every other sinner in the pews, that they repent, turn away from sin, pursue holiness and love Christ, who said on the night before He died: if you love Me you will keep My commands.

I know the whole scenario was very sentimental to say the least–but this was entirely intentional. I wanted to invoke certain emotions in order to get a genuine response from some Catholics regarding how they personally would respond. The whole situation as presented assumes a few things off the bat: that there are subjective reasons for maintaining the union (the friends were alone save each other but were romantically inclined), that their relationship as lesbians was clear but not for reasons such as inappropriate conduct, etc.

My intention here really wasn’t to condone their lifestyle but to examine the difficult choice here on the Catholics in the congregation. The idea was to put oneself there and respond to them however one most likely would in real life.

My main reason for posting this was derived from a torrent of questions I’ve been faced with lately. I look at certain “all-embracing” churches, and while there are many things I disagree with there, I’m inspired oftentimes by the unconditional love showered on the people that walk through the doors. I can’t help but think that the one true Church could very much benefit from this attitude.

Obviously, when putting oneself in the position of Terese, let’s say for instance, there are moral issues that are raised. And no doubt her friend/partner/whatever knows the CC’s position on their relationship. Hence the paranoia on their parts (then again, in such a case, this would be warranted considering the way their families had treated them). But as I said before, the reason I paint the picture as I do, I want to really relay part of what must be going on deep inside of them at this time: They are alone save one another and are seeking community, they are obviously hungry for truth, Carrie never abandoned Terese in trying to raise a child (and therefore, when such noble loyalty is a part of the equation, it becomes hard for either to understand the wrong of their relationship).

The scenario didn’t paint a picture of two people aware of the sinfulness of their situation, but rather hungry for acceptance and unconditional love–an environment they could feel proud to raise their son in. While not meaning to exclude the possibility of a later conviction in which the couple feels ready to either separate or revert (with much difficulty I’d imagine) to a position of friendship, I want to know primarily:

Do you think for the time being, they would be able to find love and acceptance within the Church till they were able to discern truth for themselves? It seems to me that the more they are “exiled”, the closer they have to come in order to survive the hostility. They obviously need people in their lives now, who will love them in their sin even as Christ did, and prompt them toward godliness without being coercive.

I want to know what this looks like to you…

True unconditional love does not mean unconditional acceptance of sinfulness or unconditional license. Does a parent unconditionally love his child by allowing him to abuse drugs and alcohol, etc., just so he is more ‘welcoming’?

The problem with all-embracing churches is not that they let the lesbians in the building and invite them for coffee and donuts after the service; it’s that they tell the lesbians that what they are doing is ok, that it’s all part of the ‘real’ message of Christ. In this way, they are not loving but rather dangerously misleading.

The one true Church need take very little lesson from such other congregations.

True unconditional love does not mean unconditional acceptance of sinfulness or unconditional license. Does a parent unconditionally love his child by allowing him to abuse drugs and alcohol, etc., just so he is more ‘welcoming’?

The problem with all-embracing churches is not that they let the lesbians in the building and invite them for coffee and donuts after the service; it’s that they tell the lesbians that what they are doing is ok, that it’s all part of the ‘real’ message of Christ. In this way, they are not loving but rather dangerously misleading.

The one true Church need take very little lesson from such other congregations.

It’s not the condoning I admire. Rather, it’s the “loving them at their worst” part that I like, because this is exemplifying how Christ loves us. He loves us even as the worst of sinners but prompts us to better ourselves.

Look at John 8, for instance. Mary’s sin also was sexual in nature. As her accusers left, we read that this was her encounter with Christ:

“Then Jesus lifting up himself, said to her: Woman, where are they that accused thee? Hath no man condemned thee? Who said: No man, Lord. And Jesus said: Neither will I condemn thee. Go, and now sin no more.”

He didn’t immediately condemn her–but loved her, even in her sin. Then he challenged her to stop. Do you not think that what made Jesus so special in Mary’s mind and heart was his unconditional love for her, even when the rest of the world stood ready and willing to condemn her? I think it was this love, more than anything else, that prompted her to give up her sinful lifestyle…

Hope that makes sense. I don’t want to be misunderstood.

Jesus indeed was most welcoming to “the woman”, but there was also an admonition of “sin no more”. Don’t forget to tie the two parts together.

I said it earlier, and maybe it will be accepted if put in a different way…We are to love one another as we love ourselves. This means we are to love “Carrie and Therese” as children of God. However, because we love “Carrie and Therese” we are obligated by Jesus Christ to not confirm them in their sinful lesbian relationship. This could lead, if they remain unrepentant, of their loss of eternal salvation. As Christians we will be called to account for the warning our brothers and sisters who have an impending danger of losing their eternal salvation.

Christ wants all to be with him in heaven, but he lets us decide (free will) if we want to go there (and stay there) or not. He lays down His law in love. We decide whether to remain in that love or not.

I offer them the sign of peace, as I would any other fellow Catholic.

Whether they decide to partake in Communion or not, isn’t really my business. That’s between them and Christ.

On the whole, at least they are making an effort to be in the Church. That’s a WHOLE lot more than you can say about some people…

Am I expected to believe that (age 14)? :rolleyes:

Am I expected to believe that (age 14)?

You’re perfectly welcome to say that I’m twenty-something if you like, or even in my sixties. Whichever you prefer…:shrug: But my birth certificate will still spell out somewhere in the 14 range.

ALTHOUGH, I’m not a girl as someone seemed to mention a while back. Do I come off girly online? lol That’s… interesting…:confused:

Do you think for the time being, they would be able to find love and acceptance within the Church till they were able to discern truth for themselves? It seems to me that the more they are “exiled”, the closer they have to come in order to survive the hostility. They obviously need people in their lives now, who will love them in their sin even as Christ did, and prompt them toward godliness without being coercive.

Your question was already answered.

are they welcome in the Church today? of course, on precisely the same terms as every other sinner in the pews, that they repent, turn away from sin, pursue holiness and love Christ, who said on the night before He died: if you love Me you will keep My commands.

Your assertion that gay couples are “alone” and isolated with no one to “love them in their sin” is also erroneous. Our culture not only supports, but celebrates the homosexual lifestyle and, with the exception of the Catholic Church and a few other Non-C Churches, doesn’t even consider homosexual behavior a sin. People (all people) do not need a Church to “love them in their sin” - they need a Church that will help guide them from their sin.

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