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'Tensions in the Church'

November 21, 1986

The recent position taken by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Catholic Church is inconsistent with prior statements of church doctrine, and therefore should be viewed with skepticism.

In the letter, the Sacred Congregation speaking through Cardinal Ratzinger, indicates that the church must oppose any attempt to condone homosexuality through legislation or other means. The letter, however, recognized the church's view that "the particular inclination of a homosexual is not a sin," but that homosexual acts are "an intrinsic moral evil."

The dictates of the letter therefore should not apply to laws prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination in employment and housing because those laws protect people, not actions. Thus, these status-based laws would protect a chaste gay person, or persons who were perceived by a landlord or employer as gay. Indeed, the rationale behind the laws is not necessarily to encourage any sort of acts, only to better our society by excluding arbitrary decision-making not based on a person's ability to do that job, or be a good tenant.

The letter, nevertheless, apparently takes the position that because gays and lesbians are allegedly "disordered" that their status should not in any way be protected by law. If this is indeed Cardinal Ratzinger's position, then he quite obviously is intellectually dishonest in believing that while homosexual status is not sinful, it is however, "disordered" and thus not entitled to protection.

Rather than taking this confused and indefensible position of relegating the status of being gay to some sort of moral purgatory, the good cardinal would do well to simply reverse his pretense and condemn homosexuality as sinful, regardless of "acts."

Indeed, Cardinal Ratzinger lets slip his real views when he notes that "neither the church nor society at large should be surprised when other distorted notions and practices gain ground and irrational and violent reactions increase." This shocking implicit approval (or at least indifference to) violence against gays and lesbians is disheartening as well as divergent from the teachings of Jesus Christ.

PETER F. LAURA

Los Angeles

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