Should Gay Persons Follow Their Conscience?

Do gay persons have a duty or right to follow their consciences? Let’s start with Catholics who are gay. Should they not follow Church teaching? What if Church teaching and their well-deliberated sincere conscience disagree? Conservative Catholics will say they must conform their conscience to Church teaching, which is true, but what happens in the case where they cannot. They sincerely do not think the Church is right on some teaching having to do with homosexuality? Conservative Catholics who are presently fighting against the Roman Pontiff say that persons in that situation must put aside their conscience and live according to Church teaching. But most persons who say this are hypocrites. They refuse to set aside their own opinions in any matter whenever the Popes or the Councils disagree. They live not according to Church teaching, but according to their own understanding of Church teaching — just like the gay person in the above example. Hypocrites! You cannot oppose the Popes and Councils whenever you disagree, and then tell gay persons to do whatever the Church teaches.

The true answer is that every Catholic must accept every teaching of the Church, including non-infallible teachings. But gay Catholics who live contrary to Church teaching based on their own conscience are no different from conservatives who constantly shout to the whole world that the Pope is wrong at every turn. The Pope is not contradicting Tradition or past magisterial teaching. He is only contradicting your misunderstanding.

The Church teaches that every Pope has the charism of truth and of never failing faith. If you disagree, you have no ground on which to stand to say to gay Catholics that they should shut up and do what the Church says.

What about gay persons in society who are not Catholic? Should society, in the Catholic view, make laws that accommodate their consciences and allow them to have civil unions or various other legal protections and supports?

There is nothing wrong in the least with what Pope Francis said. And he certainly has the authority and the right to change the prudential judgment of the Holy See on whether civil union laws in secular society are fitting or not. This in no way contradicts any past magisterial teaching.

Gay persons have a right to a family. They have a right to follow their own conscience. They have a right to freedom of religion. Secular society should make laws that protect these rights, and allow people to live according to their own judgments of will and intellect, even if it is contrary to Catholic teaching. Of course, as Catholics, we should try to convince society of the uprightness of Catholic teaching. But we should also start with ourselves, and put our own house in order before correcting others. If you reject any teaching of Pope Francis, or other Popes, or Vatican II, or if you accuse any Pope at all of heresy, you have no right to tell gay non-Catholics to live according to the Church teaching, which you yourself subject to your own ideas.

It would be good to have a society in which all were faithful Catholics. But we Catholics cannot disobey the Popes, reject the teaching of Popes and Councils, rebuke the Pope whenever he dares to contradict the least layperson blogger or loud-mouthed cleric, and then say to gay persons: “I know you are non-Catholic, but you have to live according to the teachings of Popes and Councils.” In a democratic society, the laws will be made according to the majority view.

The First See is judged by no one. No one has the right to judge the Pope and declare that he has overstepped his office, or has contradicted past teachings, or is wrong in a matter of prudential judgment. We can disagree to a limited extent with certain expressions of the Pope. But I see many persons doing to with great pride, assuming that their understanding is infallible, and the Pope’s understanding is likely to err at every turn.

I hope Pope Francis uses Papal Infallibility, soon, on a number of issues, to compel the faithful to exercise the virtue of faith or leave the Church. This arrogance must stop. It is not Christ teaching you to treat the Roman Pontiff with such disrespect and denigration. The Holy Spirit does not inspire people to pride and self-exaltation, but to humility and faith. Submit your minds and hearts to the teachings of the Roman Pontiff.

There should be a law of the Church preventing Catholics, esp. clergy, from publicly contradicting the Pope, from accusing him of any grave error on faith or morals, and certainly from accusing him of any grave failure of faith, such as heresy. The Church is being greatly harmed, not by the Pope, but by the many Catholics who assume that their understanding of the Faith is infallible and that they should oppose the Pope whenever he disagrees with them. Then social media rewards them with notoriety whenever they speak against the Vicar of Christ.


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10 Responses to Should Gay Persons Follow Their Conscience?

  1. Matt Z. says:

    “What about gay persons in society who are not Catholic? Should society, in the Catholic view, make laws that accommodate their consciences and allow them to have civil unions?”

    The answer according to the CDF to that question is no! That would harm society and marriage and undermine the family. I dont think the Pope was answering that question in the affirmative either. He may have been reffering to some sort of civil union that is not a homosexual civil union or to voting for the lesser evil civil union to prevent same sex marriage an even greater evil.. Im still hoping clarity from the Vatican since I believe they published this documentary on the Popes twitter page, and since it has been highly edited, it can cause confusion.

    • Ron Conte says:

      Every Catholic must be willing to accept whatever the Pope teaches, and to set aside their own understanding or interpretation. All human persons have a right to freedom of religion and of conscience, including persons who are mistaken in their understanding.

  2. Matt Z. says:

    One thing I want to say is that we have to become better with terms to help people with same sex attractionand not hinder them. The group Courage dors this so well. A homosexual/gay is not one who is fighting agaisnt same sex sttraction and living chastley. A person may have same sex attraction and not act on that attraction as we all have different evil inclinations that we must fight against and those people that have same sex attraction should not be called homosexual/gay. The Bible says homosexuals are ones living active homosexual lifestyle or intend to promote same sex marriage and act on homosexual inclinations.

    • Ron Conte says:

      Good. But how should the Church and society regard gay persons who believe it is moral to have sex with persons of the same sex? In a secular society that approves of gay sexual relationships, most gay persons will adopt that belief, unfortunately. And they still have right and still need the protection of laws. But that is a prudential issue. On the other hand, it is just not tenable to give them no legal protections or rights at all. The issue is the specifics.

  3. RR says:

    Addressing your point on internal Church affairs. You have said, the Church has the right to excommunicate the conservative heretics, so they will stop polluting this Pope’s rendition of Christ’s message. Now, with regard to gay couples holding hands and attending Mass together (“married” or not) biblically, that would be considered the exact same situation. Matthew 18:17 “if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.“ You have called it obstinate manifest grave sin.
    The parties in each of these two situations are arrogant, they act on their limited understanding, not in trust and faith. Just like the conservatives, the demonstrative couple at Mass does not need to understand, but is called to openness and to obedience, but perhaps most important for my comment is that the outrage is not limited to hypocrites. Of course we are all sinners (thus hypocrites) and still this pope allows both situations to go unchallenged. This arrogance must stop and IMHO there is plenty of arrogance to go around.

  4. RR says:

    I say the above as the parent of two children.

  5. Alex says:

    let me put just one biblical case without commenting it (because it will take too long, and maybe will draw ire from both sides). How about David and Jonathan, a close friendship, a very close one, that also saw an oath sworn in between the two and their offspring, an oath that David followed after Jonathan’s death?

  6. Matt says:

    The Pope would be best served to complete his statement that secular society can go ahead and have civil unions to accommodate gay persons rather than marriage, a lesser evil, but a Catholic, who understands the Church teachings that homosexual acts are gravely immoral, but still decides based on their own conscience to engage in homosexual acts in a civil union, and is unrepentant to death, will be sentenced to eternal hellfire. I think if the Pope adds that to his statement would clarify much of this confusion.

    • RR says:

      Yes, we know Christ ate with tax collectors and cured on the Sabbath. Still if you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold… I will vomit you out of my mouth.
      Thank God that He graciously willed this time be shortened.
      Life is frustrating in the Time of Mercy, yet I am sure I will regret saying that when it’s Time for Justice.

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