Sunday, 3 March 2013

Times: Pastoral care of homosexuals
Wednesday, February 27, 2013 by Joe Zammit, Paola

On October 1, 1986, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith sent a letter to the bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons. This letter was approved by Blessed Pope John Paul II. Among other things we read the following: “The characteristic concern and goodwill exhibited by many clergy and religious in their pastoral care for homosexual persons is admirable. Such devoted ministers should have the confidence that they are faithfully following the will of the Lord by encouraging the homosexual person to lead a chaste life and by affirming that person’s God-given dignity and worth” (para 13).

“We encourage the Bishops, then, to provide pastoral care in full accord with the teaching of the Church for homosexual persons of their dioceses. No authentic pastoral programme will include organisations in which homosexual persons associate with each other without clearly stating that homosexual activity is immoral. A truly pastoral approach will appreciate the need for homosexual persons to avoid the near occasions of sin.

“We would heartily encourage programmes where these dangers are avoided.

“But we wish to make it clear that departure from the Church’s teaching, or silence about it, in an effort to provide pastoral care is neither caring nor pastoral. Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral.

“An authentic pastoral programme will assist homosexual persons at all levels of the spiritual life: through the sacraments and, in particular, through the frequent and sincere use of the sacrament of Reconciliation, through prayer, witness, counsel and individual care. In such a way, the entire Christian community can come to recognise its own call to assist its brothers and sisters, without deluding them or isolating them” (paragraph 15).

“Therefore, special concern and pastoral attention should be directed toward those who have this condition, lest they be led to believe that the living out of this orientation in homosexual activity is a morally acceptable option.

“It is not” (paragraph 3).

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