The US Catholic Church will discuss guidelines on ways of welcoming gay people into the church at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) this week, with one controversial suggestion being therapy.
The guidelines attempt to create a balance between welcoming gays and lesbians into the Church whilst upholding religious teachings.
The document, Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination: Guidelines for Pastoral Care was prepared by the bishops’ Committee on Doctrine in response to questions which were raised about the suitability of these ministries in some instances.
The guidelines appear to suggest therapy as one way of helping gay people, “There is currently no scientific consensus on the cause of the homosexual inclination,” the document asserts.
“There is no consensus on therapy. Some have found therapy helpful. There is, however, no moral obligation to attempt it.”
The guidelines state that while the Church teaches that homosexual acts are immoral, there is a distinction between engaging in homosexual acts and having a homosexual orientation. “While the former is always sinful, the latter is not.”
“It is crucially important to understand that saying a person has a particular inclination that is disordered is not to say that the person as a whole is disordered. Nor does it mean that one has been rejected by God or the Church.”
It asserts that the Church should have the right to deny roles to anyone whose behaviour violates biblical teachings, but states that gays and lesbians should play an active role in the congregation. This includes rejecting same sex partnerships and gay adoption.
“Because of both Original Sin and personal sin, moral disorder is all too common in our world today, among both heterosexual and homosexual persons,” the document says.
The bishops will meet at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront, November 13-16.