priest mass - smallWritten by: Fr. Jason Kuntz

In June, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a document entitled Pastoral Ministry to Young People with Same-Sex Attraction.”    At that time I was busy preparing to move to a new parish – I saved the file to be read later.  Recently, I had a chance to read the bishops’ letter.   Within the first paragraph it quotes another Vatican document: “only what is true can ultimately be pastoral.” [1]

Frequently, the phrase “being pastoral” is used as an excuse to ignore canonical and liturgical norms or make “exceptions” to the Church’s moral teaching.  Yet, “Pastor” is Latin for shepherd.  The shepherd is known for his gentleness, carrying the lost sheep back on his shoulders.  But he must also be known for his firmness – to fight off wolves and thieves who would destroy the sheep.    

The bishops’ document is pastoral in the true sense of the word.  It begins with a succinct but clear presentation of the Church’s teaching on human nature, sexuality and the virtue of chastity.  It offers nuanced advice to priests, teachers and educators based upon this firm foundation of truth.

My favourite part of the document is the final section addressed to young people.  While specifically addressing young persons who experience same sex attraction, the advice could be applied to all young people seeking chastity – understand your dignity as a child of God, pray regularly, guard against temptation, celebrate the sacraments frequently and foster virtuous friendships.   

Our world wants to convince those struggling with same sex attraction that they are different.  And no doubt many people struggling from same sex attraction feel different.   While the temptations we face may be different, we all face temptation and we all must “battle” for chastity.    While our specific vocations may be unique, we are all called to holiness.    The struggles of homosexuals and heterosexuals are more alike than they are different.     The bishop’s document does an excellent job of illustrating this point.

[1]  Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons (1986), n. 15.

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