Saturday, December 13, 2014

ToT West: Same Sex Attraction and the Catholic Church

by Meaghan D'Souza
St. Patrick's Parish, Mississauga, ON

On Monday November 10th, Sister Helena Burns, fsp (Daughters of St. Paul) eloquently spoke at Theology on Tap West about the Catholic Church’s perspective on homosexuality. Before beginning, she reminded the audience to remember the big picture – God’s unconditional love for us.

Sister Helena began her presentation by addressing the notion of labels such as gay, lesbian, transgendered, bisexual and queer. She highlighted that these labels merit a difference between individuals who are living a homosexual lifestyle and those who are living a heterosexual lifestyle. The aforementioned labels reduce an individual’s dignity as a child of God because they only acknowledge one’s sexual orientation rather than addressing one’s complete identity. Instead, we should replace the term “homosexuality” with the term “same sex attraction” only in reference to the partnership between two people. As a result, one’s identity does not become completely dependent on their sexual orientation.

Sister Helena Burns, fsp
Sister Helena briefly addressed Pope Francis’ views on same sex attraction by explaining that it is in one’s best interest to “see the person (before the rule).” All individuals are made in the image and likeness of God, and should be treated with respect and equality. In an interview, Pope Francis outlined that “if they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them? The tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem...they’re our brothers.” This statement has been misinterpreted by the media to mean that Pope Francis accepts homosexuality. However, when reading this quotation within its correct context, Pope Francis explained that if individuals in a same sex partnership accept leading a life of Christ’s teachings, they will strive to be chaste despite one’s feelings or inclinations. Furthermore, Pope Francis described that individuals should not judge others merely based jon their same sex attraction.

Sister Helena concluded that the Catholic Church will never tell individuals to change their sexual orientation. She distinctly highlighted the notion of “treating people like people” by emphasizing that “God loved us while we were sinners” (Romans 5:8). All individuals are sinners and should not base their judgments on the person rather than the objectiveness of an action. Same sex attraction is complex; however, individuals must be accepted with dignity and love. After all, we are all children of God called to love one another.

Sister Helena encouraged individuals searching for more information on this topic and others to go to: or