Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Catholic university's leaders call same-sex attraction a curable disorder reported that:

Monday, December 18, 2006

Ave Maria University leaders spoke out about same-sex attraction recently, calling it a disorder that can be corrected or suppressed.

Provost Joseph Fessio and President Nick Healy participated in the crafting of a statement outlining the Catholic church's teachings against same-sex attraction and sexual promiscuity during a leadership conference in Denver in October.

The participating group, called the Cardinal Newman Society, encouraged leaders on Catholic college campuses, like Ave Maria, to promote abstinence from sex before marriage. College officials also should urge students experiencing same-sex attractions to seek guidance from school leaders, or, for students who cannot fight their gay urges, to live a chaste life.

"There is a problem that has arisen on many Catholic university campuses on which the roles of marriage and men and women are being confused, and that can be damaging to young people," Fessio said. "God created us male and female, so we might be help mates, support for each other and multiply the Earth.

"That is the meaning of sexuality. Anything other than that is a disorder, and will lead to bad consequences."

The Cardinal Newman Society is comprised of Catholic school leaders, pro-life group representatives and other prominent Catholic leaders throughout the country, Fessio said. The group meets annually to discuss issues involving Catholic life and teachings.

Although the Catholic church has maintained a strict opposition to the homosexual lifestyle throughout history, Healy said refreshing the issue is important.

"The overall message is that Catholic universities have the responsibility not to give in to the intellectual fashion today, but that they stay with the teachings of the Catholic church," Healy said. "The church teaches that (same-sex attraction) is an objective disorder, and should be discouraged."

The statement contradicts many scientists' beliefs that same-sex attraction is a genetic trait, and cannot be reversed.

"There is no valid scientific evidence for a biological origin of same-sex attraction," according to the statement. "However, there is evidence that persons with same-sex attractions can and do change."

Kathleen Korb, pastor of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greater Naples, disagreed, citing scientific and social research stating same-sex attractions cannot be eliminated.

"It has been shown again and again and again that people think someone is 'cured,' which is a ridiculous word, but the next thing you know, they are back to the same attractions," she said. "You cannot change people's sexual orientation."

Fessio recognized same-sex attraction exists. But, he said, it is against God's plan for the human race.

"This is a fact of history that there are people who have same-sex attractions," he said. "The church does not speak authoritatively on science and psychology, but it does speak on God's plan and what the Bible teaches us."

Korb, who also teaches from the Bible, among other religious documents, said calling homosexuality a disorder is ludicrous.

"I think if people love one another and respect one another, what does it matter what sex they are? What business is it of mine?" she asked. "I just don't understand how people can get so upset about something that doesn't affect them one way or the other."

The statement also encourages Catholic university leaders to offer spiritual and psychological assistance, as well as medical guidance, to students, faculty and staff members struggling with chastity and same-sex attraction.

"We ask everyone to be chaste, whether they are heterosexual or not," Healy said. "If people are struggling with issues of chastity, we certainly have resources to deal with that."

Fessio said there are six or eight priests on the Ave Maria campus who have experience dealing with struggling parishioners.

But, he added, their assistance at the school hasn't yet been necessary.

"The people that come here are generally committed to leading a life in accordance with the church," Fessio said. "We've all got disorders and temptations toward evil. That comes from original sin. If we were to find people having difficulty living a moral life, we would try to help."

The statement also addresses school-hiring policies, stating those who promote a lifestyle contradicting Catholic teachings shouldn't be hired.

"We don't require (staff members) to accept our teachings, but they have to be willing not to publicly discredit them," Fessio said. "Being gay isn't only living a homosexual lifestyle, but promoting it as well.

"That kind of public position in what the church has said is a disorder obviously contradicts what we teach."

American Civil Liberties Union spokesman Brandon Hensler said refusing to hire openly gay people could be a civil rights violation. Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states religious organizations can discriminate in their hiring, but only if the job applicant's religious beliefs are directly related to the job.

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