The White Lily Blog

Holy Smoking Gun

Yes, the Holy Father is guilty in the abuse situation. But not as the World thinks. Not because he personally engaged in sexual misconduct, or because he personally transferred priests to hide their sexual misconduct. Our Holy Father is guilty because he inadvertently fueled the fires of sexual immorality while he was prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He protected homosexuality theologically, and it was a short step from there to protecting it pastorally, which bishops did, subsequently, in arranging counseling for abusing priests rather than punishment and expulsion. The Holy Father, in his role as prefect, wrote two of the three relevant pastoral documents on homosexuality that currently drive Church policy. Into the tumultuous era following the sixties and the Council, one document had already addressed the growing homosexual movement, but it did not seem to have the desired improving effect. There was hope among traditionalists at the time that he would amend errors in the initial document by Cardinal Franjo Seper in 1975, but Cardinal Ratzinger instead compounded them. The resulting mishmash of directives and lack of definition opened the door to relaxation of sexual morals generally, not only regarding homosexuality. That is the thesis of Vatican II, Homosexuality, and Pedophilia, by Atila Sinke Guimaraes, Tradition in Action press, 2004. He makes an incredibly strong case, quoting liberally from the directives.

In these documents, Guimaraes says, Cardinal Ratzinger demonstrated an exaggerated concern for the civil rights of homosexuals, accepted as a given an in-born disposition toward homosexuality, and confused a possibly, unproven disposition toward homosexuality with a dispensation for accompanying actions expressing sexual orientation, like cross-dressing.  The resulting theoretical chaos led to internal laxity regarding priestly behavior and response by their superiors.

Guimaraes does not say, but alert Catholics will quickly see a relationship between the disasterous process described by Guimaraes and another, the language and spirit of the documents of Vatican II. All three documents link in assumptions, language and style, and content, to the documents and errors of the Vatican II, and the errors have caused a general crisis in the Church, in liturgy, in vocations, in faithful priesthood, in mass attendance, in evangelization, and in discipline of all kinds, including the economy-killing plague of abortion.

The connection between the ineffective mis-named Vatican II ‘pastoral’ approach to the recent surge in newly legalized sexual immorality of all kinds is finally gaining recognition in liberal circles. An article in the St. Louis Review reports on a recent poll with a finding that troubled reporter Patricia Zapor: Catholic youth  aged 18-29 (called the ‘Millenials’) are both pro-life and pro-choice,  an intellectual position that is both logically impossible and politically paralyzing–and which Zapor traces, along with Catholic laxity toward homosexual ‘civic unions,’ to  the same contradictions present in the teachings of Vatican II.

Zapor first quotes Paul Jarzembowski, the executive director of National Catholic Young Adult Ministry Association, who explains the “seeming inconsistency” of defining oneself as both pro-life and pro-choice this way:  “Young adults live in a culture of choice. They choose their religion, their see choices as defining who they are,” so it’s not surprising to him that even though they see abortion as murder, they “also would be reluctant to expect others to accept the same beliefs or demand that society make abortion unavailable.” Liberal commentators usually let it rest thus, when they notice the contradiction, as Jarzembowski does in saying the confusion is “a misinterpretation of the Church’s teaching,” but Zapor, using homosexuality as the example, notes that “the Catholic Church opposes same-sex marriage and teaches that any sexual activity outside of marriage is sinful. But it also teaches that the dignity of homosexual individuals must be respected as well as their [legal] rights as people, such as the right to employment and freedom from unjust discrimination.” [emphasis added] The confusion, and failure to protect souls from the damning effects of the sin of homosexual behavior, stems right from the present teaching of the Church, which comes from the poison liberal spirit of Vatican II.

The first post-Vatican II document regarding homosexuality, by the prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith Cardinal Franjo Seper (approved by Pope Paul VI), broke in the Church what Guimaraes calls “the wall of repulsion and horror that held back the waters of this vice against nature.” This document, available at the Vatican website as Persona humana, substitutes the liberal analysis of homosexuality for the analysis previously in effect in the Church. While paying lip-service to  former teachings of the Church, Seper ultimately accepts from liberal modern psychology a category  of homosexuals  that is “so natural that it justifies in their case homosexual relations within a sincere communion of life and love analogous to marriage, in so far as such homosexuals feel incapable of enduring a solitary life” (Section VIII). Because they are special cases not responsible for their disposition, Seper counseled that everyone must take great caution in finding these homosexuals “personally responsible” for their sin.

The problem is,  argues Guimaraes, it is impossible in practice to distinguish these ‘special cases’ from any other type of homosexual, those formed by what Seper listed as stemming from “false education, from a lack of normal sexual development, from habit, from bad examples, or from other similar causes,” types named in the same section of the document as being different from a “second category” whose homosexuality is “natural.”) By accepting the liberal idea that genetic information can determine the behavior of at least some individuals, the document effectively silences all attempts to find any homosexual responsible for any kind of behavior related to their homosexuality, or which can be made related, since it is impossible to distinguish the types from each other in practice, even if there is in fact any such distinction (there is as yet no ‘gay gene’ to be found, though research for this Holy Grail of the gay movement has been plentiful and well-funded). That is why Guimaraes and other traditionalists cite this new official Church teaching as part of the chain of guilt for the subsequent crisis in the Church among Her priests.

There was something else troubling in the Seper document. It extends a vague exoneration from guilt for all sexual sins. It states that in “sins of the sexual order,” it “more easily happens that free consent is not fully given” (X) and in fact, sections IX and X of the document obfuscate the responsibility for every type of sexual sin formerly condemned by the Church as both serious and under the control of the will, and question whether sins always taught as grave, as mortal, by the Church could in fact be less serious than previously thought. Discussed are masturbation, living together out of wedlock, and other sexual behaviors. It goes without saying that such teaching would be readily accepted and implemented by many pastors, catechists, children’s religion classes, pre-Cana classes for the engaged, and parents, for it is hard work, very hard work indeed, to teach purity in a world gone mad over sex. This new teaching also figures in the chain of guilt for the crisis in the Church in the sexual abuse of young people by Her priests. It is as clear a break with the traditional teaching of the Church as all the other Vatican II pronouncements. It unleashed hell.

The second document regarding moral sexual behavior, called Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, was written by then-Cardinal Ratzinger in 1986, who had assumed Seper’s position as prefect. It was purportedly written to counteract homosexual abuses rapidly emerging within the Church itself as well as to correct overly lax pastoral work, both conditions following and explicitly tied to the Seper document, which many had hoped Ratzinger would on the contrary clarify and correct. Ratzinger’s document insists that homosexuality is a sin, and makes the distinction between the “intrinsic moral evil” of homosexual actions, and the “objective disorder” of having a “homosexual tendency,” distinctions which are recognizable, pre-Vatican II Catholic doctrine, but these distinctions did not prove sufficient to the raging debate, because this document, like Seper’s, made other troubling statements, and thus the topic had to be re-visited in yet a third document in 1992.

Implementation of the 1986 document had one particular weakness that can be directly linked to Vatican II’s euphoric endorsement of collegiality.  It was left up to individual bishops to exercise their authority “in light of the points” made, and to develop “appropriate forms of pastoral care.”  These ‘forms of pastoral care’ were not to be found among the writings and practices of the saints, but rather pastors were pointed to secular, modern “psychological, sociological and medical sciences” without any apparent understanding of the content of modernist teaching regarding homosexuality as presented in those “sciences.”  Nor was any rubric supplied to help with the interpretation of these broad counsels; nor was follow-up promised.

All this is standard post-Council operating procedure. In the spirit of the Council, which saw the age as a great blooming of humanity through science and technology, it seemed unthinkable that the sciences should have so far abandoned the culture, that to recommend counseling, even counseling staffed by “Catholics,” was to throw the ‘patient’ into a lions’ den of secularism, where an abusing priest might be returned to ministry, “cured” not of his decisions to abuse but only of the guilt he might feel exercising his will sinfully. That is what passes for counseling these days, as we can see examining the records and transcripts, now matters of court cases and law suits, when exactly that sequence happened again and again.

Another feature of this official Church letter to bishops in 1986 is a paragraph that deplored ‘malicious speech’ directed toward homosexuals. Cardinal Ratzinger wrote that “the intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action, and in law” (n. 10, emphasis added) thus indirectly allowing and even advising bishops to support civil laws defending ‘homosexual rights.’

In all, then, while the document does condemn the homosexual sexual act as sinful, at the same time it defends homosexuals; it strongly calls for tolerance and charity with regard to homosexuality, and makes civil laws a legitimate option to promoting this end. So instead of clarifying the Seper document, it added to the storm. Civil legislation followed, of course–civil legislation that made gay marriage inevitable.

That is how the topic came to be revisited by Cardinal Ratzinger in 1992 in Some Considerations Concerning The Response to Legislative Proposals on the Non-Discrimination of Homosexual Persons bearing the official weight of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This document is atypical of official Church documents. It called the previous document as discussed above “a resource” only, thus qualifying its authority, but failed to claim that this updated effort was to be considered the official guide, and in fact was released without even a date, although other records establish the publication date in 1992. This document is completely destabilizing.

The objective of the document was to help the bishops understand what position they should take regarding the proliferation of civil laws protecting the rights of homosexuals which the previous document had implicitly allowed, as we saw.  It again accepted the modernist assumption that sexual orientation is determined (what had been only suggested in the 1975 document), but made a great leap:  that it is therefore unjust to discriminate against homosexuals in some senses, without offending their dignity, and there are (only!) some specific areas in which it could be considered ‘just’ that homosexuality may be formally and legally restricted by civil law: only in the adoption of children, the hiring of teachers or coaches, and the recruitment of military service.

This document once again asserts that homosexuals have the right to be treated in a manner affirming their ‘personal dignity.’  Though Cardinal Ratzinger wrote that including ‘homosexual orientation’ among the conditions like race  (against which he says it ought rightfully be illegal to discriminate) might lead to  “promotion of homosexuality” (n. 13,) this document nevertheless teaches that there is another sense of homosexuality against which is really must be illegal to discriminate. It specifically teaches that there is “just” discrimination and “unjust” discrimination. It specifically names concrete and limited conditions where it is “just” to discriminate against homosexuals in paragraph 11, Section II: in adoption, in the employment of teachers and coaches, and in military recruitment. This simple, clear wording, which so easily could have been qualified with the phrase “and other jobs,” leads one to conclude that if discrimination is just in these circumstances, it might be unjust to discriminate against homosexuals in all others. Then the document (II, 12) says that homosexual persons have a right that they share with “all persons” to not be treated in a way that “offends their personal dignity.” It then lists other rights that “all persons” have, the “right to work, to housing, etc.”  [sic] The document does not say what might constitute an offense “against personal dignity.” Clearly the document is defending the rights of homosexuals acting out as homosexuals, revealing their homosexuality in various ways. Otherwise there would be no discussion of “rights” that all citizens have.

Thus, even though there are several paragraphs in this document that explain the state’s duty to curtail certain legitimate rights in the service to the common good, as with contagious citizens deprived of their right to move about, and other paragraphs which correctly distinguish homosexuality from race or ethnic background, thus kicking homosexuals off that bandwagon, the impact is still one in which the average bishop, schoolteacher, parent, friend or landlord is led to consider whether a statement or action might be in the ‘just,’ or the ‘unjust’ column, and hesitate. It is perhaps not what was intended, given the many sections of the document that state the old, hard, traditional Catholic position, but the impact is one for tolerance, and it is the excess of tolerance that is killing us. Tolerance did not work with homosexual abuser priests, and it has cost the Church dearly in Caesar’s coin, and in God’s. And we have not yet faced it, or we would adjust the approach and the language. We would clearly say, homosexuality is a sin, it may not be promoted by open dress or action nor by indulged in by private and concealed practice, and we invite homosexuals to repent and do penance like all sinners. It has to be said gently, but often. We are very simple people, all of us.

Ambuiguity only leads to confusion, and confusion leads to strengthening homosexual influence in society. Homosexuals operating in the “unjust-discrimination” column (jobs not military or working with children) empower homosexuals demanding rights in the other, “just discrimination,” column! Of course–how can it be separated? Experience shows this. Consider the case of the supreme court nominee Elena Kagan. Although her sexuality is not yet outed at this writing, we would not have the ‘right’ to protest her nomination to the post even if it were, under the guidelines, while her politics have been strongly gay rights-oriented regarding gays in the military.

As a Harvard dean, she evidently tried to turn out Harvard in protest of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. She not only made the decision to protest for herself personally, she advised students also to protest, while exercising her powerful role as dean of the college. She helped set students’ future voting patterns and even lifestyle decisions, on gays in the military and by extension, on gays as teachers, scout leaders, priests, and coaches.  So although Kagan’s role as supreme court justice might be one in which it would be “unjust” to discriminate against her according to the precepts advanced in Ratzinger’s directive, her support for ending discrimination in the military puts her at odds with the Church’s policy as stated in the same directive. It causes us to hesitate–what does the Church teach us to do, in this case? And we hesitate, and another piece of our civilization is lost.

An example of the confusion resulting from our liberal approach to the question of homosexuality may be found in the recent situation close to Ontario, Canada. An altar ‘boy’ (he is a grown man) who is living with a partner but says he is celibate was the target of resistance from the parish, and eventually he was removed from his highly visible position serving in the sanctuary. He is an open homosexual, living with another man, and no one can verify his claim to celibacy (nor should we be be asked even to consider it). Twelve parishioners complained to the bishop who, rather than thanking them for their charitable act toward someone living in danger of sin, in the shadow of extreme but voluntary temptation, and living besides giving scandal (and none of this is debatable as to its morality: the Church’s explicit position is that homosexuality is a sin, and so is the promotion of homosexuality, and even Vatican II did not rescind the injunction that we should not put ourselves in the way of temptation, but rather should flee the near occasions of sin)–instead of thanking them, he lectured them on tolerance.

More recently, in the US, a woman identified as a homosexual and accompanied by her ‘partner,’ both of whom engaged in substantial conversation (and argumentation) with the priest conducting her mother’s funeral mass, was subsequently refused communion–and the diocese apologized to her!

We Catholics simply cannot bear any more of this kind of mental torture. It leads to quietism, of course. It shuts us up. It is abuse! But we get no pity from our bishops, or our Holy Father in these earlier documents of his, for our horrible situation, for the fact that it is our children whose souls are being lost to homosexuality. It is a mortal sin being pushed hard, everywhere, in Dove soap ads, on billboards by the beach, in movies by the score, pushed by one of the most organized and powerful lobbies the world has ever known. We cannot fight it in a state of confusion.  Charity is not ignoring sin. Hatred is ignoring sin. It is pure hatred disguised as charity to draw back, because we cannot see into the bedroom and the only clearly forbidden act, under present definitions. The sin is everything surrounding the promotion of homosexuality.

There is in practice no ‘unjust discrimination’ against open homosexuals. That is in opposition to the present teaching of secular society, but it is the difficult but necessary position of the Church, presently blurred by an unfortunate, compromised presentation overly-concerned with rights as defined by a religion-hostile Enlightenment. As far as rights go, those who are not practicing homosexuality (either in the sexual act itself or in their manner of living, so that they may not be said to be “open” homosexuals) may use the protections provided by law available to all citizens should they suffer unjust discrimination as citizens. That dignity is the only dignity to which any of us have an absolute right. They simply may not have special rights protecting them in the peaceful continuance in what we recognize as sin. The state will do that without us Catholics, and rather than join it, we must protest it, if that is all we can do. And we could propose a solution.  The solution regarding civil law is simple, and is working in the military: Don’t Ask Don’t Tell would work for all society just as it does among soldiers, and that is the civil legislation Catholics could legitimately request, and our numbers could make it feasible. Instead, we gave up everything, and now even Don’t Ask Don’t Tell for the military is in jeopardy. In any case, it is still the law, and we could adopt this language while it is still viable, before liberalism has poisoned the concept. (So little time left!)

This confusion resulting from over-accommodation to the world did not begin with Cardinal Ratzinger.  It is common now in the Church, and it began before Vatican II, as early as the Elizabethan period with those who wished to see’ religious freedom’ in England rather than the restoration of our Holy Faith.   These documents of Cardinal Ratzinger’s are like the documents that form the constitutions of the pastoral Vatican Council II with regard to the questions of ecumenism, religious freedom, and the secular state. Regarding those issues, it was similarly concluded that we are faced with a done deal, with a fait accompli. It was concluded that we must make a virtue of necessity and accept all that has passed since Luther nailed his infernal note to the church door. We Catholics, since the Council, feel that we must say ‘the secular state is the best state’ rather than reckon that the secular state is the only state that can deal with the proliferation of sects following Luther’s great apostasy, a sick state following a sick act, one which we lament but co-exist with, maintaining our independence.  But no, we feel we must say, contrary to the blood of martyrs against the heresies, that ‘all religions have good points and deserve all freedom and respect,’ rather than the truth, that they broke the Faith and must return to It, or never had the Faith, and then we must offer It, still, in this century, in all centuries-as -we were obliged, before the Council. Vatican II made a false peace on all these issues.

So then let us, forty years after the fact with so much evidence on all sides pointing to the same suspect, rather resist at all cost the tendency to apostatize, in order to carry Catholicism, like the precious chalice it is, into the future.

Let us recognize the sad truth. Vatican II made false peace with both sexual sin and heresy. We can and we must re-visit those topics now, in the talks on-going between SSPX and the Vatican. Whatever your present position in the Church, you must pray for the success of SSPX–in fact, that SSPX becomes even holier and stronger than itself, that its followers wake up from our own slumber and raise the flag higher for others to follow, in prayer, in mortification, in evangelization, in donations. We shall otherwise continue our downward spin, inside and outside the Church. No less is needed regarding our position on homosexuality. Until clarification takes place on this matter, our ‘accommodation’ with the World will continue to cost us souls and the honor of the priesthood.

Until then, we do stand guilty, not just before the world but before the communion of saints and the Almighty.

21 Comments so far
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Hi Jan!

I’m going to be rereading this post several times,.but on the onset,.I don’t think it is necessarily a ‘Vatican II’ interpretation thing. I think it would fall more along the lines concerning ‘Theology of the Body’ and Humanae Vitae, which ironically made Pope Paul VI look like a prophet.

During the pre conciliar period, I think the Church was beginning to look at this issue through the lens of psychology/sickness. The Catechism makes it clear that persons with a homosexual orientation are called to live out their cross through chaste lifestyles. The Church makes a distinction between the individual and the act. In doing this, the person with the homosexual orientation becomes aware that their struggle is on the level of ‘freedom.’ I think the Pope, then Cardinal Ratzinger was trying to distuinguish between outright violence against the person, instead looking at it from a physician standpoint. That being said, I’m going to be rereading this several times! Along with the original reports by Cardinal Ratzinger. Very interesting! BTW,.Do you attend a SSPX chapel? I used to frequent a FSSP PArish when I lived in Ottawa. I love the Extraordinary form of Mass.

Comment by Marco

You know, I was thinking about your saying that following the Council, the Church tried to look at homosexuality from a ‘physician’ standpoint as you say. I think you’re right. And we still trust a “physician” standpoint. But we shouldn’t, because the clinicial position now has been heavily influenced by social pressure. There is not a university graduate who does not use modernist treatments–drugs, various approaches that amount to forgetting your sin and building your ‘self esteem.’ They do not work, either.

But we’re still following this model. Catholic church bulletins still carry ads from licensed and accredited “Catholic” counseling services, the professionals of which graduated from universities with Catholic pedigrees but no Catholic teaching. Their services daily recommend divorce, abortion, and homosexuality, and never recommend confession, faithful attendance at mass, and ardent prayer. The Pastoral Letter referred to in the post clearly and correctly stated that the one thing to “avoid at all costs” is “the unfounded and demeaning assumption that the sexual behavior of homosexual persons is always and totally compulsive and therefore inculpable” without seeming to realize that this judgment is the norm now among clinicians whose ‘treatment’ the letter recommends. How can we still believe it, now? Because we haven’t come to terms with some of the unfortunate teachings of Vatican II. Because the Council taught that there were so many roads to salvation, so we make the leap that there many roads to mental health. The ordinary Catholic is disarmed of his critical sense; he feels unable to reject these professionals’ bogus advice. It has almost cost us our priesthood, not to mention sons and daughters and husbands and wives and friends. Gaudium et spes bewitched us, we forget we live in a rogue state crawling with smooth-talking serpents.

Comment by thewhitelilyblog

Hi, Marco! Yes, I do attend an SSPX chapel. I don’t enjoy the privilege of daily mass, though. I lived in Guadalajara for two years where there is an SSPX chapel and rectory, and had daily mass, even two daily masses, morning and evening. What a privilege! Yes, the traditional mass is great. The music is great. The quiet is great. And the doctrine, when offered, is great, the old teachings, no teflon tongues.

Have you read Iota Unum?

Comment by thewhitelilyblog

As a Catholic Systematic Theologian, I sympathise with the extraordinary tact displayed throughout this essay; its tone and documentation reveal a sophisticated theological awareness unbecoming most posts. The last two sentences reveal tremendous political courage not to mention sound theology. This problem is not one to ‘solve’ in the sense that any problem can be resolved. Your theological sentiments are serious, deserving of true discernment within the Mission of the Church Herself. You have done a great service in bringing to light a profoundly disturbing trend in our Post Vatican II world. Peace. William

Comment by William Holland

Wow, I never knew this about Seper or Ratzinger. This is horrible. I’m surprised you didn’t mention Pope Benedict’s horrendous recent document on admitting the sodomites into the seminaries. The first pope to officially do so in 2000 years.

Comment by Chris Brennan

St. Leo IX took a similar approach. St. Peter Damian (in the famous letter Book of Gommorah) urged the Pope to expel anyone guilty of this sin and not to ordain any who had been guilty of it. However, St. Leo instead chose to admit those who had sufficiently repented and shown the ability to live chastely over a set period of time. This response of St. Leo IX is usually included in most edition of the Book of Gommorah.

Comment by QC

However, Quantacura, that is not the only thing the documents said! Would that it were the problem! Did you go to the links and read them? They declare the ‘rights’ of homosexuals when acting as homosexuals. They say it is unjust to discriminate against homosexuals except in those four areas. Not the same thing as the days of Leo IX! Was there an organized gay agenda? Was it forbidden to refuse to rent to gay couples? Were there gay couples kissing in the Fourth of July parade? I think you must have skipped reading the actual documents and focused on this one thing. If Benedict had not opened all those doors, but had only done as Leo IX did and enforced a discrete amount of time of chastity and not done any social engineering, that would be fine. These documents agree to liberalism’s unproven assertion, that homosexuality is inborn, is natural, the gay lifestyle is a right short of the sex act itself, which of course no one can see, and which of course by that is an empty requirement.

Comment by thewhitelilyblog

I didn’t know it either! (The Guimaraes book–makes much use of these texts.) I thought of adding the BXVI decision regarding seminary applicants. It cost the indult PP–if you know who I mean? I was on the list when PP wrote his farewell ctng post because of that decision. That decision and these documents all use the same reasoning: the only thing that can be forbidden is the actual physical sin. The only thing that can be justly discriminated against is the physical act, except for those four listed jobs. All the other manifestations should be permitted and not even in charity, but in justice! And so you get whole populations of people–not just the bishops!–literally ignoring the red flags and sound blasts when ‘Father got a little silly with the boys sometimes’. It was like that in my parish in Pittsburgh, regarding a popular young priest in charge of our youth group. We saw it all unfolding, but said nothing, lest we offend. (It’s easy to get people into that mindset–wasn’t Germany enough lesson!?) But I didn’t bring that decision up in this post, because I just wanted to try to cover those two documents. I probably could cut some sections, but even if I did it’s a really long post! Go read the Separ document at the Vatican website, it’s so sixties!

Comment by thewhitelilyblog

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Hi jan,

Great stuff. i don’t see any change coming soon. BXVI was one of the Fathers to VII, it is his baby.
It defeats me that these intellectuals can not see simple truth,the devil has their heads.

Comment by Chris Torey

Yes, I know he was an active participant. He protested one or another detail, received no reply , and dropped it, as I recall from his biography. But we all had such hopes! And as far as it goes, the steps he has taken about the mass are at least in the right direction. At least that. Thanks for your comment.

Comment by thewhitelilyblog

There is a misreading of Seper here. You cite incomplete passages which distort Seper’s meaning. You quote this passage ” “so natural that it justifies in their case homosexual relations within a sincere communion of life and love analogous to marriage, in so far as such homosexuals feel incapable of enduring a solitary life” as if Seper is arguing for that. He is not. If you render more of the full quote he says: “some people conclude that their tendency is so natural that it justifies in their case homosexual relations within a sincere communion of life and love analogous to marriage, in so far as such homosexuals feel incapable of enduring a solitary life” It’s clear that Seper rejects this point of view:
” But no pastoral method can be employed which would give moral justification to these acts on the grounds that they would be consonant with the condition of such people. For according to the objective moral order, homosexual relations are acts which lack an essential and indispensable finality. In Sacred Scripture they are condemned as a serious depravity and even presented as the sad consequence of rejecting God”

Comment by Tim

Tim, thanks very much for the comment. Yes, the quote is incomplete, and including the rest of it reverses the entire meaning. My heart leapt! In happiness – – I would be glad if the secondary source I am commenting on in this post were wrong, and Seper is a good guy, and Vatican II has been merely misunderstood. However, when I went to the Vatican site and found the entire quote, I was struck by the sentence that followed immediately after:

“This judgment of Scripture [the author had quoted relevant scriptural passages] does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and can in no case be approved of.” The point that Atila Sinke Guimaraes makes in the article is that however much Seper reinforces elements of traditional Catholic teaching, this work departs from it by making exactly the point that we evidently cannot conclude that those who ‘suffer from this anomaly’ are personally responsible for it. This single idea has been used in a variety of ways, as Guimaraes says. For one thing, by introducing this doubt, the work supports the idea that homosexuality is an inherent trait. And then, by not making a distinction between the orientation and the acts of homosexuality, which include the sexual act itself and certain behaviors which mimic the opposite gender, everything is now covered under the umbrella of (arguably – and they have, loudly, ever since) ‘inherent behavior’ outside the possibility of personal, responsible control. This has, by the way, not been demonstrated clinically. But the church has accepted it as a fact, what Seper here introduces as a possibility. Cardinal Ratzinger’s works cited in this piece accept it as a fact. This has been terribly damaging to our understanding of and resistance to homosexuality as a cultural given.

Tim, you might make the same point about masturbation. To say that Seper supports it would be to deny that he wrote that, as a sexual act outside the ‘final end’ of human sexuality, it is forbidden. But he wrote immediately after that statement that, “Psychology helps one to see how the immaturity of adolescence (which can sometimes persist after that age), psychological imbalance or habit can influence behavior, diminishing the deliberate character of the act and bringing about a situation whereby subjectively there may not always be serious fault.” And that opened the door to much that came later, for example a diminished pastoral emphasis on this sin. That’s very serious, Tim. If you wish to argue that souls are not lost now because of our diminished emphasis on sexual solitary sin, well, I don’t see how you can. They are. Not that you would – you don’t tell us much else about your thinking except that there was more to Seper’s quote. And I thank you for that. I wish I had not relied on the secondary source for that quote – I have not found the website yet, at the time. Let me put that website link here again because you might want to check it again, or a reader might. Thank you very much for your input and your close reading; please come back.

Comment by thewhitelilyblog

Thanks for your most gracious and well reasoned response. I would be careful in reading what Seper is saying. I would also be careful in not reading too much into what he is saying. I believe his reference to “anomaly” means only that the person with a homosexual orientation is not morally responsible simply because they have this orientation or shall we say, tendencies. That only means one is not morally culpable merely because one is or considers oneself to be homosexual. They are not morally culpable for BEING homosexual. In no way however does this justify engaging in homosexual ACTS. As Seper says: “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and can in no case be approved of.” One may point for example to the homosexual group in the Church known as “Courage”. This group consists of men who accept the fact that they are homosexual BUT they dedicate themselves to chastity, good works, mutual support, and prayer to avoid this sin.
With respect to masturbation Seper is merely positing the POSSIBILITY that there are other factors which MIGHT mitigate guilt. He is not declaring that masturbation is anything else than what the Church has always said it is. Again this is an instance of failing to read the whole document. After the quote you cite, Seper says:
“But in general, the absence of serious responsibility must not be presumed; this would be to misunderstand people’s moral capacity.”
All he is saying is that it is POSSIBLE that guilt is not that great because of the factors mentioned. But one may NEVER presume this is the case. Because of course one MUST make use of the usual means to overcome sin, prayer, the sacraments, good works, etc. As Seper goes on to say:
“In the pastoral ministry, in order to form an adequate judgment in concrete cases, the habitual behavior of people will be considered in its totality, not only with regard to the individual’s practice of charity and of justice but also with regard to the individual’s care in observing the particular precepts of chastity. In particular, one will have to examine whether the individual is using the necessary means, both natural and supernatural, which Christian asceticism from its long experience recommends for overcoming the passions and progressing in virtue.” Now, if there are those out there who distorted Seper’s meanings in order to try and justify or minimize sexual sins, they are very much to be condemned. It’s important to read any document in its entire text. One can quote passages out of context to distort the meaning of almost anything. I do believe as you say that souls are being lost because of sexual sin and the clergy should address this more often. Unfortunately, many Catholics in the USA and Europe for example no longer take sexual sins seriously. A priest I know of decided to preach a sermon on “Humanae Vitae” and to remind his people of the importance of following the Church’s teaching. Unfortunately he received a lot of “hate mail” for that sermon which made him wonder whether it was really worth it. This is a difficult time for those of us who support the Church that Jesus founded and which still speaks with his authority today.
Nonetheless, I think we must still proclaim our truth in season and out of season, but recognizing the fact that many will not listen to us.
Sincerely yours in Christ,

Comment by Tim

The thing is, Tim, Vatican II documents (and those subsequent to it) seem to have been written in a peculiar way. Archbishop Lefebvre mentioned it, as did the author of Iota Unum and others. There are contradictory statements. The easiest example for me was that Vatican II says that Latin should be kept and also that the mass could be changed to the vernacular where desirable. (I have an urgent task waiting for me and have to hope you know where to find all those references by googling.) I think it was Iota Unum which explained that the statements supporting traditional were compromises, literally inserted after some big battle, and they settled it by keeping both statements! In other cases it’s subtle. You yourself mentioned the fact that forces within the Church itself–in the case of the pastor teaching Humanae Vitae and receiving such a flood of hate mail from Catholics–are actually doing what I asserted that Seper taught in one place in that document. I am saying that they are fueled by it, even though the document also asserts also the traditional teaching about say, masturbation. The fact that Seper introduces the qualifying statements with words like ‘modern teaching says,’ is weighted. But if you were to say back to me, ‘What can you say now that couldn’t be twisted some kind of way,’ I’m afraid I’d have to agree. But perhaps you could agree with me that little by little we have to tease these knots out, and say again, as a Church, ‘ in most cases, X, Y, and Z, are mortal sins regardless of what “modern psychology” teaches.’ Or ‘modern history’ or ‘modern genetics’ or whatever. Seper did qualify it. Those qualifications have served horror. I do not know how it can be said now that will not overweight one side or the other, but the discussion must be carried out.

Comment by thewhitelilyblog

I think your remarks are written in a rather hurried fashion, and are somewhat misdirected. Seper cannot be blamed for those who misinterpret him. Seper had some strong supporters amongst Catholic traditionalists, not the least of which is Michael Davies who gave Seper high praise for all the documents he issued when Seper was in charge of the CDF. Here is Michael Davies on Cardinal Seper:
“When the history of the post-conciliar debacle comes to be written, Cardinal Seper will be one of the few prelates to emerge with credit. His Congregation issued a series of totally orthodox documents upholding the traditional teaching on faith and morals. These documents have been largely ignored by the bishops, and appear to be unknown to most traditional Catholics. Those who believe that authentic Catholic teaching no longer comes to us from Rome should study some of the documents issued by this Congregation – such as The Declaration on Euthanasia, Instruction on Infant Baptism, Sexual Ethics, Mysterium Ecclesiæ Women in the Priesthood, or the Declaration on Professor Hans Küng.”

As to Vatican II, sure without a doubt there are ambiguities in the documents, as Paul VI observed long ago. As to the preservation of Latin, article 36 of the Constitution on the Liturgy stated this: “Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites” The decree went on to allow for a wider use of the vernacular, for example in readings. But the use of Latin is contingent on “particular law remaining in force”. In other words, it’s really up to the highest authority in the Church to decide on the use of Latin.
I disagree that Seper’s qualifications served horror, I doubt seriously that many of the liberals in the Church who support and spread teachings of sexual license ever actually read Seper. I have never heard of a single dissenter who attempted to justify their deviant teachings by an appeal to Seper. Seper was simply ignored by the liberals. I challenge you to find a dissenter who was “fueled” by Seper.
Do you think the Church could say “All homosexuals are going to hell”? That statement requires some qualification doesn’t it? I think you need to read Seper more carefully and then you will see why Michael Davies found him to be quite traditional.

Comment by Tim

Tim, I perhaps have read Seper too quickly, as you pointed out. And yet, in my last comment to your last comment, I reiterated the two concepts that Guimaraes found objectionable, and will say them again, without a doubt that they accurately reflect what Seper wrote: that he accepted the default liberal assertion that homosexuality is inborn, and that he confounded a tendency (if there is such) toward same sex attraction, with actions. You don’t disagree that it’s there, so what have I missed, except additional assertions of more traditional Catholic teaching. Personally I do not believe that homosexuality (what we are calling homosexuality) is inborn, and need not be ‘accepted’ or ‘recognized.’ I think that to do so fuels it, as a social movement. “Don’t ask, don’t tell,’ ought to be the motto of the country, not just the military. I lived in San Francisco for fifteen years or so, I have four children, I was an activist there (civil rights and union organizing), I have a degree in psych from San Francisco State (now University). Homosexual studies were well represented in my course work, and I had lots of friends of all kinds in the ‘movement’ there. So I know a bit about sexuality and am allowed my thoughts on the matter. You asked, do I think homosexuality is a grave sin meriting eternal damnation? Of course! It is a grave sin! I have the catechism beside me on this table, St. Pius X’s on the sixth and ninth commandments. It says nothing about ‘tendency,’ homo or hetero. It says sex is for marriage, between a man and a woman, any sexual actions outside that are grave sins, and also that deliberate impure thoughts are grave sins. It says we must avoid the occasions of sin, which would include actions like cross-dressing, and a range of other behaviors that might encourage homosexual behavior in others. So, yes, I do think that unrepented gay sex is a grave sin, and that the Church teaches it is–just presently not clearly enough, not loudly enough. Although as it utterly trashes the Church the outcry is getting louder. So is unrepented heterosexual action a grave sin outside marriage and its final end (as Seper said). If Michael Davies thought Seper to be completely traditional, we would have to disagree, as those who support tradition often do–we’d disagree on Ratzinger, too. I am not sure Davies would not have benefitted from more recent attention due to developments now. Do you yourself not think the emerging world is a moral horror? Don’t you think many souls are being lost? Sexual liberty in general, and homosexuality, are scourges on humanity, and especially on women and children. The naked stats are all there, if you’re interested. I have to agree with Guimaraes that Seper was the first crack in the post-Vatican II moral dam, and that Cardinal Ratzinger’s additions to the stew equally damaging, insofar as he repeated Seper’s errors and called for Catholic support for civil protections of homosexual ‘rights,’ although (if you checked the links and read the two documents) not gay marriage. Just other ‘rights’ which list the baker’s dozen like housing and employment and end in ‘etc.’ The liberal agenda unrolling before our eyes doesn’t have to cite Seper or Ratzinger or the Church to be energized by them, just as millions of communist fellow travelers never read Marx or Mao.

Comment by thewhitelilyblog

You definitely have not read Seper carefully. I don’t see anywhere that he accepts that homosexuality is inborn. He says only that some people say that. If you think otherwise then kindly cite the actual passages. You read me too quickly also. I asked if the statement that all homosexuals are going to hell requires some qualification. Of course it does, because that statement would include repentant homosexuals! That was my whole point. I’m afraid that souls are being lost but it’s not up to me to decide how many or point to any individual and say they are damned. I can only pray for sinners, as I pray and do penance for my own sins. You really need to slow down, read carefully and think.
The problem with the SSPX is they think they are entitled to sit in judgment on the Pope. They are not. No one is. As Canon 1404 tells us “No one judges the First See.”

Comment by Tim

Here is your quote, Tim (from Section VII of Persona Humana, on the Vatican site) regarding Guimaraes assertion that Seper teaches that homosexuality is inborn, which my post and comments reiterates and which you say is a misreading of Seper:

A distinction is drawn, and it seems with some reason, between homosexuals whose tendency comes from a false education, from a lack of normal sexual development, from habit, from bad example, or from other similar causes, and is transitory or at least not incurable; and homosexuals who are definitively such because of some kind of innate instinct or a pathological constitution judged to be incurable . . . .In the pastoral field, these homosexuals must certainly be treated with understanding and sustained in the hope of overcoming their personal difficulties and their inability to fit into society. Their culpability will be judged with prudence.

This is the statement, originally qualified with that word ‘apparently’ that was later taken as a given by then-Cardinal Ratzinger and elevated to the level of policy. It has also been gratefully seized by dissidents within the Church, and activists outside the Church. This is the door-opener. It raises homosexuality to a civil rights category, socially or politically or whatever it might be termed. Today we take it as a given. It has never been demonstrated experimentally or clinically.

I’m going to ignore your personal attacks regarding ‘speeding up’ or ‘slowing down’ except maybe when biking.

Regarding misreading you, yourself, I’m afraid your last salvo at SSPX (whom I do not represent, but support with all my heart) reveals that any misgivings I had of your comments was accurate. You had an agenda, not just an inquiry or observation regarding Seper. I apparently through my clumsiness goaded you enough for you to write it in black and white.

Comment by thewhitelilyblog

[…] a state’s right to fight homosexuality, instead of legitimizing it, as the Church’s current governing documents and practice do in endlessly repeating the need to recognize homosexuals’ special civil […]

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[…] teachings in sexual morality except an equivocation regarding masturbation and homosexuality by the first policy-setting promulgation after the council by a priest named Seper, whose works opened ….    Or perhaps the prohibition against abortion survived as a Catholic issue only because the […]

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