Q: Archbishop J, could a Catholic support Pride month?
There is a historical reason why Pride month emerged. For a long time, persons with same-sex attraction were treated badly within Church and society. In childhood and adolescence, there was name-calling and bullying, labelling, and stereotyping.
A boy who appeared effeminate, regardless of his sexual orientation was shunned by ‘the boys’ and ostracised. With girls, I do not think it was as brutal.
Adolescents who experience same-sex attraction or are intersexed, were forced to hide and cover up lest they were exposed and shamed. This resulted in violence, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The language we used was not sophisticated enough to understand the pain of the young person growing into an adult.
Parents and peers were alarmed by the thought of the physical act, usually with fear and revulsion.
The Catholic is invited to hold two things at the same time.
(1) Love the person and ensure the person retains their full dignity as a child of God in need of God’s grace and healing.
(2) Help the person understand why the act is morally wrong— it is unnatural and sinful (Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC],2357).
When Jesus was challenged by the leaders of His day about eating with tax collectors and sinners, His answer was: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mt 9:12–13). Unfortunately, we did not heed the words of Jesus.
This point struck me many years ago when my nephew Shane, of happy memory, who was heterosexual and in his early twenties asked me why I would want to belong to a Church that is so hostile against gay people.
The fact is, we have people who are in irregular heterosexual unions that are part of our Church and we do not have the same level of prejudice against them.
We always fear what we do not understand, and homosexuality is poorly understood. The ‘coming out of the closet’ by the gay community evolved into Pride month. It is a statement from that community that they will not tolerate prejudice anymore. This in part, is a social justice cause. We need to uphold the dignity of every person.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church #2358 speaking about the homosexual person says: “They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfil God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter.”
In part, Pride month is about this call to ensure persons who are attracted to the same sex do not receive prejudice. Every Catholic is obligated to work to end prejudice. We must also work for people to live the whole moral life.
Emergence of Gender Ideology
But this is not all that Pride month is about. Gender ideology has become a central theme of the Pride month. This is completely opposed to the Christian understanding of the human person. When it comes to the whole of sexual ethics it is not just about love, or just about truth. It is about the paradox of love and truth held together.
The term ‘gender’ was inscribed in a document in preparation for the United Nations Cairo International Conference on Population and Development meeting in 1994. Its real emergence as a five-gender theory was in the IV World Conference on Women (Beijing 1995), in New York.
The problem is that the use of the term ‘gender’ is understood as purely socially constructed, and because of this, it is divorced from ‘sex’ which is biologically inscribed in the person. The Book of Genesis says: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27).
Up until the 1990s, we spoke about male and female as both gender and sex. The divorce of these two has created an ideology—a system of ideas that is not necessarily rooted in reality. The reality is people have different sexual desires. But the reality is people were created male or female (Mt 19:5).
One of the great challenges to the gender ideology is that the human body has either XY or XX chromosomes dependent upon whether you are male (XY) or female (XX).
No matter what the sexual desire of the person, or what operations have been done to perfectly functioning parts of the body, the person regardless of the gender idea that they subscribe to remains as far as the chromosomes are concerned, the sex of their birth— XX or XY. The obvious exception here are the intersexed who Jesus describes as having been so from birth (Mt 19:12).
Gender ideology, while describing a person’s sexual desire engages a fundamental lie about their biology. When we lie about our biology, we create a world where truth has no meaning.
There is a book published in the UK that has proposed over 100 genders. This is why we currently speak about LGBTQIA+. Christians should not participate in, promote, or champion a lie.
In a book by Rev Luigi Maria Epicoco, who interviews Pope Francis, the pontiff speaking about gender says: “One can see how an idea wishes to impose itself on reality and it does so subtly.”
Pope Francis affirms that: “The church has the duty of accompanying homosexuals.” But he warns: “If we abolish differences then we will remove the most profound and true dignity of people.” Pope Francis concludes: “and this [gender ideology] is diabolical”.
Gender theory is now being weaponised against all those who oppose it. In the US, there was the photographer and the cake maker who opposed and were sued.
In ‘cancel culture’ anyone who seeks to have a rational conversation or debate about this ideology is targeted and ‘cancelled’.
From this perspective gender theory needs to be seen as a neo-colonial tool being imposed on others who disagree.
US President Barack Obama in Africa was challenged by African leaders when he tried to impose gender theory. British Prime Minister David Cameron threatened to withhold aid to Commonwealth nations if they did not change legalisation on homosexuality. Now international businesses are spending millions of dollars to force this ideology on small republics.
I conclude with Pope Francis’ comment that gender ideology is diabolical. It threatens to separate desire from truth. It is a new form of neo-colonial imposition, and it opposes free speech and ultimately it will seek to suppress religious freedom. What society did to persons with same sex attractions, the Pride movement is doing to those who see gender differently to them.