“Don’t have, or stop having sex,” is the message one Catholic Church leader is giving those of his faithful who have broken with tradition, based on a recent document from Pope Francis “on the nature of family life and marital love.”
“Live as brother and sister,” wrote Philadelphia‘s Archbishop Charles Caput to unmarried Catholics, divorced Catholics, and those re-married outside the Catholic Church, in order for them to receive sacraments like Holy Communion and Penance, commonly known as confession. And although he stopped short of saying, “live as brother and brother,” the leader of Philly’s flock did address gay Catholics:
“Catholic belief, rooted in Scripture, reserves all expressions of sexual intimacy to a man and a woman covenanted to each other in a valid marriage,” Caput wrote in Friday’s letter on the archdiocesan website, calling it an “unchangeable” tenet.
“Those with predominant same-sex attractions are therefore called to struggle to live chastely for the kingdom of God. In this endeavor they have need of support, friendship and understanding if they fail. They should be counseled, like everyone else, to have frequent recourse to the Sacrament of Penance, where they should be treated with gentleness and compassion. In fact, more than a few such persons, with the help of grace and the sacraments, do live exemplary and even heroic Christian lives.”
Caput suggested outright rejection of gay couples who actively express their love and don’t conceal their attraction: “…two persons in an active, public same-sex relationship, no matter how sincere, offer a serious counter-witness to Catholic belief, which can only produce moral confusion in the community,” he wrote.
“Such a relationship cannot be accepted into the life of the parish without undermining the faith of the community, most notably the children.
“Finally, those living openly same-sex lifestyles should not hold positions of responsibility in a parish, nor should they carry out any liturgical ministry or function.”
Caput acknowledged in his letter his six pages of guidelines to clergy and other archdiocesan leaders are “a hard teaching,” meant to provide direction on implementing Amoris Laetitia, the Pope’s document on the family issued in April. Amoris Laetitia is Latin for “the joy of love.”
The archbishop’s guidelines are believed to be the first of their kind issued by any American diocese, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.