The Catholic Conference of Illinois has put out a new “marriage toolkit” full of trite talking points designed to debunk arguments for marriage equality. This includes gems like “It is not bigotry or discrimination to treat different things differently” and “Truth is not told by a clock.” Like much of the Catholic Church’s rhetoric put out lately, it refuses to acknowledge gay identities, instead calling upon Catholics to condemn “homosexual behaviors” as a “grave moral evil” like adultery, divorce, cohabitation, contraception, and pornography. In fact, this guide emphasizes the Church’s Courage ministry, which, mirroring ex-gay therapy, uses shame and sin to repress gays and lesbians into lives of chastity where they are only permitted to have “friendships”:
Moreover, the Church teaches an essential distinction between having an orientation or inclination toward same-sex activity, and freely choosing to engage in homosexual acts. Our culture assumes orientation necessarily results in acts. The Church, by contrast makes a crucial distinction. Even if a person feels he or she can’t help who he or she is attracted to, the attraction itself is not a sin. Only acting in accord with it is sinful. All of us struggle with many temptations, and we all pray for strength.
The toolkit goes on to reiterate the goals of Courage members:
- To live chaste lives in accordance with the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality.
- To dedicate our entire lives to Christ through service to others, spiritual reading, prayer, meditation, individual spiritual direction, frequent attendance at Mass, and the frequent reception of the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist.
- To foster a spirit of fellowship in which we may share with one another our thoughts and experiences, and so ensure that no one will have to face the problems of homosexuality alone.
- To be mindful of the truth that chaste friendships are not only possible but necessary in a chaste Christian life; and to encourage one another in forming and sustaining these friendships.
- To live lives that may serve as good examples to others.
The toolkit’s author, Carlos Tejeda, emphasizes that “people with same-sex attraction… need to be equipped to live out chastity.”
The Catholic Church refuses to acknowledge even a most basic understanding of sexual orientation or the lives of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals and the families they are raising across the state of Illinois and the country. Though this toolkit asserts that the Church is “an expert in humanity,” it seems to only be an expert in archaic dogma.