Comments on Always Our Children
Gerard van den Aardweg, Ph.D.
This “Message to Parents etc.” is worse than no “message” at all. It is full of dubious, preacherous phraseology which may confuse and even seems meant to be confusing, although it is presented as “orthodox” Catholicism. It is highly misleading, because the really Catholic items (e.g., recommendation of the sacrament of Penance, mention of “chastity”) are logically disconnected from the basic suggestion underlying this “message”: respect the “dignity” of the “given” personality dimension called the homosexual orientation” of your child. The covert objective seems attempting to stretch- in fact distort- the Catholic view of homosexuality as much as possible in a pro-homosexual direction. That is intellectual dishonesty. Also, the tone is quite larmoyant and sentimental. It is all “love” and “acceptance” and “compassion”, but the question is: what interpretation exactly is given to these beautiful words?
Several essential concepts in the document (like “homosexual person”, “dignity of the person”, “acceptance”, “self-acceptance”) are either vague and ambiguous or wrongly interpreted. The logical level of reasoning in the document is low.
Scientifically it is incompetent. Several assumptions are unfounded, and important knowledge is ignored.
In spite of its exaggerated “compassionate” terminology, this document is insensitive to the real difficulties “orthodox” Catholic parents of homosexually inclined children are confronted with in our time and neglects giving sound advice, psychologically as well as spiritually. Whoever, as a doctor or a psychologist, has experience with many normally thinking parents of homosexuals, knows that this kind of sanctimonious talking adds an insult to their sorrow. If Catholic Bishops endorse a document like this, they not only seriously fail to support parents in such circumstances, but give them an indigestible stone for bread.
1 “This message is not intended ... to serve a particular agenda. It is not ... an endorsement of a ‘homosexual lifestyle’.”
After reading the document, it becomes clear why this strange denial must introduce the document. Often such denials must be viewed as “betrayal of the soul” (the German “seelischer Verrat”, slip of the pen, Freudian lapsus).
“... offering them (parents, family members) a fresh look at the grace present in family life and the unfailing mercy of Christ”.
What exactly is the “fresh look” in this doc.?
What might be the meant with the “unfailing mercy of Christ?” (suspicion: Christ will never judge or disapprove, He will always “understand” and “forgive”, also when the h.s. child rebels and acts out his “orientation”?)
2 What is the definition of “adolescent” here? Age-range should have been mentioned because it is not the same if we have to do with a 17- or 18 year old or a 13- or 14 year old.
“Your son ... had made it known that he ... has a h.s. orientation”. Sloppy formulation; what exactly is meant? Such terms are not used by youngsters. It may suggest too much.
“You experience tension between loving your child as God’s precious creation (why this exaggerated addition?) and not wanting to endorse (morally wrong) behavior”.
Nonsense. A Catholic does not “experience this tension”; not wanting to endorse (wrong) behavior is part of loving the child. There is no conflict between the two attitudes. Why then are these things presented as opposed, to one another? This statement makes however sense if we read the writers’ minds this way: you love also the “homosexual orientation” of your child, perhaps that trait makes the child so “precious”? And now there rises a conflict between “the (external) law” (what “you know the church teaches as wrong”, not: what “you deeply feel is wrong”) and your love...
“Our message speaks of accepting yourself, your beliefs and values”.
This is the language of a trendy kind of “self” psychology from the sixties. Obviously, it depends on what is meant with “self-acceptance”. Without further clarification, “acceptance” is often meant as “condoning everything in yourself (and others)”, you should never disapprove of things in yourself (or others). This is un-Christian, and also psychologically erroneous in view of the universality of man’s conscience. “Beliefs and values” must be measured by objective norms (and by moral Church doctrine).
“ ... of accepting and loving your child as a gift of God; and ... the full truth about God’s revelation of the dignity of the person and the meaning of human (of course, “human”, it is not about animals) sexuality. ... there is no contradiction among these levels of acceptance (what “levels”?), for truth and love are not opposed”. What seems suggested in this contention is that because your child is a “gift of God” and possesses dignity also in the homosexuality dimension of his personhood, there is somehow a relationship between the child’s being a “gift of God” and his homosexual personhood, and that you have to respect that. These cloudy phrases may easily be used as support for the “homosexuality is a gift of God” theory. If the authors would not secretly have meant something like that, this whole vague passage would not have been written. Instead, they would simply have put: you love your child of course, but you are aware that his, disordered, inclination may threaten his being a temple of the Holy Ghost.
This suspicion is reinforced by the cryptical sentence (a bit further on): “Although the gift of human sexuality can be a great mystery at times, the church’s teaching on h.s. is clear”. Something is wrong with this sentence. With “at times”, the first part of it seems to suggest that some forms (variants?) of sexuality can be a mystery which we do not understand, but that they are still “gifts” (from Whom?), in spite of the fact that the Church rejects homosexual genital contacts. A covert “gift of God” theory colors the whole document.
“ ... many different emotions, all varying in degrees such as: Relief... Anger...”. etc.
The kindergarten- teacher, condescending tone of this whole document is most outspoken here. How is the parent whose “precious child” has told him he has homosexual feelings or contacts expected to react to this silly approach? “Oh thank you, it feels so good that you understand my deepest feelings so well!”?”
You may fear for your child’s physical safety ... in the face of prejudice against homosexual people” (see also p. 3: “H.s. persons often experience discrimination and acts of violence in our society”).
A familiar item from the gay complaining list. But be relieved, parents, the reality is not that grim. The results from various studies are clear: violence against homosexuals is much rarer than against heterosexuals, in the U.S., Holland, Germany, etc. What you as a parent do have reasons to fear however is the violence among “homosexual people”. In his book “Beautiful gay world” (“Schone schwule Welt”, Berlin 1997), German activist gay Hinzpeter advises the homosexual world to stop this eternal whining and lamenting because of its victim position. This has been useful, he writes, in our equal-rights struggle, but certainly now it has no basis in reality whatsoever. The same applies for other forms of “discrimination”. In reality, homosexuals are specially protected and socially privileged in many ways.
3 “The fear of ... AIDS or STDs is serious and ever present”.
Here we would expect concrete data and the advice to parents to communicate these data to their son or daughter!
“You are also a child of God, gifted (? do we have to mentally fill out: “with your orientation”?) and called for a purpose in God’s design”:
Yes, but now it is God’s will that you fight your homo-attractions. Do not cherish, even less glorify them.
“ ... it is not necessary to act upon all them (your feelings) ... it may also be necessary to talk about your feelings. Do not expect that all tensions can or will be resolved”.
This is the wisdom of psychological counselors in ladies’ magazines. Is this the best Catholic wisdom to offer?
“A shocking number of homosexual youth end up on the streets because of rejection by their families ... (and as a consequence) young people are at a greater risk of self- destructive behaviors like substance abuse and suicide”.
A shocking number: this comes straight from a textbook of gay propaganda. It is a plain lie (as usual, theatrical form). It is extremely seldom that parents “reject” children with homosexual behaviors, let alone with homosexual inclinations, so they are falsely accused by these pastoral writers (and Bishops who undersign their fantasies). Anyone familiar with the reactions of the average parent to a youngster’s “coming out” knows that the reality is quite different: often it is the youngster who demands total acceptance of his lifestyle and asks the impossible from his parents and if they cannot or will not capitulate, he (she) plays the martyr.
Otherwise, the high frequency of alcohol and drugs among practicing homosexuals has nothing to do with their parents or with social discrimination (again, this self-dramatizing lie of many “gays” is repeated here), but with inner neurotic dynamics inherent in homosexuality and with the high level of frustration which his an inevitable part of gay love-life.
“This child, ..., may now be the cause of another gift: your family becoming more honest, respectful and supportive”.
“More honest” because everybody in the family knows, accepts, and “respects” the homosexual attractions, or behaviors of this brother and sister? This is glorifying “coming out within the family”, a familiar gay-agenda item. Much sorrow has been caused by this false kind of “honesty”. As a matter of fact, it is wise to talk about this problem only with those in the family who can bear it, or who can be positively helpful (in the sense of encouraging to live chastely and fight these tendencies). The show of “we in this family are all happy with this homosexual brother (sister) and all accept it” is false. To speak here of an additional “gift” this sibling or child brings to his family is crazy.
“Seek appropriate help”. Sure. But without clarification of “appropriate” this may be a dangerous advice. “Appropriate” is: with persons (pastors or experts) who a. completely adhere to the Church’s moral doctrine on sexuality (homo- as well as heterosexuality); b. view homosexual attractions as not natural or normal and try to help either overcoming them or, minimally, not indulging in them. Immediately hereafter, the document should have remarked that, alas, very few agencies or professionals are reliable in this respect and that the young Catholic must carefully be oriented as to where he might go. The document should also have encouraged in this connection the practicing of morally sound psychotherapies.
“anxiety (about) what the child is choosing (implied: “hands off! He/she must be free to “choose” to read what he/she prefers”?) to read or view in the media, intense friendships etc.”. Then: “(Do) not presume that your child has developed a h.s. orientation”. What is meant here? “Don’t worry? Let him go?” “Oh, no”, could be the quick response of someone who wants to defend this document, pointing to the next sentence: “Parents must always be vigilant about their children’s behavior, etc.”. Indeed, the purport of a sentence like “(Do) not presume that your child has developed a h.s. orientation” is contradictory with that of “Parents must always be vigilant, etc.” See the statement on pg. 4: “It is essential for you to remain open to the possibility that your son or daughter is struggling to understand and accept a basic homosexual orientation”. In other words, if the adolescent is reading on homosexuality, or having these “intense friendships”, you must not disturb an ongoing process of seeking “self-identity” (p. 5 has this tautological word). This kind of contradictory statements and purports is characteristic of the whole document: you can turn it the way you like, it is an impossible attempt to reconcile psychological and moral soundness with the politically correct ideas of the homosexual emancipation movement. This document is a hybrid.
4 “Look for a therapist who has an appreciation of religious values (not enough, see above) and understands the complex nature of homosexuality”.
The document tries to mystify sexuality, especially homosexuality. It is “a mystery at times”, its nature is “complex”, no one knows much of it with certainty (see below: “multiple factors...”). It is a well-known ploy to fend off insights and information on homosexuality that is not welcome, and at the same time to enhance the importance and specialty of the “homosexual orientation”.
“(the expert must help) people discern the meaning of early sexual behaviors, sexual attractions and sexual fantasies in ways that lead to more clarity and self-identity ... your son or daughter (may be) struggling to understand and accept a basic homosexual orientation”.
There is a lot of junk-science behind these words. First, it is wrong that “early sexual behaviors and fantasies” would express some “self-identity”/ “basic homosexual orientation”. Homosexual fantasies reflect gender-identity problems (inferiority feelings), not some really existing “identity”. What should have been written here is a warning that early homosexual behaviors and adolescent homosexual fantasies can not be exploited -as is done by “experts” who counsel a homosexual lifestyle- as an argument for the existence of your homosexual nature”, let alone for justifying homosexual behavior. And early (homo) sexual behavior does not reflect something constant, immutable. Second, it is falsely sold here to the ignorant public that the adolescent might possess an inborn, unchanging homosexual “nature” (what else could an adjective like “basic” mean?). “Church teaching” (Persona Humana, 1975) is invoked to “prove” that there are “homosexuals who are definitely so because of innate instinct”.
a. This is misleading. The full quote from Persona Humana is: “They
(= some who refer to psychological observations -i.e. social scientists- to condone homosexual relationships) make a distinction -which, otherwise, does not seem to be made without reason- between homosexuals whose inclination comes from wrong upbringing, ... or other similar causes ... and which is in any case is not incurable, and homosexuals who are so for ever, because of some kind of innate drive or a pathological disposition which is regarded incurable”. So the observation “it does not seem without reason” primarily refers to the distinction “peripheral” versus “nuclear” homosexuality, which was very popular at the time Persona Humana was written. Persona Humana does merely affirm that this distinction between curable and incurable (or “more superficial” and “deep”) homosexuality is reasonable, not that it is true. Neither does it affirm that there exists a form of homosexuality that objectively would be incurable, it only says that the “deep” form is regarded as incurable (at least, at the moment P.H. was written). P.H. does not “teach” the existence of innate homosexuality, as is contended in the American document. It leaves it open: it may be an innate drive, or something else, like some pathological disposition. The latter may imply many things: some embryonal disease, a physiological development disturbance, or a psychological maldevelopment which can not be changed (at the moment of the writing of P.H.).
b. Why does the American document not quote the 1986 document of the same Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith on this issue? It -wisely- only talks of “the homosexual condition or tendency”, no scientific theories about the nature of this “condition” or “tendency” are mentioned, let alone, “taught”.
c. The Prefect of this Congregation, Cardinal Ratzinger, told me personally (1998, in the presence of two witnesses, both academics) that “his Decastery did not write in official documents that homosexuality was innate”. He added that he personally did not believe that, either.
d. That the Vatican refrains from casual statements, and that there is no “Church teaching” on the causes of homosexuality is not only logical (this is a matter of science, not of faith or morals), but explains why, increasingly, care is taken to avoid misinterpretable terms. The word “orientation” is purely descriptive: having interests in a certain directions, having a tendency” , a “disposition” (which is about synonymous with “set”). To indicate the strength of such a “set”, words like “deep-seated” are used. One remembers the substitution of the somewhat confusing “fundamental” by “deep-seated” in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Because “orientation” is merely descriptive, no conclusion may be drawn from the word with respect to its ontological status, stability or constancy.
e. Clearly, the suggestion that “a basic h.s. orientation” is innate is highly demoralizing and demotivating for attempting any kind of change; in any case, that is its psychological impact. For this reason, innateness propaganda has always been an item high on the list of the gay agenda.
Another comment concerning the statement “In the course of this, it is essential for you to remain open to the possibility that your son or daughter is struggling to understand and accept a basic homosexual orientation”:
It is suggested here that this would be a good thing. In effect, the child’s “accepting (the so-called) homosexual orientation” would be a fateful and undesirable development which a parent should try to halt, in sofar as that would lie in his possibilities! The young person must be prevented from identifying himself as “being” gay, which is a wrong self-labeling that opens doors to slipping down further, eventually into homosexual activities. And it reinforces a neurotic self-view of being “apart”. One of the tasks of the parent or other constructive helpers is to make clear that having homosexual feelings does not make you another type of person, the “gay”. In spite of all assurances to the contrary, those who advocate to “accept” your homosexual “orientation”, to choose for the self-label: “I am a homosexual”, in fact reinforce their “I am different” self-view.
What should be communicated to the adolescent, in contrast, is that homosexual feelings signal an emotional problem, i.e., inadequacy/inferiority feelings concerning his sexual identity, but not something he should identify with.
At this crucial junction, the “Message” lamentably fails. The right “message” is to remind parents of the tremendous importance of the choices made at the threshold of maturity, at the age of 16-18 years. In many lives, the course of life is shaped during the critical period of late-adolescence. Will the young person then choose for virtue or for vice? For inwardly fighting, trying to reject his homosexual impulses - fantasies, masturbation-; will he choose for seeking the moral truth for himself, and the Will of God? Or will he enter the path of self-seeking, cherishing his homo-fantasies, refusing to subject his private life to the Will of God?
This is what really matters. Of course parents must do efforts to maintain a good relationship with their child, if possible a relationship which can be described as “parental friendship”, and ask themselves what they could do to improve that relationship. That means fatherly or motherly understanding, but never condoning. It means parental leadership and quiet, but strong guidance in the good direction, encouraging the child to choose for the virtues and patiently fight his vices. It means giving explanations and sound advice, and to admonish in all earnest, because if there is any “possibility” the parent should be “open” to, it is the danger that the child will ruin his life, and runs the risk of falling in grave sin.
In many cases, the adolescent is not willing to listen, but takes on rebellious attitudes. It is then very difficult, if not impossible, to maintain a confidential relationship, for now it is the young person who blocks it. Then the parents should persist in their course, patient, friendly, but unflinching in their attitudes and not trying to “win over” the child by false compromise when they find it bitter that their child takes issue with them or even does not want to see them anymore.
Concretely: the parents could give information and explanations on the medical, psychological and spiritual connections of homosexual lifestyle. Medical: the many STDs, hepatitis, HIV, alcohol, drugs, too early death. Psychological: a life full of frustrations, loneliness, depressions, never succeeding in finding “the” dreamed-of relationship, increasing sex addiction, a botched life. Spiritually: peace of mind will only be found if you persist in the choice for God, if you pray in order to clearly perceive the Will of God, if you do not indulge in masturbation, homo-fantasies, porno reading (Internet), if you firmly reject “intense” friendships. That this “Message” does not mention the struggle with masturbation is especially naive, as it is clear that this solitary habit may have taken deep roots in adolescents, considerably reinforcing homosexual fantasies. Explain how to fight for chastity in behaviors and thoughts and fantasies. Encourage normal friendships, healthy sports and community life. Encourage the adolescent to be actively interested in others in his environment and to make small sacrifices for them: homosexual fantasies signal intense self-centeredness, while learning to love and practicing real charity means overcoming yourself, becoming more mature- and less homosexually interested.
A twenty-year old girl (or young woman) with sometimes strong lesbian feelings summarized her experience: “If I pray and really will to open myself to God, these feelings are farther away from me, and I feel more confident and cheerful. If I give in to these comforting fantasies, my joy disappears and I feel like sinking”. Many people with homosexual, pedophile, sado-masochistic, exhibitionistic, or heterosexual obsessive impulses could agree with that (the old-fashioned notion of “temptation” was not so irreal, after all).
P. 4 offers a few more confusions:
“multiple factors -genetic, hormonal, psychological- may give rise to (homosexuality)”.
Myths; unforgivable that an official document repeats these scientific untruths. No genetic or hormonal factor has been substantiated; even those who think that perhaps, in some cases, some kind of (possibly non-sexual) genetic predisposition may have been involved, do not believe that this factor determined the homosexual development.
“Some ... want to be known as gay or lesbian. These terms often express a person’s level of self-awareness and self- acceptance within society”. What nonsense is being talked here? “Level of self-awareness and self-acceptance” are pedantic words to say: “they want to be seen as gay and fully accepted as such”. And that would be only “language”, that “should not be a barrier to building trust...etc.”? In truth, such attitudes on the part of the “gay” son or daughter, or friend, etc., inevitably erect a barrier.
“No guarantee that therapy will succeed”. This is “subtle” dissuasion: why should you go in therapy? It is difficult, costly, and you will not change. The well-known gay arguments, in fact. Therapy is deceptively presented as being either “successful” or “a failure”, and “success” would mean completely heterosexuality. This all-or-nothing approach is false, however. As with innumerous physical and mental diseases and problems, there are shades and grades of recovery, from slight improvement to 100% cure. The “no guarantee” affirmation is scientifically incorrect (did not these writers study the literature, or only the pro-gay literature?), unworthy, and unjust and merciless to homosexually affected persons. Radical change is possible in many cases. Even in cases where there is little progress, the minimum good that can be gained is a life of abstinence, without the degrading consequences of homosexual contacts or cruising, without STDs and AIDS.
What the document does not mention is that there is a great scarcity of morally sound and psychologically instructed therapists, exactly because of the prevailing attitude “therapy is to no avail”, which is confirmed here, and which is to the taste of the gay establishment.
“Sexual identity helps define the unique persons we are (and) a component (of that) is our sexual identity”. Here the circle is closed: your “homosexual identity” is part of your unique personhood. This is the homosexual “gender ideology” which is poured out over the world by Planned Parenthood, the U.N. (UNICEF), the Resolutions of the European Parliament... Let these theorists reason a bit further: “your pedophile identity is part of your unique personhood”, your “exhibitionistic identity” ..., your “schizophrenic identity”, your kleptomaniac identity”, whatever. The alternative would be: “your so-called ‘(homo, pedophile, etc.) sexual identity’ is not a part of your real ‘self’. It is a sickness of the self”.
5 More of the same: “an inherent dignity (of the person) ... it is their sexuality mysterious blend of spirit and body- that allows humans to share in God’s own creative love and life ... Like all gifts of God, ... sexuality can be channeled toward good or evil (and) the homosexual (as well as) the heterosexual is called to maturity etc.”
The suggestion is unmistakable: a homosexual is meant the way he is, also his sexuality a gift of God, and may be “channeled to” all sorts of beautiful ends. Complete nonsense, because “the homosexual person” strictly speaking does not exist, and his “ sexuality” cannot be put at a par with heterosexuality. Heterosexuality is conform God’s creation, homosexuality is an aberration of it. There is nothing to glorify in homo “sexuality.”
“Chastity means... integrating one’s thoughts etc. in a way that values and respects one’s dignity and that of others.” Beware of the duplicity of this formula! Every active pedophile will quickly agree. “Dignity” for the “gay” is what “sin” is for God.
If it is added below that “ only within marriage does intercourse fully symbolize the Creator’s design etc.”, someone who wants to justify homosexual contacts may think: perhaps, but in my case I am unable to “fully symbolize” this design. It is true that the last lines of p. 5 correctly transmit Church doctrine, but much of the foregoing is in patent conflict with it.
6 “All homosexual persons have a right to be welcomed into the community”: no. Only if they try to live according to sane morality and do not manifest themselves as committed “gays/lesbians.”
“HIV/AIDS an epidemic affecting the whole human race”: again a formulation typical of gay propaganda. “ The whole human race”: that applies to Africa in the first place, but in Europe and the U.S., as well as in a number of Third World countries, AIDS is primarily a homo-disease (60-80% of the cases), and it is insincere and leads to wrong practical measures to cover this reality up. Secondly, the gay movement is responsible for AIDS in the western world.
“We reject ... that AIDS is a punishment from God.” Very kind, but: why? Many misfortunes in life are permitted by God for various reasons, one of them being punishment in the sense of a measure for correction, or expiation. Maybe, not always, but if it is presumptuous to proclaim that AIDS “is” (always) a punishment, it certainly is not less presumptuous to proclaim that this cannot be so. Let us realistically face this possibility, too, although it is impopular.
“We call on all Christians ... to confront their own fears about homosexuality”: Whatever the source of this, “fears of homosexuality” are mostly sane and normal, for example, if parents fear that a child will develop homosexuality, or if people “fear” homosexual behavior or the gay ideology spreads. So what is there to “be confronted with”? This expression is too much similar to “homophobia” not to see in this call an echo of gay propaganda. To be clear: most people do not “ fear” homosexuality, they have an aversion to it and there is nothing wrong with that. “Homophobia” is a propaganda invention, without scientific basis whatsoever.
7 “Accept and love yourselves as parents ... do not blame yourselves for a h.s. orientation in your child.”
Should be: try to recognize and then accept your shortcomings as parents and mend them as far as possible. Often, parental shortcomings have something to do with their children’s problems, there is no reason to deny that. Extremes must be avoided, because homosexuality is not only and not always connected to parental behavior, but parents are not helped by irrealistic soothing.
The rest of these recommendations is meagre, and much depends on their practical implementation. E.g., which “spiritual direction”, “which special diocesan ministry to gay and lesbian persons”? ( To repeat: the terminology “gay and lesbian persons” itself should be abolished as it reinforces the “being different” ideology). A warning should have been given to avoid certain of these “ministries” and call them by name, whereas an explicit recommendation should have been given for a sane Catholic approach like “Courage.”
“Put your faith in God, who is more compassionate...”: without balancing such a remark with a serious admonition not to forget God’s justice and judgement after death, it fuels a wrong, condoning attitude. Characteristically, the whole document has nothing on “sin” and “salvation of the soul.”
Parochial celebration of the pro-gay “ AIDS Awareness Day” (anointing etc.) sends out the wrong message. Catholics should not reinforce the image of homosexual AIDs patients as martyrs, nor associate themselves with gay-ideology furthering public manifestations.
The title “Always our children” reflects the melodramatic view of this document of the “person with a homosexual orientation”; it could serve for a soap series. The “Message” is soaked in the familiar affirmations of the gay movement. It is a mishmash of incoherent statements, psycho-babble, pseudo-scientific pedantry and cheap “love-talk”, but the important things that must be told parents and homosexually or pedophile, or otherwise sexually or morally afflicted youngsters are hardly, if at all, touched upon. It is scandalous that this product can get the approval of Catholic Bishops, for it most painfully reveals the intellectual, scientific and moral poverty which prevail in, apparently great, parts of the bureaucracy of the American Catholic Church.
The remedy must be straightforward: let a completely new document be made, by less superficial minds and whose Catholicism is above suspicion; and in close collaboration with good Catholic experts who know the scientific literature (and not only the gay selection of it) and have profound experience with counseling and treatment. That document should speak in clear words and concepts, avoid any ambiguity; and, far from flattering the predominant gay ideology, have the courage to advocate a really sane and Catholic alternative.
Gerard J.M. van den Aardweg, P.O., Ph-D.
December 14, 2001