08 Should Catholics be rejoicing at the striking down of Section 377? Yes and No. - Fr. Joshan Rodrigues

posted Sep 11, 2018, 10:46 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Sep 11, 2018, 10:47 AM ]
The LGBTQ community is rightly celebrating in India, with the Supreme Court slashing down Section 377, which branded homosexual acts as criminal. The LGBTQ community has been fighting this archaic British era law for many years. Coupled with the social stigma associated with homosexuality in India, this legal clampdown made life almost impossible and fearful for people with same-sex orientations. Now in light of this ruling, Catholics around the country may wonder what this means for us, in the light of Church teaching on homosexuality.

There is much misunderstanding among Catholics when it comes to understanding what the Church teaches on this issue. Many Catholics themselves believe that the Church is homophobic and condemns homosexuals. Many people have already put up links and messages on social media platforms, welcoming this decision and supporting free love. As social mores in our country change, Catholics must explore the deeper ramifications of this issue in the light of Church teaching, and what the Church really says. Quite often, we hear what the Church says from non-Church sources which greatly twist and confuse the real teaching of the Church.

So what 'does' the Church say on homosexuality? Is the Church homophobic? NO! The Church is not against people with same-sex orientation. They are Children of God, just like each one of us. They are invited to the Church and Sacraments, just like each one of us, and the same rules apply to them as they do to us. Whether you are married or single, heterosexual or homosexual, priest or laity, black or white, rich or poor, we all have an equal dignity in the Body of Christ. The Church too wants LGBTQs to be happy and experience love. There are many faithful Catholics with same-sex orientation who help in different ministries in our parishes. I have spoken to many such people in the confessional, where they've poured out their hearts and struggles. They have shared with me how they try to live as faithful and loving children of God everyday of their lives.

Having said this, there are other aspects to this issue. Though same-sex acts should not be a crime, they are still sinful. It is fallacious to think that whatever is legally allowed should also be morally allowed. Abortion is an example. Similarly, there are acts that may be immoral, and as a consequence, sinful, but not criminal in the eyes of the law. LGBTQ activists are already saying that their next goal is to legalise same-sex marriage, and give LGBTQ couples the right to adopt children. This is where we need to be alert, because in many other countries, legalising homosexuality has slowly and eventually opened the doors to marriage and adoption. Many Catholics themselves see no issue with same-sex marriage.

"Why shouldn't they have a right to love and have kids?" is the common refrain. And this is understandable, since we do not understand the full implications of this issue.