40 Myths About the Catholic Church–The Church Hates Gays

I know you’ve heard this one many times.  As usual, this is not an in-depth study into the theology of the whole thing but to put it as simply as I can, the Church doesn’t hate anybody.  Here’s the thing.  You’ve probably heard the expression “Hate the sin but love the sinner.”  It definitely applies here. To understand where the Church stands on homosexuality, you have to look at the Church’s position on sexuality in general.  Sexual activity is reserved for men and women who have entered into a sacramental marriage.  For anyone, gay or straight, to engage in sex outside of marriage is a sin.

The Church does not discriminate between sinners based on with whom the sin is committed.  Two men, two women, a man and a sheep, or an unmarried man and unmarried woman (that is, not married to each other)  having sexual intercourse is a mortal sin.  The Church doesn’t hate any of them, she just hates the sin.

“OK, deacon, if that’s the case, why won’t the Church allow gay people to be married.”

The answer is simply that the sacrament of marriage was instituted by God for the creation of families.  In the prenuptial agreement signed by both parties, and in the sacrament itself, the man and the woman promise to be open to God’s gift of children.  That’s what marriage is for!  It’s the same reason she opposes artificial birth control.  We, as human beings, are not allowed to interfere with God’s plan.  “Be fruitful and multiply!”

“But deacon, what if two men or two women love each other?  Isn’t God all about love?”

Yes, Virginia, God is all about love.  In fact, God is love.  But the fact that we love someone doesn’t mean it’s ok to do whatever we want, whenever we want.  There are lots of kinds of love.  I love my wife, I love my kids, I love my grandkids, I love the Saint Louis Cardinals.  Obviously only one person in that list can share my bed.  There are other proper expressions of love that don’t involve sex.  Homosexuals are called to express their love in other ways.  They’re called to celibacy just as priests and religious are called to celibacy.

They’re part of God’s plan just as surely as heterosexual people are.  And God and His Church loves each of us.

Note:  I made a serious typo in this post.  I wrote “Sexual activity is reserved for men and men who have entered into a sacramental marriage.”  Obiously I should have written: “Sexual activity is reserved for men and women who have entered into a sacramental marriage.  Sorry for the typo and thanks to my most loyal reader, my lovely and talented sacramental wife for pointing out the error.

98% of What Catholics?

Yesterday I posted on the local paper’s editorial concerning last week’s document published by the US Bishops on the subject of religious freedom.  One of the editorial’s points (actually a distraction from the main topic) was the notion that 98% of Catholic women have used artificial birth control.

Now, I’m not naive.  I realize that many Catholics use or have used artificial means to avoid pregnancy.  But the idea that only 2% don’t or haven’t seems absurd to me.  Where do these figures come from?  It seems like some source or other (in this case the White House blog) is always finding out that most Catholics don’t believe some Church teaching or other.

Father Robert Barron, one of the outstanding Catholic authors and speakers of our time says that the second biggest religious group in the United States is ex-Catholics.  I disagree.  I think the largest religious group in the country is nominal Catholics; Catholics in name only.  These are people who haven’t seen the inside of a Catholic church, or any other house of worship,  in years.  When a pollster calls and asks them their religious preference they say “Catholic” because they can’t think of anything else to say and they’re embarrassed to say that they have no religion at all.

The pollster proceeds to question them on one thing or another, often with slanted and/or confusing questions,  and invariably their answers go against Catholic teaching.  This is how you get bogus headlines like “ONLY 30% OF CATHOLICS BELIEVE IN THE REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE EUCHARIST!!!”

Take a look at the people who surround you at mass.  Why would they be there if they didn’t believe what the Church teaches?  Here’s the story behind the 30% believing in the Real Presence.  In 1992 the Gallup organization took a poll of 516 “Catholics”.  It is unknown how they decided whether a person was Catholic or not.  They gave these people five choices for the definition of the Eucharist, only one of which was correct.  But, and this is the big thing, three of the other choices sounded very right.  The differences were beyond the understanding of most Catholics.

The fact is that only 30% of those polled understood the question.  92% believed something that sounded like the Real Presence.  This hardly means that only 30% of Catholics believe what the Church teaches.

Getting back to the claim that 98% of Catholic women have used artificial birth control, the claim comes from a study done by the Guttmacher Institute.  The most prominent supporter of the results of this study is the Obama White House.   The results are interesting.  According to Guttmacher, 89% of  young, never-married Catholic women are or have been sexually active.  It’s not very surprising that women who reject the Church’s teaching on sexual promiscuity also reject Her teaching on contraception.  It’s worth mentioning that 40% of the respondents attend mass less than once a month or never.

The women surveyed were given a choice of several religious groups and told to pick one.  One of the choices was “none”.  Surprisingly, 34% of those claiming no religious affiliation said they do attend church services.   Go figure.

The bottom line of all this is that the way the questions are asked makes a big difference in survey results.  Asking respondents to define their own religious affiliation is not the best way to learn the truth.  The fact that more than 3 out of 1o women who don’t go to church, actually do go to church tells us something about the accuracy of these polls.  People who haven’t been inside a Catholic church since they were in grade school still consider themselves Catholic.

A clever pollster can control the results of a survey to the point that the whole thing is suspect.  Do yourself a favor.  When you hear a statistic that doesn’t seem to make sense, take it with a very, very large grain of salt.

Don’t get me wrong.  The Church teaches that artificial birth control is a sin, then anything above 0% is a problem.  If Jesus told us that the bread and wine are His Body and Blood, then anyone who says they’re a Catholic and doesn’t believe this basic teaching has some serious issues.  We have a number of problems that we need to address, both as a Church and individually.  What we don’t need is distorted polls that make the problem appear more serious than it really is.