Belfast Telegraph

Lay people or clergy, every follower of God has a cross to bear

By Fr Patrick McCafferty

The heart of every good person will go out in compassion to the priest who contacted the Stephen Nolan Show to tell of the stress he has endured because of society's attitude towards homosexuality, and they will wish him well.

He may need to enter a period of discernment with expert help and spiritual support.

The life of a priest, in a particular way, is marked by sacrifice and service. As Matthew tells us: "Anyone who wants to be a follower of mine must renounce himself and herself and take up their cross every day and follow me."

No Christian disciple can escape from the reality of this demand that Jesus makes upon every one of us.

That applies to priests and lay people, whatever their sexual orientation. Everyone is called along the same path.

It is a "big ask". Nevertheless, to walk daily with Christ along His difficult and narrow way is to know also this reality expressed by the apostle Paul: "For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ."

The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual activity is "intrinsically disordered". It teaches the same about heterosexual activity outside of marriage. This is a very challenging teaching, but it is based solidly upon the revealed Will of God, in both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.

The Church's teaching also expressly forbids any form of discrimination against persons with same-sex attraction and upholds their dignity as children of God, infinitely loved by God. The Catholic Church does not subscribe to the ideologically-driven descriptions of human beings as gay, straight or bisexual.

The essential and unalterable truth about human beings is that each one is created by God and eternally beloved to Him. We do not - and cannot - participate in the so-called gay culture. Human beings are infinitely more than their sexual attractions, and we treat the person as a person.

In our Christian lives, there is no escape from the cross and it will take on various forms. For some Christians, a struggle with same-sex attractions will be for them a manifestation of the cross every believer carries in union with the Lord.

What must always be borne in mind, above all, is that God's response to our weaknesses and failures is always unconditional mercy and tender forgiveness.

Belfast Telegraph


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