Here's the full article from the Boston Pilot written by Daniel Avila which has caused alot of angst on the Catholic inter net. First heads up for me came from Bilgrimage. I was so angry I had to find the whole thing. Thank God for Google's cache feature. I am hardly shocked that the editors of the Pilot saw fit to come to their senses and pull this article. Or maybe it had nothing to do with sense. As you read this remember Mr Avila is an associate director for policy and research for the USCCB. Apparently his USCCB bosses were not happy with Mr Avila's research, which necessitated Mr Avila writing this retraction for yesterday's Pilot:
"Statements made in my column, 'Some fundamental questions on same-sex attraction' of October 28, do not represent the position of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the column was not authorized for publication as is required policy for staff of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The teaching of Sacred Scripture and of the Catechism of the Catholic Church make it clear that all persons are created in the image and likeness of God and have inviolable dignity. Likewise, the Church proclaims the sanctity of marriage as the permanent, faithful, fruitful union of one man and one woman. The Church opposes, as I do too, all unjust discrimination and the violence against persons that unjust discrimination inspires. I deeply apologize for the hurt and confusion that this column has caused."
Notice how Mr Avila could not bring himself to use the words homosexual or gay in this retraction, but he still found a way to make reference to the sanctity of marriage? Mr Avila is certainly a single minded well paid true believing trooper--of some sort. On to the reason for the retraction with my own commentary included:
Some fundamental questions on same-sex attraction
More than once I have heard from or about Catholics upset with the Church for its insistence that sexual relations be limited to marriage between husband and wife. Does not this moral rule force people with same-sex attraction into lives of loneliness? If they are born that way, then why should they be punished by a restriction that does not account for their pre-existing condition? God wants everyone to be happy, and for persons with same-sex attraction is not their happiness to be found in the fulfillment of that attraction? Some seek to change the Church's teaching on marriage or have left the Church because of it. They believe either that God through the Church ignores the needs of people or that the Church misunderstands what God desires. ('Same sex attractions' are never about real relationships, never about love, and always and everywhere about lustful perverted sexual acts. These same lustful attractions and sexual acts are rarely referenced when it comes to heterosexuals. They too engage in their share of lusts and deviant sexual behaviors. Behaviors which would certainly qualify to be designated 'opposite sex attractions' in exact the same sense Mr Avila uses for gays.)
That is, if God causes same-sex attraction, and yet commands that it not be satisfied, then this is divine cruelty. Or, if God causes same-sex attraction, then it must be the divine will that those with the attraction should act on it and it is the Church that is being cruel in its teaching or at the very least tragically mistaken about what God wants. In either case, the belief that the Church is wrong on this issue starts from a faulty premise. God does not cause same-sex attraction.
The best natural evidence of what God causes and wants for us is our genetic code. Science has isolated certain genetic combinations that are typical to human creation and development. The most basic and the first genetic expression is that which occurs at our conception, when at the same time our individual human life begins our sexual identity as male or female begins. That which is genetically encoded, for believers, points to a codifier, and communicates through its design the codifier's intent. Interpreting from a spiritual perspective the genetic code which supplies our sexual difference, we have to conclude that God wants us to be male or female. (Mr Avila must not know about infertile male calico cats or humans with Klinefelters, or about a fairly large number of other gender or intersex syndromes.)
No one has found a "gay gene." Identical twins are always, of course, the same sex, providing further proof of male and female genes. If there was a gay gene, then when one twin exhibits same-sex attraction, his or her identical sibling should too. But that is not the case. The incidence of finding identical twins with identical same-sex attraction is relatively rare and certainly not anywhere near one hundred percent. Something other than the hardwiring found in the genetic code must explain the variance. (It would be nice if twin studies yielded such black and white results on anything, but the fact is they don't. Twins are precisely the reason Mr Avila is not completely correct about our individual lives beginning at conception---twinning occurs two or three days after conception.)
So what causes the inclination to same-sex attraction if it appears early and involuntarily and "who," if anyone, is responsible? In determining the answer to the "what" question, the most widely accepted scientific hypothesis points to random imbalances in maternal hormone levels and identifies their disruptive prenatal effects on fetal development as the likely and major cause.
The most recent and most comprehensive discussion of this research is found in a book published earlier this year by a scientist who also happens to be a gay-rights advocate. Even though it discounts other environmental factors that other scientists believe also may play a role, Simon LeVay's publication, "Gay, Straight and the Reason Why: The Science of Sexual Attraction" is worth the read.
LeVay is not interested in the "who" question and describes same-sex attraction as just a variation among other human inclinations. Catholics do not have the luxury of being materialists. We look for ultimate explanations that transcend the strictly physical world and that stretch beyond our limited ability to mold and reshape reality as we know it. Disruptive imbalances in nature that thwart encoded processes point to supernatural actors who, unlike God, do not have the good of persons at heart. (And some Catholics have to invent these ultimate explanations when the real ones don't fit their preconceived ideas.)
In other words, the scientific evidence of how same-sex attraction most likely may be created provides a credible basis for a spiritual explanation that indicts the devil. Any time natural disasters occur, we as people of faith look back to Scripture's account of those angels who rebelled and fell from grace. In their anger against God, these malcontents prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. They continue to do all they can to mar, distort and destroy God's handiwork. (The ubiquitous sneaky 'we' is used here to bolster Mr Avila's nonsensical ideas. Most of us as people of faith, don't blame natural disasters on the devil.)
Therefore, whenever natural causes disturb otherwise typical biological development, leading to the personally unchosen beginnings of same-sex attraction, the ultimate responsibility, on a theological level, is and should be imputed to the evil one, not God. Applying this aspect of Catholic belief to interpret the scientific data makes more sense because it does not place God in the awkward position of blessing two mutually incompatible realities -- sexual difference and same-sex attraction. (Well all righty then, but if God hadn't given Lucifer free will we wouldn't be in this mess. It's still all God's fault. So there.)
If in fact this analysis of causation and culpability is correct, then it opens new perspectives on the Church's teaching in this area. Being born with an inclination which originates in a manner outside of one's control is not sufficient proof that the condition is caused by God or that its satisfaction meets God's purpose. Furthermore, a proper understanding of who is really at fault should deepen our compassion towards those who experience same-sex attraction and inform our response to the question of loneliness. Ultimately, an accurate attribution of responsibility for same-sex attraction frees us to consider more fully the urgent question of why sexual difference matters so much to God. These matters will be addressed in my next column. (Why do I think there won't be a next column?)
Daniel Avila formerly served the Catholic Bishops in Massachusetts and now lives and works in the Washington, D.C., area.
If I take Mr Avila's thinking to its logical conclusion, the devil must be responsible for every single genetic and intrauterine environmental deviation from the norm. Forget what we actually know about the genesis of these conditions, the devil did it. Maybe the devil is also responsible for the right hand side of the Bell Curve. That unique mathematical relationship which describes the pattern of distribution for every human attribute--except for wealth distribution which is an "L" curve. Where does the devil's machinations actually begin and end? Or does Mr Avila want me to believe it's only in the realm of 'same sex attraction' that the devil has messed with God's scheme of things and the devil has nothing to do with the imbalance in wealth distribution?
I certainly can see where the Pilot felt the need to pull this article, but the cynic in me thinks this whole thing is following a script. A very sick script. I can't wait to see if there is going to be a second installment. I actually am curious as to how Mr Avila will use his demonic insight to consider more fully why sexual difference means so much to a sexless genderless God who utterly transcends creation and who Catholic scripture defines as Love. Can't wait.