The Catholic Church’s position on homosexuality is complex and has evolved over time. The Church teaches that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, are made in the image and likeness of God and are deserving of respect, dignity, and love. However, the Church also teaches that sexual acts outside of marriage are sinful.
The Church also teaches that child sexual abuse, adultery and any form of fornication are sinful. One sin is never greater or lesser than another.
What Did St. Paul say about homosexuality?
Romans 1:27, from the Vulgate: “Similiter autem et masculi, relicto naturali usu feminae, exarserunt in desideriis suis in invicem, masculi in masculos turpitudinem operantes, et mercedem, quam oportuit, erroris sui in semetipsis recipientes.”
A paraphrased translation of the same verse with the Didache and historical context in mind: “Similarly when the husbands leave the natural affection of their wives, becoming overpowered by their desires for other males, committed the indecent act of pederasty, and received the due reward of their error.”
The term pederasty is equated to child sexual abuse. In this context, it is when an adult man has sexual relations with an underaged male – in other words, paedophilia. This was forbidden in the early Jewish-Christian Church and referred to in the Didache. “You shall not commit pederasty” (chapter 2). This was a very common practice within Greek and Roman pagan societies. Thus St. Paul had to remind “omnibus qui sunt Romae” (“all those who are in Rome”, vs 7) of this fact.
St. Paul says this act is “shameful” and “perverse”. The pagan Romans fell into this grievous error because they did not wish to know God or His Will. “They did not prove to have God by knowledge” (vs 28).
The 26th verse also refers to females engaging in vile and shameful passions; St. Paul said that according to the Church, these acts are considered unnatural. Within the Roman context of the time, this could have been akin to both pederasty and temple prostitution.
Before the time of Christ, the ancient Israelites were exposed to all types of sinful acts of the people around them. The Law Covenant refers to the same acts mentioned by St. Paul as an abomination. (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13) In the case of Leviticus, this is not necessarily referring to rape, but rather both parties having mutual consent, or the verse would not have stated that both individuals engaging in the sinful act would be put to death. Logically, this is likely referring to prostitution that was associated with the idol-worshipping neighbours of the Israelites. As Biblical history indicates, the Israelites were constantly falling into the error of idolatry and choosing the way of the gentiles around them. In order for the Israelites to remain pure and holy before Yahweh, they were not permitted to engage in prostitution or worship of false gods. (see also Deuteronomy 23:17; 1 Kings 14:24) The Israelites of the time, including Jews during the time of Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry, did not have the same understanding of “sexuality” as is common in today’s corrupt world.
What we take away from these verses is that child sexual abuse and temple prostitution are forbidden, and engaging in such activities makes one unholy. To remain a pure people in the presence of God, no one is permitted to engage in these activities.
Where the Church Stands
The Church of Jerusalem has historically forbidden idolatry and child sex abuse. This fact is proven by its own Scriptures, especially that of the Didache.
The Church has a commission from Jesus Himself to take the Gospel into all the world and to all peoples, tribes, and nations. To be faithful to this divine commission from our Lord, we must be willing to share His light with people of various backgrounds. We are called to be compassionate toward everyone we meet, regardless of their political views or attraction towards another adult. We must be diligent in teaching God’s righteous standards regarding monogamy and the importance of a strong, spiritually healthy family with the utmost respect for life and the vulnerable in society.
The Catholic Church recognises the fact that many people experience themselves as being homosexual or having same-sex attraction. While we do not approve of “political correctness” to please the world, the Church does call for her members not to discriminate against persons of various nationalities, races, sexual orientations, marital or economic statuses. The Church does not condone homosexuality, immorality or casual sex as it is displayed in modern media; rather, the Church encourages those from among the sheep of Christ to live righteous lives in submission to the Great Shepherd.