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Sick Catholic Sexuality

When I worked as the Specialist Men’s Counsellor at Centacare (now CatholicCare) Sydney earlier this century, I was asked to co-facilitate a support group for children dealing with the separation of their parents. One day, when my co-facilitator failed to show, a huge kerfuffle ensued in that the powers that be decided that it was unconscionable that I, a gay man, could be left alone with those children. Had, as would usually be the case, another (and straight) male colleague been present, then that would have been fine but me, alone, impossible. I was told by a senior member of staff to leave the door to the meeting room open and was constantly monitored by that female colleague during the groupwork session.

I retell that sordid tale now after reading a story in the New York Times, regarding a stoush between the Catholic Church and the State in Illinois over competing rights. That is, the right to freedom of religion versus the right of us gays and lesbians to freedom from discrimination. I share the view enunciated in this story, that when taking government funds to do government business, the Catholic Church cannot thereafter engage in discriminatory practices in the conduct of that business. In the United States, as here in Australia, we thankfully live in pluralist, secular societies, where the separation of Church and State exists for good reason, since the primary duty of such civilised societies is to uphold the right of every citizen, to be.

The Catholic Church has had a long, twisted history of persecuting, torturing and otherwise abusing individuals who it deems ‘unfit’ because of their homosexual or other transgressive sexualities. For bigots within that morally bankrupt organisation to then screech that they themselves are being discriminated against is to forget that freedom of religion has its limits. Quite obviously, no freedom can ever be utilised to purposefully cause harm to others, in this case to those gays and lesbians who put up their hands to be adoptive and foster parents. While doctrinally, adherents of the Catholic faith might be entitled to cling to the belief that homosexuality is a sin, no government funded service can make a determination that the capacity to care for children hinges on whether one is straight, or not…

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