Letter: Catholic teaching on homosexuality

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The Independent Online
Sir: The two headlines adopted for Andrew Brown's report today ('Catholic Church seeks change in policy on gays' and 'Bishops aim to modify Vatican's stance by announcing that homosexuality is not sinful') are highly misleading and inaccurate. There is no intention to propose a change in the Church's teaching on homosexuality.

The Catholic Church's teaching makes a distinction between a person's sexual orientation on the one hand and activity on the other. The report correctly quotes Cardinal Hume as saying that 'being homosexual is not sinful or a sin; an inclination is not a sin'. This is not a modification of the Church's teaching. It repeats what is stated in Cardinal Ratzinger's 1986 letter to the Bishops which, through misleading quotation, Mr Brown contrives to place in opposition to Cardinal Hume's remarks.

The key passage in the Vatican Document reads: 'Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.' I have italicised the words omitted by Mr Brown. They make all the difference.

Yours faithfully,


Assistant for Public Affairs

Archbishop's House

London, SW1

8 April