Catholic columnist resigns over “devil-makes people-gay” commentary

The author of a column in the official publication of the Boston archdiocese, who also served as an advisor to the U. S. Catholic bishops, resigned on Friday.

Daniel Avila wrote an opinion piece published in The Pilot, a weekly newspaper. Published on Oct. 28, just in time for Halloween, the article suggested that homosexuality is the work of the devil.

Gay rights groups and many among the Catholic laity were upset by the author’s views, which they considered to be bad science, theology, and spirituality.

Indeed Avila’s piece, “Some fundamental questions on same-sex attraction,” caused a disturbance in Greater Boston and beyond, especially in the LGBT and allies’ blogosphere.

Accordingly, Avila resigned on Nov. 4 from his position as an advisor to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage. His resignation was accepted, to be effective immediately, according to the Associated Press.

Locally, for more than a decade, Avila advised the Massachusetts Catholic Conference (MCC).

The USCCB and the MCC are official lobbying arms of the nation’s bishops and the state’s bishops, respectively.

Reactions of gratitude and relief were swift from advocacy organizations.

“Mr. Avila’s dangerous view that Satan causes people to become gay has no place in any credible news publication, whether it be mainstream or religious press,” said Sharon Groves, director of The Human Rights Campaign’s Religion and Faith Program.

“He ignored not only the widely accepted science that [homosexuality] is normal, but also the modern thinking of many religions. I am pleased the Conference of Catholic Bishops accepted his resignation and I ask them to speak up and denounce his dangerous rhetoric.”

Two days before Avila left his position, the Pilot, which is the nation’s oldest Roman Catholic publication, retracted the column. At the same time, Avila apologized for any pain his piece caused and said his views are not those of the bishops.

“Statements made in my column, ‘Some fundamental questions on same-sex attraction’ . . . do not represent the position of the [USCCB] and the column was not authorized for publication as is required policy for staff of the [USCCB]. 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,” said Avila in a written statement.

“ 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,” Avila said.

Terrence C. Donilon, communication’s secretary for the Boston archdiocese and Cardinal Sean O’Malley, said via e-mail correspondence, “The Avila piece was pulled because Dan retracted it and apologized and because it simply should not have been printed/published in The Pilot.”

“It is not the position of the archdiocese or the church and is simply wrong,” Donilon added.

“Daniel Avila’s column was hurtful and deeply offensive so we are grateful he quickly resigned,” said Wayne Besen, executive director for Truth Wins Out. “Demonizing never creates a healthy dialogue and Avila represented a major obstacle to the church’s claim to respect all people.”

“The [USCCB was] correct to accept Avila’s resignation,” said John Becker, director of communications and development for advocacy organization based in Burlington, Vt. “There is no place for such extremism and Avila’s poisonous remarks served to further alienate LGBT Americans from the Catholic Church.”

Marianne Duddy-Burke of Medford, Mass., said she, too, was pleased with bishops’ decision but called for further action.

“Avila’s resignation is a good first step for the bishops,” said Duddy-Burke, executive director of Dignity USA, the nation’s oldest LGBT Catholic advocacy organization.

“But they need to demonstrate they understand the ramifications of the violent language against the gay Catholic community and our families,” Duddy-Burke said over the telephone.

“Dignity USA is calling for a policy advisory committee consisting of LGBT Catholics and family members to be appointed by the bishops and to be consulted by them on decisions that effect to our community.”

The Pilot’s Oct. 28 commentary is not the first time that editor Antonio Enrique published an apology and now a retraction.

“Cardinal O’Malley, as publisher of The Pilot, should strongly consider requesting that Mr. Enrique submit his resignation,” said Charles Martel, a local social worker in private practice and co-founder of Catholics for Marriage Equality. “Ultimately, this will be the only way that the cardinal shows he is serious about the meaning of accountability in the Archdiocese.”

Complete Article HERE!

Catholic decree on gay marriage comes as no surprise

Rosemary Palladino of Grasmere would like to get married in a Catholic church, but knows it probably won’t happen.

Ms. Palladino, an attorney, attends weekly mass with her partner of her partner of 38 years, Marianne Brennick. She wondered why Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, following the spiritual lead of Pope Benedict XVI, felt the need to issue an official statement, banning gay marriage in Roman Catholic churches in the archdiocese.

In a decree dated Oct. 18, Archbishop Dolan forbade any priest or deacon from performing same-sex marriages. The unions cannot be done in any church building, hall or other property. The prohibition even extends to consecrated items such as chalices, vestments and liturgical books.

“The marital union between one man and one woman was universally accepted by civil law as a constitutive element of human society, which is vital to the human family and to the continuation of the human race,” Archbishop Dolan said.

“In reversal of this tradition, the New York State Legislature recently enacted a law that recognized same-sex union as marriages in the State of New York. This law is irreconcilable with the nature and the definition of marriage as established by Divine law.”

A complete version of the decree is listed under the pastoral tab at

The state’s Marriage Equality Act permits same-sex civil unions while at the same time protecting the right of religious groups to choose against performing the marriages.

“It would be wonderful to be able to get married in the Catholic Church but I don’t expect it, I don’t hope for it and I don’t need it because we could get married in a civil setting,” said Ms. Palladino, who intends to wed but so far has no definite plans.

A founder of Staten Island Stonewall, Ms. Palladino questioned why religious groups have involved themselves in the issue of civil marriage for same-sex couples.

“I think the whole issue of religious marriage was just an attempt to muddy the waters,” Ms. Palladino said. “The bill was not about making Catholic churches or other churches perform marriages for same-sex couples. It was about making civil marriage available to same-sex couples, regardless of what religion they follow or don’t follow.”

She continued: “What I don’t understand is why religious organizations try to interfere with the civil rights of people as they have done in New York and California. I especially wonder how many of their members approve of the fact that their donations are being used to wage these legal battles.”

Archbishop Dolan’s decree has “no bearing on what city hall does,” said state Sen. Diane Savino.

“Marriage is a sacrament, the church has a right to determine who they marry and who they don’t,” she added.

She said she was puzzled about why the archbishop felt a need to issue the decree.

“I guess he felt he had to clarify, I’m not sure why,” Ms. Savino said.

“It’s a house of worship, it’s their right, otherwise, no comment,” said Assemblyman Matthew Titone, who married his partner of 18 years, Giosue Pugliese, at Borough Hall in September.

Complete Article HERE!

Boston Catholic journal withdraws gay devil column

The oldest Roman Catholic newspaper in the United States has retracted an opinion column suggesting the devil may be responsible for gay attraction.

The column, which appeared Friday in the Archdiocese of Boston’s official newspaper, The Pilot, was titled “Some fundamental questions on same-sex attraction.” It was written by Daniel Avila, an associate director for policy and research for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In the column, Avila says “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.”

It also says “disruptive imbalances in nature that thwart encoded processes point to supernatural actors who, unlike God, do not have the good of persons at heart.” It says that when “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.”

The 182-year-old newspaper withdrew the column from its website on Wednesday, saying it had failed to recognize the “theological error” before publication. It posted an apology from Avila saying the column didn’t represent the position of the Conference of Catholic Bishops, whose stated purpose is to “promote the greater good which the Church offers humankind,” and wasn’t authorized for publication.

Avila said he deeply apologized for the “hurt and confusion” the column caused.

Archdiocesan officials said Avila’s apology would appear in the issue of The Pilot to be published this week, The Boston Globe reported.

The Boston archdiocese, the bishops’ group and Avila were involved in communications leading to the decision to retract the column, said archdiocese spokesman Terrence Donilon, who called Avila “passionate about his faith and passionate about his church.”

“This one,” Donilon said, “clearly just got away from him.”

Several gay rights organizations, including DignityUSA, an association of gay Catholics, and MassEquality, a Massachusetts group organized to support same-sex marriage, didn’t immediately return telephone or email messages seeking comment Wednesday night.

Complete Article HERE!

Satan Makes Gay Babies Says US Catholic Bishops Spokesman

As students of history will know, the Roman Catholic Church has a long history of being horribly wrong on many, many issues. Remember Galileo? Or worse yet, St. Paul advising slaves to be obedient to their masters? Every time that science and knowledge has advanced, the Church has led up the rear guard that has tried to hang on to ignorance if not out right idiocy.

Now, medical science and mental health knowledge more or less have concluded that homosexuality is a natural and normal phenomenon contrary to the Church’s 13th century teachings on “natural law.” So what does the Church do?

Rather than admit that calling gays “inherently disordered” and worse is simply wrong, a spokesman for the Church are trotting out a new and less-than-brilliant explanation as to why condemning gays is still morally acceptable. What is it?

He claims that the Devil causes a supposed malfunction in fetal development in the womb and, so, a gay child is born.

I’m serious. That’s the new standard of batshitery that passes as intelligence among the U. S. Catholic bishops. Right Wing Watch looks at the lunacy published in The Pilot, the official publication of the Archdiocese of Boston. Here are highlights:

Daniel Avila is the self-described “marriage guy” for the Catholic bishops. More formally, he is the policy advisor for marriage and family to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage. He thinks people are gay because Satan was messing around with them while they were in their mothers’ wombs. God, he says, has nothing to do with it.

Writing in The Pilot, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston, Avila cites one scientist’s theory that homosexual orientation is the result of fluctuations in maternal hormones. To that thesis, he adds a gigantic leap: the devil must be doing it.

Avila gave no hint of his satanic origin theory of homosexuality when he spoke at the Values Voter Summit in October, though it (and the reference to natural disasters) does sound like the kind of thing one would hear from anti-gay conservative evangelicals.

For a sampling of Avila’s bullshit and batshitery, here are some highlights from his piece in The Pilot:

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 does not cause same-sex attraction. . . . 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.

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. . . . 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.

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.

I assume Avila blames Satan for making people stupid too. Amazingly, some still ask me why I left the Roman Catholic church. “Batshitery” and “the deliberate embrace of ignorance” ought to more than enough answer to this question. Increasingly, in my view, to remain a Catholic one must first have had a lobotomy or be an unvarnished, ignorant bigot.

Complete Article HERE!