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An expected set of “pastoral guidelines” scheduled for review by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) at its annual Fall meeting in Baltimore begins with an erroneous understanding of what it means to be homosexual, Catholic reform leaders say in a letter to U.S. Catholic bishops.

The bishops’ premise that homosexuality is a choice rather than a deeply ingrained emotional and psychological attraction for members of the same sex that is a part of one’s basic humanity has caused much harm, Catholic church reform leaders agree.

“The bishops latest guidelines, entitled ‘Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination:  Guidelines for Pastoral Care’ begins with the premise that homosexuality is an inclination towards same-gender, genital activity and it denies the well-known existence of homosexual orientation as a normal variation of human sexuality,” members of Catholic Organizations for Renewal, a forum of 23 North American church reform groups said in a letter to the USCCB committees that drafted the proposed pastoral guidelines.

Because of the committee’s mistaken premise and their failure to consult widely with affected and knowledgeable lay members of the church, the group says the guidelines are “deeply flawed.”

Further the proposed guidelines are not at all pastoral but rather harmful because they repeat the same “spiritually violent language” used over the past 20 years, describing homosexuality as “objectively disordered” and labeling same-gender relationships “inherently evil.” 

“We bear witness to the physical and spiritual harm done to the Catholic community—ourselves, our brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters–specifically because of this language.”

Noting that under church law (Canon Law 212, 3), Catholics are encouraged to make their concerns known to the bishops, especially in areas where they have special expertise, the groups urge the bishops to withdraw the proposed guidelines and begin anew with consultations with members of the church at large, including those most affected by the document—homosexual Catholics. 

Catholic Organizations for Renewal is a forum of 23 church reform and renewal organizations in the United States and Canada, which meets twice annually. The letter to the bishops was drafted and approved by the following signatories at the group’s Nov. 1 -2, 2006 meeting in Milwaukee prior to Call to Action USA’s annual meeting, which drew more than 3,200 participants. 

Call to Action USA, Chicago, IL - Nicole Sotelo, 857 928-4112 cell

Call to Action, Northern Virginia, Arlington, VA - Sharon Danner 703-680-0860

Catholics For a Free Choice, Washington, DC - Frances Kissling, President, 202 986 -6093

Catholics Speak Out/Quixote Center, Brentwood, MD - Rea Howarth, CoDirector 301-699-0042

CORPUS USA - Anthony Padovano 973-539-8732

DignityUSA, Washington, DC - Sam Sinnett, President, 314 477-5798 (cell),

Eighth Day Center for Justice, Chicago, IL, Kathleen DeSautels, 312/641-5151

Ecumenical Catholic Communion, California - Charlie Davis

FOSIL, Southern Illinois – Fred & Tari Harms, 618-985-2377

Save our Sacraments, Scituate, MA - Jan Leary, 508-655-1863

Southeastern Pennsylvania Women's Ordination Conference, Philadelphia, PA - Regina Bannan, President 215-350-9877 (cell)

Spiritus Christi Church, Rochester, NY - Mary Ramerman, Pastor, 585-325-1180

Voice Of The Faithful, New Jersey - Theresa Padovano 973-539-8732

Women’s Ordination Conference, Fairfax, VA - Aisha S. Taylor, Executive Director, 703 352-1006,

Women–Church Convergence, Susan Farrell, 718-368-4511