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 Mass Equality, a Massachusetts group organized to support same-sex marriage, didn't immediately return telephone or email messages seeking comment Wednesday night.
And from the Archdiocese of Boston's newspaper:
Editor's Note: Daniel Avila issued the following "Retraction/Apology" Nov. 2 in regard to his opinion piece "Some fundamental questions on same-sex attraction" which was published in our Oct. 28 edition. In addition to echoing Mr. Avila's statement of regret, The Pilot also wishes to apologize for having failed to recognize the theological error in the column before publication. The Pilot has removed the column 'Some fundamental questions on same-sex attraction' from its Website.
Retraction/Apology from Daniel Avila
"Statements made in my column, 'Some fundamental questions on same-sex attraction' of October 28, do not represent the position of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the column was not authorized for publication as is required policy for staff of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. 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. 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."
And the first page of the article as it appeared before it was removed:
Some fundamental questions on same-sex attraction(The article had a second page...)
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 wants everyone to be happy, and for persons with same-sex attraction is not their happiness to be found in the fulfillment of that attraction? Some seek to change the Church's teaching on marriage or have left the Church because of it. They believe either that God through the Church ignores the needs of people or that the Church misunderstands what God desires.
That is, if God causes same-sex attraction, and yet commands that it not be satisfied, then this is divine cruelty. Or, if God causes same-sex attraction, then it must be the divine will that those with the attraction should act on it and it is the Church that is being cruel in its teaching or at the very least tragically mistaken about what God wants. In either case, the belief that the Church is wrong on this issue starts from a faulty premise. God does not cause same-sex attraction.
The best natural evidence of what God causes and wants for us is our genetic code. Science has isolated certain genetic combinations that are typical to human creation and development. The most basic and the first genetic expression is that which occurs at our conception, when at the same time our individual human life begins our sexual identity as male or female begins. That which is genetically encoded, for believers, points to a codifier, and communicates through its design the codifier's intent. Interpreting from a spiritual perspective the genetic code which supplies our sexual difference, we have to conclude that God wants us to be male or female.
No one has found a "gay gene." Identical twins are always, of course, the same sex, providing further proof of male and female genes. If there was a gay gene, then when one twin exhibits same-sex attraction, his or her identical sibling should too. But that is not the case. The incidence of finding identical twins with identical same-sex attraction is relatively rare and certainly not anywhere near one hundred percent. Something other than the hardwiring found in the genetic code must explain the variance.
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.
The most recent and most comprehensive discussion of this research is found in a book published earlier this year by a scientist who also happens to be a gay-rights advocate. Even though it discounts other environmental factors that other scientists believe also may play a role, Simon LeVay's publication, "Gay, Straight and the Reason Why: The Science of Sexual Attraction" is worth the read.
LeVay is not interested in the "who" question and describes same-sex attraction as just a variation among other human inclinations. Catholics do not have the luxury of being materialists. We look for ultimate explanations that transcend the strictly physical world and that stretch beyond our limited ability to mold and reshape reality as we know it. Disruptive imbalances in nature that thwart encoded processes point to supernatural actors who, unlike God, do not have the good of persons at heart...
- Catholic Journal Withdraws Column that Suggests Devil Responsible for Homosexuality
- Some fundamental questions on same-sex attraction