Monday, September 22, 2008

Specific SSA Pastoral Problems

As briefly as possible, I should like to present suggestions for special pastoral situations. The first is concerned with parents who want to know either how to cope with the problem of homosexual tendency or to prevent its occurence in family life. (I am basically restricting my advice to parents and relatives of persons with SSA.) Often persons with SSA do not reveal their same-sex attractions until well into adulthood. For good reasons some never do. Parents usually react along the lines of "What did I do wrong that my son or daughter should be gay?"

The best pastoral response is to put the parents at ease. Usually they are not. Certainly, in no way were the parents aware that perhaps, and only perhaps, something in their relationship to their son or daughter was awry, and that it contributed to the development of homosexual tendency in the child. Why, then, should one burden parents with theories about the causal factors in homosexuality? The only prudent and honest approach is to point out that no one knows with certainty what caused the development of homosexuality in their child.

After reducing the guilt quotient in the minds of these parents, the next step for parents is to learn to accept the homosexual condition of their son or daughter without moralistic remonstrances. The child knows that the style of life he or she has been living in not in accord with sound moral teaching, and it will do no good to denounce him or her for it. This does not mean, however, that the parents must approve the lifestyle or homosexual behavior in order to hold on to the love of the child. They can say that, on the one hand, they will always love their child as their son or daughter, but, on the other hand, they disapprove of the lifestyle. It is not advisable to carry the conversation any further. As an adult, the young man or woman knows that he or she is free to seek counsel, but it is not wise to urge the child to talk with some special priest friend, who, the parents think, will dissuade their son or daughter from his or her course of action. (The priest may even confirm him or her in it.)

Eager as parents may be to give such advice, it is better simply to show their child that they really love him or her, even though they cannot approve of the homosexual lifestyle. Parents should continue to correspond with their son or daughter, always praying for a change of heart in their child.

(Source: Same Sex Attraction: Catholic Teaching and Pastoral Practice by Fr. John F. Harvey, OSFS)

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