Thursday, February 24, 2005

Some Observations on This Morning's The Washington Times Article

By David Fishback

Response to Signatures collected against sex curriculum.

At the outset, I should note that Mike Caruso, the
Archdiocese's representative on the Citizens Advisory Committee, has
been a responsible member of the Committee. He has not spoken often,
but when he has, he has made thoughtful presentations.

Mike is quoted as saying that the "curriculum is obviously
not reflective of [the Catholic Church's] values." Some elaboration
is necessary. The proposed revised curriculum simply states the
facts as understood by all mainstream American medical and mental
health organizations. My understanding, from my earlier discussions
with Mike and from some reading, is that the Catholic Church's
formal position is NOT that homosexuality is a disease or a choice,
but, rather, that those who happen to be homosexual should be life-
long celibates. Indeed, that is the position taken in the statement
from the Archdiocese quoted in the Times article. The fact that the
curriculum does not urge that homosexuals be life-long celibates is,
certainly, "not reflective" of the Catholic Church's position. But
I respectfully suggest that nothing stated in the revised curriculum
conflicts with that position, either. While some may object to the
statement of the fact that there are families in our community headed
by same-sex adult couples, that is a statement of fact, not of "value

Essentially, the Catholic position as set forth by Times
reporter Jon Ward seems to me to be a concern that statements of the
basic facts might lead people to conclusions other than that reached
by the Catholic Church -- i.e., that intimate relationships between
committed adult couples need not be limited to heterosexuals. My
view is that the issue of whether homosexuals should remain celibate
is a theological one and therefore should be left to churches,
synagogues, mosques, etc., rather than being injected into health
education classes. The curriculum simply mentions that "different
religions take different stands on sexual behaviors and there are
even different views among people of the same religion" in the
context of a broader section dealing with relationships and
marriage. I believe that that is as far as such discussion should go.

At the end of the article, Jon Ward states that Mike
Caruso "said the committee has a bias in favor of homosexuality. The
committee chairman has denied this charge." In my experience, Jon
does not misquote, but his articles often mischaracterize. The
phrase "bias in favor of homosexuality" is, of course, a loaded term,
and I would be surprised if Mike used it. Indeed, if he had, Jon
would have used quotation marks.

I think most members of the Citizens Advisory Committee,
based on their experience in the world and their reading of the
experts in the field (and including materials from a variety of
sources in the course of the Committee's deliberations) are of the
view that homosexuality is not a disease and not a choice (something,
again, which does not conflict with the position of the Catholic
Church), and believe that adult homosexuals should be able to have
satisfying intimate relationships just as heterosexuals may do.

Is that a "bias in favor of homosexuality"? No. A "bias"
would be a conclusion reached without consideration of the facts.
I, for one, do not see myself as having a "bias in favor of
homosexuality." I believe, with Dr. King, that things that "uplift
human personality" are worthwhile. Based on that premise, I have
concluded from the facts that the joys and responsibilities of
committed monogamous intimate relationships need not be limited to
heterosexuals. I suggest that people who conclude otherwise ought to
be able to support their conclusions with something other than
conclusory statements that all homosexual activity is sinful.

A devout adherent of Religion X might well believe that
adherents of Religion Y are sinful because they do not believe in
Religion X. Indeed, there have been times and places in our world
when and where those differences led to bloodshed and even genocide.
Contemplation of this tragic history always leads me to a passage
from Jewish tradition: "What is required of thee? To do justice,
love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God."

Part of the genius of America has been that most of us are
humble enough in our beliefs that we do not assume that those who
have different views of the Almighty or of the nature of the universe
from ours are, because they disagree, sinful. If we ever lose that
humility, I fear for our future.

David Fishback