Archbishop apologises for "insensitivity" in earlier statement on LGBT issues

Archbishop apologises for "insensitivity" in earlier statement on LGBT issues
The statement by Archbishop William Goh (above) was read out during mass at the 30 Catholic churches in Singapore over the weekend.

Archbishop William Goh had said then that a family unit comprises a father, mother and children; and that LGBT sexual relationships are "not in accordance with the plan of God". But in an open letter to his congregation posted on the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore's website on Thursday, the Archbishop said he apologised if his earlier statement had "conveyed insensitivity".

Get the full story from The Straits Times.

Here is his letter, titled 'Pastoral Letter To Catholics With Same-sex Orientation' :

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

A number of you have reacted strongly to my letter of 21 June, 2014 on the Church's official position on the family. You have expressed hurt, anger and disappointment; that the Church, like the rest of society, seemed to ostracize you and showed inconsistency in her preaching of compassion, by not approving of your freedom to love.

The Church does not disapprove of a loving relationship between same-sex individuals that is chaste and faithful but a sexual relationship between same-sex individuals as it is not in accordance with the divine plan of God. Same-sex inclination in itself is not a sin but as love often seeks to express itself physically, the challenge to be chaste and faithful to the divine plan of God is ever present.

I apologize if my initial statement conveyed insensitivity as from your feedback, I have come to realize that there is much variation in thought and lifestyle within this community. I want you to know that I am not indifferent to your pain and frustration, as I see many Catholics with same-sex orientation for spiritual support, counselling and healing. I know many of you truly love Christ and His Church, and seek to be faithful to the Gospel. Furthermore, many of you strive to live loving, faithful and chaste lives. Difficult as it seems, we, as members of the Catholic Church, must accept her teachings on chastity in relationships, regardless of sexual orientation, and strive to align our will with the will of God as revealed in sacred scripture, tradition and the magisterium of the Church.

As the Bishop of the local Church which is a part of the Universal Catholic Church, my primary responsibility is to instruct the Faithful in accordance with the teachings of the Universal Church. I am not at liberty to change the truth as revealed in sacred scripture and that which is taught by the Magisterium of the Church, with regards to sexual relationships between those of the opposite sex, same gender, or any other issues e.g. divorce, contraception, abortion etc. What I wrote was not new but simply a restatement addressed to the Catholic Faithful. It presumes that those who are addressed believe in Christ and the inspired Word of God and the authority of the Church. St Paul wrote "I am writing these instructions to you so that, if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth." (1 Tim 3:15). He also says, "All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work." (2 Tim 3:16). To the Thessalonians, he wrote, "And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe." (1 Thess 2:13).

The Catholic moral viewpoint is founded on human reason illumined by faith. The Church is thus in a position to learn from scientific discovery but also to transcend the horizons of science and to be confident that her more global vision does greater justice to the rich reality of the human person in his spiritual and physical dimensions. Hence when science seems to contradict divine revelation as taught in the Bible, our faith must hold fast to the Word of God even if we cannot agree. For if reason is sufficient to find the truth, then there is no need for faith. Hence faith complements reason. St Paul underscores this when he says, "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counsellor?" (Rom 11:33)

There are many texts in sacred scripture which explicitly state that sexual relationships between those of the same gender are not permissible. St Paul's letter to the Romans, among many other texts, states, "Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator - who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done." (Rom 1:24-28)

Many same-sex oriented individuals sincerely believe that they are entitled to engage in sexual practices with others of the same gender as they are born with such an inclination. Whether same-sex orientation is due to nature or nurture is something that science has not proven conclusively. If it were so, there would be no debate. To date, there has been no concrete discovery of a homosexual gene but only inferential studies from behavioural observation to postulate nature. In contrary, we find that upbringing, culture or education may play a part in nurturing persons with same-sex attraction. In addition, inner wounds inflicted on a person in-utero or in childhood through sexual abuse or otherwise, can also nurture this. In this respect, healing of such wounds may quell any tendencies as seen by several individuals who lost their attraction for the same sex after encountering inner healing of their childhood wounds. Though the verdict on nature or nurture is yet to be defined, it is clear according to scripture (Rom 1:24-28) that a sexual relationship between those of the same gender is not acceptable, as it contradicts the natural laws of God.

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