Union of Catholic Asian News: Forum Speakers Share How to Respond to Issue of Homosexuality (June 17)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

SINGAPORE Forum Speakers Share How To Respond To Issue Of Homosexuality

On 2008-6-17

SINGAPORE (UCAN) -- The De La Salle brother once dreamed he was at the Last Judgment, and Christ approached him and said, "I was gay, and you never loved me."

Brother Michael Broughton was sharing with about 90 people during the first of four forums titled A Christian Response To Same-Sex Attraction. "When we push gays to the margins of our community and isolate them, then we will have to answer to our Lord in judgment, because love does not exclude," he said.

CANA-The Catholic Centre organized the forums, held on successive Thursday evenings ending May 29, to help Catholics respond to the issue of homosexuality in society.

Brother Broughton, president of De La Salle-run St. Joseph's Institution, shared that it is with love that God wants us to approach homosexual persons, "as Christ reached out to the most wretched of his time."

The Religious suggested "the only reason why we may not want to be friends with (them) is because we're afraid people will identify us as one of them." But he added that "this insecurity ... may prevent us from ministering and reaching out to them."

He also pointed out that "to accept a person is not necessarily to condone" the person's lifestyle. "If, as Catholics, we believe that homosexual acts are wrong, it is no excuse to condemn a person or cut the person off from the family," he maintained.

singapore.gifBrother Broughton outlined three main considerations in interacting with homosexual persons. First, he said, they need someone to talk to and trust. Second, one must listen with great respect. Third, "we have to protect people from being victimized."

Catherine Tyrer, a counselor with the Singapore archdiocesan-run Family Life Society, shared on May 29 from her experience counseling homosexual persons. "Some want a listening ear, because there isn't a lot of support outside," she said.

Among challenges they face she cited struggles with interpersonal relationships, family, sexuality and social pressures.

Several speakers addressed the Church stance on homosexual acts, which, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, are "intrinsically disordered" and "contrary to the natural law."

Jesuit Father Paul Goh, who has a doctorate in clinical psychology, explained on May 15 that homosexuality can be divided into covert homosexuality, in which people experience homosexual feelings but do not act on these, and overt homosexuality, in which people engage in homosexual acts.

Only overt homosexuality is a moral issue, he said.

Moral theologian Father David Garcia shared on May 22 that today's popular opinion about relating to homosexual persons can be summed up as: "If you really want to love the 'sinner,' don't call it a sin."

Pointing to the Gospel account of the woman caught in adultery, Father Garcia said Jesus did not see a conflict between showing compassion and calling adultery a sin. "Rather, compassion needs truth, and truth needs to be compassionate."

On the idea of homosexual marriage, he said that if homosexual persons are allowed to marry the person they love, "then what about romantic adulterers?"

Alex Au, founding member of People Like Us 3, a gay-equality lobby group, disagreed with the Church stance on homosexual acts. He said at the May 15 forum that historical arguments against ending slavery and giving women voting rights were very similar to present-day arguments against legalizing homosexual behavior, which is illegal in Singapore.

The Catholic Church says homosexual persons "must be treated with respect, but ... are called to chastity," he noted. "How do you separate identity from behavior? It's like saying, 'It's okay for you to be a Christian, but it's illegal to build churches and meet together.'"In his view, "the issue is not homosexuality, but homophobia."

Leslie Lung, a former transsexual, shared on May 8 that two days before his scheduled gender-reassignment surgery in 1984, a spiritual experience convinced him this was not what God intended for him.

Since then, he has worked to set up Liberty League, a ministry promoting sexual health in society.

Forum speakers included a medical doctor and a lawyer.

On the last evening, an audience member said she wanted to form a fellowship group for "those who know someone with homosexual tendencies." Several people gave their contact numbers.