Roman Catholic bishops approved new guidelines in an effort to reach out to the gay Catholic Community by overwhelmingly approving a new document entitled "Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination." Gay Catholic activists immediately judged the document a failure that will push gay and lesbians away from the church. The statement, represents the church's stance as trying to support gay parishioners while strictly affirming the church stance that same-sex relationships are "disordered." The document says it's not a sin to be attracted to someone of the same gender - only to act on those feelings. The bishops also state that children of gay Catholics can undergo baptism and receive other sacraments in most cases if they are being raised in the faith.
Sam Sinnett, president of DignityUSA, an advocacy group for gay Catholics, said the new guidelines reflect the bishops' ignorance about sexuality. He said the document would alienate gays. "This document recommends the most unhealthy thing to do which is to stay emotionally and spiritually in the closet,"
Said Bishop Kevin Boland of Savannah, Ga, "For the person with the inclination, they find that very very difficult to accept, personally. They feel that the church is saying to them that as a person they are disordered. I recognize that it is crucially important to say this, but to apply it pastorally it can be difficult." Several bishops said Monday that Catholics who persist in ignoring church teaching, including gays who are sexually active, should not take the sacrament.
The 194-37 vote, with one abstention, came at a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. On another matter Tuesday, bishops overwhelmingly adopted a statement encouraging Catholics to obey the church's ban on artificial contraception.