In his newly released book, Catholic Teaching on Homosexuality: New Paths to Understanding, Fr. Lou Cameli holds a creative tension between the full teaching of the Catholic Church on human sexuality and a pressing pastoral need of our time. He is able to do this because he situates the Church’s teaching on homosexuality within the larger positive teaching on chastity and he takes seriously the possibility of Christian perfection in the life of the homosexual person as laid out by the Catechism of the Catholic Church when it teaches:
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection. (Emphasis mine.)
Fr. Cameli writes his book both as an accomplished theologian and as a pastor. He demonstrates that there has been a large gap in the Church’s approach to the homosexual person: the Church often seen as condemning the physical/genital act of homosexual sex (and often the person) while neglecting to provide the support and encouragement the homosexual man and woman needs in their desire to grow in Christian perfection.
Catholic Teaching on Homosexuality begins a discussion on how the homosexual person might work to foster intimacy, friendship and generativity within his or her life and how the Church by being “church” can and should offer support and encouragement.
Fr. Cameli boldly takes on a pressing pastoral need in our Church and society that, frankly, many others would not touch with a ten-foot pole. His fidelity to the full teaching of the Catholic Church and his pastoral desire to care for souls remains at the heart of his book. His thoughts and insights will enlighten the reader’s understanding of a very complex and often painful topic.
In the end the author does what theologians aspire to; he advances the discussion in a pastorally and theologically consistent manner.
(In the interest of full disclosure, Fr. Cameli was my spiritual director in seminary and remains a good friend.)
P.S. I would encourage all who are interested to take the time to read and reflect upon the entire section on chastity as found within the Catechism of the Catholic Church in order to see how the Church’s teaching on homosexuality as well as all sexual expression falls within a larger framework. The section on chastity is found under the reflection on the sixth commandment, Thou shalt not commit adultery (CC # 2331-2391).