Gay people should give up sex if they want to be Catholics, according to a documentary supported by the New Zealand Catholic church.
A video endorsed by Auckland Bishop Patrick Dunn says homosexual sex is a sin and those who are experiencing same-sex attraction are encouraged to “love God” instead.
But the gay community says the doco is “horrifying” and an insidious attempt to make it seem the church is more tolerant towards homosexuals.
The Third Way, billed as the church’s new approach to homosexuality, tells fellow Catholics not to hate those living with same-sex attraction, or SSA, but not to affirm their activities either.
If gay people choose to be Catholic, the documentary says, they need to stop leading a “gay lifestyle”, and practise chastity.
“Yes, homosexual acts are a sin, yes, there are people who live in sin in that way, but how did Jesus treat people who lived in sin? He spoke to them like normal human beings,” one of the men in the film says.
“Those with same-sex attraction aren’t being asked to do anything different than a heterosexual,” another man says. “We’re all called to chastity, every single one of us.”
With tears in her eyes, a woman recalls the struggle she faced. “I knew that if I became a Catholic the homosexuality thing was going to have to go,” she says.
Bishop Dunn, who is secretary of the New Zealand Bishops Conference, was so impressed with the documentary he emailed executive producer Father John Hollowell, of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, to commend his work.
Bishop Dunn was quoted by the international Catholic News Agency saying he plans to use the film in this country.
However, Bishop Dunn said that, before introducing the documentary into church teachings, he would first seek counsel from gay Catholic friends, and canvas the church’s youth wing.
“I’m very conscious of the need to be loving and respectful towards gay members of our congregations, and to provide whatever support they need spiritually. I think [the film] presents quite well the church’s view on sexuality. I think it shows we need to treat gay people with respect, and not as monsters.”
But Rainbow Wellington secretary Tony Reed said the film was still discriminatory. “It’s not really much better, because you’re still being told that you’re a second-class Christian and that this is something nasty and it’s something that you shouldn’t do.
“Young people in particular will bear the brunt of this, and [church leaders] need to ask themselves seriously if this is what they want to be doing.”
Outline general manager Trevor Easton said the film was “horrifying”.
“All it does is create stress, tension, and they just become invisible because they don’t want to be showing who they really are. It is condemning them, it’s condemning them in a different form and not accepting these people as human beings with a right to how they were born. There’s room in the ark for everyone.”
Labour MP Louisa Wall, who introduced the same-sex marriage bill, said the movement away from complete condemnation of gay people within the church was positive.
But she said it was difficult to get past the fact that the film promoted acceptance of a gay or lesbian person as Catholic only if they didn’t have sex.
“The reality is that for a Catholic gay or lesbian person wishing to have a loving relationship with their partner, which includes sexual activity, they will still feel hated, condemned, isolated and fearful.”