Open Letter to Rhianna LaValla

On November 19, a staff writer at the NDSU Spectrum published an article which wrongly accused the Catholic Church as teaching that members of the LGBT community are not humans. The article can be found here.

The article is an offensive misrepresentation of Catholic doctrine, and thus, I was asked to respond with a letter to the editor. The editor told me that my letter would be published today. It was not. And so I share the letter that was supposed to be published here for you.

Update (11/26/13): The editor of the Spectrum contacted me and apologized for the oversight and the letter will be published in the next issue of the paper.

I am writing this letter in response to Rhianna LaValla’s Atheist Perspective from November 19. As a Bison alum, a Catholic, and a gay man, I am deeply appalled that the Spectrum would publish an article of such shaky integrity as this one, which goes so far as to say that the Catholic Church does not view LGBT members as human. The NDSU community deserves to know the truth on the issue, and Catholics on this campus deserve an apology for Miss LaValla’s false and damaging portrayal of who we are as members of this community.

The teachings of the Church on the issue of homosexuality are primarily found in paragraphs 2357-2359 of the Catechism, and contrary to what Miss LaValla wants to believe, Catholicism does not teach that homosexuals are not human. In fact the Catechism states: “They [homosexuals] must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” It continues on to emphasize the universal call that all people have to live chaste and holy lives. Pope Blessed John Paul II penned in his 1986 letter On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons that violence and crimes against homosexuals are to be condemned by the Church. Even the title of his letter denounces the absurd idea that the Church does not view the homosexual as a human.

My personal experience, though, as a Catholic, who is also a homosexual, speaks louder than any document ever could. In the four and a half years since I voluntarily became a Roman Catholic I have never had a single priest treat me as less human than another Catholic because of my sexuality. I have never heard a homily where the priest said that homosexuals, or anyone else for that matter, were not human due to the inclinations of their hearts. I have been showered with words of encouragement in the confessional and have had the undying love and support of Catholic friends as I have shared this intimate part of my life with them.

The problem here isn’t the Church. It is this culture that has somehow come to this warped and dangerous conclusion that if I don’t agree with you on every issue, if I don’t approve of your every action, if I don’t give you everything you demand, that I must hate you or view you as subhuman. It is precisely this culture that treats us as subhuman as it objectifies men and women in pornography and sexual promiscuity, denies basic anatomical and physiological realities, tolerates abortion on demand for any reason whatsoever, and mocks the basic idea of self-control.

I admit that the Church does demand a lot of homosexuals, but she demands a lot of all of the men and women that walk through her doors. Remember that all of the people that sit in her pews are sinners. And all of these sinners struggle with one sin or another. But all of these sinners, whether gay or straight, liars or adulterers, thieves or murderers, were created in the image of God. And the Church does not tire of proclaiming this truth, even if the world refuses to hear what she has to say.

I would ask the Spectrum, if they wish to be a reputable source of journalism, to be much more careful in the future before allowing outright mistruths to be printed under the guise of opinion. And I would ask Miss LaValla in particular, to consider, that in getting this point so very wrong when it comes to Catholicism, that perhaps she has gotten other things wrong along the way and would do well to re-examine the conclusions that lead her to atheism.

Respectfully yours,
Class of 2011

Please share this letter with those looking for encouragement or who wrongly accuse the Church of fictional beliefs.


6 thoughts on “Open Letter to Rhianna LaValla

  1. Regarding the Church’s heavy demands upon her children; it’s an old saying that Catholicism is the hardest religion to live but the easiest one to die. Most of the things that seem so important to us now will mean nothing when we are on our deathbed; following the Church faithfully will make that deathbed parting peaceful and in the case of those who have attained true holiness, the parting will be sheer joy.

    Let me add one more word of encourage to those which have already been showered on you; thank you for this lovely defense of our Holy Mother.

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