More Than a Monologue: Sexual Diversity and the Catholic Church - Vol. 1

By Christine Firer Hinze; J. Patrick Hornbeck II | Go to book overview

5 A Call to Listen
The Church’s Pastoral and Theological
Response to Gays and Lesbians

THOMAS GUMBLETON

Retired Auxiliary Bishop, Detroit

Over the course of many years of pastoral experience, I have come to a deeper understanding of what is meant by the words recorded by Matthew as the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount: “You must be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Mt 5:48).1

This is not a call to what is impossible. We are not expected to become “God.” But just as God is fully and completely God in the fullness of what it means to be God, so each of us is called by God to be fully and completely the human person God has made us to be. Obviously, this does not happen at once. The original blessing of creation has been diminished, sometimes to what seems an almost unredeemable degree, by sin. Redemption takes a long pro cess of being healed, of being loved into a new fullness of humanity, by the God who first loved us into existence, into life.

We have various sources of guidance to help us grow into full human persons as we live out our time on earth. God’s Word in Scripture, and especially in Jesus, is the first source to which we look. The community of Jesus’ disciples and its tradition is a second source. In addition, we have the insights of other human persons who have prayerfully and consistently pondered God’s Word and who can share their insights in directing us. Finally, as the Second Vatican Council reminded us, we have the divine voice echoing in our own depth, within our own spirit as a law written by God in human hearts. This is the voice of personal conscience.

This essay springs from my deep conviction that persons, regardless of sexual orientation, can be “perfect” in the Gospel sense. Homosexual persons can be all God calls them to be as human beings, just as heterosexual persons can be fully human. There is extraordinary diversity in the ways that human creatures image God, in whose image and likeness they are created. Of course, regardless of sexual orientation, every person must struggle to reach as full a form of human development as possible, and in so

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