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Dear Father Angelo, 

My name is M. and for a long time I have been using your admirable service to clarify some doubts regarding our Faith. I wanted to ask you, quoting an answer that you gave to a boy on 05.25.2011 regarding his homosexual pornography addiction, to which you replied that in agreement with the boy that you did not believe that he was really homosexual, what is the criteria to determine whether a person is homosexual or not? In particular with reference to a possible religious vocation of the latter.

I thank you in advance, and ask for your prayers. 

Best regards, M.

Priest’s response 

Dear M.,

I apologize for this long silence. I thought I’d already replied to you a long time ago, and instead I happened to find your email to which I haven’t answered yet. So here it is now. You ask me why I am convinced that this young man is not really homosexual. The reason was provided by the young man himself when he says that he visits homosexual sites out of a need to compare himself to other boys because he feels inferior to them. In fact, he writes, “I see that I am driven to look for certain things when above all I feel physically inferior to my peers, I seem to be second-class … and then here I am looking for these things.” So frequenting certain sites can seriously compromise a person’s balance and, at a certain point, that person can find himself with homosexual inclinations, preferred and fueled by a certain type of behavior. Each of us does what we do, thinks what we think or desires becomes in some way a creator of our own spiritual features and psychology.

2. You ask me what is the criteria for determining whether a person is homosexual. It seems to me that the criteria emerges from the words with which the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines homosexuality, “Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction towards persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures.” (CCC 2357) It is a question of sexual attraction, not of attractions of another kind, such as attraction for football, but of an inclination that touches the genitals and the intimate feelings of a person. This sexual inclination emerges from looks, thoughts, desires, inner reactions, and behaviors alongside the genitals, which are predominantly or uniquely towards people of the same sex. Just recently a young man who declared to be homosexual wrote to me, “when I see a handsome boy or a man I immediately think ‘look how handsome he is’ and I start looking at them and desiring them. I can’t stop my impure thoughts towards men. There are days when I have a strong temptation to look for a man”.

3. Finally, you ask me about the relationship of this inclination with a possible religious vocation. Consider that care will need to be taken so that the attraction to a religious vocation is not motivated by integration into a same-sex community. Common life is not the main objective of those who enter a religious order. The reason must be supernatural, i.e. integration with God. This integration also passes through a life of community characterized by a supernatural love for the brothers or sisters in the practice of charity and all the virtues. In fact, God gives himself to us through community and we realize our dedication or sacrifice for him with what we do for each of our neighbors. But the goal is, and must be Him, Jesus Christ, and the reason why one lives a religious life is due to Jesus Christ being given to everyone’s heart. Only Jesus Christ is the reason why every virtue is exercised, why one does one’s duty, why one undergoes any trial or suffering, and why one dies.

4. Therefore the compatibility with religious vocation of one who is inclined towards his own sex must be verified by the presence of an authentic supernatural spirit. This is done by the striving for holiness and self-sacrifice for the salvation of one’s neighbor, and by living a life under the model of chastity, which must be incorruptible. 

I gladly assure you of my prayers and remembrance in the celebration of the Holy Mass.

I bless you.

Father Angelo