J Smith

Prof. Janet Smith

Michael Hichborn reports for LifeSiteNews In July of 2019, the Lepanto Institute published a report on a $750,000 grant from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) that went to an organization called the Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN). At issue was the fact that ISN has published a number of articles affirming homosexuality and transgenderism and hosts an annual conference that includes workshops geared toward indoctrinating high school aged children in homosexual and transgender activism. A couple of weeks later, the CCHD defended its grant to ISN, claiming:

The Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN) was not encouraging or promoting anything contrary to Catholic teaching. The topics and workshops were designed to inspire inclusion and safety for those who are physically or emotionally threatened for being LGBT, in line with the Catechism’s instruction that “every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided

Four months after that, ISN held another conference which again included open promotion of LGBT activism.

Faithful Catholics continue to be upset that Catholic funds went to an organization blatantly acting against Church teaching, so the Lepanto Institute asked moral theologian, Dr. Janet Smith to examine the issue and prepare a moral analysis of the situation. Dr. Smith is the author of several books and many articles on Humanae Vitae, human sexuality, contraception, and abortion. She served three terms as a consulter to the Pontifical Council on the Family and also served as a member of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission, III for 8 years. She has received two honorary doctorates and several other awards for scholarship and service.

Dr. Smith carefully weighed the evidence provided by the Lepanto Institute and the defense given by CCHD and affirmed the Lepanto Institute’s findings, saying “The CCHD should welcome feedback from diligent Catholics and when they are correct, they should remedy poor judgments. This is just such a time.

Dr. Smith pointed out that despite ISN’s claim to teach with Church teaching, it “has articles posted on its website that promote homosexual relationships, and hosts speakers who promote same-sex marriage and who accept that some people’s biological sex is not their authentic sex.” Upon examining those articles and speakers, Dr. Smith continued by saying:

There is absolutely no indication that, when teaching about homosexuality or transgenderism, the presenters give a clear and supportive presentation of homosexual acts as contrary to God’s plan for sexuality. To fail to explain and promote such teaching is to do a disservice to those who turn to the Catholic Church for guidance on God’s teaching on sexuality.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, entry 2357 clearly presents Church teaching on homosexuality and transgenderism, stating:

Homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

After referencing ISN materials which speak of “inclusivity” regarding the LGBT community and affirmation of them within their identities as homosexual or transgendered, Dr. Smith eviscerates the CCHD’s defense of ISN, which claimed it to be in line with Catholic teaching:

Any program that is faithful to Church teaching could not promote such affirmation and rather should help individuals understand that their sexual identity, their gender, is the same as their biological sex; it is something God-given and it should be the foundation of their identity as beloved sons and daughters of God. …

The fact that not a single article appears on the ISN website that explains that homosexual sexual acts are not in accord with God’s will for sexuality, that makes no reference to the passages in the Catechism that teach why such acts are not in accord with God’s will, that is makes no reference to any Church documents that address transgenderism, undercuts their insistence that they [are] teaching nothing against Church teaching.

Dr. Smith then questioned the integrity of ISN by pointing out that their omission of the fullness of Catholic teaching on homosexuality and transgenderism “falsifies their claim to be faithful to Church teaching.” She wrote:

There is much reason to think that in fact they promote an acceptance of homosexual sexual acts and transgenderism that is not compatible with Church teaching and the fact that they present the Church’s teaching on these matters in a very selective way falsifies their claim to be faithful to Church teaching.

Despite the CCHD’s insistence that “The Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN) was not encouraging or promoting anything contrary to Catholic teaching,” Dr. Smith responded that Catholics “have no reason to be confident that the materials and programs of the ISN fully present and promote the Church’s teachings on homosexuality and transgenderism.”

The Lepanto Institute is reiterating its call for faithful Catholics to contact the CCHD main offices to demand that ISN return the $750,000 grant from the CCHD. Catholics are also encouraged to contact their bishops (click here for a list of diocesan emails and addresses), asking them to withdraw from the CCHD collection until ISN returns the full $750,000 grant.

Dr. Janet Smith’s full moral analysis follows:

For over thirty years I was on the board of a Catholic organization that would give around a million dollars a year to Catholic apostolates. One of our primary concerns was to determine that the organization requesting a grant was fully faithful to Church teaching. Sadly, it is not enough that an organization calls itself Catholic, that it has Catholics on its board, and that it makes strong assurances that everything it does is in accord with Church teaching. We had to dig deeper.

The Lepanto Institute has done sleuthing that should be valued by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD): it has dug deeper into the organizations with which the CCHD — an organization that is a part of and represents the Catholic Church — is associated and which it funds. It should welcome an investigation that uncovers activity that is not in accord with Church teaching.

The organization about which the Lepanto Institute has uncovered troubling information is the Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN) which exists to “network, educate, and form advocates for social justice.” While there might be several programs and commitments of the ISN that raise concerns, the Lepanto Institute has focused on the advocacy for LGBT issues. Of course, it is important that those who experience same-sex attraction and those who believe themselves to be transgendered be treated justly with love and compassion. But the importance of such treatment is not the whole of the Church’s teaching on these issues.

The Lepanto Institute has documented well that the ISN, in spite of its claims to teach with Church teaching, has articles posted on its website that promote homosexual relationships, and hosts speakers who promote same-sex marriage and who accept that some people’s biological sex is not their authentic sex. There is absolutely no indication that when teaching about homosexuality or transgenderism that the presenters give a clear and supportive presentation of homosexual acts as contrary to God’s plan for sexuality. To fail to explain and promote such teaching is to do a disservice to those who turn to the Catholic Church for guidance on God’s teaching on sexuality. Again, it is undeniably true that those who experience same sex attraction … and those who believe themselves to be transgendered be treated justly with love and compassion. But love and compassion also require that we attempt teach the truth and that we help people reject the many falsities championed by modern society, among them that homosexual sexual relationships can be moral and that one can be born in the “wrong” body. It is an understatement to say that the teaching of the Church on these and related matters is unpopular, but Catholic are to be courageous witnesses to the truths of the Gospel.

Many of the goals of the ISN are worthy but the terminology used to explain their goals and methods is ambiguous at best and is more likely to be fitting for activity contrary to Church teaching than in accord with Church teaching. For instance ISN materials speak of Catholic institutions needing to be “inclusive” of the LGBTQ community, which is used by LGBTQ advocacy groups to mean that the institutions are to promote just and loving treatment of LGBTQ people but also to mean that they are to affirm such individuals in identifying as gay or as transgendered. Any program that is faithful to Church teaching could not promote such affirmation and rather should help individuals understand that their sexual identity, their gender, is the same as their biological sex; it is something God-given and it should be the foundation of their identity as beloved sons and daughters of God.

The CCHD has defended itself against the charges of the Lepanto Institute simply by reiterating that the ISN “was not encouraging or promoting anything contrary to Catholic teaching” but it makes reference to only a part of that teaching “that every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” (CCC 2358). The fact that not a single article appears on the ISN website that explains that homosexual sexual acts are not in accord with God’s will for sexuality, that makes no reference to the passages in the Catechism that teach why such acts are not in accord with God’s will, that is makes no reference to any Church documents that address transgenderism, undercuts their insistence that they [are] teaching nothing against Church teaching. There is much reason to think that in fact they promote an acceptance of homosexual sexual acts and transgenderism that is not compatible with Church teaching and the fact that they present the Church’s teaching on these matters in a very selective way falsifies their claim to be faithful to Church teaching.

There are groups that faithfully teach the fullness of the Church’s teaching on God’s plan for sexuality — where there is no question that those who use their materials or attend their conferences and workshops will be fully respected in their human dignity, who will be treated with love and compassion, but who will also come to understand why homosexual sexual acts and transgenderism are not in accord with God’s plan for sexuality and cannot be compatible with their fundamental identity as beloved sons and daughters of God. Those who are formed by such organizations become more inclined to pursue chastity and do so by more frequent reception of the sacraments and by developing a deeper prayer life and healthier friendships. The journey is not an easy one but it is not impossible either. Nothing in the materials of the ISN speak of chastity, the sacraments, prayer or healthy friendships.

That Catholics object to their money being given to the ISN should not be surprising. They have no reason to be confident that the materials and the programs of the ISN fully present and promote the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and transgenderism. The CCHD should welcome feedback from diligent Catholics and when they are correct, they should remedy poor judgments. This is just such a time.

 

Published by LifeSiteNews with permission from the Lepanto Institute.