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  • Writer's pictureMarco Casanova

Courage of Our Convictions #1

“The bishops are oblivious to the implications of Fiducia Supplicans,” I grumbled to my spiritual director. “I don’t think that’s true, Marco,” he responded. “Don’t say things that aren’t true. There’s a lack of courage, but not of understanding.”


Orthodox bishops understand the problem with Fiducia Supplicans. They simply choose a quiet “peace” rather than the courage to disagree. Maybe some bishops have conscientious reasons to remain silent in their criticism? Could “not causing more division” be a noble excuse to skirt courage? A few keys to guide our convictions:

 

Courage to Critique

We need more respectful, honest criticism of Catholic leaders who misdirect the faithful.

 

To begin, we need an empowered anthropology with vision and direction.

 

Archbishop Chaput says it best:

 

The most urgent challenge that Christians face in today’s world is anthropological: who and what a human being is; whether we have some higher purpose that warrants our special dignity as a species; whether we’re anything more than unusually smart animals who can invent and reinvent ourselves. And yet our focus for 2024 is a synod on synodality.

 

Saying these things, of course, will invite claims of “disloyalty.” But the real disloyalty is not speaking the truth with love. And that word “love” is not some free-floating balloon of goodwill. It’s an empty shell without the truth to fill it.

 

True Accompaniment

We need sound anthropology. Knowing who God made us to become establishes direction for accompaniment. Pope Francis calls for solidarity with weak people aspiring to more. But, without a goal, we wander aimlessly together.

 

We need leaders with faith that those struggling with identity confusion can become who they are. That means chastity. Unchaste members of Christ need helpers with love and conviction and patience, unambiguous fathers and mothers who are willing to walk with us in the fits and starts of sexual integration.

 

Misuse of Chastity

Chastity has been misrepresented by many Christians to simply mean abstinence from disordered sexual activity. For the same-sex attracted, that may mean “I’m gay but not having gay sex, therefore I’m chaste.” Not quite.

 

Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. Sexuality, in which man's belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman. The virtue of chastity therefore involves the integrity of the person and the integrality of the gift” (CCC 2337).

 

Chastity is much deeper than foregoing mortal sins. It’s a virtue, at once a gift of the Spirit and a goal that becomes ours as we move from disintegration to wholeness. Homosexuality, effects of sexual abuse, addiction, misogyny and misandry, etc. are mere symptoms of subterranean disintegration. Chastity requires shoring up the weak and wounded parts that frustrate sound gift-giving.

 

Need for Insight

Common obstacles to chastity tend to be psychological or emotional.

 

“The psychological genesis [of homosexuality] remains largely unexplained” (CCC 2357). That doesn’t mean that thoughtful insight isn’t important in understanding same-sex attraction. Same-sex desires possess underlying meaning that psychology can help elucidate.

 

The Catechism gives us a spiritual, theological, and anthropological track for our sexuality. It doesn’t try to be a psychological manual. We must fill in the gaps with a thoughtful use of psychology that corresponds with that track.

 

Tempted to suppress my sexuality as a same-sex attracted seminarian, I wrongfully sought a holy “asexuality” that would resolve my conflict. The hard truth: my masculine sexuality is capable and wired for sexual intimacy with a woman. I had to be courageous and shut the door on my fake approach to celibacy (on the grounds of my SSA). I was made for more. That required the courage of my convictions—aligning with the truth of the Church’s anthropology AND faith in Jesus to help me realize myself as a man made for woman.  

 

Read the Wound

Dr. Joseph Nicolosi helped me to understand my vulnerability to eroticizing men.  I had no need to create an identity around symptomatic desires, e.g. ‘gay’. I just needed to find a way through my disintegrated take on self and other guys whom I sought to complete me. I had to read my wound, seek help in closing the divide, and learn finally to connect with real men without sexual thrill. 

 

Two final qualities that are of the utmost value – patience with oneself and an acceptance of the ongoing nature of the struggle…Resolution of homosexual feelings is associated with the development of personal power” (Dr. Joseph Nicolosi).

 

Real Courage

It takes courage to be chaste. It takes courage to go against the flow of churchmen who would rather play it safe than true. But guess what? In pursuing chastity for what it in truth is, Jesus has restored my ‘personal power.’ ‘Gay’ identification and pursuits are disordered ways of discovering that power. I want the real deal.

 

Jesus and Church guided me and still do. I’m grateful for the likes of Nicolosi, Comiskey, and Chaput who have accompanied me to greater chastity. The courage of their convictions became mine.


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