Q. I have a daughter and son-in-law who are practicing Catholics. They are in favor of gay marriage, and my son-in-law says that there is no place in the New Testament where Jesus condemns homosexual acts. So, he says, while homosexual activity may have been prohibited in the Old Testament, it is permissible in the New. Please help me to answer him. (Lancaster, Ohio)
A. There are several New Testament passages that speak to the immorality of homosexual acts. Among the most explicit is Romans 1:26-28, where Paul says:
“God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity.
“And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God handed them over to their undiscerning mind to do what is improper.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (No. 2357) concludes that sacred Scripture “presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity” and that “under no circumstances can they be approved.”
The fact that Jesus himself did not directly address the specific question of homosexual acts carries little weight. His intent was not to publish a compendium of moral theology; rarely does Christ address particular moral issues but focuses instead on the broader goals of love of God and love of neighbor.
As a faithful and practicing Jew, Jesus accepted and lived by the moral code passed down through Hebrew tradition. Among its tenets (Leviticus 20:13) was that “if a man lies with a male as with a woman, they have committed an abomination; the two of them shall be put to death.”
In any discussion, though, of the biblical view of homosexual acts, it must always be pointed out (almost in the same breath) what the catechism is quick to add (No. 2358):
“Men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies … must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”
Q. I have a question about receiving the host at holy Communion. I have cerebral palsy, and I’m thankful that the disability affects me only mildly. However, I have always had trouble making the “table” that we are taught to do when accepting the host. My right hand is affected by the CP, and I can’t quite turn the palm upward. (Nor do I always have the greatest dexterity in picking up small objects.)
I used to receive the host on my tongue but stopped that a couple of years ago when we became more conscious about the spread of germs. So these days I usually take the host directly in my (left) palm and then tip it into my mouth. Am I doing the right thing or is there something else that you would recommend? (Boston, Massachusetts)
A. May I first compliment you on your devotion to the Eucharist? Your question reflects a clear understanding of the sacredness of this gift.
In the Eucharist, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church says (No. 1374), “Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present.” As to your manner of receiving, I think that you should continue to do exactly as you are doing.
The early Fathers of the Church recognized that the hands could be used as a “throne” for accepting the King of Kings. In practice, as the U.S. Conference of Bishops explains, that means:
“If one is right-handed, the left hand should rest upon the right. The host will then be laid in the palm of the left hand and then taken by the right hand to the mouth. If one is left-handed, this is reversed. It is not appropriate to reach out with the fingers and take the host from the person distributing.”
In your own situation, you are doing all that you can to show the reverence and respect that is due.
Questions may be sent to Father Kenneth Doyle at firstname.lastname@example.org and 40 Hopewell St., Albany, N.Y. 12208.