From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms throughout the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on sacred Scripture, which present homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity [Gen. 19:1-29, Rom. 1:24-27, 1 Cor. 6:10, 1Tim. 1:10], tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered [Persona Humana 8].* 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.
2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.
* [Note that the "acts" are intrinsically disordered and cannot be approved. NOT the people themselves. -- Ed.]
As deep as feelings run on these issues, we are all called to hate the sin, but love the sinner. Some of the invective I've seen on the blogs and heard in person this past week flies in the face of this basic principle, and I'm about fed up. It does no credit to those who stoop to vulgarity and name calling. No matter how disgusting, disordered, depraved, or dissolute a homosexual person may seem to be, they are children of God, they have been given a terrible burden, and not everyone suffers with the sort of dignity we'd like to think we'd show in similar circumstances.
I have very strong and clear feelings that homosexuality and the priesthood do not mix. Same thing for the military, and I'm not shy about saying so. As for marriage, I think that to most of us, the word implies far more than a civil contract - it denotes a vocation, a lifelong commitment, a covenant, a sacrament between a man and a woman to join together (as is natural), procreate if God wills it, and live out this traditional notion of all that "marriage" is. If gay people want to have civil unions and draft up written agreements that obligate them to one another in some way, well, that's fine. Private individuals enter into contracts every day, and unless the purpose is illegal or one of the individuals lacks competency or legal capacity to bind themselves, you can't stop it. It's not "marriage" though, no matter what 4 renegade judges in CA say.
Like most of us, there are some gay people in my life, in extended family and a few professional acquaintances, and I love them without exception. I don't love the way they live their lives behind closed doors. I've had spirited discussions with all of them about the "marriage" issue, the above-cited CCC sections, and I have defended my personal beliefs and the Church's position steadfastly. One man (a lawyer I know) early on in our acquaintance laughingly said to me, "you're a Catholic - aren't you required to hate me?"
"No," said I, "I'm required to love you."
We were at happy hour and talked our way through a bottle of wine. Afterwards, he told me no one had ever explained the Catholic perspective to him before. Maybe in some small way, I helped scale back his prejudices that day.
If I'd called him a "f***ing faggot" and told him to get the hell away from me, who would be the winner?
I'd like to see a little more compassion and a lot less crap-talking. I'm not about to slap a rainbow/triangle/AIDS ribbon sticker on my car, I'll call out the "activists" and "agendists" in a heartbeat, but you know what, call my hairdresser anything other than his first name, and you've got a huge problem with me.