Catholic Newspaper Yanks Column Linking Devil, Same-Sex Attraction

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By Michael Gryboski, Christian Post Reporter
November 3, 2011|8:10 pm

A Massachusetts-based Catholic publication has recently retracted an opinion column in which the author suggested that same-sex attraction was the work of the devil.

Daniel Avila, a policy adviser for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), issued an apology Wednesday after the column was retracted from The Pilot.

"The Church opposes, as I do too, all unjust discrimination and the violence against persons that unjust discrimination inspires," wrote Avila.

"I deeply apologize for the hurt and confusion that this column has caused."

A member of the USCCB since June, Avila sits on the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, promoting traditional marriage through education and public policy.

Avila regularly submits columns to The Pilot on a variety of topics, including immigration, the economy, judicial activism, and Catholic social work.

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In an interview with The Christian Post, Sister Mary Ann Walsh of the USCCB explained that they agreed with the decision of The Pilot in part because unlike previous columns submitted, Avila did not clear it with the organization.

"He did not vet it through a superior," said Walsh, who noted that she did not believe the work of the USCCB would be affected by the controversy since Avila "was not speaking from his position."

Kara S. Suffredini, executive director for MassEquality, a gay advocacy organization located in Boston, was critical of the whole episode.

"In this day and age, it's hard to imagine how any serious publication could 'fail to recognize' that comparing human beings with natural disasters and calling them the devil's work is deeply offensive and unfit for print," said Suffredini to CP.

Suffredini also saw The Pilot, as well as the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy in general, as being unfit to judge same-sex attraction given past scandals.

"It's really hard not to point out the continuing irony of the Boston Archdiocese, through its weekly paper, The Pilot, making any kind of moral judgment when we're in the 10th anniversary year of the clergy sex abuse scandal," highlighted Suffredini.

"As a godparent and an aunt, I'd say if anything is the work of the devil, that's it."

Avila's column was published Oct. 28. The opinion article included arguments against the "gay gene," in which Avila noted studies on inheritance and the work of researcher Simon LeVay.

Much of the controversy comes from the part where Avila claims that "the scientific evidence of how same-sex attraction most likely may be created provides a credible basis for a spiritual explanation that indicts the devil."

He goes on to write that "natural causes disturb otherwise typical biological development, leading to the personally unchosen beginnings of same-sex attraction, the ultimate responsibility, on a theological level, is and should be imputed to the evil one, not God."

The Pilot was founded in 1829, making it the United States' oldest Catholic publication. It is the official paper of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston.

 

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