Dear Archbishop Nienstedt,
I am writing to you as a concerned Catholic. I was ordained a priest in 1955 and am a retired psychologist licensed in the state of Minnesota. I married in the Catholic Church in 1969 and my ordination was not revoked.
I would like to add my voice to the open letter Bishop Chilstrom recently wrote to you. I will restrict my comments only to your classification of homosexuality as an "intrinsic disorder." I realize that this description of same sex preference is not yours alone. The same description is found in Vatican documents and in documents of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops. Your use of this language speaks to both your reason for describing this human condition as you do, as well as to your commitment to promote the passage of the marriage amendment. If homosexuality were as you say, an intrinsically disordered human condition, then it would follow that society at large should protect its institutions of marriage and family by proclaiming homosexuality an impediment to legal marriage. But, neither the social nor the natural sciences support your "intrinsic disorder" claim about homosexuality. Homosexuality was included in The Statistical and Diagnostic Manual of Mental Health Disorders in its first edition in 1952 because of the symptoms experienced by homosexual persons resulting from social stress. However, homosexuality has since been removed from that manual and is no longer considered a diagnosis for treatment. A human characteristic that is not the norm is not necessarily abnormal, but rather can simply be what is not expected. Today we have sufficient empirical evidence to more precisely understand this human characteristic of same sex attraction, but we do not yet have a complete scientific explanation, even though science is pointing us in that direction.
As I see it, the basis for your description of this human trait is Revelation, what God has revealed through the Church and the Christian tradition, not science. I suggest we should be wary of making pronouncements that are not substantiated by the sciences of our time. One of our outstanding biologists, E. O. Wilson, writes in The Social Conquest Of Earth:
The conflict between scientific knowledge and the teaching of organized religions is irreconcilable. The chasm will continue to widen and cause no end of trouble as long as religious leaders go on making unsupportable claims about supernatural causes of reality. [p.295]
I am a Catholic who regularly attends worship, and I continue to study in the areas of theology, religion, and the sciences on a regular basis. There are many of us committed and informed Catholics who are concerned with the direction you have taken. Archbishop Nienstedt, I urge you to have open conversations with your people, all of them.
Donald R. Conroy, PhD