637 Dover Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230 USA
25 January 1999
Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B.
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Piazza del S. Uffizio 11
00193 Rome, Italy
Dear Archbishop Bertone:
Enclosed is a signed Response to the Profession of Faith containing the core teachings of the original text submitted to me by your Congregation for my endorsement.
The emendations are the result of a process of prayerful discernment and consultation. Because of the training I have received in theology, I am able to interpret and affirm the technically correct theological meaning of certain words employed in Church documents. Certain technical theological terms, not adequately understood on the popular level, can be the occasion of serious pastoral harm or confusion among people whom I have attempted to reconcile with the Church. As a pastoral minister I have always assured homosexual people and their families that the Church is committed to receive them "with respect, compassion and sensitivity." I need to ensure that my own public statements respect and embody that commitment
Although the Profession of Faith is not per se a pastoral document, its potential public nature will undoubtedly impact the life of the Church and its pastoral ministry for homosexual people in English-speaking countries. I am concerned that such a statement containing technical language not easily or accurately understood by individuals without theological training will result in further hurt and alienation for homosexual Catholics and their families to whom I have ministered for more than twenty-five years.
English-speaking episcopal conferences have conveyed magisterial teaching on homosexuality in language that is fully consistent with and faithful to Church teachings. I have, therefore, endeavored to incorporate this language into my response for an English-speaking pastoral context while maintaining respect for the intent and purpose of the original text.
I trust this response will provide a mutually satisfactory resolution that respects both the exigencies of the Congregation and my own personal integrity for the good of the Church.
Sincerely in Christ,
Robert Nugent, S.D.S.
C.C.: Very Reverend Karl Hoffmann, S.D.S., Superior General
RESPONSE TO A PROFESSION OF FAITH SUBMITTED TO ME BY THE CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH
With firm faith I believe that God, in creating human beings as male and female, has created them equal as persons and complementary as male and female. In marriage, they are united by God and become "one flesh" (Gn. 2:24), in a union that is by its very nature ordered to the procreation and education of offspring (cf. Gn. 1:28) and to the good of the spouses (cf. Gaudium et spes 12, 48-51; Familiaris consortio 11-15; Mulieris dignitatem 6-7; Codex Juris Canonici can. 1055; Catechism of the Catholic Church 371-372).
I firmly accept and hold that every baptized person, "clothed with Christ" (Gal 3:27), is called to live the virtue of chastity according to his particular state of life: married persons are called to live conjugal chastity; all others must practice chastity in the form of continence. Sexual intercourse may take place only within marriage (cf. Persona humana 7, 11-12; Familiaris consortio 11; Catechism of the Catholic Church 2348-2350).
I also firmly accept and hold the Churchs teaching that homosexual [genital] acts are always, objectively speaking, morally wrong. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of serious abuse (cf. Gn 19: 1-29; Lv. 18:22; 10:13; Rm. 1:24-27; I Cor. 6:10; I Tim. 12:10), Tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are objectively disordered (Cf. Persona humana 8; Homosexualitatis problema 3-8; Catechism of the Catholic Church 2357-2396; To Live in Christ Jesus, 52; Human Sexuality, p. 37).
I adhere with religious submission of will and intellect to the teaching that the homosexual inclination, though not in itself a sin, constitutes a tendency toward behavior that is objectively immoral and therefore must be considered objectively disordered. (Homosexualitatis problema 3; Catechism of the Catholic Church 2358; Always Our Children, p.6).
I also adhere with religious submission of will and intellect to the teaching that while homosexual persons must be received with respect, compassion and sensitivity and protected from all forms of unjust discrimination, no one can claim a right to engage in homosexual [genital] acts. (Cf. Persona humana 8; Homosexualitatis problema 9-10; Catechism of the Catholic Church 2358).
Moreover, I also adhere with religious submission of will and intellect to the teaching that homosexual people by the virtue of self-mastery which leads to inner freedom, by prayer and sacramental grace and other forms of assistance, can advance toward Christian perfection (Homosexualitatis problema 12; Catechism of the Catholic Church 2359).
Regarding difficulties in determining whether a particular teaching has in fact been taught infallibly by a nondefining act of the ordinary and universal magisterium (CIC 749.3) and while still acknowledging and affirming the authoritative and binding nature of such teaching, I will endeavor to maintain a positive attitude of prayer, study and ongoing communication with the Apostolic See on these matters.
Finally, I sign this text in the spirit of this years theme of forgiveness and reconciliation in preparation for the millennium, with the intent of bringing official and public closure to the ten-year study of my ministry and with the sincere expectation that my pastoral ministry with homosexual Catholics and their families will continue in accordance with the teachings herein professed.
Sincerely in Christ,
Robert Nugent, S.D.S.
25 January 1999
Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul