On the nature of homosexuality and Original Sin

Question

Hi Dr. Sugon,

I sent you further inquiries about your thoughts on the nature of homosexuality last May 18, and I was wondering if you have received it. I am very much looking forward to discuss and be enlightened about matters which I still am not aware of, and I think that this conversation wonderfully helps me in doing that. In case you haven’t received it, I’ll be copying my reply here. Again, thanks, and I hope to hear from you soon.

“Yes, I say that homosexuality is partly a biological phenomenon, however, I did not say that because it is a biological phenomenon that homosexuals do not have a choice on their lifestyle. Homosexuals have the choice to live conservatively, that is not denying their homosexuality, but living in a way which does not scream the essence of stereotypical homosexuality (i.e. cross-dressing, application of excessive make-up). They also have the choice to dress and express their ideas more through clothing and other sociocultural avenues. But, what they don’t have a choice at is their attraction orientation – just as a straight man does not have a choice to get attracted to women and vice versa, unless society affects them to act otherwise. The same thing goes with your example of a murderer. I do not claim that killing is good, but a murderer who was born with schizophrenia or other psychological disorder is not deemed morally responsible for the act of killing, because he technically did not have a choice; his body was programmed to act that way. Therefore, this murderer, instead of being sent to jail, is sent to a psychological facility in which he will serve his term. What I think then is that, generally, homosexuals must not be held responsible for their orientation, and thus be condemned for it, because they don’t have a choice on who to get attracted to. (One particular exception may be a man who was born with the probability of getting attracted to women, but chooses to engage homosexually.)

To clarify, are you suggesting that homosexuals can be “trained”? I disagree with this point, and I will provide sociocultural references that show that such a transformation to becoming a heterosexual is improbable. Although we can try putting homosexuals in psychological facilities, or perhaps have the Church assist in an action to rehabilitate them from their homosexuality, society is not designed to act upon such an action. The case is different from the psychologically impaired, because there is a probability that they hurt themselves or others when they do not get treated. It is improbable that a particular gender is more inclined to doing harm to people than other genders, so it is not necessary to “treat” them. Also, becoming stable and constant in early years, gender is part of one’s identity (Kail, 2010). Therefore, trying to manipulate one’s gender through conditioning entails tainting one’s identity. With that, society deems that a mandate or even to advocate change in gender is unethical. That is why centers for homosexual rehabilitation do not exist.*But, I do not deny that there are still people who try to convert homosexuals, however, because gender is established and constant, these most of these people fail. Stories of fathers drowning their children in a drum of water and physically abusing them seem to attest to this.

Yes, man has free will, but this free will is affected by many factors. Thus, human behavior is not governed by biological instincts alone, but rather affected by it, together with the environment. We do not just punch the person who accidentally stepped on our foot, because we think that he did not mean and know what he did, even if, by our fight-or-flight mechanism, our bodies tell us to punch him or flee the scene. Homosexuality acts in the same way. Since social mores and teachings do not give enough reason to convince homosexuals to constrain their biological instnict to get attracted to the same sex, homosexuals think that they are justified in following their biological instinct.

Moreover, the link you provided me is Vatican’s official statement on the nature of marriage and homosexual unions alone. I am still stumped on what the Church claims about the essence and nature of homosexuality: where did it come from, for example.“-

*I have looked into this matter, and I stand corrected in saying that there are homosexual rehabilitation centers. However, it is highly frowned upon by the society and by the Catholic Church herself, because, again, it’s unethical.

Response:

Dear ____

Yes, I received it a long time ago, but it got buried in my many emails for not responding soon enough.

The short answerto your question on the nature of homosexuality is this: I don’t know.

The long answer is: God created only male and female.  And God blessed them: “Be fruitful and multiply!”  If God only made male and female, how is it possible that some men are attracted to men and women to women?  The answer to this question is related to the more fundamental question: If everything that God created is good (read Genesis 1), why is there evil in the world? Answer: God made the angels good, but He gave them free will to reject or accept his love.  Some angels used their free will to reject God’s love, and they became demons, with all the powers of angels before their fall, but filled with malice and hatred against God.  Their choice is irrevocable.

Now, if God made humans only male and female, why are there lesbians and gays?  Answer: before their Fall, Adam and Eve have perfect control over their passions.  This is called Original Justice.  But Satan, the leader of the fallen angels, is envious of the privilege of Adam and Eve, for they and their descendants shall become children of God if Adam and Eve pass the test.  But misery seeks company.  So Satan tempted Eve to disobey God’s commandment not to eat from the forbidden tree, and she brought his husband Adam with him in her disobedience.  Because of their disobedience, Adam and Eve lost their perfect control over their passions.  This is Original Sin.  And this defect of Adam and Eve is passed on to their descendants, together with increase birthpangs, difficulty of tilling the ground, and ultimately, of bodily death.  Thus, homosexuality is a result of Original Sin.  It is very difficult to cure, but the struggle to overcome ones homosexual tendencies is itself a path to sanctity, a cross that a homosexual has to bear in order to reach heaven.  God can provide us with all the graces that we need to overcome temptation.  We only need but ask.  As Christ said: “For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened….how much more will the Father in heaven give the holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (Lk 11:9-13).

Let us always pray and fast.  Fasting helps us control our passions.  If a homosexual can learn how to control himself from eating meat on Fridays, he will build up spiritual reserves to combat his hunger for the human flesh during sexual intercourse with a fellow man (or with a fellow woman as in the case of lesbians).  Some passions are difficult to remove; they are like stubborn demons that refuse to get out of a man.  The apostles, too, encountered several cases of demonic possessions that the apostles have difficulty sending out.  The apostles complained to Christ, and Christ said to them: “”But this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting.”  In the same way, homosexuality can also be cured, but it can only be done by prayer and fasting.  The only way to see if this method works is to try it.

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Sugon

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Horror of horrors! Why is JesCom sponsoring a suspense-thriller?

*Horror of horrors! Why is JesCom sponsoring a suspense-thriller? *

by Dit Sablan

Yes, Jesuit Communications is sponsoring *The Rite*, Warner Brothers’
newest film on exorcism which stars Academy Award winner Anthony
Hopkins. But the film is not your run-of-the-mill exorcist B-movie. It
is based on journalist Matt Baglio’s book, “*The Rite: The Making of a
Modern Exorcist,”* which tells the real life story of Father Gary Thomas
and how he trained and became the official exorcist of San Jose,
California.  In a recent interview with /Zenit News Agency/, Father
Thomas mentions that he and Baglio were not only consulted in the
production of the film but were physically present in the shooting as
well — an assurance of the film’s orthodoxy.

But why should *The Rite* be a relevant film for us?

First, although there are admittedly very few official exorcists around,
the rite of exorcism continues to be a ministry in the Church, following
Jesus Christ who expelled demons from people during his time. There was
a time when, before ordination, would-be priests were ordained to the
minor order of exorcism. And although this practice is no longer
observed in most seminaries, perhaps due to the advent of the scientific
age, the Church nonetheless continues the ministry of exorcism, even as
it maintains its teaching on the existence of the Devil!

Second, in the /Zenit/ interview, Father Thomas reveals a sense of
urgency within the Church as regards this sensitive matter. He cites for
example that months before John Paul II died in 2005, the Pope requested
that each diocese in the Church be equipped with a trained exorcist.
Likewise, recently, the US Bishops met in Baltimore over this issue.
Significantly, Father Thomas as the bishops’ resource person, pointed
out that the youth today are at risk of demonic influences and even
possession, because of their interest in the occult, now widely known as
the new age phenomenon. (Parents beware!)

Finally, the movie is relevant because as Father Thomas says, more than
a suspense-thriller, *The Rite* is a movie about our Faith. Indeed it
deals with our unending daily struggle to win over our demons and our
unending fight against the forces of evil in this world. Surprisingly,
this horror movie may yet inspire us towards greater faith!

/The Advanced Screening of *The Rite* is on Friday, 28 January 2011,
7pm, SM Megamall, Cinema 9. Father Joseph Syquia, official exorcist of
the Archdiocese of Manila will start the event with a brief talk.
Tickets are sold at P500.  Available at the following Tanging Yaman
Outlets: 1. Sonolux Building, Seminary Drive, Ateneo de Manila
University,   2.  Loyola House of Studies, Ateneo de Manila University,
and  3.  5th Floor, SM Megamall Building B, Mandaluyong City.
/

/For more information, call 426-5971 local 111 – 113.

/

A conversation with Dr. Tess Perez: There are ghosts at the Manila Observatory

Yesterday, Dr. Tess Perez and I met at the Manila Observatory’s lobby.  Dr. Perez is with the Environmental Science Deparment which holds office at the MO’s basement.  We both talked in Ilonggo: she is from Iloilo; I am from Bacolod.

“Hi, Ma’m Tess,” I greeted her.  “You are still doing some research?”

“Yes,” she said. “I came here to check our set-up.  We are extracting oil from algae.”

“Really?” I asked.  “Does the algae die when you extract oil from them?”

“Yes, of course,” she said.

Her cellphone rang.  She tried not to answer it, but I asked her to answer it.

We were sitting on lobby benches in front of the porter’s cell.  She was sitting beside the door; I sat on the other bench perpendicular to hers.  Through the open door I can see MO’s garage, the trees with shrikes, the carless road, and the silent football field.  Ateneo is empty this Christmas.  It’s a ghost town.

“You know, Pope,” she said after closing her phone.  “My student and I were having an experiment December 31 of last year.  We were trying to monitor the ambient temperature.  Our set up is a flask with distilled water.  The flask is covered with a rubber stopper and the thermometer is inserted through it.  When we came back the next morning, the rubber stopper is gone and the thermometer was broken on the floor.  I cleaned up the Mercury spill.”

“How can rubber stopper pop?” she asked.

“A gas must have accumulated in the flask,” I said.

“I know,” she said.  “But I checked its properties: tasteless, odorless.  I know if it is another chemical.  I asked the staff if it is really distilled water that he gave.  He said yes.”

“This thing is giving me the creeps.  There are already many unexplained happenings here at the Observatory.  I have heard many stories from the staffs and the guards.  There was one time that we placed a book in front of us.  We are sure that it was in front of us.  And the next thing that we knew it was already on the shelf.  Are these the souls of Jesuit priests?  I must talk to Toni about this.”

“There are only two possibilities,” I replied.  “Fr. Jocis Syquia, an Exorcist of the Diocese of Manila, said that these may be either souls of the dead or demons.  If they are souls, they will not harm you; then they only need prayers and mass.  If they are demons, they will really harass and harm you.”

“So what do we do?” she asked.

“Maybe it is time to call an official ghostbuster, an exorcist,” I said.  “Fr. Syquia has a team.  Some of those in his team can sense spirits.”

“Maybe we really need to have the Observatory blessed.” she said.

“Blessing is not enough,” I said.  “There is a rite for exorcism of places.  Exorcised salt must be placed on the corners of the rooms.”

“I will not be surprised if there are ghosts or demons in the Observatory.” I said to her.  “The neighboring building is the Mass Communications Building.  I heard that a group of Spirit Questors opened a portal there.  Once a portal is opened, through it spirits come and go.”

This is only my theory.  A year ago, a Mass Comm teacher told me about some ghost stories in the Mass Comm building.  She mentioned something about a portal.  About three years ago, I also met a youth asking me one night where the Spirit Questors are.  I was walking near the Ateneo Blue Eagle gym then.  My guess is that it is the Spirit Questors who opened the portal.  According to Fr. Syquia, occult activities like trying to communicate with spirits leaves a mark on the place, which attracts demons.

A student came out of the Observatory’s basement and Dr. Tess called out to her.  Dr. Tess greeted each other a Happy New Year and we parted.  I went back to the Ionosphere building.  Some staff said there are ghosts, too, at the Ionosphere building, but I haven’t experienced any manifestations, even if I usually leave 8:00 to 9:00 p.m.  My guardian angel is taking care of me.

Enemies of exorcists are not just demons: skeptics, modernists, liberals, positivists, and objective realists

According to AHFI spiritual director Fr. Edgardo Arellano, the practice of exorcism is as old as Christianity itself and even predates it, and the Church teaches that the Devil is real and evil spirits exist.

Arellano, however, laments the fact that the Catholic Church is largely mum about it these days.

He cites the influence of “modern theologians” and those with a liberal mind-set who have played down Satan’s influence as they have accepted psychological and psychiatric explanations of a person’s abnormal behavior.

“If you speak about the Devil, you lose your credibility and you scare people. Even some members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) say this is just fanaticism, a hoax,” Arellano says.

“The greatest influence of the Devil is to convince even bishops and priests that he no longer exists,” he says.

Arellano says the stand of “Positivists,” who are fixated only on the love of God, as well as the claim of “Objective Realists,” who focus only on the modern era and consider evil and exorcism as irrelevant pose a great challenge.

“How can you talk only about God’s love in the midst of corruption and violence? The Bible has numerous passages about Christ expelling demons and being tempted by the Devil. The battle against the Devil is central to His mission. In fact, the Devil’s influence was already seen in Adam and Eve,” he says.

Source: Cyran Cabuenas, Leyte-Samar Priests Learn about Exorcism (PDI 11/06/2009)

Fr. Jose Francisco Syquia’s talk on Exorcism, Paranormal, and Occult at the Provident Plans International Corporation

Yesterday, 1 April 2009, upon the invitation of Bro. Miguel Madarang (after he stumbled on my blog), I was able to join the Spiritual Recollection of the employees of the Provident Plans International Corporation at the 2nd Floor Valer0 Plaza in Makati City.  I arrived at 7:00 a.m.  Miguel introduced himself.  He told me that Philip and others of the Defensores Fidei are coming.  Maybe he assumed that I am a member of this apologetics group.  I am not.  But I know one member: Mr. Rey Entila, my co-faculty in University of St. La Salle in Bacolod City years ago, who lent me many of his apologetics books, such as those of Scott Hahn and some collection of church documents for Dogmatic Theology.  Rey used to debate in Bacolod Public plaza.  I think he still has a radio program back there.  A hobbit thanks to Miguel and Rey.  May God bless you both for your kindness.

After some songs and a rosary, Fr. Francisco Syquia of the Archdiocese of Manila Office of Exorcism gave the first part of his talk on “Word of God: Scourge of the Devil”.  I have made extensive notes.  I can reproduce his talk in this blog (it may take a while to decipher my scribbles), but I think most of it is available in his book, “Exorcism: Encounters with the Paranormal and the Occult.”  A second edition is sold for P300.  The book is smaller and the font is neater.  The first pages are devoted to the positive and warm reviews of the first edition.  The contents look the same as the old.  I wish there was a Preface to the Second Edition, so that I will know what were the changes.  I’ll review the new edition soon.  The review for the first edition is here.

The Trail of Light followed, which are meditations on the fourteen stations after the Christ’s reurrection:

  1. Jesus Rises from Death
  2. Peter and John at the Tomb
  3. The Risen Christ Appears to Mary Magdalene
  4. The Risen Christ Walks with the Disciples of Emmaus
  5. The Risen Christ Reveals Himself in the Breaking of the Bread
  6. The Risen Christ Appears to His Disciples
  7. The Risen Christ Gives His Disciples the Power to Forgive Sins
  8. The Risen Christ Appears to Thomas
  9. The Risen Christ Appears to His Disciples at the Lake of Tiberius
  10. The Risen Christ Entrusts the Care of the Church to Peter
  11. The Risen Christ Sends His Disciples to Evangelize the World
  12. The Risen Christ Ascends Into Heaven
  13. The Disciples Prepare to Receive the Holy Spirit
  14. The Risen Christ Sends the Holy Spirit

This is a new devotion proposed by Fr. Sal Putzu, SDB and Jess P. Balon, as a proper continuation to the Way of the Cross.

Lunch.  There is really such thing as a free lunch.

An hour-length documentary on exorcism was then showed.  The documentary talks about several things:

  1. Exorcism in the War of Catholics and Protestant Huguenots (1565)
  2. Codification of the Rituale Romanum (1614)
  3. Group Possession of Nuns: Satan’s Human Agent (1630)
  4. The Witch Hunts (1584)
  5. The Witches in the Puritan Village in Massachusetts (1632)
  6. The posession of a 13 year old boy boy in St. Louis Catholic Church (1949)
  7. The movie “Exorcist” (1973)
  8. Malachi Martin writes “Hostage to the Devil” (1980)
  9. Evangelical Ministry of Deliverance (1980)
  10. Exorcism of a woman (1994)
  11. Pope John Paul’s Exorcism (2000)
  12. The Movie “Exorcist” (2000)
  13. Vatican gives University Course on Exorcism (2005)

I heard that this documentary was given to Fr. Syquia by Fr. Gabriele Amorth, Rome’s Chief Exorcist.

Fr. Syquia then continued the second part of his talk on Filipino folk religiosity:

  1. Mingling of Catholic practices with pagan anito worship.
  2. Types of demonic activity: possession, oppression, obsession, and infestation.
  3. Spells, Curses, and Charms
  4. Deliverance Prayer vs Exorcism
  5. Offensive weapons: sacramentals and devotions

Most of these can be found in his book.  This is an enlightening book.  Buy it.

The recollection ended with a mass presided by Fr. Syquia, with Bro. Miguel Madarang as altar server.

Book Review: “Exorcism: Encounters with the Paranormal and the Occult”

The Ateneo Catechetical Instruction League (ACIL) asked me to give a talk this afternoon on the paranormal and the occult. I have given the same talk last year when I was still a facilitator of ACIL-Escopa, about a week after Fr. Jose Francisco C. Syquia, Director of the Archdiocese of Manila Office of Exorcism, gave his talk at the Jesuit Loyola House of Studies, the only talk that made me trek down the hilly jungle to that secluded school of priests, nuns, and brothers from all over the Philippines. The Loyola House stands on the precipice of a fault overlooking the city of Marikina: all the kingdoms of the world laid bare before you, tempting you with wealth, power, and glory, as you try to focus on the Kingdom of Heaven beyond the clouds, beyond the stars, at the end of time.

I do not personally know Fr. Syquia, but I bought his book at Power Books at Megamall, on the Feast of All Hallows Eve 2006.  I have grown suspicious of any book on paranormal.  I have read Lobsang Rampa, Carlos Castaneda, and Jaime Licauco in my youth.  I have read them and found them wanting: they promise that anyone “can be like gods, knowing good and evil,” as the Serpent tempted Eve.   But I see only emptiness in the faces of the New Age practitioners.  No joy, no peace. By their fruits you shall know them.

But Fr. Syquia’s book is different. It is an account by an exorcist priest himself. No theological speculations, no make-believe stories, no fear. Only plain stories from his everyday encounters with demon-possessed persons and spirit-infested houses, against the backdrop of authentic Catholic Church Teaching and sayings of the saints.

The book’s structure is similar to a diptych. Most chapters consist of two parts: (1) Experience narrative and (2) church teaching. This is what journalists call as the broken-line method: narrative, explain, narrative, explain. I would have preferred a more systematic demonology: classification of demons, their powers, manifestations, and weaknesses. Maybe this is just my hangover from my close study of the Monster Manual in Dungeons and Dragons in my youth.  But Fr. Syquia’s narrative grounds you to the reality: the hairy kapre in a mango tree, the arrogant blasphemies of the possessed, the crisp cards of a fortune teller, the consecrated hands of the priests. This is the war of angels and demons fought in our very earth, in our very house, in our very soul. And Fr. Syquia tells us about this war in its gory details: the vomits, the salts, the ropes, the shrieks. This is the war whose ending we know: Satan bound by Christ our Lord; the Serpent’s head crushed by Our Lady’s heel. Satan knows his defeat and he wants to drag as many souls with him to Hell.

Here are the contents of Fr. Syquia’s book:

Foreword
Introduction

  1. The Church and the Devil
  2. The Parapsychological Dimension
  3. Catholicism and Philippine Folk Religiosity
  4. The Secrets of the New Age Movement: Notebook 1
  5. The Secrets of the New Age Movement: Notebook 2
  6. Foundations
  7. Ministering to Those under Extraordinary Demonic Assault
  8. Confrontation between God and the Devil
  9. The Catholic in the Midst of Love and War
  10. The Scars of Battle
  11. Defensive Armor and Offensive Weapons
  12. The Exorcist
  13. Haunted Houses: Notebook 1
  14. Haunted Houses: Notebook 2

Notes on Some of the Sources Used
Appendix A: More on Philippine Folk Religiosity
Appendix B: Personal Spiritual Warfare
Appendix C: A Concise Handbook on Exorcism and Deliverance
Appendix D: A Pastoral Approach to Infested Homes
Appendix E: Manual of Prayers
Endnotes
About the Author