MANILA, Philippines--A Catholic bishop insists that Church laws are compassionate and liberal towards homosexuals, even if the heirarchy protests the participation of gay men in Santacruzan processions dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
Malolos Bishop Jose Oliveros, chair of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Office on Bio-ethics, said on Sunday the Church had learned to accept homosexuality as part of reality.
"We try to be compassionate and understand homosexuals and guide them towards the right path where they should not act out on their desires," the bishop told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of INQUIRER.net.
He explained that having feelings or an attraction for the same sex was not a sin but engaging in homosexual sex would be.
CBCP Commission on Canon Law chair and Tagbilaran Bishop Leonardo Medroso agreed, saying there was nothing in Church law that specifically stated that being homosexual was sinful.
"As far as the Church is concerned, sex can only be done within the context of marriage, and marriage, as we know, is between a man and a woman," he said.
Medroso said the prohibition on pre-marital sex on heterosexuals was the same prohibition it imposed on gays.
"Marriage and sex, as the Church views it, is solely for reproduction. That's the nature of marriage, opening up a couple to producing children. We cannot have that in a man to man or a woman to woman relationship, therefore, sex between persons of the same sex becomes unnatural and offends the Church," the bishop explained.
Similarly, a priest who has homosexual tendencies or is gay is not immediately condemned.
"As long as he does not break his vow of celibacy and is not an active homosexual," Medroso said, adding, "It is a crime, not only unnatural for a priest who has taken a vow to be celibate, because when he was ordained he promised not to engage in sex."
While homosexuality is not in Church laws, the scriptures are explicit in stating that sexual relations between persons outside of marriage is forbidden, according to Oliveros.
In the case of gay priests, Oliveros said the attraction they would feel for other men would not be a problem for as long as "they are not active in their attraction."