MANILA, Philippines - At least two Catholic bishops on Tuesday said homosexuals should go public because there is nothing to be ashamed of about their sexuality.
In a report published in the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) website, Archbishops Paciano Aniceto and Oscar Cruz said the church does not care about a person’s sexuality, only on same sex unions and sexual acts.
“Honesty is very important,” said Aniceto, executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
Aniceto said there are many reasons people are afraid to come out as lesbian, gay or bisexual, depending on the culture they were brought up in and the points of view of their family and friends.
“That’s why it is also very important to have counseling centers and formation groups that will face this issue,” he said.
The prelate made the statement Tuesday during the launching of the book “Homosexuality and the Catholic Church” written by the late American missionary Fr. John Harvey in Manila.
Cruz said the book is a must-read for everyone struggling with same sex attraction (SSA) whether a Catholic or not. He added that the gist of the book is "we have to respect people with other sexual orientation."
In an interview with abs-cbnNEWS.com, Cruz said it is up to the person if he wants to reveal his sexual identity to the world, adding that the CBCP cannot make that decision for them.
He also described homosexuality as "sexual misidentity" caused by hormonal imbalance.
"Homosexuality is some kind of sexual misidentity caused by some hormonal imbalance or something. It is a sexual inclination. Yun ay kagagawan ng kanilang pangangatawan...We are born as boys and girls, there is no third sex, end of story. But because of hormonal imbalance, some girls have the tendency to become boys and some boys have the tendency to become girls," he said.
Cruz said the Church does not condemn homosexuals. "Pantay-pantay tayo. Before female and male, they are people. They are human persons with dignity. They should be treated like everybody else because they are equal to us."
In the CBCP report, Cruz said he has no problem with men dressed as women.
“It’s okay. We don’t know their motive but they dress as a boy or as a girl and that is all that he does, I don’t see problem with that,” Cruz said.
But while the church is not condemning homosexuality, Cruz said it will not tolerate homosexual acts because it is against biblical teaching.
“It would be wrong only if you act on it. The same thing with heterosexuals if we act on it contrary to morals then it is wrong… so same with homosexuals,” he said.
“If a homosexual goes into partnership with another homosexual it is wrong. If it’s only attraction, (there’s nothing wrong). It is just a feeling,” he said.
3-5 erring priests removed yearly
Cruz said an even stricter standard of behavior is applied to Catholic priests.
As head of the CBCP dispensation desk, Cruz is assigned to the discipline of Filipino priests including those accused of breaking their vows of celibacy.
"A priest who is proven to have sexual relations with a man or woman is removed from the ministry. Celibacy is a requirement for the priesthood," he told abs-cbnNEWS.com.
Cruz said the penalty for priests who have sex with either a man or a woman is the same, which is expulsion from the ministry.
He said the Catholic Church has its own process of dealing with complaints against priests. He said there are several church tribunals that handle the cases and deliberate on the complaints and witnesses' testimony.
"Kapag napatunayan, tanggal kaagad. Madali naman malaman kung totoo o sinisiraan lang ang pari," he said.
Asked how many erring Filipino priests are removed from the ministry yearly, he said: "I don't know the exact number but I am going to make a guess. I guess I think every year it's about 3 or 5 priests. Salamat sa Diyos na maraming matitino na pari."
He also acknowledged that erring priests in other countries might not be removed from the ministry because of lack of replacements.
"That is a problem in those countries because they only have a few priests. They don't have enough priests to replace them. That is not a problem here," he said.