Abp Albert D’Souza, Agra
You must be aware of the recent Supreme Court verdict on homosexuality. What is your response?
The issue was skyjacked by the global influence of certain lobbies. I feel a little disappointed that our Indian culture has not been upheld. For, in all other matters, cultural fundamentalism was the pointer. But here our youth are carried away by the concept of homosexuality and same sex marriage without being rooted in our culture. This can have deteriorating effects on the society. The Church has to take it as achallenge. How we can promote our values and evangelize in a situation that is not rooted in our culture remains a question that deserves our serious consideration.
Do you mean the court case was unduly influenced by the West?
Maybe there was pressure from a whole set of Indian groups in the West. I am unable to understand how a just society promoting human development for sexuality simply failed to intervene in the social fabric. A great chance for it was simply missed. Now we have legalized an eroded situation-ethics of disorientation or wrong orientation of the human mind.
But at the same time, arch-bishop, the first part of the judgment says that sexual minorities should be considered human beings, with dignity and respect. Is that not an attitude which the Church also must appreciate?
Yes, yes, we also want to be sympathetic and respect human individuals, irrespective of their sexual orientations. Human dignity has to be restored; everyone must be honoured. But when disorientation and psychological disorders are ratified, disregarding our ethos, it raises certain concerns. Should we legalise any and every sexual orientation a person may have?
The fundamental question perhaps is to establish whether sexual identity is fabricated socially or culturally?
I feel that the Supreme Court has not taken into consideration all aspects of human life. This is only a pious way of looking at the issue. Some people are told that they are right in the way they are born, let them live like that. Now, that particular agenda will have serious daily consequences to our human society.
Do you see sexual identity as in some way fixated and determined?
Sexual identity is normally considered as male or female. That complementarity is integral to human dignity. It is also needed to build a mutual relationship that is capable of building up a family. The Church has to uphold a sexual morality that is tuned to promoting human life through marriage and family; not every union is marriage.
What do you say about the view that privacy and individual freedom should not in any way be curtailed?
I am happy that individual freedom is ascertained; it should be also applicable to the free thinkers, writers, those who are critical of the present dispensation and to all of us. Respect their freedom to think and write differently. Human morality calls for integral attitude to sexuality, not to enter into the privacy of our bedroom. This concerns not only with matters of sex but also with all areas of private life like thinking and imagining differently. Just as we give freedom of expression to sexual minorities, we also have to see to that religious, cultural and linguistic minorities have their right to live with dignity and respect with their own expressions.
Do you think the Supreme Court judgment will go further and allow homosexual and lesbian marriages and the right to adoption?
I agree same sex unions may be legalized. I have to add that all that is legal need not be moral. I think the question of adoption may need more study and serious thought. The capability of a same sex couple to rear children is under question. If it is most unnatural sex, then it will be very unnatural upbringing as well; you may have misfits created in society.
Does it not also amount to deconstructing the whole notion of marriage and family?
I think that we must not damage our concept of marriage, family and sexuality. Marriage and family have their own standards of keeping life with human dignity; it is not simply a question of maintaining but also of upholding. We cannot afford to damage a precious tradition which carries much wisdom. The future of legalized same sex marriage will have negative repercussions on the society. For raising a family with adopted children, the father figure and the mother figure were there with a fraternity around. If they disappear, what kind of individual will we have? I cannot fathom the outcome of such combinations and nurturing.
Sex has two dimensions; love and affection on one side and progeny and begetting on the other. Can we separate these two sides of the same coin?
Love relationship is not to be restricted only to sexuality; friendship and love exist among friends also. Love relationship is not to be restricted only to sexuality, because of human affections and shared interrelationships exist in marriage without direct link with sex. Same sex marriage does not include the internal psycho-emotional and spiritual dimensions of the human person. Our Catholic faith is very clear: sexuality is integral part of humanity. It is not only about partial gratification of one’s desire. This judgement has thoroughly downgraded the Indian ethos.
Love relationship is not to be restricted to genital sex; it’s an integral, emotional, psychological and spiritual thing that would include procreation. The dimension of creation and procreation is thoroughly out of the scope of same sex marriage. It is not marriage at all. I could understand friendship and homo sexual friendship, satisfy one another’s companionship. But when sexuality is integrally considered, it is strictly for relationship. Here I would add that in our Indian ethos, sexuality goes through brhamacharya to family life grahastha, ashrama.There is continence, self-control, discipline; all these contribute to a spiritual transcendence,which is conjugal and creative of family. The present court judgment, I am afraid, can do immense harm of to our family system and society.