.- Former U.S. bishop's conference employee Daniel Avila said his swift resignation after writing a column linking homosexuality with the devil is not evidence of the bishops shying away from the issue.
“The bishops have been and will continue to be strong,” said Avila, former bishops' conference policy adviser for marriage and family. “I resigned because of my desire to see the bishops continue their effective and courageous witness without distraction.”
“Unfortunately,” he added in his Nov. 7 statement to the National Catholic Register, “some will take away from this the opposite and erroneous lesson that the Church and people of faith should refrain altogether from speaking out to influence policymakers and recede entirely from the arena of debate.”
Avila offered his resignation to the bishops’ conference after an Oct. 28 piece of his in the Boston Pilot sparked a media firestorm.
In his piece on the meaning and importance of marriage, Avila said that the “ultimate responsibility” of biologically innate same-sex attraction should be attributed “to the evil one, not God.”
He said that applying “this aspect of Catholic belief to interpret the scientific data makes more sense
because it does not place God in the awkward position of blessing two mutually incompatible realities—sexual difference and same-sex attraction.”
Although Avila was quick to issue an apology after the article ran—“based on my own conscience and assessments”— he pointed out that his piece has been “exploited to divert attention from the core public-policy issues.”
“My resignation was not offered nor do I believe that it was accepted because anyone involved thinks that the Church’s role in the definition-of-marriage debate should be reduced,” he underscored.
Rather, he said his quitting was based “on my own realization that my continued employment was fueling public circumstances that could obstruct the mission of the Catholic Church and the bishops in the public-policy arena.”
Avila stressed that the U.S. bishops “must advance the Church’s policy positions recognizing the inviolable dignity of every human being and the inalterable nature of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”
He also expressed “deep sorrow” for “any hurt caused by my column among those who especially need to be affirmed in their individual human dignity.”
“I do not take personally but I do take seriously the anger and ridicule expressed toward me on the Internet, by those who do not know me, as a further sign that people with same-sex attraction have suffered greatly and wrongly,” he said.
“God loves especially those who bear great trials, such as persons struggling with same-sex attraction,” Avila added. “Though none of my reflections was intended to hurt anyone, your pain is a tragedy, and I am heartbroken.”