"The Church recognizes that there is a 'theology of the body,' and our bodily reality as male and female points to the path of both what is normal and healthy in human sexuality, as well as to what is moral."
In his book, Mattson references the self-identified lesbian feminist and scholar Camille Paglia, who agrees that same-sex attraction is not of the norm, but as a self-labeled pagan, says that the fulfillment of man comes with conquering what she sees as the confines of nature. Mattson disagrees with her view of morality, but he finds her acknowledgment of the true nature of sexuality refreshing.
"At least she's honest about the fact that everyone's sexuality is truly ordered toward procreation." Mattson said.
But what Paglia's view of sexual liberation ignores, Mattson argues, is that "there is far more pain and suffering in the lives of those who live outside of God's design and ordering for human sexuality than those who choose to live within it."
He also noted that self-denial is an essential part of chastity, which everyone – not just people with same-sex attraction – are called to. For example, single men and women attracted to the opposite sex "are taught by the virtue of chastity to refrain from any sexual activity, too, and though this can be challenging, there is less suffering – and even more importantly, more peace – in one's life when one follows the path set before us by God than if we go our own way."
It's not an issue of who suffers more but rather a shared connection of "the common human experience of suffering," which stems from "rejection from other people, dashed hopes and dreams, heartbreak and loneliness."
Mattson said that one reason he wrote his book is to help pave a path forward for those who have suffered from heartbreak and loss in their own relationships.
These sufferings, Mattson said, are universal to the human experience and not something particular to people with same-sex attraction. He referenced Cardinal Ratzinger's 1986 "Letter on the Pastoral Care of the Homosexual Person," which helped him refrain from self-pity and "thinking that somehow my various forms of suffering associated with living out a single and celibate life are more challenging than anyone else's challenges."
Through his book, Mattson says he wants to help the Church to, as he puts it, "reclaim sexual reality" and to help the Church and the world move beyond a view of the person which is ultimately "based on a reductionist label of sexual identity rooted in one's sexual attractions and feelings."
"In the eyes of the Church, there is no 'us' and 'them,' there is just us, and this is one of the great gifts of the Church."
Mattson also offered a key distinction between Catholics being welcoming and shifting on magisterial teaching. He said that often the homosexual community has viewed the Church as ostracizing "for the reason that the Church won't affirm them in their chosen way of living their lives."
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"The Church must be as welcoming and as loving as possible, but we cannot be more welcoming or loving than Jesus was who does not condemn us for our sins, but always calls us to go and sin no more."
This call to change one's moral life can be challenging, but it's a calling which invites people to conversion and "is a sign of true love and compassion."
This article was originally published on CNA July 13, 2017.