Is the devil responsible for gay attraction? While this question may be absurd to some, it was the central underpinning of a controversial opinion column by Daniel Avila.
His article, "Some Fundamental Questions on Same-Sex Attraction," was retracted on Wednesday after being published a few days earlier by "The Pilot," the oldest Roman Catholic newspaper in America.
Avila, an associate director for policy and research for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops ignited a firestorm when he wrote, "the scientific evidence of how same-sex attraction most likely may be created provides a credible basis for a spiritual explanation that indicts the devil." According to the Associated Press:
It also says "disruptive imbalances in nature that thwart encoded processes point to supernatural actors who, unlike God, do not have the good of persons at heart." It says that when "natural causes disturb otherwise typical biological development, leading to the personally unchosen beginnings of same-sex attraction, the ultimate responsibility, on a theological level, is and should be imputed to the evil one, not God."
On Wednesday, the newspaper decided to remove the column from its web site. Apparently, the publication is claiming that it failed to recognize the "theological error" before the piece went to print.
"Statements made in my column, 'Some fundamental questions on same-sex attraction' of October 28, do not represent the position of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the column was not authorized for publication as is required policy for staff of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The teaching of Sacred Scripture and of the Catechism of the Catholic Church make it clear that all persons are created in the image and likeness of God and have inviolable dignity. Likewise, the Church proclaims the sanctity of marriage as the permanent, faithful, fruitful union of one man and one woman. The Church opposes, as I do too, all unjust discrimination and the violence against persons that unjust discrimination inspires. I deeply apologize for the hurt and confusion that this column has caused."
This apology will also appear in this week's edition of the newspaper. In a press release prior to the article's retraction, gay rights group Truth Wins Out targeted Avila's column, writing:
Truth Wins Out condemned Massachusetts attorney Daniel Avila today for calling homosexuality a “natural disaster” caused by Satan invading the wombs of mothers of LGBT children. [...]
“Avila’s bizarre theories are unscientific and defamatory,” said Wayne Besen, Executive Director of Truth Wins Out. “Telling Catholic mothers with LGBT children that Satan entered their womb and caused their child’s homosexuality is spiritual abuse of the highest order.” [You can read the full press release here.]
Avila's comments have very obviously infuriated gay rights groups and those who believe that people are born gay. This theory -- that Satan is involved in the process -- is something that these individuals would view as an absurdity.
It seems even the Church had second thoughts about these views, as they were deemed theologically erroneous.