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Former Jesuit calls church sexually intolerant

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April 19, 2001


Webster University Religious Studies chair and former Jesuit Priest Robert Goss spoke Wednesday on a need to increase religious tolerance of homosexuals and unite the sexual with the spiritual.

Goss said religious intolerance of homosexuals stems from the “theological hatred” perpetuated by church officials, citing church efforts such as the movement of what Goss called the “Unholy Trinity” of the Mormon church, the Christian Coalition and the Catholic church to lobby government to prevent same sex unions.

Though same sex unions are criticized for challenging traditional values, Goss said any union based on love is a constructive one.

“[The church] says it erodes family values; I think it confirms them,” Goss said.

Goss said he finds no merit in Biblical based criticism to homosexuality.

“The bible says nothing, period, about homosexuality,” Goss said.

Goss and other recognized homosexual theologians have published defenses of homosexuality based on the Bible.

“We’re going to take back biblical traditions for ourselves,” Goss said. “We have nearly won the war over the bible.”

According to Goss, social intolerance of homosexuality comes from “heterosexism,” the presumption that everyone is heterosexual.

“It’s the Catholic ‘Plumbing Theory’,” Goss said, “because the parts fit.”

Goss said he maintains a more flexible approach to an individual’s sexuality.

“I think most of us are bisexual,” Goss said. “There is a sexual fluidity.”

Goss said to him the word “queer” means anyone who does not identify with society’s typical image of heterosexualism.

“I have straight friends who call themselves queers,” Goss said. “I identify myself as a queer theologian and I’m proud of it.”

Goss spoke on the problem of Christianity’s long history of violence. Citing a study suggesting a mutually exclusive relationship between societal violence and expression of sexuality, Goss said the church reacts violently to that which makes it uncomfortable.

“The most virulent people in the clergy don’t know how to deal with their feelings, so they stamp it out on others,” Goss said.

Goss said until the church can overcome this reaction to sexuality, it will remain in a “cultural puberty.” The challenge is uniting these two powerful feelings, he said.

“If we don’t integrate sprituality and sexuality, we are still spiritual children,” Goss said.

Goss said he has taken an active approach to this philosophy.

“I make love with God everytime I make love with my partner,” Goss said. “Every time you have a good orgasm, God smiles.”



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