“Omnium hominum”: a pastoral epistle on chastity and sexuality


The innate dignity of all people has long been recognised by the Catholic Church, regardless of their sexual orientation. While the Church has traditionally held that sexual relationships should be limited to those between a man and a woman within marriage, this does not discount the fundamental worth of LGBT persons. Every person deserves to be treated with respect, compassion, and love.

The Council of Trent instructed the clergy that “they especially instruct the faithful diligently concerning the obligation of chastity, and exhort them to observe it”. The Church also recognizes the need to support and accompany those who experience same-sex attraction. The contemporary Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided” (2358). The Church encourages all people to live lives of chastity, as this is seen as a way to develop one’s relationship with God.

The admonition to live chastely applies to all Catholics, regardless of sexual orientation. The Church encourages people to seek out the support and guidance of their local parish and its fellowship to live out the Church’s teachings in a healthy, meaningful way. Chastity should be taught and understood as a vocation common to all Christians not just for those with vocations to religious life i.e., monks and nuns or sacred ministers.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

1 John 2:15-17

It is a great shame that so many Catholics have embraced worldly and secular values such that chastity is seen as an affront to human dignity or even a form of bigotry. Instead, we should strive to understand and promote chastity as a way of life that brings us closer to God and our true selves. Practised with abstinence and self-control, chastity can lead to greater spiritual and emotional maturity and a deeper appreciation of the gift of sexuality.

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.

1 Peter 1:13-15

Of course, the world appreciates these things differently. For many in contemporary society sexuality is seen as an integral part of one’s self-identity as opposed to just an attribute or aspect of one’s makeup. All people are born with conditions, dispositions or are affected developmentally through their childhood or adolescence with attributes that may appear as impediments to their development or growth in holiness as a child of God. No-one – despite the emotional reaction of a new parent to their first-born child – no-one is born “perfect”.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

1 John 1:8

Yet the Christian life is about the surrendering of oneself voluntarily to God’s Will, His intentions for our lives and His way of being. This is what the pursuit of holiness is all about, and chastity is an important and integral part of this pursuit. This is not to say that should one ever express their sexuality or engage in sexual activity God hates or rejects them! Rather, that it should be done in a way that honours God and respects the dignity of others and if it is not, mercy and forgiveness are readily available.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9


Holy matrimony is the proper place for sexual expression and the pursuit of holiness should lead one to recognize that chastity is an important part of God’s Will for His children. Chastity is a gift from God and it is an expression of our love and devotion to Him. It is a reminder that we are created in His image, and He has given us a unique way to express our love for Him and each other.

When we choose to live a life of chastity, we are living out our commitment to honour God’s Will for us. We are also demonstrating our respect for ourselves, others, and the sanctity of marriage. By embracing the gift of chastity, we can experience greater spiritual maturity and growth in holiness as children of God. Chastity enables us to live out God’s law of charity; love of Him and love of neighbour.

Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 6:18-20

Chastity can also be seen as a form of self-discipline, teaching us to control our desires and impulses. It is a way of living with integrity, limiting our actions to what is right and good, rather than indulging in whatever might bring us pleasure or satisfaction in the moment. It encourages us to take responsibility for our choices and behaviour, being mindful of how it affects ourselves and others.

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.

Romans 15:1-2

Ultimately, chastity comes down to respecting ourselves and others enough not to engage in activities that do not honour God or do not bring real and meaningful joy into our lives. It is about learning how to be content with who we are and developing healthy habits that will lead us closer to God’s love and grace. The proper understanding and right use of sexuality is the sacrifice of it to realise that love which is God’s charity; love of His Will and pure love for His children.


The misuse of human sexuality gives into lust, selfishness, wantonness, and abandonment to sin and ultimately evil; a complete rejection of God and His Will and the love of self rather than of others. It objectifies one’s appreciation of others, not recognising and seeing them first as children of God but reducing them to and regarding them only for the satisfaction of our base desires and selfishness. It leads to the abuse of ourselves and of others and is a complete rejection of true love and the joys that come from it.

For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.

1 Thessalonians 4:7

So often the romantic notion of love and relationships is sensationalised, sensualised, corrupting the true nature and purpose of intimacy. All our contemporary media, theatre and entertainment portrays and suggests that sexual attraction i.e. lust, is the motivation or instigator of intimate relationships. This encourages the objectification of the other, encourages us to look and regard others through base instincts, having a superficial regard and appreciation, looking past the person to our own desire to possess them for our own satisfaction, regarding them as an asset to possess or use.

This approach and regard of others corrupts our appreciation such that people contemplating relationships focus on what they receive more than what they can gift the other; my emotional demands, my material concerns, my ambitions, my dreams, my desires… few find genuine and long-lasting happiness this way! Why? Because self-interest doesn’t beget charity, i.e. that true and perfect love that feeds the soul, the heart and the whole being. If lust is the first motivation, and self-interest the second, is it any wonder marriages fail, families break up, children are disenfranchised and society falls apart! Two narcissists does not a true love match make!

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

Colossians 3:5

The true nature of humanity is society, we are social beings. Marriage, family, society are the foundations of human flourishing, and irrespective of our sexual orientation, everyone needs somebody to be human with. When we focus on ourselves and our own wants and needs, prioritising them over consideration of others, we hurt ourselves, we deny our true nature as human beings and we hurt others.

By contrast, the right use of sexuality through chastity brings about the true love of neighbour. Chastity within marriage allows couples to cooperate with God in the creation of new life. It also helps to cultivate a deep and meaningful relationship between husband and wife that is mutually supportive. Chastity outside and within marriage is the practice of abstaining from sexual activity, respecting the dignity of one another and focusing on developing friendship and intimacy through other means.

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

Hebrews 13:4

The primary purpose of sexual intimacy is not intended by God to be for our own or mutual pleasure; its primary intended purpose is for the procreation of children. Even though our bodies may appear suited to intimate pleasure for its own ends, as human beings we have the ability to rise above the chaos of base instincts, carnal lusts and obsessions to self-control – the final fruit of the Spirit in St Paul’s list written to the Galatians (Gal 5:23).

As believers, we understand that self-control is a result of the Holy Spirit’s work of sanctification. The apostle Paul writing about the Christian life would include lists of negative behaviors exhibited by non-believers. In Galatians 5:22-23, self-control is listed as a virtue in contrast to the negative behaviors listed in Galatians 5:19-21. Paul also wrote to Timothy about the sinful practices of those who are not saved, and in 2 Timothy 3:1-5, the phrase “without self-control” is used to describe these behaviors.


Living a chaste life requires self-discipline and humility; the ability to recognize our weaknesses and faults, as well as those of others. It is about finding contentment in who we are as individuals, without relying on physical gratification for fulfilment. It is about respecting our bodies and those of others, by refraining from using them for sinful purposes. The ultimate goal is to bring us closer to God’s love and grace by cultivating healthy habits that will help us live a life filled with joy, peace, love, hope, and true happiness.

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

2 Corinthians 7:1

It is essential to remember that the Church’s teaching on marriage and sexuality is rooted in a desire to protect the good of the whole family and to promote responsible behaviour between people. This does not mean, however, that LGBT people should be excluded or treated any differently than heterosexuals. All people should be able to express their true selves and live with dignity, no matter their sexual orientation.

The Church also teaches that all people are created in the image and likeness of God and that desires and attractions should never be judged harshly. LGBT people should be welcomed with respect and understanding into the Catholic community, and those who are struggling with their sexual orientation should receive compassion and guidance from members of the Church. LGBT people should not be characterized as being any more inclined toward sin than others simply because of their sexual orientation. We all have the same propensity to sin!

Everyone has or will think, do or say something they regret whether unintentionally, deliberately or by accident. No one is without sin nor the propensity to sin and all of us seek the mercy and understanding of others when we fail. Sexuality, whether on a “spectrum” or not, whether innate or nurtured, is no different from any other propensity anyone may have to sin. Mercy and compassion however are the only and appropriate response from those who would be ambassadors of Christ.

For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

St James 2:13

Holiness is to become like unto godliness, i.e. to reflect more perfectly the image of Him Who made us. It means more than just personal purity and moral perfection, but to desire it and encourage it in others. Irrespective of our sexuality, every Christian should seek the ultimate good of the other, and there is no higher good than for the other to be found and recognised as a child of God. This is the perspective we should have of others at all times, this is the only perfect and true desire and appreciation we should have of the other i.e. their potential to become a child of God and our duty and joy to enable them to become so.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.

Ephesians 5:1

Celibacy or Chastity

Celibacy and chastity both refer to abstaining from sexual activity, but they have different connotations. Celibacy typically refers to a state of being unmarried or abstaining from marriage, often for religious reasons. Chastity, on the other hand, refers to a moral or ethical commitment to abstain from sexual activity outside of marriage. While celibacy implies a lack of sexual activity, chastity implies a deliberate choice to refrain from sexual activity for moral or ethical reasons.

For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.

St Matthew 19:12

In the Catholic tradition, celibacy is a matter of discipline, a matter of choice and often a vocation. The Catholic Church required celibacy for priests after the Council of Elvira in 303, and by the mid-fourth century, marriage after ordination began to be prohibited. However, the universal requirement for celibacy was imposed upon the clergy with force in 1123 and again in 1139 at the Second Lateran Council. So, Catholic priests have been required to be celibate for almost a millennium.

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

Genesis 2:18

In offering themselves to a celibate lifestyle, within the vision of the Church we find in the second chapter of Acts of the Apostles, no-one is being called to live a lonely life. Rather, free from the obligations inherent in marriage, the priest can unreservedly spend his time and energy teaching and pastoring the flock entrusted to his care, supported by their fellowship and kinship in Christ. Likewise, everyone who gives themselves to God’s Will should be supported and enabled by the fellowship of the church. It is a shame that for too long our experience of “church” has become so far removed from that of the early Church.

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Acts 2:42-47

Likewise, in the religious life, monks and nuns take vows of chastity which contextually require them to live a celibate lifestyle i.e. they abstain from marriage in preference for communal fellowship with their brothers and sisters in religion. Men and women discerning religious life don’t just consider chastity but also community, and likewise religious orders in discernment with postulants discern the prospect of fellowship with candidates.

The important point to note here is that chastity is not the same as celibacy, though the two are often conflated in people’s appreciation, and neither are purposed for loneliness. Chastity refers to the moral or ethical commitment to abstain from sexual activity outside of marriage, but it does not necessarily mean that individuals cannot have close or even intimate relationships with one another.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

2 Timothy 1:7

A chaste relationship may involve two individuals who are committed to one another emotionally and spiritually, but who have chosen to abstain from sexual activity for personal, moral, or religious reasons. This type of relationship may involve expressing love and affection through other means, such as emotional support, shared interests, or communication.

Chaste relationships can take many forms, such as between friends, family members, religious life or romantic partners. These relationships can be fulfilling and meaningful without involving sexual activity, and can be a way for individuals to express their shared commitment to personal values and beliefs. This can be especially true for Christians who find joy in their love for God together, united to His Will and desiring to honour Him with their lives.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

1 John 2:15-17

Despite common misconceptions, identifying as both LGBT and Christian does not entail choosing a celibate way of life. While every Christian should strive for chastity, this does not equate to a solitary existence. Instead, it should involve finding genuine Christian fellowship within one’s local church community, or even pursuing a religious or consecrated life. Additionally, embracing chastity may also involve being open to a non-sexual but close, intimate, and fulfilling relationship approached with sincere prudence and charity.

Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love

Ephesians 1:4


It is sadly all too true that a contemporary perception of orthodox Christianity is one of judgmentalism. It is also sadly true that many people possess a prurient, even puerile interest in the private lives of others. There is no place for such attitudes within a truly Christian community among sincere practitioners of charity:

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Traditional Catholics who would seek to manifest Christianity for the sake of the salvation of souls and particularly of those souls who are LGBT, would do well to remember and adopt the attitude of charity the apostle Paul elucidates in his epistle to the Corinthians. Chastity and charity are synonymous with each other, you can’t practise one without the other and for Catholics this may mean overcoming entrenched prejudice and suspicion in order to facilitate the reception and encouragement of LGBT persons.

Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Romans 14:10-12

Individuals who identify as LGBT and are searching for spirituality within our communities cannot be held accountable for the actions and intentions of political or ideological movements that have presumed to speak on their behalf. Despite political arguments, those who purport to represent the “LGBT community” are typically activists who have assumed a representative role themselves but don’t actually have a direct mandate from the individuals they claim to speak for. With the exception of a few membership organizations, most of these groups are merely self-serving organizations that receive support from individuals when it benefits them.

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 4:31-32

Every individual should be treated as the unique person God created them to be and their prior lived experience regarded respectfully as the means by which their journey brought them to our doors; “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…” Isaiah 55:8. The history of the Church is littered with the conversions of notable canonised saints who led previous lives often antithetical to the Gospel, but whom God brought to salvation through Christ’s compassionate redemption manifested by His servants.

Consider St Augustine of Hippo who’s wayward life of licentiousness caused his mother, St Monica to pray earnestly for his conversion for years. Or St Benedict of Nursia who to overcome his lusts ran through briars to cool his ardour. Or St Francis of Assisi whose privileged youth was less than virtuous but who gave up everything to serve Christ in poverty. Remember St Paul, an apostle who when a zealous pharisee oversaw the stoning of St Stephen the Church’s’ first martyr. Despite their past lives, despite their predilections, despite themselves… through experiencing the love of God from others, they converted their hearts and minds to God’s Will.

No one has ever been truly converted by judgemental attitudes nor coercion. It is never acceptable for us to prevent nor end the possibility of another’s salvation i.e. their coming to the knowledge of God’s love for them. For such will Our Lord charge anyone harshly for at their judgement;

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.

St Matthew 7:1,2


The Church’s only stance in light of the Gospel toward LGBT people can only be one of acceptance, understanding, and, ultimately, love. All people are unique and have immense value, regardless of their sexual orientation and everyone of them exists because of God’s Will. The Church must seek to meet LGBT people with the care and compassion they need and to treat each person with genuine respect. This is why those condemnable practices regarded as “conversion therapy” should rightly be avoided, as they can be damaging to an individual’s well-being. Counsel toward chastity and a chaste lifestyle should never be coercive or controlling.

Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, …

Philippians 2:2-8

The embrace of chastity must be voluntary and motivated by a genuine desire from the individual to live and love as God desires. Prayers for acceptance of one’s condition and deliverance from evil and temptation should never focus on deliverance from the condition itself – we are none of us made perfect and coping with our imperfections, weaknesses and moral failings is the route to self-control and freedom from enslavement to our desires.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:2

The aspiration toward chastity is not easy for anyone, irrespective of their inclination. Overcoming oneself, one’s nature, one’s nurture, one’s behaviours and attitudes is the only way to real and lasting fulfilment, to realise the healing and wholeness that God desires each one of us to live in His Love. This should not be made harder by ourselves nor by us for others.

So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.

Romans 14:12-13

The Church encourages LGBT people to embrace their true selves and live with dignity, understanding, and respect. LGBT people should be welcomed into the Church and its activities without fear of judgement or discrimination. The Church seeks to provide them with the spiritual guidance and support they need to live a life of holiness and happiness.

Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

Romans 2:1-4

Heeding the admonishment of the apostle then, let us within our communities strive to create such fellowship among us that no-one should feel judged before they have interacted with us. Let us behave in such a way that only love and not condemnation is expected from us. When we meet people whose lives may appear at odds with God’s Will, let us not presume to judge them but love them into a wholesome, healing relationship with God among us.

Yes, as citizens in our own right, we should actively seek to engage in public conversations about the issues and behaviours affecting our society, we should not fear to speak the truth as to the causes of hurt, anguish and brokenness that pervade our communities. Yes, we should seek to protect the young and the vulnerable, sometimes by engaging in difficult conversations about lifestyles and behaviours antithetical to the Gospel. But let us do so striving to present the “Good News” of Jesus Christ and the potential for righteousness and wholeness God purposed everyone for, for the benefit of all.


Die IV infra octavam Paschæ MMXXIII A.D.

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