How will these resources help you? 

Religious beliefs on homosexuality are controversial for the classroom because the religious teachings are often countercultural. As RE teachers, we must be skilled in supporting students to enquire into beliefs while ensuring they still feel safe and not personally threatened by the teachings. Additionally, the teachings should be presented without prejudice towards them and believers of them. A tall order! These resources will allow you to go beyond Leviticus 18:22 for reasons why the Catholic Church is against same-sex marriage. Catholics have three sources of authority that guide their conscience: Scripture, Tradition and Magisterium. Referring to more than just scripture will allow teachers to present Catholicism more accurately, hopefully with the added benefit of helping students to feel reassured and with Catholic teaching properly represented. 

Catholic teachings about marriage

Catechism of the Catholic Church

published by Catholic Truth Society, (2022), 9781784691066

The Catechism is an excellent resource for looking up official Catholic teachings to use in lessons to support any topics being studied. It is written by the Magisterium (the official teaching authority of the Church) and is, therefore, an important source of authority, trusted by Catholics to inform their conscience on belief, practice and morality. Throughout Article 7, which focuses on the Sacrament of Matrimony, the criteria for marriage is explained, for example (paragraph 1625). I ask students to create a ‘Valid Catholic Marriage checklist’, and then we consider whether same-sex marriage meets the success criteria. The reason it does not is related to one of the criteria for marriage, which is that it must be between one man and one woman. So rather than coming from the angle of ‘same-sex marriage is sinful’, students can see that it simply is not possible to meet the criteria using the Catechism’s definition of marriage. 

Catholic teachings about sex

YOUCAT: Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church

by YOUCAT Foundation, published by Catholic Truth Society, (2012), 9781860827280

This version of the Catechism was inspired by Pope Benedict XVI, who wanted young people to have access to the Magisterium teachings of the church. This is a valid source of authority for students to study and refer to at GCSE, and I find it is often an easier resource to use for more complex teachings than the Catechism itself. In Part Three, ‘How are we to have a life in Christ’, in an accessible question/answer style, this text sensitively explains the Catholic beliefs on the purpose of sexual love and why it must be marital. This helps students to understand that homosexual sexual relations cannot be possible if following Catholic teaching because, for the reasons above, any sex outside of marriage is not permissible. 

Pope Francis on homosexuality

Pope Francis calls for end to anti-gay laws and LGBTQ+ welcome from church

by AP in Vatican City, published by The Guardian, (2023)

It is important to consider the compassion of the church towards all people. In this article, Pope Francis calls for an end to unjust laws on homosexuality because ‘we are all children of God, and God loves us as we are’ and reiterates the teachings of the Catechism, which state that every person has dignity people and should not be discriminated against because of their sexuality (YOUCAT 415). 

Overcoming divisions

Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity

by James Martin, SJ, published by HarperOne, (2017), 9780062694317

In many ways, this book by the Jesuit priest James Martin, SJ, is a response to people in the Catholic community who perpetuate the ‘homosexuality is a sin’ belief, which causes a division between them and Catholics who identify as LGBTQ. While the Catechism does state any sex outside of marriage is a sin, homosexual sex shouldn’t be regarded as more sinful than heterosexual sex before marriage. This book is faithful to Catholic teaching, and the author has met with Pope Francis, who has been supportive of the book. The views presented in the book also reflect the beliefs about homosexuality according to the Pew Research Center findings, which shows that many Catholics today believe homosexuality should be accepted. 

Further Materials

How Catholics around the world see same-sex marriage, homosexuality by Jeff Diamant, published by Pew Research Center, (2020) Read this article
Pope praises James Martin's ministry to gay Catholics by Christopher Lamb, published by The Tablet, (2021) Read this article
Women’s ordination, transgender ideology move forward at German Synodal Way by Jonathan Liedl, published by Catholic News Agency, (2023) Read this article
Catholicism: A Very Short Introduction by Gerald O’Collins, published by Oxford University Press, (2008), 9780199545919 Find this book
Jennifer Knight is Head of RE in a Catholic school where she teaches AQA Syllabus B and has previously taught AQA Syllabus A in non-faith schools. 

Text © Jennifer Knight, 2023.