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Catholics advised to put love for gay kids above doctrine

U.S. Catholic bishops are advising parents of gay children to put love and support for their sons and daughters before church doctrine that condemns homosexual activity.

In a groundbreaking pastoral letter, the bishops say homosexual orientation is not freely chosen and parents must not reject their gay children in a society full of rejection and discrimination."All in all, it is essential to recall one basic truth. God loves every person as a unique individual. Sexual identity helps to define the unique person we are," the bishops say. "God does not love someone any less simply because he or she is homosexual."

The document, titled "Always Our Children," was approved by the Administrative Board of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops early in September and released Tuesday, with an early copy provided to The Associated Press.

In the last two decades, with almost every other church struggling over gay ordination or efforts to ease condemnatory church doctrine, the Roman Catholic Church has stood firm, teaching that homosexual activity is morally wrong.

In two high profile cases in the 1980s, the Vatican disciplined Seattle Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen for allowing a group of gay Catholics to meet at St. James Cathedral and revoked Charles Curran's license to teach moral theology at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. Curran had said homosexual acts are sometimes morally acceptable.

But the mounting turmoil and pain felt by Catholics torn between church teaching and love for their gay children prompted several bishops to request guidance from the bishops' Committee on Marriage and Family. The committee began studying the conflict in 1992.

Five years later, the bishops in their letter describe parents who suffer guilt, shame and loneliness because their children are gay.