SPECIAL REPORT AT 4:30 PM ET
ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - With Pope Francis warning bishops against "falling into moralistic or elitist postures" at the Rome Youth Synod, faithful Catholics are voicing concern over threats to Church teaching.
One of them is Avera Maria Santo, a 22-year-old Alabama woman who blogs about fidelity to the Faith in spite of her same-sex-attraction.
Last week, Santo published an open letter to the bishops, defending Church teaching on homosexuality and calling on them to do the same.
"When I was made aware of the efforts being made by pro-'LGBT' groups trying to persuade Catholic bishops to change Church teaching on homosexuality, specifically at this year's youth synod, it devastated me," she wrote, warning that "to see her teachings altered in any way ... could cause such a grave amount of damage."
Pleading with the bishops to "keep the Church's teachings on homosexuality good, true and beautiful," Santo explained that once she came to terms that she was attracted to other women, she was "terrified."
"I didn't know where to turn, who to speak to, or if I could speak about it at all!" she recalled. "The fear paralyzed me into silence for quite a while."
"As time went on, I began to learn more and more about the teachings of the Catholic Church on homosexuality, and, for some time, I didn't understand them," she continued. "I wasn't sure what the words 'objectively' and 'intrinsically disordered' meant, and truth be told, I had the feeling that I didn't want to know."
"It wasn't until I was around the age of 20 that I finally began to understand," she said. "I'll admit, I didn't like what I heard, but I knew it was what I needed to hear."
Santo shared that she recently discovered a quote by Abbot Jean-Charles Nault, O.S.B. that spoke to her deeply:
For the philosophers of antiquity, and for the whole Christian Tradition, freedom is the ability that man has — an ability belonging jointly to his intellect and will — to perform virtuous actions, good actions, excellent actions, when he wants and as he wants. Man's freedom is, therefore, his capacity to accomplish good acts easily, joyously and lastingly. This freedom is defined by the attraction of the good.
"Time and time again, we will hear phrases such as 'I just want the freedom to love whomever I want' from those within the 'LGBTQ' community," she said. "This desire is an inherently good one, when it is rightly ordered."
But, Santo reminded the world's bishops, "Man is only truly free when he can choose to do as he ought, not simply as he wants, for the things that we may want aren't always good for us."
"I use[d] to want to be in a same-sex relationship," she recalled. "The desire was overwhelming at times, to the point where I could see no other way to get through the day."
"But I know now, from the good and gracious teachings of God through his Church," Santo continued, "that such a relationship hinders not only my freedom to love authentically, but also my ability to achieve holiness."
"Taking it a step further, being in such a relationship could ultimately block me from spending my eternity with my one true love, Jesus," she added.
"[T]here is no one on this earth that isn't called to a life of chastity; that includes my brothers and sisters who experience same-sex attractions," Santo said. "This is not because the Church is oppressive and wants us to be miserable and passively submissive to her, but because each and every one of us is invited to enter into the divine life of our Creator, a life where no sin can remain."
Santo testified to her need for authentic Catholic truth: "Not only should I be reminded that, as a Christian, I am called to love as Christ loved us, but I also have the capacity to do so," she said. "I am capable of authentic love!"
To capitulate to the values of the world, she added, is injurious and false: "Telling me that my cross of same-sex attraction is too heavy for me to love as Christ calls me to is not just degrading; it is also a lie. God did not abandon me when man first sinned in the beginning, and he will not abandon me now," she declared.
"He has called me, and each and every one of us, to himself, and I intend to return back to him, no matter how burdensome my cross may be," Santo said.
"Like Christ remembered me from the cross, I pray that you would remember me, and my brothers and sisters like me, dear bishops, as you pray about and discuss how to help young people in matters of faith and vocation, especially in regards to the topic of homosexuality," she added.
Santo joins a host of young, faithful Catholics fighting the pro-gay push in Rome. In the lead-up to the Youth Synod, for example, young Scottish faithful published an open letter commending priests who have helped them by proclaiming sound doctrine.
Signed by more than 100 Catholics aged 18 to 35 and addressed to Abp. Leo Cushley of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, the letter warned that a renewal of Catholic culture will come only by holding fast to truth.