Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 71(3) August 2021

Book Review

Sexual Justice.
A bridge offering sensible and respectful explanations about Catholic Christian attitudes to the Lesbian Gay Bisexual (LGB) debate.
ISBN 1916457509. Panda Press Publishing
by Dr Charlie O'Donnell FROP FRCEM FFICM

Reviewed by Dr Pravin Thevathasan

Dr Charlie O'Donnell has been a friend of mine since medical school days. It is therefore with great relief that I find myself wholeheartedly endorsing this book. When I first read it, I said that it is "very charitable" and "easy to read." I also believe that it is an important read for those on both sides of the debate. I include those members of the Catholic clergy who have been critical of the Vatican direction banning the blessing of same sex unions. What the Catholic Church teaches on this matter is beautiful, good and true. 

The author notes that the LGB movement is the most visible manifestation of the sexual revolution. There are Gay Pride Marches in almost every capital city of the developed world. There are no corresponding marches celebrating divorce, cohabitation and pornography. He begins his work with a clear statement: God loves everybody irrespective of sexual orientation. Indeed sexual orientation does not define the person. He goes on to say that homosexuality is not a psychiatric illness. I agree. Psychiatry's attempts at "treating" homosexuals have been an abject failure. This is in marked contrast to organizations like Courage, the Catholic apostolate which follows the teachings of the Catholic Church. It should surely be promoted in every Catholic diocese. 

The author then proceeds to what he means by orgasmic justice. This was the original title of the book and I for one am pleased that the title was changed. Not because of reticence but because some readers may have been misled. I am reminded of an unfavourable review of Roger Scruton's philosophical work Sexual Desire by someone who was clearly looking for a literary alternative to Viagra. By orgasmic justice, the author means that our actions ought to promote the common good. This includes protecting vulnerable women and children. When we separate sexual acts from our responsibility towards women and children, the result is our neglect of the most vulnerable in our society. There is a failure of the virtue of justice. 

However, a woman in a committed relationship with one other woman might well argue that her behaviour is far more responsible than that of a heterosexual man with multiple partners. But two wrongs don't make a right. The author argues his case well: orgasmic justice can only be achieved in a life-long marriage between one man and one woman.

The author follows this with a summary of Catholic doctrine, which then leads to a discussion of biological realism, something that can be understood by reason alone. Other topics include why the Catholic Church cannot support "gay marriage" or gay adoption. 

Ultimately, I think this book is about marriage, what it means, why it is so important. We see all around us the consequences of heterosexual marriage breakdown. One of the best ways we can help our brothers and sisters with same sex attraction is by living our marriage vocation as well as we can. 

A brilliant, thoughtful and compassionate work.

This book is and available from the Holy Cross Catholic Bookshop (