Gays Home in Catholic Church Put To Test Today

 

Father John, in red, leading his parish in prayer

I went to my daughter’s confirmation in the Catholic Church this morning and got a lot more than I expected. I found another personal hero, along with former Sing Sing inmate Julio Medina and photojournalist Michael Kamber.

I am not Catholic. I was born Quaker and have never been baptized as that is not part of the Quaker tradition, though I do attend Episcopal Church in our neighborhood on a regular basis. My daughter’s mom, my first wife, is Catholic and is a long time parishioner at St. Cecelia’s in Boston. Both my kids by my first marriage have travelled to Haiti with Father John Unni, the priest at St. Cecelia’s to participate in his long term mission work there.

My daughter Kerry wore a bright yellow dress and carried the Bible over her head in the processional on the way down the aisle of a crowd that numbered close to a thousand, including such notable Boston icons as Peter Lynch, the Fidelity investment wizard. My son Seamus carried the cross, a senior alter server. The Bishop joined Father John for this special confirmation service. Kerry did the first reading beautifully and was indeed confirmed.

Everything was going along predictably, the mass ended, and Father John came forward to say a few final words, or so I thought.

I had noticed in the bulletin the following:

“The Rainbow Ministry of St. Cecilia Parish invites all friends and supporters of the LGBT community to a Mass in celebration of Boston’s Pride Month.The theme of the liturgy, ‘All Are Welcome,’ honors Christ’s message of hope and salvation to all people. We will also celebrate the diverse community that finds its home at St. Cecilia.’’

I thought it pretty cool that such a thing could happen in a Catholic Church. Little did I know that there had been outrage over the service all week played out in the press, causing it to be postponed, and that The Catholic Archdiocese of Boston made the following statement in the Boston Globe:

“The wording and placement of a bulletin notice announcing that the St. Cecilia Rainbow Ministry will be joining the parish at a Mass on June 19 may have given the unintended impression that the Mass is in support of Gay Pride Week; it is not,’’ said Terrence C. Donilon, a spokesman for the archdiocese. “The pastor will clarify this issue at the Masses this coming weekend.’’

Without any idea of what was coming, I was about to witness Pastor John Unni’s clarification. What followed was one of the most inspiring speeches I have ever witnessed in any context. Apparently, Father John had an official message from the Archdiocese which he never read. Instead he walked amongst his flock, back and forth, speaking with so much passion that at times his face became red. He talked in the strongest terms possible about the importance of inclusion not exclusion. Several in the crowd near me wiped away tears as he spoke.

Father John explained that his only agenda was Christ’s agenda and that it was all of ours responsibility to love even when doing so was difficult. And this was one of those moments. He talked about the many messages of support he had gotten since the Rainbow Ministry’s mass had become front page news. But he had also received messages on email and message boards that were deeply troubling. He made it clear we all have a fundamental choice to make in our lives: we can either love or hate. And that Jesus teaches us to love the rich and the poor, the white and the black, the gay and the straight.

“I don’t know if you saw Chronicle the other night,” he concluded. “But one in three teenagers who are gay will attempt suicide. If you are one of those who criticize our outreach, I ask you to look into your soul and ask whether there isn’t a profound opportunity for service and mission when it comes to those young people. Look at the places where you are broken and afraid and ask yourself why we shouldn’t be doing something to help those young people.”

Just as Father John finished, I heard one heckler at the back of the church stand and begin to shout something angry. But before I could make out what she was saying the whole congregation was on its feet giving Father John a standing ovation. It went on for two minutes, not fading away, but getting stronger. Father John applauded them back.

I was very proud of my daughter for being confirmed.  I was inspired by the man who led her in faith and made clear to all present what faith really means, even when it is hard.

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Father John with Cardinal Seán

Photos: by author and courtesy of Cardinal Sean’s blog

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About Tom Matlack

Tom Matlack is the co-founder of The Good Men Project. He has a 18-year-old daughter and 16- and 7-year-old sons. His wife, Elena, is the love of his life. Follow him on Twitter @TMatlack.

Comments

  1. Inspiring indeed. So glad to see priests of conscience stepping up for an inclusive vision, where all God’s children are welcome.

  2. Inclusion is fine and laudable. Acceptance of homosexual acts as anything but gravely sinful is not. I’m not pleased that this priest ignored direction from his diocese to present the message given to him. He should not be applauded for it, particularly if the content of his speech was substantially opposed to the diocesan message (presumably issued by or on behalf of the bishop).

    2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

    2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

    2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

    Catechism of the Catholic Church

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but this parish’s Rainbow Ministry seems to be advocating reconciliation with the Church in a way that is heretical and disobedient, i.e., not rejecting homosexual relationships and acts as intrinsically disordered and gravely sinful.

  3. Tom Matlack says:

    Eric I am not a Catholic. And I am not gay. But I gotta tell you that any religion which has experienced the level of pain and suffering via widespread pedophilia, that was covered up and protected, and then advocates chastity rather than accepting homosexuals as full members of their community is deeply flawed in my view. If you had heard Father John you would have been inspired to think about God’s love in the broadest possible terms.

  4. The Church has indeed suffered a great deal thanks to a number of men who have brought shame to Christ, His Church, and the Sacrament of Holy Orders. The damage is deep and widespread. It’s truly a horror to contemplate. That said, it’s also a red herring. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    The Church has not said the heinous acts committed were anything but absolutely wrong. The cover-ups were horrendous and inexcusable, as well. Extensive efforts have been made to make sure that kind of disgusting and shameful behavior is not repeated. If you look at the data, the vast majority of claims are from acts committed in 50s-70s. The incidence rate is now at or below that of the general population.

    In short, the Church has not changed its teachings on chastity, priestly celibacy, or disordered affections. That means that in addition to not condoning the terrible acts committed against the most innocent and vulnerable people, the Church still does not condone homosexual relationships or acts. It won’t. It can’t. Sexuality is properly considered within the context marital union. Any form of extramarital sexual activity is contrary to Christian sexual morals and ethics.

    • They don’t treat people who have premarital sex the same way they treat gays. They also don’t excommunicate people who are divorced or commit adultery. Hypocrites, the lot of them.

      • Actually, Catholics who divorce receive a “latent sentence” of excommunication, which is another way of saying that they excommunicate themselves. Also, homosexual acts are considered graver than heterosexual fornication or adultery because they are not merely outside of the bonds of marriage but also perversions of human sexuality as God intends it to be.

        • Eric, I will pray for you. You have no concept of spirituality, love or peace. I’m not trying to incite your anger. But, you need to dig deep into your soul and understand what love really means. You also need to understand that your perspective of what God intends may be flawed.

  5. I applaud Father John for his honestly, his openness and his realization that all things must change and adapt. Gay marriage is legal in this state. And if God really believes that someone is wrong simply for who they choose to love, then that’s just one more reason I’m glad to be a non-believer.

    Eric, I’ve read your stuff and we’ve talked a bit. But give me a break. You can’t advocate for inclusion and then seek to exclude and judge a whole segment of the population just because of who they’re attracted to. That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. And it’s extremely offensive.

    I’m not Catholic but my wife is. I refused to get married in a Catholic church, have my son baptized or raise him in a faith that seems to exude far more hate and awfulness than love and inclusion. But people like Father John give me hope. If members of the clergy are finally wising up and adapting (as all people and things should) then maybe, just maybe, there’s hope. I’m doubtful it will ever take hold because those at the top are far too pigheaded and their views too archaic, not to mention the hate-mongers who all too often populate Catholicism and religion in general. Like the woman at the back of the church.

    But I view this as a step in the right direction, and hopefully more will follow. Thanks for sharing Tom.

  6. The Church does not judge based on attraction. It judges based on action. What makes humanity different from the rest of creation is its ability to ride above base instinct. The day the Catholic Church begins to teach that homosexual relationships and acts are acceptable is the day its whole theological and moral tapestry unravels. As an atheist, that may be fine for you, Aaron, but as a Catholic I would weep to see the Bride of Christ destroyed like that.

    Ideas and believes are not wrong simply because they are old. Nor are they necessarily right if they are new. Progress is a meaningless concept without a proper frame of reference. When faced with the edge of a cliff, the first man to turn around before falling into the abyss is the most progressive.

    P.S. As a libertarian, I hold that gay marriage, in legal terms, is a separate issue. I’d like to see the state entirely out of marriage, gay, straight, or polygamous. It’s a private institution and governments should butt out. That does not mean, though, that the Church ever will or should allow gays to enter the sacrament of marriage. It’s simply impossible.

  7. “its whole theological and moral tapestry unravels”

    I don’t understand how the belief that homosexual acts are wrong is a vital underpinning of the theological fabric of Catholicism, and I certainly can’t see how it’s a moral underpinning of Christ’s message, such that it would cause the whole structure to come apart if it were changed. I think that I have a reasonably good understanding of Catholic theology (having been brought up a Catholic and having taken a great interest in understanding religion when I was younger.)

    And will all things I don’t understand, I ask the same thing – please, explain.

  8. To change the Church’s teaching on sexuality would have major ramifications with respect to the Sacred Tradition, the magisterial functions of the Church, the Magisterium’s infallibility in matters of faith and morals, and so on. If you pull on the right thread, you can unravel a sweater, so to speak (Just ask Weezer). Accepting homosexuality as anything but disordered and its acts anything but gravely sinful would require a complete rewrite of Catholic sexual doctrines. It would completely reshape the sacrament of marriage. The Church has basically said, “This is the truth. It has always been the truth. It will always be the truth. Nothing can change it.” Can you see now why that can never be undone without catastrophic damage to the Church?

    The things that change with time, such as some of the customs and rites changed after Vatican II, are of a disciplinary nature. Even priestly celibacy is merely disciplinary. Eastern Catholic priests can marry (before ordination), and the Church is fine with that. Different Catholic regions/cultures/conferences have different traditions (small ‘t’).

    What they don’t have the authority to change is Sacred Tradition. After Christ’s ascension, revelation was sealed. There will be no books added or subtracted from the canon of scripture. Doctrines and dogmas may be clarified or defined, but never invented or abrogated. I recommend Blessed Cardinal Newman’s writings on development of doctrine for a more erudite and thorough explanation than I can offer here.

    • Eric, it’s evident to me why you use a picture of a child for your identity. You have not evolved. Seriously, have you read the New Testament? WWJD. I don’t think you have any idea.

  9. I use the analogy of threads in a tapestry or garment (a spider web might work, too), because no teaching of the Church stands separate from the others. They are all interconnected and interdependent. Granted, there is a hierarchy of truths, and some things are more permanent that others, but I do not believe it would be possible to radically alter one without profoundly affecting the whole system. Changing teachings with respect to sex and marriage to accept active homosexuality may seem isolated and doable to some, but to borrow a thought from economist Frederic Bastiat, that is only what is seen, and the likely unintended consequences that are not seen could be very grave indeed, and possibly antithetical to intentions behind a desired change.

    • Eric, this is a theological discussion. You are quoting an economist. How about we discuss flowers and I talk about politics. Same thing, dude. I will pray for you.

  10. The argument is that Sacred Tradition is sacrosanct, and changing any one element of it could results in the whole sweater coming undone. That Catholicisms’ entire moral authority rests on this Tradition, passed down directly from Jesus, to Apostles, to the Papacy.

    Okay.

    I understand the position, then. However, have elements of dogma not been, historically, changable? If, for example, a Pope were to declare that homosexual acts are no longer sinful – The Pope is infallible in matters of dogma, so if he made such a declaration, what would your response be? I’m certain that many Papal decrees flew in the face of existing dogma at many points in the history of the Church.

    I’m honestly asking the question – if a Pope changes some element of Dogma, then surely things must move around that declaration to accommodate it, and surely this doesn’t bring the whole thing crashing down?

    Personally, I commend Father John for focusing on the part of the Christian message no-one can argue with – love and inclusion. I’m not religious, but I believe in the power of Good stories, and the story of Christ is a Good one, at its core.

    • A few notes:

      I’m not sure that the difference between regular doctrine and dogma is being properly recognized in general in this line of blogs. A dogma is something which cannot be reversed. That is not to say that it cannot change. It can change. However, if something is stated dogmatically, the Church is saying that it is irreversibly true. Things like the Catholic belief of the assumption of Mary, the Trinity, and the nature of Christ of dogmatic. However, not all doctrines are dogmatic. A doctrine, while it is not prone to change, can and many have and many will. Sexual morality is not dogmatic, nor is the Church’s stand on priestly celibacy, women’s ordination, nor was it on slavery, or war.

      That said, the Church’s stand on homosexuality can change, although admittedly, it will likely take a very long time. But we have already seen the church’s stand progress greatly in the last 100 years. While the church does still view homosexual acts as “intrinsically disordered,” it recognizes that there are homosexuals that are born as homosexuals, and that it is not a disease, but part being made in God’s image. The church also calls for a great pastoral care for homosexuals. However, based on some strongly upheld theologies (which are frankly rather weak, and again likely to change but not soon), homosexual acts cannot be condoned.

      Also, the pope is infallible only when he declares something infallibly. When he speaks on matters of doctrine, he is not speaking infallibility. When he declares something dogmatic, he is not. That’s certainly not to say that his teachings aren’t to be taken seriously as authoritative doctrine, but most of the time, they’re not infallible.

      Furthermore, one must recognize the Church’s teaching in dissent, and even a need to dissent. The Church does condone dissent from doctrines, under the condition that one has first considered the doctrine at their very spiritual core, and if after serious consideration one cannot follow the doctrine and feel that they are acting morally, they can then consider the option of dissent. To you who quoted Cardinal Newman and his thoughts on the development of doctrine – (1) I don’t think you actually understood what he was saying, and (2) it was Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman who said that “the conscience is the aboriginal vicar of Christ,” not doctrine. For where do we first encounter God? In doctrine? No. In religious imagination. That is where the Holy Spirit is most alive.

      @Anthony: you have a great post. Much of what I said here is responding to other who posted.

      • I clicked on “reply” for yours because it was the first one I liked, haha. I realize I should have posted it as a reply to all.

      • “Sexual morality is not dogmatic, nor is the Church’s stand on priestly celibacy, women’s ordination, nor was it on slavery, or war.”

        Sexual morality IS dogmatic, because it is tied to the sacrament of marriage. Unless I’ve misunderstood the Council of Trent, acceptance of the 7 Sacraments as mediated by the Church is a matter of dogma.

        Priestly celibacy is a discipline, and does not even reach the level of doctrine. I can change. witness Eastern Catholics who have always had married priests.

        Women’s ordination IS dogmatic for a similar reason to sexual morality. It is tied to the sacrament of holy orders. It is not up for debate. It is as impossible to ordain a woman a priest as it is to use a Dorito to confect the Eucharist.

        To my knowledge, the Church has never taught that slavery is a moral good, though the practice was unfortunately tolerated for quite some time.

        Just War Doctrine, is as the name implies, a doctrine. It can change. I don’t see it going away any time soon, though. More likely it would be further refined.

        • Eric, when will you learn that your comments are based on hate and prejudice? Do you know anything about Jesus? Or, do you base your comments on the neo-political structure that is called the Catholic Church?

  11. “However, have elements of dogma not been, historically, changable? If, for example, a Pope were to declare that homosexual acts are no longer sinful – The Pope is infallible in matters of dogma, so if he made such a declaration, what would your response be?”

    That’s a misunderstanding of infallibility. No pope has the authority to overturn dogma or create new ones. Lesser doctrines may, in limited circumstances, come and go, but that is rare. Dogma is unalterable. Even more recent proclamations of dogma, such as the Immaculate Conception, did not introduce anything new to Christian faith. They merely codified what had already been handed down as truth over the centuries. Furthermore, no new doctrine can contradict existing doctrine, dogma, or Sacred Scripture. To use another analogy, think of developing doctrine as using a lens to bring a complicated image into focus. The camera can only detect and record what is already in the frame; it cannot add anything to the scene. It’s an imperfect analogy (Aren’t they all?), but I hope you get my point.

    “I’m certain that many Papal decrees flew in the face of existing dogma at many points in the history of the Church.”

    You’ll have to back that assertion up.

    “I’m honestly asking the question – if a Pope changes some element of Dogma, then surely things must move around that declaration to accommodate it, and surely this doesn’t bring the whole thing crashing down?”

    I appreciate the honest inquiry. I just hope I’m up to the task of answering without misspeaking on behalf of the Church. ;)

    No pope has ever changed dogma, as far as I know. He can’t. Infallibility is a faculty for interpretation and education, not revelation. The pope can no more change dogma than he can change a dog into a cat.

    Speaking of ontological differences, that’s what’s in play for all of the sacraments. Each has proper matter, form, and minister. In the case of marriage, the proper matter is a couple formed from one man and one woman, neither having an obstacle or impediment to entering the sacrament (such as close relation, existing marriage, divorce, etc.). Two woman or two men can no more constitute proper matter for marriage than a person and a dog, a person and a toaster, or more than two persons. It’s as impossible as using Doritos to confect the Eucharist. It can’t be done. No proper matter, no sacrament. “Gay marriage” in the context of the Church, is meaningless gibbering, a contradiction in terms. I don’t mean to seem flippant. That’s really just how it is.

    “Personally, I commend Father John for focusing on the part of the Christian message no-one can argue with – love and inclusion. I’m not religious, but I believe in the power of Good stories, and the story of Christ is a Good one, at its core.”

    1) If one believes that homosexual relationships and acts are as gravely sinful as adultery, and corrosive to souls, telling people to stay away from them *is* the loving thing to do. Likewise, teaching my children to avoid morally wrong, socially inappropriate, or unethical behavior is far more loving than letting them do as they please, when they please, and how they please.

    2) Christ loved and included the adulteress who was nearly stoned to death, and He forgave her. He also sent her off by saying, “Go and sin no more.” He didn’t let her off the hook just because her accusers were wrong to condemn her and try to kill her.

    3) Every priest vows to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth (so to speak). To teach anything less than the whole of what the Church teaches, or to teach contrary to the Church, is a betrayal of his vocation and a grave error. In fact, an excellent summary of heresy I once heard is that it’s the embracing of a narrow aspect of the truth to the exclusion of the whole truth.

    • Dude, grow up. The Pope is not God. Let me structure that appropriately – The pope (just a man – doesn’t deserve any capital letters) is NOT God. Now, dig deep into your heart…does the ‘church’ teach what Jesus (God in this context) teaches. Frankly, in most cases, NO Way!!

  12. I think I messed up my blockquote tags somewhere. Perhaps the kind proprietors of this blog will fix that for me. ;)

  13. Hi Tom, I’m a parishioner at St. Cecilia’s and also attended mass at 11 this morning. Firstmost, congratulations to your wife/you for raising such a lovely daughter. I was very impressed with her demeanor and poise. So glad I came across your blog post (via twitter accounts of @RachelCollins and @watermelonshirt) to share that with you.

    As a “moderate” Catholic, I celebrate inclusion (who are we to judge what sort of ‘sins’ others commit) BUT i’m glad Father Jon made it clear he’s not out to advance any sort of political agenda. I have no problem with the ministry and it’s mission of outreach.

    However, Father Uni and all Catholics receive their “mandates” from the Vatican, we either take it or leave it. No one is forcing anyone to practice something that goes against their character/beliefs. It’s ironic those crying out for tolerance are at fault for exhibiting intolerance themselves biased to long-held religious practices.

    • Tom Matlack says:

      Thanks Kay. I really appreciate your kind words abut Kerry. She is a special kid and human being. And thank you for your words about Father Unni. Honestly I had no idea about any of this until I showed up at church yesterday…

  14. Bill Gouveia says:

    Gay people are a threat to the Catholic Church philosophy, so therefore they must be not accepted? If that really what I am hearing? We can’t accept gay people because they do not fit into our vision of the what is right in the world? And if the world is not as we see it, obviously there must be something wrong with the world – it can’t be us, right? There is a fine line between faith and arrogance, and the Catholic Church continues to cross it on a regular basis. Most of the Catholics I know believe in equality and acceptance. It is too bad they sometimes have to pretend to be other than what they are in order to remain in the good graces of a Church that demands obediance over humanity.

    • Object truths? *gasp* The horror! Not changing revealed truths because they contradict popular sentiment? The shame! How dare the Catholic Church reject moral relativism?!

      Sorry ti be flippant, but this kind of attitude just gets to me.

  15. I am a Catholic and believe that Jesus’ message to love your neighbor as yourself…whether your neighbor is gay or straight… black or white… young or old…..is at the heart of my religion. We only have to look at His example to know that He included everyone and was not impressed by wealth or power, as so many people in our society are today. I wish people would stop bashing the Catholic religion, it is run by people and people are not always good…..but Jesus was and His message is kindness toward all. He embraces everyone.

  16. Mary Jo Dorsey says:

    Eric, I am not only shocked, but I am appalled by your narrow vision of the doctrine of the Catholic Church. I am a practicing Catholic, was born into the church and live in the arms of the Holy Spirit today and I always will. I am also a lesbian. I was born a lesbian and live as a lesbian in the arms of the Holy Spirit today and I always will. The messages I have received as a Catholic are messages of love, acceptance, and inclusion of all of God’s creations. If we are truly Catholics (i.e. a part of Christianity) how can we feel in our hearts that anything other than God’s creations are infallible. I, and my many gay friends — including priests — have been raised together with the thought that as human doctrine grows, we, too, as God’s creations grow.

    What intrigues most of all, however, is the fact that you have chosen to become a researcher. Does that not contradict doctrine in a way that science and evolution are considered equally offensive by the Catholic Church? Why does a researcher devote years of education, collegiality, and openness to the teachings of the WORLD, but not accept that the concepts of the doctrine do not grow with time as well?

    How can any one of God’s creations limit themselves to puritanical, ancient thinking, when the rest of the world around us continues to grow (in both good and evil ways)? No where. No where in the Catholic interpretation of the Bible is there an accurate interpretation of our Lord’s acceptance or nonacceptance of anything. Evil is acknowledged to exist. Love exists. Christ’s compassion and acceptance of all human beings is not limited to those characterized to live in one way or another. How can you contradict the Trinity and its essence that lives within us all. What makes one way of living more acceptable and pious over another? Does not the doctrine, as we evolve as human beings, deserve to evolve as well? Are we confined to the same “words” of the Lord written and interpreted by humans thousands of years ago? Or, are we, researchers, humans in academia, prodded and *expected* to continue the interpretation of the words of our Lord (albeit, those words translated by humans)? I see you contradicting yourself, disavowing the Trinity of love and acceptance born in every human being’s heart, and stuck in the foundations that have since been overgrown.

    Have you not traveled to the ancient Roman ruins? Have you not seen the striation of civilization as it has evolved over time? There is unequivocal proof to us that time after time, the world grows over itself and continues in different, modern ways that evolve as humans evolve. This has nothing to do with Christ’s love for His people, but I believe this analogy can be equated with evolution of thought and personal, human continuation of life in various patterns.

    I continue to live and gain strength through the sacraments afforded us through the Trinity. I continue to live as a gay person. And, I continue to believe that God’s acceptance is always at my front door. To *not* celebrate a Catholic’s evolution and pride in one’s self, to *not* welcome and celebrate the pride of individuality is, in my view, not what God’s words speak to us.

  17. Mary Jo Dorsey says:

    I also had a priest say to me once, “I accept you as a homosexual, but I cannot condone sexual acts outside the sacrament of marriage.” What kind of counsel is this? One priest’s fallible interpretation of church doctrine.

  18. lacking time this morning to respond to everything, I just address this:

    What intrigues most of all, however, is the fact that you have chosen to become a researcher. Does that not contradict doctrine in a way that science and evolution are considered equally offensive by the Catholic Church? Why does a researcher devote years of education, collegiality, and openness to the teachings of the WORLD, but not accept that the concepts of the doctrine do not grow with time as well?”

    The Catholic Church does not consider science or evolutionary theory offensive. To believe otherwise is to have a rather narrow and biased view of the Church and history, popular misconceptions notwithstanding.

    Doctrine may be refined with time, but it does not reverse or contradict itself. Again, I recommend Blessed Newman’s writings. The Church’s sacramental dogmas are meant to last as long as creation does.

  19. I chose research so that I might explore and understand God’s creation. He gave me a rational brain, and I’m endeavoring to use it. In my view, science answers “what”, “where”, and “how” questions. Religion answers “why”. Faith and reason are not mutually exclusive, nor must I forsake one to be properly devoted to the other.

  20. That was beautiful.

  21. Actually, no. That’s not a priest’s fallible interpretation. That’s a priest’s accurate summary of authentic Church teaching. It is not a teaching this ever has been or ever will be subject to change. I whole-heartedly agree with him. To believe otherwise is a gross misunderstanding of what the Church is, what it stands for, and what it teaches.

  22. I can accept the priest’s comment on “church doctrine.” I don’t know if his church doctrine represents Jesus’s doctrine or the patriarchal political engine we call the modern church. But, I understand the “cannot condone sex” outside of what the priest calls marriage. I put that in the context of sex without commitment. When you share your most intimate bits and pieces with someone, it’s nice to have some substance behind it. I may sound old-fashioned, but I’m talking from experience: I choose not to waste my personal energy on people who I won’t consider for a long term relationship. Sadly, the priest did not consider that gay marriage is not legal in many states. So, what he was saying was ‘it’s ok to be gay, but don’t be intimate with anyone,’ until the government says it’s OK. WTF. Here’s a guy who got ordained, but didn’t have the capacity to reason. It happens. However, Father So and So, don’t give me advice and don’t expect me to follow it. We always hear that it’s not good to be “of the world.” Still, you need to be “in the world” to connect to people who need help. Amen.

  23. Mary Jo Dorsey says:

    So, born as sexual beings, we are to live a non-sexual life? My point is that if this priest accepts me as a homosexual, a sexual being, yet refuses to condone sexual acts outside of marriage, is this not, in some way, a profession that homosexuals *should* be married (in the Catholic view of things, in order to abide by the laws of the church)? Just a challenge I pose of the progression of human thought….including priests’ thoughts…..and the stagnation of doctrine.

  24. Mary Jo Dorsey says:

    It is cyclical rhetoric. If the priest accepts me as a homosexual but does not condone sexual acts outside of marriage, then his reason seemingly follows: “you should be married.” But, again, the Catholic church prevents us from trying to end the “Catch 22″ we are faced with day after day. Allow us to marry.

  25. Mary Jo Dorsey says:

    I also need to add that being a homosexual is not entirely about sex. Please do not read it that way. Homosexuality is a way of relating to, a way of understanding whole-heartedly, intrinsically, and lovingly along the lines of the same sex. I admire, trust, believe in and adore the ways of human women. And I am attracted to that emotionally first and foremost. The sexual attraction is secondary. It is the love and passion and compassion that attracts me. I admire, trust, believe in and adore the human ways of man, but I am not attracted to that emotionally in the same way. I have no sexual attraction to men. But I love men.

    MY POINT IS: I believe that some readings on the spiritual essence of homosexuality must be understood before any true debate can be had.

  26. No. Gays, just like everyone else, are called to chastity. If they choose to marry, they must adhere to the same standards as people who do not struggle with same-sex attraction. I grant that that may be very difficult for many, and impossible for some. Those who do not enter the sacrament of marriage, must refrain from fornication, regardless of inclinations. Anyone who does not enter the sacrament of marriage is forbidden to engage in sexual acts.

    The Church does not teach this definitively, but I believe that homosexuals are among those who are “eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom”.

  27. Yes.

  28. “So, what he was saying was ‘it’s ok to be gay, but don’t be intimate with anyone,’ until the government says it’s OK.”

    Actually, no. What the state considers a legal marriage is irrelevant to the Church’s definition of marriage. The state could legalize polygamy, and that wouldn’t change the sacrament of marriage. Sacramental marriage in the Church always has been, and always will be between one man and one women, both free of impediment (e.g., close relation). The priest was saying that Mary Jo is welcomed into the Church, as all sinners are, but he could not condone homosexual acts because they are gravely sinful and contrary to Catholic sexual morality. As Christ told the adultress he saved from stoning, that priest was telling her that the Church says, “I do not condemn you. Go, and sin no more.”

  29. Mary Jo Dorsey says:

    Does religion answer “why,” or does it interpret the reasoning of “why”? To me, religion is belief. And with that, we differ in the light of free will.

  30. Mary Jo Dorsey says:

    Then if the church professes premarital sex as “fornication,” it must admit that it has — somewhere in the back of its mind —- that we should be permitted to marry and not continue in our “sinful” ways.

  31. Mary Jo Dorsey says:

    OMG, Eric! The priest did not say that at all. He said, “I love you, I accept you. But I do not condone premarital sex. He did not, as you interpret, that my acts are gravely sinful and contrary to Catholic sexual morality. Do you see the quandary we face? If premarital sex is this priest’s issue, then it can be inferred that he would condone my sexual acts if I were married. Then, allow us to marry, dammit! I can be as committed and faithful to my soul mate, my true companion, as any man+woman. Please, I ask you, quote to me exact words in the New Testament that condemn homosexuality. And don’t give me the “man shall not lie with man” generality that this sentence refers directly to sex. And, along those same lines, tell me where the interpreters of the New Testament have rationally created Church doctrine that follow the words you think you will find.

  32. The Church is not denying you the right to marry. You may marry a member of the opposite sex. Homosexual marriage is an oxymoron in the Church.

  33. Proof-texting from Scripture is a game for Protestants to play. The Deposit of Faith includes Sacred Tradition. Furthermore, the canon of Scripture was compiled based on doctrines that were already well in place, not the other way around. The Church came first. The New Testament came later.

    “I would not believe in the Gospel if the authority of the Catholic Church did not move me to do so.” – St. Augustine

  34. I apologize if I’ve misrepresented the priest due to misunderstanding. If he was implying that he hoped that some day gay could marry in the Church, I sincerely hope he did not teach or counsel his parishioners in that vein. The faithful have the right to expect orthodox teachings from priests.

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