Monday, May 19, 2014
HOW FEARFUL ARE ORTHODOX CATHOLICS ABOUT ENGAGING IN A MEANINGFUL WAY WITH THOSE WHO DISAGREE WITH THE CHURCH'S MORAL TEACHINGS
I sense a great deal of anxiety from orthodox Catholics about the direction Pope Francis will lead the Church in terms of the traditional, "not open to change" moral teaching of the Church.
This anxiety was revved up a bit with the hand-selected by Pope Francis, head of the Italian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Galantino, who said some interesting things this week and was a bit pastorally off-base about a couple of things:
Rocco Palma of Whispers in the Loggia writes the following on his blog today:
What's more, an already rich subtext has become even more eventful over recent days. Still settling in as Francis' de facto agent at the conference's Rome headquarters, the CEI's new secretary-general Bishop Nunzio Galantino made waves after encouraging the church to discuss hot-button internal issues "without taboos" in an interview with an Italian newspaper group.
Citing "married priests, the Eucharist for the divorced, [and] homosexuality" as examples, Galantino qualified the remark by adding that any discussions of the kind can only "start from the Gospel and give the reasons for their proposals." In any case, both in the Italian and English-speaking commentariats, the primary reaction was drawn by the bishop's statement – in response to a question about the CEI's prior investment in "non-negotiable values" – that "I don't identify myself with the inexpressive looks of people reciting the rosary outside clinics which practice the interruption of pregnancy, but with those young people who are against this practice [i.e. abortion] and fight for the quality of people's lives, for their rights to health care and work."
Bloggers of the orthodox ilk and the secular media did not seem to highlight or report in any way what I have highlighted in red above.
I know from my relatives in Italy, that the Church is pastorally insensitive to them. Now we have to keep in mind the Italian mentality about family and especially children. I had relatives tell me that when they called a priest to go and baptize a dying baby the priest asked them if the parents went to church, which, of course, with a majority of Italians, they didn't, although they would consider themselves Catholic. When the priest learned this, he did not go and the baby died without baptism. There was no pastoral outreach to this family whatsoever. This seems to be quite common in Italy, where the Catholic Church is dying.
I also learn from my Italian relatives that they are somewhat "anti-clerical" because of the Church's involvement in politics, not just from local bishops, but all the way to the Bishop of Rome. During the reign of Pope Paul VI, he tried to keep the laws of Italy in place that prevented divorce, period. He failed and the law passed. But the Church's so-called political activism to prevent legal divorce for Catholics then faced with a living arrangement that could not be pastorally addressed by the annulment procedure created more anti-clericalism amongst rank and file Catholics and continued to drive a wedge between them and the Church.
Now don't get me wrong. I am opposed to Catholics who have separated from remarrying again outside the Church and when they do, I try hard to help them in a pastoral way to find a solution to their situation in the Church, first through the Church's annulment process.
In Italy, prior to the divorce law being changed, a Catholic could not apply for an annulment since you must be divorced in the first place to attain one. On top of that, Catholics who couldn't get divorced, left their spouses to live with their new loved one in an adulterous relationship. There were no laws to protect the spouse and children of these sad situations. So the adulterer could get away with it without having to care for the ones he or she left behind.
All of this calls into questions the Church's moral positions and leads to a denigration of them.
So, despite Bishop Galantino's pastoral insensitivity to pro-life activists, and his call that there be no taboos to discuss issues in the Italian Church but in light of the Gospel and what it teaches (and keep in mind that when a bishop says this, it is not just "sola Scriptura" that he is speaking but within the context Scripture, Tradition and Natural Law).
Apart from Holy Communion for those in objective adultery whose marriage is presumed to be a valid, life long sacramental marriage, the hot button issue for Catholics in the USA today is that of homosexuality.
Catholics, a significant number of them, rank and file and academics, see no difference between a person who loves members of the other sex and desire marriage with one of them or more of them, and those of same sex attractions who have the same desire for marriage with one of the same sex or more of them.
How in the face of this do we help families and friends of those who are homosexual, and actively so and some of whom seek to be married to understand the Church's position and to do so in a way that is convincing?
Do parents, siblings, relatives, friends and aquaintances have to disown, shun and hate sons and daughters who are homosexual. And how do we call any homosexual or heterosexual who is sexually active to chastity?
And what lines should not be crossed in interfering with the private sexual lives of consenting adults. As for me, I don't see myself as a policeman or a voyeur. I don't think about my parishioner's sex lives and I don't relate to them based upon the fact they are gay or straight. Their identity to me is not a sexual orientation and practices, but who they are as created in the image and likeness of God, but fallen because of Original Sin and the actual sin this leads them to practice.
Should parents love their children because they are gay or straight and make that the basis of their identity? Or should they love their children because they are their children and created in the image and likeness of God. Should they love their sin, mind their own business (for adult children) and not be preoccupied by their sex lives?
And this brings us to the most hot-botton issue. Homosexuals want to be considered normal with the normal rights to marriage as heterosexuals. For the most part, apart from social acceptance, they want legal protection for their partnerships that are accorded to heterosexual marriages.
The Catholic Church will never call homosexual partnerships or legal unions marriage. We can't even call the second marriages of heterosexuals without an annulment marriages either.
No one bats an eye at legal recognition of second marriages by the state, which in the eyes of the Church aren't marriages, but legal unions, moral or immoral, depending on actual sex taking place or not.
Same sex marriage, my clairvoyance tells me, will be the law of the land and very, very soon and in every state. How do we deal with this as the Church without becoming preoccupied by the sex lives of consenting adults, be they heterosexual or homosexual?