Monday, May 26, 2014

THE WORLD PIERCES IN


Macon writer, Erick Erickson writing for Townhall.com picks up on the story in Macon "makin" its way around the world. Tell me there isn't a lobby against the Church when a personnel issue finally properly handled by the Church to preserve the integrity of the Church's sacrament of marriage, goes around the world as an example of how the world pierces into the faith and morals of the Church, which we have every right to propagate without interference from the outside world (and world used in the way that St. John's Gospel uses world).

Affluent Catholic, not so Catholic, Protestant and not so Protestant parents and their progeny are shocked and appalled that the discounted tuition they pay at a Catholic school is actually Catholic and where that Catholicism has been neutered, it is being restored. Read on....


If apologies are to be extended to anyone hurt by all of this, it must be that anyone was led to believe that a Catholic institution with a mandate to be Catholic failed in anyway to communicate to anyone at any time past or present that it is Catholic. Corrective actions were needed and it startled those who thought that Catholic moral teachings were not important and a wink and nod would do. But when it comes to mocking marriage and God's design for marriage, secular or religious, and in our Catholic educational institution action was needed. 
Mr. Erickson hits the nail on the head!

The World Pierces In

Erick Erickson | May 23, 2014

In 1540, Hernando de Soto marched through Middle Georgia not far from where this column originates. Just down river from where I am in Macon, Georgia, de Soto performed the first baptism in North America on the banks of the Ocmulgee River. That river cuts a lazy path through Macon and Middle Georgia.

The Ocmulgee Indian natives, over time, migrated out of the area under force from the new natives, the Americans. Those new natives lived a quiet existence where rarely, like de Soto marching through, the outside world pierced in. When Sherman marched through in the Civil War, one house in Macon suffered damage from a stray cannonball.

Before Sherman arrived, Presbyterians built their church and towering steeple, which remained the highest point in Macon until the Catholics built their beautiful gingerbread-house-like church, St. Joseph's. The Catholics laid early roots in the area. In 1871, five Sisters of Mercy started the Academy of the Sacred Heart Jesus, a school to teach Catholic, Protestant and Jewish children. Their educational efforts preceded a public school system in the area. The school the Sisters of Mercy founded changed names to Mount de Sales Academy in honor of Saint Francis de Sales in 1876.

The world pierced in again in Middle Georgia at Mount de Sales Academy last week. The school's band teacher, Flint Dollar, could have been a character conjured by Flannery O'Connor, whose farm lies not far from Macon. Dollar is gay and intends to marry his boyfriend in Minnesota this summer. Mr. Dollar's job must now end.

The Catholic school was fine having a gay band teacher. Catholics understand the balance in the Bible of loving the sinner and not the sin better than many. All the teachers at Mount de Sales Academy are sinners of various kinds with varying levels of repentance. But marriage, even to the present progressive Pope Francis, who the left loves dearly except when they don't, remains a union between a man and a woman. Unlike most Protestants, Catholics even treat marriage as a sacrament of the church. Two men marrying is a corruption of an institution God himself established.

Suddenly, well-to-do parents intent on giving their children the discounted cost of an award-winning Catholic education, as opposed to the pricier Protestant and secular private schools in town, are horrified to learn their children are going to a Catholic school. A "Save Flint Dollar" page has been created on Facebook. Parents intend to meet with the head of the school to demand Mr. Dollar's job back. Mount de Sales, as Catholic education institutions tend to be, is rather tolerant. But tolerance does not extent to corruption of one of the church's sacraments.

Now the school and its church find themselves in an increasingly common situation. The peddlers of tolerance, confronted by deeply held views not their own, are intolerant of those views. There is no ground to compromise on tenets of faith. Christians who are often told Christ said to "render unto Caesar" are increasingly forced to let Caesar also set the immoral or amoral parameters by which they are allowed to conduct their operations.

The school has a hiring statement as farcical as our present age. "Mount de Sales Academy is committed to the principles of equal employment opportunities to all qualified individuals without regard to ... sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, or any other characteristic or status." But our laws and courts have not been silent on this issue.

The school is also a ministry. The Hosanna-Tabor case decided in 2011 by the Supreme Court would suggest strongly that the Catholic Church can dismiss Flint Dollar. But therein lies the great absurdity of our age. The church showed great tolerance in its hiring up to the line of sacrament. And the people of our age demand the church cross its line instead of the people going elsewhere.

The Pope, and his church, remain Catholic. Middle Georgia, to paraphrase Flannery O'Connor, though hardly Christ-centered, is most certainly Christ-haunted. But the world pierces in nonetheless.

23 comments:

Fr John said...

This teacher never attempted to get sacramentally married within the church, he had a civil marriage registration - there is a big difference. The catholic church does not recognise civil marriage ceremony for catholics (without a dispensation of canonical form). You don't have civil partnership in your part of the world so such an option wasn't open to them. I think this sacking him was an over-reaction and rather discriminatory. It could have been resolved in other less oppositional ways.

Supertradmum said...

The muddied waters of words regarding marriage, civil unions and partnerships flow into the same stream of the gay lobby wanting us all to accept their sinful lifestyles.

No over-reaction and either a school is Catholic or it is not. Sending a child to a school just for a good education, or maybe for even worse motive, not to mention avoiding sending them to inter-racial schools, is not a good enough reason to be there. Catholic parents endanger the souls of their own kids by not being clear on the teaching of the Church, which is clear even in the CCC.

Robert Kumpel said...

Reminds me of a quote from Greg Gutfeld:

"A funny thing about tolerant people? They're early only tolerant when you agree with them."

Anonymous said...

So, if a divorced Catholic teacher at a Catholic School entered into a second marriage without an annulment or a couple used in vitto fertilization to become pregnant, or a teacher was committing adultery, etc, etc, they would be dismissed?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Yes to one; yes to the 2 if they promote it actively; three yes if it continues and the advocate adultery as a lifestyle

Cameron said...

lolololol Fr. John, in some US states there is such a thing as "gay marriage."

Whether they will actually be married or not--of course they won't be--it is still destructive to kids' minds to see two fakers pretend to have something they can't.

I don't understand why you're trying to use silly technicalities to try to justify having teachers who are bad examples teach Catholic kids.

Anonymous said...

So, if a gay teacher marries his partner and keeps quiet about it, or does not promote it publicly, he would keep his job?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Eh?

Anonymous 2 said...

Erick Erickson writes eloquently but his piece contains at least two troubling errors.

First, I agree with Father John’s first sentence in the first comment on this thread. Mr. Erickson very clearly suggests that “the people of our age demand” that the church cross its line” and recognize a same sex marriage as a sacramental marriage. Now maybe there are some dissidents in the Catholic Church and elsewhere who do propose this but this is not even remotely at issue in this case. To my knowledge no-one in this case has suggested that the Catholic Church allow same sex couples to get married in a Catholic wedding or otherwise recognize a same sex marriage as a sacramentally valid marriage. In the eyes of the Church there is no sacramental marriage, period. The issue concerns a union that is recognized as a marriage under state civil law. What the Church does in its own house in terms of marriages is its own business and protected by the First Amendment free exercise clause. I do not see this changing.

Second, Mr. Erickson grossly misstates the non-discrimination policy of Mount de Sales to make it appear focused on promoting non-traditional lifestyles and relationships. The full wording is as follows:

“Mount de Sales Academy is committed to the principles of equal employment opportunities to all qualified individuals without regard to race, color, gender, ancestry, national origin, age, religion, creed, disability, veteran’s status, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, or any other characteristic or status that is protected by federal, state, or local law.”

These two points suggest at best sloppiness and at worst dishonesty. I do not care for either but the second is worse. Neither vice promotes clear thinking or reasoned discussion but the second is especially counterproductive because it puts an author’s credibility in issue. Moreover, the end does not justify the means. Honesty is always important but it is especially important when discussing and handling a momentous issue such as this one. Surely the Church has learned this lesson by now. So, I will be charitable, and assume it is due to sloppiness.



Anonymous said...

I completely agree with Robert….if the crowd who does not agree with this decision is so darn tolerant, why can't they TOLERATE the right of a private, Catholic school to uphold its teachings? The students are there by CHOICE, therefore they and their parents are more than welcome to take their education dollars and spend them either in another Christian school (which if located in Macon, likely would have never even allowed a gay employee to work there in the first place), or at a school that has no religious affiliation whatsoever. The teachers are also there by CHOICE. If they do not like the decision, they are more than welcome to get a job somewhere else. That is what I do not understand about any of this. It is a PRIVATE school. No one is forced to be affiliated with it if they do not want to be. I am amazed that people expect their child's education to be subsidized by the Catholic church or their salary to be paid by the Catholic church, but yet they do not want to abide by their rules. Further, when the school/church/bishop etc. does not allow themselves to be bullied, they accuse it of hatred. They are not owed anything by the Catholic church, not even an explanation. They should take their ball and go find a place to play that suits them better. I believe they were sorely mistaken about where they were in the first place.

Gene said...

Homosexuality is an abomination, a disorder, is based upon a biological falsehood, and is being used as a foil to destroy family values and the Catholic faith. Yet, people like Anonymous 2 and others are dancing all around it, trying in every way to pick up a turd by the clean end. I find all of you to be laughable. God help the Church and us.

Fr John said...

Anonymous - the answer is obviously no, and that is what Pope Francis was referring to when he talked about a teachings being inconsistently applied - or similar.

My final point about this post is that it's not being publicised across the world (by an anti-Catholic media) - that is hyperbole - but the blatantly discriminatory behaviour is raising eye-brows!

Cameron said...

Father John, I don't understand. This is discrimination? Okay, of course it is. But is it illegitimate or unjust discrimination? Of course it isn't. In fact, perhaps we can say that it is morally obligatory discrimination.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Fr. John's comments are the theater of the absurd. Yes the Catholic Church is discriminating in our calls to ministry, teaching included. We only ordain a select few celibate men to the priesthood and guess what, they must be Catholic! Women are not called. So let's stop being silly, we discriminate !

Desiree said...

This is why nuns should still teach and all Catholics should be in the Catholic schools still. I recently learned that at St Joseph's school it used to be where all the Catholic kids went. Seems like a simpler time.

The Church used to burn heretics. Firing a gay guy isn't that bad.

Why have so many people lost their morals??? I'm so sick of hearing people wanting the Church to bend for them! God is UNCHANGING. Homosexual actions weren't ok in the beginning and aren't ok now. God won't change His mind tomorrow either. He doesn't contradict Himself.

People are always changing their minds based on their feelings and tripping all over themselves. Our infallible God sets rules because He knows better than we do. Get over it. Accept it. Embrace it even.

fr john from uk said...

It's unjust discrimination - applying a select batch of doctrines inconsistently against a particular minority group.
- I don't see other people or groups getting sacked for having less than perfect lives eg those living together / separated or divorced and re-married with or without an annulment / having pre- or extra-marital sex / using contraception or IVF or an abortion etc etc. As far as I can see it's only directed towards gay couples who undertake a civil marriage to provide each other with legal and/or financial security that get penalised.

The church's attitude in this and similar cases would be more credible if it actually sacked it's own priests or religious following inappropriate sexual behaviour or sexual abuse (against children / vulnerable adults / mainstream adults, usually females) - which, if we're really honest, it has rarely done unless the incident is very serious or media pressure is put on the hierarchy.

As far as I can tell, a presumed consensual sexual behaviour among same sex staff (even when it may no longer be a sexually active relationship) = getting sacked and having your private life announced to school + media. Whereas if you repeatedly sexually abuse a child / sexually assault an adult = incident not reported to police and kept secret /moved parish / probably promoted.

That's hardly fair and clearly discrimination - it's double standards and hypocrisy.

Anonymous 2 said...

Gene and Anonymous:

Let me emphasize: I have not questioned the teaching of the Catholic Church on homosexuality as set out in the Catechism or the right of a Catholic school to employ those whom it wants. What I have done is to see whether it might still be possible for a Catholic educational institution to employ non-Catholics who do not accept all of Catholic teaching on faith or morals while still preserving its essential identity and not compromising the education of the students in matters of faith and morals. It may not be possible to do this in the end but I think we should at least ask the relevant questions and explore whether it is possible; and I believe it is appropriate for lay people, especially those with ties to the institution in question, to engage in this exploration unless and until the proper Catholic authorities have pronounced definitively on the issue. For more on this, please see my comments in the earlier thread on “No Proselytizing” of May 24. As I say there, if the Catholic Church already has an official position on this question of employment by Catholic institutions, which I am bound to accept, I will defer to this position and be quiet.

Let me also make it clear that although I think I can understand it, I do not care for some of the rhetoric on either side of this issue. To call homosexuality (and thus homosexuals) “an abomination” is unnecessarily inflammatory, uncharitable, and inaccurate. Homosexuality may be an “objective disorder” in the divinely ordained natural order, but an “abomination”? By the same token, to call Catholics or other religious believers “hateful bigots” because they oppose same sex marriage is also unnecessarily inflammatory, uncharitable, and inaccurate (although I have little doubt that such hatred and bigotry, probably rooted in fear, motivates some religious believers, but hopefully not Catholic ones). I have challenged the rhetoric of both sides and have been attacked by both sides as a result. This is one main way I can “give public witness to the massively politically incorrect truths of the Gospel” as Father McDonald now puts it, one of which is surely to try to make peace between people who disagree whenever possible. And so I try to further mutual understanding between the antagonists and defuse conflict because that is what I feel called to do. In this process I have made some mistakes and have tried to learn from them. I have also been reminded that those on both sides of the issue are human beings made in the image and likeness of God and that their identity as such an image and likeness is not defined by their sexual orientation, or by their rhetoric.

Anonymous 2 said...

Let me suggest a thought experiment. I have never been able to imagine what it is like to have a homosexual inclination. It is just not in my nature. I don’t suppose it is in either of your natures either. And I cannot even begin to imagine engaging in some of the acts engaged in by some homosexual members of my gender (male). So, this thought experiment has helped me: Imagine yourself in a world in which the vast majority of people (well over 90%) are homosexual but you are heterosexual for reasons that you do not comprehend. In this world only homosexuals are permitted to marry, but you have fallen in love with a woman who is also heterosexual and you and this woman want to commit yourselves to a lifelong exclusive relationship. Even if you were not permitted to marry, wouldn’t you at least appreciate receiving some understanding of why you wanted to do so? And if one day the law was changed and you were permitted to get married, what would you do? (I know, the thought experiment is unrealistic without an explanation of how the society reproduces).

The purpose of this thought experiment is, of course, not to put into question any objective Truth. It is to try to access the experience of homosexuals in being denied something that you and I can take for granted. I am a heterosexual male who is married with children. I married late, at the age of 43. For many years I was single and felt dreadfully alone until God brought my wife and her two daughters into my life. She is Episcopalian by the way and I met her at a reception at her own church through a colleague at work. We married and then had a son of our own. And yes, the marriage was a sacramental wedding recognized by the Catholic Church in case you were wondering. So, like many of us, I have to live ecumenism each and every day.

Am I complicating the issue? Yes, and for good reason, because we are dealing with homosexual people who are not impersonal abstractions or stereotypes but real human beings. The Church, and that includes you and I, have to respond to these real human beings, some of whom may even be our family members, friends and/or colleagues. That is certainly true in my case.

I am not challenging the teachings of the Church on homosexuality in any of this. What I am suggesting is that if these teachings do not enable us to respond to the real struggles of real human beings, they are not worth very much in practice. Of course, I believe that these teachings are indeed worth something in practice and that we can indeed find ways to respond to these struggles. But isn’t that the real challenge we face in all of this?

Gene, you were a pastor once before you became Catholic. How did you minister to homosexuals? I cannot imagine you called their inclination an “abomination.” Perhaps, too, Father McDonald or another priest can tell us how they minister to homosexual Catholics, explain Catholic teaching to them, and address their struggles with love and compassion. It seems to me that this is where the rubber meets the road, as the expression goes. Perhaps there are even some homosexual Catholics out there who would like to respond.

I ask because I would like to be able to do a better job of addressing these issues with those homosexuals who are part of my own life and others who just do not understand why the Church takes the position it does (none of them is Catholic by the way). Talk of battles and martyrs is all well and good, and perhaps one day the Church will face times that call for such sacrifices. But in the meantime, from where I have to sit, such talk feels to me like an escape from reality and from doing the hard work that is required in the present times.

Desiree said...

This man was teaching in a Catholic school. I'm sure he heard plenty of the Good News and Truth. He denied it and went about his life. The Church doesn't have to settle. What would that be teaching our children anyway???

God is not wearing a crown of wildflowers and singing while playing His guitar by the fire in a group of gay lovers.

Desiree said...

Fr John,
Covering up pedophilia is not ok. God will serve justice.
But, two wrongs don't make a right.

Wasn't the cover-up done at a higher level? I don't know a lot about it, but I do know that's one reason some people are upset about the recent canonizations.

George said...

God is a Merciful God but He is also a Holy God and He cannot approve of those things which go against His Holy nature.We are all sinners true, but the Church has open arms for all who wish to enter into a true and holy relationship with God. This can be a long struggle and journey for some and in our time that would include those with for instance, a homosexual inclination.
The Church's conditional acceptance of homosexuals for instance, is rooted not only in God’s Mercy and Love, but also His Justice. Though the homosexual inclination is gravely disordered, the Church's mission to have all members in good standing and with a right relationship with God requires the homosexual person to refrain from the sexual act itself, that act being a grave evil. This is no different from what it requires of any unmarried person. In fact, even when the person is married, the sexual act must be open to the creation of new life and if it is not, then such an act is also sinful. This is why same-sex marriage can never be valid in the eyes of the Church, because the sexual act of a homosexual union is never open to the creation of life and is always sinful. All single individuals, while they are that state are called to be celibate. Difficult? It can be, but always keep in mind that with God all things are possible. God would not require us to do something which would be impossible for us to do. The Church calls us to pray, to discipline ourselves, and to turn away from those things that are lead us into sin.

Faithful Catholics are those who accept the Church's teaching on sexuality and more to the point here, homosexuality.The position of the homosexual community on marriage and sexuality and the Church's cannot be reconciled.For Catholic institutions, it becomes a matter of the sin or the sinful situation being or becoming publicly known.This would apply to both Catholic and non-Catholics who are employed by a Catholic institution. If two faculty members, for instance were engaged in an adulterous relationship which subsequently became publicly known, the appropriate response would be termination of their employment. Employment contracts should be drawn up with Church teaching in mind.

Anonymous 2 said...

George:

Thank you for your response. I think speaking in such terms could certainly be a helpful part of what one could say to a Catholic who is homosexual, with whom such language and thoughts would resonate.

But what about homosexuals and others who are of a different faith or no faith whom one wants to evangelize, or at least make less hostile and more open to the Catholic Church in a way that might begin to open their hearts towards the Church? How should we speak to them? Those are the people I have to talk to.

George said...


Anonymous 2

Always set a good example for others. You and others who are around homosexuals because of your work or other reasons have experiences that someone such as myself who is not around them do not (at least not knowingly around any) . If I was around anyone of that inclination, I would treat them in a Christian manner even though I can't relate to their sexual lifestyle and practices. You can pray for them, and if the subject comes up, you can try to explain Church teaching to them.