Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Much is being made of what the first married couple said to the Synod on the Family fathers about families and the parish family welcoming homosexual and divorced Catholics.

I was born in 1953 and I am a life long Catholic and a priest for over 34 years. I cannot ever remember hearing that homosexuals were not welcome in an particular parish and that divorced Catholics should join other churches.

I have heard that Catholics should show proper decorum at Mass. Prior to Vatican II there was seldom public displays of affection in the church building or at Mass. Of course this changed with the Sign of Peace being introduced and relaxed rules in the church building about proper decorum.

Also Catholics were told to dress properly for Mass. I have seen a man in a tank top and short gym shorts and flip flops asked not to enter the church. In Europe those who are scantily clad cannot even tour some of the tourist churches.

I suspect if a homosexual or heterosexual couple are showing overly overtly signs of sexual attraction in a church building they might be told this activity is not welcomed.

Now we enter into a more precarious discussion. Who should receive Holy Communion during Mass, that is who is welcomed to do so and who isn't?

Of course those of us old enough to remember know that a small percentage of Catholics actually received Holy Communion during Mass prior to Vatican II. Part of it had to do with a well formed conscience and understanding of sin. Part of it had to do with the lengthy fast that up until 1958 was from midnight until Mass and even for water and medicine. From 1958 to 1966 it was three hours prior to Mass and water and medicine was allowed up to any time. Since 1966 it has been one hour before Mass and shortened then to one hour prior to Holy Communion. And of course there were the Jansenists who were very scrupulous about receiving Holy Communion. So few people were receiving Holy Communion that the Church formed a canon law saying Catholic must go to Holy Communion at least once a year and preferably during the Easter season, to include the Sacrament of Penance also.

Apart from those who are welcome to receive Holy Communion at Mass, meaning that they are in a state of grace, have no impediments and have fasted one hour, and apart from proper decorum in a church building, does anyone know of anyone who is homosexual or divorced not being welcomed to Church?


Anonymous said...

The only people I have ever seen not be welcomed at Mass are those who prefer to receive Holy Communion while kneeling. I have seen the priest try to force people to their feet, I have seen the priest ignore the person and just walk away. I have seen the priest be "rough" with the Blessed Sacrament and basically shove it into the mouths of kneeling people. And these examples can all be found on YouTube by the way. Let's face it the only people not welcome in today's parishes are Traditionally minded Catholics. You can be a self proclaimed Buddhist lesbian and that's not a problem. But believe and practice everything as the Church has done for centuries and you are not welcome.

Cameron said...

Exactly, what's it mean to be welcome? I cannot ever make you feel a certain way. You decide that. When I go to a church it's not like 45 people grin at me and say hey. And that doesn't bother me.

Gene said...

Do you go to Mass to be "welcomed?" Have we come to the point that it is really that much about "me?"
Hey! It's a party!!

Bill Meyer said...

I normally continue to fast from midnight till the morning Mass. The one-hour fast--coupled with clock watching--seems to me a sort of legalism, and out of place.

As to welcome... should we "welcome" to receive those not in a state of grace? Should we welcome heretics? Should we warmly welcome those who obstinately persist in mortal sin?

We have doctrine, we have dogma, we have the fullness of truth. Should we then turn away from that?

JBS said...

Homosexuals are always invited to repent and are always welcome to receive God's mercy in the Sacrament of Penance. But, if they choose to kiss each other during the Sign of Peace, the appropriate response of those nearby is to vomit.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

By welcome (and I know this word is loaded today) I would say that we would not say anyone isn't welcome. We welcome sinners pure and simple and this has to be the basis of our welcome. With that said, we don't judge who is in the church and who is receiving Holy Communion, that is for God and the proper ecclesiastical authorities of the Church pure and simple.

What I miss about the good old days when fewer people actually went to Holy Communion (and as a young child and early teenager I seldom went although I went to Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation) was that we were told not to judge why people weren't going to Holy Communion. It might just be that the person chose not to fast.

The issues of decorum make things a bit more dicey today, especially public displays of affection by anyone one, the tee shirts with slogans that people might wear and the general overall casual attitudes we have about a variety of things that do lead to judgements having to be made.

JusadBellum said...

According to the most recent national survey, lesbians and gay men make up 1.6% of the US population. Bi, trans, and queer are negligible. Of these, how many "want" to go to a Catholic church?

For the sake of how few are we contemplating overthrowing 2,000 years of doctrine and practice?

I think every parish ought to have an AA group and announce it freely for anyone in the congregation struggling with addictions.

And occasionally every parish ought to announce Rachael's Vineyard retreats for post-abortive recovery and forgiveness.

Every deanery ought to have a Courage chapter for men and women struggling with same sex attraction. But the sheer numbers mean that we're talking at most a few dozen per deanery except in bigger cities.

That would be welcoming - acknowledge that people struggle with additions or unwanted ideations for something disordered but that we love them, wish them well and are ready to assist them in living a sober and chaste life in the Lord.

Every parish ought to have a ministry for divorced and widowed people too - again, we acknowledge the problem and seek to mitigate their suffering but we cannot act as though it's OK and their status is harmless.

Anonymous said...

The only people I recall seeing told by a priest that they were not welcome in a parish, were ones who objected (reasonably, I thought) to the wreckovation of the parish church. I know a couple were advised they might prefer to attend the still beautiful Episcopal church in town. The liturgy there was said to be much more reverent, also, though this was not emphasized by the Catholic priest in question.

Bill Meyer said...

I try hard not to judge people, but we are called to judge actions. I can reach some tentative conclusions about people who turn up at Mass looking as though they were headed straight for the beach. And about those who repeatedly arrive well into the readings, and leave right after they receive.

My earlier point was offered in refutation of the horrible "All are Welcome" song.

All who repent, certainly. Those who insist the Church must change to meet their desires? Not so much. Nor those who continue to create public scandal by claiming to be Catholic, and living contrary to fundamental Church teachings.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Bill I think in pre-Vatican II days when there was a greater "fear of the Lord" and we had about 95% or more of Catholics attending Mass on Sunday, that a great number of these Catholics were marginal Catholics and may have had many sexual issues that were quite secret. Many did not go to Holy Communion, but they knew it was important to at least be a "cultural Catholic" and attend Mass every Sunday even if they were in the mafia!

No one should think though that being in the mafia is a good thing.

Jdj said...

Along the lines of Henry's comment, the only folks I have personally seen turned away were those who questioned non-transparent parish finances and cover-up. It was devastating to some, who were not only seriously life-long faithful Catholics, but were tithing a lot of time and talent as well as $$. Fortunately (Providentially?) they were welcomed into other area parishes.

Monk123 said...

Being welcomed and feeling genuinely welcome is a very different experience than being tolerated. Despite the official stance of everyone is welcome, it's obvious (even in the comments to this post) that at best it is often the case that we offer tolerance instead of welcome. Welcome is about mercy and not about judgment. Welcome is about communion and community and understanding. It's clear that often we make doctrine and dogma into idols and in so doing completely miss the the will of our Lord -- to love your neighbor as yourself. Welcome is an aspect of love.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

My own experience of "welcome" in the pre-Vatican II Church and parish in Augusta was that no one welcomed us as we were entering our own home which happened to be an extension of God's home of heaven. The Blessed Sacrament was there to welcome us, front and center and no one was excluded from adoring our Lord there, no one.

Of course in those days Catholics were more scrupulous about observing a long fast before Holy Communion and would not receive if they had chosen to break the fast, which was perfectly acceptable to do, break the fast that is, and would not receive if they were in a state of mortal sin.

No one thought anything about the fact that nearly 60% of the congregation did not receive. We felt welcome not to receive or receive if we chose to do so.

What does it mean when a greeter greets me at the doors of the Church? Nothing other than to tell me I'm welcomed here as a consumer or visitor in this parish's particular church.

I would like to tell everyone that every Catholic Church throughout the world is God's house and it is He who welcomes us especially in the tabernacle prior to Mass. We all belong here and no one apart from God needs to welcome us. It is our home too!