Tuesday, October 7, 2014


My only comment: If anyone is obsessed with sex it is the media, not the Church!

An opinion piece from the New York Times blog:

The Church's Gay Obsessions
By Frank Bruni

REPEATEDLY over the last year and a half, I’ve written about teachers in Catholic schools and leaders in Catholic parishes who were dismissed from their posts because they were in same-sex relationships and — in many cases — had decided to marry.

Every time, more than a few readers weighed in to tell me that these people had it coming. If you join a club, they argued, you play by its rules or you suffer the consequences.
Oh really?

The rules of this particular club prohibit divorce, yet the pews of many of the Catholic churches I’ve visited are populous with worshipers on their second and even third marriages. They walk merrily to the altar to receive communion, not a peep of protest from a soul around them. They participate fully in the rituals of the church, their membership in the club uncontested.

Ben Wiseman
The rules prohibit artificial birth control, and yet most of the Catholic families I know have no more than three children, which is either a miracle of naturally capped fecundity or a sign that someone’s been at the pharmacy. I’m not aware of any church office that monitors such matters, poring over drugstore receipts. And I haven’t heard of any teachers fired or parishioners denied communion on the grounds of insufficiently brimming broods.

About teachers: When gay or lesbian ones are let go, the explanation typically cites their contractual obligations, as employees of Catholic schools, not to defy the church’s strictures, which forbid sexual activity between two men or two women.

But there are many employees of Catholic schools nationwide who aren’t even Catholic, who defy the church by never having subscribed to it in the first place. There are Protestant teachers. Jewish ones. Teachers who are agnostic and, quite likely, teachers who are atheists and simply don’t advertise it. There are parish employees in these same categories, and some remain snug in their jobs.

“Is it more important to believe in the church’s teaching on same-sex marriage than to believe in the Resurrection — or even that God exists?” asked the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and the author of the 2014 best seller “Jesus: A Pilgrimage.” “I don’t hear anyone calling for the firing of the agnostic parish business manager.”

The blunt truth of the matter is that during a period when the legalization of gay marriage has spread rapidly in this country, from just six states in 2011 to more than three times that number today, Catholic officials here have elected to focus on this one issue and on a given group of people: gays and lesbians.

Their moralizing is selective, bigoted and very sad. It’s also self-defeating, because it’s souring many American Catholics, a majority of whom approve of same-sex marriage, and because the workers who’ve been exiled were often exemplars of charity, mercy and other virtues as central to Catholicism as any guidelines for sex. But their hearts didn’t matter. It was all about their loins. Will the church ever get away from that?

Pope Francis seems inclined to do so, and is nudging other Catholic leaders with his carefully chosen words and artfully orchestrated symbols. He’s probably not telegraphing any major shift in church teaching — which, by the way, changes plenty over time — but he’s signaling that Catholics who run afoul of it needn’t be vilified.

Just three weeks ago, he presided over the marriages of 20 couples from the Diocese of Rome, including brides and grooms who had already been living together or been married before. One bride had a grown child conceived out of wedlock.

The pope’s actions don’t jibe with the way many Catholic leaders in the United States are treating gays and lesbians. The National Catholic Reporter said recently that it could find, since 2008, about 40 public cases of employees’ losing jobs at Catholic institutions in this country because of issues connected with homosexuality or same-sex marriage. Seventeen of these occurred just this year.

When I discussed the issue with Lisa Sowle Cahill, a professor of theology at Boston College, she wondered aloud if Catholic superiors would dismiss someone or deny him or her communion for supporting the death penalty, which is against Catholic teaching. She and I alike marveled at how little we heard from American church leaders during all the news months ago about botched executions.
“The bishops have picked up gay marriage ever since the 2004 presidential election as a special cause that they are against,” Cahill noted. She said that they were “staking out a countercultural Catholic identity” that doesn’t focus on “social justice and economic issues.”

“It’s about sex and gender issues,” she said, adding that it might be connected to the disgrace that church leaders brought upon themselves with their disastrous handling of child sexual abuse by priests. Perhaps, she said, they’re determined to find some sexual terrain on which they can strike a position of stern rectitude.

“They’re trying to regain the moral high ground, no matter how sure it is to backfire,” she said. Having turned a blind eye to nonconsensual sex that ravaged young lives, they’re holding the line against consensual sex that wounds no one.

It’s crucial to remember that in many cases in which the church has punished same-sex couples, their homosexuality and even their same-sex partnerships were widely known and tacitly condoned for some time beforehand. What changed was their interest in a civil marriage, suddenly made possible by laws that are evolving more humanely than the church is. The couples in question stepped up and made loving commitments of a kind that the church celebrates in other circumstances. For this they were spurned. It’s shameful.

And it contradicts Catholic principles apart from those governing same-sex relations, as Martin observed in a column in the Catholic magazine America earlier this year. Catholic teaching, he wrote, “also says that gay and lesbian people must be treated with ‘respect, sensitivity and compassion.’ ”
Some American church leaders indeed question what’s going on. Asked by a reporter recently about the banishment of gay workers, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston said that the situation “needs to be rectified.” No time like the present.

What’s happening amounts to persecution. And it’s occurring not because the workers in these situations called any special attention to themselves or made any political fuss. No, they just loved in a fashion displeasing to many church officials, whose concerns with purity are spasmodic and capricious.

Martin said that those officials weren’t ferreting out and flogging people who fail to pay fair wages to their employees or to be charitable to the poor, which are mandates of Catholic social teaching.
“If you’re going to apply these litmus tests, apply them across the board,” he said, not recommending as much but making the point that if that happened, “We would empty out Catholic institutions of all of their employees, and no one would be able to present themselves in the communion line.”


Gerbert said...

I find the basis of the argument to be some what childish. "If they can do that, why can't I do it too". While all Catholics know that many do not follow the Church on her teachings on contraception or pre marital sex, these people do not make a public proclamation about it. I am confident that if any Catholic would stand up and tell their priest that they are in a sexual relationship and had no intention of getting married or if they openly expressed their use of contraception and would not desire to have children, that they would also be denied communion. Problem here is the understanding the difference between mercy/forgiveness and law/justice. These are difficult issues and need examination, but the articles position and reasoning is poor at best.

George said...

"There are Protestant teachers. Jewish ones. Teachers who are agnostic and, quite likely, teachers who are atheists and simply don’t advertise it. There are parish employees in these same categories, and some remain snug in their jobs." "Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and the author of the 2014 best seller “Jesus: A Pilgrimage.' I don’t hear anyone calling for the firing of the agnostic parish business manager.' "

If the Protestant, Jewish and agnostic teachers are not teaching catechism, I see no problem. If any of these were to do something which explicitly and publicly went against Church teaching then that person should be terminated. Scandal by publicly violating Church teaching should never be tolerated. There is a pastoral responsibility to the flock.

Anonymous said...

Father, please correct me if I am wrong but isn’t the real issue here that of sinning against the Holy Spirit? What I mean is that when a person enters into a same-sex “marriage”, they are saying they believe they need not repent. I learned the sin against the Holy Spirit is either saying I can’t be forgiven or I don’t need to be forgiven. What say you?

This is precisely what just happened at my former parish. Most people knew the directory of music/liturgy was gay, some knew he was living with his partner, but everyone knew when he announced he was getting “married” and did. Then the archbishop had to act and ask for his resignation. Now there is much wailing and grinding of teeth and the media is going nuts. St. Francis is attributed as saying, “preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words”. Turn this around and see that by this man’s actions he is preaching against the gospel without using words. This applies to all those teachers and leaders in Catholic parishes that the author is crying about as well.

James Ignatius McAuley said...


Professor Cahill is indubitably a professor, but after this quote:
“They’re trying to regain the moral high ground, no matter how sure it is to backfire,” she said. Having turned a blind eye to nonconsensual sex that ravaged young lives, they’re holding the line against consensual sex that wounds no one." I would not label her a theologian. A theologian must be faithful tot he gospel of Christ, and she is not. Furthermore, for her to state that consensual homosexual sex wounds no one is analogous to the old arguments I heard in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s that "pornography is a victimless crime," "prostitution is a victimless crime" extramarital sex is a victimless crime," and "sex amongst teenagers is a victimless crime." In reality her position on sin is no different than what Alfred Loisy argued regarding the structure of the church and doctrine.

But, hey, such people never want to see the spiritual consequences of their stupidity because it wounds the mystical body of Christ. If they allege it does not, then what, if any sexual sins do wound the mystical body of Christ? What would Professor Cahill say to the wife whose husband consensually messed around with another man and came home to her, or to the parents of that young man in Louisiana involved with the two teachers? No one is wounded? Sounds like she has been in the ivory tower for too long, though in reality she would probably adopt a patronizing attitude, cite her degrees and then declare it a case of apples and oranges. Unfortunately for her, God is just and such an approach will not work when she goes to her particular judgment.

Nathanael said...

The real problem is the Church and her teaching on sexuality – period.

Putting the burdens of monogamy on all genders (and all those in-between or questioning) only hinders the ability of the human soul to express love in a physical encounter; it is just like kissing or holding hands, surely. For the gay, lesbian, transgender, and questing community it is only right Western society set the tone for the entire world in their acceptance. Labels are burdens imposed by the Church and her inability to accept the fullness dialectical materialism as a theory and apply it to her social teaching.

Why fire or dismiss anyone for expressing love in an unorthodox fashion (in the context of Christian morality). All pastors must be pastoral when it comes to love – “all we need is love.” Who are we to judge anyone – we cannot know the nature of “sin.” God is love itself.

Surely if the Church can be pastoral to pagans, heretics, apostates, and adulterers she can be compassionate to sodomites and all various fornicators - only to use the sad labels of the past. We need to have a consciousness raising session (prayer group is so 1950s) and rap together with Jesus about the real “with-it” mentality to bring natural law into the 21st century.

Maybe afterward we all can watch Brother Sun and Sister Moon?