This was taken at a recent "Gay Pride Parade" in Augusta, Ga, my hometown. The parade came very close to my previous parish, the Church of the Most Holy Trinity in downtown Augusta. The Episcopal Church had banners in this parade. Should my former parish have had one too? Wouldn't that be a sign of inclusivity and welcome?
James Joyce originally made this declaration in his novel Finnigan’s Wake: “Catholic means ‘Here comes everybody’”.
Of course the Catholic Church is known for having everyone. We have all kinds of people and we are truly universal. But in any given congregation on Sunday, or daily for that matter, we have Catholics who are saints, some are recovering sinners, others are in grave, public sin. Yet all are invited to attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; no one excluded from entering our churches, even heathens are welcomed to attend Mass.
On any given day here at St. Joseph, we have Protestants attending Mass with their Catholic friends and we have those inquisitive about the Catholic faith attending. No one asks about their sins or moral backgrounds. They are free to attend and to be as anonymous as they wish.
But then at Holy Communion time, distinctions are made with those who are in the "full communion of the Church" and those who aren't. In other words, not everyone is invited to receive Holy Communion, the clearest sign of our full communion with Jesus and His Church, Head and members, Bridegroom and bride.
Who is excluded from partaking of the clearest sign of Catholic unity and full communion, receiving Holy Communion?
1. In the Latin Rite, any child who has not reached the age of reason (7).
2. Any Catholic who has not observed the 1 hour fast.
3. Any Catholic who is in a state of mortal sin.
4. Any person who is not a Catholic.
5. Any Catholic who has an interdict placed against them (usually public sinners, or those whose "civil unions") are not viewed as lawful Catholic marriages.
6. Any Catholic who is excommunicated either privately (only known to the person who is excommunicated), or publicly.
There could be some other reasons that I have omitted.
What happens when groups of sinners no longer see their sin as sin and then politicize their lifestyle to when favor with the public? Certainly in a free country as our own, they have that right in the political arena.
But what happens when they bring their political interests to the Church? When homosexuals want the Church to redefine the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony and ignore Scripture and Tradition as well as natural law when it comes to fornication? Adultery? or the various sexual philias?
What happens when nothing associated with one's sexuality is to be considered sinful and thus anything sexual goes and those promoting this want full communion in the Church including all the sacraments (except of course Confession)?
What happens when Protestants attend a Catholic Mass either on Sunday, for a funeral or a wedding and demand that they have a right to receive Holy Communion, although they seldom demand the right to receive the Sacrament of Penance prior to demanding the right to receive Holy Communion. Please note, I've had no Protestants demanding Holy Communion, except in a couple of rare instances when a Methodist minister knowing full well that I could not give him Holy Communion, came forward anyway and stuck his hands out for the Host only for me to give him a blessing and he to give me the "evil eye."
But many Protestants are offended that they are not invited to receive Catholic Communion. I know this for a fact.
So, isn't the Church's mission to reach out to the world with the Good News of Jesus Christ who alone is the way "away from sin and death" to grace and holiness of life that leads to eternal life in heaven? All of us are destined for eternal life, some in hell others in heaven. Shouldn't we make clear which road lead to heaven? It is the road to self-denial, renunciation of sin and a sinful lifestyle, picking up one's cross and following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. It is the road that God's grace enables us to be clothed in the wedding garments of the eternal banquet in heaven.
Yes, the Catholic Church welcomes everyone to the Church but not everyone to Holy Communion. We welcome the corrupt, the criminal, the mafioso, the thief, drug addict, alcoholic and wife beater. We invite the violent, the war monger, the hateful to Church but not to Holy Communion.
But we name behavior that is contrary to the Gospel and the teaching of Jesus Christ made clear through the Church's Magisterium as sin and those in unrepentant sin are not free to receive Holy Communion until they repent and make a resolve not to sin again.
So, should the Catholic Church have a banner in a "Gay Pride" parade, inviting our gay, lesbian and transgendered brothers and sisters to the Church? It depends. If it is for the purpose of leading the promiscuous of whatever orientation and the fornicator and adulterer to repentance and conversion, well yes, of course. But if it is to take away guilt in the psychological sense to ENABLE the unrepentant sinner to feel better about their impenitence, than no, hell no! The Church should not be used for political agendas opposed to Jesus Christ and His Church.
Many Protestants do not like the fact that Catholics have gradations of sin, such as mortal, venial, deadly and so on. To them sin is sin and despicable in the eyes of God.
Should we then ignore sexual sins? It is easy to do so when people keep sin in darkness and strive to avoid public scandal, and Catholics respect Church teaching and refrain from Holy Communion when they have no intention to refrain from the darkness of sin. Private sinners seem to be more respectful of the common good of society and even the Church and keep their sins out of the public light and bring it only to the light of Christ in Confession.
It is the public sinner who wants his or her sin to be acceptable that is the most worrisome. There is a serious narcissism here. That could be a mafioso or a fornicator of whatever sexual orientation.
In one sense, Protestants are right, both sins, that of one who belongs to a crime organization and is a criminal and the other who is sinful in areas of sex, both sins are reprehensible to God. Both sinners need to repent, believe the good news, and be saved.
Freewill means the freedom to repent, the freedom to be in the full communion of the Church or the freedom to deny sin and deny oneself Holy Communion.