I hope that anyone who has read my posts on Cleansing Fire is pretty clear that I do not support any gay activist position or lifestyle. I pray to be completely and without exception aligned with all doctrinal teaching of the Catholic Church. I believe in the basic human dignity of all people to be respected (not necessarily to be agreed with in their errors or opinions), and I acknowledge the difficult obligation of souls to call each other to repentance.
Consistent with these positions, here are just a few examples I’ve offered in Cleansing Fire over recent years. I…
1) have opposed the historic coziness between the Diocese of Rochester under the prior bishop and Fortunate Families, which lobbies the Catholic Church to legitimize a lifestyle which violates Church Teaching;
2) have affirmed Pope Benedict’s clarity that those with deep-seated homosexual tendencies cannot be priests;
3) have opposed the impropriety of Cardinal Dolan’s approving a gay contingent in the St. Patrick’s Day parade and his complimenting a gay football player for “coming out”; and
4) have deplored all efforts through legislation, lawsuits, secular pressure or otherwise to force souls to sin by supporting any lifestyle or participating in any action opposed to their faith.
I could go on, but I consider the point well-enough made.
The Current Situation
Some same-sex attracted individuals have grown up in and then left the Church and feel separated from their spiritual roots; others have no interest in ever being Catholic, but want the painful voice of moral witness to be silenced, the daily reminder that the Church clearly identifies and treats same-sex attraction as disordered. Why is it not enough for such individuals to join virtually any denominational church where there is either silence or an accommodating welcome, regardless of repentance? Because, at some level, there is the faintest, most insistent small voice that the Catholic Church, the only one founded by Christ, is the One that matters. All other victories are hollow. And it is also the reason whenever any movement to destroy Christ’s Teaching is underway, the evil one will be hidden within. Those are the battles which do matter.
For all these reasons, being true to what I believe and striving to be obedient to Catholic Church Teaching, I am conscience-bound to decry the base and merciless treatment of homosexual persons in the Synod 2014 session just completed, by its organizers, by many participants, and by the media, many of whom fomented false hopes in those souls who desire some amelioration of their alienation from the Church, from Christ’s Teaching. The October 13th Relatio which was, five days later, effectively rescinded on these particular matters, in hindsight can be seen as an almost unmitigated disaster. I am very much for transparency and openness in the Body of Christ, and applaud that the principles of such transparency were implemented in this Synod to a greater degree than I have ever seen. But transparency on the issues related to persons of homosexual tendencies was destructive; these were the very issues which, if discussion really were needed, should have been done privately. Why? Certainly not because Church Teaching is confidential (nor is the unchangeability of doctrine) but, rather, out of concern for the souls and the true dignity of the most vulnerable. Even elementary knowledge of organizational dynamics illustrates such transparency was erroneous.
Please let me digress for a moment to one of the guidelines of good management practice in order to illustrate the point. “Do not pique hopes unnecessarily.” Or, as is sometimes said: ”Be sure you want the toothpaste out of the tube before you squeeze it.” Imagine that the president of a large company were to say, in a column in the organization’s monthly newsletter, that he or she is considering changing company policy to double vacation available to each employee (or, say, to cut the workweek by 5 hours without reducing pay). Imagine the delight which would surge through the employee ranks! The local newspapers would run daily stories on these breakthrough management practices. Applications for employment would soar, and some might even leave their current employer to join such a forward-looking company; spouses would begin planning what to do with the extra vacation, and employees might even delay retirement or make some other significant life decision. Everyone knows, of course, that the president has to ‘run it past the Board of Directors’ first, but most certainly there is delight and expectation that very soon these policies will be in place. Then the company issues a terse news release that the Board of Directors declined to implement the ill-advised published policy. Do you think that company will have better or worse employee relations as a result of this series of events? Exactly my point.
Compassion for the Mis-led
Now, with compassion, remember the wide-spread media response to the October 13th Relatio. No wonder it was released to the media before most of the Synod attendees could read it, let alone give input or vote. One has to believe that a number of faithful prelates would have voiced strong objections, and could have been prepared to express their opinions and the whole Truth if interviewed. When I was confirmed in 5th grade I could have told you on a true or false test that paragraphs 49 through 52, taken in the aggregate, were “false.” So could a lot of prelate attendees, and those who couldn’t should be removed for incompetence or worse. The only thing of value to come out of this debacle was to identify some of the prelates who don’t believe and obey.
A Divisive Synod
While we were understandably focused on the division those words caused in the Church (yes, it was a very divisive Synod, as is anything that pits part of the flock against Christ’s Teaching), I for one did not sufficiently focus on what it was doing to those suffering from same-sex attraction, inflating their expectations and causing them to speak glowingly of such “changes”. The outpouring of joy, delight, gratitude, and all versions of “it’s about time” illustrates how truly transforming were the words in those paragraphs but, unfortunately, transforming from Truth to lies. The media, with all its lack of understanding, exploded the coverage, even interpreting from their own naiveté way beyond what had been said, and the communications experts in the Vatican did little or nothing to dissuade such reactions. While a few hierarchical figures may have basked in a momentary triumph, recounting even the percentage of brother prelates said to be in agreement with such radical proposals, the latter state is worse than the first, for man can’t serve both God and the mammon of Klieg lights.
But my purpose in writing isn’t so much to take prelates to task, or to assuage the pain of Catholics in the pew, as to call attention to what seems almost a crime against homosexual persons. I do not think it is going too far under the Laws of the Church to see such a serious offense in what was done. Specifically, it seems a great wrong:
1) to issue “a document” with words masquerading as an emerging Church teaching (but which could never be true), which misleads many individuals who are alienated due to same-sex attraction,
2) to raise false hopes among those most vulnerable, and to leave them and the world at large uncorrected in their misunderstanding,
3) to allow the media to use the Relatio to agitate for change in the Church, without instructing the ignorant promptly, with adequate clarification,
4) to expose those who responded to the false content as if it were true, to remain uncorrected on a public stage, causing them shame and eventual embarrassment for having been “taken in”,
5) to treat those real human beings, who were misled, deeply pained and afflicted by the attendant debates, like a mere challenge to a rules committee, as a strategy to grow the Church, a pawn on a chessboard,
6) to exhibit to the world a prod and other ill treatment of those who reject itchy ears’ new teaching, and to embarrass prelates who stood for truth, pressuring others to stay quiet,
7) to not publicly apologize (yet) to all who were misled, including weak Catholics who were traumatized and pastors unable to quickly and effectively respond to the faithful or to sincere inquiries,
8) to sow division in the Church, which remains to be healed, and which affects those who are same-sex attracted but remaining chaste,
9) to leave the remnant presence of the excised paragraphs, still boding confusion and reiteration of pain next year, shadowed by the impression that nothing was resolved, so it has to be done again, and
10) to have erected further barriers to true reconciliation.
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