The National Catholic Review

WHEN are we Catholics going to stop harping on/slamming/despising gay people?

During a recent Mass in the Diocese of Fresno, I was asked to sign up for the Catholic Legislative Network. I was in complete agreement with the pitch: defense of the sanctity and dignity of life, from conception to natural death (although I was surprised that the death penalty was not included in the list of wrongs against human life). But then the issue of same-sex marriage had to be thrown into the mix, and I could no longer in good conscience join this network.

WHY have same-sex unions been lumped into things that attack the sanctity of human life? Gays who wish to commit themselves to each other for life do not cause anyone to die. A gay marriage does not take a life, as do the practices of abortion, euthanasia, and capital punishment. I am not talking about the Catholic sacrament of marriage, but the civil contract of marriage, which is properly a civil right, and which we Catholics have no business agitating for legislation against.

WHY do we not stick to the issues of life and death? And if not, why aren't we then including artificial birth control, or in vitro fertilization treatments, or premarital sex, along with same-sex marriage, as things we must call for state legislation against?  We gloss over a host of sticky sexuality subjects, and then we single out one group of God's children for repeated condemnation.

I am the Catholic parent of an adult gay child, and I am running out of excuses for our church’s behavior. My lesbian daughter does not believe us when we sing "All are Welcome in this Place", because her lived experience is that she is not. And after the Catholic Legislative Network pitch, how can I argue with her? At that same Mass, we sang this song:

    "Do not be afraid, I am with you
    I have called you each by name
    Come and follow me
    I will lead you home -
    I love you and you are mine . . . "

To which our church now implicitly adds:
    "(Unless you are gay . . . ")

God forgive me, I was actually happy (for once) that my daughter had not attended Mass with me.

Valerie Schultz

Comments

Mary Kennedy | 5/25/2010 - 6:47pm
Steve - as director of the Catholic Legislative Network you should be familiar with the concept of the ''poison pill.''  For Valerie, adding the anit-gay piece to the pro-life agenda was a poison pill.  She was asked to endorse a knife in her own heart and that of her child, and one that had nothing to do with being ''pro life.''  How could you possibly not understand that? 
Steve Pehanich | 5/25/2010 - 1:19pm
As the director of the Catholic Legislative Network, I found it fascinating that you agreed with most of the tenets and principles of the Network, but choose not join because you disagree on the issue of same-sex marriage.
Of course, that issue is very dear to your heart and your sincerity is apparent, but why would you give up the opportunity to work with thousands of others to promote solidarity with the poor and vulnerable, care of the elderly and children, an end of the death penalty, or the many other economic, environmental and educational good promoted by the Bishops through the Network?
The Network informs members about the critical policy issues of the day and the Catholic teaching related to those issues. It is not promoting a single political agenda, nor is it focused on any one issue. (Just look at the website – www.cacatholic.org – and past issues of the weekly newsletter.) And your participation is entirely voluntary on every issue.
Agree on everything – not likely – but it is our obligation to understand Church teaching as we form our own conscience and engage the rest of society.
With Pentecost so recently celebrated, we as individuals and as a Church must grapple with complex questions from abortion and the death penalty to the societal definition of marriage under the guidance of the Spirit as best we can. The Network is a tool, but one in which Catholics can find much useful information.
Anonymous | 5/24/2010 - 8:56pm
"Again, one may believe what one wants about marriage - however the organizations involved pretty much are components of the GOP."
 
No one most definitely CANNOT do so & continue to call oneself a Roman Catholic in good conscience.  Sorry, but "dem's da facts" as we say down here.  Until we get that squared away we can have no consensus inside or outside the Church.  How, exactly, do you hold the view quoted above & still consider yourself a Catholic?  I mean, with respect, you can't just make up the rules as you go.  And please provide proof wherein you state that teh organizations involved are simply GOP organizations. 
Michael Bindner | 5/24/2010 - 5:19pm
Michael Liddy, if simply being moral becomes a rough life the morality is not based in scripture or natural law - for His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Heroics are only required of us when bad actors are involved in persecuting the Church - however the Church should not be persecutor, as it seems to be now.

Jeff, marriage is a key lynch pin of society and its regulation. In a world where gay couples require a separate family identity vis-a-vis their families of origin, it is appropriate for gay marriage to occur in civil society and to be celebrated in the Church, where marriages are performed as much for the families as the individuals.

Again, one may believe what one wants about marriage - however the organizations involved pretty much are components of the GOP.
Anonymous | 5/24/2010 - 3:43pm
Gay marriage, like abortion, goes to the very identity of the family - which Catholic teaching has held to be the essential linch-pin of ordered civil society.  Catholic teaching has defended the integrity of the family for centuries against onslaughts of both the right (radical libertarianism) and left (radical statism).  The Catholic Church can no more sanction gay marriages that deny the Resurrection.   This is a fact of Catholic teaching, and it serves us well to begin there.  Like abortion, which ruptures the very nature of the family, gay marriage distorts its essential identity.  Again, this is purely Catholic moral teaching, and the burden of proof is on those seeking to re-define millenia of social norms that have never recognized same sex relationships on the par of marriage, particularly Christian norms.
 
The question of the pastoral approach to homosexuals and their families is another matter.  I support the calls of Card. Schonborn to give some recognition to long-term same sex unions (as opposed to marriage); however, that doesn't change the fact of Catholic moral teaching.  Unfortunately the pains of a particular situation cannot be used to re-tool that teaching, no matter how inconvenient, and repeating and respecting that teaching does NOT simply render one a Republican-right-wing shill.  It saddens me to see some on here so quickly conclude otherwise.
Michael Liddy | 5/24/2010 - 1:10pm
We need to pray for homosexuals. If they follow God's law, then they carry a very heavy cross - that's a tough life.

I know the writer refers to civil marriage, but it's not long now until one of America's writers suggests homosexual marriage within the church.
Michael Bindner | 5/24/2010 - 1:04pm
Maria, a Heterophobe would be someone afraid of Orthodoxy (not heterosexuality). There is more to Catholicism than sex - much more. An Orthophobe would be one who believes the truth is heterodox - that there is more than one truth - especially in regard to sexuality.

No one is arguing in favor of sin here. The question is not whether one should excuse the sin of homosexuality but whether being homosexual is a diorder or a sin if acted upon in the confines of a marital relationship (which, as the old joke goes, for lesbians a trip to Pottery Barn).

I still maintain that my comment about Republican coalition politics(and some of the Church's Bishops position in it) is the most explanatory. I've not seen a good counterargument - probably because there isn't one.
Anonymous | 5/24/2010 - 12:38am
Explaining the very basic tenets of the faith is logical more than it is predictable, Jim.
 
Like I said, I understand the sentimentality displayed by Mrs. Schultz; however, her radical individualized understanding and attack on the Catholic community is wrong - even if it is politically incorrect to point this out on these boards.
JIM MCCREA | 5/24/2010 - 12:12am
Valerie:  I don't know where your daughter lives, but if it anywhere near San Francisco, you and she should check out one of the few parishes in this country worthy of calling themselves Catholic:  Most Holy Redeemer (www.mhr.org).
 
For those surprised/offended by the comments of Brett and Maria, don't be.  They are totally predictable.
Anonymous | 5/23/2010 - 11:44pm
Mary: "read aloud every anti-gay remark Jesus ever made."
 
This is a purely unrational claim by those who support homosexuality as a lifestyle; Jesus Christ stated plainly that he came to fulfill and complete the existing Jewish law - and this law INCLUDED the prohibitions AGAINST homosexual acts.
 
To say otherwise is to try to pervert the very essence of the Gospels for your social or lifestyle agenda.
 
Again, homosexuals are not to be treated with disrespect or exclusion; however, that does not mean that the Church is silenced on her teaching on sin in society or in individuals.
Anonymous | 5/23/2010 - 10:49pm
Sorry   about the bad formatting - that last sentence -
 
"It should seem clear from all that is said that it would wrong to advise a person to disobey their conscience, even if obedience to conscience means disobedience to the Church."
 
 - was not part of the Catechism, but Joe's comment on the Catechism quotes he'd made.
Anonymous | 5/23/2010 - 10:46pm

I agree with Beth.   To quote a blogging friend on the primacy of conscience (http://followyourconscience.blogspot.com/) ....
1795 "Conscience is man's most secret core, and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths" (GS 16). 1796 Conscience is a judgment of reason by which the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act. 1797 For the man who has committed evil, the verdict of his conscience remains a pledge of conversion and of hope. 1798 A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful. It formulates its judgments according to reason, in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator. Everyone must avail himself of the means to form his conscience. 1799 Faced with a moral choice, conscience can make either a right judgment in accordance with reason and the divine law or, on the contrary, an erroneous judgment that departs from them.
1800  A human being must always obey the certain judgement of his conscience
1801  Conscience can remain in ignorance or make erronieous judgements.  Such ignorance and errors are not always free of guilt. 1802 The Word of God is a light for our path. We must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. This is how moral conscience is formed.

It should seem clear from all that is said that it would wrong to advise a person to disobey their conscience, even if obedience to conscience means disobedience to the Church.

Anonymous | 5/23/2010 - 10:41pm
Mary: I think it is time that we introduce ourselves to a new concept: THE HETEROPHOBE , you know, those folks with no tolerance for all those Catholics who still assent to the Doctrine of the Faith.
Mary Kennedy | 5/23/2010 - 10:12pm
Brett, the ad hominem attack on the writer was out of line.  Gay-bashing has no place in the church, and neither does mom-bashing.  Let him who thinks otherwise stand on the steps of the Cathedral at noon and read aloud every anti-gay remark Jesus ever made.
Anonymous | 5/23/2010 - 9:37pm
That last sentence should read:
 
"How very modern, attack the community so that you can excuse/justify the actions of your individual (adult) child..."
Anonymous | 5/23/2010 - 8:23pm
Schultz:  "I am the Catholic parent of an adult gay child, and I am running out of excuses for our church’s behavior."
 
This statement is so myopic and solipsistic that it is hard to know where to start.  Did Mrs. Schultz ever think of the excuses that she is making for her child??
 
Like I said, we now only think about "rights" of the individual to do as they please - no one thinks of the responsibility to the community or the common good expounded by the Gospels and Christ who came to fulfill the law. 
 
How every modern, attack the community so that you can excuse the actions of your individual child...
Anonymous | 5/23/2010 - 8:01pm
Jägerstätter was clearly right and the bishop was wrong about the war; however, this is with 20/20 hindsight regarding the largest war in human history.  The bishops pragmatism regarding his attempts to persuade this man to save his life (he could have been a cook in the army) should be met with some charity on our part.
 
It is easy to point our pious fingers when we are away from the confusion of history and complexity.
 
In any case, how about updating this scenario a bit; oh, let's say, Iraq in 2003?
 
Which world leaders were against the invasion?  The Labor party in England?  The secular New York Times?  Either body of the US Congress?
 
No, but the "hierarchs" of the Catholic Church were against this unjust war...
 
As for individual conscience, we do make our own choices; however, our conscience in informed by the Body of Chirst - by our Church, our parents and priests and community.
 
It is not as black and white as modern individualists and Protestants would like to believe.
 
PS - as for the blog post, the Catholic Church does not exclude homosexuals - but it does call all sinners to repent irregardless of sexuality.  Also, since when did "sexuality" become the defining trait of a human being??
Beth Cioffoletti | 5/23/2010 - 6:48pm
But, ultimately, conscience means that YOU decide.
 
When I first heard about the supremacy of consciense, I was actually a little scared and overwhelmed.  The fate of my immortal soul lies with me and me alone.  The final word (judgement) will come down to me: Did I do what I knew to be right? 
 
It must also be said that one must make an effort to inform one's conscience, examine all the points of view in the context of one's situation. It is not at all to do what feels best at the time.
 
We cannot do harm and justify that harm on the basis that the Pope (or some hierarch) said so.
Anonymous | 5/23/2010 - 6:30pm
Jeremy Taylor gives some sage advice on how to seek counsel, or rather, of whom not to ask advice in order to clarify one's conscience. He quotes at length from Ecclesiasticus to explain what he means. "Consult not with a woman touching her of whom she is jealous; neither with a coward in matters of war; nor with a merchant concerning exchange; nor with a buyer of selling; nor with an envious man of thankfulness; nor with a hireling for a year of finishing work; nor with an unmerciful man touching kindness; nor with a slothful for any work; nor with an idle servant of much business; hearken not unto these in any matter of counsel. The point is not that these people would be slow to give counsel nor that they might not have much to say. But in moral matters, the character of the counselor has much to do with the soundness of what he says; unless he is truly disengaged, his judgment is prejudiced and the advice he gives is adulterated by his own entanglements, observes Hardon SJ.
Beth Cioffoletti | 5/23/2010 - 6:13pm
1776 "Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment. . . . For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God. . . . His conscience is man's most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths."47
(from the Cathechism of the Catholic Church)
 
Perhaps the finest example in recent times of the supremacy of conscience was Franz Jägerstätter, a husband and father of three who was beheaded on August 9, 1943, for refusing any collaboration with the Nazis.
 
Jägerstätter’s own bishop had judged his conscience to be “in error”, but “in good faith”, and that the priests and seminarians who died in Hitler's armies “firm in the conviction that they were following the will of God” to be following “a clear and correct conscience.”
 
Thomas Merton wrote an essay about Jägerstätter's predicament, and while conceding that whose conscience was erroneous and whose was correct could ultimately only be decided by God, says that the real question raised by the Jägerstätter story is not merely that of the individual Catholic’s right to conscientious objection but the question of the Church’s own mission of protest and prophecy in the gravest spiritual crisis man has ever known.
Merton’s essay includes an impressive meditation from Franz Jägerstätter in which he intuits that his refusal to fight is not a private matter, but concerns the historical predicament of the Catholic Church in the 20th century.
(you can read that meditation here: http://fatherlouie.blogspot.com/2007/06/enemy-of-state.html )
 
Individuals who have the courage to follow their consciences, in many cases, INFORM AND LEAD the Conscience of the Church!
Mark Harden | 5/23/2010 - 5:30pm
''The Catholic Faith has also always held that the individual's conscience is supreme''
I suggest you go back and read the actual Vatican II documents that mention sensus fidei, you will find the doctrine is nowhere near the individual level to which you ascribe it. And, of course, our conscience is not ''supreme'' in any case unless it is well-formed. Well-formed means formed in accordance with the revelation of God, not of man, not of our personal emotions. So, we end up back where we started: to properly form our conscience, we are in need of obedience to the Magisterium, to the truth of God expressed through His church through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Sensus fidei by your definition would be congruent with the faith of Protestantism.
Anonymous | 5/23/2010 - 5:04pm
Lest we be unclear about conscience, Hardon SJ would reminds us: "The meaning of conscience- we believing Christians must be certain we understand and we know what conscience is. Conscience is the trained ability of judging between right and wrong in human conduct. It is the trained ability of judging. Conscience is a function of the human mind of judging. Judging between right and wrong, of past actions done, of present actions being done and of future actions to be done.

The Christian conscience for believing Christians is the human mind enlightened by the Christian faith. A conscience supernaturally enlightened by faith, which enables a person to know. It is a faculty of judgment, which enables the mind to see, or grasp, or perceive what is pleasing or displeasing to God. The enlightenment of the conscience by faith is crucial. Without the mind being enlightened by faith we cannot talk about conscience, not conscience, as Christianity has understood the term for 2000 years".

One can talk about conscience only within the context of a properly formed conscience...


Beth Cioffoletti | 5/23/2010 - 4:33pm
The Catholic Faith has also always held that the individual's conscience is supreme.  God judges us by our conscience and not by the Church's conscience or our parents' conscience, but by our own personal conscience.

This belief has been, and will probably be, the best kept secret of the Catholic Faith.
Anonymous | 5/23/2010 - 3:43pm
Let me suggest(Hardon SJ)...norms for discovering religious truth in today's miasma of very sophisticated and very learned confusion. Ask yourself three questions:

Question one: does what I am hearing or reading correspond to what the Church has always held to be true? If it does you can trust it. If it does not, distrust it. The Church has always held that Christ is bodily present in the Eucharist; that the Pope is infallible in teaching the universal Church; that marriage is indissoluble by any human authority, civil or ecclesiastical; that adultery and fornication and homosexuality are mortal sins that deprive those who die thus estranged from God of the vision of God; that the priesthood is reserved for men; that personal auricular confession is necessary to obtain sacramental absolution; that the Mass is a sacrifice and not just an elaborate liturgical meal; that direct abortion is murder; that obedience to rightful authority is a divine law; that religious life is part of divine revelation; that celibacy is pleasing to God; that contraception, no matter what the intention, is a grave sin; that prayer is necessary for salvation; and that angels are sent by God to minister to our human and especially our spiritual needs. All of these, and I could go on, are truths the Church has always held. Anyone who contradicts or casts doubt on what has been the heritage of historic Christianity, no matter how articulate or learned or highly placed he or she may be, is not telling the truth.

Anonymous | 5/23/2010 - 2:28pm
You asked, "WHY do we not stick to the issues of life and death? And if not, why aren't we then including artificial birth control, or in vitro fertilization treatments, or premarital sex, along with same-sex marriage, as things we must call for state legislation against?"
 
Becuae of homophobia.   I agree with Fr. Martin's  comment in another post here -    it's just bizarre to link same-sex marriage and abortion
Anonymous | 5/23/2010 - 12:56pm
Only heroic bishops and heroic priests, heroic religious, heroic fathers and mothers, heroic faithful, will survive the massive persecution of the Catholic Church in our country today. We call ourselves the Land of Liberty. But the only liberty that is given freedom is the liberty to do your own will-a less offensive commentary from Hardon SJ?
Mary Kennedy | 5/23/2010 - 10:34am
It's a science question, and philosophical pretzel-twisting is utterly non persuasive.  Show me a good epi study.  I note, by the way, that Fr. Hardon appears to blame homosexuality on women, presumably married women, who ''selfishly withhold this generosity from men'' forcing men to look to other men for sex. Setting aside the mysogynistic ''when in doubt blame the women'' character of the remark, I note that a woman who is not fearful of an inopportune pregnancy may be less likely to ''withhold.''In my sixty years on the planet, having known and worked with dozens of homosexuals of both genders, I have yet to meet one whose history fit this theory.  And I have yet to meet an unfaithful husband who sought out gay sex because his wife ''withheld'' herself. 
Mary Kennedy | 5/23/2010 - 10:03am
There are plenty of ways to look at ''life and death.''  Discouraging condoms where AIDS is rampant, for example. Or the proposed law in - I think it's Uganda - to impose the death penalty for homosexuality.  But how on earth anyone can find that homosexuality, or AIDS, for that matter, flows from birth control is beyond me. 
Anonymous | 5/23/2010 - 9:43am
WHY do we not stick to the issues of life and death? And if not, why aren't we then including artificial birth control, or in vitro fertilization treatments, or premarital sex, along with same-sex marriage, as things we must call for state legislation against?

We should.

"Thirty years ago, Paul VI appealed to the conscience of the world when he warned about "the consequences of practicing artificial birth control." His warning was prophetic. What have been the consequences of contraception in one once-civilized nation after another?

They have been myriad. But I would give especially seven, which may be listed in sequence.

Fornication;
Adultery;
Sterilization;
Homosexuality;
AIDS;
Breakdown of the family; and
Murder of the unborn.
Fr. Hardon SJ
Anonymous | 5/23/2010 - 8:43am
To be stressed is the close relationship between the fifth and sixth commandments: “You shall not kill” and “You shall not commit adultery.”

The verdict of human history is uniform. Sins against chastity lead to sins against charity. That is why Pope Pius XII said what he did when he canonized the young martyr St. Maria Goretti. He told the assembled audience of more than half a million in St. Peter’s Square that in the last half of the twentieth century the devil would seduce millions to abandon their Christian faith by using lustful pleasure as his demonic bait.

We could go down the whole list of the seven capital sins and see that each one is the object of the devil’s temptation. But he specializes in the first two sins of pride and lust. He deceives his victims into thinking they have the right to determine their own norms of morality, and then lures them into every form of lechery.

From pride and lust follow all the sins which the human will can commit. This, after all, is the devil’s main purpose in tempting us. He was condemned to hell for his sin of pride. He wants us to join him in his infernal paradise. Unlike the evil spirit, we have bodies whose most ecstatic pleasure comes from the use of our procreative powers. God has reserved the experience of this pleasure for the sacred precincts of matrimony. The devil has convinced whole nations to the contrary. Is it any wonder that one of the accepted definitions of “hell” in the English dictionary is “unrestrained fun or sportiveness?

We have no illusion about the price we followers of Christ have to pay to remain faithful to our divine Master. Throughout the Gospel of St. John, we are told that when Christ came into the world the world rejected Him. We are told we cannot both love Christ and the world. We are warned, or shall I say promised, that the world will treat us as it treated the living God when He came into this world.

As the Vicar of Christ tells us we are to expect to die a martyr’s death or certainly live a martyr’s life. But we should have no fear. Why not? Because Jesus has overcome Satan who is the prince of this world. After all, we are destined for eternal life that will never end".

Stanley Kopacz | 5/23/2010 - 8:18am
Ms. Schultz,

Your pain as a loving parent outweighs all the "logical" arguments from Greek philosophy resulting in that horrible term "disordered". Thank God your daughter has a parent like you. That's God's gift to her.
Michael Bindner | 5/23/2010 - 7:18am
Its only a life issue if "every sperm is sacred" although that would have nothing to do with lesbians getting married. More seriously, it is because such outfits as the Catholic Legislative Network are about Republican coalition electoral politics, not defending life. You can especially tell if "overturning Roe v. Wade" or "enacting a human life amendment" are banner issues, since the former requires a Republican President to appoint justices in the mode of Scalia (and gutting equal protection precident) and the latter involves controling 2/3rds of the Senate and 3/4's of state legislatures. Neither prospect appeals to me at all, thank you.

The best way to actually defend life is to enact a living wage through increasig the Child Tax Credit to $500/month and having it refundable at withholding - with matching state income tax credits or rebates. I doubt true believers in the Catholic Legislative Network will sign up for any such proposals, since doing so would hurt their standing with other Republicans.

If you want proof of that proposition, note the number of known conservatives who post below attacking what I am suggesting as liberalism (which it is) or socialism.