Archbishop Allen Vigneron Cancels New Ways Ministry
Guest Speaker at Church-Sponsored Event
Archbishop Allen Vigneron
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Te Deum laudamus! by Diane Korzeniewski:
The Detroit Free Press featured a piece by Patricia Montemurri entitled, Archdiocese of Detroit bans Catholic gay rights speaker from parish. She begins this way:
The Archdiocese of Detroit has banned a support group for Catholic families with gay members from using a Detroit parish for a Saturday meeting because the scheduled speaker represents a pro-gay rights ministry censured by the Vatican.
This part is true. In fact, to the reporters credit, she later mentions a 1999 censuring of the founders of New Ways Ministry, the organization whom the speaker, Francis DeBernardo, represents. I’ll offer a little more background here. This organization was founded by Sr. Jeanne Grammick, SSND and Fr. Robert Nugent, SDS – two individuals who were the subject of a notification from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faithunder the pontificate of Saint Pope John Paul II over what they taught, and neglected to teach, in their ministry to people with same sex attraction (SSA). The end of that document states (emphasis mine in bold):
Father Nugent and Sister Gramick have often stated that they seek, in keeping with the Church’s teaching, to treat homosexual persons “with respect, compassion and sensitivity”. However, the promotion of errors and ambiguities is not consistent with a Christian attitude of true respect and compassion: persons who are struggling with homosexuality no less than any others have the right to receive the authentic teaching of the Church from those who minister to them. The ambiguities and errors of the approach of Father Nugent and Sister Gramick have caused confusion among the Catholic people and have harmed the community of the Church. For these reasons, Sister Jeannine Gramick, SSND, and Father Robert Nugent, SDS, are permanently prohibited from any pastoral work involving homosexual persons and are ineligible, for an undetermined period, for any office in their respective religious institutes.
New Ways Ministry was also the subject of a statement by the USCCB in 2010, which states:
No one should be misled by the claim that New Ways Ministry provides an authentic interpretation of Catholic teaching and an authentic Catholic pastoral practice. Their claim to be Catholic only confuses the faithful regarding the authentic teaching and ministry of the Church with respect to persons with a homosexual inclination. Accordingly, I wish to make it clear that, like other groups that claim to be Catholic but deny central aspects of Church teaching, New Ways Ministry has no approval or recognition from the Catholic Church and that they cannot speak on behalf of the Catholic faithful in the United States.
Bill Donohue at the Catholic League released a rap sheet on NWM.
Getting back to the Detroit Free Press article, Montemurri writes:
It comes a month after Catholic bishops publicly feuded at a Vatican meeting over Pope Francis’ more welcoming words and outreach to gay Catholics and their families.
I don’t recall Pope Francis saying anything of this sort at the recent Synod, but many in the secular media and in the dissenting wing of the Church seem to know what he thinks. As Robert Royal, who was in Rome covering the Synod, recently wrote at The Catholic Thing:
“The pope’s own views have been impossible to detect – though many reporters pressed – because he said nothing at all this week. Presumably, he does desire some pastoral developments. He did invite, after all, Cardinal Kasper to give the keynote at the February consistory that got that whole controversy going. But to identify him with the most radical language in some garbled documents does him an injustice.”
I want to return to that word, “welcoming,” used by Montemurri, which has become popular today. In a nutshell, it is ambiguous and that is what some like. “Welcoming,” in what way? Should people be welcomed in a way that acknowledges the SSA and supports them in living out their lives in harmony with God’s ways; or, should they be welcomed in a way that affirms, or seems to affirm, people in behaviors that are objectively grave in their sinfulness? It’s hard to pin-point what people mean by “welcoming.” The latter lacks mercy in that it considers only the temporal without regard for eternal salvation. I really hope the bishops will define what it means to be “welcoming” in the 2015 Synod, if that word has to be used at all, knowing how it is exploited.
This is probably one of the greatest misunderstandings people have today. The world believes God wants us to be happy, even unto stretching the truth in ways that puts our eternal salvation at risk. Everything is interpreted through the lens of the “here and now” while disregarding the lens of eternity. Jesus Himself would not be considered “welcoming” today by telling followers as he did: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Mt 7:13-14) This conflicts with the gospel of comfort, which avoids any reflection on what it means to take up our crosses daily.
The Free Press report continues:
Joe Kohn, a spokesman for Archbishop Vigneron, said New Ways Ministry is not an approved organization to address Catholic teachings on homosexuality.
“It was brought to the archdiocese’s attention a few weeks back that New Ways Ministry had been scheduled to speak at Christ the King Church,” Kohn said in a statement. “Because New Ways Ministry had been identified as a group that might cause confusion in regards to Catholic church teaching, the archdiocese did clarify that a presentation by New Ways Ministry should not be hosted on church property.”
And that’s why the group hosting New Ways Ministry, moved the Saturday talk offsite. No further statement is really needed by Archbishop Vigneron or the Archdiocese of Detroit. Any time a bishop prohibits an event from happening on Church property, people need to act on prudence. Such action speaks volumes.
Patricia Montemurri, discussing the thoughts of the the man who was to speak at Christ the King Parish, writes:
New Ways’ DeBernardo, who was in Rome attending gay rights events during the bishops’ meeting, said the Detroit archdiocese’s actions run counter to Pope Francis’ more sympathetic posture toward gay Catholics.
First, “gay rights” is synonymous these days with affirming the lifestyle now casually referred to as, “gay.” In Catholic circles where groups like New Ways Ministry is welcomed it is often code for affirming people in their sexual relations outside of sacramental marriage while making them feel it is okay to receive Communion.
Lets be clear: Someone with SSA is welcome to receive Holy Communion like any one else, if they are striving for chastity just like any heterosexual would strive for this. There are many single, heterosexual people, who desire marriage, but have not found a spouse. They are not free to engage in sexual relations outside of Sacramental Marriage and receive Holy Communion. Many do, but that’s something our priests and bishops need to start addressing and maybe it would carry more weight when discussing homosexual relations. Homosexual inclinations are not sinful; acting on them is (CCC 2357-2359). People of either sexual orientation fall into sin and that is why there is Sacramental Confession, but this takes acknowledging a wrong and striving to, “go and sin no more.” (Jn 8:11). As the saying goes, “the Catholic Church is not a museum for saints, but a hospital for sinners.” But, we sinners have to want to live in a way that is faithful to God’s Commandments. Contrary to low-information belief, Jesus did not, “do away,” with the 10 Commandments.
What kind of parent gives wheat to a child with celiac disease, just to avoid the appearance of being mean, or not wanting the child to feel different from other children, or to be happy? Humans are not incapable of eating wheat gluten, but the bodies of some individuals react in a way that damages the colon. Eating wheat can eventually be deadly. In a like manner, a pastor or bishop who permits people to believe they can have sexual relations outside of Sacramental Marriage, or turn marriage into something other than the joining of one man and one woman, engages in false mercy. Personally, I think heterosexual cohabitation is one of the most neglected topics in the Church today.
Perhaps Patricia Montemurri and other reporters would do a story on the Church approved apostolate, Courage and EnCourage. Courage supports people with SSA to live out their lives in harmony with Church teaching. EnCourage is a branch of the apostolate which provides support to family members of those with SSA. Here in Detroit, Msgr. Michael Bugarin is heading up that apostolate. I look forward to Montemurri’s report on it.
The article continues…
The Rev. Victor Clore, pastor of Christ the King parish, said he was notified last week by an archdiocese official that the parish could not host the meeting. Clore said the archdiocese’s position was discouraging.
“I’ll give you a quote from one of my parishioners, who said: ‘It amazes me how Pope Francis eagerly and happily engages those who openly deny the divinity of Christ, yet (New Ways) DeBernardo is deemed unworthy to enter our church,’ ” Clore stated.
“That’s pretty much my feeling, too,” said Clore. “It’s treating people as if they were children.”
Childlikeness is a virtue, especially when it comes to docility. Also, when children want to touch a hot stove they get told, “no.” That is what Archbishop Vigneron is doing here and he would be guilty of omission if he did not do so. And, where is Pope Francis giving a platform to a speaker who openly denies the Divinity of Christ? It’s a straw-man argument. It’s one thing to meet with people and talk to them; it’s quite another to give them a platform on Church property to spread error, or to say it is okay for them to receive Holy Communion while freely placing themselves in a state of grave sin.
Here’s something interesting. The Doctrinal Assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) stated that one of three reasons for initiating the assessment was this:
Policies of Corporate Dissent. The Cardinal spoke of this issue in reference to letters the CDF received from “Leadership Teams” of various Congregations, among them LCWR Officers, protesting the Holy See’s actions regarding the question of women’s ordination and of a correct pastoral approach to ministry to homosexual persons, e.g. letters about New Ways Ministry’sconferences. The terms of the letters suggest that these sisters collectively take a position not in agreement with the Church’s teaching on human sexuality. It is a serious matter when these Leadership Teams are not providing effective leadership and example to their communities, but place themselves outside the Church’s teaching.
Lest there be any doubt, Pope Francis reaffirmed the Vatican’s desire to reform the LCWR. But there it is again, from the Vatican website, clearly showing New Ways Ministry might minister to people with SSA, but not in a Catholic way.
Karle-Nelson said she fears interested Catholics might be confused by the change of location. Last year’s meeting drew about 40 participants, with some walk-ins. She said 22 people are registered for Saturday’s gathering so far.
“It’s really been a problem trying to get the information out to people who have registered and those who might want to walk in,” said Karle-Nelson.
“The reason we invited Frank DeBernardo, is he just returned from Rome and the Synod on the family, and he was going to share his perspective and where do we go from here,” said Karle-Nelson. “The pope has asked for reactions and to weigh in.”
I’d be more concerned about the confusion DeBernardo will sow about what the Church teaches on human sexuality with regards to SSA than with confusion about a change in location. Where do we go from here? Look to the very good shepherd we have here in Detroit and follow through with the Church approved apostolates.
New Ways Ministry doesn’t have any links to Courage and Encourage. I think we know why.
A final word on how groups like NWM use polls, and how media types tend to use that information, treating the Church as if it is a political class. Catholic understanding of Sacred Scripture is not based on opinion polls. Keep in mind, Jesus had a high unfavorable rating in the opinion poll that put him on the Cross (Mt 15:13-15). Opinion ≠ Truth. Here’s a good summary from Cardinal Napier on Twitter.
Pray for all involved.
Courageous Priest Hoodies and Long Sleeve Tees
The response has been positive. I am actually very thankful and impressed. We have reached 74% of our goal to sell 100 hoodies or long sleeve tees. I think that is a tall task, but I know we can pull it off.
Here is an added bonus: For the rest of the day, around half of the profits go to Fr. Z.’s Blog. To date we have given him over $1,000 to help support his great apostolate. I know he greatly appreciates the support.
They are a very good quality and excellent evangelization tool. If you like them, will you please support the Courageous Priest Family Apostolate and buy a hoodie or long sleeve shirt. Thanks.
To make it easy, below is what we are offering. Click on the image of the one you desire to get a better look.
Please note. That this could be the last time we offer this style, type or color. So, if one of these evanagelization hoodies or long sleeve tees interest you, than please consider buying.
PS – Thanks again. Remember, the sale ends tonight, Wednesday. Click here or click on the shirt’s image to order.
John Quinn & Jeff Gares
Goal of the Devil: to Divide us, to Tear Apart the Community of the Faithful.
by Father Chris Pietraszko:
- Create the façade that peace can be experienced between others in heart, while compartmentalizing the mind. That is to say, all that matters is the motives, but not the truth. From this springs pluralism, and the only thing intolerable is disagreement.
- Gossip. The devil whispers truths and lies into our ears about others. We judge the motives of others, and think the worst of them, typically out of our own wounded heart.
- Communal Venting. When you get together with likeminded friends to gossip and discuss how terrible another person is without getting to actually know them. This is one of the hardest things to break apart, because people are reinforcing a lie, giving it even more weight because it is believed by many, and in the air you breath.
- Judging others – when you are offended by a miscommunication, and automatically assume the worst. Always ask before assuming “they are out to get you.”
- Projecting – sometimes you might have a history of rejection, and project that on other’s behaviour. Give everyone a fair chance, don’t allow your wounds to dictate judgment on others.
- Speaking the truth without love. It is venomous and actually a distorted truth.
Only a few days left.
The Courageous Priest Apostolate is offering a Limited Edition, Courageous Priest Hoodie and Long Sleeve Shirt! Some people were having some questions. So, here is the image of the each hoodie and shirt being offered. You can click on the image you like to buy that hoodie or long sleeve shirt.
We are half way to reaching our goal. They are a very good quality and excellent evangelization tool. If you like them, will you please support the Courageous Priest Family Apostolate and buy a hoodie or long sleeve shirt. Thanks.
PS – Thanks again. Remember, the sale ends Wednesday. Click here or click the shirt to order.
John Quinn & Jeff Gares
I Love My Wife!
Dear Friends of Courageous Priest,
I am the most blessed man in the world. Jeff and I have been running this site for 5 years now. It has been a wild run, like riding a stallion bareback. We are continually astonished at how much this site has grown. Do you know we have had over 3 million visits. And amazingly, over 11,000 people have trusted us enough to become subscribers. Mother Mary has been very good to us.
Sit back, relax and let me share a little story with you. It is a good story.
Let me tell you about my lovely wife. Without her I could not do this site. I honestly don’t know how she does it. She is a suffering servant. We have 5 young children, 12 and under. We home school. Home schooling doesn’t come easy for us. Actually, it is exceptionally difficult. It is a struggle.
Did I tell you Regan almost died giving birth to our firstborn?
It took us five years to conceive our first. We thought infertility was our cross, with Regan being a diabetic and having a pituitary tumor, that made sense. We found out what was wrong. We never allowed God into our bedroom. The first day we prayed before the marital act, inviting Him into our bedroom, was the day we conceived. We were weak Catholics. Our conversion happened around our fourth year of marriage.
I almost lost her.
I can’t believe how well she maintained her sugars. Up to 14 shots a day! It was amazing.
She went through a three day labor. Yes, I said three days. A Navy seal in basic training couldn’t touch the pain my wife went through. When she was finally told to push, things got worse. Nothing happened. You could see the beginning of a head. We went in for an emergency C-section. My baby girl, my firstborn, was stuck. We had one doctor pulling her body, while the nurse was pushing the head. I was scared. The doctor started cussing and yelling for a male doctor.
After many prayers, she finally came out. Anne Marie was a NICU baby. Both of them left with long term issues, Anne Marie is deaf in one ear and struggles with learning. One day, maybe I will share her miraculous story. She is an amazing girl and doing remarkably well.
Now, are you ready for this!
Regan gave me 4 more children. All C-sections. What did I ever do to deserve 4 more children? Tell me! All I can say is thanks. A quiver full. None of them were easy pregnancies. Not even close. Let me tell you, if any one ever starts a courageous wives site, let me nominate mine.
The Quinn Family
Her new cross to bear is gripping with the fact that she can’t have any more children. There are days I see her crying. I know why. They are heart tears. It is like tears shed after losing your mom. God bless her, she longs for more children.
Sins from the past haunt us, too. We both fight anger issues. The Rosary has saved our marriage more than once. Did I tell you we struggle? I wasn’t joking.
It is her pain that really causes her problems now. Never mind the fact that she is sensitive to touch, sound, and light. Can you believe it? A mother of five is sensitive to touch and sound. And for the love of God, she married a Quinn. Quinns are the loudest and most rambunctious kids in town.
At times she describes the pain as a stabbing knife. And like it is for so many other pain sufferers, it is a hidden cross for her. I see it in people’s faces and sometimes from their lips, saying, “Why can’t she do this or that? She looks fine.”
It can get over whelming. She, by nature, is a perfectionist. Guess what. How clean do you think our house is? Oh, God, do we ever struggle. Have you ever said, “I am going nuts!”? Thats us.
What more can I say? My dear wife, I love you! Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I am just going to throw this out there. Are you holding back from having a baby because it was a difficult labor or have other struggles? Don’t be afraid, take courage. YOU CAN DO IT. God will help. Will you, right now, pray and ask God to open your heart to be willing to have another child if that is His will. Your will be done Lord, not mine.
What will it hurt? Some have legitimate reasons for not having another child. I get that. I am just asking you to pray. What harm has ever come from praying?
Will you do me a favor? Please share this with your friends. You may even have some loved ones you might want to call and personally ask to read this. Who knows, in the near future, there may be another little person who will thank you for sharing.
PS I want Courageous Priest to be more of a family. If you like you can join my personal page at Facebook. I don’t post often and comment less, but I would be honored if you requested me as a friend. You can click here.
PS – Please don’t forget to buy your Courageous Priest hoodies and long sleeve shirts. There are only five days left. Some of you had questions. All you need to do is select if you want a hoodie or long sleeve shirt, select the color and then click the buy it now button. Please click here to buy and support the Courageous Priest family apostolate. Thanks! We need 68 more people to help us reach our goal.
The Danger of Separating Discipline from Doctrine: Permitting
Divorced and Civilly Remarried Catholics to Receive Holy Communion
by Fr. William Moser
If the Church were to allow people to separate Church discipline from Church doctrine, the doctrine of faith from the practice of the faith – as is in the case of allowing the divorced and civilly remarried to receive Holy Communion– it would mean blessing hypocrisy; it would mean sanctioning that which our Lord Jesus strongly condemns.
What is Hypocrisy?
Jesus had some very strong things to say to hypocrites – very strong things indeed! Open your New Testament to the holy gospel of St. Luke and in chapter twelve you find Him saying: “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” (Mt 12:3). Then turn to the holy gospel of St. Matthew in chapter twenty three, and you will find 7 “woes” cast at the hypocritical Pharisees. You get the idea that hypocrisy must be a very bad thing. So, what is hypocrisy? Hypocrisy means faking it essentially; it means making an appearance, feigning goodness while contradicting it in practice. The word hypocrisy is taken from the ancient Greek stage where actors put on a mask. On stage that is an appropriate thing to do, but in religion it is not.
Jesus strongly condemns doing religious things“to be seen by men.” (Mt 23:5). This covers the intention of not doing them sincerely when they are “hidden” from the eyes of others.
How Can We Contradict Our Lord?
It follows that hypocrisy is bad–very bad! Our blessed and divine Lord makes that abundantly clear. Then why is there all of this talk today about giving Holy Communion to people – even if by exception– who are living in various sinful states? Are we not in danger of blessing, ratifying, sanctioning what Jesus condemns? If our Lord, as a preface to His 7 “woes” cast upon the “Scribes and Pharisees,” says: “so practice and observe what they tell you, but not what they do for they preach, but do not practice.” (Mt 23:3). How can we contradict Him? He who is “the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8). Jesus tells us, His present day disciples, also to do the opposite of the “Scribes and Pharisees”— the opposite of putting on a show of religion: proclaiming our beliefs but not sincerely intending to practice our faith.
How is it possible to tell anybody living in sin— in a state that is contrary to the law of God— that it is okay to receive Holy Communion? And to do the opposite of what that communion with the divine signifies? Holy Communion signifies union with our Lord Jesus Christ in belief and practice. This is why our mother the Church provides the sacrament of penance; so that those who are aware of grave sin and who are ready to repent, may confess and be absolved before they receive Him Who is the fruit of the Eucharistic sacrifice. Someone who is living in sin, who will not separate himself from an occasion of sin (by cohabiting for instance) may not even be able to receive absolution because he says thereby–living in sin—he doesn’t intend to change.
We Cannot Separate Doctrine from Discipline
Therefore, it follows that we cannot separate doctrine from discipline. I would even go on to say that “being pastoral”— quite contrary to present day thinking – means putting doctrine into practice faithfully despite the difficulties; otherwise, we would be guilty of hypocrisy. Separating doctrine from practice means blessing hypocrisy, making it acceptable. “Woe” to those people who dare propose such a contradiction of our divine Lord, Jesus Christ!
A Feminized Church Has Led Men To Become Disengaged From Her!
Tell us what you think! Has a feminized church led men to become disengaged?
By: Msgr. Charles Pope (with some editing)
When I was growing up, my father would often exhort me to “be a man.” He would summon me to courage and responsibility and to discover the heroic capacity that was in me. St. Paul summoned forth a spiritual manhood with these words: We [must] all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ, so that we may no longer be infants, tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery, from their cunning in the interests of deceitful scheming. Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ (Eph 4:13ff).
If the ladies will pardon me (for women have their own sort of strength), I want to issue a special summons to men, especially fathers, husbands, and priests. The summons is simple: be a man. We need men in these dark days, men who will heroically speak and act, men who will announce the truth and insist upon it wherever they have authority, men who will stop being passive fathers and husbands, priests who will stop “playing it safe” by remaining silent in the moral storm. Yes, be a man.
It has often been observed that men are rather disengaged from the practice of the faith and attendance at the Sacred Liturgy. Frankly, there is a reason—not a politically correct one, but a reason nonetheless. Most of the men I talk to find the Church rather feminized. There is much talk in the Church about forgiveness and love, about receptivity and about being “nicer.” These are fine virtues, all of them necessary. But men also want to be engaged, to be sent into battle, to go forth and make a difference.
After years of radical feminism, men are shamed for seeking to take up leadership and authority in their families and in the Church. It starts early. Any normal boy is full of spit and vinegar, is aggressive, competitive, and anxious to test his wings. But many boys are scolded, punished, and even medicated for these normal tendencies. They are told to behave more like girls and to learn to be nicer and to get along, etc. It will be granted that limits are necessary, but the tendency for boys to roughhouse is normal. The scolding and “socializing” to more feminine traits continues apace into early adulthood. And then there are other cultural phenomena such as the slew of “Men are stupid” commercials, etc.
Though many in past decades have sought to describe the Church as “male-dominated,” nothing could be further from the truth. Most parish leadership structures are dominated by women. And women do fine work. But the Church has done a very poor job of engaging men as men and equipping them to be strong husbands, fathers, and priests. Virtues related to bold leadership and the effective use of authority are in short supply whereas other virtues such as collaboration, listening, empathy, and understanding are overemphasized.
This lack of balance, wherein traditionally manly virtues are downplayed—even shamed—has led many men to become disengaged from the Church.
Even as early as 1885, Pope Leo XIII saw coming a softness that was infecting the times. In a document aptly named (and using a word too many clergy and fathers are afraid to use) Quod Auctoritate, Pope Leo said:
You know the temper of the times—how many there are who love to live delicately and shrink from whatever requires manhood and generosity; who, when ailments come, discover in them sufficient reasons for not obeying the salutary laws of the Church, thinking the burden laid upon them more than they can bear . . . perils everywhere abound. The great virtues of our forefathers have in large measure disappeared; the most violent passions have claimed a freer indulgence; the madness of opinion which knows no restraint, or at least no effective restraint, every day extends further; [and yet among] those whose principles are sound there are many who, through a misplaced timidity, are frightened, and have not the courage even to speak out their opinions boldly, far less to translate them into deeds; everywhere the worst examples are affecting public morals; wicked societies which We ourselves have denounced before now, skilled in all evil arts, are doing their best to lead the people astray, and as far as they are able, to withdraw them from God, their duty, and Christianity . . . Therefore those who speak to the people should lay it down persistently and clearly that according not only to the law of the Gospel, but even to the dictates of natural reason, a man is bound to govern himself and keep his passions under strict control, and moreover, that sin cannot be expiated except by penance . . . In order therefore that Our teaching may sink into men’s minds, and what is the great thing, actually govern their daily lives, an attempt must be made to bring them to think and act like Christians, not less in public than in private.
Not a bad summons to heroic and public witness to the faith! Not a bad summons to manly virtues like sacrifice, strength, insisting on what is right, meeting perils toe-to-toe, courage, speaking out, self-control, and so forth. The Church used to speak more often in this way. Today there seems to be only the goal of not hurting or offending anyone.
The disengagement of men from the Church has come to mean that many Christian men are passive fathers and husbands. They have not matured in their faith but remain in a kind of spiritual childhood. They are not the spiritual leaders in their homes that Scripture summons them to be (cf. Eph 5). If they go to Church at all, their wives have to drag them there. They do not teach their children to pray, insist that they practice the faith, or read Scripture to them. Too often, they leave this for their wives to do.
Thankfully, many men do take up their proper role. They have reached spiritual manhood and understand their responsibilities in the Lord. They live courageously and are leaders. They are the ones first up on Sunday morning leading their families to Church and insisting on religious practice in the home. They initiate prayer and Scripture reading and are vigorous moral leaders and teachers in their families, parishes, and communities. They are willing to battle for the truth and to speak up for what is right.
You see, the Lord is looking for a few good men. Are you a Christian man? Have you reached spiritual manhood? This is not the kind of manhood that comes merely with age. It comes when we pray, hear, and heed Scripture and the teachings of the Church. It comes when we live the faith courageously and summon others to follow Jesus without compromise. It comes when we speak the truth in love and live out the truth. It comes when we fear God and thus fear no man, for when we are able to kneel before God we can stand before any human threat.
Originally posted at: blogadw.org
“Is Love Genderless Thing?”
by Rev. Stephen V. Hamilton,
Fr. Stephen V. Hamilton
Psalm 23 tells us of the work of the Lord who shepherds us. And it gives us insight also into the work of shepherds who continue the work of Jesus in ministry. The psalm told us this about the shepherd: “Beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul. He guides me in right paths.” Scripture indicates repeatedly that sheep need a shepherd. They wander. They get lost. They venture into danger and places that are not good for them. A shepherd is needed to lead to “right paths.” Scripture and Jesus himself use this imagery to describe the guidance our souls need to stay on the right path leading to Heaven. This is a challenge for modern ears. We sort of find it endearing that we are sheep of a flock. But that attitude can rapidly change when a shepherd actually calls us away from the wrong paths that are celebrated in secular society. In other words, the shepherd is usually appreciated when he calls himself a shepherd. But he might meet resistance when he actually shepherds.
“Gay Marriage,” How Did We Get Here?
With this in mind, I am going to venture into a difficult topic. I want to speak about the development four weeks ago that same-sex marriage is now legal in Oklahoma. More precisely, what I hope to focus our thoughts on is NOT gay marriage itself but rather the deeper question of how we got here, how we arrived at this day. Anytime I speak on a difficult or charged topic I always find it necessary to state clearly that it is not my intention, it is not in my heart, to offend, but to be a shepherd guiding into right paths. By the time I conclude I hope you will see that my remarks are directed to everyone and not only to those who identify with same-sex attraction. It is important to state here: We must always show compassion to those who identify with same-sex attraction. The self-righteousness that would shun or shame such persons is not of God. The empty moralizing that would make a person’s dignity dependent upon a heterosexual orientation is not what the Church teaches. We do not condone homosexual actions but we must always exercise patience and understanding to help carry the burdens of those who need our support in a struggle over sexual orientation. Hatred directed toward a person who identifies as gay has no place in the life of the Christian. If we do not walk with such persons, if we shun them, in what sense can we claim to be Christ’s Body?!
Love is a Genderless Thing.
The day after same-sex marriage became legal in our State the Oklahoman ran an article in which a prominent metro-area Protestant pastor was quoted saying, “Love is a genderless thing. Love is the same whether a man marries a woman, or a man marries a man, or a woman marries a woman. It is the same” (Oklahoman, “At church ceremony, 14 couples recite vows,” 7 October 2014, page 3A). Reading that quote I found myself asking, Is that true? In what sense is love genderless?
That statement is true IF we are speaking of God. The First Letter of St. John says, “God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8). God is complete being itself. He is not limited to one gender. We use personal pronouns for God, but we do not in any way mean that God is male or female. The pastor’s words seem to make sense then. But was he speaking of the reality of God when he said, “Love is a genderless thing?” No!
Next, try to imagine ‘love’ as a thing in and of itself. In other words try to imagine the reality expressed by the word ‘love.’ The concept of ‘love’ is without gender. Consider love of a family member or love of one’s country. The reality being expressed by the word ‘love’ does not itself have a gender. The pastor’s words seem to make sense then. But was he speaking of the concept of love as a thing in and of itself when he said, “Love is a genderless thing?” No!
Let’s remember: The pastor was speaking specifically about the context of marriage when he uttered that remark. So, I am left to ask: What can “love is a genderless thing” possibly mean when we are discussing the incarnate, in-the-flesh love between human beings who are, in fact, embodied as a gender – male and female? Can such a statement possibly be true when used in the context of that union whose very purpose is to bring two bodies together?
Gender Influences Your Whole Life
Consider your own gender. My being male influences my whole being. Everything I do is in some sense influenced by being male. In that sense, it can reasonably be said of the things I do that “A male person did that.” Gender is not strictly compartmentalized from the rest of the aspects of my life; rather, it influences my whole life. Gender influences our whole being and is part of how we live and move and express ourselves through our body. And when we speak of sexuality and sexual activity, how much more clearly is gender involved? When a human being loves, and especially loves another person, that is an embodied act of the whole person. Now, that love does not have to be genitally sexual, but it is in fact engendered because it is a human being, male or female, who loves. Christianity believes a truth that secular society rejects, namely, that the body is important. What we do in it, and with it, and through it matters. It matters for life on earth. It matters for our judgment and for eternity. St. Paul writes: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body” (2 Cor. 5:10). Jesus’ Resurrection – in the Body! – shows us the body’s value. The body is not some meaningless vehicle, tossed away once our life on earth ends. It wasn’t so for Jesus. And it isn’t for us. Jesus took the resurrected Body into heavenly life. After death, our resurrection will mean our souls are reunited with our bodies such that we enjoy transformed bodily life in Heaven or suffer loss through bodily life in Hell. We will experience heaven or hell in the body. That’s our faith in resurrection.
How did Gender get Separated from Love?
So, how did we arrive at a point in society when a patently false statement like that pastor’s can be uttered and seemingly accepted? How did gender get separated from love? How did the power of gender to generate life become separated from love? Remember the context here is marriage. So, if sexual love in marriage doesn’t require gender then it has no meaningful connection to the natural design for procreation and for the generation of human life. If sexual love has no meaningful or necessary connection to procreation, then what remains for love between two human beings? What remains is purely physical gratification and whatever mutual support the partners decide to settle for. If love is nothing more than physical gratification of two people then truly gender doesn’t matter. But, I ask you, is THAT what love is in a human sexual context? Is that what love is in your marriage? I don’t think so. And since marriage is precisely the context, then the pastor’s words are absolutely false. Furthermore, the words are morally dangerous since a pastor guided people down wrong paths. His words are shown to be false by observing the Natural Law, that is the order visible in creation and the order clearly present in sexual love, which shows it to be made for the mutual complementarity of the genders, male and female. His words are shown to be morally dangerous because, among many reasons, they contradict scriptural teaching that what we do in the body matters both for our flourishing here and for our salvation.
Contraception, Let’s not be Naïve Here.
All of this falsehood has been allowed to spread because heterosexual love has been willfully stripped of its meaningful and necessary connection to procreation. The prevalent use of contraception has made it possible to separate the intrinsic order of human sexual love. Let’s not be naïve here. Contraception hides under labels of ‘responsibility,’ and ‘safe,’ and ‘protection.’ But, in fact, what it is primarily about is separating what God joined together in sexual love to be shared by the two genders. God joined in sexual love the good of spousal unity (or bonding) and the good of procreation (or babies). I think we need to admit what has happened in society here. Those advocating same-sex relations and same-sex marriage are in some sense reflecting what they see in the practices that are so prevalent among heterosexual couples.
It’s as if they are saying to heterosexuals, “Well, if you can opt whenever you want for a sterile love, one not connected to the baby-making power of the genders, then why can’t we opt for that too? If you can opt whenever you want only for the gratification part of love, then why can’t we opt for that too?”
The World Needs the Witness of Your Total Self-giving Love
And here is where I hope you hear that my words are not primarily about those in same-sex relations or marriage. Rather, my words are more for heterosexuals in marriage. The world needs you to resist the disorder that is introduced into human sexual love when contraception is practiced. Sexual love is disordered when its God-designed meaning to bond the spouses and to generate babies is willfully separated by contraception or other means. And so to you who are called to live a holy vocation in Christ in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony I say: the world needs the witness of your total self-giving love. The world needs your witness of trust in God’s design for love that is expressed when heterosexual love is lived in a fully human way to bond you to your spouse and to bond you to a son or a daughter who embodies your love. And so the right path I want to shepherd you along today is to recognize the desperate need the Lord has for you to live your marital love in a fruitful way.
The Spiritual Malpractice of Shepherds
For many of you there have been sins in the past. You may have been swept up in the contraceptive message of society and in what I will call the spiritual malpractice of shepherds who remained silent or who gave false advice. If that is the case, then repent. Have no fear! The Lord loves us and heals us in his mercy in the confessional. If your fertile years are past and you feel guilty about past decisions. Then help the next generation. Offer sacrifice and penance for yourself and for them. Be an apostle for the full meaning of marital love and speak to your children and to your grandchildren, to anyone who will listen, and call them to a meaningful expression of human love that respects the order established by God. If you are still in your fertile years, learn Natural Family Planning and reverence God’s place in your marital love. If you are young and looking ahead to marriage, then practice discipline in chastity now, and recognize that when you marry you need to be ready to have babies. If you aren’t ready for babies then you aren’t ready for marriage. You who are called to live an engendered love are the hope to return society to our moorings of respect for spousal love that will help all people truly flourish. Come Lord Jesus, shepherd us in right paths!
by Fr. Stephen V. Hamilton
Bishop James Conley, “Catholics have an obligation to vote.”
Bishop Conley: “Voting Helps Protect the Unborn, the Family,
the Poor, and the Freedom of Conscience”
Courageous Priest News Flash: Happy All Saints Day! I am giddy like a little school boy, our family is going to visit the grave site of Servant of God Augustus Tolton, the first African American priest in the United States. Please don’t forget to visit the graveyards, you may receive plenary indulgences for the Holy Souls until November 8th.
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By Bishop James D. Conley: Southern Nebraska Register
Election Day is a reminder of our obligation to one another—our obligation to support the common good, and to build a civilization of love.
Voting is a civic duty.
Sadly, many Catholics in our state do not vote on Election Day. I don’t understand why. I have never missed voting in an election ever since I reached voting age. Even during my 12 years of living in Rome, I never missed voting in an election year through an absentee ballot. Voting is a means of expressing our hopes for our communities, a means of pursuing justice, and of building a culture of life. Voting is a means to help protect the unborn, the family, the poor, and the freedom of conscience and faith in public life. Voting is a civic duty. It seems to me that not voting, unless there are very grave reasons to abstain, is a sin—and when we fail to vote for reasons no better than apathy or forgetfulness, we ought to confess that.
Whenever possible, Catholics have an obligation to vote—particularly when critical issues are at stake. Today, in our country, critical issues are certainly at stake. Abortion remains our national shame. Our failure to protect the unborn is a failure of the highest magnitude. The right to life is the foundational human right.
Religious people are being systematically marginalized in public life, in business, and in schools. The sanctity of marriage as we have always known it, is being undermined. The family, and the right of children to have mothers and fathers, is under attack.
And the dignity of the poor, whom we are called to love zealously, is often undermined by policy initiatives and greed.
We are connected to every single member of our community—living or dead. We ought to pray for them. And we ought to do all that we can to build a culture of justice, of liberty, and a culture of life.
Bishop James D. Conley