Bishop Vasa: “Homosexual Behavior is Sinful”
Courage, an apostolate of the Catholic Church
By MARTIN ESPINOZA, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT – A former gay-porn actor who says his Catholic faith saved him from a world of pornography, homosexuality and the occult is scheduled to make a presentation in Santa Rosa to a religious group called Courage, an apostolate of the Catholic Church that ministers to people with same-sex attractions.
The program will feature Joseph Sciambra, an author and missionary who has said, among other things, that “gay identity is tantamount to imprisonment of the soul within the disorder” and that anal sex releases “into the world these rare demonic entities.”
The planned presentation has raised concerns among some local Catholics that the Santa Rosa diocese is sanctioning religious tactics that harken back to the days of reparative therapy, aimed at changing people’s sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual.
The presentation comes amid a focus by Santa Rosa Bishop Robert Vasa on traditional Catholic teachings about homosexuality, birth control and abortion.
Vasa said Thursday that Catholic doctrine is clear on one point: homosexual behavior is sinful.
“The proper ordering of the sexual faculty is toward procreation,” he said.
Whenever people use the “sexual faculty” in ways that are not aligned with this order, “even in a vague kind of way, then we would say it’s not properly ordered, it’s out of order.”
Vasa’s strict interpretation of long-held Catholic doctrine has upset some parishioners in his generally liberal diocese, which has 165,000 members and extends north to the Oregon border. The bishop has acknowledged a need for church leaders to become more “pastoral” in their work following comments by Pope Francis that have been widely seen as conciliatory toward gays.
Vasa said that Courage’s teachings bear similarities to spiritual encouragement centered on chastity that is given to teens.
Other diocese officials dispute that the local Courage ministry resembles reparative therapy. They say the presentation, like regular Courage meetings, is aimed at offering prayerful support to those with homosexual inclinations.
“Courage does not do therapy. Therapy is left to the professionals,” said John Collins, superintendent of Catholic education for the diocese.
Collins, who is the coordinator of the local Courage group, said the point of the presentation, as well as that of regular Courage meetings, is to give people spiritual encouragement that, among other things, “leads them away from homosexual behavior.” That means helping them live chaste lives.
Those assurances do not assuage local Catholics and former Catholics who say the church is out of step with modern interpretations of their faith.
Bill Boorman, a 79-year-old gay Catholic who lives in Santa Rosa, said the church should accept that “homosexuality is a basic manifestation of human sexuality.”
Boorman, a retired naval officer, said that he’s long come to terms with his sexuality and that he feels compelled to live “as a full human being” who embraces others without judgment and who follows his conscience.
“I feel that as a homosexual man I have exactly the same responsibility as any other human being — to live a compassionate, responsible, caring existence. Living a moral life was foremost.”
Though it is sanctioned by the local diocese, Courage is not an official ministry of the diocese, and the nearest chapter is in San Francisco. Collins said the group has met about 50 times in the past seven years.
People are not not “forced” to attend the group, he said. The group’s main focus is chastity and the teaching of “truth” according to the official Latin text of the Catholic Catechism, which teaches “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” are inclinations that are “objectively disordered.”
“Chastity means you do take people where they are, you love them, you embrace them as persons” who are made in God’s image, Collins said, adding that chastity “will always help a person to treat himself and any other human being as a human subject, never as an object. In other words, the object of my sexual desire.”
Sciambra, the former porn star, said that he’s known John Collins since about 2001. Back then, he said, they tried to start a Courage group in Santa Rosa without much success.
He said the local priests and the diocese were supportive but that “it was hard getting the word out, getting people to know about it.”
Sciambra now lives in Napa, where he owns and operates a shop called St. Joseph Religious Goods.
The goal of Courage,
he said, is to give those with homosexual attractions “hope.”
“There are so many people that are gay and are in the gay lifestyle, and they don’t see a place for themselves in the Catholic church,” he said.
“What Courage tries to do is say, ‘Yes, you are welcome in the Catholic church and you can be in full communion in the Catholic church but you need to be chaste,’” he said. “You have to accept chastity.”
Bishop Robert Vasa
Vasa echoed a similar sentiment.
“Morally speaking, everyone is called to chastity and everyone is given sufficient grace to live a life consistent with the Commandments regardless of their situation circumstances or inclinations,” the bishop said.
Former Catholic Lin Campbell,
a facilitator for the Santa Rosa chapter of PFLAG, formerly known as Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays, likened Courage to “spiritual reparative therapy.” Campbell said she previously worked at St. Eugene’s Cathedral for 23 years but left the church when she realized that her gay son, a former eucharistic minister who attended Catholic schools through college, would not be accepted by church hierarchy.
Campbell said she drew the line when she heard Archbishop Wilton Gregory, former president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, say that gay priests were responsible for the church’s pedophile sex scandals.
“The day that I realized there was no place in the church for my son to be an authentic gay man in a loving, committed relationship — married, with three children — was the day I realized there was no place in the church for me, either,”
Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, a national organization of LGBT Catholics and supporters, said many Catholic dioceses across the country are adopting Courage as their official ministry to the lesbian and gay community.
“I think of it as really the 1950s, when being gay was considered sick, sinful or criminal,” Duddy-Burke said, adding that organizations like hers are working toward changing literal interpretations of the Bible and ultimately church acceptance of gays and lesbians in every aspect of the church.
“What we’re working for is full inclusion and equality for LGBT people,” she said. “We’re not literalists. We understand that the Bible is symbolic and that God’s word needs to be interpreted and studied and mostly it needs to live in your heart and in your soul.”
For Sciambra, the idea of equality for gays and lesbians is an example of the “inherent demonic influence upon the modern homosexual mind-set.”
He said gays who are in a committed, monogamous relationship are a minority.
“There’s certainly a very small segment of the population that is monogamous, partnered and married,” he said. “The majority of gay men are very sexually active, very promiscuous, and that’s the world that I lived in.”
Sciambra said he is compelled to speak out against homosexual behavior because of the high rates of HIV among gay men. He cited extensive statistics from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that show gay men disproportionately are infected with HIV.
“According to the CDC, 4 percent of the population is homosexual men,” he said. “They are 160 times more likely to contract HIV … In 2010, gay men accounted for 78 percent of all new HIV infections.”
Sciambra said he’s driven by his wish to keep people alive. He denied that he’s demonizing gays and lesbians.
Homosexual acts “are aberrations of nature,” he said. “That, I’ll stand by. Anal sex is not natural. That’s why we see these huge rates of HIV in gay men.” He added that condoms don’t always work.
Ryan Hoffmann, a spokesman for Call to Action, a national organization that advocates for a number of changes to the Catholic church including the ordination of women and the acceptance of gays and lesbians, said his group does not endorse the work of groups like Courage.
“It’s about getting people to repress their natural feelings of same-sex attraction,” Ryan said. “That’s just not something we believe is healthy.”
Sciambra himself said he no longer identifies as gay.
“I have same-sex attraction but I don’t identify myself as gay,” he said. “God didn’t make me gay, so I don’t identify as gay.”
You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 521-5213 or [email protected]
Bishop Vasa Is Actually Asking Educators In His Diocese To Affirm, What They Profess In Theory To Believe….Catholics Freak Out!
The Good Bishop Needs Our Prayers!
Catholic World Report
By, Carl E. Olsen , March 1, 2013 – Bishop Robert Vasa of Santa Rosa, California, has done the unthinkable—nay, he has gone beyond outrageous, to a place so foreign and radical, many Catholics in his diocese are going apoplectic and having complete meltdowns (with low-fat lattes in hand, I presume). Prepare to be shocked:
The Santa Rosa Catholic Diocese is requiring its 200 schoolteachers to sign an agreement affirming that “modern errors” such as contraception, abortion, homosexual marriage and euthanasia are “matters that gravely offend human dignity.”
The move is an effort by Bishop Robert Vasa to delineate specifically what it means for a Catholic-school teacher — whether Catholic or not — to be a “model of Catholic living” and to adhere to Catholic teaching.
That means means abiding by the Ten Commandments, going to church every Sunday and heeding God’s words in thought, deed and intentions, according to a private church document that is an “addendum” to language in the current teachers’ contract.
Who does he think he is? Their employer? Their bishop? Um, yeah, he is both, in fact. But, of course, some of the teachers would rather not walk the talk and be adults about the reasonable requirement:
But some teachers fear the addendum is an invasion of their private lives and a move toward imposing more rigid Catholic doctrine.
“Personally, it’s probably something that I can’t sign,” said a teacher at Cardinal Newman High School in Santa Rosa. …
The teacher, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions, said he has not made a final decision whether or not to sign the document.
“On my high moral days, I feel I absolutely won’t sign,” the teacher said. “And on my days that I think about my job, I think who will it affect if I don’t sign it.”
The teacher said he objects to the “whole idea that they want me to live their morals when it’s my personal life what I do outside of work.”
Even more depressing are the vast majority of the nearly 90 comments (as of this posting), many of which raise the question: “Were you educated in a Catholic school? Can you spell ‘Catholic’?” And, “If your conscience tells you that 2+2 = 5, do I have to affirm how wonderful of a teacher you think you are?” Here are a couple of the more ridiculous comments:
Coercion of any kind is wrong. You can’t say “well we aren’t firing them if they choose not to sign…” That’s like a armed robber saying “I didn’t shoot you, you shot you by not handing over your money when I asked so very nicely the first time.” I believe in God and I was raised a Catholic, but more and more I have to put my faith in what my heart believes instead of what a single man such as this one demands I believe. Shameful.
Oh my! My heart goes out to all these teachers. To force them to sign this document (and it is force) is despicable! These teachers have families, obligations, homes, etc. Wouldn’t it be amazing if all the teachers refused to sign? How would this bishop run the schools without all these dedicated teachers. This is positively disgusting of this Bishop to demand this.
I suggest teachers who are opposed to this look for jobs at less discriminatory schools. For those that can’t find work elsewhere, they should sign it and then be as immoral as possible in protest of this terrible agreement.
Yes: be immoral in order to show you own the moral high ground. Brilliant. Meanwhile, here is some of what the offending addendum states:
Titled “Bearing Witness,” the addendum asks teachers to “acknowledge” or “recognize” that:
They are called to a “life of holiness” and that “this call is the more compelling for me since I have been entrusted, in my vocation as a teacher/administrator in a Catholic school, with the formation of souls.”
As a teacher in the Santa Rosa Diocese, “I am, by that fact, also a ministerial agent of the Bishop who is the chief ‘teacher’ of the Diocese.”
It also requires all teachers to “agree that it is my duty, to the best of my ability, to believe, teach/administer and live in accord with what the Catholic Church holds and professes.
“I am especially cognizant of the fact that modern errors — including but not limited to matters that gravely offend human dignity and the common good such as contraception, abortion, homosexual ‘marriage’ and euthanasia — while broadly accepted in society, are not consistent with the clear teachings of the Catholic Church.”
Prepare to laugh, to cry, and to say a prayer for Bishop Vasa. Read more here.
Those “Who Think the Mandate Will Not Touch
Them Are Either Naive or Foolish”
Bishop Robert Vasa
St. Paul, MN By Tim Drake (National Catholic Register) — Conscience rights’ protection and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services contraception mandate were the topics foremost on the minds of medical professionals gathered in St. Paul, Minn., for the Catholic Medical Association’s (CMA) 81st educational conference.
“These are critical times,” said Bishop Robert Vasa of Santa Rosa, Calif. “Whether or not a physician is practicing in line with the teachings of the Church, they’re going to be forced to do something they may not want to do.”
“This is a clarion call for America,” added Bishop Vasa. “American Catholics, and in particular American Catholic physicians, have to wake up to the fact that they can no longer presume that their individual choices about how they practice medicine in this country will be respected.”
“Physicians are being coerced to do things that they know are wrong, such as prescribing contraceptives, abortion or prescribing a lethal dose of medication,” said Bishop Vasa. “They’re told that their individual conscience doesn’t matter, that they must do these things, and if they do not, they may lose their ability to practice medicine.”
“Those who are standing on the sidelines who think the mandate will not touch them are either naive or foolish,” added Bishop Vasa. “They may think they don’t have a dog in this fight, but it won’t stop at contraception.”
Bishop Vasa: They Shouldn’t Accept Communion at Mass
California Catholic Daily: When Sonoma County Pro-Life advertised its annual Rally for Life held last Sunday, it promised that its keynote speaker — Santa Rosa Bishop Robert Vasa — “is sure to challenge and inspire us all.” Bishop Vasa did not let them down.
“Any government leader, particularly those who claim to be Christian, who claim to be pro-choice, is unworthy of public office,” Bishop Vasa told the rally at Old Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa on Jan. 22. “Absolutely unworthy and absolutely unfit for public office.”
Politicians who support abortion are “as guilty of abortion as those who choose it themselves,” he said. And Roe v. Wade, said Bishop Vasa, was an “illicit and invalid” decision.
Because of its pro-abortion policies, said Bishop Vasa, the U.S. is no longer “the land of the free and the home of the brave. It’s a land of the imprisoned and the home of the cowards.”
The bishop’s remarks, reported the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, brought cheers from a crowd of about 100 people who gathered in the afternoon rain to hear his speech.
“Vasa suggested such leaders who publicly hold such a position shouldn’t accept communion at Mass,” reported the Press Democrat. “He also said they could be excommunicated, or banished from the church through their actions.”
“In some ways, they excommunicate themselves,” the Press Democrat quoted the bishop as saying in an interview following his speech.
“If he learned a politician expressed a position so out of line with Catholic beliefs, then he would first try to have a ‘face-to-face’ with that person and urge them to recant their remarks,” said the Press Democrat. “If they did not, then that person would be ‘on thin ice.’”
According to the Press Democrat, Bishop Vasa conceded that the Church “tends to resist” the explicit excommunication of pro-abortion Catholics, but in an apparent reference to automatic self-excommunication, the bishop was quoted by the newspaper as saying, “I, for one, if someone wants to put hot coals on their own head, I say fine.”
Interview by Jim Graves, Catholic World Report
Why did the Diocese of Baker end its sponsorship of St. Charles Medical Center-Bend?
Bishop Vasa: Fifteen years or more ago, the city of Bend issued a civic bond to fund the hospital. This gave the impression that it was a community rather than Catholic hospital. The hospital was turned over to a lay board, and there were not suitable protections of the inherent Catholicity of the organization. The board operated without direct episcopal oversight; despite being bishop of the diocese, I did not have any legal authority to intervene in the actions of the hospital.
The lay board followed the religious and ethical directives of their choosing, not necessarily in accordance with Catholic teaching, and did not understand that this was a condition for maintaining their Catholic identity. I believed it was a condition. We went back and forth for years, until there was no possibility for the meeting of the minds. I also discovered that sterilizations were being performed at the hospital in opposition to Catholic teaching, and they had no intention of discontinuing this practice.
I thought, here is another issue regarding adherence to Catholic teaching which led me to adopt the Affirmation of Personal Faith. How can I continue official sponsorship of a hospital which is acting on a belief system that is contrary to the Catholic faith? I cannot.
Interview by Jim Graves, Catholic World Report
You ask those in your diocese who teach the faith or distribute Holy Communion to make an Affirmation of Personal Faith. What is this, and why did you adopt this policy?
Bishop Robert Vasa
Bisop Vasa: This came about after we adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children. I support the Charter and its efforts to protect children from emotional and physical abuse; there is certainly no greater crime. But it dawned on me that if we don’t do something likewise to protect children from spiritual harm, then we’re not really minding the flock as we should.
Our policy requires us to do criminal background checks on everyone who has any contact with children. So also, I wanted anyone who taught the faith or who is held up as a public witness for the faith—such as lectors, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, cantors, and catechists—to attest to the fact that they affirm and believe the basic teachings of the Church as found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This includes declaring such things as: I believe in God, the virgin birth, the existence of purgatory, the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. I also accept the Church’s moral teachings, such as the evil and sinfulness of contraception, homosexual activity, and adulterous behavior.
It’s a Creed, yet it adds what I consider to be those important moral issues some Catholics seem to have the impression they can openly and publicly dissent from without any kind of consequence.
Won’t you sound off and leave a comment?
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Blessings to you,
Bishop Robert Vasa on pro-abortion Catholics, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, and what authentic renewal of the Church will look like
Bishop Robert Vasa Catholic World Report Interview
Interview by Jim Graves, Catholic World Report
Bishop Robert Vasa has served as bishop of Baker, Oregon since 2000. On January 24, the Vatican announced that he will serve as coadjutor bishop for the Diocese of Santa Rosa, California. Bishop Vasa will assist the current head of the diocese, Bishop Daniel Walsh, and then succeed him as bishop once Walsh reaches the mandatory retirement age of 75 in 2012.
Bishop Vasa, age 59, has been outspoken in his defense of Catholic doctrine and moral teachings, particularly related to the life issues. He made news recently when he declared that a bishop’s authority in his own diocese supersedes that of the national bishops’ conference, stating, “It is easy to forget that the conference is the vehicle to assist bishops in cooperating with each other and not a separate regulatory commission.” He added, “there may also be an unfortunate tendency on the part of bishops to abdicate to the conference a portion of their episcopal role and duty.”
You have said that you would not give Holy Communion to a Catholic politician who supports legal abortion. Other bishops do not hold this view. Why do you believe as you do?
Bishop Vasa: It has to do with communion with the Lord. As someone I know said quite well recently, is this what the Lord wants you to do as a Catholic politician? If it isn’t, then you need to be honest and consistent about that and say you cannot claim a unity with the Church—a communion with the Church, a communion with Christ—when your beliefs, behaviors, and actions, particularly in terms of your pro-abortion stand, speak in absolute contradiction to that communion.
Denying Communion to such a politician is not something I would just casually do, though. I would first meet with that individual, offer them a warning, and tell them that their soul was in danger.
What concerns do you have about the work of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development?
Bishop Vasa: While I trust the bishops on the committee itself, I have many concerns nationally about how we as the Catholic Church interact with elements of our society that do not share our values. It is one thing to interact with those who do not share our values, but it is quite another to financially support agencies, individuals, or agendas which are absolutely, diametrically opposed to our principles and values.
Unfortunately, there are multi-layered corporations seeking funding that might have 90 percent of their activities perfectly in accord with the teaching of the Church, and they’re working in many areas and on issues for which the Church has a passion. Unfortunately, those same corporations may have a spin-off group that they fund which supports, say, population control, artificial contraception, and abortion. This would, in my mind, disqualify them from any support.
The question is how much of a link must exist between organizations seeking Campaign for Human Development funding and activities that as Catholics we find objectionable before we as a Church say, “No, I’m sorry, you are linked with immoral practices and we will not fund you.”
At some point, we must decide that their complicity with evil is too great, and we will not support them. Some people’s consciences may find some minor complicity acceptable, but for me, I believe that there are better places where our money can go.
How can we bring back a renewal of Catholic life in the United States?
Bishop Vasa: The renewal is already happening, but slowly. Young families and young adults in particular have sensed and experienced the emptiness of the promises of the world. They sense almost instinctively that there has to be something more.
Society looks at the human person, and it operates in regard to the human person with a philosophical base and foundation that is hollow and shallow. It treats us as a biochemical entity which is merely capable of pleasure and enjoyment.
But human beings are capable of so much more. We are spiritual beings. We are made in the image and likeness of God. We have a deeper component, a spiritual and supernatural component that is unsettled. As St. Augustine would say, our hearts are restless until they rest in God. Even though there has been a great attempt in society to alleviate that restlessness, it has been unsuccessful. And, that restlessness is rising up. People are asking, is that all there is?
The Church is the place where we say, “No, that is not all there is.” You are much more. You are created in the image and likeness of God. In baptism, you become a child of God. You are beloved of God, and you have been saved by the passion, death, and resurrection of the Lord. He lives with you today. He calls you to recognize your dignity and to live that dignity to the fullest. That’s a message that the world cannot offer and for which the world is hungry.
I always encourage Catholics to look forward and upward. I tell them not to be frustrated by a seeming lack of success, whether it be in the pro-life area, or in a desire for a stronger manifestation of Catholicism in political life, the health care world or other elements of our society. Such frustration is a sign that we want the success for ourselves.
What we are called to do, as Mother Teresa said, is be faithful. If we are faithful, then we are successful. That’s really the bottom line.
Bishop Robert Vasa Answers Why Abortion
Destroys the Morality of the Health Care Bill
By John Quinn
Baker, Oregon Diocese, March 26, 2010 (CourageousPriest.com) – In an address to his Baker Diocesan Newspaper, Bishop Robert Vasa explains why one cannot support the Health Care Bill, which funds abortion, even if one believes enormous good benefits would result. It appears the Bishop is indirectly answering the position of Sr. Carol Keehan, President of the Catholic Health Association, that even with the abortion issue the good outweighs the bad.
The Bishop writes that not only is such a position “a serious understatement,” but also a “serious error.”
“If they were further to claim that the plan has so many other good features that an insistence on the elimination of abortion provisions is really a demand for an unrealistic “perfection” then they are in serious error.”
To clarify his point he uses the example of the importance of fidelity in marriage.
“No one would claim that a fiancee’s insistence on fidelity … is an enemy of an otherwise “good” relationship. Absurd! No one would counsel a fiancee to ignore the present infidelities … on the grounds that he or she is really a good, well-intentioned person. No, the infidelity destroys the possibility of an authentic relationship.”
No matter which side of the fence you are on for authentic health care reform, as a Catholic “the provision of abortion funding or abortion expansion destroys the very heart of health care.” Which means that one in good conscience cannot support the Health Care Bill. How can true social justice include Satan’s number one attack on our society today, consisting of murdering innocent little babies?
Sometimes when writing about such controversial topics one might water down what is true, but Bishop Vasa is very clear when he says, “a plan that includes funds for the direct and intentional killing of innocent human beings is much more than imperfect, it is nothing short of positively evil.”
Although the Bishop did not mention Mr. Bart Stupak by name he does refer to his misconceived thought process. “I do not at all believe it is legitimate to conditionally support such a plan even if there is a “promise” that the objections to abortion will be worked out once the plan is approved.”
Bishop Vasa concludes by saying , “besides involving the federal government in the business of killing pre-born children, such a policy would coerce men and women to pay for a procedure they find absolutely abhorrent.”