Confronting the Gay Priest Problem

The Catholic Thing,

Recently, a priest who was prominent in the pastoral care of those with sex addictions received his fifteen minutes of fame when he revealed to his congregation at a Sunday Mass and to the National Catholic Reporter that he was “gay.”  According to news reports, his self-congratulation was met with thunderous applause. In a television interview, he proclaimed there is “nothing wrong with being gay.”

The game plan of a gay priest “coming out” was quite predictable and is politically effective. In revealing his homosexuality, the Midwestern priest was careful to assemble a string of ambiguous assertions that cannot be immediately assailed on grounds of orthodoxy, but when bundled together are morally subversive.  Here is the template:

  • Claim that sexual transparency is a matter of personal integrity.
  • Remind the public that you are a Catholic priest in good standing.
  • Proudly proclaim that you are “gay.”
  • Cultivate the adulation of your congregation by claiming victim status and the freedom that comes from such an honest revelation.
  • As a pre-emptive strike against disciplinary actions by ecclesiastical authorities claim that your self-revelation is truly courageous.
  • Feign humility and presume you have become a necessary role model for others.
  • Remind us that you and all gays (and members of the alphabet soup of sexual perversion) are created in the image of God (implying our sinful neglect).
  • Commit to celibacy (i.e., not to marry), but carefully avoid the term “Christian chastity.”

Each of these assertions, standing alone, would likely withstand ecclesiastical censure.  But when woven together, the gay agenda promoting the acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle within the Church comes into a clear focus.

The priest’s bishop also responded according to a predictable contemporary ecclesiastical template: “We support [the priest] in his own personal journey and telling his story of coming to understand and live with his sexual orientation. As the Church teaches, those with same-sex attraction must be treated with understanding and compassion.”

The bishop probably succeeded in preventing a media firestorm. He also effectively allowed the priest to rise in stature as a gay freedom fighter. The studied moral ambiguity of the clerical gay activist proved to be an effective political buzz saw. The full and beautiful teachings of Christ on human sexuality, however, were further undermined.

Faithful and orthodox Catholics are at a political disadvantage in our gay-friendly culture.  We realize that same-sex inclinations – as with all seriously sinful inclinations – cause great suffering and, unrestrained, can become a true slavery that endangers others including adolescents and even young children. But our opposition to the gay agenda is often crudely characterized as hateful and unreasonable.  So a brief sketch of natural law in Catholic sexual morality may be helpful.

Male and female sex organs differ and have a unique reproductive function. The body of every human being contains a self-sufficient digestive or respiratory system. But it only contains half of a reproductive system and must be paired with a half-system belonging to a person of the opposite sex in order to carry out its function. These are undeniable biological facts.

“To engage in sex” is a relational term that implies male and female complementarity.  Only a male and a female truly “engage in sex.”  In contrast, same-sex “relations” involve the exercise of one’s sexual power, but not according to its self-evident nature.  Sodomy is not really relational “sex.”  It is merely a masturbatory use of sexual powers.  Similarly, there is no such thing as “sexual relations” with a “sex robot” (alas, an emerging technology).

When a priest claims to be “gay and proud,” he is revealing that he has assented to his same-sex attraction. Free and deliberate thoughts have moral implications, as Jesus asserted: “But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Mt 5:28)   The difference between internal assent and external action is only a matter of a sinful opportunity. An unabashed and proud “gay” priest has already committed sodomy in his heart.

So how might an ecclesiastical superior defend Church teaching if one of his priests (or religious) claims a special dignity by “coming out” as gay?  The superior should invoke immutable Christian moral principles in dealing with a self-described gay priest:

  • Acknowledge that he is afflicted with “same-sex attraction” (SSA).
  • Admit that SSA is an inclination toward mortal sin that if not restrained will lead him and others to eternal damnation.
  • Identify and renounce any physical expression of SSA.
  • Properly define celibacy to include Christian chastity that precludes all sexual activity in thought, word or deed.
  • Invoke Scriptural references condemning sodomy (cf. Genesis and Saint Paul).
  • Renounce the use of the word “gay” because it is a political term that has its roots in the homosexual subculture.
  • Apologize for encouraging others to publicly reveal their mortally sinful inclinations. (The Eighth Commandment protects natural secrets.)

After a careful inquiry, the superior should release a public statement of clarification, prohibiting the priest from his homosexual activism and taking further personnel action according to the demands of Catholic morality and Canon Law.

Would a media firestorm ensue? Probably. But the superior would courageously confirm that the studied ambiguity of the gay agenda promoted by the priest is a lie.

During the rite of ordination for priests, the bishop says, “May God who has begun the good work in you bring it to fulfillment.”  Priests – and everyone – are in a constant state of change, for the better or for the worse. Fulfilling the duties of Holy Orders or any Christian vocation with true moral integrity is a lifelong task.

If we are going to find our true and final happiness in Christ, we must not only recognize and understand our sinful inclinations, but make firm and constant efforts to overcome them. “Celebrating” those inclinations simply makes no sense – whether the inclination is same-sex attraction or any other deviation from God’s plan for us.

“This column first appeared on the website The Catholic Thing (www.thecatholicthing.org). Copyright 2018. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.”

Why Do We Have Non-Judgmental Priests?

The Dangerous Fruit of Non-Judgmental Shepherds

By , The Catholic Thing:

The other day I heard a radio commercial advertising “sedation dentistry.” The reworking of your teeth takes place in one session while you are asleep.  You meet first with the doctor for a “non-judgmental” evaluation. When he inspects your crooked and missing teeth, he promises, he won’t gasp in horror or give you a lecture. He’s certainly not revealing an inability to properly evaluate teeth by refusing to judge the condition of our smiles. But the term is ambiguous and it’s contrary, “judgmental,” has become, increasingly, a dread weapon of moral destruction.

The Good Shepherd by Eric Gill, 1926
The Good Shepherd by Eric Gill, 1926

Many people today also expect religion to be “non-judgmental.” Self-esteem, apparently, is in short supply at the moment.  So there is a demand that priests (and ministers – and imams?) be inspiring and vibrant and – above all – non-judgmental. All this, in order to enable us to “feel good about ourselves” – regardless of behavior.

Catholic Parents Demanding Tolerance Over Doctrine

Someone recently told me about a Catholic religion teacher who was called by a concerned parent. The teacher was presenting the Catholic faith in a methodical fashion. An upcoming topic was to be love and marriage. The parent wanted assurances that his young daughter would not be taught that the lesbian lifestyle of her older sister is immoral.

If the younger sister came home with a crisp understanding of Christian marriage, she would become hopelessly “judgmental” – a truly horrible person – at least in Dad’s judgment. And she might even find herself denied entry to one or more colleges on the basis of her “intolerance.” You see, believing and living the Catholic faith is “judgmental” and it ruins education – and careers.

The Dangers of Non-Judgmental Authority Figures

The demand for non-judgmental authority figures, however, defies logic. If a criminal tries to break into your house and you call 911 for assistance, you wouldn’t want a “non-judgmental” police officer to be dispatched to accompany the burglar on his journey.  In small claims court where you sue to retrieve a $500 over-charge, you wouldn’t want the magistrate to be “non-judgmental.” When a doctor discovers a dangerous cancer that needs immediate treatment, the last thing you want is someone who is “non-judgmental.”

Indeed, “non-judgmental” authority figures under these circumstances would be negligent – perhaps criminally so.  Lobbyists for a “non-judgmental” morality would agree, but in so doing they render the term “non-judgmental” unintelligible, except as a “new morality” code word.  

Proper and Healthy Judgement

God created the mind to think and distinguish clearly and make judgments with sufficient evidence. Making judgments with insufficient evidence is usually sinfully rash (although sometimes even that isn’t sinful – ask any anti-terrorist investigator who may have to act on the best evidence available, to keep us safe). The inability or refusal to judge is either virtuous or vicious. We are unable to judge, for example, the state of a person’s soul. We will never have sufficient evidence to judge whether anyone is condemned to Hell. God alone judges a person’s soul. This is why Jesus Himself teaches, “Judge not and ye will not be judged.”

But when we have sufficient evidence – as when a doctor diagnoses a patient – we have an obligation to make a judgment. When there is sufficient evidence that certain behaviors are sinful, we have an obligation to so judge. While it’s certainly possible to be uncharitable and even cruel with properly formed judgments, the failure in charity doesn’t make us “judgmental.”  The error is not in the judgment; the error is in the evil use of a correct judgment.

The True Fruit of the Non-Judgmental “Ideal”

Increasingly the non-judgmental “ideal” is used to silence the proclamation of the Gospel, betraying the diabolical root of the term. When a person is described as “non-judgmental” the term may evoke an attribute of kindness in general. Such a person “affirms people where they are at” regardless of behavior.

Why Do We Have Non-Judgmental Priest?

But below the surface of a so-called “non-judgmental” person are indulgence and apathy, an inability to see evil, personal narcissism, the pathological desire to be liked, going along to get along, as long as everyone is comfortable.  This is why there are so many “non-judgmental” priests, despite the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent by the People of God on each of them during their seminary education, an education that should have included solid courses on logic and Catholic moral theology. To describe Jesus Himself as “non-judgmental” is not only inaccurate, it is exceedingly shallow and insulting.

Similarly, to label a priest “non-judgmental” is damning. It means he is incapable of thinking clearly, affirms his people in their moral errors, and doesn’t take stands opposing the new morality of polite secular opinion. It means he doesn’t have the courage to warn his people against the danger of mortal sin and the fires of Hell.

“Non-judgmental” clergymen do not concern themselves with lost sheep. “Non-judgmental” clerics have made their peace with evil and are comfortable with the adulation of their sheep. They are hirelings, evil shepherds and anti-Christs. (I hope I’m not missing nuances.)

What is a Good Shepherd?

There is good reason the Lord calls Himself the “Good Shepherd” rather than the “Non-Judgmental Shepherd.” Christ was kind to the crippled and infirm; merciful but firm with the woman caught in adultery (“Go and sin no more”); courageous in calling out the Pharisees as a “brood of vipers.” He warned of the fires of Hell for those who were hateful. He was inflexible in condemning adultery. And He suffered gallantly on the Cross for all our sins – including the abundance of our rash judgments and failures in Christian charity. Christ is truth personified.

In contrast to the secular “non-judgmental” moral code, the vocabulary of the Faith is refreshingly clear. To be “good” includes virtues such as justice, mercy, honesty, reverence, kindness, generosity, prudence, courage, temperance, chastity, charity, and truth. Christ is the Good Shepherd precisely because He reveals and teaches the goodness of the Heavenly Father.  And we can be good too if we honestly follow Him on His path to heavenly glory. It is virtuous and holy to encourage our loved ones to do so as well.

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“This column first appeared on the website The Catholic Thing (www.thecatholicthing.org). Copyrght 2016. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.”  Headlines and emphasis were added.

 

Do Not Allow Work, Worries, and Anxieties To Become…

The Devil’s Tabernacle!

Fr. Jerry PokorskyThe pious Lutheran pastor may have had a point. He said the television set was “the devil’s tabernacle.” Some would say he was prescient when he made the observation in the early 1950s. Others would say that “Howdy Doody” and “Leave It to Beaver” and “The Milton Berle Show” (not to mention the “Fulton Sheen” program) were not the stuff of the devil. But today with a series like “Sex In the City” and the adult movies (also known as “arrested-adolescent-sexuality movies”) of expanded cable, few souls could argue with the pastor’s prediction.

Perhaps the pastor did not intend his “devil’s tabernacle” epithet as a prediction. Maybe he understood something about the obsessions of fallen human nature. To be single-minded in the face of danger or opportunity may be virtuous. While any fixation that displaces Christ as the source and summit of one’s life is diabolical, many fixations risk becoming the “devil’s tabernacle”: television, the stock market, hobbies and even human relationships.

In this week’s Gospel, Christ visits two sisters, Martha and Mary. Martha has a fixation of the moment. She is “burdened with much serving” while Mary “sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.” Martha complains, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” There is irony in the request. Mary seems to be suggesting that the Lord is part of the problem, allowing Mary to relax in His presence. Martha is demanding that Jesus fix the problem He Himself allowed through presumed indulgence. Martha, like many mothers, suspected Mary and her Guest were taking her good work for granted.

Christ responds gently (notice the kindly repetition of Martha’s name) but firmly: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” Always the master of the moment, Jesus sees Martha’s problem for what it is. It is clearly not her busy work of preparation. The problem identified by Christ is Martha’s fixation on anxiety and worry. Her obsession was so untoward that it rose to impatience and resentment and likely some jealousy. One supposes Martha wanted Mary to abandon their divine Guest (perhaps to play solitaire) and help with the work of food preparation.

Food preparation is very important. Ask any priest. But listening to the words of Christ is “the better part.” Ask any (please God) priest. This passage traditionally has become a helpful launching pad to discuss the superiority of the contemplative life over the active life. This is not to disparage the active life in any way. But the contemplative life gives direction to one’s active life (much as the logistical support of an army supports the purposes of soldiers). This distinction is found also in the Book of Genesis. God “works” for six days and “rests” on the seventh, giving man a rule of life. Our work not only is meant to sustain us, but also to direct us to rest and worship on Sunday.

In this fallen world there are many distractions and distortions. Work can become an end in itself — a diabolical object of worship — rather than a necessary and praiseworthy means leading to worship. Similarly other events and conditions of life easily become ends in themselves, or obsessions and fixations. Martha was “anxious and worried about many things.” She was obsessed with worry and made it a kind of “devil’s tabernacle” of alternative worship. Her anxieties displaced Christ, who literally stood before her as the center of her life.

Most of us have a good deal of sympathy for Martha because like her we have our own fixations. In honesty Martha’s preoccupation represents us and our inclinations more than the devotion of Mary. We are anxious about our jobs, our health, our opportunities and our relationships. We too easily forget the loving providence of the Lord while turning over our lives to obsessions and anxieties.

In connection with the devil’s tabernacle and the false worship of our anxieties, elsewhere in the Gospel, Christ is clear:

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, `What shall we eat?’ or `What shall we drink?’ or `What shall we wear?’ For the gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day” (Mt 6:25-34).