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Homosexuality and the Catholic Church…

22 Jul

Mackelmore Rainbow triangleWe can’t change, Even if we tried, Even if we wanted to

I am sure I’ll never forget where I was when I learned that the Supreme Court mandated that same-sex “marriage” was now the law of the land. I was driving to work when I heard Macklemore’s rap song, Same Love. It is that idolized pop song with the infectious hook sung by Mary Lambert, “I can’t change, even if I tried, even if I wanted to.” I thought it strange the playing of a so-last year song, so I flipped to NPR and sure enough they announced, “Supreme Court Declares Same-Sex Marriage Legal in All 50 States”. I realized that Obergefell v. Hodges is now my generation’s Roe v. Wade.

I lamented that nothing is going to be the same after this. What followed astonished me, a rainbow flag affirmation campaign that Kodachromed almost half my Facebook friends. Many of these rainbows were on Catholics from across the country and some even taught at Catholic schools. A significant number of Catholics approve of same-sex “marriage” and they think the Church should and someday will officially recognize and bless lesbian and gay sexual unions as the equivalent of man and woman marriage. These Catholics think their Church teaching on sexual morality can change. They think their Church will change. Ironically those who believe it is wrong to compel someone with same-sex attraction to change are trying to compel their Church to change.  While Catholic pastoral practice, the way we treat people who self-identify as gay and lesbian can and will likely change, Catholic teaching on the inherent immorality of homosexual sex will never ever change, because it can’t.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued in 2003 a great document for every Catholic to review on the question of legalizing same-sex unions called: Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons . They sum up the Church’s teaching on the nature of marriage in the second paragraph: “The Church’s teaching on marriage and on the complementarity of the sexes reiterates a truth that is evident to right reason and recognized as such by all the major cultures of the world. Marriage is not just any relationship between human beings. It was established by the Creator with its own nature, essential properties and purpose. No ideology can erase from the human spirit the certainty that marriage exists solely between a man and a woman, who by mutual personal gift, proper and exclusive to themselves, tend toward the communion of their persons. In this way, they mutually perfect each other, in order to cooperate with God in the procreation and upbringing of new human lives.” Furthermore Pope Benedict taught that certain issues are NOT NEGOTIABLE and among the defence of life from conception to natural death he included: “recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family – as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage – and its defence from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role”. Popes often clarify the teachings of their predecessors in teaching the Faith but they never directly contradict. The media often spins Francis’ charitable remark of “who am I to judge?” as a sign that the Pope will contradict 2,000 years of moral teaching. Such a false hope confuses Catholics and the public because of a failure to understand that like Lambert’s sirenic voice chants Church teaching can’t change, even if Francis wanted it to.

Rainbow tinted Catholics who celebrate the legalization of same-sex marriage really need to reflect upon the Catholic faith they purport to have. Each week as Catholics we each solemnly proclaim, “I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.” To be an apostolic Church means you believe in the teachings of the Popes and the Bishops in union with them on matters of Faith and Morals, and that those teachings are never going to essentially contradict themselves across time. Pope Francis cannot proclaim that homosexual acts are good and admit same-sex couples into the holy sacrament of matrimony any more than he could add another person to the Trinity (even if he wanted to add the Virgin Mary). As Catholics we hold a radical belief. The belief that God became man in the person of Jesus Christ and that he established a Church with a perfect deposit of faith that cannot be amended. To deny this Church’s teachings is to that extent to deny Christ. With this Church he left a special gift of his Holy Spirit that the Pope and the bishops in union with him cannot teach error to the faithful regarding faith and morals. Since the Church for so long has clearly taught that homosexual acts (not people) are wrong, the Church cannot now bless or condone these acts. If as a Catholic you think the Church should change its core teaching on homosexuality, you will literally have to wait an eternity for this to happen.

So rather than frustrate your salvation and confound your parish family, what is a rainbow Catholic to do? Should you just leave? Oh Heavens no, please don’t jeopardize your salvation by jumping off the ark. However, now is the time for a serious revaluation of your Faith? Rather than subversively wait for the Church to become as “enlightened” as you and the church of what’s happening now, you should actively wait on the LORD and take this contradiction to God in study and prayer. The Catholic Church does not want us to be unquestioning robots that follow orders but rather actively engaged believers whose faith always seeks understanding. If you think the Church is wrong because you want to affirm your “gay” friends and relatives fine, but don’t just sit there, start wrestling with the angels. Start to question why you believe what you do and why the Church teaches what she teaches. One beautifully elegant question that is guaranteed to open you up to the guidance of the Holy Spirit is, “If the Catholic Church turned out to be right, how is that it could be true?” Study and pray till you see how you can stay and still be the person of integrity that God calls you to be. As Catholics we are not members of a club, we are disciples of Jesus Christ with his Catholic Church as our guide. Discipleship takes discipline and let’s be honest, this is hard. A faith that never engages a difficult teaching is not much of a faith at all.

So Catholics in our quest to not appear homophobic let’s not become Christophobic by outright rejection of the teachings of our Church. Macklemore is right that “If you preach hate at the service, those words aren’t anointed. That holy water that you soak in has been poisoned “. However, how hateful is it to tell a lie to someone who wants to be lied to by confirming that person into a sinful practice. If the homosexual act is really a sin then we are loving no one by its encouragement. For, “when sin reaches maturity it gives birth to death.” (James 1:15) As Catholics we must seek and preach the truth in love or then we really do risk poisoning our holy water.

 

 

Fighting the good fight on Same-Sex “marriage”

9 Jun

gay cogsWow, I got a good deal of  Hate Push-Back Email  on my recent Leaven Column, What’s the price of equality if it comes at the cost of conscience?  which is about what a Supreme Court ruling that States must recognize same-sex “marriages” would mean for our Catholic schools.

People were mad that a Catholic in a Catholic paper would push back against the wave of history for what they “know” to be the great good of same-sex “marriage”.

Sometimes trying to defend one man, one woman marriage can be difficult because it is hard to see how anyone could object or how to go beyond the emotional appeal.  It’s like arguing with someone who thinks motherhood is bad.  You know on the face of it the person is wrong but don’t know where to start.

In charity I wanted to respond to these people, but hey it took a while so I thought maybe you all might appreciate reading some of reasons why as Catholics we can be against same sex marriage and not be haters. It is a discussion we are going to need to engage.

If you are like me, you have a bunch of friends and family that think like the people in these emails. I have kept the content pretty much the same but I have changed the names of the senders to keep them anonymous.

So here is the first in the series…

Email 1 The Madisonian.

Response:

Good discussion “James” 

As Catholics, we sincerely believe that God created sex for two combined purposes: the happiness of a man and woman uniting in married love, and the happiness of new life being born from that union. Take away either one — for instance with adultery, prostitution, masturbation, premarital sex, or homogenital activity — and sexual activity turns negative and limiting, because those two purposes are built into us. We are made physically for loving and for generating new life. Sexual acts which are anything less than that will separate us from part of our selves and from what God wants for us; they leave out and suppress part of what sex is and part of who we are.

My basic position is that for Catholics to condone same-sex unions by recognizing such unions as a “marriage” goes against Christian conscience.  As a consequence, people of conscience should not be compelled to witness such “marriages” or be forced to hire the practitioners in positions that give moral witness on behalf of the Church.  However, the LGBT forces have made it very clear their intent is not “to agree to disagree” but to use the force of law to compel religious organizations to publically endorse their lifestyle. The Catholic Church cannot do that because as much as we love people and have compassion for people who experience strong same sex attraction (SSA) we would be sinning against charity to endorse such practices.  Not because we are being mean or hating but because that kind of sex is going to hurt the practitioners and society as a whole.

 Let me respond to some of your points…

Gays and Lesbians have the “Right to seek personal fulfillment through marriage”

There are no rights without God and we never have a right to do something that is inherently bad for us and others, and goes against God’s plan for us.  I don’t have a right to smoke crack cocaine because crack is bad for me and the addiction it causes has devastating fallout for my family and community.

However, even if we assume the false premise that people who self-identify as “gay” or “lesbian” are exercising their right to the pursuit of happiness it does not follow they have a right to marriage as same-sex partners.  The reason no one has a right to same-sex “marriage” is because marriage is NOT a recognition of a special adult friendship.  Marriage is a public recognition of an exclusive sexual relationship that has the potential to produce children and bonds the father and the mother to those children that sexual union produces. The institution of one man, one woman marriage serves the common good as the number one way our society protects children.  Every baby that is born has a mother not far off, but not necessarily a father nearby.  What marriage does best is protect the children by bonding the dad to the mom and the children.  The reason the State privileges man-woman marriage is because these unions produce the future generation of the State not so the participants can feel validated.  Just because a citizen has a kind of sexual proclivity doesn’t entitle that person to a public recognition of that sexual expression.  Pick any sexual expression that by its very nature prohibits offspring, do those practitioners have the “right” to have society affirm their pursuit of personal fulfillment by calling that sex marriage?

“equal rights under the constitution matter”

All citizens have the right to marry someone of the opposite sex.  Many men and women who experience same-sex attraction enter real marriages all the time and go on to start families.   What this issue is seeking to do is to create a special class of citizen with a special right.  What about all the other people who want to express themselves sexually outside the traditional, moral norms and have that legally defined as marriage?  Why can’t bigamists marry many, or zoophiliacs marry their pets? I ask this not to suggest that same-sex unions rise to that level of perversity but to point out that once the good of offspring are taken out the equation there is no ratio for denying any kind of sex the moniker of marriage.

Also, what about the children?  Don’t children have a God given right to have a mother and a father?  Isn’t it sexist to say that 2 dads can fill the void of a mother or 2 moms can fill the void of a father?  Now sadly, not all children get a father or mother. However, it is one thing when the situation arises by accident of circumstance.  It is quite another and indeed cruel when it is done on purpose.  It is rightfully considered shameful to be a dead-beat dad by a man abandoning his child.  Is it not also shameful for two moms to deny the child even the possibility of ever have having a dad?  (And of course vice-versa two dads denying the chance to have a mom)

 

“people regardless of sex must have equal rights”

I agree, and they do have equal rights to enter man-woman marriages, or not.  We have many rights that we may not choose to exercise because we are not attracted to the object of that right, for instance the right to bear arms.  My 2nd amendment rights are not being violated if I choose not to be a gun owner because I lack interest in guns.

 “we have the first amendment so you and others like you will not force people who do not see you way into inequality.”

Certainly that Catholic Church does not wish to force people into inequality. In fact it is from the witness of the Church that all people are created in the image of God that our nation was able to declare, “all men are created equal”.  Therefore, the basis of our democracy is our common origin and destiny in God.

However,  I think that adults who wish to enter into consensual sexual relations (even same-gendered)  should not have that activity criminalized (which you might be surprised to learn is the position of the Catholic Church). Not all sin should be illegal because giving such power to the State would do more harm than good to the commonwealth.  Certainly, compromises could be made in which adults who wanted to have their unions recognized in a public way could be accommodated so they had access to benefits and hospital visits. And Church leaders have even advocated for civil unions as a way of compromise.  However, the LGBT agenda doesn’t want accommodation.  They want that legal status of “marriage” as a tool to coerce everyone into accepting their sexual activity as morally valid.  It is not even OK to be neutral.  We are the ones who are being forced into inequality because we won’t be coerced into blessing a sin.

 “As for the court making the church bless same sex marriages it will not happen”

I hope you are right “James”.  However, the State can coerce in many other ways by forcing Catholic Schools to hire people who openly practice and advocate the LGBT lifestyle.   Or the court will likely someday say that the Church can’t have a tax-exempt status because it prohibits LGBT activity.  I respect that LGBT advocates sincerely think the Church is wrong.  I just wish they had the honesty to tell people the truth that what they want is for complete acceptance of their lifestyle and the complete marginalization of anyone who disagrees with them.  They want to push us into the closet they just came out of.

One of the Church’s toughest duties is to speak the truth with love and confront the self-destructive ideas and behavior of any society, and often those societies resist. Our Christian “tough love” insists that God intends more for us than homosexual activity can ever offer. Our long standing Judeo-Christian tradition is coming under strong attack especially in America.  Madison would respect our right to dissent.   As well, he would never embrace the false notion of “marriage” that is being promoted today.

From: “James”

Subject: Re: what’ the price

Bill: your thought: this supposed quest for equality is the point. To deny individuals the right to seek personal fulfillment through marriage is at the most basic level a denial of equal citizenship. This is the first right in the constitution. How can you say you can only see marriage in a Christian way? This not a moral issue, you are making it one. This is an equal rights under the constitution matter. And people regardless of sex must have equal rights. First in this country marriage is a public matter which the church blesses. 50 years ago this week we went to the court house for a marriage license [public] then took our license to church [private] to get it blessed. You are trying to mix the public with the private. That is why we have the first amendment so you and others like you will not force people who do not see you way into inequality. Spend some more time with Madison and you will see this is no more than an equal rights issue. As for the court making the church bless same sex marriages it will not happen.

From: Bill Scholl

To: “James”

Subject: RE: what’ the price

Thanks for writing.

I think Madison would share my concerns as he helped to write the establishment clause to the first amendment.  If the Supreme Court should legalize same-sex “marriage” and define it as a fundamental right, any religious group that upholds the inherent immorality of same-gendered sexual unions, as Christians have held from the beginning along with all major world religions, will over time be coerced in recanting an essential moral teaching.  It will set us on course for a constitutional conflict in which Madison’s amendment: “Congress shall make no law…prohibiting the free exercise of religion.” will collide with the supposed right for same gendered people to marry as they use this ruling to pressure religions to embrace their lifestyle.

I have no problem with Madison as he saw to it that rights were clearly articulated as opposed to 5 of 9 justices mandating a new morality.  If LGBTQB activists want their unions to be a right they should amend the constitution.  I think this supposed quest for equality will come at the price of religious liberty.

 From: “James”

Subject: what’s the price?

Dear bill. I just put down my 4th book on James Madison. I am sure he would disagree with your opinion. Your opinion is “if the Supreme Court makes same sex marriage constitutional there will be no religious exemption “is just wrong. Madison taught us that. Your argument is with Madison. Your next opinion article should be “dear president Madison this is why you are wrong on same sex marriage”. I would like to read your thoughts. But until then I will stay with President Madison.

“Gay” Catholics Let’s Talk

14 Oct

To judge by the media reports one would think the Pope and his cardinals are building a float for the next gay pride parade.  Reporting on  recent Vatican statements has caused many Catholics to wonder if Church teachGayPope.jpging on homosexuality is changing. And so as a coordinator for our local Courage chapter, I thought it would be good to review the controversy, and bring some clarity to Catholics who may self identify as “gay”.

Yesterday (October 13, 2014)  the Vatican released a mid-way synod discussion report (relatio post disceptationem) on a discussion that bishops and clergy have been having regarding the pastoral challenges of helping families in our current culture.    This 58 paragraph synopsis that talks about the  institution of the family in crisis, has 3 paragraphs that deal with the pastoral challenges of “Welcoming Homosexual Persons”.

The media has reported on these brief statements as if they represented  a change in Church teaching on the morality of homosexual unions, describing it as a “seismic shift”  and a sign of  Pope Francis’s purported willingness to embrace the gay and lesbian sexual lifestyle into the life of the Church.

Don’t believe the hype.  It is so crucial to look at the documents themselves to avoid the media spin.  So  read the  mid-way synod discussion report and decide for yourself. Please keep in mind that this document expresses opinions of leaders in the Church and is not infallible Church teaching itself. So Catholics of good will can respectfully disagree.

As someone who helps to lead the Courage apostolate here in the Archdiocese, I personally think a few of the statements on homosexuality are very unfortunate in their ambiguity.  Andy Comiskey does a good job of exploring the problems of buying into the false anthropology of gay identity  in his blog post: The Bad, the Good, the Urgent: An initial take on the Synod of Family Report.

When it comes to sex it is easy for us to fool ourselves. As humans our longing for pleasure and cheap intimacy can dissuade us from the truth.  So let’s be very clear: the Church can’t and won’t ever teach that deliberate sexual arousal between two men or two women, no matter their level of love or commitment for one another, is morally good.  The Church won’t teach that homosexual acts  are morally good  for the same reason  it won’t teach other sexual sins are morally good.  The Church won’t teach that sexual arousal that a person has exclusively with himself, or between a man and a woman who are not married or who deliberately make their sex act infertile, are morally good acts.  What often  gets lost in these discussions of homosexuality  or any other sexual diversion is the fact that sin can never make us happy, and to pretend otherwise is ultimately unjust and uncharitable.

However,  while it is important to love people enough to teach the truth the Church must always practice mercy.  And mercy is messy.  Mercy meets people where they are at and tries to bring them to a better place.  Let’s face it, family life all across the world is in a mess.  If you read the whole document you will see that the bishops are talking in the pastoral context of broken families and individual who are sexually and relationally broken.

For Christians in the Kansas City area who are struggling in the brokenness of unwanted same-sex attraction (SSA) we have a support group.

I help lead the local chapter of the Courage Apostolate.  Courage Kansas City is a collaborative effort of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. We have groups that meet on both sides of the state line on a regular basis.

We offer spiritual support to Christian men and women with same-sex attractions who desire to live chaste lives in accordance with the teachings of Scripture and Catholic moral teaching.

Call us at 913-428-9893 if you would like to know more about joining Courage KC.

You can also call that number if you are interested in Encourage, the support group for friends and family of people with SSA.

 

 

 

 

 

7 Habits of Highly Effective Deacon Candidates

18 Sep

deacon candidatesArchbishop Naumann has approved the formation of a new cohort of candidates for the diaconate in 2015. This group will embark upon a five-year program that, God willing, will culminate in their ordination as deacons.

The first step in the process will be a series of information nights this fall held at various locations throughout the Archdiocese. At these sessions, we will provide more details on the diaconate and answer any questions people might have.

The decision to step forward and apply for the program is a matter of discernment on the part of both the individual applicant as well as the Archdiocese. For her part, the Church does not expect “perfect” applicants, but men who are open to the working of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

Despite the marvelous individuality of all our deacon applicants, there are some qualities shared by all outstanding candidates for the diaconate. As we discern whether to accept them into the program, we consider many factors, including the presence (or absence) of these qualities:

(1) Disciple Anyone who would apply for the diaconate should be an enthusiastic disciple of Jesus Christ. His relationship with Christ should be the source of his interest in the diaconate. Further, his discipleship should be lived in a positive way that serves as a bridge rather than an obstacle for others who are seeking Christ.

(2) Service The most distinctive characteristic of a deacon is service. In fact, the word “deacon” comes from the Greek word for servant. The diaconate is not for men who fail to pour themselves out in service of others, especially the poor.

(3) Prayer Candidates for the diaconate receive ample instruction on prayer. Still, the candidates should already manifest a desire for intimacy with the Lord through the sacraments and daily prayer. After all, we’re looking for disciples and not merely skilled bureaucrats or social workers.

(4) Virtue Of course character matters! While everyone is in some sense a work in progress, we look for men who are balanced, humble, joyful, and compassionate.

(5) Love for the Church Love for Christ is not enough; we want men who, in imitation of Christ, are willing to lay down their lives for the Church. Men with their own agendas or axes to grind aren’t encouraged to apply.

(6) Parish Deacons must come from somewhere! Most good deacon applicants have a track record of service in their parish and local community, and are typically recommended by their pastor.

(7) Leadership We want men who have the courage and generosity to assume greater responsibility in the Church. Deacons aren’t necessarily the most intelligent or skilled, but they are men open to leadership after the heart of Christ.

For more information on the diaconate, visit www.archkck.org/deacons. This article originally appeared in The Leaven.

Pope’s Intentions for July 2014

1 Jul

Following are the Intentions of our Holy Father Pope Francisprecious blood for the month of July, courtesy of the Apostleship of Prayer:

  • Sports. That sports may always be occasions of human fraternity and growth.
  • Lay Missionaries. That the Holy Spirit may support the work of the laity who proclaim the Gospel in the poorest countries.

July is also the month traditionally dedicated to the Precious Blood of Our Lord. Father Faber describes why we honor the Blood of Christ in Precious Blood: The Price of Our Salvation.

The Precious Blood of Jesus deserves special honor because of its close relation to Our Lord’s Passion. From the beginning the Apostles praised its redeeming power. Some biblical examples:

  • Romans 5:9 “we are justified by His blood”
  • Hebrews 13:12 “and so Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people by His blood, suffered outside the gate”
  • 1 John 1:7 “and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin”

Mother Shares Perspective on Death Penalty After Daughter’s Murder

17 Mar

So often in the Death Penalty debate we don’t get a chance to hear from the victim’s family.  Vicki Schieber will be in Leawood on Wednesday to share her powerful testimony.Vicki Schieber

Vicki Schieber, the mother of Shannon Schieber, who was just 23 years old when she was brutally raped and murdered in 1998, shares her unique perspective on the death penalty. Mrs. Schieber is now the Education Coordinator at the Catholic Mobilizing Network to End the Use of the Death Penalty and is Chair of Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights’ Board of Directors.

What: St Michaels the Archangel Church hosts a talk by Vicki Schieber

When: Wednesday, March 19th at 7:00pm

Where: St Michael the Archangel Church, 14251 Nall Avenue, Leawood, KS 66223

Admission is free and the talk will take place in the Church Basement

Archbishop Naumann on “Religious Freedom Act”

28 Feb

archbishop NaumannLast week Archbishop Naumann wrote an excellent column for The Leaven on HB 2453, known as the “Religious Freedom Act.” While the proposed legislation has been misrepresented by the opposition, the law is limited to protecting conscience rights in the context of the celebration of marriage. The law would prevent business owners who are opposed to same-sex marriage on moral grounds from being legally coerced into participating in a same-sex “marriage” ceremony and/or reception.

Archbishop Naumann gives compelling reasons why in today’s climate such a law is even necessary. He also emphasizes that HB 2453 would be fairly applied to all citizens:

“The bill is written to protect everyone’s religious freedom, not just those who have moral objections to same-sex marriages. If a business objected to participating in a Catholic wedding, we do not believe our laws or courts should coerce them to do so. We do not believe the state should force anyone to violate their deeply held religious beliefs, unless it is absolutely necessary for the common good and there are no other viable options.”

In case you missed it, the Archbishop’s article appeared on p. 2 of the February 21, 2014 issue of The Leaven, which can be viewed here. For more information on HB 2453, check out this helpful Q and A at the Kansas Catholic Conference site.