Thursday, March 01, 2012

Damned if you do and damned if you don't - follow Church teaching that is.

Even Fr. Guarnizo* - the priest who denied communion to Barbara Johnson at her mother's funeral in Maryland, is facing the same dilemma - criticized by his peers and lauded by conservatives - the poor priest was just doing his job, insensitive though it might have been. 

That being said, this case reminds me of another situation back in 2009 in Canada involving Jim Corcoran, who was asked by his bishop to no longer act as lector at Mass because of his living arrangements with another man.  The difference between Barbara Johnson and Jim Corcoran is that Johnson evidently rejects Church teaching on sexuality, while Corcoran accepts it and lives in accord with it.  Two members of the same sex living together is not a sin.
PETERBOROUGH, ON, July 7, 2009 ( - Jim Corcoran, the owner of one of Canada's largest and most lavish spas, has launched a human rights complaint against the Bishop of Peterborough Ontario for refusing him permission to continue to serve as an altar server. Corcoran admits that he is homosexual and lives with another homosexual man, but says that he follows the Church's teaching and lives a chaste lifestyle. According to the Catholic Register, Bishop Nicola De Angelis asked Corcoran to accept his decision that he not serve on the altar based upon the bishops' desire to avoid public scandal. - Source
The Corcoran case has since been settled and I believe the bishop apologized.  I'm not sure what happened next.  However, as I noted back then, it appears that Corcoran had fallen prey to the 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' reality, zealous religious types can sometimes subject sincere people to. It is a difficult fact of Christian life. While it is true one must avoid giving scandal at all cost, the ecclesial action probably called more attention to the situation than it warranted. It is a tough call - sometimes people suffer for righteousness sake even at the whim of fellow Catholics. The lives of the saints are replete with such examples, founders of religious orders falsely disgraced and dismissed from their congregations, former prostitutes alienated and denied entry into religious life, and so on.

Likewise, these days, there is little consistency from diocese to diocese, parish to parish, as to how such matters should be handled, complicated by a sort of holy vigilantism of some to catch and expose all the sinners - reformed or unreformed.  These folks not only hate the sin, they pretty much hate the sinner as well.

Nevertheless, one is frequently damned if they do and damned if they don't when it comes to these issues - divorced and remarried, but living chastely couples know what I'm saying, as do not a few divorced single parents with children, who also live celibate chaste lives.  Which helps to explain why I heretofore have tried to safeguard my privacy (in the workforce, for example) in these days when privacy is under attack and frequently violated.  It also explains why I simply attend Mass, frequent the sacraments, pray, participate in parish adoration, while supporting the Church as I can - yet keep myself away from active participation in parish life.  Perhaps I'm just gun-shy, call it defensive detachment if you want, but I've learned it is better to spend one's life in fidelity to the Gospel and Church teaching, in the performance of good works and hidden service to others, out of love for Christ, and with a clear conscience, than acting as lector or usher or server or sacristan at Mass.  Besides, I'm less likely to be a source of scandal this way.

Trust in God alone:  "Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save." - Ps. 146

*Maryland priest denies communion to lesbian at funeral — UPDATED
 Art source.


  1. This completely resonates with me and I can understand this 100% though I'm sure there are those who can't understand it. Although there is a deep sadness in it.......

    " It also explains why I just attend Mass, frequent the sacraments, pray, participate in parish adoration, while supporting the Church as I can - but keep myself away from active participation in parish life. Perhaps I'm just gun-shy, but I've learned it is better to spend one's life in fidelity to the Gospel and Church teaching, in the performance of good works and hidden service to others, out of love for Christ, and with a clear conscience, than acting as lector or usher or server or sacristan at Mass."

  2. we have much in common.

  3. "...I have chosen to keep my private life private"

    You mean, there's more to what you've already told us? Damn, Terry... :-o

    LOL, I kid!

    But yeah, I think I'm starting to take on the same attitude as you. Go to Mass, pray, and just mind my own business. Be kind, cordial, as charity requires of course, but don't get too familiar with just anybody (especially priests and religious).

    You're one of the few bloggers, btw, who I can honestly say I agree with on almost anything you post.

    I'm glad you chose to stay.

  4. +JMJ+

    I've been minding my own business in my own parish since I got here seven years ago. It feels like the natural thing to do. There is a very friendly lady who has been inviting me to First Thursday adoration for over a year, but by the grace of God, something always comes up (sometimes in advance!) that keeps me from being able to make it.

    Priests, the dear souls, do not have this luxury.

  5. Damned. Just damned, period.


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