As a "Jonah for our times"...
Today is the feast of St. Fidelis, a Capuchin saint of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith - a dicastery which was sort of the "New Evangelization" of the 17th century, better known now as the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. So it seems appropriate to write about another Capuchin, Fr. Regis Scanlon. I won't be writing about him personally, but I want to call attention to his thoughts on homosexuality, specifically his most recent article on the subject in Crisis Magazine. I've referred to his writings on these issues in the past, and tend to agree with him on many points - which, needless to say, also accord with Church teaching.
Father's most recent essay captivated me in the manner by which he discusses the much argued Biblical condemnation of homosexuality, especially the narrative of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Contemporary 'gay Catholics' pretty much reject the notion the cities were destroyed because of homosexual sin, despite the fact the Church, as recently as 1986, affirmed it's traditional teaching on the matter in the CDF Letter to the Bishops on the Pastoral Care of the Homosexual Person:
Thus, in Genesis 19:1-11, the deterioration due to sin continues in the story of the men of Sodom. There can be no doubt of the moral judgement made there against homosexual relations. In Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, in the course of describing the conditions necessary for belonging to the Chosen People, the author excludes from the People of God those who behave in a homosexual fashion. - Holy See
Fr. Scanlon affirms the tone of the Biblical narrative which "includes the kind of “judgmental” language that is so offensive to modern sensibilities". He goes on to say:
The details are obscured in the terse language of Scripture but the meaning has always been clear. When male strangers arrive in the dissolute city of Sodom, the Sodomites demanded that they be turned over to them for sexual pleasure. Lot, the just man, objects: “Do not commit this evil,” he implores.
A common sense reading of the passages, not to mention centuries of biblical exegesis—have been clear—the evil spoken of by Lot is homosexuality.
The rest of the story is familiar, even to us “moderns.” In brief, the ancient Sodomites and people from Gomorrah refused to turn away from their evil intentions. God, through angel messengers, warns Lot that, because of their persistent evil, devastation will befall the entire region. The angels tell Lot and his family to flee. Everyone else is destroyed. - Crisis
Fr. Scanlon goes on to say: "It’s a grim scene. But it’s so central that, at least a thousand years after the event—and two millennia before our time—two epistle writers, including the first pope, refer to it."
Then Father points to "our times" based upon the Sodom and Gomorrah perspective, more or less. The implication being that 'depravity' arises from time to time down through history, even foretold by the first pope: "And the apostle Peter included a future warning about Sodom and Gomorrah, saying that God “condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah [to destruction], reducing them to ashes, making them an example for the godless [people] of what is coming” (2Pt.2:6)."
What is most intriguing to me is Fr. Scanlon's insight into our times, contrasted against the warnings of the past:
Now we come to our own times. Once again, an aggressive homosexual movement is sweeping the world. We know that the United States is beset with legal pressures to accept homosexual marriage and the requirement that gay couples be accepted as adoptive parents. The threat is so real, that as of 2013 traditional Catholic adoption agencies across the country are preparing to shut down rather than be legally forced to place children in homes without a married mother and father."This spring, an event occurred which should give us reason to hope."
But the aggression of the homosexual movement goes much further. In fact, so many nations have accepted, or are considering, expanding gay rights to include marriage (including France, once a cornerstone of western Christianity) that the countries have become too numerous to mention. Clearly, we are now surpassing the homosexuality of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Today, the Christian concern and alarm over homosexual sins is not some arbitrary singling out of a “lifestyle”—it’s the modern day aggressive homosexual movement which is calling attention to itself, by making demands on civilization that clearly reject everything that tradition, human reason, and God‘s laws have set in place. Homosexuality’s merciless demands that society publicly admire their sin, turn over the institution of marriage, and even bestow the right to raise children—is the modern equivalent of Sodom’s men trying to break down the door of Lot’s house to satisfy their own lustful pleasure.
Christians did not ask for this fight, but the times are clear. We must accept the unavoidable reality that, once again, gay rights are in full aggressive mode, as much, if not more so, than in Sodom and Gomorrah. St. Peter warns of “what is coming” and the context clearly indicates that another “reduction to ashes” is in store for depraved humanity. Clearly, we need another Jonah. - Crisis
Fr. Scanlon views Pope Francis as a sort of Jonah figure:
The event was the thoroughly unexpected arrival of Pope Francis—an event which our faith tells us was orchestrated by the Holy Spirit. Significantly, this pope has a track record of defending holy matrimony against the modern homosexual movement.It's an interesting suggestion. I don't know if the Pope is exactly a Jonah for our times, but I'm convinced he is certainly the Pastor, Shepherd appointed by God to lead the Church through these troubled times of persecution.
Many who want to follow God’s laws are asking, in near despair, what is to become of our country? What is to become of our world?
But now, take note that the relatively obscure prelate who fiercely stood up against the government in Argentina over the matter of homosexual marriage when others were silent is now our present Pope.
Could it be that God has provided us with a Jonah for our times? - Pope Francis, A Jonah For Our Times?
“Just as human history began with the creation of man and woman in the image of God - so it will end with Christ’s return and the final judgment.” - Pope Francis, Wednesday Homily