Monday, June 27, 2016

Leaving Armenia: What the Pope said.

The in-flight interview. 

Cindy Wooden, CNS: Holiness, within the past few days Cardinal Marx, the German, speaking at a large conference in Dublin which is very important on the Church in the modern world, said that the Catholic Church must ask forgiveness to the gay community for having marginalized these people. In the days following the shooting in Orlando, many have said that the Christian community had something to do with this hate toward these people. What do you think?
Pope Francis: I will repeat what I said on my first trip. I repeat what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: that they must not be discriminated against, that they must be respected and accompanied pastorally. One can condemn, but not for theological reasons, but for reasons of political behavior ... Certain manifestations are a bit too offensive for others, no? ... But these are things that have nothing to do with the problem. The problem is a person that has a condition, that has good will and who seeks God, who are we to judge? And we must accompany them well ... this is what the catechism says, a clear catechism. Then there are traditions in some countries, in some cultures that have a different mentality on this problem. I think that the Church must not only ask forgiveness — like that “Marxist Cardinal” said (laughs) — must not only ask forgiveness to the gay person who is offended. But she must ask forgiveness to the poor too, to women who are exploited, to children who are exploited for labor. She must ask forgiveness for having blessed so many weapons. The Church must ask forgiveness for not behaving many times — when I say the Church, I mean Christians! The Church is holy, we are sinners! — Christians must ask forgiveness for having not accompanied so many choices, so many families ... I remember from my childhood the culture in Buenos Aires, the closed Catholic culture. I go over there, eh! A divorced family couldn’t enter the house, and I’m speaking of 80 years ago. The culture has changed, thanks be to God. Christians must ask forgiveness for many things, not just these. Forgiveness, not just apologies. Forgive, Lord. It’s a word that many times we forget. Now I’m a pastor and I’m giving a sermon. No, this is true, many times. Many times … but the priest who is a master and not a father, the priest who beats and not the priest who embraces, forgives and consoles. But there are many. There are many hospital chaplains, prison chaplains, many saints. But these ones aren’t seen. Because holiness is modest, it’s hidden. Instead it’s a little bit of blatant shamelessness, it’s blatant and you see so many organizations of good people and people who aren’t as good and people who … because you give a purse that’s a little big and look at you from the other side like the international powers with three genocides. We Christians — priests, bishops — we have done this. But also we Christians have Teresa of Calcutta and many Teresa of Calcuttas. We have many servants in Africa, many laity, many holy marriages. The wheat and the weeds. And so Jesus says that the Kingdom … we must not be scandalized for being like this. We must pray so that the Lord makes these weeds end and there is more grain. But this is the life of the Church. We can’t put limits. All of us are saints, because all of us have the Holy Spirit. But we are all sinners, me first of all! Alright. I don’t know if I have replied. - NCR

Works for me.

The Holy Father just clarified Catholic teaching, citing the Catechism.  He also elaborated somewhat, pointing out the differences between political behavior and the individual person of good will who seeks God - and again, he emphasizes the Catechism.  What is new for me is how the Holy Father concedes there is a need to apologize - not for Catholic teaching, but for how the homosexual person has been treated - as I mentioned in another post - by people and groups in the institutional Church.  

For me, he has clarified teaching in this impromtu interview, and helped me see there is a need to apologize and more especially seek forgiveness.  Personally, I think a great apology is due to the Spiritual Friendship Movement, Ron Belgau, Eve Tushnet, Melinda Selmys, and so on.  It should be so obvious they are persons of good will, who identify as gay and seek God.  Not only that, they accompany many LGBTQ persons who seek God and reconciliation.

This latest statement from Pope Francis heralds a certain freedom of spirit, further removing the burden of fear and suspicion from my heart.  I love what he said here:
"(The Church) must not only ask forgiveness to the gay person who is offended. But she must ask forgiveness to the poor too, to women who are exploited, to children who are exploited for labor. She must ask forgiveness for having blessed so many weapons. The Church must ask forgiveness for not behaving many times — when I say the Church, I mean Christians! The Church is holy, we are sinners! [...] We Christians — priests, bishops— we have done this. - ibid
If a good man reproves me, it is kindness.

Since I began blogging I have come across many stories of how sincere men and women, even those in  celibate, same sex  relationships-friendships-partnerships, living chastely, had been active in parishes, until a concerned parishioner(s) complained they should not lector, or help at communion time, or lead the choir - because their mere living together was a source of scandal. [ I can understand that those who contract civil marriages would by that fact contradict Catholic teaching and be considered unsuitable for a 'leadership' position in a parish, but not those who have good will and who seek God, and remain faithful to Catholic teaching.  Nor those who wish to have their children baptized and/or attend Catholic school to be instructed in the faith.]

Just four years ago Mark Shea did a post about a man in Seattle who had died, Perry Lorenzo - and Mark Shea was roundly condemned for citing this gay Catholic man who lived with a friend as "one of the people I admire most in the world, who I regard as an inspiration and, very likely, as a saint".

In 2009 a Canadian case lit up the blogosphere over a man who was banned as lector because he lived with another man - both were gay, yet living chaste, celibate lives together:

Jim Corcoran, 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. - Source

I'm thinking these anecdotes may just be a couple of examples the Holy Father believes Christians need to apologize for and ask forgiveness.

I also think people like Elizabeth Scalia and Mark Shea and Fr. James martin, S.J. deserve an apology - they seem to have always understood the so-called 'New Homophiles' and Spiritual Friendship folks much better than I ever did.

The foolish cruelty.

Mark Shea is a better Catholic than I am - and I'm grateful for his faithful witness.  Some time ago he demonstrated this in the following post:

Damon Linker on a truly appalling piece that ran in Crisis recently, treating faithful same-sex attracted Catholics who are in full obedience to the Church’s teaching as though they are enemies or fifth columnists or half-breeds. What is *wrong* with with some people? We say we want people to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, and then when they seriously attempt to obey him, we *still* make clear that they are not good enough and should be treated with contempt and punished, not for their sins, but for their temptations.
Is it any wonder that many gay people conclude that Christians simply hate them? God bless Eve Tushnet, Joshua Gonnerman and all SSA folk who are trying to be faithful to Jesus and his Holy Church, despite the best efforts some Catholics make to drive them away. - Mark Shea
I agree.

Something to think about.

I post this in jest, but there's an element of truth to it.
I've lived most of my life a stranger to family and friends,
to avoid giving scandal - not that I've been living in sin,
but because of the 'stigma', so to speak.

After the Orlando shootings I came across a lot of mean spirited, if not hateful comments about gay people, sodomites, and so on.  This thinking, this contempt lays dormant in many good people - it erupts when something bad happens that is difficult to grasp - especially when it happens to 'bad' people.  Like the gays.  I got an email from a friend, who was also conflicted and confused by how to 'accompany' gays.  Below is the edited version:

It's not that straight people don't want them in our neighborhoods, but that we can't consider their relationships as equal. How can we allow the casual mingling of families, block parties, dinners, and all the typical neighborhood stuff encompasses to be extended to gay couples?  True, we're tolerant of divorced and remarried couples, or couples cohabiting, since objectively speaking, their arrangements could be made right under the right conditions.  One wouldn't have as much problem inviting an unmarried cohabiting couple down the block to a yard party as one would have inviting a cohabiting gay couple or two gay guys living together. 
My friend went on to explain the difficulty of knowing what to do, explaining, "It's not bigotry so much as it presents a moral dilemma."

I don't have the answer.  I don't know.

However, his comment helped me understand why I no longer hear from married with children Catholic friends who know that I live a chaste, celibate life - although I live with a friend.  His comment reminded me, if not confirmed my reason for living as a stranger to family, friends, and coworkers.  I didn't want to send the wrong signals or create scandal.  Likewise, the other stories I cited above, explain why I never got involved in parish activities.  I'm fine with that.  I've always been fine with that.

I'm not bitter.  Neither do I want, nor do I expect any apologies.  I'm happy to seek God in solitude.  Which is why I love living alone among people.  As Madeleine Delbrel has described it:

"There are some people God calls and sets apart in convents and monasteries. There are others God calls and leaves in society, the ones God does not `withdraw from the world.'

"These are the people who have an ordinary job, an ordinary marriage or an ordinary celibacy. The people who have ordinary sicknesses and ordinary sorrows. The people who live in ordinary houses and wear ordinary clothes. These are the people of ordinary life. The people we meet on any ordinary street. - Madeleine Delbrel

It is why I like to cite the example of St. Margaret of Cortona, and did so the other day.  After her conversion she was held in suspicion and gossiped about until her death.  That gives me hope.  It is as if I can say with St. Margaret, and St. Paul: "Don't bother me now, for I bear the stigma of Christ!  I am his and he is mine - I go to him, outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore."  It is a great grace.

Sounds grandiose perhaps - but it's not meant in that sense at all.

I don't ask for any apologies - but I do apologize - and I ask forgiveness for being self-righteous and judgmental to those people who are much better Catholics than myself.


  1. "...But'cha are, Blanche, ya aaaare!"

    Resonated with me: "...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." I confess I don't come across a lot of this outside my family b/c I pretty much stay under the radar at my parish. But, here & there, whenever something comes up in the news, I have to ensure anti-gay speak from my own family members. They presume b/c I strive to live a chaste life that I agree w/them or am at least ok w/the way they speak. They don't come out and say "sodomites" or "faggots" but the intent is clear. "Those people." "The gays."

    I'll refer to gay men as sissies, fags, queers, whatever but it's like a black person referring to another black as their "nigga" (pardon the expression). It's ok if a person of the club does it, but no one else (not that it makes it ok - it just "is")
    My comments are almost always in jest anyway and I really don't care what my family thinks. Well ... maybe part of me does, or I wouldn't be noticing it like I do. Yeah, it still stings. Tiny barbs.

    Terry, like you say ... living that ordinary life, ordinary celibacy, living alone among people. I'm like that, too. I like being on the edge of things. Like sitting at the corner of the bar listening to couples & groups have fun, but I'm by myself. I'm ok w/that. Or at family gatherings. The best part is on the edge of the party. I tell nieces & nephews as long as I'm fed & watered (mostly watered ;) they can leave me alone.

    1. See - you know what I'm saying. Thanks DB.

  2. *ENDURE from my family, not *ensure - lol

  3. Terry, the people in his universe are now picking up on it, and not in good ways. See some of the other notorious Catholic blogs of "Traddydom" you avoid by name as example

    1. I saw them Julian - it's surreal.

  4. 1. I am sorry. I don't get it. What are we all supposed to apologize for?

    2. Could someone explain what "accompany" means?

    1. Answers:
      1. Maybe you have nothing to apologize for.

      2. To accompany means - in my mind at least - to 'carry one another's burdens' - to 'have the same attitude toward all, to associate with the lowly, and not to be wise in your own estimation' - St. Paul pretty much laid these things out for us.

  5. Why don't we ask our priests, with the Society of Jesus at the helm, to apologize for their failure to preach the Gospel, for leading people into sin for the last 50 years? Why don't we ask the Society of Jesus to apologize to those who have been led unto contraception, abortion, cohabitation , divorce and sodomy?

    But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema.

    1. I love the Jesuits - I've only met a couple of nutty ones - and they were here in Minneapolis for treatment for some sort of addiction issues. Mixed up as they were, they still helped out with parish Masses, heard confessions, and so on. Though they were 'progressive' they heard my confessions and gave me absolution. Once one of them was going to refuse me absolution because he didn't think some of my mortal sins were sins - I had to convince him in psychological terms the mental distress and anguish I'd feel if he didn't oblige me and give me absolution. He reluctantly agreed. LOL! He totally reminded me of Dick Shawn, the actor who played Sylvester, Ethel Merman's son in 'It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, World'. I think he may have been really crazy.

      But you see, in the end, it all works out, doesn't it.

  6. It is all so complicated and confusing for so many. I don't understand it all but know I must pray to keep working on my own personal conversion if I am to be of any use to our Lord Jesus. Who has time to look at another's sins and sit in judgement when I am flat on my face burdened with my own sins? If there is such a person who can sit upright and point fingers ... let him come forth and show himself!

    I wanna see how they do it.

    You know what else is truly beautiful that no one seems to be talking about?

    What Pope Francis Just Said About Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

    Read more:

    Pope Francis’ response touched on two important points.

    "First, there is only one pope.

    Second, there’s a new reality—now in its third year of existence—that invites the Church to reflect on the practical and possible spiritual ramifications of having two popes, even if one is retired. This is still new territory for all of us, and while Pope Francis may have politely disagreed with Archbishop Gänswein, the prefect of Francis’ own papal household (not to mention still secretary to the Pope Emeritus) has sparked an important conversation.
    “Benedict is a pope emeritus,” Pope Francis observed, adding, “He said it clearly that February 11th [2013] when he was giving his resignation as of February 28th when he would retire and help the Church with prayer.”
    Francis stressed that Benedict has been faithful to his promise of obedience to his successor and even repeated a possible rumor that he had heard:
    I never forget that speech he made to us cardinals on February 28th, ‘among you I’m sure that there is my successor. I promise obedience.’ And he’s done it. But, then I’ve heard, but I don’t know if it’s true, this, eh — I underscore, I heard this, maybe they’re just rumors but they fit with his character — that some have gone there [to him] to complain because of this new Pope… and he chased them away, eh, with the best Bavarian style, educated, but he chased them away. I don’t know if it’s true. It’s welcome because this man is like that. He’s a man of his word, an upstanding, upstanding, upstanding man.
    This would be in keeping with the saintly, faithful and wise Father Benedict (as he now prefers to be called), of course, but for a pope of supposed revolutionary innovations Francis is also clearly cognizant that there is and can be only one Vicar of Christ.
    And yet, there is now room for an emeritus pope, and Francis appreciates that Benedict has given himself to this new life of study but above all to prayer. This is an unexpected blessing to Pope Francis and to the whole Church. Not only does the Holy Father have someone to consult who has been pope before him and who understands the immensity of the burden he carries, he derives great comfort from the Pope Emeritus’ prayers.
    “Benedict is in the monastery praying,” Pope Francis said. “He is the man that protects my shoulders and back with his prayer.”

    Gracias querido Papa Benito! The Lord knows how much prayer Papa Francis is in need of prayer! The rest of us too ... especially within the Church. No one is excluded not even those prone to "holy vigilantism."

    Read more:

    1. I love what he said there too. He also clarified the crazy idea that there are two popes. I do not understand the conflict and contempt others have for Pope Francis.

  7. As I commented on Father Z's blog, I understand what the Pope is saying. But when he stops short of saying what the Catechism says in full, then it allows for people to extrapolate and start saying, see- the Pope says that gay sex is just fine. I know that is not what he said, but it is waht many people hear, becasue he doesn't elaborate on the topic. Much as I love what he did say, I think what he deosn't say causes problems.

  8. Ah ! "'Father' Benedict !" We are so incredibly blessed.
    and, remember, for our peace in this world, for those of us who have nothing, Really, 'big' to do with all of the turmoil But to pray:
    "Am I not here, I, who am your mother ? Are you not under my shadow and protection ? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, the crossing of my arms ? Am I not the source of all your joy ? What more do you need ? Let nothing else worry you, disturb you."

  9. If I may offer this:

    Floyd McClung and his family are Evangelical Christians who helped establish a ministry (i.e. what Catholics would call an apostolate) in the heart of Amsterdam's Red Light District. I think this selection from his book, "Living on the Devil's Doorstep: From Kabul to Amsterdam", a book I *highly* recommend, demonstrates how Christians ought to treat LGBTQ persons, and *why* Christians should treat them this way.

    "I don't normally like to lead people on tours of the Red Light District, but this time it was different. I felt I was to challenge a group of senior Christian leaders with the needs and opportunities the area presented. Coming to the end of the tour, we rounded a corner and headed back toward The Cleft. As we walked down the street, I realized we would pass two of the girls, Maria and Alice, whom Sally and I knew. It was a warm summer's afternoon, and I could already see them leaning against the side of the building with virtually no clothes on. They were bound to say 'Hello' and want to talk. They normally greeted me by name, and I knew their friendliness could give a wrong impression to these men. Usually I did not stop to talk to the girls if I was alone, but what should I do in this situation? My mind raced ahead to what my respected friends would think, and I considered a hasty detour up one of the side streets. I could just imagine what these leaders would think of my being on first name terms with prostitutes! Even as I thought of such diversionary tactics, I knew that it would not be honest to try to avoid the girls, so we walked straight on, and sure enough, they smiled and greeted me warmly.

    "'Floyd! Hello! How're you doing?' Maria and Alice asked as they stepped over to talk.

    "'Hello, Maria. Hi, Alice. How're you?' We talked together for a few moments. All the time I sensed my colleagues standing uncomfortably behind me. I wondered what they were thinking. Nothing more was said that day, but a few months later I was speaking at a conference when one of the men who had been in that party came up to me.

    "'Floyd, I'd like to have a word with you, please. Remember that day you took us through the Red Light District when we visited you in Amsterdam, and you stopped to talk to those two girls who had hardly anything on?'

    "'Er … yes,' I replied, wondering if I was about to be admonished or cautioned.

    "'Well, I want to thank you,' the man continued, his eyes filling with tears. 'You see, up until that time, all I had seen were "pimps" and "prostitutes," but when you took time to speak with those girls and called them by name, I saw them as people for the first time.'

    "That is what our ministry is about – people…"


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