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. - NCRWorks 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. - ibidIf 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 (LifeSiteNews.com) - 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 SheaI 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.