Friday, May 25, 2018

Summer time.

I'm working in the yard.

I was looking through photos from last year and I think I was temporarily insane, I planted the wrong stuff and built really crazy stuff to protect it, and now I'm so embarrassed that I posted photos online.  So this year I'm doing very simple plantings and plan to kill rabbits.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Pope on admitting gay men to the seminary ...

I saw it first on Fr. Z.

Apparently the Holy Father reaffirmed 'Catholic policy' on admitting gay men to seminary, in a private meeting with the Italian bishops.

“If there’s a doubt about homosexuality, it’s better not to have them enter the seminary.”
The words of the Pope in the closed door session with the Italian bishops: “Discernment is needed”. Reaffirmed what was in the Vatican documents of 2005 and 2016.
With the pastors of the CEI (Italian bishops conference) – Vatican insider learned – Francis, speaking about the downturn in vocations, one of his “three worries” for the Italian church, he was, instead, more straightforward and, inviting the bishops to oversee more the quality of future priests, then the quantity, explicitly mentioned cases of homosexual persons who desire, for various motives, to enter into the seminary. Then he invited the bishops to a “careful discernment”, adding: “if you have also the slightest doubt it’s better not to let them enter”. - Fr. Z
Evidently bishops in Chile appointed active homosexual priests to seminaries:
The Pontiff denounced verified problems in seminaries where – as he wrote – bishops and religious superiors have entrusted control to “priests suspected of practicing homosexuality”. - Fr. Z
Fr. Z knows as well as I do this has happened in the United States over recent decades.  It has been an open secret, if you will.  In my opinion, there's no 'gay mafia' to speak of orchestrating it, it was simply a fact of clerical life.  I'm convinced my archdiocese has fixed all that, but that it had been a problem here many years ago, is no secret.

I really only wanted to cite the recent statement by the Pope to demonstrate that the Holy Father definitely supports Catholic teaching on sexual morality as it concerns homosexuality.  I know others will disagree with me on that, but I have not lost my confidence in Pope Francis as a faithful son of the Church.  Some day, everyone will see that clearly.  I also think people would be surprised if the bishops who have entrusted such priests, or who have looked the other way, permitting them to stay on in their positions, were to be revealed or identified.  It's not just so-called 'liberal' prelates who have done that.  There are those who continue to encourage and support gay men to pursue seminary or monastic life.

It's a problem - a very serious problem, as the translation Fr. Z published explains:

One indication, from the Pope, that expresses his deep concern: these tendencies, which are “deeply rooted”, and the practice of “homosexual acts”, can compromise the life of the seminary beyond that of the young man himself and an eventual future priesthood. They can generate those “scandals” of which the Pope had spoken in his discourse at the opening of the assembly of the Italian bishops in the new hall of the Synod, that disfigure the face of the Church. - Fr. Z

And I will tell you why I agree.

I know many guys who have tried their vocations - over and over - convinced after each repentance, after each lengthy period of continence, that they are suited for religious life, and or priesthood.  After every attempt, many fall back into the old patterns of masturbation, porn, and anonymous sex.  It's not an addiction, but a 'deeply rooted' inclination.  Deep seated.  I'm not talking about a teen boy who is just 'horny' and wants to 'get off'.  Celibate priesthood and religious life - even in community - does not 'take care' of inordinate desires.  Homosexual acts are indeed gravely disordered and will compromise seminary and religious life.  What I'm saying is that men with deep seated homosexual tendencies should be discouraged from seminary and religious life. 

Membership in Courage or years of therapy to overcome homosexuality is no guarantee.  Nor is the rejection of identifiable terms such as 'gay' in favor of 'ssa'.

Fr. Z says "This bridge is closed!"  A probable reference to Fr. Martin's book - although I don't think the bridge is closed, and it never has been.  Priests, bishops - even cardinals - with great sympathy for homosexuals, have always admitted these men, or encouraged their vocations.  Because, at one time or another, they have been encouraged to consider a vocation  to priesthood or religious life, the candidates themselves will seek out and find persons willing to admit them and write letters of recommendation.  Not a few become priests within monastic or religious communities, only to leave for diocesan work.  Few question that sort of instability.

People may ask, 'what about gay men already ordained?'  I agree with the Pope when he responded to that question years ago, "Who am I to judge?"  Unless of course they break the law or have sex with underage young men, engage in public sin, create scandal, and so on.  That said, there are wonderful priests who are gay - or rather, experience same sex attraction.  They do just fine.  The Pope is talking about reforming a 'system' which admits men with deep seated homosexual tendencies.

I've gone back and forth on this issue, but after all these years of blogging and reading the literature, as well as seeing several priests fall from grace and leave the priesthood, I am convinced the Church should not ordain gay men.  I wanted always to be charitable and to believe that maybe the rules should be bent for this one or that one, but I can't say that now.  It's a delusion to overlook all the evidence against the practice today.

“If you have also the slightest doubt it’s better not to let them enter”.  The Holy Father is right.  And it is not homophobia to insist upon that.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

What the Pope said ... I spoke too soon.

Mr. Cruz and Pope Francis.

The story and commentary is growing and getting dissected.

Not to worry.  Prayer obtains all.  I should have known better than to respond to the story so quickly, but it is a really good reminder of how deeply I need 'to allow myself to be taught', to paraphrase St. John of the Cross.

So anyway.  I think I get it now. What the Holy Father reportedly said is entirely consistent with his way of approaching those alienated from the Church. It is consistent with his style of evangelization and his concept of the Church as field hospital.

Having more background on the story helped me out - Juan Carlos Cruz was reportedly discredited by the Chilean bishops, whose spokesmen pointed out that he was gay and therefore unreliable, a blame and shame the victim strategy.  So it fits that the Holy Father would make such a comment privately and personally, without feeling the need to hold up the catechism and point out what actual teaching is.  I'm sure Mr. Cruz knew it already.  It was a private exchange and was a kindly affirmation of an individual person, and as I've said before, it was not 'for me' nor did it change Catholic teaching.  I'm not sure the Pope expected it to be made public, nor did he intend it as a correction of doctrinal teaching, and I highly doubt he will clarify it.  

My initial reaction had more to do with how media and social media especially erupted, and it reveals how deeply my own 'doctrinal adhesion' if you will, became a barrier to a basic sense of empathy. On one level, it reveals my own self-righteousness based upon my personal sense of 'dogmatic fidelity'.  (It kind of adds credence to what Pope Francis warns us all about regarding strains of 'Neo-Pelagianism and Neo-Gnosticism' infecting Catholics.)  

That said, it's amazing how many outside the Church, especially former practicing Catholic celebrities, seemed to have understood the gesture immediately.  I know conservative writers seem to think 'liberals' consider the Pope's gesture to be a sea change in Catholic doctrinal teaching, but I don't see it that way at all.  Of course Fr. Martin, S.J. might see it that way, yet so do traditionalists, who are already predicting the Youth Synod will be corrupted by the 'liberal' POV.  This sort of projection of what could happen or not happen is typical of those who have come through the culture wars, and it is outside my expertise and competence.  It's also very often completely devoid of charity.

Again, I love the Holy Father and I am grateful for his humble leadership.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Mary, Mother of the Church

Prayer to Mary at the conclusion of the Encyclical Lumen Fidei (29 June 2013)
Image of Mary – Our Lady of the Column in St Peter’s Basilica

Just like clockwork: And Paul VI wept.

So anyway.

Fr. Z is the 'second source' for the myth.  Archbishop Magee was the first.  So two sources still doesn't convince me.  How could Blessed Pope Paul not know the Octave of Pentecost was suppressed?

Then it all became very clear to me.  It had to be the impostor Pope Paul who wept.  (Because the real Pope was drugged and imprisoned.)

Sunday, May 20, 2018

So here is the deal ...

I've spent much of my life in a titanic struggle.

To be holy.  To be a boy.  To be a man.

To fit in.

To not fit in.

To run away.

To come home.

To find a home, a place.

To be chaste.

To be normal.

To be holy.

To love...

Never knowing how to let myself be loved.

That's like a poem in a way. 

So anyway.  I came across a comment on Fr. Martin's blog in response to what the Holy Father told Juan Carlos Cruz, that God made him gay.  The man is in his 60's and wrote:
I wish I could relive life and as I was realizing I might be gay, some priest or pope had said that to me. How different my life might have been. ....but no one did...and so I lived in hiding and dark depression through my teens, twenties and some of my 30s. Dark suicidal depression. I might have actually been open to love and had a beautiful life. But no. I believed extreme conservative religious teaching and never had love. My one existence on this earth....and no love. Really sad. my 60s now that I don't care about love...God has made me happy....but man oh man...I wish I had not listened so much to the Church and super religious people. - Mark F.
Fortunately, that hasn't been my experience, but I understood the sentiment.  It also made me sad and made me feel somewhat alienated.  If someone had told me it was okay - and they did - it didn't change anything.  My conscience wouldn't allow it.  When my conscience was formed, I was still very young.  I had no understanding of same sex attraction.  I knew what it was to be chaste however.  I knew it was holy and good.  I knew sexual 'self-abuse' and looking at 'dirty' pictures, and 'impure' thoughts were sins - even mortal sins.  I knew sex was for marriage.  I knew virginity was for religious life, and chastity was for all - according to their state in life.  (I really did - from a very young age in fact.)  Though I never wanted to commit a mortal sin, I did.  Being in the state of mortal sin made me unhappy... infinitely sad.

Therefore, I was never happy when I engaged in sexual acts which I knew were mortal sins.  I was never happy in a lifestyle based upon that.  I liked and loved gay persons, worked with them, socialized with them, and enjoyed good times, but I never quite fit in.  I tried to fit in - but I never did.  A good friend of mine once shared with me that he could never understand how some guys were just fine with being gay - they felt fulfilled, and so on.  He and I couldn't understand how they could reconcile sexual acts with being Catholic and receiving the sacraments.  Neither of us could do that in good conscience - even if and when a confessor might tell one of us that it is not a sin.  Our consciences told us otherwise.

So.  I don't get it.

Like I said, I've spent much of my life in a titanic struggle with these issues.  I've had to defend myself against gay people who made fun of me for my faith, from straight people who were suspicious because I live with a friend, or worked in a gay profession, or had gay friends.  I never fit in with the conservatives who insist that gay Catholics not say gay, or insist that they need to belong to a self-help group, and then it can only be Courage.  I never fit in with all their rules about that, or their insistence I condemn this priest or that gay-Catholic as too liberal.

So many of these folks gossip and condemn others based upon who they live with, what their past was, how they dress.  They suspect every single man and woman.  They want to know why you are not married, do you have a girlfriend, and so on.  They point out who they think is gay and speculate on their moral life.  These same people often put great emphasis on their religious practices, judging your Catholicism based upon the question 'are you trad or novus ordo?'  Even great Churchmen - aka Cardinal Burke - tell families they shouldn't let their gay relatives, especially those in a relationship/living with a partner, come over for family dinner.  Likewise, a man who lives with another man - albeit chastely and celibately - can't sing in the choir, nor can they do the readings at Mass.  (Personally, I would never presume to even take up the collection at Mass, lest I scandalize someone.)

To be sure, I tried to fit it all in - I even tried to defend religious people who said and did that stuff - those who said you not only had to be chaste and celibate - you couldn't live with a same-sex best friend.  But it didn't work - it wasn't my call.  Some of the discrimination I point out here bordered on the 'unjust' - based in bigotry.  Their 'acceptance' was superficial and conditional, as well as patronizingly situational.  It wasn't authentic.  I wasn't being authentic trying to assure these types that I fully embraced and lived Catholic teaching.  (I did and do.)  Needless to say, I totally understand the man who said he wished he hadn't listened to super religious people.  I agree with him for reasons I just stated, but also because all they seem to see are evil threats to their perfectly constructed theories and neatly placed battlements.  Though I do not fit in with these folks, neither can I fit in with the New Ways Ministry types, or those who ignore Catholic moral teaching and indulge their sexual appetites and claim God blesses that.   I don't know how they justify that, but I'm not their judge.

I am fortune's fool.  

What the Pope said to Juan Carlos Cruz, if true, is not meant for me.  (I've said the same thing about Fr. Martin's book and message.)  What people will take from what the Pope purportedly said is not for me either.  Some are interpreting the Pope's statement to mean approval for homosexual acts and they are saying the Church's teaching must change, and so on.  They claim that if God made men gay and wants them to be happy, then homosexual acts are not disordered, and so on.  The Pope did not say that.  And even if he did, (he didn't) - it is a message/teaching not meant for me.

This is one of the few times I've become concerned over something the Holy Father is quoted as saying.  I have no way of determining the accuracy of the comment, but many are responding as if it was a new teaching.  That's unfortunate.

Like I said, it has been a lifelong struggle not without some degree of suffering - and it isn't over yet - but that is why I have dropped everything, as it were, to comment on this issue today.  I do not look for sympathy or agreement - this is just my personal reflection.

'He has confused the proud in their inmost heart' - I think that is the grace in all of this for me.  If I can become humble - O my God, what a grace this is.

Jesus meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto thine.

Song for this post here.