Monday, 6 February 2012

Homosexuality and the Bishops

Catholic Church teachings on homosexuality are being challenged by the Ontario government which wants to implement gay-straight alliance groups in all schools in the province to combat school bullying particularly aimed at homosexual students.  Officials representing Catholic schools have consistently opposed such implementation on the basis that it conflicts with Catholic Church teachings.  While Catholic officials have proposed alternative anti-bullying programs Church teachings still demand that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and a matter of grave depravity.  Naturally this is precisely the kind of language that provides the kind of fuel for justified anger by the bully to bear upon its innocent victims.  As an official Church teaching revised in the early nineties it completely lacks any kind compassion for those with a different sexual orientation.  Previous Church teachings such as those contained in the widely accepted Dutch Catechism (1966) offered no such condemnation towards homosexuals at all.  Somehow the Church under the current Pope has allowed itself to focus almost exclusively on sexual issues at the expense of ministering to the needs of the people’s interior spiritual hunger.  What makes this whole issue even more unbalanced is the Catholic Church’s own internal and  unresolved problems with its world-wide growing sexual abuse cases. 

The Catholic Bishops of Ontario are in a very difficult position and must feel the strain of being forced to tow the line while recognizing the inequality as well as the dangers contained in the current Church teaching.  Meanwhile some Catholic newspapers are making desperate attempts to defend the indefensible.  A recent article in the Catholic Register ‘Author Aims to Bring More Light toHomosexuality’ by Professor Paul Flaman did anything but that. 

Thank God to help us put this matter into its proper perspective readers might like to read the following reflection offered by Fr. Richard Rohr as follows:

A Consistent Ethic of Life

In recent elections one would have thought that homosexuality and abortion were the new litmus tests of Christianity. Where did this come from? They never were the criteria of proper membership for the first 2000 years, but reflect very recent culture wars instead! And largely from people who think of themselves as “traditionalists”! The fundamentals were already resolved in the early Apostles’ Creed and Nicene Creed. Note that none of the core beliefs are about morality at all. The Creeds are more mystical, cosmological, and about aligning our lives inside of a huge sacred story. When you lose the mystical level, you always become moralistic as a cheap substitute.

Jesus is clearly much more concerned about issues of pride, injustice, hypocrisy, blindness, and what I have often called “The Three Ps,” or power, prestige, and possessions, which are probably 95% of his written teaching. We conveniently ignore this 95% to concentrate on a morality that usually has to do with human embodiment. That’s where people get righteous, judgemental, and upset, for some reason. The body seems to be where we carry our sense of shame and inferiority, and early-stage religion has never gotten much beyond these “pelvic” issues. As Jesus put it, “You ignore the weightier matters of the law—justice, mercy, and good faith. . . . [And instead] you strain out gnats and swallow camels” (Matthew 23:23-24). We worry about what people are doing in bed much more than making sure everybody has a bed to begin with. There certainly is a need for a life-giving sexual morality, but one could question whether Christian nations have found it yet.

Christianity will regain its moral authority when it starts emphasizing social sin in equal measure with individual (read “body-based”) sin and weave them both into a seamless garment of love and truth.

Do you think our Bishops will read it?  Which Bishop will have the courage of his convictions? 

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