Wednesday, November 23, 2005

"Excuse me if I'm not surprised"

With all due respect to Jimmy Hendrix, that was the only thing I could think of. I am not entirely surprised that the Church's teaching often draws down hostility from the world which surrounds her. Frankly, as a convert, that is one of the things which gives me great comfort; the Church is pushing the culture and not the reverse.

Simply put, I don't see how this document (and yes, I know this is still speculative given the document remains unpromulgated) imposes major onus or offers any big surprises. Let's just take the Catechism on this point for one moment. Paragraph 2357 reads "Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved." In reference to the some of the Scriptural evidence for her position, the Church cites here Genesis 19:1-29, Romans 12:4-27, 1 Corinthians 6:10, and 1 Timothy 1:10. I suppose you could add the two creation stories as further evidence of the natural state of complimentarity between the sexes. The important thing to note is a distinction between the origin, which the Church doesn't claim to know other than the general state of affairs as happening from original Sin, and the submission to the act to which the question of moral responsibility attaches. The Church can teach therefore that those who suffer from the condition of homosexuality are suffering from an objectively disordered condition which is not their fault. In short, it's analogous to other conditions of physical evils which are visited upon people. When one acts from the disorder, however, having received and assented to the Church's teaching, accepting as the voice of Christ himself, then that person is guilty of the act, but not the condition (CCC #2358-2359).

This is where the real problem is. This is not a question of orientation; it's a question of obedience. The question devolves to whether or not the candidate for orders is obedient to the Church. This obedience is bedrock for the life of a priest and for every Catholic because it is not in our own name that we progress out into the world. I go in the name of Christ. My opinions are not so important (yes, I note the irony of my having a blog) as whether or not my lines of reasoning are tied into the net of Christ. I am His fisher of men. I am not gathering people so that I may have a cult of popularity. They belong to another.

I have also read how some group of gay Catholic clergy have started some support group and have suggested that they might boycott Sunday Masses so that we all can know how important they are to the Church. Regardless of orientation, the ministry of ordained priests, especially of the Sacraments, is essential to the Church. However, with that said, I find it disturbing that somehow the ministry and the sexual orientation of said ordained minister are so closely defined so to preclude distinction. Are these clergy suffering from homosexual orientation saying that without acknowledgement and acceptance of the orientation they don't have a valid ministry? How are people supposed to know of their orientation, unless it either being openly proclaimed or openly practiced? Certainly, I don't think my parishioners say to themselves, "Father's homilies are so good. And how heterosexual he is." Here is another disturbing crux in the argument it seems. For sexual orientation to play a conscious part in how people receive our priestly ministry and service is for it to be expressed outwardly. After all, how do they know my orientation unless they see it in action, so to speak? This would be a problem and a compromise to any priestly service regardless of orientation.

Lastly, the whole discussion bespeaks a fundamental flaw in the whole idea of a "gay culture." It attempts to define the whole of personhood by only part of the personal identity and essence. I am not denying that human sexuality is a significant, possibly the most significant, aspect in human relationality. I am claiming that I am more than just the sum of my parts. All aspects of the human person, intellect, will, emotions, and yes, sexual orientation, are meant to be guided and employed by me, the acting person. Then and only then do these matters become truly human because human is manifesting his human nature through them. But if any of those aspects fail to enshrine the authentic goods of the human person, then those attributes must be tamed and brought into alignment.

With all this said, I don't intend any of this as a slam. Every Christian struggles to do exactly what I have proposed above. For some like myself, it is a disordered attraction to food and drink. For others, it is a matter of sexual urges and identity. I am not trying to look down my nose at those who suffer due to same sex attraction disorders. I am trying to point them to the true source of their happiness and their ultimate destiny. I would ask and expect any brother Christian to do the same if they saw that I had strayed, was straying or about to stray from the life-giving and saving truths as professed by Christ. I ask that all readers take this post in that spirit.

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