Dear Bishops: Love the Sinner, But Hate the Sin!
The recent Archdiocese of Boston scandal surrounding St. Cecilia’s parish Mass honoring LGBT pride – lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pride -- has given Catholics at large a wonderful opportunity to sift through our moral obligations.
Whether these moral obligations apply to the act of abortion versus the expectant mother who aborts her baby, to homosexual acts versus the individual who is experiencing a same-sex attraction, or to other sins of the flesh versus the sinner, it is the act that is highly offensive to God. We must remember that the individual is loved by God.
By extension, it is we Catholics who, reflecting God’s love, should never fail to defend our faith and point out the error of the wrongful action. That’s the way it should be.
But sadly it isn’t always that simple.
For example, when asked whether or not Boston Mayor Tom Menino would be denied Holy Communion if he attended St. Cecilia’s Mass, Terrence Donilon, director of communications for the Archdiocese of Boston, avoided the question by tossing verbal insults at those asking the question. His accusation was that concerned Catholics were “spreading vitriol.”
I understand how Mr. Donilon came by his tactic of deflecting questions by tossing mud around. After all, his brother, Thomas E. Donilon, is among President Barack Obama’s advisors, so perhaps he inherited his sharp tongue. But that alone does not excuse Terrence from responding to legitimate questions as well as defending certain positions taken by the archdiocese.
Father Roger Landry of the diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts, spoke up in defense of the Catholic faith in a very clear analysis. He wrote,
“The controversy touches not only on the subject of the pastoral care of the Church toward those with same-sex attractions, but on the much larger matter of the purpose of the Church’s pastoral care to anyone and everyone: Whether the Church, her priests and parishes will faithfully, lovingly and courageously care for people with the fullness of the Gospel; or whether her ministers and ministries—perhaps out of too much fear to give offense, a lack of faith in the teachings of the Church, or a faint-hearted notion of what true love demands—will dilute the Gospel of its saving power by stripping it of the uncomfortable and countercultural teachings that some listeners most need.”
Father Landry should be applauded. And he is not alone.
As if inspired by the Holy Spirit to teach his own flock in the midst of all the confusion created by the Archdiocese of Boston’s flip-flop, Bishop Thomas Tobin, bishop of the Roman Catholic diocese of Providence, Rhode Island -- Massachusetts’ neighboring state -- issued a clear statement to his flock on the approval of “civil unions in Rhode Island.”
In that brief statement, Bishop Tobin reminded his flock that while “the Church continues to have respect and love for persons with same-sex attraction” the Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality.
He explained, “Because civil unions promote an unacceptable lifestyle, undermine the faith of the Church on holy matrimony, and cause scandal and confusion, Catholics may not participate in civil unions. To do so is a very grave violation of the moral law and, thus, seriously sinful. A civil union can never be accepted as a legitimate alternative to matrimony.”
LifeSiteNews journalist John-Henry Westen echoed the sentiments of many Catholics who are not so fortunate as to have Bishop Tobin as their shepherd, pleading with the United States Catholic bishops to “speak out with conviction and love the truths of Christ, especially in these hard areas of human sexuality. You will be criticized for it, but you must trust that God will see to it that the truth is well received.”
All those with a sincere appreciation for the clear teachings of the Catholic Church agree. This is precisely why, as president of American Life League, I issued an open letter to Mr. Donilon, calling his attention, once again, to the fact that he still has not answered a simple question. Preferring to deal in name calling, his evasive tactics prompted me to write, “Does Cardinal O’Malley intend to enforce Canon 915 against your pro-abortion/pro-homosexual political friends? Perhaps you cannot answer because the answer is indefensible.
“You told the National Catholic Reporter on July 8, 2010, that the Catholic message must be “clear and concise.” The clear and concise message of this Mass is that the diocese has learned nothing from its $84 million “dark days” of embracing homosexuality, the progenitor of the ruinous sex abuse scandal comprised of 81 percent homosexual incidents overall and 86 percent homosexual acts not falling into the pedophile category.
“In closing, let me correct one presumption you made: While it may be true that we are part of one Catholic family, the difference is that we may indeed be opponents.”