Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Well ... nobody's perfect

After watching an old movie by Preston Sturges or Billy Wilder, it's easy to say of Hollywood comedies that "they don't make 'em like that any more." Actually, they do, it's just that Paramount has moved downtown, to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, where it's producing the long-running "Comedy of Errors." The latest performance was last weekend at the Anaheim Convention Center (for an out-of-town opening, I guess), but given this description of the panel, “Ministry with Lesbian and Gay Catholics: Insights for the Whole Church,” perhaps a better comparison would be "Some Like It Hot." What can one do but laugh? (BTW ... the Curt Jester is awesome. And thanks to the anonymous poster who alerted me to this.)

(I should note a perpetual caveat ... that I'm obviously relying on a secondary source and everything I say comes with the stipulated condition that the reporting is accurate. Correction with primary sources is welcomed.)

Panelist Tom Baudoin, a professor at Santa Clara, says he wants ...
my 20-month old daughter Mimi to grow up to affirm, with the U.S. bishops, that, quote, 'it is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech and in action.'
... which sort of makes you wonder what world the professor is living in. Does anybody seriously think there is any doubt that anybody in the whole Church is likely to lack that insight but for gay and lesbian ministry? Where is this rampant Church lobby group that says that homosexual persons should be the object of violent malice in speech and action? Did I miss the Feast of St. Russell Henderson or the prayers for the canonization of Venerable Aaron McKinney? Where were the demonstrators picketing the last Courage conference (oh ... them)? How did I escape the lynchers waiting outside our last chapter meeting to grab us and take us to the stake for the appropriate Ann-Coulter-approved, no-rehab-here faggot burning?

The account of the conference goes downhill from here:
[Father James Martin, SJ, and of America magazine] drew audience laughter and applause by saying he hoped Beaudoin’s daughter would grow up to become a U.S. bishop.
What does one say but "ick"? How is this not public dissent, given that it's a priest speaking that he hopes the Church will change a teaching that has been constant for its whole history and reiterated as not even open to debate, all appearances and insistence to the contrary, just last decade by the Roman Pontiff himself (i.e., just last week, historically speaking). Maybe "Victor/Victoria" (about a woman who pretends to be a man) would be a better analogy for "Bishop Mimi."

The problem with these sorts of meeting and statements are that things like this are said:
One homosexual gift, said [Father] Martin, is “resilience.” “Emotionally healthy gays and lesbians,” he said, “have successfully emerged from a childhood where they have felt marginalized; a young adulthood where they have felt confused; and an adulthood where they have had to forge a sense of self-acceptance and self-motivation.” This makes them “able to stand without self-pity before the world, confident in the dignity of their God-given humanity, a fundamental attribute of a mature Christian.” “The mature gay person,” said Martin, “brings a unique strength, a special kind of personal resilience, to the role of apostle.”
There's more of the same as you read down. Now, some of this is quite possible, even plausible. It is undoubtedly the case that growing up with knowledge of "that" shapes your personality in ways innumerable, and, since not reducible to the sin of sodomy, can be used by God as all human traits can.

But the devil (literally) is in the details. What does Father Martin mean by "the mature gay person" and "emotionally healthy gays and lesbians." One hardly wishes to make the case for immaturity or emotional sickness (though Kierkegaard might), but my "Code Word Alert" is off-the-meter. Even apart from the semantic issues over whether "gay" always and everywhere implies an embrace of the lifestyle. Does he mean practicing sexually and openly identifying with this practice as part of one's constitutive nature? Certainly that's what Dignity, SoulForce et al would mean (though my experience of the emotional maturity of practicing gays is more like this). Or does maturity or emotional health involve -- well, to use any Christian anthropology whatsoever -- dying to self, the embrace of chaste celibacy, and coming to the Cross to crucify one's bad desires? There's no way to tell, but why am I suspicious about a Catholic priest who publicly hopes for female bishops? And who also says ...
“Gay and lesbian Catholics” have the gift of “suffering” because they “know firsthand the emotional pain that comes from being a misunderstood minority,” said [Father] Martin. Homosexuals “will often experience rejection in the Church ... What does it mean to be called ‘disordered’?
I know that Jebbie-bashing is the leading participant sport at St. Blogs and thus somewhat cheap ... but good gawd, does stuff like this justify it. Remember when the Jesuits used to be known for intellectual precision. Saying that the Church calls homosexuals "disordered" is simply a lie. Yes, a lie. This has been reiterated and reiterated (just four months ago). Going into copy-and-paste mode:
No, what brought tears to my eyes was this on page 6:
It is crucially important to understand that saying a person has a particular inclination that is disordered is not to say that the person as a whole is disordered. Nor does it mean that one has been rejected by God or the Church. Sometimes the Church is misinterpreted or misrepresented as teaching that persons with homosexual inclinations are objectively disordered, as if everything about them were disordered or rendered morally defective by this inclination. Rather, the disorder is in that particular inclination, which is not ordered toward the fulfillment of the natural ends of human sexuality. Because of this, acting in accord with such an inclination simply cannot contribute to the true good of the human person. Nevertheless, while the particular inclination to homosexual acts is disordered, the person retains his or her intrinsic human dignity and value.
I can't tell you how annoying it is to listen to pro-gay folks ignorantly (on this subject, that's an objective fact) saying "the church says I am intrinsically evil" or "I'm not objectively disordered," etc. No. It. Doesn't. The distinction is right there. Reject it if you like, but don't lie about what the Church teaches in order to boost up your Right-to-a-Hissy-Fit quotient.
To show how far I'm bending over backwards, I understand that the term "disordered" is Natural Law-speak, and thus modern people without philosophical backgrounds usually misunderstand it. Thus, in pastoral situations in the current context, it generally should be avoided.

But what does it mean for a Jesuit ... one of the men who educated me and millions of other Catholic boys for centuries ... to make the same elementary error, excusable only by philosophical ignorance? Particularly since, by his apparent position of authority and the intellectual cachet that "Jesuit" still has, Father Martin is perpetuating and compounding this gravely-dangerous and objectively-counterwitnessing lie? It's just beyond depressing. If St. Ignatius Loyola were alive, he'd be turning over in his grave.


Loyolalaw98 said...

The galling thing about clergy like Fr. Martin, other than the fact that he shares a last name with the late, great Jesuit Malachi Martin, is the PUBLIC nature of their dissent.

Historically, many of the times the Church has been excoriated for suppressing free "thought," e.g., Galileo - they have really been supressing PUBLIC dissent.

Not only in the post conciliar Church (with it's defense of freedom of conscience) but even in the "dark" days before the "enlightenment" on VCII, individuals dissented from Church teaching. The crucial difference being that they did so PRIVATELY.

There is no room, in a properly functioning Church, for the public dissenrt of the likes of Fr. Martin. We can only pray that we live to see the day when such verbiage from any priest, let alone a Jesuit, brings appropriate retribution.

rleehistory said...

Yes, but this is the Archdiocese of Los Angeles we are talking about, and doesn't that complicate the meaning of the word "dissent?" Out of curiosity, is there a chapter of Courage in LA? Would a priest even be allowed to sponsor one without being subjected to all kinds of petty harassment? And doesn't it bother orthodox Catholics that these sorts of shennanigans have been commonplace in LA and elsewhere for decades and the Vatican does nothing about it?

As any parent knows, there are differents ways of teaching. We teach by actions (or inactions) as well as by words. When I was sexually active (comme ci, comme ca), I used to tell myself that the Vatican didn't really take its own teaching seriously, because it did nothing in response to such flagrant violations of its teaching as the one described here. And this has been going on for decades. So what has happened to the former Cardinal Ratzinger's concern about "filth in the priesthood?" Or was that just electioneering? I am confused. I am REALLY confused. When you ask an orthodox Catholic what the church teaches about homosexuality, he or she will point you to the Catechism. But when someone like Father Flapdoodle here stands up in public and contradicts the Catechism, and nothing is done about it (and I repeat, this has been going on for decades) is that not also an informal but potent form of teaching? And how is a Catholic who wants to remain faithful (or even to understand what faithful means) supposed to reconcile the two? Will the real Unam Sanctam please stand up?

Andres said...

It is time to stop asking "when is Rome going to do something about it?" as if we were not adults. Our task as lay people is to witness to Christ where we are. It is much more difficult to talk to a co-worker about Christ than to complain in a combox that we are "confused" that the Vatican is not dropping the hammer on dissenters. (And in case you were wondering, I would get a great deal of personal satisfaction out of seeing the hammer dropped on the likes of Fr. Martin, sj.)

Dad29 said...

Looks like the Jebs stuck it to B-16 (or was it JPII?). He 'asked' them to fire the last editor of America for his flagrant heterodoxy--and they found a clone.

CourageMan said...


Can we say "both-and"?

If there is such a thing at all as counterwitness from the clergy, we'd better be able to, since the clergy are accountable only to the bishops (or order superiors, I guess).