Sunday, January 06, 2008

I ♥ Bishop Nienstedt

The coadjutor-archbishop of Minneapolis-St. Paul has been trying to rein in much of the homosexuality-based dissent in his diocese, home of the famous St. Joan of Arc Parish and much more mirth (to the consternation of those who should be consternated). One of his acts was repealing an invitation to an open lesbian to speak at a church. A decent, if biased (and in one place nonsensical), roundup of what has happened is here.

What I liked was Archbishop Nienstedt's response to Ann Marie de Groot, who thought to write "what's this new sin called complicity?" (Aside: does Miss De Groot really think "complicity" is a new concept ... it's just a more-contemporary sounding word for the Thomistic lingo "formal cooperation"). Here is the whole letter, with the part worth highlighting in italics.
In her Dec. 19 commentary, "What's this new sin called complicity?" Ann Marie DeGroot presents an argument against the Catholic Church's teaching on homosexual activity that is representative of many such proposals I have recently received -- with one exception: She does claim that this archbishop is "good"!

The caricature that she makes of my argument is that "parents of an actively homosexual child cannot invite that person home for Christmas dinner" without committing a sin. I never said or implied that, and I never would.

After being born, raised and educated in a Catholic home and Catholic schools, my brother decided to join an evangelical church. My parents were heartbroken but continued to keep in touch with him. He knew that my parents never accepted his action, but he also knew they would not reject his person.

The same is even more true for any child involved in an immoral activity. You don't have to sanction the behavior in order to eat Christmas dinner with that son or daughter. At the same time, you do not have to condone that activity. You urge the offspring to reconsider his/her activity and you pray for his/her conversion. In other words, you let it be known you do not approve. Parents, family members, friends are called to radical honesty and moral integrity. There is nothing "new" about that.
"Loving the sinner while hating the sin" is not a snap-fingers-easy thing to balance. Indeed, one of many detestable things about gay identity (quite apart from the sin of sodomy) is that by identifying the person with the sin, it makes that very balance impossible in principle (and for any sin).

But this analogy about conversion away from the Church is about as good a pastoral analogy as possible since it presupposes a situation that all people have experience of (religious difference within the family) and also doesn't require that the listener already agree with the Church on the morality of homosexual acts -- changing churches is widely considered in this society to be a morally neutral and sometimes-good act. Thus religious difference is an analogy that explains how and why you can have somebody in your house who practices the gay lifestyle / evangelicalism without approving of it, and thus has the potential to better penetrate a "skull full of mush" than analogies of homosexuality to alcoholism, kleptomania or bestiality.¹
¹ Yes, I am aware that schism is an objective wrong. But, because my point is about pastoral response and effectiveness, the wide perception that it is not one is far more salient to the point I am making.


John Jansen said...

I once attended Mass at St. Joan of Arc when I was still living in Minneapolis. It was an, um, interesting experience.

The more I read Bishop Nienstedt's writing, the more impressed I am. No wonder the faithful of the SP-M Archdiocese are so elated at their new shepherd.

Clayton said...

I did a whole series of articles examining the phenomenon of St. Joan of Arc.

It will be interesting to see what Archbishop Nienstedt chooses to do once he becomes the archbishop in May of this year.

Dad29 said...

"Loving the sinner while hating the sin" is not a snap-fingers-easy thing to balance

You said a mouthful, bro...

Your take on this (and Bp Nienstedt's) is very helpful--but that still doesn't make it easy.


Parent of Many...

Mark said...

I read an entry from one of my internet friends. He is married to another man and is active in the United Church of Christ. They have 2 adopted sons. It was interesting hearing about him going to his parents' for Christmas. It was somewhat sad though because it seems that his sons are not considered equal to the other grandchildren. But the family was welcomed. I would hope that parents would accept their son's spouse and children even if they did not like them. These men were married in a religious ceremony in their church so they were not living an immoral life. The man is very active in his church.

Peace - Mark