The Senator from Pennsylvania was the Real Victim of Intolerance
By: Deacon Keith A. Fournier
© Third Millennium, LLC
Fortunately, the "flap" over an A.P. interview given by the Honorable Senator Rick Santorum has abated.
It was, to borrow a phrase from the "Bard", "much ado about nothing" as anyone who read the entire interview in context knows.
Much has been written about the entire matter. I have waited until it subsided to raise the question posed by the title to my article. Looking back in retrospect, " Who is the Real Victim of Intolerance?"
As a faithful Catholic Christian, a clergyman and an American, I say it was Senator Rick Santorum.
The Senator was the Victim...of anti-Catholic bigotry and intolerance. Let me simply isolate one of his responses to the interviewers questions that demonstrates the point effectively:
"SANTORUM: I have no problem with homosexuality. I have a problem with homosexual acts. As I would with acts of other, what I would consider to be, acts outside of traditional heterosexual relationships. And that includes a variety of different acts, not just homosexual. I have nothing, absolutely nothing against anyone who's homosexual. If that's their orientation, then I accept that. and I have no problem with someone who has other orientations. The question is, do you act upon those orientations? So it's not the person, it's the person's actions. And you have to separate the person from their actions."
The Senator succinctly stated the clear teaching of the Catholic Church on this vital social issue. In fact, this is the clear teaching of the overwhelming witness of classical Christian teaching for 2,000 years. Consistent with the unbroken tradition of the Jewish influence upon which it was built, it became the framework for the insistence in Western civilization that marriage and family be given a special status in law.
The family is the first vital cell of society and the foundation of all good government. Its' protection and promotion was seen as promoting the common good.
Faithful Christians in contemporary American society are not the first to face the advance of homosexual practice and concerted efforts to give it an equivalency with monogamous marriage. In fact, the early Christian church faced a similar cultural motif and advanced in pagan societies after having first incurred both opposition and wrath.
It was precisely because "the Christians" practiced monogamous heterosexual marriage and believed in both the unitive and procreative dimension of conjugal love within the bounds of marriage, that they often confronted hostility in ancient societies with a different approach. However, their view was eventually embraced and became the framework for what has become the prevalent view of western civilization.
This issue, along with the Christian insistence on the dignity of every human life, at every age and stage, were the pivotal distinctions that led to the clash of worldviews between ancient "paganism" and the advance of Christianity.
Only very recently has any Christian church ever taken any position other than one that defended the inviolable dignity of every human life and the absolute insistence on heterosexual marriage as the first social institution. This is so, not only because it is at the very heart of the revelation of the Christian faith but because Christians insist that it promotes the common good and is revealed by the natural law that binds all men and women.
In the case of Catholic Christians, one has only to look at the unbroken tradition of the Catholic Church, her Catechism and the stream of papal encyclicals, apostolic letters and Council documents, to see the support of this teaching without question. Any Catholic who denies this fact is simply either unaware of what his/her Church teaches (and if so, needs to revisit their catechism) or is choosing to be an unfaithful Catholic (openly or with deceptive intent) by going against the "magisterium", the teaching office of the Catholic Church.
The "Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith" released an excellent pastoral directive in 1986 concerning this vital issue entitled "On the Pastoral care of Homosexual Persons", which can be found, among other places, at http://www.ycvf.org , the web site of "Your Catholic Voice Foundation." Here are a few relevant excerpts:
"Christians who are homosexual are called, as all of us are, to a chaste life... . With this in mind, this Congregation wishes to ask the Bishops to be especially cautious of any programs which may seek to pressure the Church to change her teaching, even while claiming not to do so. A careful examination of their public statements and the activities they promote reveals a studied ambiguity by which they attempt to mislead the pastors and the faithful.
For example, they may present the teaching of the Magisterium, but only as if it were an optional source for the formation of one's conscience. Its specific authority is not recognized. We encourage the Bishops, then, to provide pastoral care in full accord with the teaching of the Church for homosexual persons of their dioceses. No authentic pastoral program will include organizations in which homosexual persons associate with each other without clearly stating that homosexual activity is immoral. A truly pastoral approach will appreciate the need for homosexual persons to avoid the near occasions of sin....We would heartily encourage program where these dangers are avoided. But we wish to make it clear that departure from the Church's teaching, or silence about it, in an effort to provide pastoral care is neither caring nor pastoral. Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral.
All support should be withdrawn from any organizations which seek to undermine the teaching of the Church, which are ambiguous about it, or which neglect it entirely. Such support, or even the semblance of such support, can be gravely misinterpreted. Special attention should be given to the practice of scheduling religious services and to the use of Church buildings by these groups, including the facilities of Catholic schools and colleges. To some, such permission to use Church property may seem only just and charitable; but in reality it is contradictory to the purpose for which these institutions were founded, it is misleading and often scandalous.
Let there be no mistake, the Senator from Pennsylvania is a faithful, practicing Catholic. His statement insisting that our civil law respect the "homosexual person" but not give homosexual acts a legal equivalency with marriage are both a theologically accurate expression of Catholic teaching and present sound public policy promoting the common good.
Interestingly, he has also led the bi-partisan effort to end the barbarous procedure called "partial birth abortion" and restore legal protection to unborn children. This is another major human rights issue that some of the very folks who sought to use this interview to harm his political influence disagree with. I wonder, is there a connection? You bet there is!
Obviously, those who tried to use this interview to attack him - and thus promote their own agenda- not only do not want him to be a faithful Catholic but do not like his prominent position and growing influence politically. Fortunately, they will not succeed.
I believe that some of these folks have overplayed their hand and revealed their anti-Catholic bigotry. Perhaps they want to keep all faithful Catholics, other Christians, other people of faith and people of good will who believe that the two parent marriage bound, monogamous family should be given protected legal status out of public service and public office.
Now, I ask who is being intolerant?
Rev. Mr. Keith A Fournier, a Catholic deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia is the founder and president of "Common Good", a way, work, and movement dedicated to the conversion of culture. (http://www.commongoodonline.com) A constitutional lawyer, he founded "Lentz, Stepanovich and Fournier, P.L.C.", a law firm in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Long active in social, cultural and political participation, Fournier has served as a pro-life and pro-family lobbyist, the first Executive Director of the ACLJ (American Center for Law and Justice), an advisor to the presidential campaign of Steve Forbes and has recently launched "Common Good Legal Defense Fund", an outreach of "Common Good". Fournier holds a Bachelors degree (B.A.) from Franciscan University of Steubenville in Philosophy and Theology, a Masters Degree (M.T.S.) in Sacred Theology from the John Paul II Institute of the Lateran University, a Juris Doctor (J.D.) from the University of Pittsburgh and an Honorary Doctor of Laws (L.L.D.) from St. Thomas University. Fournier is the author of seven books on issues concerning life, faith, evangelization, ecumenism, family, political participation, public policy and cultural issues. Along with Michael and Sandy Galloway, he is a founder and Director of "Your Catholic Voice" and serves as a features editor for Catholic Online.
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