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Bishop Martino Speaks on Authentic Diversity and Catholic Identity, Stands Firm

By Deacon Keith Fournier
March 5th, 2009
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

My job as a Bishop is to promulgate the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church to all the faithful. I will continue to do so.

SCRANTON, PA (Catholic Online) - Once again, Bishop Joseph Martino has acted in a manner which not only displays fidelity to his teaching office as a Catholic Bishop but great courage - in an age too often characterized by its opposite, cowardice. He has released further reflections on the issue of properly teaching authentic diversity and tolerance within a Catholic Educational Institution.

Our readers will remember that Misericordia University, located in the Bishop's Diocese, sponsored two talks given by homosexual activist Keith Boykin,over his explicit objection. Boykin is a best selling author and advocate for what I call the "equivalency movement" among active homosexuals. This activist effort seeks to use the Police Power of the State to mandate that the legal status of authentic marriage also be given to homosexual paramours, even though such relationships can never be a marriage. After the event, the Bishop asked Misericordia to consider discontinuing its "Diversity Institute" which had sponsored the lectures.

Now the good Bishop has issued the following Refelection which we offer to all of our readers. It can be found on the website of the Diocese of Scranton. In it he not only instructs the faithful but reasserts his intention to stand firm and his obligation to continue on in his efforts:

Bishop Issues Reflection on Teaching of Diversity and Tolerance

Bishop Joseph F. Martino has issued a reflection on how the teaching of diversity and tolerance relates to the teaching of the Catholic Church. The reflection follows:

"A substantial amount of media coverage and public commentary ensued after I asked Misericordia University to seriously consider discontinuing its Diversity Institute. Students and others in the community related how this Institute has furthered the advancement of tolerance, understanding and harmony between people of different races and cultures.

These are all worthy goals. All people of good will should work toward these ends.

Misericordia University, as a Catholic institution, has a responsibility for helping the community achieve these goals. However, precisely because it is a Catholic institution, it also has a responsibility to transmit Catholic teaching to its students in ways that are not ambiguous or confusing.

As I said in my previous statement, students should learn respect for all races and cultures, but viewpoints that are in direct opposition to Catholic teaching should not be presented under the guise of “diversity.” Doing so within a formal structure sanctioned by the institution gives the impression that these viewpoints are acceptable, or that all morality is relative.

As Catholics, we must distinguish between authentic tolerance and an “anything goes” mindset. For example, would the Diversity Institute be justified in hosting a speaker who believes the Holocaust is a myth? Or one who believes slavery is okay because certain people are inferior? Or one who believes women can be exploited because they are the “weaker sex”? There are people out there who actually believe this nonsense, and they would be perfectly willing to come to the campus to tell you why.

Their views are certainly “diverse,” but does that qualify them to be given a platform in the name of tolerance? Or should they be allowed to make a presentation without any retort from the Catholic perspective?

As Catholics, we believe there is an objective, moral Truth – given to us by Jesus Christ. This Truth is timeless, and it cannot be altered by the shifting tides of popular culture. If our faith and our actions are not rooted in this Truth, we risk contributing to the “dictatorship of relativism” cited by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in a homily given just prior to his election as Pope Benedict XVI. He said:

“To have a clear faith, according to the creed of the Church, is often labeled as fundamentalism. While relativism, that is, allowing oneself to be carried about with every wind of ‘doctrine,’ seems to be the attitude that is fashionable. A dictatorship of relativism is being constituted that recognizes nothing as absolute and which only leaves the ‘I’ and its whims as the ultimate measure.”

As the Bishop, it is not only my right, but my obligation to ensure that authentic Catholic teaching is being provided in all Catholic institutions in this Diocese, and that viewpoints in opposition to this teaching are not being presented as acceptable alternatives.

I voiced my “absolute disapproval” of Misericordia’s hosting of Keith Boykin not because of his sexual orientation, but because he is a well known proponent of morality that is disturbingly opposed to Catholic teaching, such as homosexual relations and same sex marriage. Furthermore, no presentation was made to balance Mr. Boykin’s viewpoints with the teaching of the Catholic Church.

That is why I asked Misericordia, which asserted that it “is committed deeply to its Catholic mission,” to convey how it teaches Catholic morality regarding sexuality and homosexuality, and to produce concrete evidence. It is regrettable that the University chose to respond with a brief statement without any such evidence.

Nevertheless, I continue to urge Misericordia University to fulfill the four essential characteristics of a Catholic institution of higher learning. As I pointed out in briefer form in my initial statement on this matter, these are:

1. A Christian inspiration not only of individuals but of the university community as such;

2. A continuing reflection in the light of the Catholic faith upon the growing treasury of human knowledge, to which it seeks to contribute by its own
research;

3. Fidelity to the Christian message as it comes to us through the Church;

4. An institutional commitment to the service of the people of God and of the human family in their pilgrimage to the transcendent goal which gives meaning to life.

(Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution on Catholic Universities)

I also offer this postscript to those who criticize me for taking public stances that may not be popular or “politically correct,” or may not agree with their own personal notions of what “progressive” Catholic doctrine should be. My job as a Bishop is to promulgate the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church to all the faithful. I will continue to do so."

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