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Faux-Catholic Discussion on 'Sexual Diversity and the Catholic Church'
By Billy Atwell
March 16th, 2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
A series of talks sponsored by gay activists groups is proposing that the Catholic Church needs to 'reconsider' the way it addresses homosexuality. Claiming that the Catholic Church has had a monologue on LGBT issues, rather than a discussion, the participants in these talks say they want to see the Catholic laity more involved. But aren't the Catholic laity already involved?WASHINGTON DC (Catholic Online) - A group of "Catholic" universities and non-denominational divinity schools claim they are "collaborating to change the conversation about sexual diversity and the Catholic Church." They believe the current discussion regarding homosexuality is too much of a monologue.
Later this year there will be a series of four events held at Fordham University, Union Theological Seminary, Yale Divinity School and Fairfield University. According to the press release, "Each event has a unique focus and the series as a whole will lift up new voices that are rarely heard and raise awareness about the impact of church teachings and public stances on the lives of LGBT people."
From that statement alone you can see that this isn't going to be a "Catholic" discussion. The Catholic Church is informed by 2,000+ years of history and an ancestry of brilliant minds covering almost every topic under the sun. The Catholic Church doesn't need faux-Catholic voices or non-Catholics instructing us about our own faith or how we should approach the homosexual issue.
The series is funded by four organizations and the Arcus Foundation, which works for "LGBT equality" and to protect great apes.
It's not our actions, but our beliefs they are after
"Roman Catholic leaders have increasingly taken more public stances and hardened their language in support of the church's position against LGBT equality. This exemplifies the high-profile, one-dimensional discourse of institutional Roman Catholicism when it comes to issues of diverse sexual orientation and gender expression and LGBT equality," reads the press release.
From this statement alone we can see that this group has already made up their mind. Phrases like "LGBT equality" is used proliferously by gay activists. This series is not interested in addressing the way Catholics respond to repentant homosexuals- though that can always use improvement-but instead the Catholic belief that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and unnatural.
If "LGBT equality" was to mean the equal treatment of people with same-sex desires, then this would be an entirely different discussion.
Missing the point
The topic of homosexuality too often misses the point by referring only to the desires of people with same-sex attraction, and sidesteps the philosophical, biological, sociological and theological dimension of what it means to be a man and woman. What were we designed for? Did God simply make us? Or did He actually inscribe his very nature into our bodies.
The topics covered in this four-part series merely address the surface issue of same-sex attraction and the Catholic Church's position on that. But it seems to totally miss the deeper points of what it means to be man and woman, and what the purpose of marriage really is.
Their problem is with the laity
"The conversation on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in the Roman Catholic Church has for too long been only a monologue - the sole voice being heard is that of the institutional Catholic Church," said Paul Lakeland, Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J., Professor of Catholic Studies, Director of the Center for Catholic Studies at Fairfield University, and an organizer of the series.
This point insinuates that the institution of the Church has no place for the laity. The laity is the driving force of pro-traditional marriage efforts throughout the country. Dr. Robert George, for instance, is the founder and Chairman Emeritus of the National Organization for Marriage, one of the premiere pro-traditional marriage organizations in the country, and co-architect of the Manhattan Declaration, which takes a strong pro-traditional marriage stance.
It is the laity that boldly and proudly teaches the truth behind John Paul II's Love and Responsibility and Theology of the Body. One of the most popular speakers and writers on Theology of the Body is Christopher West, a married man with five children. In fact, most Theology of the Body speakers are not clergy.
The clergy, College of Cardinals and Pope Benedict XVI aren't snuffing out the small voices of the Catholic Church. In contrast, the true voice of authority in the Church-the Magisterium-is at times hard to hear amongst the vigorous excitement of the Catholic laity on the issue of true masculinity, true femininity and the Theology of the Body.
If the homosexual community has a problem with any specific group of Catholics, it is not the "monologue" of the Catholic hierarchy they should be concerned with. Instead, they should be worried about the powerful, diverse and informed voices of the laity that believes in, and carries the banner for, the Magisterium.
The Catholic Church is not a democracy
"When the Connecticut Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in the fall of 2008, the Connecticut Bishops responded first with a public statement offered on behalf of all the Catholic faithful in the state (without their deliberation or consent) condemning the decision and arguing that marriage was not a civil right to be exercised by gay and lesbian people," said Dianna M. Swancutt, Associate Professor of New Testament at Yale Divinity School.
Without the Catholic faithful's deliberation and consent? Since when do bishops go to the Catholic faithful for a democratic vote on moral and ethical issues? Perhaps this series should begin with a basic introduction to what the Catholic Church is and how it operates.
This series of talks is based upon the notion that if only the Catholic hierarchy of Bishops, Cardinals and the Pope would listen to the little voices in the pews, they might change their stance on fundamental, foundational issues of theology and Natural Law.
I pray that this day never comes. Catholics should be thankful that the Holy Spirit speaks through the Catholic Church, not in spite of it. If Bishops needed to consult with the opinion of the Catholic faithful on issues that the Church has studied, both philosophically and theologically, since Saint Paul first put pen to paper, Catholics might as well become Protestant. This notion that the Catholic Church is a democracy is fallacious and ignorant.
What they should have done
If this series of talks had been about how the Catholic Church could better respond to homosexuals, while respectfully recognizing the long standing beliefs about sexuality and our view of marriage as a conjugal, permanent union of one man and one woman, it could perhaps be a profitable venture. Our methods and disciplines can always use refinement-but the principles and foundational truths need no reconsideration.
It is terribly sad when people, whether Catholic or anything else, object to homosexuality by dismissing the person and casting homosexuals aside as unworthy of our time and effort. We are called to love these people and treat them with charity and equal dignity. Christ didn't die on a cross for the righteous. He died for us all, whether gay or straight.
But to go from addressing the Catholic response to homosexuals, to the very foundational belief behind marriage and the sexual act, is dangerous and pointless.
Billy Atwell contributes to Catholic Online, and blogs for The Point and the Manhattan Declaration. As a young lay Catholic and two-time cancer survivor he offers commentary on faith, culture, and politics. You can find all of his writings at For the Greater Glory.
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