Synod Document of October 13 2014

My fear about the Synod was that it would “get it wrong,” that is, issue a statement that would have some statements that would be open to all sorts of speculation and misinterpretation. That fear was realized with paragraph 50 of its interim report issued on Monday, October 13.

  1. Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community. Are we capable of providing for these people, guaranteeing […] them […] a place of fellowship in our communities? Oftentimes, they want to encounter a Church which offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of this, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?

As was apparent to many of the bishops and viewers around the world, that was a very questionable statement, and it was readily questioned. Providentially, the first reading at Mass on October 15 was a passage from Chapter 5 of St. Paul’s epistle to the Galatians including verses 19-21. “Now the works of the flesh are plain: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” The first three words are different ways of saying “sexual immorality.”

Now, it is obvious that all of those who are guilty of any of these sins also “have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community.”   So the net effect of paragraph 50 is that it raises the question as to why the document called special attention to homosexuals as contrasted with other sinners

The vast majority of the bishops at the Synod did not take kindly to this sort of verbiage. For one thing, it appears that the wording was not approved by the entire Synod; most of it was written by one cardinal. So, as one account put it, they revolted, and they issued a number of modifying statements from the various language groups.

The bottom line is that the vast majority of the bishops do in truth believe what the Catholic Church has been teaching about love, marriage, and sexuality for some 2000 years.

To get it right, the bishops needed to come up with some practical ways to evangelize their fellow Catholics as well as make a case to other Christians, theists and even non-believers that the best thing the Catholic Church can do for humanity is to remain true to itself as the Body of Christ. They didn’t get it right this time, but they still have another year to get their act together.

Their revolt against the document of October 13 gives me hope. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us and for our bishops.

John F. Kippley, October 17, 2014

See also the blogs at www.nfpandmore.org

 

 

Pope Francis and Pope John Paul II re Humanae Vitae

In an interview commemorating the first anniversary of his election as the Bishop of Rome on March 13, 2013, Pope Francis made some wide ranging comments.  Of special interest are his comments on Humanae Vitae. 

“It all depends on how the text of Humanae Vitae is interpreted. Paul VI himself, towards the end, recommended that confessors show great kindness and attention to specific situations.

“His genius proved prophetic: he had the courage to stand against the majority, to defend moral discipline, to exercise a ‘brake’ on the culture, to oppose [both] present and future neo-Malthusianism. The question is not that of changing doctrine, but to go into the depths, and ensuring that pastoral [efforts] take into account people’s situations, and that, which it is possible for people to do.”

It is not impossible that for some the mention of “people’s situations” will raise the ghost of situation ethics.  In that vein, I am reminded of a long sentence in which Karl Rahner wrote as follows:

“If we Christians, when faced with a moral decision, really realized that the world is under the Cross on which God himself hung nailed and pierced, that obedience to God’s law can also entail man’s death…..”  [and several more conditional clauses],

“then there would be fewer confessors and spiritual advisors who, for fear of telling their penitent how strict is God’s law, fail in their duty and tell him instead to follow his conscience, as if he had not asked, and done right to ask, which among all the many voices clamoring within him was the true voice of God, as if it were not for God’s Church to try and distinguish it in accordance with His law, as if the true conscience could speak even when it had not been informed by God and the faith which come from hearing.”  (Nature and Grace, 1964 edition.  The complete quotation is in Sex and the Marriage Covenant, Ignatius, 2005, p.205.)

Speaking about exceptions to the moral law, Pope John Paul had much to say about the doctrine of marital non-contraception affirmed in Humanae Vitae, and many of his comments are in Sex and the Marriage Covenant, Chapter 7 “Forming a Correct Conscience.”  A summary is found on page 148 as follows:

  • “to hold out for exceptions as if God’s grace were not sufficient is a form of atheism [September 17, 1983];
  • denying the doctrine of marital non-contraception is “equivalent to denying the Catholic concept of revelation” [April 10, 1986];
  • it is a teaching whose truth is beyond discussion [June 5, 1987];
  • it is a “teaching which belongs to the permanent patrimony of the Church’s moral doctrine” and “a truth which cannot be questioned” [March 14, 1988];
  • it is a teaching which is intrinsic to our human nature and that calling it into question “is equivalent to refusing God himself the obedience of our intelligence’ [November 12, 1988] and finally,
  • “what is being questioned by rejecting that teaching . . . is the very idea of the holiness of God” [November 12, 1988].

I can understand the emphasis on mercy when a confessor is dealing with persons and couples whose sexual behaviors have become compulsive and who thus may lack the psychological freedom necessary either for serious sin or for acts of love.  Such acts are the subject of moral pathology.  However, I have yet to see dissenters making the case against Humanae Vitae in terms of almost uncontrollable compulsion.

There is no contradiction between the writing of Pope John Paul II and the comments of Pope Francis, just a difference in emphasis.  Perhaps the promotion of mercy will bring about increased concern for the meaning of the marriage act that Pope John Paul II strove so hard and for so long to enkindle.

John F. Kippley, also at www.nfpandmore.org, March 10, 2014

From Sanger to Same-Sex “Marriage”

Have you ever wondered when and how the same-sex-marriage proposition got started?  It was 100 years ago that Margaret Sanger began her literary efforts to promote contraception.  It is clear now that these efforts prepared the way for the contemporary societal acceptance of sodomy under its current euphemism of same-sex marriage.

It was in 1914 the Sanger started her own paper, The Rebel Woman, and began to circulate it via the U. S. Postal system.  This brought her into conflict with the existing obscenity laws, and in August she was arrested and given six weeks to prepare her defense.  Instead, she wrote a book on contraception and fled to England where she imbibed more of the evil philosophy of Havelock Ellis who publicly advocated for the societal acceptance of contraception, masturbation, and sodomy.  That’s  When and How the idea of same-sex “marriage” was conceived although not yet explicitly proposed.  Sanger returned to the States in 1916, eventually went to trial, received a very short sentence, and successfully used the legal proceedings as free publicity for her cause.

The promotional work of Ellis in England and Sanger in the United States led to much discussion in the 1920s about the social effects of accepting contraception.  One such idea was “companionate marriage” — legal marriage, deliberate childlessness via contraception, divorce for any reason, and remarriage.  The reformers considered the cycle of divorce and remarriage to be social progress, but they did have a proviso.  If the partners have a contraceptive failure, they must remain together for the sake of the child.

Secular humanist Walter Lippmann brought a critical eye to these developments in his 1929 book, A Preface to Morals.  He did not disagree with the basic argument against unlimited family size, but he found fault with the way the argument was advanced.  He saw that it was folly to argue that this information could be kept to married couples because human curiosity would make certain that everybody would soon know it.  “Now this is what the Christian churches, especially the Roman Catholic, which oppose contraception on principle instantly recognized.  They were quite right.  They were quite right, too, in recognizing that whether or not birth control is eugenic, hygienic, and economic, it is the most revolutionary practice in the history of human morals (1999 printing, 291, emphasis added).

He then summarized his review of the sex talk of the Twenties in this way.  “What has happened, I believe, is what so often happens in the first enthusiasm for a revolutionary invention.  Its possibilities are so dazzling that men forget that inventions belong to man and not man to his inventions.  In the discussion which has ensued since birth control became generally feasible, the central confusion has  been that the reformers have tried to fix their sexual ideals in accordance with the logic of  birth control instead of the logic of human nature” (306, emphasis added).  How sadly true.

That was 1929.  The very next year, the bishops of the Church of England debated the marital contraception issue.  One of their retired members, Bishop Charles Gore, a leader of the “conservative” group, argued that the acceptance of marital contraception would lead logically to the acceptance of sodomy.  Despite this clear warning, the Church of England formally accepted marital contraception in August 1930 although with some reservation.  The Church of England thus became the first organized religious body calling itself Christian to accept the practice of marital contraception.  In my opinion, this was even more important than the efforts of Margaret Sanger in explaining the acceptance of unnatural forms of birth control by Christians whose churches had previously condemned it.  By 1958 the Anglican bishops were openly advocating marital contraception, and early in the 21st century they were accepting sodomy even by their own married bishops.  Ellis and Sanger had replaced Genesis and Romans.

The bottom line is this:  Once you accept marital contraception as a matter of principle, there is no logical way to say NO to heterosexual sodomy within marriage, and there is also no logical way to say NO to same-sex sodomy and even its masquerade as same-sex “marriage.”  As Professor Raymond Dennehy of the University of San Francisco wrote some years ago, once you accept contraception, “any orifice will do.”

Martin Luther was correct when, in his commentary on the Sin of Onan, he called the contraceptive sin of withdrawal a form of sodomy.  That applies to all unnatural forms of birth control.  Thus it is not surprising that huge numbers of contracepting couples who call themselves Christian see nothing wrong with same-sex “marriage.”  It’s hard to call wrong what you yourself are doing in your own marriage.

When married couples engage in mutual masturbation, that’s a form of marital sodomy.  That also applies to oral and anal sexual copulation.  I can imagine that practitioners of same-sex sodomy might say something to this effect—“Some of you married heterosexuals are doing our kind of sex and calling it okay for yourselves.  Why shouldn’t we do sodomy and call it marriage?”

I think everybody dealing with human sexuality or who even reads the papers has to know that oral sodomy is practiced — sometimes widely — by heterosexuals, married and unmarried and even teenagers, as well as homosexuals.  Yet, to the best of my knowledge, the only natural family planning books that teach explicitly against these immoral behaviors are those written by my wife and me.  It only takes a few lines to say these things, so space cannot be a consideration.  A related question—Is this basic moral teaching contained in any of the marriage preparation texts and courses used in Catholic parishes?  I don’t know, but if any reader can cite any such books or programs, please let me know.

If the purpose of preparation for Christian marriage is to help couples live a morally good life and to build up the Church, why aren’t these things being taught in every marriage prep and NFP course and text?  Is the mission of the Church advanced by omitting these basic moral teachings?

John F. Kippley, also at www.nfpandmore.org

What the President Really Wanted to Say

President Barack Obama asked me to prepare some material for his State of the Union address, but I was so flustered that I failed to deliver it in time.  However, he has thanked me profusely for the following and given me permission to share it with you.

After the usual introductory remarks….

One of my fellow Democrats, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a man who has long gone to meet his Maker, addressed the issue of poverty when he was an Assistant Secretary of Labor in the Johnson Administration.  This was one year after President Johnson persuaded Congress to get serious about alleviating poverty with his Great Society program.

As some of you may remember, Mr. Moynihan addressed the poverty of black families in 1965 and suggested that the black family structure might have something to do with poverty.  At the time, the black out-of-wedlock pregnancy rate was 24% and the white rate was 3%.  His paper was treated as controversial, but many in Congress thought he might have a point, so in the ensuing years Congress has done every thing it can to make contraception and abortion universally available with a special focus on black communities.  Since that time, however, the white folks have managed to increase their single-mom rate by eight times to reach the level of about 24 or 25%, and the black single mom rate has increased to 70%.  In other words, if the government effort to provide contraception and abortion was to reduce the out-of-wedlock birth rate, it has been a colossal failure.

We all know that the single greatest new source of poverty in these United States is the household headed by a single woman with children.  We all know that those babies born into that situation have, in baseball terminology, two strikes against them.  And we know that they frequently do not do as well in school, are less likely to graduate from high school, and are more likely to spend some time in jail than those children born into a family headed by a male father and a female mother committed to each other and to their children.

We all know this is expensive, but perhaps we don’t all realize just exactly how  expensive it is.  A friend of mine in Ohio did a bit of research on the internet and came up with a price tag of $123 billion dollars each year for what he calls the cost of the Sexual Revolution that you have all heard about.  I realize that in terms of trillion dollar budgets that may not sound like much, but, you know, a billion here, ten billion there, and another 123 billion here and there—that starts to add up, and I think we can all agree it shouldn’t be ignored.  Especially when the results have not been helpful to families.

Then there is the even more important human cost of men and women spending part of their lives in prison because they got off to a poor start in life.

Something else we all know is that we have kicked God and his Commandments out of the public schools of these United States.  We have let ourselves be cowed by those who have claimed that any mention of God and his Commandments is a violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution which states very clearly, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

The Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791 when George Washington was president.  And we all know that he and the Congress did this so no particular church could be made the Established Church in this country.  Many people came to this country just to get away from that situation.  But there is no reason to think that our founders were setting up a completely secular anti-religious nation.  After all, toward the end of his second term as the first president of the United States, George Washington stated, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”

Now that I have outlined the problem, I know that you are expecting me to propose something that will cost an additional $100 billion dollars a year.  But I have a surprise for you.  It’s a very simple plan called “Let the money follow the child.”  All tax-generated funds will go to schools of the parents’ choice.

I am sure that you all agree that we need to eliminate discrimination, but sometimes not everyone is aware that the greatest remaining case of discrimination in this country is against those parents who want their children to receive an education someplace other than their local public school.  Frequently this amounts to religious discrimination.  This is similar to the tax Christians have to pay in some Muslim dominated countries.  Do we really want that sort of discrimination in this country?  It has never been shown that it is dangerous for this country to have citizens educated to respect the morality enshrined in the Ten Commandments.  Let’s put into effect our realization that President George Washington was really onto something when he said that religion and morality are indispensable supports for political prosperity.

The economic consequences of this will be significant.  It will certainly lead to many new good paying jobs.  There will be lots of new schools to be constructed or old ones to be renovated.  These will need lots of new teachers.  Furthermore, if more and more of our young people are instructed on the biblical principles that God has a plan for sex and that it involves postponing sexual involvement until you are married, there will be a dramatic decrease in pre-marital sex and babies.

Lastly, I propose a significant step towards ending our wars with the Islamists.  Let’s stop giving them the grounds for calling us The Great Satan.  Let’s ban completely the exporting of pornography, abortion, unnatural forms of birth control, and the propaganda for same-sex marriage.  Let’s help less developed peoples with food, not filth.

Stop discrimination.  Let the money follow the child.  Food not filth.  Why not?

John F. Kippley, also at http://www.nfpandmore.org

 

Pedophilia: Why the Rise and Fall?

The recent (January 16) grilling of Vatican officials by United Nations officials about the sexual abuse of minors by priests plus its cover-up by dioceses does not seem to have revealed anything new.  It seems to be primarily a way of trying to oust the Holy See from the UN and a victory for the habitual anti-Catholics.  Left unexplored and unanswered are the more interesting questions.  Why was there this burst of immorality by priests directed toward children and adolescents? 

After the news of this sexual scandal exploded in 2002, the US Bishops appointed a disinterested group to study it in detail.  The result wasThe Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010, A Report Presented to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops by the John Jay College Research Team” dated May 18, 2011.  A month later I published a blog on it on a now-discontinued website.

What follows is a slightly shortened version of that article.  Unfortunately, I can no longer find the Report at the USCCB website, and the PDF I found elsewhere no longer has the two graphs mentioned below.  The information may be there, but it is not as visible in 2014 as it was in 2011.

______________

In my [2011] review, I found the most interesting statistics were in two graphs, Figure 2.3.1, “Annual Count of Incidents Reported and Priests Accused, by Year” and Figure 2.3.2, “Distribution of Alleged Incidents of Abuse by Date of First Instance.”  The first shows an increasing number of incidents reported each year during the Fifties, a marked jump in 1960—the year the birth control Pill was so widely publicized and accepted, continued increases with another large increase in 1969—right after the dissenters and millions of Catholics thumbed their noses at the traditional moral teaching affirmed by Humanae Vitae, a continued climb to 1980, and then a marked decline each year to 2002, somewhat below what it was in 1950.  In other words, when the Scandal was publicized in 2002, it was already over, at least in terms of sensational numbers.

The second graph more or less paralleled the first.  Of special interest was a 100% increase in the numbers of “first instance” from 1959 (150) to 1960 (300).  The numbers of “first instance” then dropped back to about 200, then slowly increased to just over 300 in 1968, and took another huge jump in 1970 to about 425.  Beginning in 1981, the numbers gradually fell to about 25, slightly less than in 1951, and way less than in 1950 when approximately 125 first instances were recorded.

I found nothing in the report that attempted to explain this rise and fall of the incidences of sexual abuse by priests and deacons, so I will offer my own interpretation.  The gradual increases in the Fifties may be due primarily to the increases in the numbers of priests in the Fifties.  The gradual decline from 1981 to 2002 may be due partly to the gradual aging and decrease in numbers of priests in that period, but see also below for possible theological influences.  The significant increases in the Sixties occurred at a time when traditional sexual morality was being questioned not only in the culture but also within the Catholic Church.  The huge increases in both the “Annual Count” and “First Instance” in 1960 so parallel the widespread societal acceptance of the [birth control] Pill that it is difficult not to see an association.  Similarly, the large increase in the Annual Count (1969) and First Instances (1970) parallel the widespread Catholic rejection of Humanae Vitae and the entire Tradition of sexual morality that the encyclical represents.  Thus I maintain that the theological maelstroms of the 1960s and the 1970s had a significant causal effect on the great Scandal that was taking place in those years.”

There is no shortage of evidence that thinking leads to behavioral changes and then to more such thinking and further changes.  In his 1929 book, A Preface to Morals, secular humanist Walter Lippmann criticized the “progressives” of his day for adopting the logic of birth control and abandoning the logic of human nature.  The expanding use of barrier methods of birth control during the Roaring Twenties led the revisionists to think that if it is permissible to separate having sex from having babies, it would also be permissible to separate sex from marriage itself.  And, without children to care for, they further speculated that it would be progressive to marry, have contraceptive sex, and then divorce when boredom outweighed immediate pleasure.  They even gave it a name—companionate marriage.

The very next year, the Anglican bishops gathered for a periodic meeting at the Lambeth Palace of the Church of England and debated the birth control issue.  “Conservative” Bishop Charles Gore argued that the acceptance of contraception would open a Pandora’s Box of sexual and social evils including the acceptance of sodomy, but his side lost the vote.  Thus in 1930 the Church of England became the first organized church to accept contraception, but Gore’s witness provides a wonderful example of being able to foresee the effects of the logic of birth control.  By the early 21stcentury, the Church of England had not only accepted marital contraception but also sodomy and even the ordination of openly homosexual bishops.

The battles of the Sexual Revolution within the Catholic Church were fought in the 1960s with many essentially thoughtless articles during the early Sixties advocating the acceptance of unnatural forms of birth control.  Almost every writer qualified his or her comments by pledging full acceptance of Catholic teaching once the Pope clarified it.  Most of those writers became active dissenters, however, when Pope Paul VI issued his 1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae, which clarified the issue by reaffirming the traditional teaching that marital contraception is seriously immoral.

Less than two years later, self-styled revisionist Michael Valente spilled the beans about the logic of birth control, saying that in rejecting Humanae Vitae the revisionists had also rejected the entire natural law theory on which, he said, it was based.  Therefore, according to Valente, they had no way to say a firm NO to any imaginable sexual behavior between consenting persons.  He specifically included bestiality.

In 1971, the generally liberal journal, Theological Studies, published my article, “Continued Dissent: Is It Responsible Loyalty?” in which I showed that the decision-making principles of arch-dissenter Fr. Charles Curran could not say a moral NO even to spouse swapping.  No one ever complained that I had created a straw man, but neither the Valente book nor my article had any slowdown effect on the birth control propaganda by other Catholic writers.

The point of this bit of history is that what passed for moral theology regarding sexuality during the Sixties and Seventies—and perhaps well into the Eighties in some places—was garbage.  It couldn’t say NO to anything of mutual consent.  In 1977 Paulist Press published a book by the Catholic Theology Society of America that so reflected this thinking that it drew an analogy between Catholic homosexuals doing sodomy and Catholic married couples doing contraception.  They used cautious wording, but the inference was clear that while both behaviors contradicted the formal teaching, they were really okay and the teaching would have to change.

Now, imagine someone who is taught, at least by inference, that Catholic teaching on sexuality is wrong and that sodomy is loving behavior.  Imagine that the person who imbibes this erroneous teaching is a Catholic seminarian or priest with a same-sex attraction.  What is to keep him from putting his inclinations into action?  One might say that he should know that such actions with a minor and especially with a prepubescent are both illegal and wrong, and I agree.  But also in the theological and sexual milieu at the time was the rallying cry of some homosexuals, “Sex before eight or it’s too late.”  Assuming that such a slogan reflected their real thoughts, one could imagine that they thought a bit of coercion or persuasion might be permissible, somewhat like a parent exercising coercion or persuasion to get their children to eat their vegetables.

Every Catholic bishop knows well the axiom, Agere sequitur esseAction follows being.  Or more loosely, “What you do follows from what you are.”  They also know that to a large extent, what you think is what you are.  After all, isn’t the whole purpose of Christian education to help the student think with the mind of Christ and thus act as a Christian should?

I am quite aware that even when people have had the best education about morality they can still cave into weakness and sin, but I maintain that it becomes much easier to engage in sinful behavior if one has been trained to think that traditional moral teachings are wrong.

The bottom line consists of questions, not answers.  In the analyses sponsored by the US Bishops since the 2002 exposure of the Great Scandal, where is the analysis of the moral theology taught to the sexual abusers both in the seminary and in their later seminars and reading?  Have admitted offenders been asked about their overall thinking about sexual morality?  Was their thinking influenced by the fact that the US Bishops continued to employ Fr. Charles Curran at the Catholic University of America for 19 years after he led the dissent from Humanae Vitae?  (One dissenting priest told me that I was in dissent from the bishops because I disagreed with Fr. Curran whom the bishops continued to employ.)  In short, if education is deemed important, what effort has been made to examine the seminary moral theology of the Sixties to the present?  If it has been made, what, if any, changes have been made?  And if that effort has not been made, why not?

To return to the gradual decline in the Scandal starting in 1981, it’s very possible this was related to the efforts of Pope John Paul II to reaffirm authentic Catholic teaching on sexuality.  The Synod on the Family in 1980, the near martyrdom of John Paul II on May 13, 1981, the publication of Familiaris ConsortioThe Apostolic Exhortation on the Family in late 1981, and his continued “Theology of the Body” lectures certainly had their good effects, and one of them may have been to reorder the thinking of many priests and deacons with a same-sex attraction.  Thinking does affect action.

Kathleen Parker and Moral Certitudes

In my blog of December 22, 2013, I wrote, “If Pope Francis were asked the same questions [about sin], how would his answer have differed from that of Phil Robertson?”

That question became more interesting just two days later when Kathleen Parker criticized Phil Robertson in her Washington Post syndicated column for his “moral certitude” that sodomy is wrong, and she concluded this way: “But fundamentalism, regardless of religion, finds refuge in the toxic swamp of moral certitude.”

By way of background, Drew Magary interviewed Phil Robertson for an article in the January 2014 issue of GQ.  About 60 percent through the article, Phil was commenting on the decline of morality in the United States and said, “…the Robertson family really believes strongly that if the human race loved each other and they loved God, we would just be better off. We ought to just be repentant, turn to God, and let’s get on with it, and everything will turn around. . . Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong.  Sin becomes fine.”

Magary:  What, in your mind, is sinful?

Robertson:  “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

Now, what if Kathleen Parker had asked Pope Francis, in the context of a conversation about the moral decline of the United States, “What, in your mind, is sinful?”  To be sure, he would probably have commented on the growing chasm between the rich and poor as he has made clear.

But what if she had pursued and said something like this:  “As you have heard, Phil Robertson calls himself a Christian and is certain that sodomy is sinful.  Do you share that conviction?”

I suggest that Pope Francis would reply something along this line.

“As you know, in my plane interview last July I distinguished between sexual crimes and sins.  I had appointed to a Vatican bank job a priest who was reported to not only have a same-sex orientation but also was strongly suspected of having engaged in such behaviors.  Our investigation concluded that he had not engaged in any behaviors that were statutory crimes.  I did not say that he had not sinned.  In fact, I thought I made it clear that sins are sins.  I also made it clear that God forgives repentant sinners, and so must we.  Christians ought to have a moral certitude that sodomy is sinful and also that we need to follow God in forgiving those who repent of such sins.”

Imaginary Parker:  “So what do you think about my published comment that ‘fundamentalism, regardless of religion, finds refuge in the toxic swamp of moral certitude.’”

Imaginary Pope:  “Well, since you asked, I have to say that you need to learn how to distinguish between the time-tested, biblically based teachings of the Catholic Church and the wishful thinking of Western liberal revolutionists.  Your term, ‘the toxic swamp of moral certitude’ well describes the Leftist ideas that gave us the absolutism of Socialism, Communism, and a sexual revolution that cannot say ‘no’ to any imaginable behavior between consenting persons, the only qualification being the age of consent.  Communism was the liberal effort to root out all the moral certainties of Christianity and create a Leftist version of heaven on earth.  The founders of these “isms” were so certain of their rightness that they murdered millions of their own citizens.

“My predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, knew all too well the toxic swamp of the moral certitudes of the Left as he lived through the dictatorships of both National Socialism and Communism.  Very recently President Vladimir Putin said that the greatest thing that every happened to Russia was the introduction of Christianity some 1,000 years ago.  I suggest that you would do well to wake up and start reading Chesterton who predates both of these toxic swamps.”

*****

If you find it difficult to concentrate while praying the rosary, you might find helpful the little rosary booklet I have compiled.  The Seven Day Bible Rosary has a different set of mysteries for each day of the week with a verse before each Hail Mary.  See the top of this page.

John Kippley, www.nfpandmore.org

Pope Francis and Phil Robertson in Context

The statements of Phil Robertson, whose name I had never heard before the Duck Dynasty controversy, are being compared with those of Pope Francis in a way that is not fair to either party.  For someone who may read this in an archive sometime well beyond 2013, Phil Robertson became “news” when GQ, a men’s magazine, published an interview in which he was asked about homosexuality and sin.

After an initial crude comment, Robertson, the star of a reality TV show and a teacher in his local church, explained his views on sin.  “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.”

He then continued: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers they won’t inherit the kingdom of God.”  That’s simply a close paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.

Here’s that passage in the New International Version, a popular version among evangelical and conservative Protestants such as Robertson.  “Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

The question was fair, and his answer was biblically based.  What is truly “controversial” among those who have accepted the sexual revolution as normative is 1) belief in New Testament teachings on sexuality and 2) public expression of that belief.

The other side of the comparison is the remark Pope Francis made in his interview with journalists on the flight from Rio de Janeiro after the World Youth Day conference in July.  Near the end of the 80-minute press conference, a journalist asked the Pope about his June appointment of Monsignor Battista Ricca, a person reputed to have a same-sex orientation, to reform the Vatican bank.  “Holiness, what do you intend to do about this question. How to address this question and how Your Holiness intends to address the whole question of the gay lobby?”

Pope Francis replied as follows:

“Regarding Monsignor Ricca: I did what Canon Law mandates to do, which is the investigatio previa. And from that investigatio there was nothing of that which they accuse him of, we did not find anything of that. This is the answer.

“But I would like to add something else on this: I see that so many times in the Church, outside of this case and also in this case, they go to look for the ‘sins of youth,’ for example, no? And this is published. Not the crimes. Crimes are something else: the abuse of minors is a crime. No, the sins.

“But if a person, lay or priest or Sister, has committed a sin and then has converted, the Lord forgives, and when the Lord forgives, the Lord forgets and this is important for our life. When we go to confession and truly say: ‘I have sinned in this,’ the Lord forgets and we don’t have the right not to forget, because we run the risk that the Lord won’t forget our [sins]. That’s a danger.

“This is important: a theology of sin. I think so many times of St. Peter: he committed one of the worst sins, which is to deny Christ, and with this sin he was made Pope. We must give it much thought.

“But, returning to your more concrete question: in this case, I did the investigatio previa and we found nothing. This is the first question.

“Then you spoke of the gay lobby. Goodness knows! So much is written of the gay lobby. I still have not met one who will give me the identity card with ‘gay.’  They say that they exist.

“I think that when one meets a person like this, one must distinguish the fact of being a gay person from the fact of doing a lobby, because not all lobbies are good. That’s bad.

“If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge him? The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this in such a beautiful way, it says, Wait a bit, as is said, and says: ‘these persons must not be marginalized because of this; they must be integrated in society.’

“The problem isn’t having this tendency, no. We must be brothers, because this is one, but there are others, others. The problem is the lobbying of this tendency: lobby of the avaricious, lobby of politicians, lobby of Masons, so many lobbies. This, for me, is the more serious problem. And I thank you.”

That was the end of the press conference.

From this, the liberal press, pro-sodomy writers, and even some conservatives have taken one sentence out of context:  “If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge him?”  I think the Pope could have made a better choice of words, but he had been on the grill for well over an hour.  It would have been better to have said “has a same-sex orientation” instead of “is gay” because in much of the world the word “gay” denotes not just an orientation but also the rejection of the biblical teaching that sodomy is sinful.  Thus, with the advantage of hindsight, it should be clear that what the Pope meant and should have said for greater clarity is something like this:

“If a person has [a same-sex orientation and is repentant for all past sins] and seeks the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge [that he is unfit for a banking function in the Vatican]?”

A Blessed Christmas Week to you and yours.

John F. Kippley, also at www.nfpandmore.org

Next week:  If Pope Francis were asked the same questions, how would his answer have differed from that of Phil Robertson?