Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cardinal Sean O'Malley: Will you exercise your pastoral authority so that the Father of Lies will not take hold of the minds and hearts of the faithful?

Three days after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill allowing same-sex couples to marry, Archbishop Timothy Dolan reaffirmed the Catholic Church's position on marriage.  Speaking to reporters following a Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral, His Excellency said that, "We as Catholics would oppose any attempt by anybody to redefine marriage...We just don't believe that marriage can be changed and radically altered to accommodate a particular lifestyle." See here.  Archbishop Dolan has said that same-sex "marriage" is "detrimental to the common good" and a "violation of natural law."

In its 2003 document entitled Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith refuted the notion that legalizing homosexual unions would not harm the common good:

"In this area, one needs first to reflect on the difference between homosexual behavior as a private phenomenon and the same behavior as a relationship in society, foreseen and approved by the law, to the point where it becomes one of the institutions in the legal structure.  This second phenomenon is not only more serious, but also assumes a more wide-ranging and profound influence, and would result in changes to the entire organization of society, contrary to the common good.  Civil laws are structuring principles of man's life in society, for good or ill.  They 'play a very important and sometimes decisive role in influencing patterns of thought and behavior.'  Lifestyles and the underlying presuppositions these express not only externally shape the life of society, but also tend to modify the younger generation's perception and evaluation of forms of behavior.  Legal recognition of homosexual unions would obscure certain basic moral values and cause a devaluation of the institution of marriage."

Considerations goes on to explain that, "The inevitable consequence of legal recognition of homosexual unions would be the redefinition of marriage, which would become, in its legal status, an institution devoid of essential reference to factors linked to heterosexuality; for example, procreation and raising children.  If, from the legal standpoint, marriage between a man and a woman were to be considered just one possible form of marriage, the concept of marriage would undergo a radical transformation, with grave detriment to the common good.  By putting homosexual unions on a legal plane analogous to that of marriage and the family, the State acts arbitrarily and in contradiction with its duties."

Now Cardinal Sean O'Malley has reaffirmed this teaching of the Church at his Blog.  What is not understandable, however, is his toleration of a homosexual "rainbow ministry" at St. Cecilia's Parish in Boston's Back Bay which has distorted Catholic teaching on homosexuality while promoting same-sex "marriage."

In a Keynote Address entitled Good Shepherd: Living Christ's Own Pastoral Authority*, which was delivered at the 10th Annual Symposium on the Spirituality and Identity of the Diocesan Priest on March 18, 2011, Bishop Samuel J. Aquila had some important things to say about the role of Bishops.  His Excellency noted that:

"Perhaps most difficult for us who lead in the Church today, due to the influence of the secular world with its rejection of God and the authority of God, along with a real skepticism of authority, is the exercise of the office of governance. Benedict XVI reminds us as bishops and priests again to turn to Jesus Christ to learn how to exercise this authority. No one is really able to feed Christ's flock, unless he lives in profound and true obedience to Christ and the Church, and the docility of the people towards their priests depends on the docility of the priests towards Christ; for this reason the personal and constant encounter with the Lord, profound knowledge of him and the conformation of the individual will to Christ's will is always at the root of the pastoral ministry. (General Audience, May 26, 2010).

Jesus at times was direct in calling people to conversion – to change their way of acting and thinking. This directness makes many of us uncomfortable today. We should follow his example and language, even if we do not use his precise words. His language is good to contemplate and definitely should challenge us to look at how we correct the faithful, including priests and bishops, and speak the truth especially with those who say they are with Christ and the Church but do not accept the teaching of Jesus and the Church.

One has only to read Matthew 23 to hear the forceful language Jesus uses when speaking with the Pharisees and Scribes. He refers to them as ―hypocrites, blind guides, and white washed tombs and towards the end asks them the question, ―You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?  In our politically correct world this type of language would never be tolerated today, and yet the Gospel writers were not hesitant to pass on these exhortations of Jesus.

Furthermore, when Peter began to remonstrate with Jesus about going up to Jerusalem, he did not softly tell Peter, ―You do not understand. Rather Jesus spoke the vigorous words, ―Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men (Mt 16:23). Jesus speaks these words with force to the apostle he has chosen and the one whom he made first among the apostles. In love Jesus makes these direct statements to open the eyes of those whose hearts and minds are hardened. His straight talk, given in love for the person, desires the conversion and holiness of the person to the ways of God.

Jesus provides the Church and her leaders with the criteria for correcting a brother or sister. ―If your brother sins against you; go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector (Mt 18:16-17).

The steps in this passage are clear and Jesus is teaching us, but do we listen and follow his example? If this criteria had been followed with dissenting theologians, priests, religious and faithful in 1968 with the encyclical, Humanae Vitae, would we still be dealing with the problem today of those who dissent on contraception, abortion, same sex unions, euthanasia and so many other teachings of the Church?

One must honestly ask, how many times and years may a Catholic politician vote for the so called ―right to abortion, ―murder in the words of John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae (58), and still be able to receive Holy Communion? The continual reception of Holy Communion by those who so visibly contradict and promote a grave evil, even more than simply dissent, only creates grave scandal, undermines the teaching and governing authority of the Church and can be interpreted by the faithful as indifference to the teaching of Christ and the Church on the part of those who have the responsibility to govern. If we honestly pray with the Gospel we can see that hesitancy and non-accountability are not the way of Jesus Christ, but rather are a failure in the exercise of governance.

Bishops and priests, as an act of loving obedience to Christ, must return to a full exercise of the governing authority of Christ witnessed in the Gospel. If we do not exercise that authority, are hesitant to exercise it, or doubt it, then it only leads to the ―father of lies taking hold of the minds and hearts of the faithful, and their continuing to act in the ways of man and not the ways of God.

Pope Benedict XVI, in his conversation with Peter Seewald in the book Light of the World, made the following observation concerning the sexual abuse crisis among clergy, after speaking with the Archbishop of Dublin. In their conversation they spoke to a mentality prevalent after Vatican II. ―The prevailing mentality was that the Church must not be a Church of laws but, rather, a Church of love; she must not punish. Thus the awareness that punishment can be an act of love ceased to exist. This led to an odd darkening of the mind, even in very good people. Today we have to learn all over again that love for the sinner and love for the person who has been harmed are correctly balanced if I punish the sinner in the form that is possible and appropriate. In this respect there was in the past a change of mentality, in which the law and need for punishment were obscured. Ultimately this also narrowed the concept of love, which in fact is not just being nice or courteous, but is found in the truth (emphasis added). And another component of truth is that I must punish the one who has sinned against real love (Pages 25-26)."

It is time for Boston's Cardinal to exercise his pastoral authority.  If he does not, the Father of Lies will be emboldened and will continue to sow dissension and discord as minds become steeped in darkness.

*  Full Address here.


Wendy said...

That's my prayer Paul....thank you for your courage and for this wonderful post! God bless you prayer-warrior!

Ellen Wironken said...

I thank God for you Paul. Like Bishop Aquila, you do not mince words. You do not sugar-coat the Gospel. You live up to your patron saint's name. You deliver the hard truths in season and out of season.

What a shame that someone like John Unni can be ordained but not a faithful ardent defender of the Church's teaching.

That is a testament to how bad things really are!

BostonCatholic2011 said...

We need pastors who are willing to give their all (even their very lives) for the Gospel. We need courageous Bishops who aren't afraid to use their authority which is symbolized by their staff. We need Bishops willing to keep the wolves from the sheep. Cardinal O'Malley: Be such a Bishop!

Stewart said...

The Detroit Free Press is reporting that, "A senior adviser to the Vatican, who is a theology professor in Detroit, blasted the Catholic governor of New York for his strong backing of same-sex marriage, saying that he should be punished for his 'brazen' violation of Catholicism by being denied Holy Communion — a key part of the Catholic faith.

He's also calling for the Catholic Church to investigate Gov. Andrew Cuomo for violating church law, calling the politician's actions a 'danger' to faithful Catholics.

Professor Edward Peters of Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, a consultant to the Vatican's highest court, hopes that punishing Cuomo would 'serve as an example' to other Catholic politicians and clergy across the U.S. who might be considering same-sex marriage in light of New York's approval on Friday.

'I see no way, absent a public reversal of his public conduct, that Andrew Cuomo may present himself for holy Communion,' Peters wrote Sunday on his blog. And, 'I see no way that a minister of holy Communion may administer the sacrament to him.'

Peters, an expert on canon law, confirmed his remarks with the Free Press today. He said New York bishops should make clear publicly that Cuomo can't receive Communion because of the 'danger of scandal presented to the faithful.'

Peter's words also apply to Fr. John Unni and all those responsible for the heterodox "rainbow ministry" at St. Cecilia's.

Ashley Pelletier said...

John Kelly, the chair of the "Rainbow Ministry" at Saint Cecilia's, has said that his faith "has nothing to do with what the Vatican says." Does this concern the Cardinal? If so, why is Mr. Kelly chair of this ministry to homosexuals? Mr. Kelly has been living in a homosexual relationship. Does this concern the Cardinal? The "rainbow ministry" has promoted "gay marriage." Does this concern the Cardinal?

There's a whole lot more at stake here than just one Mass being politicized.

Amanda said...

If Cardinal Sean doesn't crack down on this dissent group, then his words - posted at his blog - don't have any real teeth. And the dissent will continue as the dissenters grow emboldened. What a shame.

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