Monday, July 11, 2011

Father John Unni urges those in attendance at St. Cecilia's "Welcoming Mass" to shed the burden of shame

In a statement issued yesterday by the Catholic Action League, we read:

"The Catholic Action League of Massachusetts today criticized the Archdiocese of Boston for allowing the so-called 'welcoming Mass' for lesbian, homosexual, bisexual and transgendered persons to go forward at Saint Cecilia's Church in Boston's Back Bay. The mass had been originally scheduled to celebrate Gay Pride month in Boston. Following protests by faithful Catholics, the event was rescheduled and re-themed.

The Catholic Action League called the decision to allow the mass 'a cowardly betrayal of trust resulting in the spiritual abandonment of Saint Cecilia's Parish to moral error and mortal sin.'

Catholic Action League Executive Director C. J. Doyle stated: 'The Church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints. Everyone is welcome, and everyone deserves to hear the full truth of the Church's teachings. Sadly, that was not the case at this morning's liturgy at Saint Cecilia's.

Today's liturgy was a scandal and a surrender, where the homosexual identity was affirmed, and where Catholic moral prohibitions against homosexual behavior were ignored. Those prohibitions are explicit, longstanding, and severe. Instead of calling his congregation to repentance, interior conversion, and the personal pursuit of holiness, the homilist, Father John Unni, attempted to anesthetize the consciences of his listeners by urging them to shed the burden of shame.

The salvation of souls demands that Catholic priests and prelates demonstrate the courage to tell homosexuals that their participation in the sin of impurity against nature deprives them of sanctifying grace and imperils their immortal souls. At Saint Cecilia's, however, today's message was the spiritual equivalent of 'Don't worry, be happy.' The Archdiocese of Boston has, once again, failed to protect the moral and spiritual welfare of its members.'"

Should a Catholic priest be urging others to "shed the burden of shame"?  In his book entitled, "True to Our Feelings," Robert Solomon writes, "Aristotle calls shame [in his Nicomachean Ethics] a 'quasi-virtue' because to act wrongly and not be ashamed is much worse than to act wrongly and be ashamed because one has done wrong." (p. 96). 

Thomas Aquinas follows Aristotle in viewing shame as a "quasi-virtue" and asserts, in his Summa Theologica, that shame, being praiseworthy, is either itself a virtue or contributes to virtue.  He says that shame is a recoiling from that which is dishonorable and disgraceful, and since lack of moderation is the most dishonorable and disgraceful thing there is, shame contributes more to moderation than to any other virtue.  He says that shame is not so much an essential component of moderation as it is a preparation for it, laying its foundation by instilling in persons the horror of that which brings dishonor and disgrace.

Which is why Father Unni's exhortation to "shed the burden of shame" is so very troubling.  One who is shameless fears neither God nor man.  For such a person, that which is shameful becomes something to boast in.  But we already have St. Paul's warning: "For many, as I have often told you and now tell you even in tears, conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ.  Their end is destruction.  Their God is their stomach; their glory is in their 'shame.'  Their minds are occupied with earthly things." (Philippians 3: 18, 19).

Is this really what Father Unni wants for his people?  For them to glory in their shame?  To fear neither God nor man? 

Will this teaching lead others to embrace holiness of life or will it encourage them to embrace self-will while rejecting the salutary fear of God*?

*  "The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to decline from the ruin of death." (Proverbs 14: 27).

*  "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of the flesh and of the spirit, perfecting sanctification in the fear of God." (2 Corinthians 7:1).


Blake said...

Fr. Unni's "homily" reminds me of the Chicken Soup books which encourage "self-esteem," "self-assertion," and "self-love" while neglecting self-examination, self-denial and humility.

The "New Gospel" doesn't recognize sin. This New Age "Gospel" is from Hell. It is rooted in self-will.

Doris L. said...

So let me get this straight. This priest from Boston is telling his parishioners, many of whom are homosexual and who engage in homosexual acts, to feel no shame? How will these people come to repentance? If there is no shame for sins committed (and I'm talking about homosexual acts not simply the inclination), then these people will not approach the sacrament of reconciliation. Does the Boston Cardinal approve of this warped theology? Anyone?

andres said...

book of ezekiel 33
You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel; when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me.
If I tell the wicked man that he shall surely die, and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked man from his way, he (the wicked man) shall die for his guilt, but I will hold you responsible for his death.
But if you warn the wicked man, trying to turn him from his way, and he refuses to turn from his way, he shall die for his guilt, but you shall save yourself.
As for you, son of man, speak to the house of Israel: You people say, "Our crimes and our sins weigh us down; we are rotting away because of them. How can we survive?"
Answer them: As I live, says the Lord GOD, I swear I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, but rather in the wicked man's conversion, that he may live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! Why should you die, O house of Israel?
As for you, son of man, tell your countrymen: The virtue which a man has practiced will not save him on the day that he sins; neither will the wickedness that a man has done bring about his downfall on the day that he turns from his wickedness (nor can the virtuous man, when he sins, remain alive).
Though I say to the virtuous man that he shall surely live, if he then presumes on his virtue and does wrong, none of his virtuous deeds shall be remembered; because of the wrong he has done, he shall die.
And though I say to the wicked man that he shall surely die, if he turns away from his sin and does what is right and just,
giving back pledges, restoring stolen goods, living by the statutes that bring life, and doing no wrong, he shall surely live, he shall not die.
None of the sins he committed shall be held against him; he has done what is right and just, he shall surely live.
Yet your countrymen say, "The way of the LORD is not fair!"; but it is their way that is not fair.
When a virtuous man turns away from what is right and does wrong, he shall die for it.
But when a wicked man turns away from wickedness and does what is right and just, because of this he shall live.
And still you say, "The way of the LORD is not fair!"? I will judge every one of you according to his ways, O house of Israel.

jac said...

Staying silent in front of that infamy like does the Cardinal of Boston, amounts in condoning it.
I am afraid about these shepherd's souls. They have twisted the Truth to make it more acceptable by the faithfuls and therefore are leading their flock to Hell.
They will the firsts to enter it and will end into the deepest levels.

Alençon said...

Thanks for following up on all this.

With the feasts of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher having past us in these last few weeks, two models whom we are greatly in need of in these times, God lead me to read St. John Fisher’s Exposition of the Seven Penitential Psalms.

On pages 79-81 of the 3rd Penitential Psalm (Psalm 37) he writes:

“… perhaps this prophet meant by those who are as neighbours and friends those who favor and owe good will only to the body. And by those who are near to us, he meant those who have the cure of our soul, for these by their strict duty should first have the name of friend and neighbor, because the soul is nearest to the body. And though every person has the charge of rebuking vices in others, according to the saying of our Saviour, if your brother or fellow Christian should offend you, correct him, yet the office of correction belongs first of all to bishops and those who have the cure of souls. For these are set in this world by almighty God to be supervisors of the people and are commanded to show the people their grievous offenses, but they stand afar off and omit to say the truth. Either we take the literal sense, that is to say, that bishops are absent from their dioceses and pastors from their churches, or else the spiritual sense, as thus, that no one will show the filthiness of sins. We all use bypaths and circumlocutions in rebuking them. We go nowhere near the matter. And so, in the meantime the people perish with their sins. This thing the prophet complains of, saying, they who had cure of my soul stood afar from me. Truly, those who are subdued by sins and put under the miserable yoke of servitude or bondage are wretches indeed; but they are thrust down into a much narrower corner of misery when their friends and neighbors will not admonish and reprove their wickedness but allow them to continue thus and when bishops and pastors do not correct their bad living and quickly call them to ammendment but rather go by and tolerate their misconduct.”

“… what then? Truly, the soul that is glad of his destruction and in a way runs on his own bridle, not helped by his friends, not at all cared for by the bishops and those who have the cure of souls, must necessarily come into the power of the devils. Like furious enemies and ramping lions, these go about seeking whomever they may devour, doing the uttermost in their power, going vehemently to the task, and many times overcoming such as are very strong.”

“… it is written, without doubt, sinners are beguiled, and all they do are but dreams and vanities. The prophet adds to this, saying, those who were my enemies and who wished me evil rather than good spoke to me and persuaded me of vanities, that is to say, of worldy riches, pleasures, and false fleshly joys.”

Anonymous said...

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

John 4:18

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

"So then, my beloved, obedient as you have always been, not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent, work out your salvation with fear and trembling."

Philippians 2:12

Site Meter