Cause of Catholic Apathy to Homosexual Agenda Considered at the Start of the Year of the Priest 1
By Thomas L. McFadden
The April 23, 2009 edition of The Rhode Island Catholic featured a column entitled “Rhode Island, Most Catholic State, Welcomes Gay Marriage”. The column was written by the Bishop of Providence. The Most Rev. Thomas Tobin decried the “abysmal” Catholic apathy and said it must be overcome to oppose those who are “fiercely determined” to impose homosexual “marriage”. With bluntness uncharacteristic of many bishops, he noted that the homosexual lobby is well-organized, well-funded and determined to impose its agenda on all of the citizens—human history, culture and moral principles notwithstanding. He added that anyone who opposes them is quickly labeled a bigot.
Bishop Tobin said also that if only 5% to 10% of Rhode Island’s Catholic population became involved in the issue “we could have an enormous impact and help Rhode Island maintain its moral sanity.” Without actually saying so, the Bishop was referring to the laity. However, the Bishop noted that the typical Rhode Island Catholic’s response to the homosexual agenda being imposed on everyone was indifferent. He attributed that indifference to “not wanting to judge people” and that Catholics “give rationalizations about the decline of Catholic influence”. Perhaps he was also including his clergy in the latter statement.
The picture Bishop Tobin described of Rhode Island’s Catholics seems to be typical of New England’s Catholics because that region of the country has taken the lead in passing pro-homosexual legislation. But hasn’t New England been voting for liberal, secular, pro-abortion politicians for decades? Barney Frank, representing Massachusetts in Congress since 1981 and now calling the shots as Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee immediately comes to mind. He is not only a homosexual himself but had a man he paid for sex running a prostitution ring out of his Capitol Hill Apartment in 19892. The people of Massachusetts didn’t seem to care. Is it realistic of Bishop Tobin to expect his flock to suddenly reverse course on their own initiative?
CAN ANYTHING BE DONE?
Something can always be done if the Church’s shepherds have the will to act. Sometimes good example helps. Consider the action of two Washington, DC opponents to homosexual marriage, namely, a coalition of black church ministers and the Archdiocese of Washington. The Washington Post of May 6, 2009 carried on its front page a story that provided a look at those contrasting styles of action. The article was about the elected Government of the city of Washington, the D.C. Council, approving by a vote of 12-1 a bill to recognize as marriages the “marriages” of homosexuals performed elsewhere. It described how the vote “set off shouts of reproach from local ministers” and that “ after the vote, enraged African American ministers stormed the hallway outside the Council Chamber and vowed that they will work to oust the members who supported the bill …They caused such an uproar that security officers and D.C. police were called to clear the hallway”. Sponsors of the bill plan to “introduce a broader gay marriage bill in a few months”. The article reported that the lone Council Member who voted against the bill said he agonized over whether to support the bill but he decided to stand with the “ministers who stand on the moral compass of God.”
The article also reported that “a resident of Southeast” (a nearly entirely black residential section of Washington) shouted in the hallway during the ruckus “We need a new Council. They are destroying our youth…Every minister who fears God should be here. This is disrespectful to the Nation’s capital. There is nothing equal about same-sex marriage.”
The article noted that earlier in the week “more than 100 black ministers signed a letter to (Mayor) Fenty opposing the measure.” (That open letter was also published as a paid full-page advertisement in local newspapers.)
One reading the newspaper account could sense the rage and the commitment of the black ministers group.
According to the Post’s article “The Archdiocese of Washington issued a statement criticizing yesterday’s vote as ‘showing a lack of understanding of the true meaning of marriage’”.
Not much outrage or passion in that. It was nothing that would rally the pewsitters. There is no reason to even suspect that the Archdiocese would consider organizing a political effort against those politicians. The black ministers may or may not be successful but they seem willing to try. And one can be certain that each of them preached about it to his congregation while the event went unnoticed from Catholic pulpits.
The African American ministers did not give up after the vote of the D.C. Council. According to The Examiner of June 19, 2009, Bishop Harry Jackson of Beltsville Hope Christian Church filed a case in the D.C. Superior Court requesting that the implementation of the law be held up temporarily. The black ministers sought this delay to give themselves time to collect enough signatures to force the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics to schedule a referendum. The article noted that “The Gertrude Stein Club, the District’s largest gay rights group” attempted to intervene in the case (presumably to argue against delay.) There was no mention of any Catholic interest in the case.
THE TEACHING OPTION
It may not be in the tradition of Catholic clergy and bishops to participate in direct action in the style of the black ministers. The American clergy have no recent historical experience in leading in the public arena whereas today’s black Christian ministers were schooled in the successful methods of the black civil rights movement. They understand their requirement to lead both in moral and civil matters. But it is in the Catholic tradition for its clergy to provide catechesis from the pulpit. If Catholics are unaware or apathetic about the impact of homosexual politics on their civil and religious rights perhaps it is because their clergy are too. If Catholics have a distorted understanding of their obligation to “tolerate” and even think “tolerance” of immorality is a virtue, whose fault might that be?
A good place to start a catechesis from the pulpit would be the Epistle to the Romans, Chapter 1. After his long introductory greeting, St. Paul “cuts to the chase”, so to speak:
The replacement of belief in God the creator by Evolution the creator is a characteristic of our age. Even many Catholics who regularly attend church have nothing but a fuzzy notion about the significance of the creation account in Genesis 1 and 2; most do not understand how so many defined doctrines of our religion are derived from it. It really does make a difference if our origin is with an intelligent, personal and loving God who purposely made the marvelous things of this earth and universe as Genesis tells us or we are the product of billions and billions of years of random accidents as “science” claims.
And yet, St. Paul continues, “they have no excuse for although they knew God they did not accord Him glory as God or give Him thanks. Instead, they became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened. While claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for the likeness of an image of mortal man or of birds or of four-legged animals or of snakes.” (Verses 20-23).
Committed Catholics (and others) often express amazement at the beliefs, attitudes and behavior of those we call “liberals”. It is not uncommon to ascribe the opinions and behavior of liberals to a sheer lack of common sense. But what is lack of common sense? How is it possible for well-spoken, intelligent and educated people to think as they sometimes do, we wonder. Perhaps it is that in rejecting belief in God their creator that “their senseless minds were darkened” and “while claiming to be wise, they became fools”.
Can there be a better example of a senseless mind darkened than a person who can’t see that there is something wrong when two persons of the same sex perform unnatural sex acts with each other? One doesn’t have to be a homosexual to believe that there is nothing wrong with homosexual acts. All that is necessary is a senseless darkened mind.
At this point some readers might be wondering why this writer has brought St. Paul’s teaching into what started out as a suggestion for catechesis aimed at combating the imposition through politics of the homosexual agenda on the public at large. The writer’s point is that the basis or starting point for a productive catechesis must be the recognition of God the Creator as He is revealed in the Bible. To not do so is to yield the glory of God to Evolution the Creator with the result being lost faith. And what is the fate of those who did not accord Him glory as God or give Him thanks? What happened after their senseless minds were darkened and they became fools? What is the “fall out” of agnosticism? Is atheism just another “choice” to “tolerate” in our culture? St. Paul tells us in the very next verses:
“Therefore, God handed them over to impurity through the lusts of their heart for the mutual degradation of their bodies. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and revered and worshipped the creature rather than the creator…Therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own person the due penalty for their perversity. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God handed them over to their undiscerning mind to do what is improper. They are filled with every form of wickedness, evil, greed, and malice, full of envy, murder, rivalry, treachery, and spite. They are gossips and scandalmongers and they hate God. They are insolent, haughty, boastful, ingenious in their wickedness, and rebellious toward their parents. They are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know the just decree of God that all who practice such things deserve death, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”
SHOULD ROMANS CHAPTER 1 BE READ LITERALLY?
More to the point: Should priests mention it in public? Why not? A literal reading of St. Paul’s description of people who have denied or forgotten God and refused Him glory even though His existence can be known from the things He has made reads like a good description of the people who dominate post-Christian American political, corporate, information, educational, and entertainment culture. What is really scary is that those people are making the coercive laws that will silence opposition and punish those who fail to cooperate. Bishop Tobin of Providence, RI is not the only one warning that the aim of secularists is to suppress the religious and civil rights of Catholics. Any priest who might be tempted to preach on Romans Chapter 1 could get in real trouble. The House passed overwhelmingly and the Senate is considering “Hate Crimes Legislation”. According to an article in the June 2009 newsletter of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights “serious questions were raised by religious leaders about this legislation, especially as it pertains to religious pronouncements against homosexuality” and with “its language protecting pedophiles.” It’s not just in the United States that oblivious Catholic pewsitters are under legislative attack. In March 2009, Cardinal Pell of Sydney, Australia gave an address at Oxford University in which he reviewed numerous cases of intolerance against Christians in the English-speaking world3. In May 2009 the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut had to file a Federal lawsuit to counter harassment by State Officials. These officials told the Church it needs to register as a lobbyist to hold rallies at the state Capitol and use its website to oppose legislation4.
Meanwhile, Christopher Dodd, the corruption scandal-ridden, pro-abortion, divorced (and remarried to a Mormon) and communicant at the Pope’s Washington, DC Mass5 who has represented Connecticut in the U.S. Senate since 1981 announced that he is now a supporter of “marriage” between persons of the same sex. (Politico, June 23, 2009, page 6, “Dodd Flips on Gay Marriage”.) Because of his political corruption scandals, for the first time in years and years Dodd has serious re-election competition. One can make an educated guess about what caused Dodd’s “flip”. The flip will result in both campaign contributions and favorable media coverage from homosexuals and supporters of secularism nationwide. Dodd probably understood that the Connecticut Catholics who have been voting for him since 1981 are as apathetic about “gay marriage” as Bishop Tobin says his Rhode Island flock is. There was a definite upside to his decision and no downside (in this life).
WHAT DISPROVES LITERAL READING? JUNK SCIENCE?
There are Catholics who would “go all wobbly” at the thought of promulgating the literal meaning of that Divine Revelation given through St. Paul because of fear of ridicule by their listeners. Likewise, there is a certain “turning up of the nose” in Catholic theological circles toward those who take the Bible’s account of creation literally. For example, University of Navarre Professor of Dogmatic Theology Jose Morales, writing from Spain, notes that “Scientific creationism developed in American fundamentalist Protestant groups and has little following outside the United States.” They “speak of the evolutionist hypothesis as being mere speculation, claim that the Bible is scientifically accurate, interpret the six days of creation as real 24-hour periods, take the Flood literally, etc.”6 Theologian Morales dismisses as “fundamentalists” the entire body of scientifically-trained Christians who reject the evolutionary interpretation of origins and are convinced that the scientific data are more logically interpreted in harmony with the Divine Revelation in Genesis. (And also dismissed are the persons of no religion at all who promote the intelligent design interpretation of scientific data– because it makes more sense scientifically to them than the random chance scenario of evolution.)
Dogmatic theologian Morales ought to lump Our Lord and St. Peter in with that group he so lightly dismisses for taking Revelation literally. Our Lord quoted Genesis 1:27 literally in His teaching on the indissolubility of marriage (Matthew 19:4). Our Lord also believed in Noah’s Flood as described in Genesis and used it to compare it to His Second Coming (Matthew 24:36-39.) If those who deny the literal interpretation of the Flood as a world-wide cataclysmic event are correct, they ought to also say that Our Lord picked a very poor analogy with which to compare the impact of His Second Coming. In fact, in II Peter 3:3-6, the day of Our Lord’s Second Coming is again compared to the Flood: “Know this first of all, that in the last days scoffers will come (to) scoff, living according to their own desires and saying, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? From the time when our ancestors fell asleep, everything has remained as it was from the beginning of creation.’ They deliberately ignore the fact that the heavens existed of old and earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God; through these the world that then existed was destroyed, deluged with water.”
Further, if theologian Morales really followed the progress of “evolutionary science” he would understand that those who “speak of the evolutionist hypothesis as being mere speculation” are doing so because they demand more than speculation to jettison the Bible. A good example of speculation that became a so-called scientific fact is illustrated by an article published in The Journal of Morphology regarding a study funded by the National Science Foundation and reported on in the June 9, 2009 issue of Science Daily, an online digest7. The headline was “Discovery Raises New Doubts About Dinosaur-Bird Links”. According to this report:
How many millions of school textbooks have been printed and how many hours of “nature” videos are shown that dogmatically state that birds evolved from dinosaurs! And they will continue on that course for years to come until the “educators” catch up with the latest speculation on the origin of birds. What about all of those “science exhibits” in museums? The article quotes OSU professor of zoology John Ruben:
WE DON’T KNOW HOW BUT WE KNOW THEY DID
The Oregon State University researchers illustrate a classic case of interpreting scientific research though the evolutionary hypothesis. Just because the finding of the research disproves an evolutionary speculation that has been taught for years and years as a fact, it does not cause the researchers to lose their “faith” in evolution the creator. Whenever facts get in the way, evolutionists just throw out another speculation that assumes evolution is a fact. In this case, “The newest findings”, the OSU researchers said, “are more consistent with birds having evolved separately from dinosaurs and developing their own unique characteristics, including feathers, wings and a unique lung and locomotion system”. Birds, it seems, improved themselves by “developing their own unique characteristics.”
IS EVOLUTIONARY INDOCTRINATION THE CAUSE?
As taught to recent generations in school as “science”, the origin of everything is random accidents on matter occurring over billions of years (as if time had creative properties). It goes as an unstated “fact” that the matter eternally existed but that proposition can be side stepped in the mists of “billions and billions of years.” Five days a week school children are educated in “naturalism” but on Sunday they are expected to accept supernaturalism, namely, that when a priest speaks over a wheat wafer it becomes the Creator of the universe: body, blood, soul and divinity. If that supernatural proposition is not dependent on the literal meaning of the Bible, what is it dependent on?
It doesn’t take kids long to figure out that naturalism and supernaturalism can’t both be true. Since “science” delivers the goods (computers, cell phones, ipods, etc.) the belief in the Bible suffers. When belief in the Bible suffers, faith suffers. Faith is often lost entirely. It must surely bother some priests and bishops that the “second largest religion” in the United States is that of no-longer-practicing Catholics. Why do all of those children who were there for Confirmation disappear? A study by the American Research Group found that children are being lost in elementary, middle and high school rather than at college. The cover story of Newsweek for April 13, 2009 was “The End of Christian America”. It was also published on that magazine’s website with a picture that was instructive of how secularists mock us. There is a rostrum with a microphone holder but the microphone is missing and there is the sacred symbol of Catholicism, a crucifix, hanging on the wall behind the rostrum.8 If Catholic theologians and priests, usually untrained in “science” and usually accepting its unproved assertions, are going to have any impact in beating back secularism, it would help them to check out the Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation.9 There they could refresh themselves on the Traditional Catholic apologetics on origins.
PROBLEM ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP
Of course it is difficult to fault priests for accepting evolution as a fact when they get bad advice from the top. For example, a Catholic News Service distributed article appeared in mid-June 2009 editions of diocesan newspapers, “Science, faith dialogue opened”. Actually it wasn’t about a dialog; it was the usual one-way street. Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo led an official Vatican delegation to a physics laboratory in Switzerland. In an opening statement he said scientific truths and theological truths can never contradict each other because all truths are derived from the same source. Taken literally, there is not a thing wrong with that statement. The problems start when theologians set out to “protect the Bible’s credibility” by attempting to harmonize the Bible’s text with the unproved but widely accepted assertions of “science”. What the Cardinal and most priests seem to not grasp is that at the places where science and Revelation intersect, most of what passes for science is just speculative. A case in point: consider the recently published Oregon State University research showing that birds could not have “evolved” from dinosaurs even though it has been taught around the world for generations as a “scientific fact”. Cardinal Lajolo walked into it with his “eyes wide closed” when he then quoted St. Robert Bellermine, the doctor of the Church who had been involved in the Vatican’s investigation of Galileo, to the effect that if a scientific statement turns out to be evidently true and appears to not be in complete conformity with sacred Scripture then one needs to research how sacred Scripture can be interpreted correctly so as not to contradict scientific truth. Is “evidently true” the same as “actually true” which it would have to be to be a “scientific fact”? A little healthy skepticism about the claims of “science” would be helpful instead of the evolution-believing Catholic’s last defense of his belief: “Everything evolved but God did it.” (Not scientific; not biblical.)
In the whole realm of “origins” it is impossible to apply the scientific method; all that can be done is to collect data and interpret it. When everything is “known” to have evolved, all data is interpreted in the evolution model. Note that when the Oregon State Researchers disproved the dinosaur–to-bird “fact”, it didn’t shake their confidence that birds “evolved”. They “scientifically proved” that birds “evolved separately.” That is classic circular reasoning.
The secular humanists are not involved in Cardinal Lajolo’s science-religion dialog. The Humanist, published by the American Humanists Association, as long ago as 1986 featured an article “Is the War Between Science and Religion Over?” In that article the authors explained that secular humanists understand what Cardinal Lajolo doesn’t, namely, that the supposed conflict between science and religion was never real. The conflict is between two philosophies:
GETTING OUT OF THE COMFORT ZONE
Catholics are comfortable with a lot of St. Paul’s writings. What lector doesn’t fairly beam when reading I Corinthians?
Priests like preaching on that text. The “world” approves. Who doesn’t “love” love? But Catholics have to leave their comfort zone to proclaim Genesis and Romans. The “world” really doesn’t approve of those texts. Publicly criticize homosexual activists and as Bishop Tobin noted, you’ll be labeled a bigot. Publically criticize evolution and you will be labeled an ignorant fundamentalist.
St. Paul was writing to modern Catholics just as surely as he was to his disciple Timothy:
St. Paul encourages Timothy to publicly express his faith in risky ways. Timothy is exhorted to not be ashamed of the Lord. No Christians are more savagely attacked than those who reject the evolutionary account of origins in favor of the biblical account or those who insist homosexual acts are not “gay” but are perverse as the Bible instructs us. The world attacks the messenger with ridicule and personal intimidation. It is hard to stand against this tide. So Catholics, lay and clerical, keep quiet. We call it being “politically correct”– a modern term for an age – old problem, namely, fear of popular opinion.
But Paul's exhortation also includes not being ashamed of Divine Revelation. Every day in schools, on TV, or in other media, the Bible and those who believe it are ridiculed. These attacks can be so scornful and relentless that we withdraw into the comfort of our church grounds for “sanctuary”; we don’t go out to the world, we preach to the already converted.
St. Paul adds himself to Timothy's list when he says, "nor of me his prisoner." Catholics who are faithfully and accurately proclaiming God's Word–especially those in a fire storm of resistance–need other Catholics to support them, not back away in embarrassment. Paul is actually urging Timothy to move beyond not being ashamed and to actively "get in the fight" with him as he says, "be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel." Paul knew that Timothy would feel a deep and lasting shame if he withdrew out of fear to the safety of silence.
We have just ended the Pauline Year and begun the Year of the Priest. Maybe it is a good time to take St. Paul’s exhortation to heart and put it into action.
1. A shorter version of this article appeared in The Wanderer, June 25, 2009 as “Catholic Apathy To Homosexual Agenda Considered”.
6. Creation Theology translated to English in 2001 and published by Four Courts Press, Dublin, Ireland, page 134.