Peruse Carl Sundell’s overview of the thought of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, known for his lucid and precise prose on a variety of theological, philosophical and historical topics, still relevant today. We could use more such clarity.
And, alas, another purported, and controversial, statement from the Holy Father: It seems that during a meeting with a victim of the Chilean sex abuse scandal, one Juan Carlos Cruz, who identifies as ‘gay’, the Pope, according to Cruz, told him it was ‘OK to be gay’, that ‘God made you that way’, and that ‘He loves you like this’.
Of course, these alleged comments made the top story on various Catholic and secular media outlets; I am of the opinion that the less said about some of the Holy Father’s off-the-cuff comments, real or not, the better. But one or two clarifications are probably in order, since such may not be forthcoming from the Vatican.
Is it OK to be ‘gay’, a euphemism that seems deliberately chosen to cover something that is in reality rather sad and sordid? Homosexuality, the state of being attracted to the same sex, is not itself a ‘sin’, but it is dispositive to sin, and must be resisted, purified and, insofar as it is practical and possible, healed. Homosexuality, whose etiology, the Catechism declares, remains ‘largely unexplained’, is not normal, and does God make people that way. Like any other disordered condition, moral or physical, it is one of the cascading effects of original sin, compounded by personal sins through the ages.
Sexual acts with members of the same sex are always sins (whatever one’s personal culpability), and can never be condoned. In this sense, it is not, nor can it ever be, OK to be ‘gay’.
Yes, God loves all His creatures, and for the rational creature made in His own image, He wills the gift of eternal salvation, which we can only reject by deliberate grave sin. God permits us all to work through difficult situations, some more difficult than others, with disordered attractions of the same or opposite sex being one of them, but work through them we must, always willing the good of the other, the good that God wills, which is not always easy. The way is narrow that leads to life, but the Father helps us on that way with His grace and truth, so that His yoke becomes easy, and His burden light.
In light of the Chilean sexual scandal, every bishop in the South American country in their recent audience with the Holy Father offered his resignation en masse, which Pope Francis has as yet neither accepted nor declined. I wonder about this, for these bishops cannot all be equally culpable in their complicity. One hallmark of sexual acts, particularly of the disordered and sinful variety, is their secrecy. Were all these bishops complicit in the scandalous misdeeds of a few priests?
Father Raymond de Souza argues that the Pope must have demanded these resignations, in a ‘courageous’ act of papal privilege. I am not so sure. Would the Pope want the unenviable task of replacing every bishop in Chile? With what priests? Could we be facing the collapse of the Church that once-staunchly Catholic and now deeply troubled nation? It all seems rather odd, and these resignations seem more an act of, well, resignation on the part of the episcopacy. We are living in strange times, with strange deeds, and there is an strong whiff of despondency in certain sectors of the Church, that must be resisted.
So keep hope alive! Today is the memorial of Saint Rita of Cascia (+1457), widow and Augustinian religious Sister after her husband’s death, whose personal mortifications almost defy description. Perhaps because of that, she is the patroness of impossible causes, many of which we are facing at present. But what is impossible for Man is eminently possible for God. The joy of Catholicism and the good news of salvation are real indeed. It is we who create mayhem, woe and despair, but our own giving in to sin. So ‘give in’ rather, as Saint Paul urges the Philiippians, to “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” and our joy will indeed be full.
Saint Rita of Cascia, ora pro nobis!