Friday, October 26, 2007

Choosing to Stay

In a story in Tuesday’s Star Tribune, Dennis McGrath, Communications Director of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis, declared that I had “blown out of proportion” the recent prohibiting of Robert and Carol Curoe from speaking at St. Francis Cabrini Catholic Church.

The parish of St. Frances Cabrini had previously agreed to collaborate with the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM) in hosting the Bill Kummer Forum – an educational event hosted annually by CPCSM, a grassroots organization which since 1980 has been creating environments of safety and respect for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the Catholic Church. Since 2003, I’ve served as CPCSM’s executive coordinator.

Carol and Bob Curoe, co-authors of the recently published book, Are There Closets in Heaven? A Catholic Father and Lesbian Daughter Share Their Story, had been invited to be the keynote speakers at the 2007 Bill Kummer Forum, scheduled to take place on the evening of October 22 at St. Frances Cabrini.

Last Thursday evening, however, I was informed by the pastor of Cabrini that as a result of a call received from the Archdiocese, the parish could not host the Curoe event. Despite this disappointing news, the Bill Kummer Forum went ahead on October 22 – at The House of the Beloved Disciple, a recently established center for progressive Catholics “dedicated to preserving Catholicism in the Spirit of Jesus.” Almost 100 people came to hear Carol and Robert Curoe share their story at The House of the Beloved Disciple.




A non-negotiable directive?

Dennis McGrath maintains that the pastors of both St. Francis Cabrini and St. Joan of Arc (I’m still not sure why this parish was dragged into the fray!) “agreed” with the Archdiocese’s “advice” that it “wasn’t a good idea” to host the Curoes, especially as Archbishop Flynn “would not approve” of a lesbian “in an actual full sexual relationship” speaking at a church.

“Nobody banned anybody,” McGrath insists, “or hit anybody over the head or threatened anybody . . .”

Perhaps from McGrath’s perspective there were no “threats,” yet given the shift to the right in the Catholic Church over the last few years, and, as a result of the appointment earlier this year of John Nienstedt as Coadjutor Archbishop, the climate of uncertainty and fear among local gay Catholics and the various “progressive” parishes that are welcoming of them, I think McGrath underestimates the significance of a call from the Archdiocese informing a priest that the powers-that-be do not approve of a gay-focused event taking place in his parish.

Besides, people I respect and trust within the communities of both Cabrini and St. Joan of Arc made it clear to me last week that the decision to not have the Curoes speak at either parish was one made by the Archdiocese. Furthermore, I was left with the distinct impression that this decision was a non-negotiable directive.

Of course, I don’t think we’ll ever really know what exactly was relayed by the Archdiocese to these parishes, primarily because of what many have experienced as the Archdiocese’s penchant for saying one thing publicly yet quite another thing behind closed doors.

For instance, when CPCSM published the findings of its Pastoral Needs Assessment Study* in 1984, Bishop Robert Carlson, the then Vicar General of the Archdiocese, privately met with those involved in conducting the study and publishing its results, and praised them and their successful venture. Yet he was also very clear that if the publication of the study generated negative publicity, resulting in media involvement, he would denounce the study and deny any knowledge of those responsible for it. Thankfully, that didn’t happen but no one involved with CPCSM at the time doubted for a moment that it could have. After all, if there’s one thing that those in positions of power and prestige fear and avoid more than anything else it’s public “scandal,” people “breaking ranks,” and any adverse (or even inquisitive) media attention.

This schizophrenic way of operating is to be expected whenever the feudally-structured institution of the Church, obsessed as it is with order, control, and a “party line” that demands unquestioning obedience, is confronted by issues that highlight its lack of accountability, transparency, and respect for diversity. Such issues – be they related to democracy in the Church, women’s ordination, or any number of gay-related topics – have the potential to call for the repudiation of former limited ways of thinking and the development of new ways of understanding that expand our awareness and appreciation of God in our lives and our world.

Without doubt, there are many working within the “institutional Church” (from “spokespeople” to bishops) who are forced to live compromised lives, who are compelled to uphold and defend positions and rules that, in good conscience, they find questionable, if not totally untenable. Yet once part of the machinery - the “monolith,” as Chuck Lofy describes the institutional Church - it is no doubt very difficult to lift one’s voice in dissent, especially when one’s livelihood and the economic security of one’s family is at stake.


Not welcomed . . .

Regardless of who called the shots, the bottom line is that the non-appearance of the Curoes at Cabrini on October 22 makes a mockery of McGrath’s contention that the Catholic Church “welcomes gays and lesbians.”

Why? Because what he actually said was that the Church welcomes gays and lesbians conditionally. To be welcomed, says McGrath, they have to “follow the rules,” which means they cannot be “sexually active.”

Well, I guess that means that Carol is out of the picture (i.e., the Church). She is, after all, a lesbian in a committed relationship.

But what about her Dad? Why was he denied the chance to simply share his story as a Catholic father of a lesbian? Why ban or (in McGrath’s words) “discourage” him from speaking?

That Carol’s father, a straight man not known to be in “violation” of the Church’s teaching on sex, wasn’t permitted to speak, clearly indicates that the underlying issue here isn’t one of morality; but rather of authority – of power and control.

Accordingly, this whole brouhaha is not simply about an out lesbian speaking on Catholic property, but also (and perhaps more importantly) about a loving father and daughter sharing the story of a journey - a journey that led them and their family and friends to a greater understanding and acceptance of homosexuality, an issue that the Church, as an institution, is yet to deal with honestly and thus credibly.



Sharing the wisdom and compassion gained from such journeys has the power to change minds and hearts; to transform individuals and institutions. I believe this is ultimately why the Archdiocese chose to prevent an 82-year-old man and his lesbian daughter from speaking at a Catholic Church. Robert and Carol Curoe offer a much truer embodiment of the liberating life and message of Jesus than do the Church’s teachings (i.e., “rules”) on homosexuality. This should not be surprising, given that these teachings are woefully uninformed by the findings of modern science and the experiences of gay people. In short, stories such as the Curoes’ threaten to weaken the oppressive, life-denying stranglehold that the institutional Church has on the lives of LGBT people.

It is this “stranglehold” that the Church should be seeking to eradicate, not the opportunities to hear the life-giving stories of folks like the Curoes.



. . . but still needed

Given all of this, I’d like to suggest the following as the Archdiocese’s next communiqué to families like the Curoes:

“Although we do our best to make you feel unwelcome, deep down we know that we need you. Your journeys of courage and integrity banish ignorance and fear, and liberate us from an impoverished understanding of sexuality that prevents us from perceiving and celebrating God’s transforming love in the lives and relationships of all. Please ignore our unChrist-like words and actions, and forgive us for the unnecessary burdens we place upon you with our ill-informed and arrogant teachings. Please hear God’s call to stay and help us become more Christ-like, even when we chose not to hear this call ourselves but rather to drown it out with our cries of condemnation and prohibition.”

At this point in my life I choose to stay in the Church, identifying as a gay Catholic man, sharing my experience of God’s liberating power in my life, and seeking to embody God’s love in all my actions of body, speech, and mind.

This is my response to God’s call to help make the Church more Christlike with regards to its understanding and treatment of LGBT persons.

I am heartened by the knowledge that I am not alone in responding in this way. I stand in solidarity with good people like Carol and Robert Curoe, the folks at CPCSM, Catholic Rainbow Parents, Dignity, and many others - gay and straight.

Elements within the Church may not welcome us, but this surely is a sign that our voices, experiences, and insights are indeed needed in the ongoing renewal and healing of the Church.

__________________________________


* CPCSM’s Needs Assessment Survey Project was the group’s primary focus in the first four years of its existence. This groundbreaking project involved 250 gay and lesbian Catholics and 85 family members sharing their thoughts and experiences via a specially prepared survey. Many poignant responses were shared as the result of this survey’s numerous open-ended questions. In May 1984, the study’s 125-page report was published and its findings presented at CPCSM’s Annual Community Meeting. As the first of its kind, the report was subsequently sold to hundreds of pastoral ministers and ministry groups locally, nationally, and internationally.

The message to the Church from the survey respondents was simple: first, they asked that the Church break its conspiracy of silence and acknowledge their existence.

Second, they requested that the Church treat them on an equal basis with all other Church members.

Finally, they asked that they be allowed to share their many talents with the Church and to engage the Church in a mutual ministry process. It was the respondents’ hope that as the pastoral workers of the Church ministered to LGBT persons, these workers would also be open to the various ways that LGBT persons could educate and minister to them and other members of the Church.

In the twenty-plus years since the publication of the Needs Assessment Report, CPCSM has been actively engaged in implementing its recommendations through a wide range of programs and activities.




Update: Following are excerpts from two letters-to-the-editor published in today’s Star Tribune. The first is by my friend Steve Boyle (pictured above at right).


A Journey Shared

It was a joy to hear the loving account of how Carol Curoe and her father, Robert, dealt with her coming out and living as a lesbian woman . . . I sat in the audience, with tear-filled eyes and a sense of hope, as I listened to how these two people journeyed with honesty, love and respect to come to grips with the issue of homosexuality as a lesbian daughter and a devoted traditional Catholic father.

My feelings Monday evening were in direct contrast to the anger and sadness I felt over the weekend when I learned that the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis had forbidden these two to share their story in a Catholic Church.

In the Star Tribune article Monday, Dennis McGrath, spokesperson for the archdiocese, suggested that reaction to the banning was blowing the situation out of proportion, implying that it was no big deal.

May I suggest to McGrath that each time the Catholic Church, in its institutional, man-made rulings, negates the right of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people to be affirmed as legitimate creations of a loving God entitled to the Church’s full embrace, it is a big deal.

Banning two Catholic people from sharing their story in a Catholic Church is, in my mind, something that a loving Christ would not do.


Steve Boyle
Minneapolis


The Pulpit Got Bigger

By zealously imposing an equation of faith to “the rules,” Dennis McGrath has taken the quiet testimony of a lesbian and her father, which would have been heard on Monday by, at best, 100 people, and splashed it all over the Tuesday morning headlines for the edification of thousands more. Does God love irony, or what?


Dan Lontkowski
St. Paul


Following are more photos of some of the attendees at Carol and Robert Curoe’s October 22 presentation at The House of the Beloved Disciple.








See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Sharing Their Story
Catholic Father and Lesbian Daughter Banned from Speaking on Church Property


16 comments:

Ray from MN said...

At this point in my life I choose to stay in the Church, identifying as a gay Catholic man and sharing my experience of God’s liberating power in my life, and seeking to embody God’s love in all my actions of body, speech, and mind.

Michael:

As long as you "choose to stay in the Church", the Church most likely would be interested in knowing which of its rules that you choose to keep and which you choose to reject. Somehow you think that you have that right.

If and when you choose to become an American citizen, will you be able to submit to the Court those American laws that you will choose to obey and those that you will choose to reject? Will you submit that in writing to the Court?

crystal said...

Neither the laws of the state nor the laws of the Church always remain the same - sometimes they change for the better, assisted by those who work from within the system .... think of Vatican II, for instance.

Terry Nelson said...

I thought of this Jennifer Holiday song after reading your post:

Tear down the mountains,
Yell, scream and shout.
You can say what you want,
I'm not walkin' out.
Stop all the rivers,
Push, strike, and kill.
I'm not gonna leave you,
There's no way I will.

Ray from MN said...

crystal said...

Neither the laws of the state nor the laws of the Church always remain the same - sometimes they change for the better, assisted by those who work from within the system .... think of Vatican II, for instance.


You are correct, Crystal. But you have to make a distinction in laws relating to the teachings and dogmas of the Church and the laws relating to the disciplines of the Church.

"Disciplines" of the Church relate to such things as whether we fast before Holy Communion beginning at midnight, as we once did, or for one hour before actual reception, as is the case now.

Similarly, the Mass used to be only in Latin and only boys could be servers. Now it is mostly in the vernacular of the congregation and servers may be boys or girls.

There are probably thousands of examples of changes in disciplines.

Dogma and teachings don't change. But there are clarifications.

Initially, the teachings of the Apostles were all oral and it was thought that Jesus would return in their lifetimes. That turned out not to be the case and as the Apostles and Disciples began to be martyred, and the size of the community began to rapidly grow, Christians realized that they needed to write down the teachings for future Christians. The earliest books of the Bible weren't written until more than 20 years after Jesus' Crucifixion.

The Church acts somewhat like our Supreme Court. The Court doesn't make decision unless there is an actual case where there are two parties who don't agree about something.

The Church generally doesn't step up to the plate and issue dogmatic decisions unless there are parties (bishops, theologians, kings, etc.) who dispute what has been taught.

Changes in the teachings were generally clarifications as some people, heretics, began to object to teachings and the Bishops of the Church began to meet in Council to debate and clarify the issues, under the prayerful guidance of the Holy Spirit. The final canon of the books of the Bible wasn't decided until about the year 400.

This process of objection/ heresy, and papal and council decisions has continued to this day to preserve the dogma and teachings of the Church as it was handed to us by Jesus.

crystal said...

teachings of the Church as it was handed to us by Jesus.

I know a lot less about Church teaching and dogma than you :-) but I wouldn't make the assumption that the Church's teaching on homosexuality was "handed down by Jesus". He makes no mention of it in the gospels. Paul and Romans 1 can be interpreted an other ways than the one the Church has chosen ... Catholic theologian and priest James Alison's article “But the Bible says...”? A Catholic reading of Romans 1 speaks to that.

Michael J. Bayly said...

Ray,

“Laws relating to the teachings and dogmas of the Church” have indeed changed over the centuries. Examples include teachings related to infallibility, primacy of conscience, scriptural interpretation, religious freedom, ecumenism, the Jewish people, slavery, democracy in the Church, theological dissent, women in the Church, married clergy, contraception, divorce and remarriage, evolution, usury, and war & peace.

Changes in the Church’s understanding of and teaching on these (and other) issues are documented in a scholarly book edited by Maureen Fiedler and Linda Radden, and entitled Rome Has Spoken: A Guide to Forgotten Papal Statements and How They Have Changed Through the Centuries.

Writes Fiedler in the book’s introduction: “Change is a sign of life. Inertia is the mark of fossils. [In this book] we have documented profound changes [within Catholicism] . . . and many [continuing] developments indicate that more are in the offering . . . This venerable institution called the Roman Catholic Church, now almost two thousand years old [the book was published in 1998], is still alive and growing.”

Elsewhere, Fiedler notes: “Roman Catholicism may change slowly, but it has changed and it does change. Church teachings, policies, pastoral practices, and structures have evolved, and even turned around completely, in the past two thousand years . . . Change has taken place – good bad, or indifferent. Those who claim change is impossible need to reacquaint themselves with church history.”

In reviewing Rome Has Spoken for Commonweal, Pat McCloskey writes that the book “demonstrates that the Roman Catholic Church, living within human history, has evolved in its teachings about issues vital to the life of individuals and the entire community.”

McCloskey also observes that, “mature believers can deal with both change and continuity.”

Also, like author Garry Wills, I don’t believe that “the whole test of Catholicism, the essence of the faith, is submission to the Pope” – and by extension, papal teachings.

In his book, Papal Sin: Structures of Deceit, Wills observes that “during long periods of the church’s history, [such unquestioning submission] was not the rule – St. Augustine, for one, would have flunked such a test. And today it is a test that would decimate the ranks of current churchgoers. It is not a position that has a solid body of theology behind it, no matter how common it is as a popular notion.”

I also appreciate the historical perspective provided by Gary Macy – a perspective that accurately identifies the “strange form of authoritarianism” currently popular among so-called traditionalists (including those within the Vatican) as stemming from the “ultra-montanism of the late nineteenth-century papacy.”

Such “authoritarianism,” Macy reminds us, “narrowly understands Roman Catholicism as fundamentally an attempt to provide the definitive answers to all questions, usually in one ‘big book of doctrine,’ whether it be Thomas’s Summa, Denzinger’s Enchiridion, or lately the Roman Catechism of the Universal Church.”

Again, it’s important to remember that this “strange form of authoritarianism” and its “Big Book of Doctrine” school of theology are, as Catholic theologian Mary Bednarowski notes, a “fairly recent development” in Catholic history.

Of course, the desire for absolute certainty is an understandably human one, but in our pursuit of such certainty we tend to create rigid, monolithic and very absolutist institutions that accordingly are very dehumanizing. They become the very antithesis of what Jesus was all about.

I appreciate what Chuck Lofy has to say about this. In an interview I conducted with him in 2005, he noted that: “The temptation for any form, image, or organized structure is to become monolithic; to become crystallized and to become an end unto itself. In some ways that is what’s going on with the church right now. The function of any monolith can become primarily to continue itself in its current crystallized, opaque form. Yet Jesus said the form profits nothing. It’s the spirit that gives life.”

Also, once we acknowledge the significant role that human experience plays in the process of continually discovering God’s truth about human life and relationships, the role of the laity – all members of the laity – comes into much clearer focus.

Australian theologian Paul Collins, for instance, reminds us that: “Consulting the laity in the formulation of doctrine is part of Catholicism’s theological tradition. Also, the whole Church’s acceptance of papal and episcopal teaching is an integral part of testing the veracity of that teaching. The hierarchy does not have a monopoly on truth.”

Collins finds support for such claims in the writings of the great English theologian, Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-90), “who said unequivocally that the laity has to be consulted in matters of doctrine, especially when teachings concern their lives so intimately.”

Wrote Newman: “The body of the faithful is one of the witnesses to the fact of the tradition of revealed doctrine, and . . . their consensus through Christendom is the voice of the Infallible Church.”

Collins also reminds us that: “Tradition is the living expression of history; it makes sense only within a historical context. But papalism has no sense of history. It holds the view that there are permanent and never-changing absolutes, and such a mindset stymies its ability to comprehend the evolution and development not just of the Church’s belief, but also of its structure and experience.”

And finally, as Jesuit Philip Endean reminds us: we should always keep in mind the authentically Catholic perspective which recognizes that “dogmas of tradition exist not as truths complete in themselves, but rather as resources for helping us discover the ever greater glory . . . of the God whose gift of self pervades all possible experience.”

Peace,

Michael

Michael J. Bayly said...

Crystal,

Thanks for the link to the James Alison article. It's greatly appreciated!

Peace,

Michael

crystal said...

Thanks for the links, Michael. Philip Endean .... do you subscribe to The Way? It's an interesting journal :-)

paul said...

"Basing itself on sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved" (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2357).

Michael - your view is not compatible with the teaching of the Catholic Church on this issue; therefore you actually do to the Church, which you do not wish done to you, you personally attack the Church. You further turn the issue of the Church's position on this sinful act to a claim that the Catholic Church is attcking the person, which is does not. It attacks the sin - not the person.

The story of the daughter parent is one that promotes homosexuality - and therefore is not compatible with Catholic teaching. They were rightfully denied a forum to present their pro gay agenda at a Catholic Church.

Peace.

Michael J. Bayly said...

Paul,

You’re going to have to do better than hurl a passage from the Catechism at me to defend your position. Doctrinal fundamentalism is just as idolatrous as biblical fundamentalism, my friend.

The reality is that LGBT people can and do experience sexual relationships marked by justice, wholeness, and life-giving love.

Shouldn’t such experiences be considered as sources in any theological discussion on human sexuality? And if not, why not?

What exactly are the sources of the Church’s current theological reflection on human sexuality?

Shouldn’t such sources include the findings of science and people’s experience?

Science, for instance, tells us that gender and sexuality are vastly complex realities. When will the Church’s official teaching begin to reflect such complexity?

These are the types of questions that many Catholics are asking. They are legitimate questions with important theological implications.

Yet sadly, the Vatican’s response to such questions is woefully inadequate. It’s simply not good enough to say, “Well, this is how it’s always been, so it must be right,” especially since it’s clear that the basis of “what it’s always been” has been informed by limited sources. And when we limit our sources, we’re limiting and obstructing God’s wise and loving outreach to us.

I think that Catholics are intuitively sensing the truth in statements like the following by National Catholic Reporter editor, Tom Roberts, who in January 2006 wrote that, “[Some insist] that current thinking that is tolerant of homosexuality [is] ignoring ancient wisdom. I happen to think that current wisdom that welcomes homosexuals is, more correctly, finally dropping centuries of ancient ignorance.”

The editors of the 1994 anthology Sexuality and the Sacred: Sources of Theological Reflection suggest that this ignorance stems, in part, from the fact that “throughout most of Christian history the vast majority of theologians who wrote about sexuality tried to approach the subject from one direction only: they began with affirmations and assertions of the faith (from scriptures, from doctrines, from churchly teachings, and so on) and then applied those to human sexuality. Now, theologians are assuming that the other direction of inquiry is important as well: What does our sexual experience reveal about God? About the ways we understand the gospel? About the ways we read scripture and tradition and attempt to live out the faith?”

Such questions, to be sure, can be unsettling. But I think that it is not the Catholic way to shy away from them and to retreat instead into some fantasy world where, despite evidence to the contrary, we insist that we have all the possible answers (and thus knowledge) available to us about what it means to be human.

The banning of the Curoes was ultimately a cowardly act; a fearful retreat into that “fantasy world” of ill-founded moral absolutes regarding the complex reality of human sexuality.

Of course, within such a “world” engaging in dialogue is impossible. Instead, it’s the limited realm of pronouncement and pontification. No wonder the institutional Church and its proponents don’t want to deal with folks like the Curoes and the inevitable questions and issues their lives and journeys raise.

After all, it would mean stepping out of their comfortable ghettos of formulated answers and into compassionate, and at times challenging, engagement with the real world.

As for the Church’s understanding of “natural law,” I appreciate the perspective of Catholic theologian Daniel Helminiak:

The Catholic Church has commandeered the notion of natural law and made it a synonym for the supposition that the purpose of sex is procreation. Then, some other use of sex is supposedly a “violation of natural law.”

But natural law has been around much longer than the Catholic Church. Its roots are in the deepest strata of Western civilization. Its real meaning is simply this: We are capable of understanding how things function, and ethical living is simply to follow those ways. To follow natural law is, as it were, to follow the directions that came with the item. Now, when it comes to sex, the question of the day is this: What is the nature of sex? What is the purpose and function of sex?

To be sure, procreation is an inherent aspect of sexuality. But there is more to sex than that, especially when we look at sex in human beings. Procreation is an animal function. In humans sex is taken up into a new array of purposes. Human sex involves emotional bonding and the dreams and promises of lovers. That is to say, beyond the physical, human sex also involves the psychological and the spiritual. (I see “dreams and promises,” or ideals, and beliefs and ethics – all ways of suggestion meaning and value – as spiritual matters.) So having sex (physical) seduces lovers (emotional) into dreaming dreams and making promises (spiritual). The trend of sex is toward higher things. And since the spiritual dimension of human sexual sharing is the highest and most significant, it is what determines the unique nature of human sexuality, so it is what must be preserved in every case. Not procreation, but genuine care and loving are the non-negotiables of human sex.

Contemporary social science suggests and supports the interpretation of sex that I have just sketched. Science is the method of our age for discovering the nature of things. This point is obvious in the physical sciences. Physics and chemistry have opened undreamed-of possibility for us – because we have come to understand the true nature of things. Francis Bacon pointed out that nature can only be controlled by being obeyed. The same applies to the social sciences although in their case the questions are much more difficult and finding consensus takes more effort. Even so, it is science that will tell us the nature of things, and science is not whimsical. Its conclusions do not depend on inspiration or supposed revelation. Science depends on demonstrable evidence; it is a self-correcting enterprise. Our best bet today is to rely on science to discern “the nature of things.”

Thus, I say that natural law is the best way to go when debate about sexual ethics arises. What is the “best available opinion of the day” about sex? Invoke it when you want to know how one should use sex. The ethical way is to use sex as it was made to be used, and we know how it was made to be used by studying it. All the studies, for example, support homosexuality as a widespread normal variation in God’s creation. In this sense, homosexuality is natural. It is part of the nature of things. In humans in a novel way, it expresses the essential of sex: interpersonal bonding. So engaging in it could hardly be wrong per se.


Peace,

Michael

Ray from MN said...

Crystal: "I wouldn't make the assumption that the Church's teaching on homosexuality was 'handed down by Jesus'. He makes no mention of it in the gospels. Paul and Romans 1 can be interpreted an other ways than the one the Church has chosen ..."

Crystal, the dogma and teachings of the Church depend on more than what Jesus said in the four Gospels.

St John wrote in the last sentence of his Gospel that "There were many other things that Jesus did; if all were written down, the world itself, I suppose, would not hold all the books that would have to be written."

The dogma and the teachings of the Catholic Church depend upon Scripture, Tradition and the teachings of the Magisterium (the leadership) of the Church.

I don't know much about James Alison. I did look at his Wikipedia entry. I generally respect Wiki entries as being relatively balanced, if not complete. If they weren't balanced, objections would be entered quite quickly.

Alison, and ex-Dominican, does not seem to have any connection with the Magisterium of the Church. That is not to say that his thoughts are "wrong", but only that they are not required reading.

I'll skim them later today and then look at Michael's comment.

Michael J. Bayly said...

Paul,

I'm not sure if you're aware, but "Gay Species" has recently left a comment in response to a previous one of yours concerning this post.

In an earlier comment in response to this same post, he also takes to task the Roman Catholic Church's understanding of Natural Law.

Peace,

Michael

Michael J. Bayly said...

Crystal,

Thanks for the link to The Way. It sounds like a very interesting and insightful publication. I take it you subscribe to it, and would recommend it?

I certainly appreciate the writings and perspective of Philip Endean, and seeing that he's the editor of The Way, I'm sure I'd get a lot out of it.

Thanks again!

Peace,

Michael

paul said...

Michael said: "You’re going to have to do better than hurl a passage from the Catechism at me to defend your position."

WOW! so let me see if I get this - the Catholic Church clearly states its teaching on homosexuality - and states those views in its catechism - but I can not cite the catechism to explain the Catholic Church's teaching on this position - WOW!

Christ established His Church
Christ's church is the Catholic Church
The Catholic Church was given authority to bind and loose.
The Catholic Church is the teaching authority as established by Jesus Christ
The fires of hell will not prevail against the Catholic Church - it will exist until the end
The Catholic Church has taught for all ages that homosexuality behavior is gravely sinful. This teaching is clear and direct.

Homosexuality is gravely sinful behavior. We pray for our brother and sisters who are affected by this sin - that 1) they may come to know it as sin and 2) that they may resist this sin as best as they can (as we would pray for all of us to resist the sin(s) that we are particularly prone to commit).

Peace.

Ray from MN said...

Crystal: Paul and Romans 1 can be interpreted an other ways than the one the Church has chosen ... Catholic theologian and priest James Alison's article “But the Bible says...”? A Catholic reading of Romans 1 speaks to that.

Crystal:

I'm really not qualified to debate Bible texts for a variety of reasons.

1. I am not fluent in Greek, Aramaic and Latin, the languages in which the New Testament was originally written. But I don't doubt the translation here.

2. Nor do I dispute the fact that the Chapter and Verse numbers in the Bible were added to the text many hundreds of years after the Apostles died. I can't give you a cite, but I would imagine that it is accepted that neither the chapter and verse numbers nor their location within the bible's text, are deemed to be divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit by the Catholic Church.

3. Alison chose Romans 1 for his talk that evening in Baltimore. I don't know if Alison subscribes to "Sola Scriptura" (The Scriptures Alone), the belief that the Christian faith derives everything the written words of the New Testament. If he does, there are probably a dozen or so verses that I could dig up that might be in opposition with what he said that night.

4. The Catholic Church derives its faith from Scripture, Tradition, and the Teachings of the Magisterium. Alison quotes only Scripture here.

5. I may be wrong here, but Alison seems to be saying that what St. Paul was describing in those verses of Romans 1 was not homosexuality as we consider it today. And that no matter what it was "we should judge not lest we be judged." I don't know about the first item but I would agree with the second.

6. But whether or not I should judge is immaterial as to whether or not the Roman Catholic has the power to "bind and loose" Catholics to the Commandments. And Jesus specifically gave the Church that power when he gave Peter the keys to the kingdom of Heaven. Matthew 16:19

crystal said...

Michael - yes, I subscribe to The Way ... it's kind of expensive (for me, anyway) but I'm interested in Jesuit stuff and it has a lot of info on Ignatian spirituality. They usually have at least one article for free download in every issue at the website.

Ray - thanks for going to the trouble of reading Fr. Alison's article. To be honest, I'm out of my depth in the area of dogma, church teachings, or theology, but for the most part I trust Fr. Alison's judegemt - I believe he's respected as a theologian, though he's no longer a Dominican.