Monday of the Twenty-First Week In Ordinary Time
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Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You lock the Kingdom of heaven before men. You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter.”
Just a few days ago, a senior from a local public high school asked me to answer some questions for him regarding Catholicism. I was surprised, given the fact that this topic was of a religious nature. He told me it was for a class he was enrolled in. I agreed and was ready to set up an interview when he insisted that he would write down the questions and email them to me. He wanted a written document. Hmmm. Okay, no problem. Unfortunately, when I read his questions, I was disappointed, for they centered solely around the Church’s teachings regarding homosexuality. When I read his questions for a second time, I realized that they were very misleading and very “leading”.
A leading question is a question which subtly prompts the respondent to answer in a particular way. Leading questions are generally undesirable as they result in false or slanted information. For example: “How fast was the blue car going when it crashed into the white van?” This question is “leading” because it suggests that the blue car is to blame for the accident.
I never mailed my responses. Here are his questions. Here are my answers.
1. Does religion in general play a major role in society’s culture? Yes. It always has and always will. Sometimes more. Sometimes less. But like a language, religion is a part of who we are. We celebrate. We mourn. We hope. We love. We do all these things in a very religious way.
2. How has Catholicism affected society’s culture and mindset? (i.e. abortion, homosexuality) Catholics have contributed to Western Society in many ways: in the building of Universities (the first being the University of Bologna (1158), Oxford, Cambridge and Paris); in the building of hospitals; in scientific research (the theory of the Big Bang came from Fr. George Lemaitre, a Belgium priest); in the legal rights of indigenous people (Fr. Francisco de Victoria is described as the father of International law).
The Catholic Church has affected society in it’s long standing respect for human life, regardless of the age or “quality” of that life. The dignity of the human person never changes. It is not defined by their “usefulness” or how efficient they are. All life, from conception to natural death, must be respected. All individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation, deserve to be loved.
3. What does the Catholic Church say about Homosexuality and same-sex marriage?
It is in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It states:
2357Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”142 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.
4. In your opinion, is homosexuality a choice? Science is better than personal opinions, and opinions should be based on natural law and scientific evidence. The baseless opinions (propaganda) of far too many have led to many erroneous beliefs or positions. Contrary to popular opinion, the scientific community has yet to fully understand the origin of homosexuality.
5. Is being in a homosexual relationship a sin? If you notice, the church does not use the word sin in its explanation, and there is good reason for it. Would it be a “sin” to have one arm? Would it be a sin to have a medical condition? Would it be a sin to have an addiction? It is not a sin to be homosexual. But it would be naïve to say that nothing is wrong.
6. Are Homosexuals expected to live a life of chastity? From the Catechism of the Church: 2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.
Unfortunately, in today’s hyper-sexualized world, chastity is very much ridiculed rather than respected.
7. How will the legalization of same-sex marriage affect the church and the sanctity of marriage? If the definition of marriage changes, then our whole understanding of the family will change as well. The importance we place on children being raised by a father and mother will change. And down the road, words such as “life”, “family”, “children”, “parents”, “liberty”, “freedom”, may change, and change for the worse. Changing the definition of words is no small matter. It creates confusion. After all, this is how we understand one another.
8. Can Homosexuals li[v]e a homosexual lifestyle and be involved with the church at the same time? Everyone is welcomed. Not everything is welcomed. All people are to be loved. But to love someone doesn’t necessarily mean you have to agree with them on everything.
9. Will Catholicism ever be accepting of the Homosexual lifestyle? Accepting, no. Understanding, yes. Doctrines may be black and white, but people are not so clear cut. Yes, we all need rules, but we also need compassion. Compassion and understanding are absolutely necessary for life to be worth living.
10. Are those who advocate same-sex marriage just as sinful as those getting married? Sinful? No. I would say they are misinformed. Far too many advocates are under the impression that to love someone means you have to agree with them on everything. They equate being “nice” with being accepting. That’s how a lot of teens feel these days, and that’s why so many of them have a hard time telling their friends the truth. They equate “telling the truth” with “not being very supportive.” They are well meaning, but not very helpful.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees. What makes the Catholic faith so beautiful is also what makes it extremely messy. Our doctrines may be clear cut, but our people are not. Words are carefully defined, but people are all over the place. Logic is in perfect order, but people are messy! We are good, but we do bad things. We have a good heart, but not all our thoughts are good. Our Catholic faith understands this. but not everyone appreciates it. For example: secularists.
Secularists are like modern day Pharisees. They like to have clear cut answers from the Church. They demand yes and no answers. The individual that wrote these questions wrote them like a lawyer, not like a doctor; like a robot, not like a human being. He expected black and white answers. He got gray answers.
The scribes and Pharisees treated people like they treated the law: with exacting precision. They treated Christ like they treated their writings: by crossing their t’s.
And what the world got was a Cross and a person nailed to it.
Writing the law down is not a bad idea. Nailing people to it is. We need to know what is right and wrong. But writing off people is a bad idea, for only God knows the hearts and minds of all His people. As the Pope recently said, “Who am I to judge?” The Pope’s response shocked our secular media and many uninformed Christians. Why? Because they still don’t know Jesus Christ.
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