A man for all seasons

Last week, the Bishops of the United States of etc. met to discuss a number of pressing issues. In and among them was the issue of pastoral care for homosexuals.

In America, both political parties have stopped trying to make homosexual ‘marriage’ a national issue, as it has proved unworkable. Now the issue is contested state-by-state. The current focus of both sides is on Massachusetts.

Home of some of the most vocal and shrill minority supremacists, as well as to a large Catholic community, Boston often becomes the focus of major issues of social debate and, as a city, is wildly fortunate to have been given a truly wise and paternal Bishop.

Following the meeting the Bishops’ Conference, Cardinal O’Malley issued a pastoral letter which is one of the most succinct, caring and unflinchingly Catholic statements I have read from a Bishop in a long time.

In his letter he stresses the battle being fought is not ‘against homosexuals’ but rather ‘for marriage’ and that attempts to portray the Church as campaigning against people is a ploy to cloud the issue.”The Church’s position is not based on an animus against people with a homosexual orientation. Each and every member of the Church is called to holiness regardless of their sexual orientation. The Church has often warned against defining people by their sexual orientation in a way that diminishes their humanity. Each person is a mystery, an irreplaceable treasure, precious in God’s eye. We are God’s creatures and in baptism we are His sons and daughters, brothers and sisters to one another.”

It does both my heart and blood pressure good to hear a man of authority and standing take issue with the reduction of what is claimed to be a large section of society to single issue people.

“The extreme individualism of our age is undermining the common good and fractionalising the community… The Church must be Church. We must teach the truths of the Gospel in season and out of season. These recent times seem to us like it is ‘out of season’, but for that very reason it is even more urgent to teach the hard words of the Gospel today.”

HE went on to denounce the culture of fornication in the world and those who condone and promote sex outside of marriage of “deception”. The Cardinal also reiterated that there can be no compromise, nor submission to emotional blackmail, saying –

“We know that friends and relatives of homosexual Catholics sometimes feel torn between their allegiance to Christ and their concern for their loved ones. I assure them that these goals are not incompatible… Sometimes we are told: “If you do not accept my behavior, you do not love me.” In reality we must communicate the exact opposite: Because we love you, we cannot accept your behavior.”

Stressing the need for humilitly when preaching the sexual ethics of the Church, the Cardinal tried to communicate the damage done by “self-righteous” diatribes, to the messenger, to the receiver and most of all to the message of Christ and the Church. 

I never cease to be heartened by the wisdom and grace given to those Bishops who embrace the dignity and authority of their office, if only it were a universal trait.

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