Special accommodations for the politically correct sin

Special accommodations for the politically correct sin

Amy, commenting on the Diocese of Westminster, England’s, decision to formally institute a Mass specifically for homosexuals, makes a statement I’ve often made:

But separate, designated Masses for one group of people with one particular temptation to sin or identity runs completely, deeply contrary to the weight of Christian tradition. This goes for Masses for the divorced, for youth, for children, for families..for catechists, for whatever - as well.

I agree, but especially so in this case. At least Masses for children and for families do not categorize and apply an approved label upon a group whose identity is based in, to be most charitable, a disordered inclination to sin. What’s next? A Mass for adulterers or at least those inclined toward adultery?

The problem with the Diocese’s approach is that it acquiesces to a flawed precept at the root of most ministries to homosexuals, namely that it is the Church’s fault that they are what they are and that they feel alienated from her. The Diocesan statement says:

The Diocese of Westminster will continue to develop its Pastoral outreach to homosexual people so as to enable them to enter more fully into the life of the Church. This includes the weekly Listening Service being provided by the Catholic churches in Soho and the West End of London which provides support and opportunities to speak with a priest at the Church of Notre Dame, Leicester Place.

And Amy says:

What, in the present situation, in the Diocese of Westminster is preventing “homosexual people so as to enable them to enter more fully into the life of the Church?” What?

What indeed? In that statement lies the root of the presupposition that it is the Church’s teaching on sexuality that is the oppression and which alienates homosexuals, making them into victims, cringing away from any possibility that they are themselves the transgressors.

(By the way, would anyone care to enlighten us as to why it’s the Diocese of Westminster, but the Archbishop of Westminster? I thought archdiocese and archbishop went hand in hand. Perhaps it has something to do with the Anglican schism.)

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  • Without diving into catholichierarchy.org, I’d say that “Archbishop” is in this case a title granted to the person, as opposed to being proper to the see itself.

  • One need only read Dante’s Divine Comedy (especially the Inferno and the Purgatorio) from the early Rennaissance to realize that for some reason once some men get in the Big Chair:: their cathedra) they suddenly become weak and limp in defending orthodox Catholic doctrine.
      This leaves it incumbent on orthodox lower clergy and orthodox laypersons to do all that is possible to give any weak bishop some backbone. At times in the Middle Ages it was even needed to help popes do their job.

  • Apparently-according to this weeks Catholic Herald- the Archbishop has not met up with anyone involved in this.
    However Cardinal Levada- after asking for 10 rewrites or whatever- has given his go ahead. Can anyone make sense of that?
    This in the heals of the gay adoption debacle in which Archbishop Nichols admitted that the agencies already allowed children to be adopted by single gay people——confused? I am.

  • “Without diving into catholichierarchy.org, I’d say that “Archbishop” is in this case a title granted to the person, as opposed to being proper to the see itself.”

    There is precedent for this. Years ago, the late Archbishop Hoban was Bishop of Cleveland, which is not an archdiocese, but a diocese under the Province of Cincinnati, which IS an archdiocese.

    For what it’s worth.

  • “What indeed? In that statement lies the root of the presupposition that it is the Church’s teaching on sexuality that is the oppression and which alienates homosexuals, making them into victims, cringing away from any possibility that they are themselves the transgressors.”
    That comment was helpful to my confused conscience, Dom. Part of me is forever feeling guilty about NOT being able to accept the homosexual person as is, ie,attached to his self-proclaimed identity. If they offered an “upside-down” award for persons who have tried to understand things from the homosexual viewpoint, i’d be a nominee. The best I can come up with is to acknowledge the suffering—but who among us can change GOD’S designs, or judge them to be less than perfect?
    There’s a comment on Roman Catholic Blog that includes the website of an openly gay (though chaste and celibate) priest in the U.S. who ministers to gay and lesbian parishioners via a custom Mass. I TRIED to “get” it. I don’t. The homilies are so far from what I would hope to hear in a Catholic liturgy that I am confuzzled. I am unable to view this trend as a good thing.

  • Let me begin by saying that I am not saying that this Mass is a good thing.  I’m not really commenting on the issue at hand so much as some of the opinions Dom expressed.

    In reaching out to people who experience same-sex attractions, it is important to realize that it is not the same as reaching out to people who experience temptations to other sins.  This is due to a combination of social and religious factors. 

    The biggest distinction is that while, for example, adulterers might feel like God and the Church hate them because of their behavior, many people with same-sex attractions believe that the Church and God hate them because of their feelings.  That requires a different style of evangelization, because we’re dealing with both an intellectual and an emotional issue here.

    It does not help the process of evangelizing those who experience SSA that many conservative Catholics, as a reaction to the strong gay agenda present in our society, tend to bash people with SSA and attack any attempt to reach out to them.

    Another challenge to evangelization is the heaviness of the cross for those with SSA.  An adulterer can live a normal life with his wife.  Someone with SSA may feel, even if he can see the Church loves him, that he is doomed to a life of loneliness.  A chaste single life is a very difficult thing to live today for anyone, but most people have at least the hope of marriage, family, legitimate sexual expression, emotional intimacy, and so on.  Those with SSA usually lack hope in those things and that is a very, very heavy cross to bear.

    So I beg for some compassion when conservative Catholics address these issues.

  • Westminster is in fact an archdiocese – I think the report just uses “diocese” out of carelessness or for convenience.  In the middle of the C20 the neighbouring diocese of Southwark was headed by an Archbishop, who was given the title individually as a mark of honour.  The diocese of Killaloe (in Co. Clare, Ireland) also had an Archbishop of this kind in the 1940s.

  • I am confused.  The Archdiocese of Westminster is undoubtedly an Archdiocese and has been since 1850; it is the head of the Province of Westminster; nearly all sources on the Internet, including the old Catholic Encyclopedia, catholic-hierarchy.org, and Wikipedia, correctly refer to it as an Archdiocese; yet the Archdiocese website calls it a Diocese. http://www.rcdow.org.uk/  What could be the motive for this?  I checked the websites of the other Catholic archdioceses in England (Southwark, Birmingham, and Liverpool) and they all accurately describe themselves as Archdioceses (although the URL for Birmingham is birminghamdiocese.org.uk, the main page says Archdiocese of Birmingham).  Is this some sort of false humility on Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor’s part?

  • I largely agree with what JW said. There are unique practical (though not theological) issues surrounding homosexuality but not adultery, for a variety of reasons, most (but not all) of them related to the objective facts of the times in which we live.

    There was a recent three-part series in NCR (the Good One) which I blogged about here. Here is Part 1 of the article; here is Part 2 (this part would be the most relevant, it’s titled “Evangelizing the Homosexual”); here is Part 3.

    Now this isn’t to say that this action by the archdiocese couldn’t be done badly in the particulars. Or become a breeding ground for dissent or liturgical abuse (though the former already seemed to be a done deal). Or that the general idea of “special Masses” can be overdone.

  • Thank you James and CourageMan for your sincere, courageous responses. But if you get the chance, could you check out http://bartsquest.blogspot.com/ (copied from a comment on Roman Catholic Blog). Here is where I get particularly confused, because I can’t see this sort of “outreach” as helpful to anyone’s soul. It reminds me of the sort of 12-step meeting (and for all those who are helped by any sort of 12 step program, don’t be offended—this is a personal aversion of mine) wherein persons must announce their affliction each time they speak, as in “Hello, i’m X and I’m an xyz.” As if the most important identifier of those present is their affliction rather than the fact that they are men or women loved by God. I have difficulty seeing that sort of core identification as beneficial.
    Every person is a sinner and every person is afflicted with or by something. There are surely degrees of affliction, but in the end, we’re not so different as to require segregation…I would think.
    I don’t deny homosexual persons the support and love that every person requires, and for which they may have an even greater need, but I object to the segregation and the continual gay HAMMERING as if the gay person is more GAY than person! I can’t help but think that the gay proclamations, in that sense, do more harm than good. And I don’t think anyone should be “treated” to a homily about the celebrant’s prostate. Does that make sense?
    Given all that, forgive me if I still don’t get it. The only real way to “get it”, perhaps, is to experience it, and I’m not brave enough to pray for that! It’s one thing to “get” the drug addict by my still unbroken addiction to nicotine, but there is no “gay-lite”.

  • Joanne,

    The blog you cited is available to invited readers only.  If you care to copy and paste the text you’re referring to here, I could read it.