Fr. Bryan Hehir, Archdiocese of Boston’s Secretary for Social Services–who has served on panels with partial-birth abortionists and gay/lesbian activists and who lectured for a Socialist, pro-Communist think-tank back in the 1980’s, now adds to his portfolio by participating in a panel discussion on Tuesday, January 3, 2012 with Rep. Barney Frank in Newton, MA.  Here’s the listing in the Boston Globe:

Frank talk During his long career, US Representative Barney Frank has been nothing if not outspoken. We imagine his impending exit from Washington won’t change that. See for yourself at Truth, Lies and Politics, a panel discussion featuring Frank, journalist Robert Kuttner, and Father J. Bryan Hehir. Author Leonard Fein moderates the program exploring the relationship (or lack thereof) between politicians and truth-telling. Jan. 3, 7:30 p.m. $15, $12 students and seniors. Leventhal-Sidman Jewish Community Center, 333 Nahanton St., Newton. 617-965-5226, www.bostonjcc.org

Robert Kuttner is the co-founder and current co-editor of The American Prospect, which was created in 1990 as “an authoritative magazine of liberal ideas.”    To give you a sense for Kuttner’s ideology, here’s a column he wrote in June 2010, “Gay-Marriage Envy.”

Sometimes I wish my personal overriding cause were gay rights. Then I could get up in the morning and feel that my side was making real progress.

It is thrilling to see how a movement for human decency has made immense gains. Executive leadership married to millions of acts of personal courage in a strong grass-roots movement can be transformative. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is the hero of the hour for using all his political skills to move just enough Republicans in the New York Legislature into the Yes column on same sex marriage.

It’s a joy to see progress on same-sex marriage and the broader acceptance of sexual difference, a fight that is far from over.

Barney Frank, openly gay, opposes Catholic Church positions on every moral issue under the sun–he supports gay marriage, is rated 100% by NARAL, indicating a solid pro-abortion voting record (he voted “no” on banning partial-birth abortion), and more.

Does anyone imagine for a second that Bryan Hehir’s going to use this as an opportunity to try and catechize Barney Frank and Mr. Kuttner and put forward Catholic teachings?  Not if the past is any indication.

The Bryan Hehir Exposed blog  told you in April 2010 how Bryan Hehir keynoted a Catholic conference along with a priest who advocated for “gay priests.”

On marriage and so-called “gay rights,” Fr. Hehir has never once said publicly that he opposes “gay marriage.”  But he did say in May of 2011 that he supported having children of openly gay/lesbian parents attend Catholic schools, and he did serve on a panel at Regis College with  lesbian feminist theologian, Mary Hunt, where he was quoted as follows:

…in twentieth-century Catholicism, teachings on sexuality have been “a chronically afflicted area,” and there are issues that need to be examined and re-examined…dissent is an expected part of the theological tradition of which we are a part…He ceded to Dr. Hunt discussion of any perception of the influence and role of women…

In 2010, Bryan Hehir also spoke at Boston College on a panel with a partial-birth abortionist about Catholic Conscience exemptions, and never even mentioned the word “abortion.”  Here’s what he said.

“If you think of the conscience clause protecting the professional, then you have to think about access to service on the part of clients of various kinds, patients, or clients of social service agencies.

 Just to be clear, this “access to service” described by Fr. Hehir meant abortion, but he never stated that.  Instead, this senior Archdiocesan official said Catholics should “have to think” about how the woman will get access to abortion services.

 Unless we choose well on this, we could harm the profession, the social system. And clearly, if we don’t choose well, we could harm the individual who needs precisely the service.

Once again, “service” meant abortions.  Was Fr. Hehir concerned about harming the woman who needs the abortion service to have her unborn baby killed?  Or was he concerned about harming the baby who needs the service to be aborted?  He emphasizes the possible harm to the profession, the pluralism of actors in the social system and the individual who needs the abortion service, but says nothing about the risk to the individual conscience of the medical professional.

Near the conclusion we got Fr. Hehir’s own redefinition of the conscience clause. A conclusion of a talk is usually what the speaker wants to drive home, to have the audience remember most.  His takeaway, summed up in the bottom line:

My basic position is, conscience clauses provide an essential political legal component to adjudicate deeply held convictions and positions in this pluralistic society.  I think the resolution requires defining the issues broadly.  You’ve got to pay attention to all the actors, their beliefs, their interests, and the duties involved and recognize that conscience clauses will limit the rights of others to some degree.

Then there’s Fr. Hehir’s past involvement with the Marxist-oriented, gay-agenda-supportive Washington, DC think tank, the Institute for Policy Studies.  Fr. Hehir gave multiple talks there in the 1980s, including speaking in their Washington School series, “Matthew, Marx, Luke, and John” in October of 1983.

As you’ll see by this content on Religious Left Exposed, during the 1980s, the IPS served as a base of operations for those opposed to President Ronald Reagan’s anti-communist foreign policy. It was dedicated to the establishment of revolutionary Marxist and anti-American regimes in Central and Latin America and elsewhere and describes itself as the nation’s oldest progressive multi-issue think-tank. A New York Times Magazine article from April of 2001 exposes IPS as founded on radical, revolutionary and Marxist principles, talking about one contingent described by the IPS director as coming almost completely from a Marxist or liberation basis. One IPS journal has featured “articles celebrating Communist victories in Laos and Angola.”

Here’s the Washington School series he spoke in (see p. 2).

Matthew, Marx, Luke and John: Theology of the Oppressed

Worldwide poverty and exploitation have brought religious ideological support for conservatism to a crisis.  Liberation theologies—particularly black, feminist and Latin American—provide an ideological counterthrust on behalf of the insurgent resistance.  This course, while focusing on the present through the prism of Vatican II, will discuss ancient and medieval precedents of peasant insurgency and rebellion, together with the practical and ideological leadership provided by priests and lay Christians who, basing themselves in the Bible, defined and ideology for the oppression, not the oppressors.  Topics will include:

  • …ancient and medieval theology: practice and theory
  • parallels in feminist and Latin American theology
  • the Catholic Bishops’ Letter on War and Peace
  • the future of the Christian alliance with Marxism

For attending that series, participants got a free pass to their series on liberation theology. Among the other speakers in the 1983 series was the radical lesbian feminist theologian, Mary Hunt.  This wasn’t just a one-off talk; Fr. Hehir spoke at the IPS more than once. He also received their Letelier-Moffitt award, named after a Marxist-Leninist. Here is a short  IPS slide presentation from Religious Left Exposed that highlights a number of troubling revelations we barely have time to share. There’s more–in 1984 they hosted “Sister Boom-Boom” of the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence,” a group of “Queer Nuns” who mocked the Catholic Church.  The history of the IPS on their website proudly conveys how “Rita Mae Brown wrote and published her path-breaking lesbian coming-of-age novel Rubyfruit Jungle while on the staff in the 1970s.”

When I complained and others complained about Bryan Hehir in 2010, eventually, the result was that the Vicar General at the time scolded us for criticizing his friend, Bryan Hehir.   I’m sure they’ll just go ahead and let him speak on the panel with Barney Frank and Mr. Kuttner and have this senior archdiocesan official and “trusted advisor” to Cardinal O’Malley give credibility to the speakers and their agenda.  No problema.

With everything going on around St. Cecilia’s in Boston earlier in the summer, I forgot to mention that Fr. Bryan Hehir, Secretary for Health and Social Services for the Archdiocese of Boston received the “prestigious Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Award at the Philip J. Murnion Lecture, at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago on June 10.”  According to this blurb from “Around the Archdiocese“:

Ordained in 1966, Father Hehir has worked for 45 years as priest in the archdiocese, including being a Professor of Religion and Public Life at Harvard University, and as president of the Catholic Charitable Bureau of the Archdiocese of Boston. He is known locally, nationally, and internationally as a teacher on matters of social justice.

The Cardinal Bernardin Award is given annually to an individual whose work embodies the spirit of the Catholic Common Ground Initiative, promoting unity, dialogue and collaboration within the Church.

Congratulations to Fr. Hehir!  He’s is in good company. Previous recipients of the award are:

  • 2010: Sr. Catherine Patten, R.S.H.M.: She’s former director of the Catholic Common Ground Initiative, from when it was based at the National Pastoral Life Center in New York
  • 2009: Sr. Carol Keehan.  She’s president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association. Keehan was selected because of “her extraordinary contributions to creating common ground between church leaders and government officials, organized labor and Catholic health care providers, the rich and the poor,” according to the citation presented to her.  In 2010 she publicly suppored Obamacare, in opposition to the U.S. Catholic Bishops, promoting the USCCB to call the CHA’s efforts a “wound to Catholic unity.” Shortly after that, Fr. Bryan Hehir spoke at the CHA conference, praising her “intelligent and courageous leadership” and undermining the U.S. bishops’ position by saying there was a a basis for the “multiple voices” and “different judgments” on the bill.  My post, Fr. Bryan Hehir “Wounds Catholic Unity” by Undermining U.S. Bishops on Healthcare” detailing his CHA talk prompted an angry response by Vicar General, Fr. Richard Erikson in the comments on June 24, 2010.
  • 2008: Bishop Gerald Kicanas. Here’s what one blogger said about Kicanas’ receiving the award: “It was recently announced that Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson has won the 2008 Bernardin Award. Kicanas is a Bernardin protege. As Chicago’s seminary rector, he ran interference for a student who racked up charges of sexual misconduct. (That student went on to become a priest now in prison for molesting boys.) So you might say he’s a worthy recipient.”
  • 2007: Dr. Eugene Fisher.  Fisher was associate director of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs and has his own controversies. On September 2, 2005, the USCCB Office of Media Relations issued a statement by Dr. Fisher on the death of New York Rabbi Balfour Brickner on August 29, 2005 that was gushing with praise. Read this Matt Abbott column at RenewAmerica for more details:

But according to Randy Engel, executive director of the Export, Pa.-based U.S. Coalition for Life:”Dr. Fisher’s unqualified praise of Rabbi Brickner as ‘a great friend’ of  Catholics and the Church carefully omits any reference to the seedier aspects of Rabbi Brickner’s well known, long-time crusade for ‘abortion rights’ and ‘homosexual rights.’  Rabbi Brickner served on the boards of the Planned Federation of America (PPFA), the PPFA Board of Advocates and the PPFA Clergy Advisory Board, Planned Parenthood of New York City. Rabbi Brickner was a founder of Religious Leaders for a Free Choice, a New York-based pro-abortion organization. Rabbi Brickner was a founding member and board member of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL), renamed NARAL — Pro-Choice America. Rabbi Brickner served on the board of the New York affiliate of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCAR). In the mid-1970s, Rabbi Brickner, testified on RCAR’s behalf before the U.S. Senate in favor of abortion rights. He stated that in Judaism the fetus in the womb is not considered a person and has ‘no juridical personality of its own.’ In fact, he stated, ‘a fetus did not acquire legal standing until thirty days after its birth.’ “In ‘Bush Administration Alchemy Would Turn a Fetus into a  Child,’ Brickner charged that by making the fetus eligible for health care, the Bush Administration was turning ‘a fetus into a child and a woman into a vessel.’ He stated that the unborn fetus ‘is not a child’ and ‘it is not a living soul.’  “Rabbi Brickner helped draft the 2000 SEICUS (Sex Education and Information Council of the United States) ‘Religious Declaration on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing,’ which upholds contraception, abortion and homosexual rights including the right to ‘the blessing of same sex unions,’ cradle-to-grave sex instruction and population control.”  “Dr. Fisher’s claim, made on behalf of the USCCB, the official  arm of the American bishops, that Rabbi Brickner was a great religious leader whose name may ‘forever be a blessing,’ needs to be refuted; Dr. Fisher and his superior, the Rev. Arthur Kennedy, executive director of the Secretariat, [Bryan Hehir Exposed note: Kennedy is now Aux. Bishop in Boston and rector of St. John’s Seminary] need to be sent packing; and the members of the hierarchy who permitted this scandalous statement to be issued need to issue an apology to the pro-life community. In addition, the Vatican should remove Dr. Fisher from any advisory position to the Holy See on Jewish ecumenical relations.” [This report from the U.S. Coalition for Life summarizes the final outcome].

  • Archbishop Wilton Gregory: 2006
  • Boston College: 2005. For its “Church in the 21st Century” project
  • National Council of Catholic Women: 2004
  • Archbishop Harry Flynn: 2003.  Flynn was archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis at the time.

As I wrote in “Fr. Hehir and the Seamless Garment,”  Fr. Hehir and the late Cardinal Bernardin were close collaborators and friends.  From the 2001 book, “Religious Leaders and Faith-Based Politics” we hear:

Shortly after the pastoral on war and peace had been issued. and no doubt trying to take advantage of the momentum it bad generated within the hierarchy. Cardinal Bernardin undertook another major initiative intended to broaden the bishops’ pro-life agenda beyond abortion.

As one would expect,in undertaking this initiative Bernardin received the invaluable assistance of Bryan Hehir. Indeed it is fair to say that this initiative was chiefly the product of their long collaboration. After working together over the years, the two men had become close friends.

In this post, Fr. Bryan Hehir, Bishop Kicanas, and Cardinal Bernardin, I talked about the Bernardin Connection to  the Gay Agenda and Sub-Culture in the Catholic Church, including excerpts from Randy Engel’s book The Rite of Sodomy: Homosexuality and the Roman Catholic Church published in a column by Matt Abbott entitled “Remembering Joseph Cardinal BernardinThe Special Case of Joseph Cardinal Bernardin:

  • “To do real justice to Cardinal Bernardin and his entourage of clerical homosexuals and pederasts and ancillary hangers-on who made up the Chicago-Washington, D. C. Homosexual/Pederast Axis would require more than one full size book.”
  • “The Boys Club” Murder

On May 30, 1984, Frank Pellegrini, the organist and choir director for All Saints — St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church on Chicago’s Southside was found brutally murdered in his apartment. There was no sign of forced entry. Police officials investigating the case believed that the murder was committed either by a woman or a homosexual.

According to his girlfriend, Pellegrini had had a homosexual relationship with a Chicago priest and was part of a secret clerical “Boys Club” that not only included homosexual assignations, but also ritualistic, occult worship and the sexual abuse of young boys garnered from low income ethnic families in the city.

Two young private Chicago investigators hired to look into the Pellegrini murder were able to confirm the existence of a clerical homosexual/pederast ring operating out of the Archdiocese of Chicago. It appeared that the alleged homosexual ring they had uncovered was the same one mentioned by Father Andrew Greeley in the paperback version of Furthermore! Memories of a Parish Priest written in 1999.

One of the puzzling mysteries surrounding the murder involved Cardinal Bernardin. According to the police who were present at the crime scene, shortly after Pellegrini’s body was discovered, Cardinal Bernardin arrived at the murdered man’s home to quiz the officers about the killing. The cardinal told police that he did not know the murdered man. This raises the obvious question of how he learned of the killing so quickly and of what special interest was Pellegrini to him since he did not know the victim. The Pellegrini case was reopened in the early 1990s, but to date, the crime remains unsolved and Father Greeley remains silent.

  • Bernardin and the Winona Seminary Scandal

Although the homosexual scandal at Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Winona, Minn. has already been covered in the previous chapter in connection with Bishop Brom of San Diego, it may be helpful to recall the case again briefly as Archbishop Bernardin was implicated in both the scandal and the subsequent payoff, and because it ties into the well-publicized Cook Affair.

…the details of the Winona scandal did not come to public attention until 2002. However, it had its genesis in the 1980s when a small group of homosexual prelates decided to scout out fresh meat from candidates for the priesthood at Immaculate Heart Seminary in the Diocese of Winona.

According to reports based on an investigation by Roman Catholic Faithful, the bishops involved in the sordid affair were alleged to be Joseph Bernardin, John Roach, Robert Brom, and a fourth bishop whose identity is not known. (The Boston Globe briefly mentioned the scandal here)

Endnote 26:

Cardinal Bernardin’s “Seamless Garment” later renamed the “Consistent Life Ethic,” like “The Many Faces of AIDS,” is another illustration of how Bernardin helped to advance the agenda of the Homosexual Collective. The Seamless Garment strategy set out by Bernardin in the 1980s sought to broaden the pro-life tent by expanding the movement’s opposition to abortion, euthanasia, population control and school sex instruction to include other “social justice” issues such as war and peace, opposition to the death penalty, welfare reform and civil liberties. One of the immediate effects of the Seamless Garment ethic was the increase of power and financial resources of Social Justice offices at the diocesan level where the Homosexual Collective has always been strongly represented.

Since the Homosexual Collective has been extremely successful at framing the homosexual question in terms of a “civil rights” issue, the Bernardin strategy opened the NCCB/USCC and diocesan Social Justice Departments (and their considerable resources and manpower) to further exploitation by the Collective. At the same time the Collective benefited from the neutering effect the Seamless Garment strategy had on pro-life/pro-family forces within the Church that had become the backbone of public opposition to the political and social agenda of the Homosexual Collective. The Bernardin strategy served to breathe new life into the languishing Democratic Party and its pro-homosexual platform as well as promote the “big tent” inclusive policies of the Republican Party that sought to capitalize and exploit the political talents and financial wealth of the Homosexual Collective in America.

Fr. Hehir’s been the recipient of many awards, so he’d be well versed in knowing the histories of previous award recipients and the award’s namesake.  This award adds to others like the Institute for Policy Studies’ 1983 Letelier Award, named after Orlando Letelier, a Marxist-Leninist and IPS fellow who was assassinated in 1976 in Washington by the Chilean government’s secret police. A new report describes the IPS as “a Washington, D.C. think tank that provided a cover for Chilean Marxist and Cuban agent Orlando Letelier​ to conduct communist political influence operations in the nation’s capital.”

So, congratulations again to Fr. Bryan Hehir on winning the Cardinal Bernardin award!

The Vatican is investigating the gay ministry in the Northern Mexico diocese of Saltillo. Maybe there’s hope they will still investigate the Rainbow Ministry at St. Cecilia’s in Boston.  A lot of what’s going on with the Saltillo gay ministry sounds vaguely familiar.

From LifeSiteNews: Mexican bishop under Vatican investigation for supporting homosexualist organization:

SALTILLO, Mexico, July 29, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Raul Vera, the Catholic bishop of Saltillo, Mexico, is under investigation by the Vatican over his sponsorship of an organization that condones sodomy, according to Mexican press sources.

The Saint Aelred group, which professes to be Catholic, teaches members that they may engage in homosexual relations, but encourages them to do so with a single partner.  It also holds film festivals featuring productions that condone homosexual behavior.

Bishop Vera has publicly affiliated his diocese with the group and has promoted its activities, including sponsoring its film festivals, according to reports in the Mexican media. The organization is also involved in a number of diocesan parishes.

From Catholic News Agency: Mexican bishop confirms Vatican inquiry into his support for homosexual group:

Lima, Peru, Jul 28, 2011 / 06:04 pm (CNA).- Bishop Raul Vera Lopez of Saltillo, Mexico has told a Mexican newspaper he has received “a series of questions” from the Vatican about his support for the San Elredo community, which holds positions on homosexuality that are contrary to Church teaching.

“There has been a call from the Vatican and I am ready to clear things up … I have to respond to a series of questions that Vatican City has sent me about my work with homosexuals,” Bishop Vera told the newspaper Zocalo.

Bishop Vera told the newspaper, “In the Diocese of Saltillo, we have very clear objectives. We work with (the gay community) to help them recover their human dignity, which is frequently attacked at home and in society…”

“I am not against the magisterium of the Church, nor do I promote dishonesty. It would go against my principles to promote depravity and immorality,” he said.

In March of this year, Bishop Vera published a statement on the diocesan website expressing support for the “sexual, family and religious diversity forum.” The event was aimed at “eradicating what some sectors of the Church believe about homosexuality” — especially the belief “that homosexual actions are contrary to God.”

Father Robert Coogan, the American priest who founded San Elredo, maintained that the group’s work is not contrary to the teachings of the Church.  He added: “How can a person with same-sex attraction have a fulfilling life? And the only answer the Catechism gives is to tell them to be celibate, and that is not enough.”

From Hispanically Speaking News: Mexican Diocese’s Gay Ministry Comes Under Vatican Scrutiny:

The bishop defended the diocesan ministry, saying it was based in the Gospel and meant to promote expanded human rights protection while helping gay people develop a sense of belonging especially because they are not always made to feel welcome by the church as a whole.

The ministry, he explained, “is based in personal attention, in spiritual attention … to see that they have a place in the church, that they’re treated as dignified people.”

The group sponsors a monthly Mass and has promoted a film festival, sexual diversity forum and lobbied for a same-sex civil partnership law, which was approved in the state of Coahuila, where Saltillo is located, in 2007.

There’s a lot here that sounds familiar from St. Cecilias and their Rainbow Ministry.

  • St. Cecilia’s sponsored speakers who worked against the Catholic Church and supported legalizing “gay marriage”
  • There’s no evidence that St. Cecilia’s Rainbow Ministry teaches that homosexual activity is immoral
  • St. Cecilia’s Rainbow Ministry promoted a Mass to “celebrate Boston Pride Month,” rescheduled and rebranded as a Mass showing St. Cecilia’s was a place of welcome to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transsexual (GLBT) community
  • St. Cecilia’s Rainbow Ministry sponsors trips to see the Gay Mens Chorus
  •  A leader of St. Cecilia’s Rainbow Ministry publicly encouraged teens confused about their sexual identity to “come out” to get new energy and life.
  • St. Cecilia’s Rainbow Ministry has financially supported the Waltham House, a home for “GLBT youth” aged 14-18 confused about their sexual identity. St. Cecilia’s Rainbow Ministry plans to continue working with the house, which offers services including: “Mentoring relationships, tutoring and vocational training with GLBT adults, Opportunites to connect GLBTQ youth with each other in the community, and Transgender education/support.”  Waltham House is a private entity that receives some state funding. They do not have any affiliation with the Catholic Church and there’s no indication they teach anything remotely related to Catholic teachings on sexual morality such as abstinence and chastity for those who have same-sex attractions.

I’ll post more about the Waltham House in the very near future.  With this news that the Vatican is investigating the gay ministry in Saltillo, Mexico, we’ll probably need to give the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for Bishops a little prod again shortly to remind them they should also investigate St. Cecilia’s in Boston.

The Missionary Society of St. James does pretty good work with the poor in Latin America. So, it’s kind of a shame that they’re putting their credibility on the line by continuing their plans to honor Fr. John Unni, of St. Cecilia’s “Gay Pride Mass” fame at their Boston Banquet in October.  Some readers complained that I haven’t taken up the subject. You’ve now gotten your wish.

Here’s their July 2001 newsletter. It probably went to press before the big public flap over the “Gay Pride Mass.” Here’s the notice about honoring Fr. Unni:

I wrote to the St. James Society to complain about this.

from: Joe Sacerdo
to: ReverendRodney_Copp@rcab.org, info@socstjames.com
date: Tue, Jul 12, 2011 at 10:57 PM
subject: Fr. Unni being honored by St. James Society?

Fr. Copp and Fr. Hays,

I notice that the St. James Society plans to honor Fr. John Unni of St. Cecilia’s in Boston on Sunday, October 23 at Boston College High School. As I’m sure you know, he has brought shame upon the archdiocese for plans to celebrate a Mass commemorating Gay Pride last month, and his parish has sponsored speakers in recent years who support gay marriage and worked against the Catholic Church on gay marriage.


Were you both aware of this?  In consideration of what has happened over the past 4-5 weeks, is the plan still to honor him?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Here’s the response I received back:

To: Reverend Rodney Copp (CC), Mr. Joe Sacerdo
From: Rev. Kevin Hays
RE: Cardinal Cushing Award

Mr. Sacerdo. Thank you for your communication regarding this year’s recipients of the Cardinal Cushing Award.

The Missionary Society of St. James the Apostle has existed for the last 53 years as a missionary group in the poorest areas of Latin America. For many years now Fr. John Unni and people associated with St. Cecilia’s parish have done missionary and humanitarian relief work in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. He was chosen to receive this award for the work that he does with God’s poorest of the poor. The Society of St. James the Apostle will make no comment on the events of the last number of weeks, given that the Archdiocese has already done so.

With every best wish,
Rev. Kevin Hays

Is it just me, or is kind of a problem to award someone for their work serving the physical needs of the “poorest of the poor” in Haiti, and then look the other way when you know they’ve created public scandal by planning a “Gay Pride Mass,” and you know they’re sponsoring a “Rainbow Ministry” at their parish that tells sexually confused teens they should “come out” to get new life and energy, they’re  sponsoring speakers in support of “gay marriage” who lead poor souls away from holiness and salvation, and they’re failing to serve the needs of the spiritually poor in his own parish by failing to lead them towards God’s plan for salavation?

If you’d like to write to the two people in charge of the St. James Society here in Boston and let them know what you think, here are their email addresses:

Fr. Rodney Copp: ReverendRodney_Copp@rcab.org
Fr. Kevin Hays: info@socstjames.com

This column by internationally recognized author and lecturer, Dale O’Leary, appeared in The Boston Pilot on Friday. She is author of The Gender Agenda and  One Man, One Woman: A Catholic’s Guide to Defending Marriage.  Cardinal Sean O’Malley described Dale in an August 2008 blog post about a Courage event  as “always so good.”  Here is an excellent piece by Dale about Catholic Schools that she wrote in May 2010.

This one’s equally excellent. You’ll never hear these words come from Cardinal O’Malley, Bishop Hennessey, Fr. Bryan Hehir, or Fr. John Unni at St. Cecilia’s in Boston, or from John Kelly and the members of the St. Cecilia Rainbow Ministry.

True Compassion

Dale O’Leary, Posted: 7/22/2011

The Church, by which I mean hierarchy, clergy, religious, and laity, must step up and face the challenge posed by the militant gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and queer activists — the GLBTQ coalition. It is simply not enough to defend marriage; we have to explain to the people in the pews, to our children, and to world why the Church does not — cannot — accept sexual relations between two persons of the same sex. We must do so with love and compassion, but without sacrificing the truth.

First, while many people sincerely believe that individuals are born with same-sex attraction (SSA) and gender identity disorders (GID) and can’t change, there is no replicated scientific evidence to support that belief. There is overwhelming evidence SSA and GID are not genetic or biological conditions. If they were, then identical twins would virtually always have the same pattern of sexual attraction and this is not the case.

That does not mean that SSA and GID are a choice. Nor is there a single explanation for all SSA. Each person with SSA has his or her own unique personal history. A number of therapists are convinced that some babies are born more vulnerable to the anxiety. This vulnerability combined with early negative experiences can affect the babies’ ability to identify with their same-sex parent or peers. The child grows up trying to find the love and acceptance missed as a baby and this need becomes interpreted as sexual desire. Because these negative experiences occur during the first two years of life before memory, GLBTQ persons may honestly say they always felt different and were born that way.

Although persons with GID and SSA have free will and can choose not to act on their feelings, the inner forces driving them to engage in sexual behavior with persons of the same sex are very strong and their struggle and suffering should not be underestimated. There are, however, numerous reports of change of sexual attraction — both spontaneous and through therapy. The more we understand about the origins of SSA, the greater the potential for prevention.

Therapists who work with people who want to be free of SSA and GID have made real progress in understanding the early childhood traumas and deficits which put a person on the path to GID and SSA. I strongly recommend “Shame and Attachment Loss: The Practical Work of Reparative Therapy” by Joseph J. Nicolosi and “The Heart of Female Same-Sex Attraction: A Comprehensive Counseling Resource” by Janelle M. Hallman.

There is growing understanding of the part failure to attach plays in many psychological disorders. According to attachment theory, in order to achieve psychological wholeness a person needs to successfully negotiate several stages in early childhood: attachment to the mother, separation from the mother, identification with the same-sex parent or peers. Failure to negotiate the first stage, makes it more difficult to negotiate the second, and third. While a history of failure to securely attach, separate, and identify probably accounts for many instances of SSA and GID, there are other less common reasons. When the individual histories of persons with SSA and GID are probed, the reasons for their patterns of thought can usually be discerned.

As Catholic Christians we have an obligation to treat every person as a fellow sinner in need of grace. We can thank God that we do not have these particular temptations, while at the same time making sure that therapy, counseling, support groups (like Courage), and understanding priests in the confessional are available. If the problem is never mentioned from the pulpit, if support and counseling are not easily accessible, if the priest in the confessional has no practical direction to offer, those who suffer from such temptations will rightly feel alone and abandoned. They will be tempted by the world which says “Come out. Join the gay community. Be proud.”

When they do so, they will join a community where psychological disorders, suicidal ideation, substance abuse problems, relationship instability, domestic violence, STDS, HIV, cancer and other health problems are far more common. They will cut themselves off from the source of grace and often become angry at God.

Compassion requires that we do not, like the priest and the Levite, pass by the man who fell among thieves, but offer real help.

Dale O’Leary is an internationally recognized lecturer and author of “The Gender Agenda: Redefining Equality.”

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To Cardinal O’Malley, Bishop Hennessey, Fr. Unni, and Terry Donilon: did you read this?  Dale says that the Church–namely you guys–hierarchy, clergy, and laity–must step up and face the challenge posed by the militant gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and queer activists — the GLBTQ coalition. It’s simply not enough to defend marriage (which we’ve done meekly at best lately)–we have to explain to the people in the pews, to our children, and to world why the Church does not — cannot — accept sexual relations between two persons of the same sex. We must do so with love and compassion, but without sacrificing the truth.

Fr. Roger Landry stepped up with 3 powerful, personally-written columns in the Fall River diocesan newspaper. What exactly have Cardinal O’Malley, Bishop Hennessey, and Fr. Unni done to step up with their own names on it  and actions behind it?  We got a couple of ambiguously worded, often conflicting statements from the archdiocese, and a barely-noticed piece by the editors of The Boston Pilot, “A teachable moment,” that reprinted excerpts from the USCCB’s 2006 document. But those do nothing to actually address what’s happening at St. Cecilia’s and in other Catholic parishes and schools under the nose or acquiescent eye of our bishops. Fr. Unni has continued to say nothing about Church teachings on sexual morality and chastity for homosexuals. His Rainbow Ministry was thrilled to finally get their Mass, and they’re now off spreading their philosophy that gay youth should “come out” to get “new energy and life” to confused youth at risk at the Waltham House.

We’ll be back with more in the next two posts.

Quick break today from the “gay Mass” scandal at St. Cecilia in Boston for this excellent column by George Weigel about the appointment of Archbishop Charles Chaput as the new Archbishop of Philadelphia.

I was hoping we might have gotten Archbishop Chaput for Boston, to deal with the problem of “Catholic Lite” that Bryan Hehir and Cardinal Sean O’Malley have promulgated here in the past 7 years and continue promulgating. The scandal at St. Cecilia is a good example of that. Weigel refers to Boston’s problem with “Catholic Lite” near the end of his column. Let’s hope Chaput is in line for a red hat in the future!

Rise of the Evangelical Catholic Bishops

Gospel without compromise, joyfully lived, replaces Catholic Lite.

When Pope Benedict XVI appointed the archbishop of Denver, Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M.Cap., as the new archbishop of Philadelphia on July 19, the usual suspects were trotted out to say the usual things that the usual suspects say.

Thus David Clohessy of SNAP, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, continued his nine-year rant against the Catholic Church by pronouncing Chaput’s record on abuse (which virtually everyone else finds admirable) “dismal.” But then David Clohessy would likely have found St. John Chrysostom, St. Charles Borromeo, or Chaput’s 19th-century predecessor in Philadelphia, St. John Neumann, “dismal,” because if you’re the New York Times’s go-to guy for anti-Catholic-hierarchy sexual-abuse soundbites, that’s what you say. As for Fr. Thomas Reese, S.J., the former editor of America magazine made his own priorities rather clear in fretting to the Philadelphia Inquirer that Chaput would “be a real pain in the neck for the Democratic Party.” (Bob Casey the Less, you have been warned!)

Just about every story on the Chaput appointment identified the archbishop as a “conservative” (because he believes and teaches as true what the Catholic Church believes and teaches to be true); just about every story claimed that Chaput was a tough guy when it came to holding Catholic politicians accountable for their votes on abortion and the nature of marriage (while completely missing the fact that Chaput had consistently made genuinely public arguments, not uniquely Catholic theological claims, about the inalienable right to life and marriage rightly understood); and of course every story emphasized abuse, abuse, abuse (as if this were the only reality of Catholic life in America).

All of this is tiresome, if wholly predictable; both its tediousness and its predictability help explain why it’s the rare discerning reader who turns to the mainstream media for serious reportage about and analysis of the Catholic Church. In this case, however, the same-old-same-old also obscured what is truly important about the Chaput appointment — which is not the archbishop’s Potawatomi ancestry (interesting as that is) but his place as one of the most vigorous exponents of what might be called Evangelical Catholicism.

Archbishop Chaput put it best himself in an exclusive interview with Catholic News Agency: “The biggest challenge, not just in Philadelphia but everywhere, is to preach the Gospel. . . . We need to have confidence in the Gospel, we have to live it faithfully, and to live it without compromise and with great joy.”

That formulation — the Gospel without compromise, joyfully lived — captures the essence of the Evangelical Catholicism that is slowly but steadily replacing Counter-Reformation Catholicism in the United States. The usual suspects are living in an old Catholic paradigm: They’re stuck in the Counter-Reformation Church of institutional maintenance; they simply want an institution they can run with looser rules, closely aligned with the Democratic party on the political left — which is precisely why they’re of interest to their media megaphones. Archbishop Chaput, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, and other rising leaders of the Catholic Church in the United States are operating out of a very different paradigm — and in doing so, they’re the true heirs of both the Second Vatican Council and Pope John Paul II.

The Council put the Gospel and its proclamation at the center of Catholic life. John Paul II, in his apostolic letter published at the end of the Great Jubilee of 2000, challenged the entire Church to leave the stagnant shallows of institutional maintenance and put out into the deep waters of post-modernity, preaching Jesus Christ as the answer to the question that is every human life. In his 1991 encyclical Redemptoris Missio [The Mission of the Redeemer], John Paul insisted that the Church doesn’t have a mission, as if “mission” were one among a dozen things the Catholic Church does. No, John Paul taught, the Church is a mission, such that everything and everyone in the Church ought to be measured by what the management types would call mission-effectiveness.

The old warhorses of the post–Vatican II debates, on either end of the Catholic spectrum, don’t get this; they’re still mud-wrestling within the old paradigm. But Archbishop Charles Chaput gets it, big time. That, and the effective work of his predecessor, Cardinal James Francis Stafford, is what has made the archdiocese of Denver what is arguably the model Evangelical Catholic diocese in the country: a Church brimming with excitement over the adventure of the Gospel, a Church attracting some of the sharpest young Catholics in America to its services, a Church fully engaged in public life while making genuinely public arguments about the first principles of democracy.

This is the vision that Archbishop Chaput is bringing to Philadelphia, and it has virtually nothing to do with “agendas” as the usual suspects understand agendas. Of course that vision includes addressing serious problems of sexual abuse. The old clericalism that protected perpetrators in various dioceses created serious legal problems for the institutional Church; but it was also, and even more importantly from an evangelical point of view, a terrible impediment to preaching the Gospel and attracting people to friendship with Jesus Christ. It’s his palpable commitment to the latter — to the project of unapologetic evangelism — that will give Archbishop Chaput credibility in cleaning up what needs cleaning up and in healing what can be healed in Philadelphia.And this is something else the usual suspects miss. The usual suspects’ answer to clerical sexual abuse has been, is, and seems likely to remain the transformation of Catholicism into Catholic Lite. But in situation after situation — Phoenix and Denver being two prime examples — it’s been the Gospel without compromise, joyfully lived, that has turned abuse disaster areas into vibrant Catholic centers where public confidence in the Church’s credibility has been restored. Where Catholic Lite has been adopted as the solution to the problems Catholic Lite helped cause — as in Boston — the meltdown that began in 2002 continues.

With the appointment of Charles J. Chaput as archbishop of Philadelphia, the deep reform of the Catholic Church in the United States — the reform that is giving birth to Evangelical Catholicism even as it leaves the old post–Vatican II arguments fading into the rear-view mirror — has been accelerated.

— George Weigel is distinguished senior fellow of Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies. His weekly column, “The Catholic Difference,” is syndicated by the archdiocese of Denver.

The scandal at St. Cecilia’s in Boston just keeps getting worse and worse as we hear more about what Fr. Unni said during and after the July 11 Mass and hear more about what his “Rainbow Ministry” is up to.

Here’s an article about the festivities at St. Cecilia’s that ran in the The Rainbow Times.  It’s called, “Gay Catholics feel pride at Mass.” We’re only allowed to excerpt from the article, but you should read the whole thing to get the full impression of what’s going on there.

Gay Catholics feel pride at Mass

By Chuck Colbert /TRT Reporter
July 17, 2011

A message of acceptance and inclusion rang out loud and clear on Sunday, July 10, from the opening hymn to the pastor’s homily to the prayers of the faithful: All are welcome at St. Cecilia’s Church.

The regularly scheduled 11:00 am Mass, led by the parish’s Rainbow Ministry, drew a large standing-room-only crowd to the Back Bay Catholic parish, a gathering estimated at 700 people by the Boston Globe.

The Rainbow Ministry is an explicit outreach to gay and lesbian Catholics.

During his homily and afterwards, the Rev. John J. Unni left little doubt about the need for continued pastoral care and support of LGBT Catholics who seek a safe sanctuary to worship and pray in community, but who also feel they have been ostracized by society and the Church.

“I want today to be not only a celebration of love and acceptance, but also to go further,” said Unni, explaining, “Jesus said all are welcome: Come to me all of you who are wrapped in shame: the outcasts and marginalized.”

“Shame eats people away,” Unni added. “Jesus breaks down the shame with his interactions with people. He did it at the [communion] table.”

A remedy for shame, Unni suggested, is compassion, the ability to “stand in awe of what someone else carries through life without judgment,” he said.

Unni said Jesus’ message expressed in the Gospel was that those who don’t understand the importance of compassion and inclusion —even of “prostitutes and tax collectors in his time” — “just don’t get it.”  You can read more here.

That’s what was reported of the homily.  The article says that after Mass, reporters asked Unni about Catholic teaching on other issues of sexuality, “for example, contraception, masturbation, co-habitation, same-sex activity, among other practices the church considers to be sexual sins.”  Here’s how the article says Unni responded:

“That is not what this gathering is about,” Unni said.

While not minimizing sexual mistakes, he said that the Mass was about creating a place where all were welcome and that the church had made clear that exclusion of gay people was at odds with Christ’s message.

The Rainbow Ministry was asked what’s next for them. They said:

We are in the process of reaching out to Waltham House,” a center for homeless gay and lesbian youth, said Charles Petit, a parishioner, adding, “We got a letter from them, asking us to come out and talk about why this church is different from other Catholic churches. We’re thinking about having a barbeque.”

The article closes with the reporter asking the question, “Meanwhile, what may account for conservative Catholic vitriol over St. Cecilia’s ministry with gay and lesbian Catholics?”  He asked a local psychotherapist, who has publicly worked toward gay marriage.  The response:

“What this entire experience has taught is about the venom that comes from these ‘Catholic’ bloggers towards gay people,” said Charles Martel, a licensed clinical social worker in private practice.

“From a psychological perspective, their level of anger and rage reflects that the issue of homosexuality seems to be something that they have unresolved personal conflicts about, and clearly are struggling with,” he added.

Click here for the entire article.

Taking this report along with the previous report on Fr. Unni’s homily at The Tenth Crusade and the NECN video footage of Fr. Unni gives a pretty clear picture of the “pastoral malpractice” going on at St. Cecilia’s. A few examples right off the top of my head:

  • I don’t know which Gospel Fr. Unni is reading or referring to and I’m honestly not sure where in the Gospel Jesus said: those who don’t understand the importance of compassion and inclusion —even of “prostitutes and tax collectors in his time” — “just don’t get it.”  We all know Jesus ate with prostitutes and tax collectors and had compassion on sinners.  Nobody has any problem with welcoming sinners and having compassion on them.  I and every sinner need compassion and mercy.  The issue with Fr. Unni’s preaching and teaching is he never leads people further beyond the welcome to a place where they are called to repentance for their sins and turning away from sin to chastity and the life of holiness that goes along with that.
  • Why the Rainbow ministry?  Unni said he was simply trying to follow Jesus’ message of compassion and caring.  Where’s Jesus message of “go and sin no more”?  Oops, that message has no place with Fr. Unni at St. Cecilia’s. He repeatedly shows himself committing “pastoral malpractice” by failing to utter the words.
  • What about Catholic teaching on other issues of sexuality, like contraception, masturbation, co-habitation, same-sex activity, among other practices the church considers to be sexual sins? Unni said that’s not what Mass is about–it’s only about welcoming everyone. Since when is the purpose of Mass “welcoming everyone”?  You can have a reception in the church hall to “welcome everyone.”  Mass is the same sacrifice as the sacrifice of the cross. According to the Catechism, “The purposes for which the Mass is offered are: first, to adore God as our Creator and Lord; second, to thank God for His many favors; third, to ask God to bestow His blessings on all men; fourth, to satisfy the justice of God for the sins committed against Him. Where and when does Unni talk about issues of sin? When and where does he teach about sexual morality?  Nowhere that anyone can find–not in the bulletin, not in homilies. Nowhere.
  • What’s next for the Rainbow Ministry? Reaching out to Waltham House, a non-religious center for homeless gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) youth ages 14-18. whose approach with gay and lesbian teens has nothing to do with Catholic Church teachings. The Rainbow Ministry is going to go out and talk about why St. Cecilia’s is different from other Catholic churches.  Duh.  That’s the problem–they are different from other Catholic churches–because they don’t teach what the Catholic Church teaches about sexual morality and chastity.
  • Then there’s the quote from Charles Martel, the psychotherapist who worked in favor of “gay marriage” as reported here a few weeks ago. (See Pro-”Gay Marriage” Speakers at Boston Catholic Church). My father used to say to me, always consider the source.  Is someone who worked against the Catholic church on marriage really in any position to judge Catholics bloggers critical of the GLBT ministry and planned Gay Pride Mass at St. Cecilias?

Other than those minor points, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

For all of the public flap and platitudes by Cardinal Sean O’Malley about this scandalous situation, Fr. Unni and the Rainbow Ministry are obviously largely unaffected by the uproar, and are continuing down their merry path. Now that we have a fuller sense for what happened on July 11th, we can again step-up the petition campaign to Rome. I’ll have more on that in the next post.

A great column appeared in last Friday’s edition of The Boston Pilot, written by Fr. Tad Pacholczyk, of the National Catholic Bioethics Center.  For all those who consider themselves “gay,” this should make for a thought-provoking read:

“Gay Genes,” Sexual Attractions, and the Call to Chastity

Father Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Posted: 7/15/2011

People often surmise that same-sex attraction is inborn, and that homosexuals are “naturally gay” or “born that way.” They suppose that if  God made them that way then it must not be a sin to act on their sexual desires. The possibility of a “gay gene” is sometimes offered as a further defense, suggesting that the condition, and its associated behavior, are inevitable and inescapable. One commentator summarized it this way: “Asking someone to stop being homosexual would therefore be equivalent to asking an Asian person to stop being Asian or a left-handed person to stop being left-handed.”

Even if a hypothetical “gay gene” were ever found, all it would likely determine, similar to most genes governing behavior, would be a genetic predisposition towards a particular sexual preference. This would be something very different from the genetic determinism or “hard-wiring” of, say, eye color or blood type. Multiple twin studies have already demonstrated that only about a third of the identical twins of those with same-sex attractions also experience same-sex attractions; whereas if sexual attractions were determined strictly by genes, those with identical genes would be expected to have identical attractions.

Even if we have genes that predispose us towards certain behaviors, we still have a space of freedom within ourselves, and do not have to engage in those behaviors. Our genes may impel us strongly in certain behavioral directions, but they can’t compel us.

This reminds us of one of the fundamental truths about our human nature–namely, that we are not creatures of sexual necessity. We are not compelled to act on our inclinations and urges, but are always free to act otherwise, even directly against the grain of those inclinations. In fact, to be truly free as a human means to have the strength to act against ourselves, so that we do not live in bondage to our own inner impulses and drives, a key consideration that distinguishes us from the animals. Human freedom involves the mastery of those drives by redirecting them and ordering them to higher goals. So while we cannot in any way be held responsible for in-born inclinations, we certainly can be held responsible for how we choose to act in the face of those inclinations.

Sherif Gergis summarizes this idea in a recent article: “We do not pretend to know the genesis of same sex attraction, but we consider it ultimately irrelevant to this debate. On this point, we agree with same sex marriage advocate Professor John Corvino: ‘The fact is that there are plenty of genetically influenced traits that are nevertheless undesirable. Alcoholism may have a genetic basis, but it doesn’t follow that alcoholics ought to drink excessively. Some people may have a genetic predisposition to violence, but they have no more right to attack their neighbors than anyone else. Persons with such tendencies cannot say ‘God made me this way’ as an excuse for acting on their dispositions.'”

Even though God did make each of us in a certain way, it is clear there are other factors that have influence over our personal constitution and inclinations as well, including actual sin and original sin. It is not difficult for us to see, through the turmoil of our own disordered inclinations, how our human condition, our general biology, our psychological depths, and even our DNA, seem to be subject to a fundamental fallenness.

It would not be unexpected or surprising, then, if we eventually discovered predisposing factors (genes, hormones, developmental cues, etc.) that give rise to heterosexual or homosexual inclinations. What is of real moral relevance to the discussion, however, is the universal call to chastity, irrespective of genes and hormones.

Chastity refers to the successful integration of sexuality within the person, and all men and women are called to live chastely in keeping with their particular states of life.

Some will do so by professing a life of consecrated virginity or consecrated celibacy.

Married people will do so by living conjugal chastity, in the exclusive and lifelong gift of husband and wife to each other, avoiding the unchastity of contraceptive sex, and sharing the marital embrace in openness to new life. Professor Robert George speaks of “marriage as a union that takes its distinctive character from being founded, unlike other friendships, on bodily unity of the kind that sometimes generates new life.”

Those who are single will practice chastity in continence, steering away from fornication, masturbation, and pornographic pursuits.

Those who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex are similarly called to
chastity in continence. By refraining from sexual activity with members of the same sex, and engaging in an apprenticeship of self-mastery, they come to acquire, like all who pursue lives of chastity, an abiding inner freedom and peace.

Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Ph.D. earned his doctorate in neuroscience from Yale and did post-doctoral work at Harvard. He is a priest of the diocese of Fall River, MA, and serves as the Director of Education at The National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia. See www.ncbcenter.org.

Here’s the third in Fr. Roger Landry’s exceptional series on the issues that surfaced around St. Cecilia Church in Boston and their scandalous plan for a Mass to celebrate Gay Pride.

We apologize for the delay in editing the petition to the Vatican we thought would be updated by Thursday. Will have that to you all shortly. In the meantime, do share this with other like-minded friends, family members, any priests and pastors you know, and Boston archdiocesan officials.

The Gospel of Chastity

Fr. Roger J. Landry
The Anchor
July 15, 2011

For the last two weeks, we’ve been examining some of the larger issues that have been raised by the controversy over a Mass at St. Cecilia’s in Boston to welcome those who celebrate gay pride. We’ve mentioned that those with same-sex attractions deserve and need the full and authentic pastoral care of the Church. Those who are “gay” — meaning those who celebrate sexual activity and culture based on same-sex attractions —are in even greater need of the full teaching of the Catholic Church, since in addition to the normal need for pastoral accompaniment and assistance in resisting temptations they also are vulnerable to severe attacks against the faith, considering that gay orthodoxy involves the rejection of Biblical and magisterial teaching on sexual morality and marriage, and therefore the denial of the authority of Scripture and of the Church.

Central to the Church’s full and authentic pastoral care of those with same-sex attractions is the assistance to live a chaste life. When mention is made of this call to chastity, some in the gay movement shriek with exasperated incredulity, as if chastity were a death sentence to a loveless life or, worse, some type of medieval castration ceremony executed in subterranean Vatican dungeons. Chastity, however, is the precondition for any real love.

The reason why chastity is often looked at as a curse rather than a cure is because it is not often understood, lived or preached. Even among clergy, religious and catechists, chastity is regularly confused with continence (abstinence from sexual activity) or celibacy (the state of being unmarried). When the Catechism emphasizes that “all Christ’s faithful are called to lead a chaste life in keeping with their particular states of life,” and that “married people are called to live conjugal chastity,” many married couples are left scratching their heads, wondering how they can be both “chaste” and start a family. The reason for the confusion likely stems from the fact that when term “chastity” is most often used, it’s employed in the context of the sexual education of teenagers (who are called to continence in chastity) or in the description of the promises or vows professed by priests and religious (who are called to celibate continence in chastity). The confusion points to the urgency and importance for all in the Church to understand what chastity is and how all the baptized — married couples, singles, priests, religious, those with same-sex attractions and opposite-sex attractions —are called to it no matter what their state of life.

Blessed Pope John Paul II, both prior to and during his papacy, has provided the clearest, deepest, most practical and most enlightening articulation of what the virtue of chastity is. In his 1960 work, “Love and Responsibility,” he wrote that chastity is the moral habit that raises one’s attractions to another to the dignity of that person as a whole. There is a temptation — which we see in lust in general and in pornography in particular — to “reduce” another to the values of the body or, more specifically, to the erogenous zones. There is, moreover, the further temptation to “use” another — either intentionally in one’s mind or physically through his or her body — for one’s own sensual or emotional gratification; many people in our culture consensually use each other sexually in this way. This mutual utilitarianism, however, is not love, but the opposite of love. Harmonious egoisms or reciprocal narcissisms don’t lead to the formation of a loving “we,” but just two even-more-isolated egos. Love, rather, always seeks the true good of the other for the other’s sake. When a person loves genuinely, he is willing to sacrifice his pleasure or even his life for the one loved. Chastity makes this possible, because it is the virtue that trains a person’s vision as well as his will to keep his attraction to the other person up to the level of the person’s true good rather than “consume” the other to satisfy his sexual appetites.

In his papal catecheses on “Human Love in the Divine Plan,” popularly called the Theology of the Body, Pope John Paul II went even further in his teaching on chastity. He described that the virtue of chastity isn’t so much bound principally to the virtue of temperance — the virtue that helps us to master our appetites rather than be mastered by them — but to the virtue of piety. Piety is the habit that helps us to revere others according to their true dignity, according to the image of God in them. St. Paul wrote to husbands and wives, “Be subordinate to each other out of reverence for Christ” (Eph 5:21, calling them to recognize and revere Christ in each other and mutually lay down their lives for each other out of love for the Lord they recognize dwelling in the other. Linked to piety, chastity helps us to see the other as sacred subject instead of a sexual object, to treat the other with reverence rather than randiness.

Blessed Pope John Paul II’s insights help us better to see why all of us in the Church, no matter our state of life, are called to chastity.

Husbands and wives are called to chastity in their marriage. This means that they reverence the other as a sacred gift, raise their attractions to the level of their spouse’s genuine good (including, obviously, the good of the soul) and see the other as created in God’s image, fully accepting the paternal meaning of a man’s masculinity or the maternal meaning of the woman’s femininity, In simple terms, their love is meant to be holy, not horny. Lusting after each other — what Jesus called “adultery in the heart” — is, therefore, a desecration of the other in one’s intentions. Sexual practices that treat one’s spouse as an actor in a pornographic film are likewise totally inconsistent with the love one’s spouse deserves. The use of contraception, which makes sexual pleasure — rather than true openness to God, to the other, and to the life-giving potential of love — the goal of spousal sexual union, corrodes rather than makes love, because using another for one’s own ends is contrary to sacrificing oneself for the other’s true good.

Likewise all those who are unmarried are called to chastity. Pornography, masturbation, fornication, oral sex and other practices are inconsistent with one’s or another’s genuine good, accepting the other in his or her totality, and treating oneself and others with the reverence befitting a temple of the Holy Spirit. Pornography or porno-vision is the opposite of chastity, abstracting a person’s sexual values from the person’s overall good. Fornication takes advantage of another to whom one has not made a total commitment for one’s pleasure. Same-sex activity rejects the meaning of the masculinity or femininity and the natural ordering toward the gift of life. When there’s no real openness to God and to life, when the other is treated as a sexual object rather than a sacred subject, when there’s no commitment to the total person and good of the other, there’s can be no real love in this type of “making love,” whether among people of the same sex or opposite sexes. Symbiotic self-indulgence is light years away from the expression in body language of the one-flesh union of mutual self-gifts brought about by God in the marriage of a man and one woman, which is the only proper moral context for love-making to be truly loving.

Can those with same-sex attractions truly love each other? Absolutely. The Church by no means is condemning those with same-sex attractions to a loveless life; the question is what practices will be consistent with genuine love and the objective good of the people involved. The Church teaches that those of the same-sex can clearly exercise the love of friendship (philia) in which the other becomes like a second self. The Church teaches that they certainly can — and are called to — have true Christian love (agape) toward each other, a willingness to sacrifice themselves and even die to themselves and their pleasures for the other’s true good. But the Church stresses that they need to ensure the romantic attractions (eros)  they have for each other do not damage the one they love by opposing or destroying the love of agape and philia. For this they need chastity, which helps them raise their romantic attractions up to the sacred dignity of the person, which is violated by same-sex sexual activity.

Why is this message of chastity for those with same-sex attractions and everyone else so seldom heard? Some priests seem reluctant to preach the message because, sadly, either they’re not living chastely themselves or they erroneously understand and experience chastity as a deprivation from which they desire to spare others. Many lay people are disinclined to call those with same-sex attractions to chastity because they’re not practicing it either and don’t want to seem hypocritical in calling others to live what they themselves aren’t living. Others, misunderstanding chastity, think that it will relegate those with same-sex attractions to a “loveless life,” rather than provide the conditions for the possibility of any true love through the integration of eros consistent with philia and agape. If, however, we’re ever going to help individuals learn how to love (agape) others as Christ has loved us and assist them to discover a love that saves and leads to true and lasting happiness, we need to rediscover and repropose with enthusiasm the virtue of chastity, and help them to live it.

There is a group called Courage, founded in 1980 by New York Cardinal Terrence Cooke and Father John Harvey, which is dedicated to helping those with same sex attractions live chastely — through prayer and dedication, genuine Christian friendship and fellowship, mutual support and good example. Not only do we need more Courage chapters in every diocese, but the whole Church needs to have the courage and charity to become a worldwide Courage chapter to help those with same-sex attractions (and everyone else) purify and raise erotic attractions to the level of their loved one’s true good — out of reverence for God and for the image of God in others. Anything short of this is not worthy of the Church founded by Christ to lead us to holiness. Anything short of this full proclamation of the Gospel of chastity is not true pastoral care.

Michael Voris at RealCatholicTV just came out with this outstanding video describing the situation at St. Cecilia’s in Boston.

Among the more memorable lines in the video is the following at the beginning:

Is there no end to the insanity in the church these days that is allowed, defended, and even promoted by so many dioceses bishops and chanceries.  Front and center is the horrific scandal and stench emanating from the Archdiocese of Boston.

The petition to Rome is being updated this evening. Anyone who signed previously should come back on Thursday to sign the new one, and if you haven’t signed previously, please do sign it Thursday.