The Boston Globe reported today that the Archdiocese of Boston,” in response to criticism it was sanctioning a celebration of Gay Pride month,” announced yesterday that it had ordered St. Cecilia in Boston to cancel a Mass scheduled for next weekend that was themed, “All are Welcome.’’
Predictably, the decision “outraged members of the lesbian and gay community.” Here are excerpts from the article:
“I think that’s horrible, just horrible, that they would cancel,’’ said Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, an organization that advocates for participation of gays in the Catholic Church. “What an abuse of authority. I wish I could be surprised, but I’m definitely appalled.’’
In its most recent bulletin, St. Cecilia Parish said that it had planned a “liturgy to commemorate Boston Pride 2011’’ for later this month.
“The Rainbow Ministry of St. Cecilia Parish invites all friends and supporters of the LGBT community to a Mass in celebration of Boston’s Pride Month,’’ the bulletin said. “The theme of the liturgy, ‘All Are Welcome,’ honors Christ’s message of hope and salvation to all people. We will also celebrate the diverse community that finds its home at St. Cecilia.’’
But after protests from conservative church members, the archdiocese intervened.
“The wording and placement of a bulletin notice announcing that the St. Cecilia Rainbow Ministry will be joining the parish at a Mass on June 19 may have given the unintended impression that the Mass is in support of Gay Pride Week; it is not,’’ said Terrence C. Donilon, a spokesman for the archdiocese. “The pastor will clarify this issue at the Masses this coming weekend.’’
Donilon declined to answer questions about the apparent contradiction of the church’s bulletin and his statement. He said, however, that there would be a Mass in the future to welcome the community, but not specifically gays and lesbians.
Let’s pause here for a sec. The statement from Terry Donilon, representing the archdiocese doesn’t align with reality. Even the Globe pointed it out. The Bulletin says the intention was a Mass “in celebration of Gay Pride” and Terry says it gave the unintended impression it was in support of Gay Pride. Is Terry parsing words to say the listing technically gave the unintended impression the Mass was in support of Gay Pride WEEK, when in reality it was in support of Gay Pride MONTH? Why should this Mass be postponed to another date to welcome the “entire community” when that happens already every Sunday at the regular Masses? It makes no sense. The article continues:
Burke of DignityUSA called on the parish community to “resist the calls for canceling’’ and possibly move the event to a different location. “What kind of message does this send to the gays and lesbians in that parish?’’ she asked.
Susan Donnelly, a member of the parish council of St. Cecilia Parish, said the scheduled Mass had not sparked controversy at St. Cecilia’s. She said the criticism has come from outside.
“I find it hard to believe that Christians don’t believe the great variety of people as God made them is a lovely thing,’’ she said. “Nobody’s trying to celebrate people living in denial of what the church is teaching; it’s more we’re trying to celebrate the people who sit next to you in the pew. There’s no agenda other than that.’’
She added: “We have all kinds of people at our church. We have straight people and gay people, rich people and poor people, white people and people of color, old people and young people. We’re a community, a big tent.’’
As best as this blogger understands it, “Gay Pride” is the concept that people who self-identify themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender should be proud of their self-identified sexual orientation and gender identity. Gay Pride events celebrate people living that identity and a lifestyle that includes homosexual activity. See below for a picture from the Boston Pride website:
I told the Globe, “Celebrating a ‘Gay Pride’ Mass isn’t expressing the moral teachings of the church with clarity and fidelity or telling people their behavior is unacceptable — it’s telling them their behavior is just fine. I also said in a previous post that Cardinal O’Malley should put the pastor on leave. Better put, he should not be serving as pastor of a church anywhere. The diocesan response:
Donilon said that would not happen. “Father Unni has the full confidence and support of the Cardinal and the archdiocese,’’ Donilon wrote in an e-mail. “He is a great pastor.’’
In response to media inquiries, today this blogger issued the following statement to one reporter:
I think the plan to celebrate such a Mass targeted specifically at those who identify themselves as “GLBT” was inappropriate, and am pleased to see it was canceled.
If someone believes what the Catholic Church believes, then you believe marriage is between a man and a woman, and sex outside of that heterosexual marriage is not acceptable. That’s what we believe. (As a Catholic, I don’t go around telling orthodox Jews or Muslims what they should believe or what practices of theirs I disagree with. If I disagree with one of their beliefs or practices, I keep that to myself as they are free to practice their religion as they wish). So, why is it that people who apparently cannot accept the Catholic Church’s teachings in this area feel so entitled to weigh in and tell Catholics we are wrong? Do they do that with other faiths, or just this one?
As we all know, the Catholic Church welcomes, loves, and accepts those with same-sex attractions (or homosexual inclinations) and the Catholic church also calls them to not engage in sex outside of a heterosexual marriage, just as heterosexuals are called to the same chastity outside of marriage. Same treatment for all. A ministry, Courage, exists especially to support and offer fellowship for those struggling with same-sex attractions. They are encouraged to live a chaste life. (See www.couragerc.net). Their home page says, “By developing an interior life of chastity, which is the universal call to all Christians, one can move beyond the confines of the homosexual identity to a more complete one in Christ.” Why wouldn’t this be a part of the focus of such a Mass at St. Cecilia, rather than one celebrating “Gay Pride?”
The message from Terry Donilon is almost impossible not to call a lie. One look at the parish bulletin makes it evident St. Cecilia was promoting this as a “Gay Pride” Mass. The archdiocese needs to call it what it is and go from there. Trying to pretend that’s not what it was has only made matters worse.
To those who are objecting to this post and to the cancellation of the “Gay Pride” Mass, nobody on this blog is saying that those with homosexual attractions should not be welcomed fully by the Catholic church. But if you act on those attractions, that is against the word of God.
Before you comment further, I urge you to check out the website of Courage Ministry.
Also read Cardinal O’Malley’s 2006 pastoral letter on homosexuality found here.
If the promotion of the St. Cecilia Mass had expressed they were welcoming and supporting people with homosexual attractions to live a chaste life consistent with the word of God, (as Courage has as its purpose), there would be no objection. If those who support this Mass wish to invite Courage to sponsor such a Mass and gathering, we will be delighted to promote such an event.
In Cardinal O’Malley’s letter, at the same time he urges everyone to have compassion on homosexuals and treat everyone with dignity, he reinforces the Church’s teachings in this area.
Do you believe that sex outside of a heterosexual marriage is a sin? Do you want to live a life of virtue?
Cardinal O’Malley tells us that “If we tell people that sex outside of marriage is not a sin, we are deceiving people. If they believe this untruth, a life of virtue becomes all but impossible. Jesus teaches that discipleship implies taking up the cross each day and following Him with love and courage.”
Do you believe homosexual behavior should be accepted and encouraged by the Catholic Church, or discouraged?
Cardinal O’Malley says, “Calling people to embrace the cross of discipleship, to live the commandments and at the same time assuring them that we love them as brothers and sisters can be difficult. 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.”
For all those objecting to this post, would you accept and embrace a Catholic Mass sponsored by Courage that encouraged members of the “GLBT” community to live a chaste life and abandon the “gay” lifestyle? If you wish to live consistent with the word of God and the Catholic faith, why is a Mass by Courage not something you would enthusiastically embrace?