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.
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.