Archive for the ‘St Cecilia Boston’ Category

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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