The Continuing Crisis: Particular Battles

01-21-2024Weekly ReflectionFr. Leonard F. Villa

There is and has been a continuing crisis in the Church of long duration. Bishop Fulton Sheen predicted years ago a future destructive anti-church or counter church. More on that in a future essay. The crisis involves those, who no longer believe the doctrinal and moral teachings of the Catholic Church, while claiming to be Catholic; and the effort within the Church to conform her morality and teaching to the world’s agendas especially in the area of marriage and sexuality. The crisis involves the metastasis of a false teaching called modernism condemned by St. Pius X in the early part of last century.

The heresy never really died. It went underground to explode and expand in the turbulent years, after the Second Vatican Council, where the Church let her guard down, based on the misguided notion that mercy and pastoral means avoiding rooting out and correcting doctrinal/moral false teachings and protecting the Church from heretics. A central tenet of modernism is that the Church doctrine does not convey real knowledge about God and ultimate reality beyond the grave. Her doctrines are merely symbols of human religious expression and therefore doctrine is relative and may be adapted or rejected to suit future historical circumstances. Religion in this heresy is viewed as an expression of human aspirations. Battle fronts tend to concentrate on the moral teachings of the Church especially in the area of human sexuality. Here the notion of sexual relations having an inherent connection to pro-creation and children was rejected in favor of contraceptive sex and the Planned Parenthood mentality. This mentality regarded fertility and children as having no real connection to human sexuality and thus to be regarded as something to be protected against by the use of contraceptives and/or abortion. The Church insists that fertility and pro-creation are inherently part of human nature and sexuality as created by God and cannot simply be X’ed out without causing harm to human nature, the human being, and society.

In the sexual revolution, pro-creation is simply something to be controlled/eliminated, so that all forms of sexual expression and marriage can be supported, adapted, and changed according to circumstances. Thus the LGBTQ etc ideology sought first to legitimize homosexual behavior, unions, and “marriage,” and then to justify gender-ideology and various other sexualities based on subjective outlooks: “I think it, therefore it is, and you have to accept it.” Another battlefront is the issue of blessing homosexual and/or irregular couples. Unfortunately the Holy See went from a clear “no” to “you can” but nothing has changed in the Church’s teachings! This latter response has been rejected by many bishops and bishops’ conferences and individual clergy and laity as causing massive confusion and is contrary to Church teaching, and accepted by others as being faithful to that teaching, because positive things are being blessed in the “couples” and not the sinful behavior and by making a distinction between liturgical blessings, which can NOT be bestowed and a quick, dare I say, “off the cuff” blessings given quickly, which is ok. Many bishops pointed out only the individual can be blessed not a couple. There is something else going on here. There is the attempt to accommodate the LGBTQ etc ideology based notions of pastorality and inclusion, making “inclusion” a part of Catholic teaching as a doctrinal category. It is not. It is a category from the political world of ideology.

The false dynamic goes like this: the Church is a large tent from which no one is excluded. The association with being excluded is then interpreted as being unloved. God loves everyone and does not want anyone to feel unloved therefore God is in favor of this radical inclusion so language about Hell and judgment and mortal sin must be submerged because God’s inclusive love takes precedence over all of this. This process is then applied to all the Church’s doctrine and moral teachings. The categories of holiness and sin are replaced with inclusion and alienation. (See Gavin Ashenden God does love everyone but not what everyone does. Inclusion in God’s love means keeping His Commandments. Self-exclusion means rejecting His teachings and commandments and not avoiding what alienates the person from God which is sin. The greatest catastrophe for the believer is mortal sin because it casts out the very Presence of God in the person, first bestowed in baptism. The recent Vatican document says that the same standard for receiving the sacraments, being in a state of grace, without mortal sin, should not be the standard in simply bestowing a blessing. This leads to the question, what’s the purpose of blessing the homosexual-couple, or other unions, which depart from obeying the 6th and 9th commandments concerning God’s own order of sexuality?? In discussion of love and homosexual unions there is a confusion, between the love which belongs to friendship, which can be same-sex, where the friend is like a second-self, and the specific love which belongs to a man and a woman God in creating human nature and the order of creation and sexuality sets out its parameters. It is the rejection of those parameters or the claim to be able to alter them by political power that cannot be embraced by Catholic teaching, without being unfaithful and departing from the Catholic Faith. So what’s being blessed when a homosexual-couple seeks a blessing or a priest/deacon engineers such a blessing? The notion of couple denotes a sexual component as opposed to roommates or friends. Is grace then being asked to stop the sexual sin in the relationship and change the behavior? Really how can such a couple qua couple be blessed without the impression, that they are being confirmed in the sinful behavior? Two Jesuits show us a sample of what’s involved here, Fr. James Martin and Fr. Paul Mankowski, of happy memory:

Fr Mankowski: Fr. Martin describes his project as that of reflecting “on both the church’s outreach to the LGBT community and the LGBT community’s outreach to the church.” From the outset the encounter is framed in political rather than pastoral terms. The term “community” in the phrase “LGBT community” is borrowed from the civil rights movement of the 1960s, and in its present employment the word corresponds to no discernible social reality. One does not find among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people—taken as a collectivity—distinctive commonalities of religion, nativity, culture, recreation, or fellowship. Their shared interests are political; they are aggregated not as a true community but as something like a caucus. It is noteworthy that Fr. Martin voices his wish that his readers understand the LGBT acronym expansively as LGBTQA—that is, to include “questioning or queer, and allies.” The word “ally,” designating not sexual appetite but political allegiance, gives the game away. The truth is that the Church, as Church, has no pastoral interest in the LGBT bloc apart from her concern that those who compose it be protected from sin contemplated and rescued from sin committed—precisely the same concern she shows for everybody else. That is to say, the Church is concerned with the prospect of salvation and damnation, and persons with a propensity for a particular sin engage her pastoral solicitude in the degree that the sin is grave and the propensity stubborn. She wants us to get to heaven. With this duty in view, the Catholic Church teaches that sexual relations are the exclusive privilege of married love—and that between a man and a woman. The sexual revolution not only rejects this doctrine but is violently disdainful of it, and the cultural and political triumphs of that revolution have made defense of the teaching increasingly costly.

Fr. Martin: Fr. Mankowski believes that the LGBT community is not a “true community.” Imagine saying that about any other group in the Church. Also, he says, its goals are purely “political.” Such claims, if anything, show why LGBT Catholics feel so marginalized. What the LGBT Catholic community desires most is not any political outcome but something more essential: God. They want to experience God’s love, they want to serve Jesus, and they want to feel at home in their own Church. The reviewer also states that the Church has “no pastoral interest” in LGBT people, other than telling them they are sinners. This is a deeply un-Christian claim, especially when we consider how Jesus treated people who were on the margins: by welcoming them first. Unfortunately, Fr. Mankowski’s is the only message that LGBT people usually hear from their Church: They are sinners. No other community of Catholics—though we are all sinners—is treated so…. Rather than focus on areas where the Church and the LGBT Catholic community are still miles apart, I preferred to focus on possible areas of commonality. Building a Bridge (Fr Martin’s book) is an invitation not only to dialogue but also to prayer—though this was apparently lost on Fr. Mankowski, who entirely ignores the second half of the book, the invitation to prayer. It baffles me that a reviewer would neglect the book’s most substantive part. Is prayer less important than dialogue? Is the Holy Spirit not active in the lives of LGBT people? Or perhaps the reviewer in this case is worried—worried that we might have something to learn from the prayer of a community that has been for too long marginalized, excluded, and despised.

Fr Mankowski: I’m not buying Fr. Martin’s suggestion that the LGBT movement isn’t hostile to the Church. Whereas many of us know individual gays who are social conservatives, every LGBT organization without exception backs the sexual revolution in the culture wars. ….The LGBT ruse of presenting the caucus as a “community” is itself ideologically motivated, and I decline to play along. Further, I deny the name of Catholic to persons who associate with the Church on the understanding that her doctrine— any doctrine—will be repudiated…Go here for the full exchange: fexminimus and Some final comments: Contrary to Fr Martin, not every person who experiences homosexual inclination identifies LGBTQ etc because it is a political ideology. There is outreach to such persons that is not the caricature that Fr Martin describes that they hear only they are sinners and that’s it. There is a whole pastoral outreach called Courage, which Fr Martin, I don’t think ever mentions, which tries to assist such persons in living a Catholic life, and being part of the Church. Courage is not a political ideology. Courage does not reject the Church’s teachings. The Holy Spirit reaches out to all people to come to the truth and abandon any behavior which alienates them from God so as to draw them away from sin. There is no pastorality or mercy without the truth. The LGBTQ etc movement is a dead-end because it rejects the teaching of the Church on sexuality and marriage as a foundational part of the ideology. Part of the exchange between Fr Martin and Fr Mankowski, not cited, was the obligation for Fr Martin in his book on Building a Bridge to state Catholic teaching. At ordination every priest makes this promise: to exercise the ministry of the word worthily and wisely, to preach the Gospel and teach the Catholic faith.