VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The Vatican’s second-highest ranking doctrinal official on Monday forcefully branded homosexual marriage an evil and denounced abortion and euthanasia as forms of “terrorism with a human face.”
Okay, so where is the controversy? Everyone knows what the Catholic Church thinks about such things, and what is more, it is the objective truth. Any homosexual parody of marriage is a sinful offense to God and a corruption of human dignity. Both abortion and so-called mercy-killing or assisted suicide are forms of murder. We have lost a few thousand troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and several thousand victims from the 9-11 attack. However, abortion alone takes the lives of 4,000 people in the United States every day, as many as a million-and-a half children a year. I would also call that terrorism, and the face is our own.
The attack by Archbishop Angelo Amato, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was the latest in a string of speeches made by either Pope Benedict or other Vatican officials as Italy considers giving more rights to gays. In an address to chaplains, Amato said newspapers and television bulletins often seemed like “a perverse film about evil.” He denounced “evils that remain almost invisible” because the media presented them as “expression of human progress.”
What the Archbishop means is that it is almost unbelievable that our society could have reached this state of affairs. The accepted values we shared have been placed on their head and those things reckoned as the most sinful and debased are reckoned as rights and practices of a more enlightened, secular people. Natural law becomes, not something objective that can be rationally construed, but merely a capricious mental exercise where if we judge an act acceptable, it becomes so. God is no longer seen as the author of nature and right or wrong; rather, man with his imagination and will becomes fully his own master. This new approach requires a great deal of self-deception and is an escape from any genuine realism. At its heart is a rebellion against the divine and a worship of man, and not any man, but of fallen Adam without recourse to redemption. It may be a type of atheism for certain critics; and yet others, seek dominion over the divine paradigm itself, recasting for themselves a wimpish, tolerant, non-confrontative God who can be redefined whenever necessary to excuse human depravity.
When they want to attack priestly celibacy and chastity in general, these new authorities speak of a Jesus who was secretly married to Mary Magdalene. When they want to discount St. Paul’s admonitions against sodomy, they allude to a homosexual relationship between Jesus and the “beloved” apostle. It does not matter that none of it is true. Truth is relative and models for Christ and our behavior can be adopted brand new or discarded at will.
The Church stands for such people as the ultimate enemy. While doctrine might develop, the deposit of truth is not open to reversal or dismissal. What is right or wrong is not subject to human manipulation or invention. The moral life is for the Christian, something attained by discernment and listening and finally obedience. Divine positive law, the commandments, retain their authority. Natural law is written upon our flesh, and introspection brings us to a quick comprehension.
There is an infinite distance between existence and non-existence. Life is better than death. The marital act is that act which can result in the creation of a new human being. What can possibly compare to the creation of a person with an immortal soul and an eternal destiny?
Jesus asks us to take up our crosses and to follow him. Euthanasia is not the answer. Adding our sufferings to the passion of Christ for the salvation of souls– this is what we are to be about.
He listed these as abortion clinics, which he called “slaughterhouses of human beings,” euthanasia, and “parliaments of so-called civilized nations where laws contrary to the nature of the human being are being promulgated, such as the approval of marriage between people of the same sex …”
I wish all our bishops and priests were just as clear and forceful in speaking on behalf of human life and sexual morality. Often clerics say the right words but are seemingly unwilling to take the hard steps that would back up their statements. In the United States, the matter of giving holy communion to pro-abortion politicians is still a volatile issue. Several years ago this topic was brought before the local Presbyteral Council. We voted on what recourse to recommend to the Cardinal and the vote was 24 to 1. I was the “1” who argued against giving holy communion to the political enablers and supporters for baby-killing. I argued afterwards that I wanted the minutes to show my dissent from their passivity. I said that I did not want to be counted among them when historians looked back to our day and wondered about our hardness of hearts. Further, I argued that if Adolf Hitler and other Nazis, who never personally killed any Jews but set policies and laws in place that caused such a holocaust, came up for communion…would they give it to them? If white supremacists, who never personally killed blacks, but supported with money and politics those who lynched African Americans…would they give them holy communion? What is the difference, I asked? There was only silence. They knew that the only difference was that the unborn were invisible and silent, and given that they were human beings just like the Jews and the blacks, there really was NO DIFFERENCE. When the minutes came out for the meeting, the entire vote and my remarks were expunged like it never happened.
Do not get me wrong, everyone there opposed abortion. The difference was regarding strategy in opposing it. What I sought was judged too extreme. I suppose there was a fear that if we alienated politicians, dialogue would end and they would not be open to assisting us on other matters important to the Catholic community. Maybe they were right? Maybe I am just a hot-headed priest who gets too emotional about such things? Maybe my fault is a lack of patience and not being a good enough team player? I know that I can be crass and crude while other men are diplomatic and polished. “What are we going to do with Father Jenkins?” I know from hearsay, this question has been asked. As one friend said to me, “Joe, don’t you have any ambition? Wouldn’t you like a bigger parish or be a Monsignor like your priest-heroes in the archdiocese?” Why do I say things that can be so upsetting? I am somewhat at a loss to explain. Out of the thousands of priests, only a few even have public blogs. Why do I feel that discussion about such things should be frank and open and honest? I guess that is just me, although I am tiring of debates as the years fly by. While every man will be judged according to his own conscience and his obedience in faith, I know that “for me to be silent” on matters of great importance would invite judgment and maybe perdition.
[It should be added that I regard both professional secrecy and the seal of Confession as cases where a priest must keep an absolute silence, and this means not to reveal anything through either verbal or non-verbal communication. It would be better for God to strike a priest dead before even the revelation of the smallest venial sin.]
My view of the Church is that we should dispel as much ambiguity as possible and speak the truths of Christ without apology or equivocation. I also speak from the heart. Most priests I know are saintly men. All the bishops I have known were truly holy and good. I love them, pray for them daily and obey them (just as I promised at my ordination). I go where I am sent and do what I am told I must do. But there are questions, as with the issue of holy communion and public advocates and politicians in favor of abortion, where I grieve in conscience and cannot resolve a basic contradiction in our practice…one that eats at my soul.
I believe that priests must respect and obey their bishops.
But to this very day, I suffer in conscience about this situation which permeates most of the United States.
I weep while at prayer, and wonder if anyone really cares.
Amato…accused the [secular] media of using language “to hide the tragic reality of the facts.”
“For example, abortion is called ‘voluntary interruption of pregnancy’ and not the killing of a defenseless human being, an abortion clinic is given a harmless, even attractive, name: ‘centre for reproductive health’ and euthanasia is blandly called ‘death with dignity’.”
Ah, talk about shades of 1984 and the double-speak that was used to cover-up the truth about things. Just off the top of my head, and from various discussions over the years, here are a few more samples:
- Abortion = Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy
- Abortion Clinic (Abortuary) = Reproductive Health Center
- Baby = Fetus, Embryo, Subject for Termination
- Cohabitation = Living Together
- Contraception = Reproductive Health, Sustainable Family Growth, Safe Sex
- Euthanasia = Mercy Killing, Death with Dignity
- Fornication = Premarital Sex, Heterosexual Dating, Making Out
- Partial Birth Abortion (Infanticide) = Dilation & Extraction Procedure
- Pro-Abortion = Pro-Choice
- Pro-Life = Anti-Choice, Anti-Abortion
- Rejection of Homosexuality = Homophobia
- Sodomy (Deviant Sexual Intercourse) = Gay Dating
- Homosexual Civil Unions = Gay Marriage