[Using the language of Pope Francis] Bishop John Stowe of Lexington compares critics to “the pharisees and the scribes”
by Christine Niles, M.St. (Oxon.), J.D. • ChurchMilitant • December 21, 2016
A Kentucky bishop is justifying his invitation to speak at a pro-gay symposium by dismissing critics as “pharisees” — including Church Militant.
On December 5, Church Militant reported that Bp. John Stowe of Lexington would be participating in a conference sponsored by New Ways Ministry, a group that publicly promotes same-sex “marriage,” refuses to teach chastity, instead claiming gay sex is a gift, and promotes transgender ideology.
New Ways Ministry has a long history of defiance toward the Church …
In spite of knowing this history, Bp. Stowe accepted the invitation to speak at New Ways Ministry’s symposium, titled, “Justice and Mercy Shall Kiss: LGBT Catholics in the Age of Pope Francis,” being held April 28–30, 2017 in Chicago.
Stowe used a recent episode of the Mike Allen Radio Show to respond specifically to Church Militant’s report, justifying his scandalous participation in the symposium as an act of “mercy” while denouncing faithful Catholics troubled by his actions as “self-appointed watchdogs of orthodoxy” akin to “the pharisees and the scribes that Jesus is frequently arguing with in the gospel who are quick to point their fingers at others and quick to lay burdens on them without themselves offering a finger to lift their load.”
He explicitly acknowledged the dissident history of New Ways, admitting it’s a “controversial ministry,” but rationalized his public association by holding up Pope Francis’ more “pastoral” example.
“[It] would be irresponsible not to accept an invitation,” Stowe claimed.
“I think Pope Francis has signaled that we need to take another look at those things,” he averred — in spite of the fact that the Holy Father has flatly rejected the possibility of same-sex “marriage.”
Bishop Stowe took the opportunity on the radio show to criticize the language of the Church in describing homosexual acts as “intrinsically disordered.”
“I think it’s fair to say that the language is not helpful,” he said. “We live in an age of sound bites, and to hear just that phrase is tantamount to hearing an outright rejection.”
“That can’t be the message of the gospel,” he insisted. “That was not Jesus’ approach.”
He put forth the possibility that Church doctrine could change with regard to homosexuality, bringing up the example of Her evolving teaching on usury and slavery.
“Change does come over a long period of time in the way that the Church approaches a number of issues,” he said. “We cannot hide ourselves by excluding ourselves from scientific research and from the development of human knowledge.”
“I think the area where we can grow in understanding,” he continued later, “is the area of … whether homosexuality is a question of nature or nurture.”
Bishop Stowe’s public association with New Ways Ministry presents precisely this danger: misleading souls on this clear point of Catholic teaching. Unless Bp. Stowe is willing to offer Church teaching with the clarity of a true pastor of souls — one as concerned for his flock’s eternal welfare as for their temporal welfare — then there is nothing truly “pastoral” or “merciful” about his approach, which has the danger of confirming homosexuals in their sin, not turning them away from it.