by Christopher A. Ferrara
February 1, 2017
The articulate and highly telegenic Bishop Robert Barron, made an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles by Pope Francis, is representative of a new clerical style that has arisen within the unprecedented post-Vatican II division of the human element of the Church (not the Church per se) into traditionalist, “conservative” and liberal branches — a development roughly parallel to the division of Judaism into Orthodox, Conservative and Reform branches.
Before Vatican II every orthodox Catholic priest was a “traditionalist” by today’s liberalized standard: he offered Mass the way the Church had always offered it — in Latin — and taught what the Church had always taught on matters of faith and morals, including the mortally sinful nature of those violations of the Sixth Commandment which, as Our Lady of Fatima warned, cause more souls to be damned than any other sins.
Today’s “conservative” priest, however, is a different breed. His basic orthodoxy tends to be tainted by the tincture of compromise with the spirit of the age on one point or another. This development is in keeping with the famous admonition of Dietrich von Hildebrand that “the poison of our epoch is slowly seeping into the Church herself, and many have failed to see the apocalyptic decline of our time.” (The Devastated Vineyard, p. 75)
Sad to say, Bishop Barron appears to be a victim — a serious victim — of that seepage. Appearing on the YouTube talk show of one Dave Rubin, a “gay conservative” commentator of some renown whose show is broadcast from his home, Barron knew he would be confronted by a man who purports to be “married” to another man. It was, therefore, Barron’s duty as a successor of the Apostles to defend the Church’s teaching on the abominable evil of sodomy and to oppose any attempt to legalize “homosexual unions.” As the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) declared during the reign of John Paul II in 2003:
There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law…. Under no circumstances can they be approved….
Sacred Scripture condemns homosexual acts as a serious depravity… homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. This same moral judgment is found in many Christian writers of the first centuries and is unanimously accepted by Catholic Tradition….
In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty….
When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic law-maker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favour of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral….
When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is already in force, the Catholic politician must oppose it in the ways that are possible for him and make his opposition known; it is his duty to witness to the truth. If it is not possible to repeal such a law completely, the Catholic politician… could licitly support… at least the partial repeal of an unjust law when its total abrogation is not possible at the moment. [internal quotations and citations omitted]
Homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered, depraved and gravely sinful. Purported “unions” based on such acts are immoral and must be opposed; and if laws legalizing such unions are enacted their implementation must be resisted and their repeal sought.
That is the teaching Bishop Barron was called to defend on this occasion, just as it was defended by the very Pope that Barron has called “John Paul the Great.” He was called to defend it precisely out of charity for the sinner caught up in this fatal vice, whom the Church does not hate, as her lying critics claim, but rather seeks to liberate from the slavery of sin and lead to eternal felicity in Heaven through the embrace of that divine love which declares: “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”
But when Rubin, flashing his “wedding” ring, said: “I’m ‘gay-married’” on camera, Barron — who had begun well enough in discussing the evil of abortion — proceeded to cave in completely as to the evil of sodomy: “If the only thing a gay person hears from the Catholic Church is you’re ‘intrinsically disordered’ we have a very serious problem on our hands…. The first thing a gay person, like any person should hear, [is] you are a beloved child of God.”
Out of mere human respect — the wish not to offend Rubin by presenting an unvarnished truth of the Faith — Barron not only belittled the Church’s teaching on the intrinsic disorder of homosexuality, depicting that teaching as harsh, insensitive and cruel, but also falsely declared that a “gay person” who habitually engages in sodomy is a “beloved child of God.”
Please! First of all, Barron surely knows that the term “child of God” is traditionally reserved in Catholic theology only to the baptized, and certainly not to unbaptized people (like Rubin) who habitually engage in sodomy, one of the four sins that cry out to Heaven for vengeance, while purporting to be married to members of the same sex. Indeed, as any traditionally catechized child knows, it is precisely by Baptism that fallen men are elevated from their condition, cleansed of Original Sin, and made “children of God, and heirs to the kingdom of Heaven.” Even the new Catechism promulgated by John Paul II refers to the “new birth in Baptism” by which men are “freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God, to which all men are called…”
Further ingratiating himself with Rubin at the Church’s expense, Barron, citing Pope Francis (naturally) as his sole authority, added: “If that’s the way our message was coming out, we were ‘disordered.’ We had a problem there in the way that message was being conveyed.”
That’s right: Barron, speaking to the whole world via the Internet, accused the infallible Magisterium, including the above-cited teaching of John Paul II in line with all of Tradition, of being disordered in its condemnation of sodomy — a condemnation rooted in the divine and natural law that Barron reduced to a mere “message.” And this he said to mollify someone whose “marriage” involves the continual commission of the sin of Sodom.
But it gets worse. Barron went on to minimize the sin of Sodom by speaking of “the Church’s take” on sodomy, as if this were a mere matter of opinion rather than divine and natural law binding on all men. According to Barron, “the Church’s take” is that sodomy represents “falling short” of “a fully integrated, properly expressed form of sexuality,” which he described as “that ideal.” Sodomy, he continued, is merely an “imperfection” and a “failure fully to integrate the meaning of sexuality.”
Continuing with this truly craven soft-pedaling of a most grave evil that imperils Rubin’s immortal soul, Barron added:
“You see, in a certain way I wouldn’t want to press it further than that. That’s the Church’s job: to say No to what it perceives [!] to be an inadequate, an incomplete integration of the sexual act. So, not just gay marriage, but now go across the board. Anything that falls short of that ideal the Church would say No to. Why? Because it’s [the Church] down on people, it’s Puritanical, it hates sex? No! It’s keeping its bar high and calling people always to that bar. As we all fall short of it, the Church offers, at its best, the lavish mercy of God.”
Having been told that his objectively grave sin was nothing more than the lack of “a fully integrated, properly expressed form of sexuality” that falls short of “the bar” (i.e., a mere ideal), like everyone else does in one way or another, Rubin replied: “I am not a member of the Church” but that he had “no problem” if the Church wanted to have “that bar” for its members. Barron remained silent on the point, implicitly conceding by his silence that “the Church’s take” on the divine and natural law does not bind Rubin.
Finally, asked for his personal opinion on whether he thinks the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision (imposing “gay marriage” on all fifty states) should be overturned, Barron continued to quail, conceding that his “personal opinion” is that the decision is wrong but that “I would not press it much further,” meaning argue for its reversal. In support of this capitulation he cited what he called “the Aquinas principle” — apparently referring to Saint Thomas’ teaching that the law ought not to punish every vice.
Utter nonsense, and a grotesque abuse of Saint Thomas, who would never countenance passive acceptance of the positive civil enactment of gravely immoral laws — laws condemned by the Church as recently as 2003 in a document that calls for conscientious resistance to those very laws!
Continuing to placate Rubin, Barron concluded by stating that while he wouldn’t say “That’s great, off you go!” to people in “gay marriages,” meaning fully condone them, “at the same time I wouldn’t want to get onto, you know, a Crusader’s tank, and try to reverse that [Obergefell].” Yet again Barron belittled a defense of Church teaching as the province of the bellicose, the insensitive and the intolerant.
And so, in essence, Bishop Barron simply agreed to the mainstreaming of sodomy in America, even if it “falls short” of the “ideal” of “a fully integrated, properly expressed form of sexuality.” Not a whimper of protest, not a hint that Rubin’s soul is in peril. Not even a mention of the concept of sin.
Poor Rubin: in need of bread, Barron handed him a stone; in need of a fish, Rubin received a scorpion (cf. Luke 11:11) from this celebrity of “the New Evangelization.” No wonder the Church is losing the culture war. The salt, having lost its savor, is being trampled underfoot. (Cf. Matthew 5:13)
Our Lady of Fatima, rescue your Church from the curse of insipidity!