From Street to Sanctuary: The LGBTQUEER Take On the Church

From Street to Sanctuary: The LGBTQUEER Take On the Church

JUNE 12, 2017 BY FR. REGIS SCANLON, OFMCAP

The “Lesbian-Gay-Bi-Trans” movement (hereafter, LGBT) has largely succeeded in becoming fully accepted into the secular society worldwide. Now it’s clear that this movement—composed of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and the trans-gendered—is setting its sights on the Roman Catholic Church. Members of the LGBT movement want to be accepted as fully Catholic and wholly Christian, without any admittance that the two ways of life—LGBT principles and an authentically Catholic life—may be mutually exclusive. They seek the Church’s approval of their lifestyle, even though most members of the LGBT movement reject the Church’s teaching on celibacy for single life outside of a “one man-one woman” marriage. What’s more, the acceptance of the movement has become a real possibility, given the reactions of a growing number of bishops and theologians in recent years.

The seeds of this acceptance go back a long way. I recall working with young college students some years ago when some leading LGBT members first attacked the local bishop for defending the Church’s teaching that homosexual acts are intrinsically evil. They did this by taking out full page ads in the local newspaper. The Catholic students were outraged, and collected money for a full-page ad in the newspaper to defend the bishop’s stand on the immorality of homosexual activity.

Then the diocese got wind of what we were doing. I was asked to have the students stand down. The reason was that the diocese did not want to be involved in a street fight between LGBT members and the Church. We failed, then, to engage in a street fight over moral values, which means that today, the Church could very well be facing a sanctuary fight over these same moral issues. Given the track record on the LGBT’s tolerance for people who do not agree with them, if the movement does manage to become accepted by the Catholic Church, the question will then be: How will the LGBT react to the reading of scriptural passages from St. Paul which condemn sodomy and adultery?

They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. Therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God handed them over to their undiscerning mind to do what is improper. They are filled with every form of wickedness, evil, greed, and malice; full of envy, murder, rivalry, treachery, and spite. They are gossips and scandalmongers and they hate God. They are insolent, haughty, boastful, ingenious in their wickedness, and rebellious toward their parents. They are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know the just decree of God that all who practice such things deserve death, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them (Rom 1:25-32)…
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Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. That is what some of you used to be; but now you have had yourselves washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God (1 Cor 6:9-11).

Is it naïve to think that one day we shall face legal action against having such texts proclaimed publicly? How will legal proceedings unfold when those who espouse a homosexual lifestyle are denied Church weddings? And, so, the larger questions become: Whose scriptures? Whose Church? The Christians or the LGBT?

These are obviously very serious matters—at least to faithful Catholics—which must be carefully examined before the Church can extend true acceptance, counsel, and mercy to members of this movement. Yes, we all stand in need of wisdom, of love, and of pastoral care. But authentic mercy does good to all, and not just to one group or person at the expense of others. So, let’s examine what mercy should mean in this case.

For the sake of this discussion, let’s agree that the LGBT movement, and its followers, are those who actively promote and politicize the acceptance of alternate sexual life styles, including what the Bible unpolitically-incorrectly calls “sodomy.”1 This is not meant to be an inflammatory categorization, it’s only meant to define the parameters of this discussion. To begin, I think we can all agree that the goals and intentions of the LGBT movement are well-known because of LGBT’s aggressive methods of promoting freedom for same-sex life styles. These methods, expressed, for example, in gay pride parades, and other entertainment venues, have been slowly championed by the conventional media, with the effect that if anyone has a reasoned argument why the homosexual lifestyle may not be God’s plan for human flourishing, one is castigated as “homophobic,” their argument seen as nothing more than “hate speech.” Time and time again, we have seen how the LGBT movement is far less tolerant about allowing opposing opinions.2

But while parades are one thing, the movement has become prominent and front-and-center in the Catholic Church. In the past few years, a number of high-ranking cardinals, archbishops, and bishops have made no secret about the fact they are open to the idea of same-sex unions. They openly talk about welcoming members of the LGBT movement—not only into secular society—but especially into the Catholic Church, without any call to a change in lifestyle, or understanding of the nature of love and marriage.

Who are these high-ranking Church leaders? To begin, they are prominent members of the hierarchy who convened in St. Gallen, Switzerland, to “circle the wagons” and promote a reformer to the papacy. This group has been very forthcoming about its goal to elect a pope who is sympathetic to their goals of updating the Church’s teaching on human sexuality, including unquestioned support of the LGBT movement. Perhaps the most vocal member of this “St. Gallen Society” has been Cardinal Danneels of Belgium who has counseled that country’s government to pass same-sex “marriage” legislation (he also advised the government to pass a law favoring abortion back in 1990!); but other high-profile clerics are Cardinal Kaspar, England’s Basil Hume, and the Swiss Bishop, Ivo Fürer, former Bishop of Sankt Gallen, from where this mafia-like group takes its name. Then there is Cardinal Nichols from the UK, who called for a nationwide expansion of Eucharistic celebrations with the LGBT communities.3 And we must not forget Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich, who was one of the first in the United States to prioritize the conscience of someone engaging in homosexual activity over the Church’s teaching. He teaches that practicing homosexuals can follow their conscience, and come to Communion, even though the Church clearly teaches that Catholics who continue in “manifest grave sin” cannot receive the sacraments (Canon §915).4

More recently, a recent book by Fr. James Martin, S.J., entitled Building A Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity, has won the praise of some American cardinals and bishops. They include: Cardinal Kevin Farrell, head of the Vatican’s Laity, Family and Life Dicastery Office, Newark’s Cardinal Joseph Tobin, and San Diego’s Bishop Robert McElroy. They praised the book for proposing a “welcoming” of the LGBT into the fold of the Christian/Catholic community as their “home.”5 Archbishop Joseph Tobin, of the Archdiocese of Newark, has even permitted an LGBT Mass and Pilgrimage to the Cathedral on May 21, 2017.6 Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky, who, while speaking at New Ways Ministry’s eighth annual symposium for the LGBT Catholics (Apr. 28-30), similarly called for a more welcoming attitude to the LGBT. He said that the LGBT have shown “a valuable expression of mercy” by calling the Church “to be more inclusive and more Christ-like, despite being given so many reasons to walk away.”7

So, where are the voices of the cardinals, archbishops, and bishops who do not agree with “welcoming” the LGBT into the Catholic community? If you cannot hear them, it is because they do not make their voices heard—and we all know why. Today, anyone who publicly disagrees with this movement immediately becomes an enemy of humanity. No bishop wants to be in that category—even if the charge is untrue. Therefore, the battleground is currently left wide open for those members of the hierarchy who are glad to “welcome” the LGBT movement. They range from Brussels, Germany, Switzerland, England, Wales, and America, to the Vatican itself. The alliance is so widespread it is hard to believe that a well-orchestrated international network has not been formed to promote the LGBT cause.

But what will be the effect on the Church if this international network is allowed to continue? Given the LGBT belief system, that all kinds of sexual activity are permissible, how would this play out in the Church?

The best result would be that sympathetic Church leaders would acknowledge the sexual orientations of this community, but counsel and teach that (for anyone) to become Catholic, they must abandon the philosophy and active LGBT lifestyle. Christ calls us to welcome all people, but on his terms, not on ours. To welcome means to conform to Christ, and to conform to Christ truly means to conform to the precepts and lifestyle of his Body, the Church.

But a far different outcome is more likely: that the Church will allow the LGBT philosophy, and sexual expression of every kind, to take root in the Church without any call to chastity, and the asceticism needed to consecrate anyone’s sexuality. For example, the Bishops in England and Wales have approved a document from their Catholic Education Service which not only welcomes the LGBT into the Catholic community, but even assists the LGBT in implementing their agenda for young children, starting at age nine. The LGBT openly states that they are only trying to stop bullying of LGBT children in school. But under the “Equality Act 2010,” they also insist that teachers promote the equal value of the homosexual “person,” without any mention that homosexual lifestyles are not what the Lord intends for his people. In a practical sense, this becomes promoting the “equal” dignity and value of “sexual orientation and marriage” for both heterosexuals and homosexuals.8

This trend is clear. This is what will happen if unchecked LGBT expressions are allowed to spread, unopposed, throughout the Catholic Church. So, it is imperative that we must directly ask all our bishops what they mean when they say that the Church should “welcome” the LGBT into the Catholic Christian community. Of course, the Church always welcomes repentant sinners. In fact, it would be a sin not to do so! If a person repents of his sins—be it adultery, sodomy, incest, pedophilia, murder, abortion, drunkenness, etc.—they are to be welcomed back into the Christian community. But that means they are no longer desiring to continue to live as adulterers, sodomites, incestuous people, pedophiles, murders, abortionists, or drunkards. They are new people. This is clear from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians:

Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. That is what some of you used to be; but now you have had yourselves washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor. 6:9-11)

Beginning with St. Paul’s mission to the Gentiles, Christians have always welcomed individuals into the Catholic Church, regardless of what their culture, or their past lifestyles have been. In fact, in Paul, and all the Apostles, we see how the Church even seeks out sinners of all kinds, whether they be adulterers, sodomites, murderers, or those who have simply drifted away.

The Church calls everyone back. There is no such thing as “homophobia” here. In other words, let the record be put straight, once and for all: The Church loves all sinners, and that includes active homosexuals, but she condemns sodomy and all forms of deviant sexual behavior that refuses to reflect the fruitfulness and fidelity of God. But here is where the Catholic Church must draw the proverbial line in the sand: Christians have never permitted the “welcoming” of sin, nor have they allowed people into the Christian community who intend to continue doing evil actions. The Christian faithful have always known that they have a serious obligation to protect the Christian community from what Christ alluded to as “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Mt. 7:15), in other words, people who would bring spiritual, psychological, social, and physical harm to individuals trying to follow God’s will, and attain salvation.

On a practical level, unless the members of the LGBT community intend to turn away from their philosophy and belief in total sexual expression of any kind, how would they ever tolerate the stern readings from St. Paul about sexual continence, and marriage as a God-given gift between a man and a woman? The natural conclusion would be that this is not the Church they want to be associated with; it would be the Church who would be forced to change. For, if the intention is to allow the current LGBT lifestyle into the Church, the Rite of Marriage would have to change, and even the Gospels themselves would have to be altered, to ensure there would be no public protests mounted about offending scripture passages.

Therefore, the time has come for Catholic authors, such as Fr. Martin, and sympathetic bishops, to state clearly what they mean when they say they want to ‘build bridges” and “welcome” the LGBT movement into the Catholic Church. If their purpose is to evangelize the LGBT movement, and convert them to fully accept Catholic Christian values and virtues, why, that’s wonderful! But they must make a stand. Generations of Catholics, including impressionable and vulnerable children, and especially homosexuals and lesbians struggling to be faithful to the Gospel, need to clearly know what the Church teaches about human sexuality, marriage, and the family.
On the other hand, there is no room in the Church for a political organization with a hidden agenda that promotes an aggressive, anti-Christian message. This kind of “welcoming” into the Church does not open the door to individuals; it opens the door to a destructive kind of activism.

So it’s crucial to stay clear about the Christian message: of course we must show mercy to a homosexual or a lesbian who is struggling to live a life of chastity according to the Church’s teaching. But when certain cardinals and bishops use the concept of “mercy” to welcome proud and sexually active members of the LGBT movement into the fold? No, that is not true mercy, but acquiescing to a lifestyle that celebrates sin itself.

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