I am happy to report that more and more bishops are being bishops… and publicly too!
Give this a few moments of your time, from California Catholic.
My emphases and comments.
“At least five members of the audience walked out”
Bishop Soto stuns national homosexual ministries conference
(Editor’s Note: For the complete text of the bishop’s speech, see related story in today’s edition, “It is sinful.”)
When two Catholics from Southern California learned that Sacramento Coadjutor Bishop Jaime Soto was to be the keynote speaker at the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries conference in Long Beach on Sept. 18, they decided to attend themselves to see and hear the talk in person. They say what they witnessed was a bishop who “courageously but gently” gave a clear presentation of Church teaching on sexuality.
After California Catholic Daily reported on Bishop Soto’s plans to attend and speak at the conference (“Birds of a feather?” Sept. 15, 2008), many readers expressed disapproval or worry over how to interpret the soon-to-be Bishop of Sacramento’s decision. [I disapprove of people who complain when bishops address dissidents. That's what bishops are supposed to do, right?] Bishop Soto will take over the diocese from retiring Bishop William Weigand on Nov. 30. The National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries, based in Berkeley, is a network of local ministries that has the reputation of taking, at best, an ambiguous stance on the moral character of homosexuality and homosexual acts.
But there was nothing ambiguous about Bishop Soto’s remarks to the group. “Sexual relations between people of the same sex can be alluring for homosexuals, but it deviates from the true meaning of the act and distracts them from the true nature of love to which God has called us all,” Bishop Soto said. “For this reason, it is sinful. Married love is a beautiful, heroic expression of faithful, life-giving, life-creating love. It should not be accommodated and manipulated for those who would believe that they can and have a right to mimic its unique expression." [No ambiguity.]
At least five members of the audience walked out during the bishop’s address. When he finished speaking, there was general silence — with only a very small number applauding. [I would love to have been there.]
The chairman of the conference then announced that the bishop would answer questions at a reception that would be held in another room. That led to widespread expressions of disapproval from members of the audience, who said they wanted to be able to express their responses immediately. It was agreed that those who wanted to speak would line up. The bishop was told twice by the chairman that he was free to leave if he wanted — or to stay and listen. Bishop Soto stayed and sat quietly listening to every response. [Excellent.]
A series of about eight speakers came to the microphone to express their unhappiness with what the bishop had said — and what they felt he had not said. One woman said, in essence, "We know what the Church says. What we wanted you to talk about is the value of our lived experience as lesbian women and gay men." [?!? Instead... he told them what they need to hear in charity.]
Two speakers — one man and one woman — thanked the bishop for his address and voiced their agreement with what he had to say.
While the audience members were responding to the bishop’s remarks, a board member of the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries came up to one of the tables in the room and said, "On behalf of the board, I apologize. We had no idea Bishop Soto was going to say what he said."
What an interesting event that must have been.