On remarks of a priest and his bishop in El Paso

Fr. Michael Rodriguez, a priest of the Diocese of El Paso, offered an op-ed piece to the local secular newspaper. It was printed on 2 August 2 in the El Paso Times.

Here is the piece by Fr. Rodriquez with my emphases and comments.

Rev. Michael Rodriguez: Every Catholic must oppose certain things

By the Rev. Michael Rodriguez \ Guest columnist
Posted: 08/01/2010 12:00:00 AM MDT

I sincerely hope and pray that all El Paso Catholics will take to heart the precious and infallible teachings of Holy Mother Church [From the onset you get a sense of what ecclesiological camp Fr. Rodriguez identifies with.  Also, you just know that his vocabulary will prompt liberals roll their eyes or, in the really hardened cases, throw a spittle-flecked nutty.] in the moral sphere, particularly those most relevant to our city at this critical juncture.
Remember: Every single Catholic, [No one gets a pass in El Paso …] out of fidelity to charity and truth, has the absolute duty [Again, Father doesn’t speak nuance-ese.] to oppose (1) the murder of unborn babies, and (2) any and all government attempts to legalize homosexual unions. [What? Not "gay"? "Murder"? No euphemisms at all?]
Any Catholic who supports homosexual acts is, by definition, committing a mortal sin, [ARGH!  The S-WORD!  Is making a distinction about sin really "pastoral"?]  and placing himself/herself outside of communion with the Roman Catholic Church. [NB: Father said "acts".  He did not write about homosexuals, but about homosexual acts.]
Furthermore, a Catholic would be guilty of a most grievous sin of omission [Liberal eyes begin to bleed at this point.] if he/she neglected to actively oppose the homosexual agenda, which thrives on deception and conceals its wicked horns under the guises of "equal rights," "tolerance," "who am I to judge?," etc[You know that the sky is going to fall on Father’s head because of this. That "wicked horns" bit is rather pointed, donchya think?] 
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops published a pastoral letter on marriage in November 2009, which is endorsed by our own local bishop, his Excellency, Most Rev. Armando X. Ochoa.
This pastoral letter states the following: [I’ll edit here.  The pastoral letter is pretty good, btw. …]

[…]

Abortion and homosexual acts are unequivocally intrinsic moral evils. And friends, this objective truth doesn’t depend on the opinion of the majority. [Blood is now pouring from liberal ears and noses as well.] Frighteningly, if the majority chooses to deny the objective moral order, then we will all suffer the pestiferous [YEEEEEHAW!] consequences.  [And 9.5 in style points for that "pestiferous".  He rode that bronco to the very end!]

Fr. Michael Rodríguez is the parish priest at San Juan Bautista Catholic Church. 

This prompted a response on the part a man with an even tougher job than Fr. Rodriguez, His Excellency Most Rev. Armando X. Ochoa, Bishop of El Paso.

Bishop Armando X. Ochoa: Catholic Church advocates compassion
By Bishop Armando X. Ochoa \ Guest columnist
Posted: 08/22/2010 12:00:00 AM MDT

As Bishop of the Diocese of El Paso and chief teacher of our local church, [Which means, rightly, that Fr. R is not…] I would like to share some pastoral reflections [NB "pastoral"] on certain issues that are important for the well-being of all God’s people.
First of all, I would like to state that previous columns claiming to speak for Catholic Doctrine were the personal opinions of individuals and do not necessarily express the belief of the Catholic Church. [Right.  The opinions of Fr. R do not, of necessity, express the belief of the Catholic Church.  But, do Fr. R’s view by chance coincide with the Church’s teaching?  Let’s review.  Abortion is murder of an unborn human being.  CHECK.  Homosexual acts are objectively sinful. CHECK.]
[But here is new information…] I continue to pray for peace along our region and offer my condolences to the families on both sides of the border who have lost loved ones to the ongoing unrest. [There is a lot of tension in El Paso.] I am also concerned for the families who have had to leave everything behind to escape the violence in Ciudad Juárez. It is my ongoing prayer that our two border cities can work closer to build a more peace-filled community. [So, the bishop is situating Fr. R’s comments in the context of the region’s tension.  Fr. R’s comments were addressed to all Catholics, and therefore most of the Latio community.  The bishops implication is that Fr. R’s comments have made that tension worse.  I don’t know whether that is the case or not, but it is clearly the bishop’s concern.]
The Church has been unmistakable about its consistent defense of the unborn. It continues to call every Catholic and person of good will [Fr. R also addressed all Catholics but he did not speak explicitly about non-Catholics who are people of good will.] to understand the Church’s teaching on the death penalty and other end-of-life issues. Every child has a right to life.
Likewise, the Church is a supporter of the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. These teachings come from a tradition that wants to promote the good of society. [Not just "from a tradition".  If I am not mistaken, they come from God, and from God to us through both tradition and reason in light of the natural law. But pay attention…] My concern in writing this reflection is not to change these teachings, [quod Deus avertat] but to offer a more pastoral understanding in dealing with them. [There is that "pastoral" again.]
When we talk about abortion and homosexuality, we are talking about human beings dealing with all kinds of concerns and unresolved challenges. Our Church does not want to simply judge and condemn, but first to offer Christ’s love and compassion. God’s first and primary law is love and how love of others is at the same time our love for God.  [Okay.  This is so.  At the same time, when Jesus saved and then forgave the woman caught in adultery, He admonished her to sin no more.  It is also a work of mercy, a dimension of compassion, both to admonish the sinner and instruct the ignorant.  It may be – and this is just supposition on my part – that many Catholic and non-Catholic alike, have never heard some of the things Fr. R wrote expressed with that sort of stark clarity.  Is it possible that stark clarity can also be a tool of the compassion His Excellency affirms?]
As Church we want to journey with everyone as they search for meaning in their lives. [This is the language most people are used to hearing and reading.] We believe that Christ offers this meaning. The use [wait for it…] of harsh words of condemnation is not the approach Christ invites us to have toward one another. Intolerance closes the door to learning and deeper understanding of each other.  [Let’s pick this fine and correct statement up and turn it about and examine it from all sides.  What popped into my mind as I read this were the Lord’s harsh words in Matthew 23.  Surely the Lord was not lacking in compassion even as he verbally thrashed the Pharisees with the truth.  St. Paul, invoking the meekness of Christ, in 2 Cor 10-13 doesn’t mince words about those who have sinned and have been admonished more than once.  Was it a lack of compassion that drove virtually every single Father of the Church to use scathing invective when defending the Regula Fidei and Tradition?  Have Popes who issued stern condemnations and anathemas throughout the Church’s entire history been without compassion?  Was there a dearth of compassion at the Second Vatican Council when the Council Fathers stated in Lumen gentium 14 that people who reject the Church, knowing that it is the Church Christ founded, cannot be saved, or when they taught in Gaudium et spes 51 that abortion is an unspeakable crime?  In every one of these examples, there were high tensions in the community.  I am not disagreeing with His Excellency, mind you.  I am musing to myself about what constitutes "pastoral" and "compassion".  At the same time I am thanking God that I am not now nor ever will be a bishop, who actually has to make decisions about this dilemma.]
Furthermore, it leads to divisiveness within the body of Christ. [cf. Matthew 10:34.] It is time for us to learn how to work with each other, even when and if we disagree. Too many people have suffered because of a profound lack of compassion and a perceived arrogant intolerance.
Recently, in our scriptural readings, we have seen that when the Israelites entered the Promised Land after the exodus, they encountered the Canaanites, whom they considered to be a sinful race which was to be exterminated. This mind-set persisted until the time of Christ. [But Christ and the Apostles, and the Fathers, and Popes down through history somehow kept using hard language.  Did they fail to understand something about being "pastoral"?   Pope John XXIII at the time of the Council said that he wanted the Church to shift her style of teaching.  Fine.  But see my examples of the Council’s teaching, above.  There were still moments for blunt language.]
With his arrival, he indicated that this outlook was no longer to be held by his followers. Jesus’ own response to the marginalized was always one of love. He constantly preached that love is not exclusively for those who are dear to us. He proclaimed that we must love our enemies and pray for our persecutors. [To the marginalized, yes!  Look how he treated the lepers and the blind and lame and diseased and widows and Samaritans and some public sinners.  He was gentleness itself with some public sinners.  But not all public sinners.  I cite: ""Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness." ]
Our love for others is to be like his own, all inclusive.  Every individual is made in the image and likeness of God and for this reason all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
God is the judge of our lives, and we are called to spread his Gospel of compassion and justice. [Were Fr. R’s comments in his op-ed unjust?]  While it is important to offer a teaching on human sexuality which may not be popular in modern society, the Church, nonetheless, upholds that each person be treated with dignity and respect. [QUERY: Does that mean that we never say that a sin is a sin?]
I urge all of our pastoral agents to reach out to individuals with a homosexual orientation and their families with compassion. This can be done without compromising Church teaching in any way because our pastoral care demands no less from us.
The Most Reverend Armando X. Ochoa, D.D., is Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of El Paso

This is a really interesting situation.

I started out willing to back Fr. R’s piece.  As I read the Bishop’s response I was initially disappointed.  When I see the word "pastoral", I get worried that something is going to go all wobbly.

That said, I am trying to engage this tough situation and see it from different sides.

I think perhaps a guiding hermeneutic here could be:

“Soyez toujours le plus doux que vous pourrez, et souvenez-vous que l’on prends plus de mouches avec une cuillère de miel qu’avec cent barils de vinaigre… Always be as gentle as you can and remember that one catches more flies with a spoonful of honey than with a hundred barrels of vinegar."

 

St. Francis de Sales was bishop of a place where there was a lot of tension.  He found a way to teach with clarity and compassion.  Nevertheless, St. Francis the bishop also used stern language.

Thus, I circle around to questions:

  • Does "pastoral" never allow for hard language?
  • Is there a way in which we have perhaps gotten a bit overly sensitive or squeamish?

Remember: The Bishop, writing his public correction of one of his priests, is writing within a particular set of circumstances.  We must allow that that particular time and place may have not been the right time and place for the style of Fr. R’s correct but hard message.

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108 Responses to On remarks of a priest and his bishop in El Paso

  1. wolfeken says:

    This is precisely the reason we are getting clobbered in the culture war — particularly the battle involving homosexual marriage/benefits and civil unions.

    The take-home message here is: a priest spoke out on the sin of sodomy and its related issues; while his bishop slapped him down.

    It may not be that simple — but that is the message heard by the general public.

    Until we have a lot more men like Father Rodriquez and a lot less like Bishop Ochoa, we are going to continue to lose ground on anything to do with homosexual activity.

    It’s a real shame.

  2. “We must allow that that particular time and place may have not been the right time and place for the style of Fr. R’s correct but hard message.”

    True… but was the right “time and place” for the Bishop’s response adhered to?

    I think that unfortunately, the Bishop committed the same “error” he is blaming the priest of.

    I don’t see how, if we accept your premise, that the Bishop has done anything through his letter but to RAISE tensions, and entrench beliefs and emotions. I worry that the Bishop might have placed a wedge into this situation.

    If he really wanted to calm things, I believe there might have been a better way to accomplish this goal. That being said, I therefore wonder if that really was his purpose?

  3. Magpie says:

    I think what is truly pastoral is to explain to souls why their sins, say of idolatry (homosexuality) make them miserable and separate them from God. I don’t think this is being done very much. I think there has to be a use of God’s Word, Natural Law, and the best of psychological insights, all of which support the Church’s teachings. What is not pastoral but very cruel is to leave people alone in their sins. To me, pastoral is to present the Church teaching in its fullness in charity and truth.

  4. Reginald Pole says:

    “Remember: The Bishop, writing his public correction of one of his priests, is writing within a particular set of circumstances.”

    I do not think that Bishop Ochoa’s column was directed ONLY to Fr. Rodríguez’s article. For more than six months letters to the editor have been published in the paper from lay Catholics who profess to set out official Catholic teaching on the subject. The letters were in response to the city councils’passing a law permitting unmarried city employees to add their “significant other” (both hetero and homosexual) to their health insurance. Some of these letters were extreme in their vitriol and totally lacking in Christian charity. I believe that Bishop Ochoa is addressing these letters rather than Fr.Rodríguez’s. By the way Fr. Rodríguez’s parish is the only one in all of El Paso that offers a weekly TLM.

  5. iudicame says:

    Yeaaaaaahhhhhh – I’m gonna go ahead here and say the bishop threw his guy under the bus. It seems EVERY organization that is successful has some fellows on board that enforce the company line. In my lifetime it has been my mother, most of the religious that taught me, the HS vice principal, my college registrar, a boss or two, several fire chiefs (under interesting circumstances) and indirectly the rather harsh world I live in (joyously). Everybody can’t be a hugger all the time. I appreciate Fr.Z’s round-about perspective – this is wise.

    m

  6. If I was a bishop and this priest was one of “mine”, I’d give him a “gold star”.
    But I’ll never be a bishop; and what I think has very little import.
    God and Mary, give Fr. R. every grace and blessing. And guide the Bishop with your Holy Spirit. Amen.

  7. Hidden One says:

    I do not think that it is possible for us readers to correctly judge the morality and/or prudence of either of these pieces. There is no explicit heresy in either piece, nor direct remarks against charity. It is not a duty of almost anyone in the world to pass more subtle judgments on these pieces, and I do not think that it would be prudent to put such judgments in this combox.

    Things things having been said, I think that Fr. Z’s questions – of principle, not ones referring to this situation – may be worth discussion, though I think them both at least somewhat rhetorical, in the sense that the essential answers are obvious and (incidentally) longtime themes in this blog.

    1. If all acts of a bishop toward his flock should be “pastoral”, then “pastoral” allows for hard language. cf. Scripture. If “pastoral” is dirty word per se, then that may not be so, but traditionalist ranting against pseudo-pastoral actions on the part of bishops is, I think, on the whole, so many wasted words.
    2. The answer to this depends on the meaning of the word “we”. If “we” is “all Catholics”, then the answer is no. There are Catholics who are not overly sensitive and squeamish. If “we” is the statistical majority of Catholics in the West, particularly in the States, then the answer is probably yes. It has, I think, always been true that the larger part both of the Church and of mankind as a whole does not like being reminded of sin. Today, we are more sensitive than we were in better times because we have more sins to be reminded of.

  8. Fr_Sotelo says:

    I think bishops need to back up their priests when those priests teach courageously, as Fr. Rodriguez did about the sin of abortion and homosexual marriage. At the same time, Fr. Rodriguez placed the bishop in a difficult situation when he (Fr. R.) went from teaching about the intrinsic evil of homosexual acts to the “agenda” of homosexuals who advocate for equal rights and tolerance.

    Does this mean that the Church would agree with a homosexual person being discriminated against in hiring, in the workplace, or in housing, as a general rule? Does this mean that the Church would accept acts of intolerance of homosexual people in public? What, then, do you say to the homosexual who happens to be a devout Catholic and for whom you wish to show support, so long as it is not sinful conduct?

    Like me, Fr. R. probably could use a few lessons in being less dramatic (“wicked horns” is almost as bad as my “abominable sacrilege” in a different post LOL) and giving practical counsel to the sinner along with the warning about damnation. This would communicate better his fatherly care and love for the sinner.

    Perhaps the Bishop could have spoken to him in private and asked Fr. R. himself to print a teaching that would clarify these matters. The way the spin is being given on this gives the harmful impression that Fr. R. was all wrong, which he wasn’t, and that priests should never be courageous. I personally get very angry when I sense that a bishop is selectively correcting the orthodox priest in public while allowing the libs to spew their false teachings without enduring a similar correction.

  9. everett says:

    I’ve got no objection with the claim that Fr. R’s piece was not as pastoral as it could/should have been. If I were going to define pastoral in a way that is worthwhile (reclaiming the word pastoral), I would suggest using something that involved the phrase “truth in charity”. Fr. R definitely has the truth part down, but probably isn’t as charitable as he ought to have been. My concern with the Bishop’s follow-up is that it comes close to obfuscating the truth in the cliche verbiage of the bad version of pastoral. A true pastor is not just concerned with making his flock feel good about themselves, but about protecting them from all types of danger. To do this ALWAYS requires truth, while at the same time necessitating charity. We must always remember that truth and charity are never at odds, but two sides of the same coin. God is both perfect love and perfect truth – the two cannot be separated.

  10. iudicame says:

    “I do not think that it is possible for us readers to correctly judge the morality and/or prudence of either of these pieces.”

    Are we talking about these letters published in a public newspaper? Where they are talking about “stuff”?

    uhhh-ohhhh…

    m

  11. iudicame says:

    “”Like me, Fr. R. probably could use a few lessons in being less dramatic (“wicked horns” is almost as bad as my “abominable sacrilege” in a different post LOL)””

    35 years later I remember the mortal terror of the “abominable snowman” in large part because he was “abominable”. Didn’t Sheen also make some good use of dramatics?

    m

  12. From other sources I learned that the Bishop is “a product of Cardinal Mahoney”.
    Now, take it or leave it. I am sure this is not petty gossip.
    But, if you will excuse my direct crudeness…what if this were addressed to masturbators or fornicators, drunkards or pornographers? Don’t all these sins somehow defile the dignity of the human person? I realize that the whole “gay”, “same-sex” reality is much more political and social (in some respects) and I would be crucified by some by even equating these other sins.
    But isn’t the salvation of souls, the proper formation of conscience, the realization of Christ’s call to chastity, purity and fidelity more important than “hurting peoples’ feelings”?
    Yeah, I know, it’s not P.C. to speak directly (but uncharitably? When human lives in both instances are at stake? And everlasting life with God?).
    I’m just raising some questions; I am, by the way, meek as a lamb in the confessional…unless someone needs to hear the “hard truth”; I understand all the issues involved.
    But, my question, why can’t a priest state the “unvarnished, un-nuanced” truth without being corrected by his own Bishop, when the likes of R. McBrien, et. al., go absolutely without any authority “clipping” their wings?

  13. teomatteo says:

    I think that they both preached the gospel. Neither of them is more right or more wrong than the other. Its really amazing that they both responded in the secular media it seems to me. Brick mortar Brick…

  14. Emilio III says:

    “Reginald Pole”‘s point seems valid. The bishop’s remarks should not be taken to refer only to Fr Rodriguez’s column if there were intemperate letters to the editor claiming to represent the Catholic view.

  15. Mitchell NY says:

    “Blood pouring from noses or ears”, ouch…I tend to think that more than a few would have tears of blood as this issue must be terribly painful to one’s soul. Let’s not forget about the people who grapple with this issue and perhaps advance no agenda, not even one that may suit them, and spend many agonizing years carrying this cross to bear.

  16. Cavaliere says:

    In the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis one of the priests would never have to write an op-ed letter like this. That’s because the Archbishop has already done it.

  17. jlmorrell says:

    For most Bishops, it seems, there is never an appropriate time to speak clearly and emphatically as Fr. Rodriguez did.

    I give Fr. R two thumbs up – Catholics need to hear the unvarnished truth. Most never do these days.

  18. THREEHEARTS says:

    Your quite wrong Fr Z, sorry. What use is the teaching by the Church on sodomy even Abraham could not find 12 good men amongst the sodomites. I read sometime, a while ago, that Christ told a visionary, “Do I have to give them a revelation more powerful than theirs?” he was talking about sinful people who did not listen to what He said and made public their opinions about his words rather like I see from one of the comments the lay catholics who find it hard to live with homosexual neighbors. I pity the old mothers who have to contend with sons or daughters who embraced this lifestyle and hope against hope it really is a genetic problem. If the point of its sinfulness is never explained then why would they change. Everything in their garden is cozy , except it is not Eden. But you see God did not create anything other than man and woman and as Christ said anything else is from the devil. I find in both yours and the Bishops a very dangerous approach to the silly sin of rationalization which is the great problem with the Church today. Summed up rationalization could make the church’s teaching be palatable to all. And the harsh Words of God does not allow this to be right. There is a Pope’s encyclical or letter in or around the 19th century that I think links Rationalization to modernism the bane of the Church. Either she teaches as did the Parish Priest it is forever and I congratulate him or we dance the two step as did I see you and the Bishop

    [Maybe I am a little slow tonight, but I just don’t understand this.]

  19. JonM says:

    This is exactly what makes me irate.

    A Priest courageously and obviously brimming with love for his parish children teaches. Clearly.

    Then his own Bishop betrays him a la Kissinger stabbing in the back POWs and specops in Vietnam.

    This is exactly what inspires the righteous indignation of Michael Voris. Faithful Catholics are sick of politicking by liberal and neocon Bishops.

    If I have to hear about this ‘new Pentecost’ one more time…especially from conservatives…

    The reason contraception, abortion, porn, and premarital sex are pandemic is explained in this episode.

    As Bishops try to lead with wet noodles, young people are left to the ways of the (fallen) world. I wish I heard a sermon about men as head of the family, that gender roles are natural, and that marriage is as much a sacrifice as it is a treasure.

    Indeed focusing only on homosexual marriage has really jumped the shark. Real direction to men and women; that the former lead (in a Marine/Prince Philip manner, not a corny Calvinist way) and girls should not be demanding some unreal MTV shopping show.

    Until then, the shredded nets this bishops casts will only scare away the catch.

  20. LaudemGloriae says:

    Fascinating to see this post juxtaposed with the SSPX post that follows. At the core of each is the push and pull between unity of individuals and fidelity to doctrine …

  21. robtbrown says:

    Remember: The Bishop, writing his public correction of one of his priests, is writing within a particular set of circumstances. We must allow that that particular time and place may have not been the right time and place for the style of Fr. R’s correct but hard message.

    IME, for clerics who toss around “pastoral-this” and “pastoral-that”, the right time and place to talk about doctrine never seems to arrive.

    BTW, Bp Achoa was an auxiliary in LA.

  22. LaudemGloriae says:

    @THREEHEARTS next time less LSD before you post, k?

  23. Supertradmum says:

    In theology, there is no opposition between pastoral and doctrinal theology. The liberals have opted to make the word “pastoral” into some type of buzz word for a caring, loving approach to Truth, when in reality, pastoral means the “spiritual” application of doctrine. I am afraid many people do go to hell because “tough love” for their salvation was substituted for a “softly, nicely, do not disturb” type of approach. There is no opposition between pastoral and doctrinal theology, despite the efforts of years of relativistic training in the seminaries regarding theology. Pastoral theology is the practical and “spiritual” theology, which used to emphasize the virtues and how to attain the heights of holiness. The tough love of Christ and the saints has been watered down so as to not offend anyone.

    This type of false opposition makes the Church looks weak and frankly, inept. The Bishop should be proud of his forthright and honest priest. One of the hidden points, which I have discovered working with the Latinos, is the great acceptance of homosexuals, even in the priesthood. When and why and where this changed, I do not know, but Mexico City, one place among many, has been attracting homosexuals like a great magnet for over thirty years.

    The liberalization of the Latino community also includes a greater number of Catholic Latinos agreeing with abortion as an option than non-Latino Catholics. There are polls online, including one published in 2009, where these liberal ideas are seen. That Father Rodriquez has written and probably spoken so clearly on these topics shows that he knows his own flock and is responding to great changes, which, to be blunt, many bishops have either not seen or overlooked. Many churchmen have “sanctified” the poor and the minorities without preaching the radical Gospel to them. There is no automatic way to Heaven and “the preferential treatment of the poor” is a call which should not be a false romanticization of where, why, and when the poor need evangelizing.

    We do not need weak bishops or priests who only care about numbers or being nice.

  24. Mitchell NY: Believe me, I do understand these issues; dealing with folks who struggle mightily with sexual addiction, temptation, same-sex issues, porno, masturbation, you name it…
    Like I said before, I’m a lamb in the confessional;
    however;
    when we, as priests (and hopefully bishops) speak publically, either from the pulpit or in the media, we have to be ever so clear about the Church’s teaching, no matter what the issue.
    Damnation?
    That’s a pretty heavy word; nobody wants to hear it…I take a gander at the media now and again and I’ll tell you (some of the Reality shows; the “housewives of…whatever-hell-hole-you-can-name” make it only too clear that yes, people can choose eternal damnation because of their selfish, self-centered, narcissistic and sinful lifestyles. I wouldn’t just name “homosexuals”…I’d name also those selfish, materialistic and hedonistic bunch that are featured all over the place, entertainment, business, media…they better get a life or they’re gonna be wishin’ they had asbestos underwear, as well!

  25. Andrew says:

    Here is my concern with some of the Bishops comments:
    “[re …marriage between a man and a woman …] These teachings come from a tradition that wants to promote the good of society.”
    Thats could be interpreted by some as follows: a marriage between a man and a woman is a tradition wanting to promote the good of society but other types of “marriages” can promote the good of society as well.
    “When we talk about abortion and homosexuality, we are talking about human beings dealing with all kinds of concerns and unresolved challenges. Our Church does not want to simply judge …”
    That might be interpreted by some as follows: homosexuality concerns some unresolved challenges therefore no one can hold any definitive opinions against it.
    “As Church we want to journey with everyone as they search for meaning in their lives.”
    This can be interpreted as: we want to find out if perhaps homosexual unions might not be meaningful.
    “Intolerance closes the door to learning and deeper understanding of each other.”
    This might mean to some: if you don’t accept homosexuality it is because you have closed the door through intolerance to a deeper understanding of others.
    “It is time for us to learn how to work with each other, even when and if we disagree. Too many people have suffered because of a profound lack of compassion and a perceived arrogant intolerance.”
    To some this will mean: we must work with homosexuals who have suffered from our arrogant intolerance of homosexuality.
    “Our love for others is to be … all inclusive.”
    Now we are a step away from saying: it is not right to deny homosexuals to marry and to adapt children.
    I don’t know what the Bishop intended to achieve, but in my opinion, he does not have a good grasp of the current political lingo. Words are twisted these days and we need to figure out how to state the truth most effectively and trust that people are capable of appreciating it. I think the Bishop did a poor job of it and he left too many door open for mis-interpretation.
    As for the priest’s column in a newspaper (unless this was a catholic publication): he took a chance on many readers not having the slightest clue what he’s talking about and on many being offended through ignorance. (Mortal sin? You think people know what that means? It all sound very good for those who understand but it wasn’t delivered to people who understand)

  26. Supertradmum says:

    Conflicting polls, but overall change from traditional Latino/Latina stance: 25% of pregnancies among Latinas end in abortion, compared to 18% of white women according to some sources. Abortions are much more common among minority women. In 2000-2001, the rates among black and Hispanic women were 49 per 1,000 and 33 per 1,000, respectively, vs. 13 per 1,000 among non-Hispanic white women according to Guttmacher.org And, a growing majority of Latinos/Latinas support same-sex marriage.

    http://latinainstitute.org/issues/abortion-access

    http://juantornoe.blogs.com/hispanictrending/2010/07/latino-catholics-strongest-supporters-of-samesex-marriage-survey-finds.html

    http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/guestvoices/2010/07/us_catholic_latinos_liberal_on_gay_marriage.html

    http://www.lifenews.com/nat6620.html

    http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2010/08/12/catholic-latina-pill

  27. Andrew: I agree; this whole “can’t we call get along?” business is pure rubbish.
    We love everyone; sinner and saint. That’s the bottom line.
    But to “participate” willingly in the sin of others; to somehow “gloss over” the moral aspect, as well as the social justice aspect, which is the issue “no one will speak of”: children have a right to be raised by a mum and a dad; exceptional circumstances, of course, prevent this, but to make “two daddies” as equal as a marriage (between one man and one woman) is, in fact, social injustice.
    There is a book out now by a daughter of two “dads”…can’t remember the name of it, but she makes it clear that this is NOT what children should be subjected to willingly and deliberately.
    It is so simplistic to some; but there is a whole hornet’s nest being hit with this…persons with same-sex attraction must be respected and treated with dignity; however, the “gay agenda” has to be resisted always and in every way.

  28. Supertradmom: You rock! Love your post on pastoral/theological.

  29. Supertradmum says:

    everett,

    Truth is Charity, as Truth is a Person, Jesus Christ, who is also Love. No conflict.

  30. Supertradmum says:

    nazareth priest,

    Thank you so much for the support, but I have lost a “pastoral” job because of such “retro-ideas”. So pray for us.

  31. janek3615 says:

    These are extraordinarily dangerous times for retaining some semblance of a moral society in America. We have endured an estimated 50 million abortions (aka murders of unborn infants) since 1973, and a radical degeneration of sexual morality in our society under the ambiguity of what passes as contemporary compassion among our religious betters. I regret to say that His Excellency, Bishop Ochoa’s sentimental fuzziness in these matters is precisely why we are so flagrantly afflicted with such a vast depravity in America, as these are the usual responses of so his and so many of his brother bishops. If it is a looming disaster is increasing for the sheep then what does it say about the quality of our shepherds?

  32. Supertradmom: You’ve got our prayers and support.
    God is in charge; He will show us the Way. Blessing to you, dear!

  33. Will D. says:

    Nowhere does Bp. Ochoa contradict Fr. Rodriguez. The bishop is the velvet glove to the priest’s iron fist. Both approaches are necessary, I think. The lost Catholic that runs like the dickens away from the fire and brimstone sermon may stop and listen to the milder sermon of redemption. And vice versa.

  34. rollim says:

    Following the link below, we can see a video of a Fr. Rodriguez interview at a local TV network in El Paso about the issue.

    To see the video (about 30 minutes) click on the link below, then go to “search all videos.” Search “last seven days.” In the search box enter “Catholics and Homosexuality.” Then you can watch the video.

    http://www.kvia.com/xtra/index.html

  35. MLivingston says:

    I am really surprised at Fr. Z’s cutting Bishop Ochoa so much slack. I agree with Andrew. What the Bishop said was indistinguishable from what he would have said if he was trying to encourage the folk that do homosexual acts that they can continue what they are doing and continue to consider themselves Catholic in good standing.

  36. david andrew says:

    If it were me, I’d rather hear the very direct and direly needed message from the priest, because I know in his loving, truly pastoral heart, he’s concerned for the welfare of my immortal soul.

    Meanwhile, it seems that H.E. would rather wallow in equivocation in the name of “being pastoral”; in my mind a false notion when meted out like so much milksop as it is these days.

    And that’s a phrase you don’t hear bandied about by the post-modernist theologians these days – “the welfare of your immortal soul.” It’s kind of like a physician who tells you in very scary but direct and necessary terms that you must lose weight and get your BP and cholesterol under control, or you’ll drop dead of a heart attack, and sooner rather than later, only to be publicly contradicted (or corrected for the sake of appearances) by the chief of staff who tells you that it’s not all that dire, but you might “feel better” if you drop a few pounds and lay off the burgers and pizza.

  37. Jerry says:

    Here’s a direct link to the video of Fr. Rodriquez’s interview:

    http://www.kvia.com/xtra/24644887/

  38. david andrew: This past April I ended up in ER, wondering if, in fact, I’d be meetin’ my Maker…heart and breathing problems…prayin’ the Act of Contrition over and over…not knowing what was next; the first thing I did was to call a priest and ask for confession and anointing.
    My point is: we cannot just live as though everything was just as we want it; we have to live as if we were gonna meet the good Lord pronto; and this is why this mishmash just makes me crazy; people have to know what is right and wrong; sure, they can be living in all kinds of strange situations, and I know God sorts it all out, as far as their subjective responsibility; but for heaven’s sake, bishops and priests, don’t, please don’t, give the faithful the idea that “all is well” in everything when it ain’t…tell them the truth; invoke God’s Mercy and let Him work His deeds. Otherwise, we are participating in their sins; for that, I am most frightened…and I mean it!

  39. markomalley says:

    At the same time I am thanking God that I am not now nor ever will be a bishop, who actually has to make decisions about this dilemma

    You’re not the first priest I’ve heard make this comment ;-)

  40. “Pastoral” and “hard language” need not be opposed. Is the Good Shepherd going to ask the wolves, in dulcet tones, to stop picking off the youngest and most defenseless sheep? And is the Good Shepherd going to use His shepherd’s crook, or is it just ornamentation?

    I mean, just this Sunday at Mass in the Ordinary Form, the Second Reading reminded us that God disciplines His sons.

    “[God] disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

  41. wanda says:

    Amen, Nazareth Priest, God bless you and give you strength. Priests, please teach us the truths of our beautiful Catholic faith! Not the warm, fuzzy, don’t alienate anyone blather.
    Souls are at stake, yours as well.

    About half way down through the Bishop’s letter, he says ‘too many people have suffered because of a profound lack of compassion and a perceived arrogant intolerance.’ I would offer Dear Bishop that too many souls are suffering and are in danger (yours, as well) because of a profound lack of solid catechesis and preaching from the pulpit on death, judgement, Heaven and Hell.

    Dear Priests, Please, lead us, teach us the truths of our faith, not what you think we would like to hear, guide us along the right path, we need you!

  42. TNCath says:

    As “hard” as this statement might be, is there ever a “wrong time” for the truth?

  43. shin says:

    “All passions are dishonorable, for the soul is even more damaged and degraded by sin than the body is by disease. But the worst of all passions is lust between men…The sins against nature are more problematic and less satisfying, so much so that one cannot even say that they procure pleasure, since true pleasure is only that which is according to nature. But when God abandons a man, everything is turned on its head! Therefore, not only are such passions (of homosexuals) Satanic, but their lives are diabolic…So I say to you that they (the homosexuals) are even worse than murderers, and that it would be better to die than to live in such dishonor. A murderer only separates the soul from the body, whereas these [homosexuals] destroy the soul inside the body. . . There is nothing, absolutely nothing more absurd or damaging than this perversity. . .”

    St. John Chrysostom, Father, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

    “One who lived practicing the vice of sodomy will suffer more pain in Hell than anyone else, because this is the worst sin that there is. . .”

    “Whenever you hear sodomy mentioned, each and every one of you spit on the ground and clean your mouth out as well. If they don’t want to change their ways by any other means, maybe they will change when they’re made fools of. Spit hard! Maybe the water of your spit will extinguish their fire.”

    St. Bernardine of Siena, Bishop, Franciscan Missionary

    “See that you determine to extirpate that obscene crime committed by men who lie with males, whose fearful conduct defiles the decency of honest living and provokes from Heaven the wrath of the Supreme Judge. . .”

    St. Basil the Great, Father, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

    “The cleric or monk who molests youth or boys, or is caught kissing or committing some depravity with them, let him be whipped in public, deprived of his crown (tonsure) and, after having his head shaved, let his face be covered with spittle and let him be bound in iron chains, condemned to six months in prison, reduced to eating rye bread once a day in the evening three times per week. After these six months of living in a separate cell under the custody of a wise elder advanced in the spiritual life, let him make prayers, vigils, and manual work, always under the watch of two spiritual brothers, without being allowed to have any relationship. . . with young people.”

    St. Basil the Great, Father, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

    Are we going to say it better than scripture and the saints? I think not. And if it becomes forbidden to speak that way, and if we do not empathize and love to speak that way ourselves, in Communion with God and His chosen people, we might wonder if we are the latter, being out of Communion with them on this matter.

  44. shin says:

    Or to put it another way, Rev. Michael Rodriguez is a softie. :)

    Forbidding people to speak as the scriptures do is trouble. And that’s what’s happening because it is not being said. And you know what the scriptures say about this vice.

  45. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    All I can say is, El Paso is so much farther ahead in teaching the True Faith than the archdiocese of Boston that I’d move there in a minute if I could. (I have to stop typing now, or I’ll need to go to confession tomorrow because I will rant and rave and start to name names.)

  46. TJerome says:

    I agree with Father’s positions although some of the language was fairly dramatic. I watched the television show on which he appeared and he appears to be young, energetic, and sincere. His bishop, sounds like “Mr. Same old Same old” that got the Church in the mess it’s in today. However, I think where the young priest may have gone wrong was not reviewing his writings with the bishop or the office of the bishop before being published because he is not necessarily a free agent in these matters. And I agree with some of the comments that he could have said what he said in a more measured tone and still made his point. It’s the difference between someone saying “you’re mistaken” rather than “you’re an idiot.” I think his youth and lack of experience may have created a firestorm that need not have occurred. On balance I support the young priest and have serious reservations on this particular episcopal appointment. In the Latino community particularly, in my opinion, the priest speaks to them in language more in keeping with their culture than the bishop.

  47. Fr. Basil says:

    What are Catholic leaders doing to make civil divorce difficult and remarriage afterwards nearly impossible?

    Or is adultery intrinsically better than homogenital behavior?

  48. Joshua08 says:

    Frankly, whether the good Father was too harsh or not, there are bigger eggs to fry. Further, his inclusion of the USCCB letter did avoid any misunderstanding (it affirmed that we are to love and respect homosexual persons, just not homosexual acts)

    I have spent a lot of time recently looking at parish bulletins from many parishes. Very many of them are full of heresy, and many more with undermining of doctrine (one of them pushed woman’s ordination, but after supplying the premises of an argument for it, stopped short and merely asked people to think about it, and the priest said “I am not drawing any conclusions, wink wink”). This is in a diocese with a very very solid bishop. With the number of priests out there undermining the faith through explicit heresy or, sometimes worse, captiousness, is it worthwhile to give the impression that a priest who said the truth did something wrong…it only serves to promote this idea that the doctrines of the Church are mere opinions. This, even though the bishop may very well meant to teach the same thing in rem differing only in modo.

  49. Joshua08 says:

    Fr. Basil, while I think there should be efforts against no fault divorce (to start with) we should bewar in mind three things

    1. We can only effect widespread changes bit by bit. We need to pick battles. Granted, this needs to be not only defensive (trying to stop the latest problem) but offensive (trying to restore good things that are fading are lost), but we need to focus on a few things at a time

    2. Yes, homosexual acts are inherently more disordered than adultery. Homosexual acts (and contraceptive acts as well) are sins contrary to nature. Adultery is not. Adultery is worse than fornication, but not as bad as sins against nature.

    3. It is the current issue, one that secular society is bring up. If we jump to other issues without addressing it we lose our voice in the battle

  50. Cavaliere says:

    I heard a wonderful sermon last year by Bishop Smith from NJ. He had taken a trip to Greece and wondering what the life of a real shepherd was like compared to that of a Bishop he arranged to accompany a shepherd friend of the family he was staying with as he was out with his flock one day. At some point several of the sheep wandered away and were getting near to a cliff. Recognizing the danger he asked the shepherd if he was going to go after them. The young shepherd shook his head and said, no that is what the dogs are for, to bring them back. It was a sermon for Good Shepherd Sunday and I don’t think I’ve heard a better one on the subject.

  51. yatzer says:

    Back in the ’60’s as a teenager, I looked for real guidance regarding the moral issues of the day and didn’t get it. So I caved on some things that caused me much pain then and persist somewhat to this day. I would have loved to experience loving but firm direction. The things the bishop is saying,which are quite likely well intended, are also quite likely to confuse tempted people.

  52. Cavaliere says:

    I forgot to add in my last commment that it was this experience that taught the true meaning of “pastoral.”

  53. chonak says:

    Fr. Ochoa and his bishop could have been clearer about a couple of things.

    Fr. said that Catholics who support homosexuality are committing a sin, but he didn’t specify what sin it is. As far as I can tell, the sin consists of rejecting the Church’s teaching, and it may even qualify as heresy. This would put the point into context better.

    On opposing same-sex unions, CDF issued a document in 2003 and said politicians have a strict duty in the matter. Too bad the bishop didn’t include that in his response. I hope he knows about this clarifying statement: not everybody does.

  54. EXCHIEF says:

    Fr Rodriguez knows how to throw a much needed and long overdue punch. The Bishop is more of a shadow boxer. Victory, Fr. Rodriguez.

  55. chonak says:

    (Oops: I specified the wrong name for the priest above. Sorry.)

  56. RCOkie says:

    While I won’t attempt to say I have any understanding of the circumstances under which these letters were written, I must say Fr. R’s letter is commendable. It is so refreshing to have a priest state, unequivocally and unflinchingly, what the Church teaches and why all Catholics are to follow these teachings. I would guess that when he wrote the letter he had a good idea about the possible repercussion of his choice of words. He sent it anyway. We need more priests (and bishops) to be this courageous as they shepherd us through the troublesome times in which we find ourselves.

  57. Rob Cartusciello says:

    I am of two minds about this. It is refreshing to see a priest unafraid to preach the truths of the Church.

    It is, however, sad to see the argument rest so heavily on the “argument from authority”. It is the weakest form of rhetoric.

    Americans are more likely to consider an argument if the issue is explained to them in such a way that the conclusion is clear. I.e., abortion takes an innocent human life, therefore, it is wrong. As Fr. Richard John Neuhaus often said, “the Church proposes rather than imposes.”

    It is far less effective to argue “You are Catholic, therefore, you must believe this.” It plays into the worst caricatures of the Catholic faith, and only reinforces the belief that Catholics are slaves to the teaching of the bishops and must be freed.

    As an attorney, I am a professional arguer. Arguments from authority only go so far. It is far more effective to spell out the issues & facts and lead the jury to reach the conclusion you wish them to have.

  58. So many families are dealing with “same-sex” unions; we are, in fact, in our family.
    My mother agonized about whether or not to attend the “blessing” of a first cousin of mine in a Lutheran Church; I told her: “Mom, don’t go; if you are against this; don’t go. God doesn’t want this.”
    She didn’t.
    I don’t know if it was because of what I said or because of the guidance of the Good Lord.
    But more and more families are put into the situation of having to choose.
    And my Mom isn’t a Catholic. God bless her heart; she’s a true woman of faith, as far as I’m concerned. And she was afraid it would damage the relationship with her own brother, the father of the son who was going to make this “commitment” in a same-sex union.
    We have to be clear, strong and definite. But charitable and compassionate.
    Not so easy. Not at all.
    But our Lord is asking this of us…we have to respond “Yes”.

  59. Central Valley says:

    The bishop is straight out of Mahonyville. In my opinion this situation exemplifies the situation of the Church in the Unites States. We have hippie bishops classmates/followers of Roger Mahony and thanks be to GOd we have priests following thier Vicars John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Fr Rodriguez isd protecting the faithful and defending the faith. Can that be said of the limp wristed response of the bishop? Those of the Woodstock era are dying out, retiring or leaving in shame of molestations. Priests of the Fr. Rodriguez mold are the future leaders of the Church. We sure could use a Bishop Rodriguez here in the devestated vinyard of Central California. Readers should send letter of support to Fr. Rodriguez or perhaps make a telephone call to his office. Like most american bishops I would not waste my time writing to Bp. Ochoa.

  60. DetJohn says:

    From my point of view Fr. Michael Rodriguez is a Hero and Bishop Armando Ochoa is not one on this issue.

    Fr. Rodriguez is the Pastor of San Juan Bautista parish. The parish is home to the TLM in El Paso. The TLM is said Sunday thru Saturday with a Sunday thru Saturday Spanish language Novus Ordo.

    According to the Diocese of El Paso’s website Fr. Rodruguez is the only Priest assigned there.

    AS I recall Fr. Rodriquez has traveled to Brazil to lecture on the TLM.

    Bishop Ochoa is a product of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He was a Priest there and served as an Auxilary Bishop for 10 years before becoming Bishop of El Paso on 1 April 1996. He was consecrated by then non-cardinal Archbishop Mahoney in 1987.

    Irony is “Bishop Ochoa’s Message” on the Diocese’s website, 1st sentence is “Pray that the Good Shepherd calls worthy men to the priesthood.”

    It seems that there might be some ongoing tension between Bishop Ochoa and Fr.Rodriguez.

  61. JonM says:

    Wolfeken is right: the reality is that how this looks and filters down to the laity is ‘the Bishop slapped down the Priest.’

    I need to commend Nazareth Priest for eloquently stating a concern of mine:

    The ‘sanctity of marriage’ discussion has become a narrative written in crayon. Yes, of course institutionalized homosexual conduct is horrific. But so is an out of control exodus from marriage itself.

    Young people (Catholics included) are not marrying. And please, don’t think for a minute the 90%+ not marrying are living chaste into their 30s.

    Much of this has to do with the pandemic of pornography, strip clubs, normalcy of fornication, etc.

    But it also has to do with the loss of roles.

    Just as Christ is the head of the Church, so is the man the head of the family. Instead of accepting this, men have been trained to act boorish in sports and war worship. Women are given to Lady Gaga worship (um, where the heck is her Bishop by the way?!) or expecting a mansion, frequent vacations, and shopping sprees.

    Priests serious about the sanctity of marriage can’t stop at condemning those suffering with the temptation of homosexuality. They must encourage, in the face of pop culture, men and women to fill their unique roles.

    Vibrant, hard hitting sermons and TLMs will encourage us. Sappy ‘All are Welcome campaigns by USCCB will repel the fish.

    It’s pretty tough for youngish men, even those who love Christ, to fight off built in temptation when billboards depict sexual acts, women accept feminist ideals (I don’t need a man) – and Bishops leave us cold.

  62. B Knotts says:

    Fr.,

    If not now, when?

  63. JonM: I thank you and agree with you.
    Working with seminarians (some not so young), I have seen how the “sexualization” of our anti-culture has really prevented men from being true spouses in marriage or spouses in religious life/priesthood for the simple fact that sex is looked upon as “recreation” and “entitlement”. This takes its toll in many, many ways; believe you me. There are valiant men struggling day by day to give their lives to Christ, no matter in what vocation, in order to love and avail themselves to love.
    And any man who wants to free himself from this lie is going to have to undergo a real trial;
    marriage is not only for “those who want to have sex” and “have it as much as they want”; and celibacy is not just “not having sex”.
    It’s about moral maturity; growth in masculine identity; and the reality that sexual activity is NOT a right but a privilege of the married, and then in “boundaries”, if you will.
    The whole thing about “same-sex” unions and “marriage” is just another way of saying, “Let’s lower the bar a couple of feet, so everyone will feel justified”.
    Well, there is a new study out in Britain, can’t give you the details, but it’s there; gay men, whether or not in “unions”, are more likely to attempt suicide and be substance abusers.
    Anybody listening?
    It’s not the answer; these people need our help; they need our Lord Jesus Christ…and we’re giving them “pastoral compassion” which says: “Be yourself; have your relationships; you’re okay”.
    And a multitude of them know they are not “okay”.
    How in the hell is that being compassionate?

  64. luiz says:

    Fr. Rodriguez was perfect.

  65. Jerry says:

    It seems that Cardinal Ouellet’s recent message might apply in this situation:

    “[Bishops] need spiritual discernment and not just political calculation of the risk of the possibility of the message being received.”

    “We have to dare to speak to the deep heart, where the Spirit of the Lord is touching people beyond what we can calculate.”

  66. shadowlands says:

    Some great comments on this thread! Very helpful. Rob Cartusciello the proffessional arguer makes some good points and as always, Nazareth priest mixes compassion and authorititive preaching brilliantly.

    However, also, on the side of the more ‘in your face’ type of preaching, desperate times need desperate measures. We are not wrestling (arguing) simply, against flesh and blood, but battling against demonic forces intent on bringing us and our children to premature death and hell! That is why it saddens me so much when Catholics band into groups against each other. We are not our own main enemy. We need strong voices to remind us of this and blow the cobwebs away. Send in the soothers afterwards to repair egos, once the enemy has been targetted and defeated.
    Know his tactical approach. The devil always tempts me in a quiet way, dropping thoughts into my head quietly, almost whispering, such as “Go on, have a drink, you’ll be fine this time.” How amny times have I believed that line???????????? However, if I succumb, his language changes dramatically and he roars his condemnation upon me. I guess he will greet habitants to hell in such a way, laughing at us will be the kindest act he performs on us. He encourages liberal thinking in all matters, he gets on well with the defective side of my character, when it’s threatening to lash out in sin. But he torments the mind out of me afterwards!!

    Stick to your rosary, it works if you pray it!! Meanwhile, pray for our priests to be renewed, and reinforced. And for our sons and daughters (and ourselves) to be remade as God intended. He can rebuild us! Let’s stop attacking each other. As that great vat two hymn used to request of the Lord…”Bind us together Lord, with chords that cannot be broken”. Oh sorry, have I stuck that tune in all our heads now?? ;)

    Rosary.Rosary.Rosary!!

  67. Warren says:

    I suggest we think of the word “pastoral” in the sense of the necessity of giving someone an inoculation against a dangerous disease. One does one’s best to approach that vein with care, but there is no getting away from the fact that it’s a needle you’re wielding and it’s probably going to cause the recipient some discomfort.

    Though a healthcare worker may inflict a little pain during the administration of an injection, there’s no doubt that the inoculation is intended to protect the patient’s life and spare him from much more serious suffering. Likewise, the guidance of the priest might sting and cause some to complain in the here and now, but the priest surely has in mind the welfare of souls and the value of confronting his “patients” with the truth of the seriousness of their illness. Those of us who understand the eternal value of the medicine of the Gospel know that the sting of correction now is preferable to the agony of a never ending death in hell.

    Now, imagine that the aforementioned needle is something much larger. “For the word of God is living and effectual, and more piercing than any two edged sword; and reaching unto the division of the soul and the spirit, of the joints also and the marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” That’s right a sword, not a feather nor a wet noodle. Consider, also, Christ’s “pastoral” approach when he dealt with the money changers in the Temple.

    Lastly, I respectfully submit that our bishops meditate on the croziers they carry. Surely it’s not just a fancy walking stick.

    @ Jerry – thanks for the Ouellet quotes. We in Canada need more bishops like him.

  68. Midwest St. Michael says:

    I just wanted to say threads like this one is what keeps me coming back to WDTPRS. I mean, I am a catechist (for adults) – I try to implement what I read here into the way I teach the faith (not very well, sometimes).

    So many of you are incredibly intelligent – and have obviously been touched by the Lord to teach His Truth. It can be *really* intimidating to read the responses (especially on threads like this) and attempt to respond to either the topic or what has already been said. Usually, they all make me think hard about how I should approach catechesis – in whatever capacity that may entail – and rarely, if ever, post.

    I especially want to thank Fr. Z., nazareth priest, Supertradmum (only to name a few) for your comments. These are challenging times we live in. It seems to me that tough times call for tough love. Now, if I can just figure out how to do so (after praying, of course) with charity in the forefront of my mind.

  69. Mrs. O says:

    When is the right time?
    I have no clue as to what is going on in El Paso, but his column could have been written in any diocese.
    We have a hard time engaging and defining certain deviant behaviors in secular to begin with, let alone our Catholic Community. If we even utter it is unnatural (forget the teachings for now), we are being uncharitable, bigots, “fill in blank”, etc. Doctors now are even being silenced as to the destruction that the homosexual acts causes.
    We now have Catholics confused about conscience and obedience that they are somehow at odds with each other or a separate thing. If people do not know the acts are sinful, then that could be hurtful. But why don’t they know? When would be the right time?

  70. xgenerationcatholic says:

    As soon as good bishop said “As Church,” I knew where he was going. Sorry to be so prejudiced, but that’s just one of those buzz phrases that makes me see red.

  71. asperges says:

    That diocese needs to get its act together quickly on public utterances and handling the media. The problem here is not that two representatives of the Church are necessarily contradicting each other, but that they are arguing against each other in public and none too well.

    In so doing they cause confusion, make themselves look incompetent and cancel each other’s good points out. Or is there more to it than meets the eye? “A house divided within itself…”

  72. Supertradmum says:

    nazareth priest,

    Your situation with your mum is exactly the same situation which ended my RCIA career recently. Because Iowa now has “same sex marriages”, some of my RCIA candidates wanted to go to a wedding of two of their friends who were lesbians. Gently, but clearly, I explained that firstly, going meant they agreed with the position that such “marriages” were o.k. and secondly, they were endangering their own new-found faith by compromising and rationalizing. I also warned two young neophytes about the local Protestant Churches, some of which were including Native America rituals at weddings, and new age aspects, which compromised the Christian marriage. This also caused a stir, as I suggested when in doubt,and especially with the lack of “protestant orthodoxy” and the prevalence of fallen-away Catholics getting married in the local protestant churches, to talk to the priest about attending non-Catholic weddings. The pastor did not want to be bothered about such questions, and my “authority”, based on Catholic teaching regarding the sanctity of marriage, was not great enough to convince those who asked.

    Needless to say, I got in trouble with my pastor and the nun I worked with, for being “too harsh” and pre-Vatican II. I was told that one had to “love” people and not judge! Looking for a new full-time position….Wish I had been working for Father Rodriquez.

  73. stgemma_0411 says:

    All pastoral means, nowadays, is how far I can concede a certain level of tolerance for sin without sinning myself. It’s all about the wounded healer and about being the shining light for others to follow in the darkest of times. That’s all fine and dandy, except where has that gotten us in the last 30-40 years. Nowhere. It’s time to stop messing around with some of these people who accuse us of things we have never done. “Who are we to judge?” I’m not judging, I’m just telling you what’s going to happen when you commit that mortal sin and have no regret for it (i.e. no intention of confessing). I could go on ad nauseam about this issue, but will stop here. I think my point is clear. We need to start using pastoral for what it really means, and that is calling each other on to a higher standard, and not debasing the rest of us to the lowest common denominator possible. The way to heaven is the narrow gate, so if we are a bit too portly to enter, lose some weight and go through. Stop trying to convince the person who can’t fit, that they can make it.

  74. robtbrown says:

    IMHO, the principal fallacy in the bishop’s article is his ambiguous use of the word “disagreement”. Some disagreements are relatively minor–others more serious. If memory serves, there was disagreement with Nazi Germany about the conquest of France. He seems to place Catholic teaching in the minor disagreement category.

    He seems inclined toward what was once known as Americanism, which didn’t deny doctrine but rather minimalized its importance so that Catholics could blend in with secular culture.

  75. Supertradmom: Thank you; and Jesus will bless you for your fidelity.
    You’re in Iowa?
    I have a classmate who is a pastor in the Sioux City Diocese; a very faithful and orthodox priest…contact me via the website attached to my “name” if you want more info.

  76. skellmeyer says:

    Father Z, et. al,

    Re-read that “pastoral letter” a little more carefully.

    There were TWO priests involved in public letter campaigns in the newspaper on the issue of homosexuality, not just one.

    The pastoral letter acknowledges that when it mentions “priests”.

    Now, everyone is concerned and upset about Fr. R’s. remarks – which were all perfectly orthodox.

    I have yet to read a smidgen of commentary, concern or upset on the other priest’s public remarks, which were substantially heterodox.

  77. Cosmos says:

    The problem is that we play this game where we pretend that all direct moral prohibitions are incomprehensible until put in preceisely the correct psychological and intellectual context. God’s command, thou shalt not committ adultry, is deemed just empty words until transalated. For practical purposes, the sinner currently dictates whether or not the teacher has made the teaching sufficiently clear so as to bind him.

    Under this view, there was no use in Moses relaying God’s command not to covet to the hungry, lost, and confused Isrealite people. There is simply no way a people wandering in the desert could comprehend such a teaching in that form. Similarly, Paul’s warning various Mediterranean Churches against sodomy and fornication was too hamfisted for the Greek world. We now act as if it the teachers fault if the sinner ever rebels against God’s law because the teacher could have presented the issue with more dleicacy, subtelty, sophistication, or sensitivity. The Bible obviosuly does not put this much pressure on the preacher.

    You don’t need to be a certified psychologist to teach that homosexuality is wrong. You can just be a normal guy who takes the word of God seriously. It is fine to say, homosexual acts are always evil, so long as you don’t ommit (in general) that God loves all sinners and is waiting for them to repent with open arms. Being pastroal is not so complicated as we make it out to be- Love the sinner hate the sin. Comfort the afflicted, afflict the comforted. The faith is not for they hyper-educated elite, it is for the humble the wise, and often the simple.

    Modern Catholics are hard pressed to explain why you would not be safer never having heard the Gospel, as your ignorance would pretect you from ever committing a sin with grave intentions. Justifying ignorance- it truly is bliss!

    Woah to

  78. I see the priest’s letter as clear, loving guidance on sin and responsibility.

    I see a far more muddied statement from the bishop. It is easy to interpret that yes, some things may be technically sins but we must be tolerant and accepting. Tolerance and acceptance are more important than than saving souls.

    Referring to the priest’s letter as personal opinions only will be widely interpreted that he is a conservative maverick who has stepped far over the line of what the Church teaches. Very sad, more souls lost…

  79. nazareth priest — 23 August 2010 @ 5:52 pm
    Bravo!

  80. Jerry says:

    @skellmeyer – “I have yet to read a smidgen of commentary, concern or upset on the other priest’s public remarks, which were substantially heterodox.”

    I suspect no one here has seen the second priest’s remarks. Do you have a link to them?

  81. wolfeken says:

    It is a little disappointing to see a few comments above give the bishop all the benefits of the doubt. Clearly the effect of his op-ed in a major local secular newspaper was to respond to (slap down) Father Rodqiguez’ earlier column. Anyone who does not see the connection, in my opinion, is living in a pretend fantasy world. Seriously, why else would that appear at this time?

    We need to get rid of lawyerly thinking and ramp up crystal clear statements. If you offer lawyer-thinking to people, like Cardinal McCarrick and Archbishop Wuerl did during the U.S. elections, then you give the pro-abortion, pro-sodomy side easy cover. It doesn’t matter what McCarrick/Wuerl intend or even deep-down says — if they are offering even a jiggle of wiggle room, then wiggle room shall be seized upon by the enemy. Google “Pelosi” and “Kerry” and “Kennedy” and “abortion” and “Catholic” and “communion.”

    Until bishops and priests say cleary and with an AIR TIGHT set of words what is required of Catholics and what the PENALTIES are for not adhering to those requirements, then we will continue to be a country where the majority of Catholic lawmakers promote pro-abortion, pro-sodomy laws and policies with no penalty imposed by their bishops.

    We’re a sound-bite nation. Talk to people that way. You vote for this abortion bill? You’re excommunicated. You support this pro-homosexual politician? You’re outta’ here. The bishop’s op-ed does the complete opposite by jiggling and wiggling.

    We are starting to progress with some bishops on the pro-life issue (Burke, Chaput, etc.) But we are hemorraging on homosexual policy because almost no one is man enough to tell the not-so-PC-truth to Catholics. Except Father Rodriguez, who gets publicly slammed by his bishop.

  82. Will D. says:

    It is a little disappointing to see a few comments above give the bishop all the benefits of the doubt.

    Heaven forfend we give the benefit of the doubt to a bishop. He obviously deserves no deference to his rank or his position as a teacher of the faith.

  83. Anonymous Seminarian says:

    “Perceived Arrogance” is one of my favorite seminary buzz words. It is perhaps second only to “not being pastoral” as a great way of blindly labeling the faithful, traditional seminarian who has a backbone and yearns to teach what the Church teaches. The question is not whether, in reality, you were arrogant, or your statements were arrogant–they only need to prove that someone somewhere perceived you as being arrogant and the conviction is irrefutable. I’m sure that just about any seminarian reading this article has been accused of this, and probably multiple instances of ‘not being pastoral’. You think that, after so many years of using these catch phrases, they would realize we’ve broken their code long ago (I’m actually a little surprised the bishop did not call the article ‘rigid’), and switch it up a little. At least for variety–you know, like “in these or similar words…”

  84. Jerry says:

    I just noticed Fr. Z did not include a link to Fr. Rodriguez’s article: http://www.elpasotimes.com/ci_15649815
    (N.B. It appears the paper removes articles from the web site after one month, at which time they can be obtained from the archival service for $2.95. If you want a copy of the full letter, best to get it now.)

    To put some more context around the situation: Fr. Rodriguez wrote two articles for El Paso Times earlier this year, the second being a response to a response to his first article. The second article may be the heterodox article Skellmeyer referred to previously.

    Unfortunately all three articles are archived, but the titles and opening paragraphs seem to give a good indication of the direction they take.

    _Church opposes redefinition of morality_ (Fr. Rodriguez)

    It behooves me to emphasize the following truths to all the Catholic faithful of our diocese: Every single Catholic has the absolute duty to oppose the murder of unborn babies; every single Catholic has the absolute duty to oppose any government attempt to legalize homosexual unions.

    The Holy Catholic Church has the power, given to her by Jesus Christ himself, to teach infallibly in the areas of faith and morals. Basing herself on sacred tradition and sacred Scripture, and in virtue of what…

    _Catholic church must keep arms open to all_ (Rev. Ed Roden-Lucero)

    For the benefit of all people of good will regardless of faith, race or orientation, I write to offer a broader pastoral, scriptural and ecclesial perspective compared to that offered by Rev. Michael Rodriguez, (Church Opposes Redefinition of Morality, March 21).

    An appropriate starting point is a question proposed to Jesus in the gospel and his response to it. When asked which commandment is the most important, Jesus replies first with the well-known commandment to love God “…

    _Catholics must show true faith_ (Fr. Rodriguez)

    My purpose in writing is to present the unadulterated teachings of the Holy Catholic Church. Why? Because only fidelity to Jesus Christ and His beloved Church will bring happiness and salvation to our poor souls.

    Everything I wrote in the first part of my March 21 column is Catholic Church teaching, pure and simple. On the other hand, Rev. Roden-Lucero’s criticisms are neither valid nor accurate.

  85. TJerome says:

    I reviewed the comments of readers to the bishop’s article and was pleasantly surprised that a large number were in support of the priest. I hope Bishop Ochoa takes a gander. His approach to Catholicism is sooooooooooooooooooo 1960s/70s.

  86. Cosmos says:

    “Heaven forfend we give the benefit of the doubt to a bishop. He obviously deserves no deference to his rank or his position as a teacher of the faith.”

    Your sarcastic statement is unassailable from a certain perspective. However, it is jarring–not to mention ironic–for Bishops to be perpetually liberalizing and modernizing the institutional Church in harmony with our modern democratic values and then demanding a derference based on a very different system/worldview. Many Bishops do not act like Fathers or Princes; they act like polititians/CEOs/PR experts/managers but expect to remain free from the checks and criticism that keeps men in those positions accountable. This seems unbalanced. Further, many people are interpreting this situation in a bigger framework. They have been giving their bishops the deference they deserve for decades only to see a consistent pattern of good priests being explained away and bad priests justified. Does deference demand an indefinite silence in the face of this percieved problem? At what point can one admit that the soft sell not only isn’t working but is itself problematic without sinning against the hierarchy?

  87. Fr_Sotelo says:

    wolfeken: As skellmeyer and Jerry point out, Bishop Ochoa is not responding merely to Fr. Rodriguez. Unfortunately, most of us who have heard about the goings on in El Paso did not realize another priest was involved who wrote things totally opposed to Fr. Rodriguez. So, what we think is a letter from the Bishop to slap down Fr. R. is actually a letter addressing the issues of both priests.

    That now gives me a different sense of the Bishop’s letter. [Indeed. My high alert aerials were zinging when I read the bishop’s letter. I suspected that something was in the background that I didn’t know.] Yes, it could be seen as chiding Fr. R. for not being more pastoral in his approach. [Could be.. yes. I think it is also that.] But it also reaffirms at the same time that the Church is against abortion and gay marriage, so that would put the dissenters in their place [True.] if they were attempting a “Redefinition of Morality” as Fr. R. puts it. It also helps to make sense of why the Bishop wanted no divisions in the Body of Christ.

    Ochoa is telling the dissenters as well that they cause division if they wish to present a different teaching which does not speak for the Catholic Church.

  88. asophist says:

    THREEHEARTS said:
    “But you see God did not create anything other than man and woman and as Christ said anything else is from the devil.”
    My question to you is: What about hermaphrodites? If they’re born, didn’t God create them? Thanks to original sin, we all suffer our defects – moral and otherwise. Therefore, those who live in glass houses . . .

  89. Leonius says:

    When I hear pastoral I am always reminded of the compassion of Judas for the poor in John 12, false worldly compassion.

  90. Supertradmum says:

    Anonymous Seminarian,

    Your comment is “spot-on”, and I assume with the term “perceived arrogance” that you have heard “triumphalist” and “hard-liner” as well. When a seminary rector tells his men that he is afraid they will “scare away” those in the pew with their new ideas of preaching the Truth, one knows how far the rot has set in. Same rector told the men that what is important is “being nice” and “being open” and “not to be so doctrinal”.

    Fits into the mold of those who count numbers in the pews rather than being concerned with saving souls.

  91. Gail F says:

    As several people have written that this is in response to a lot of letters, two from priests and the rest from lay people, I don’t think that I am in a position to judge whether the bishop’s response was the right one for the situation — which I know nothing about. I wish more people here would admit the same. There’s a time for a bishop to be blunt and a time to be diplomatic; I have no idea which this is for this diocese.

  92. Agnes says:

    Both/And, folks. Both/And. Truth in charity. Also, be careful careful careful about roasting bishops. Are their feet not already sizzling with one kind of fire or another? One priest told me when I was grousing – there are no BAD bishops, only bishops who are in need of your fasting and prayers!

  93. templariidvm says:

    Are American homosexuals so abused and tormented by our unyielding society that they can truly take no more? (If any think they are, read about homosexuals in Amsterdam). Rather, is it more likely that the homosexuals, buoyed by the media, government and Hollywood may have a chink in the agenda they push (Prop 8)? Border issues are border issues. Do those who sin in stressful areas get a pass for their actions because life is too stressful? If a person is having financial problems, is it ok for them to have an affair because their stress level is too great? How many of us hear sin denounced on a regular basis? Anyone? Unless Father R is constantly preaching about this, I have a hard time faulting him for his timing OR his message.

  94. Andreas says:

    There is one point in all of this that makes me wonder. As a career military officer, I have found that one of the characteristics most valued in ones leaders and subordinates is the attribute of directness…that is, a lack of ambiguity when describing a situation. Whether as an answer to a question or in describing an event, it is expected of all in unfirom that they will provide truthful concise and accurate responses. While this might always be the case, such clarity is respected and much sought after. Why, then, is the same such clarity something to be eschewed when discussing the tenets of our faith? Why cloak directness behind a facade of soft ambiguities that only tend to obfuscate? Perhaps what is needed in a time of strife both from without and within The Church is focus, clarity and directness of speech; these may indeed prove to be the best attributes of love.

  95. Andreas: Why cloak directness behind a facade of soft ambiguities that only tend to obfuscate?

    Why indeed?

  96. Thank you, all of you, for your affirmation of anything I have written. I have to tell you that I don’t often receive “thanks” or “affirmation”, and while this isn’t essential, it is truly appreciated. God love and bless you!
    My fundamental concern here; and although I do not know the dynamics of the relationship between this priest and his bishop; is that the bishop is to be the “spiritual father” to his priests; the priest is (in the ideal sense) the son; you don’t excoriate your son in public…you reprimand him in private.
    But, unfortunately, many Bishops see themselves as CEOs…and not as being bound to their priests as father to son; this is sad; this is tragic.
    I think this is the greatest tragedy of this whole thing; why wasn’t Fr. R. called to “his father”, the Bishop, to work these things out?
    The feast of St. Bartholomew is today…a man without guile…may we pray for Bishops that they may have the grace to be “without guile”…to love their priests as sons, instead of “workers”.

  97. This reminds me so much of political correctness, something I have seen much too much of. If you can’t outright quash the Church’s teachings, then silencing the direct truth via a cloak of apparent charity – commonly called “pastoral” – is used. Or maybe it was father’s biretta…

  98. PC Catholicism is so 1970’s, Kudos to Fr R

  99. evener says:

    Father Rs statements made me recall the time when maybe 1/2 the congregation didn’t go to the alter rail for Holy Communion, and our family went up once a month, after confession the day before. All these years I thought that people didn’t go even when they should have, but now I know the truth. In those days we were taught what sin is, and had no doubts about our unworthiness. Our priests sounded like Father R.

  100. annieoakley says:

    Why is it that so many priests run screaming in the other direction if it’s suggested to them that they should make themselves available to become bishops at some point? There are a lot of talented, dedicated priests who would make wonderful bishops and help to steer the Church back on its course. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems as if many of the current crop of bishops got the job because they toed the party line of their substandard predecessors. The few glorious exceptions (Archbishop Burke, for example) only seem to prove the rule of mediocrity that governs the selection of candidates for that office.

  101. czemike says:

    Looks like Michael Voris has addressed this topic and come to a somewhat different conclusion than Fr. Z:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2HTaxNWJlkY

    Definitely worth watching.

  102. greg the beachcomber says:

    OK, the good bishop is responding to two priests’ letters, one orthodox and stern, the other unorthodox and accepting. This does change the way the letter reads.

    However, words like tolerance/intolerance, acceptance, pastoral, etc. are so vague as to mean all things to all people, which means they mean nothing. If the bishop’s intent was to resolve any dispute on the Church’s positions, it was a big swing and a miss. If it was to step into the sandbox and admonish the kids to play nice, then it’s juice boxes for everyone. Unfortunately, juice boxes don’t get you into heaven.

    When all God’s people of good will read sentences like “As Church we want to journey with everyone as they search for meaning in their lives” from their bishops, do we really wonder why they have difficulty with words that say exactly what they mean, like the ones Fr. Rodriguez used?

  103. contrarian says:

    Having read the column by Fr. Rodriguez and watched the exchange between Fr. Rodriguez and Mr. Silva, I’m left wondering whether Fr. Rodriguez missed a great teaching point. For all of his wonderful referencing to Holy Mother Church, his arguments were hardly Catholic specific. In fact, they seemed rather, gulp, Protestant. For a Roman Catholic, the issue of the morality of homosexual acts is directly tied to the issue of procreation. This means, among other things, that a responsible and Catholic-specific vantage point on the issue can do much to clarify by referencing the immorality of contraceptive heterosexual sex. I’d suggest that a Roman Catholic, therefore, should always bring up the issue of contraception when referencing the issue of same-sex unions. In fact, I would argue that a Roman Catholic should be careful in how they go about advocating against same-sex unions, especially if it entails partnering with conservative Protestants who most likely don’t share their views on contraceptive sex. One of the great tragedies of the Proposition 8 vote in California was the fact that millions of contracepting ‘conservatives’ voted against same-sex unions. I don’t want to go so far as to suggest that this necessarily shows a great level of hypocrisy or mere bigotry in the conservative ranks as a result of this sad fact. I would rather simply stress that a Catholic should have a bad taste in their mouths if same-sex unions are seen as problematic independent of the very reasons for why this is so. Because only the Catholic can give reasons that aren’t arbitrarily discriminating against the gay community. Unfortunately, Fr. Rodriguez didn’t do anything in his column or video interview with Mr. Silva to give the impression that he was coming from a particularly Catholic vantage point.

  104. irishgirl says:

    Bravo to Fr. Rodriguez!

    And an equal ‘Bravo’ to you, nazareth priest, for your eloquent and hard-hitting words!

  105. RichR says:

    Isn’t it a Catholic teaching that people who are living in habitual grave sin (homosexuals in an active lifestyle, those involved in the abortion industry, etc….) have relinquished their human dignity by choosing a godless lifestyle? My understanding is that instructing the ignorant allows these souls to reclaim their lost dignity – it is not an affront to their dignity.

    I am not judging the Bishop, but I am seeking clarification on the ideas he is presenting. Is what he’s saying Catholic doctrine?

  106. cl00bie says:

    I find myself grinning at this “good cop”, “bad cop” team and enjoying the usage of the technique. The bishop never contradicted any of the points that the good father made in his editorial, he just didn’t slam the suspect up against the car and yell “spread em’!”

    The bishop extended the “all are welcome” theme without minimizing the sinfulness of the *acts*. This in my opinion is pastoral and it was well played.

    I can almost see the bishop and priest sitting down to dinner at the chancery over a nice bottle of wine, smiling and discussing how well their technique worked. :)

  107. cl00bie: An intriguing idea. I wonder if you are right.

  108. PaterAugustinus says:

    The “Pastoral” card is played often in the (American) Orthodox Church, too, usually in a problematic way. Often, it is used simply as a synonym for “bending the rules beyond recognition (or simply breaking them), because dealing plainly with the hard truth of the matter may involve confrontation or unpleasantness.”

    In answer to the questions:

    1) •Does “pastoral” never allow for hard language?

    I think it is very plain, that it sometimes requires it, above and beyond allowing for it. The job of the pastor is to shepherd souls with a care for their salvation. Anybody who reads any Patristic work on pastoral care, or anybody who looks at the Canonical Tradition of the Church, will know that certain sinners and certain sins, in certain circumstances, require different pastoral approaches. St. Gregory’s “Cura Pastoralis,” for example, often contrasts the different types of sinners and sins, saying how sometimes sharpness and firmness in exhortation are needed, and sometimes more gentle encouragement is the right medicine. I think one occasion, on which it is necessary to be clear, is when public confusion over faith and morals is widespread and scandalizes the laity and society in a broad manner. Clear, definitive teaching – which will be read by many (esp. by those, for whom it strikes a nerve) as “harsh,” even if it isn’t particularly.

    2) •Is there a way in which we have perhaps gotten a bit overly sensitive or squeamish?

    Absolutely. A great effeminization of Western civilization has taken place, where every moral impetus, every movement of rational thought, is quelled by the immediate and tyrannical impulse to step aside from what is right and necessary, and towards what is comfortable and non-threatening; this suspends or interrupts the important process of forming sober judgments and acting in a just manner. This has created an whole culture of passivity in the face of every societal problem requiring a proactive treatment from our soul’s highest faculties – and, consequently, it produces a great deal of discomfort and squeamishness amongst the many individuals, who have let their powers of thought atrophy through long disuse (and domination by the more passionate aspects of the soul).

    Strangely, this irrationality has been enshrined as the truly rational and “progressive” way of acting in the popular imagination, and millions take it on faith that to be enlightened, is to never employ one’s faculty of reason in an adult manner. It is amazing how easily the left avoids discussion of pertinent facts and information (using emotional blackmail via terms like “hate speech,” “homophobia,” “intolerance,” etc.), while professing to be the party of thinking, intellectual, modern folk. To be fair, I suppose this has as much to do with the belief that everything is relative (since there is no “Truth,” but only “truths”), as it has to do with our society’s vain passivity-complex.

    I don’t envy the predicament of priests and bishops in these cultural circumstances. More than ever, they not only called upon to teach doctrine clearly, but also to bring forwarded sophisticated arguments not primarily based upon religious doctrine, showing a comprehensive knowledge even of the scienctific and philosophical details of major societal controversies.

    For example, I obviously agree with Fr. Michael Rodriguez in affirming Church teachings… but, I think his style would only be effective in another time or culture. Many people today (even many faithful) are not easily impressed by “the Lord Jesus Christ and His Church teach x.” There is a rational basis for accepting the Tradition as authoritative without the need for non-(explicitly)-religious justifications of Its position… but, most people have not really examined this or made it their own. And so, a cleric expressing doctrine merely on these grounds, may not be taken seriously by many. A great equalization of “voices” and “opinions” has occurred, and even many faithful expect to hear a defense of doctrine on broader terms. And in these pluralistic times, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for the faithful to want such defenses of Church doctrine; if their conscience is not properly formed, they must rely upon such things to some extent, until they can come to understand the rational reasons for always relying on the Tradition, even before all the facts of various pro- and con- arguments are heard. And of course, it is the glory proper to man’s nobility, to see how faith and reason accord, even while not insisting that every dogma be rationally obvious to his mind. So, it is good to offer such arguments in any case.

    Perhaps Fr. Michael would have done more of this, given the time; I do notice that he quoted Dr. Nicolosi, who is very active in the work of NARTH (a community of psychotherapists and psychologists who put forward very scientifically sound papers on homosexual topics, without basing their work upon religious doctrine). I won’t bother discussing the scientific evidence’ overwhelming support for homosexuality not being a simple matter of genetic predermination; I encourage anybody wanting to debunk the “born that way” claim, to go to http://www.narth.com right away, and read the excellent materials there. Perhaps one thing could be mentioned here, though: even pro-gay studies reveal that identical twins (sharing identical genetic codes and identical womb environments), do not always (or even often) share a struggle with homosexual impulses. If homosexuality were a simple question of genetics, every twin on earth would share sexual “orientation” with his or her twin. The fact that this is not true, is conclusive proof of the obvious… but, unsurprisingly, basic information like this – which absolutely ends a central part of the debate – is never given a public forum. As I say, go to Narth’s website to hear more about the science.

    Anyway, pastors face very difficult circumstances these days; a certain degree of sophistication, a boldness to make pertinent information public, and a willingness to speak with courtesy and respect, while also making clear distinctions (and defending Tradition) falls to them, perhaps more than at any other period in history. There have always been theological disputes; but the disputes over the very basis of knowledge, science, spirituality and Truth has never been more fundamental, and Traditional voices have never been more overwheled by disinformation and what amounts to manifest insanity and blind irrationality. I respect Fr. Michael’s clear stance; but I do wish he would show more sophistication in attempting to bring arguments to bear, which even secular minds could respect… provided they were willing to think rationally for a brief interval!