Another front for bullying the Church

In the increasing hot culture war, the Catholic Church is going to be torched more and more often.  Here is an example.

A disturbing article appeared in the site NorthJersey.com.

East Rutherford Catholic church’s gay music director to quit over priest’s sermon
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
BY DEON J. HAMPTON
STAFF WRITER
The Record

EAST RUTHERFORD – A gay [I detest the misappropriation of that word] Catholic church musician on Wednesday said he will voluntarily leave his post in two weeks because his pastor allegedly created a hostile work environment after preaching against homosexuality. [I wonder how many staffers using contraception would be willing to do the same?]

Marriage between two men is a lie,” Robert Russell, who has been a music minister at St. Joseph Parish for 22 years, said the newly appointed pastor preached to the congregation July 10. [That was a sentence?]

The Rev. Joseph Astarita, who became pastor of the church in July, declined to comment.

Jim Goodness, Archdiocese of Newark spokesman, also declined to comment on the resignation. But he did say, “Catholic churches are allowed to employ people based on [the church’s] belief.

[Get this one...] The Vatican does not condone homosexuality.

“My feeling at that point was to walk out,” Russell, 58, of Hackensack said of the alleged comments made during the sermon. “But I didn’t because I have a responsibility to the choir and church.”

He said he met with Astarita in August to discuss the remarks and to reveal he was gay and had a partner of 15 years.

“His comments against gay marriage were insensitive and uncomfortable,” said Russell, who admitted he felt pressured to leave his job. He has retained attorney David L. Wikstrom.

Wikstrom said that Russell “couldn’t properly perform his work because of his sexuality, thus creating a hostile and adverse work environment.”

According to Russell, the pastor expressed concern about his involvement in a yet-to-be created children’s choir and allegedly told him he would be a “poor example.”

[...]

Longtime church member Pam Lakefield was in the congregation when Astarita preached the sermon and said his comments were “offensive,” and that the priest is teaching horrible thoughts.

“He’s losing parishioners,” said Lakefield, a member since 1970, who is strongly considering leaving the church[Same ol' same ol'...]

St. Joseph members say the church has traditionally been liberal, but the pastor is “ultra-conservative.”  [blah blah blah]

The parish was once led by the Rev. Mychal Judge, chaplain of the New York Fire Department who was the first confirmed death of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. In the years since his death, it has been widely reported that Judge was a celibate gay priest.

Russell said the church has been run by the Franciscan order for the past 99 years. But the order gave up the church in July due to low staffing numbers and the archdiocese took over in July, he said. Astarita joined the church after the change.

Russell said his last day will be Sept. 30.

“I felt his words were an attack on my integrity and I felt it was hostile and it was harassment.”

E-mail: hampton@northjersey.com

Rather PC, no?  Lot’s of twists and turns to that twisty turny piece.

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72 Responses to Another front for bullying the Church

  1. Joanne says:

    I like the way this priest phrased the issue, ie, “marriage between two men is a lie.” That resonates with me. It’s just a lie in a natural law kind of way; one doesn’t need to be religious to get that.

    It’s always kind of stunning to me when people are incensed that a priest would give a homily on…what the Church teaches. Did the offended parties not realize they were in a Catholic church?

    I honestly don’t think our culture is so far gone that there will be any basis found for the lawsuit that is evidently brewing. I’ll be praying we’re not that far gone anyways.

  2. pforrester says:

    The pending lawsuit negates any sympathy.

  3. contrarian says:

    A homily in a Catholic church where gay marriage is mentioned and condemned? By clergy? To the faithful?

    Sounds fishy…
    :)

    “I wonder how many staffers using contraception would be willing to do the same?”

    Bingo.

  4. rfox2 says:

    St. Joseph members say the church has traditionally been liberal, but the pastor is “ultra-conservative.”

    These days, it’s actually pretty progressive to preach the orthodox faith. It’s old-hat and party line to preach the pro-homosexual, women’s ordination, pro-choice anti-gospel. Way to go, Fr. Astarita!

  5. irishgirl says:

    I’ll say this to Mr. Russell: Oh, boo hoo. Too bad for you.
    The Church does not condone homosexuality. This is what She teaches. She won’t change it to accommodate your sinful ‘lifestyle’.
    If you don’t like it, Mr. Russell, then you’re free to go. Don’t let the door hit you in the rear on the way out.
    Same with Mr. Lakefield. ‘Goom-bye’, as King Charles VII said to the ghost of St. Joan of Arc at the end of Shaw’s ‘Saint Joan’. Good riddance.
    [end of 'small rant']

  6. Tom Esteban says:

    I will be praying for this good, holy priest. May the Lord bless him abundantly! It almost brings me to tears – to think, a good priest preaching the Gospel of Christ being threatened with legal action by his own flock. It’s sad. Which means we should also be praying for the parish and for Robert Russel especially. There is much to be hopeful about, but this kind of thing really brings me down. It brings to mind this Psalm:

    How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
    How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
    How long will my enemy triumph over me?

    Look on me and answer, LORD my God.
    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
    and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
    and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

    But I trust in your unfailing love;
    my heart rejoices in your salvation.
    I will sing the LORD’s praise,
    for he has been good to me.

    Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

  7. Glen M says:

    Funny how ‘ultra-conservative’ is now a synonym for orthodox or faithful to Church teachings.

  8. kat says:

    Frankly, if this man has been living with his “partner” for 15 years, what was he doing pretending to be a Catholic? Either live by what the Church teaches, or please, stay away. It’s one thing to know we are all sinners, admitting it frequently in and out of confession. It’s another thing to live in the state of sin without repentance. One is not Catholic, if one refuses to believe what the Church teaches.

    good riddance; and please, don’t put these people in front of children’s groups in any way, shape, or form.

    God bless this good priest. May his bishop protect him.

    I was sad to read about the priest from 9-11 being accused as a “celibate gay” priest. If one is celibate, then one is celibate, end of discussion. And to make charges after his death is just plain wrong. Requiescat in Pace.

  9. moon1234 says:

    What MANY Catholics do not realize is that the Church EMPLOYS non-catholics in many areas. They are librarians, teachers, grounds keepers, music coordinators, etc. THIS is a problem in many areas. It creates legal and scandal problems when things like this happen.

    The Church needs to start requiring only Catholics to be employed in certain areas that deal directly with Church. This whole “Hostile Work Environment” is a canard. This “person” knew what the Church teaching was if he had been employed as LONG as he had BY the Church. This is simply a homosexual lashing out when exposed to the truth of both God’s law AND natural law.

    It is sort of like beating on the wall to punish it after you smash into it with your car. How dare the wall stop your car.

  10. anilwang says:

    Political correctness is a flawed and dangerous theology.

    It doesn’t matter how politically popular/powerful an idea is. If it’s wrong it’s wrong. Slavery is wrong even if “everyone does it”. Hitler was wrong even if he won the war and there was no one left to oppose it.

    He really needs to be careful about his theology. If morality is determined purely by popularity and power, then he’s only one dictator or popular movement away from the death camps…as we all are.

    Like it or not, the “politically incorrect” Church is his only hope.

  11. “In the years since his death, it has been widely reported that Judge was a celibate gay priest.”

    Something wrong here? So far as I know, the word “gay” refers to a sexually active sub-culture, and celibate homosexuals do not identify themselves as “gay”.

    So far as Catholics are concerned, I wonder how a person’s sexual orientation could possibly be determined (or be relevant) at Holy Mass. Think about it . . . You enter the church, genuflect and enter the pew. You kneel for your prayers of preparation. You stand, sit, and kneel at the appropriate points during the liturgy. You either do or do not go forward for Holy Communion. After the final blessing and your prayers of thanksgiving at then end of Mass, you genuflect and leave. Now . . . At what point have you had occasion to reveal your sexual orientation to anyone?

    Seriously, how would a homosexual act any differently at Mass than a heterosexual? How would anyone know who is what? So of what relevance is any of this?

  12. Di says:

    I believe the attacks are going to get much worse. satan(will not capitalize) knows his time here is growing short this is when we (true) Catholics need to stand by our Good and Holy Priests no matter the cost to us here on Earth.
    I have been quoting this passage a lot lately
    Mark 12
    14 Who coming, say to him: Master, we know that thou art a true speaker, and carest not for any man; for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar; or shall we not give it?
    15 Who knowing their wiliness, saith to them: Why tempt you me? bring me a penny that I may see it.
    16 And they brought it him. And he saith to them: Whose is this image and inscription? They say to him, Caesar’s.
    17 And Jesus answering, said to them: Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.
    How may sermons have we had telling us to give monetarily? How many times have we not heard what we are supposed to hear ?

    I admire this Good and Holy priest who speaks the truth. Another passage (one of many) that I live by is:
    2 Timothy
    1 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus:
    2 And the things which thou hast heard of me by many witnesses, the same commend to faithful men, who shall be fit to teach others also.
    3 Labor as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
    4 No man, being a soldier to God, entangleth himself with secular businesses; that he may please him to whom he hath engaged himself.
    5 For he also that striveth for the mastery, is not crowned, except he strive lawfully.
    Rev. Joseph Astarita, I admire you, and you have picked up your cross I hope and pray that you have the strength to carry it all the way. I would gladly be Simon for you Sir….
    May God Bless and watch over you Always!!

    Thanks Father Z for sharing this.
    God Bless as Always praying for you!
    Di

  13. AnAmericanMother says:

    I’m seeing a pattern here in this and other posts on this issue recently.

    No matter how good the intentions of those who allow special consideration (special parishes, or Masses, or employment despite disagreement with the Church’s teachings) for those with homosexual inclinations — and no matter how good the intentions of those with homosexual inclinations who are doing their best either to live a chaste life or struggle directly with their affliction — once the special consideration is allowed the situation just becomes more and more radicalized. It is never static – it always changes, and usually towards extremes. The attempts (contradicted by his family & friends) to make Fr. Judge a posthumous patron of ‘gays’ are a sign of the times, as well as an indication of the lengths some ‘gay’ advocates will go to to gain what they perceive as an advantage.

    I think this is a function of the vast majority of people in the subculture, who are assured by the media, by government, and by others in their group that they are o.k. just as they are and have no need to change or even consider their ‘orientation’ as an occasion of sin or something to guard against. Once they bring that attitude with them into the Church, a major conflict is only a matter of time — as this music director demonstrates.

    Saw this happen myself with the Episcopalians. What began as a well intended (I hope) ‘outreach’ effort articulated to make those with homosexual inclinations ‘more comfortable’, avoid ‘bullying’ and ‘homophobia’, and welcome them into the church, swiftly became an acceptance of actual behavior and then outright promotion of the entire subculture, including some very extreme and risky behavior. Ultimately an Atlanta parish turned up on Craigslist as a recommended place for anonymous hookups. Not to mention the ‘bishop’ who abandoned his wife and two daughters to live in sin with another man.

    We just don’t want to go there, folks. Believe me, I have every sympathy for those who feel excluded or discriminated against, especially those who struggle with their inclinations. My mom is a professional dancer so I have known homosexual men — good, bad, and indifferent — all my life. But the consequences of catering to those feelings are far, far worse in the long run. And subjective feelings in many cases are either not borne out by the facts (I don’t see any evidence of ‘homophobia’ around our very orthodox parish, and I’m pretty sensitive to it given my upbringing) or they can be dealt with in other ways.

  14. shane says:

    Yeah, that piece is very badly reported. Most media organs these days are totally ignorant about Catholicism and that is reflected in their ‘reporting’. That has not always been the case (read religious reports in secular newspapers from 50 years ago and the difference in quality is quite shocking).

  15. 1. It would seem appropriate to ask for the intercession of Fr. Judge. Pastors gotta stick together.

    2. The real issue would seem to be that the pastor had no intention of letting the music director create a public scandal for the kids in a proposed children’s choir. Adults may be able to deal with a division between art and life; kids can’t.

    3. Pastors often dump music directors and parish musicians (paid or unpaid, makes no difference) at a moment’s notice and for no given reason; it’s not nice but it happens. If Father had really wanted to make a “hostile work environment” for this guy, he would have found a pink slip on his desk already, before the school year started, so that Father could get somebody else (or institute silent Masses or whatever he felt like doing). I’m sure this musician guy knows that; it’s a fact of life in the Catholic church music world; so this is almost certainly a big load of horse hockey.

  16. BLB Oregon says:

    If this case were actually to go to court, it would be a huge case, right up there with Mockaitis v. Harcleroad, in which Lane County in Oregon, unbeknownst to the confessor, made an audiotape of the sacrament of penance at the Lane County Jail. The audiotape was not only subsequently listened to by attorneys from the DA’s office and under disclosure rules by the penitent’s attorney and a fellow defendant’s attorney, but also transcribed into a typed document.
    http://www.zenit.org/article-26692?l=english
    http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-9th-circuit/1073304.html

    No matter the sentiment of those who go there, St. Joseph Church in East Rutherford is a Roman Catholic church. If the Catholic faith as taught by the Holy Father and the Magesterium cannot be taught there in its entirety, without qualification or apology, then the Roman Catholic faith has been driven underground in New Jersey. That is not an impossible scenario. We cannot just assume that religious freedoms will win out in court. These freedoms have to be protected, or else they will be lost.

    As Fr. Mockaitis told Zenit concerning his case: “Despite the state authorities’ and the District Attorney’s promise at that time that the tape would be destroyed after the murder trial of the inmate, the tape still exists to this very day.”

  17. Supertradmum says:

    Years ago in Illinois, an organist and head of liturgy at a prominent Catholic Church was asked to leave because he decided to live openly with his same-sex partner. He left somewhat quietly. No lawsuit that I know of. The difference is that the organist knew the teachings of the Catholic Church and admitted he was against those, and this fact created a dissonant relationship with the pastor and the entire congregation.

    Sometimes I wonder if active homosexuals and lesbians put themselves in position where they can sue a Catholic parish or a Catholic school. Surely, this is part of the persecution of Catholics.

  18. cweaver says:

    I agree completely that this director should have known what church he was working for, and a lawsuit is completely ridiculous.

    But if we’re committed to the resurgence of top-notch liturgical music, I don’t believe we can impose moral restrictions on whom we hire. It would be a different story if Scandal were involved, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. Many (or most?) excellent church musicians do not lead lives in accordance with the teaching of the church.

    I also resist the idea that children cannot or should not be exposed to someone like this because of his lifestyle. Good musicians are good musicians, and good musical instruction is morally neutral. This person managed to keep his personal life out of the public eye for a long time; there’s no reason to believe he couldn’t have kept it that way.

    Fr. Z: spot on about the contraception!

  19. DisturbedMary says:

    A sad, sad state of affairs for all involved in this.

    Mr. Russel was on the radio talking to former Gov. of NY Paterson (pro-ssm, pro everything LGBT) about what happened at St. Josephs. Russel sounds like a man who has been caught up short and confronted very suddenly with a reality of Church teaching that never mattered before. He’s probably a good example of the consequences of a generation of Catholics raised without sin, i.e., what truly matters is that you’re a good person, that you are well liked, that you do a great job, that you’re a decent trustworthy teacher, etc., etc., all of which he seems to be. And I think poor Fr. Astarita is going to get it also from both sides — the Archdiocese and the laity. I will keep him in my prayers. http://www.wor710.com/Longtime-Gay-Church-Employee-Quits-Citing-Discrimi/10904895

  20. Supertradmum says:

    cweaver,

    Are you implying that there are not any great heterosexual musicians out there? I know several. And, I wonder if you are a parent. I would not want my child to be in a choir where someone who is living a lifestyle antithetical to the Church is influencing the youth. We are not split personalities, but one, united person. In my experience, those who are not following the Church’s teaching on morals, are usually heretics in another manner. Scandal is created not merely by deeds but by being. The Church, more than other institutions, should insure that Her employees and volunteers live according to the Teaching of the Church. And, what about Virtus training? Musicians in two dioceses were I worked would have had to take that training, and in some dioceses, there are superior programs in place, such as in the St. Joseph-Kansas City Diocese, where the Bishop, the Great Finn, has developed his own program. Yes, we should have moral and doctrinal restrictions on who we hire…otherwise we endanger youth just as we did all those years past.

  21. Interesting how you can be guilty of harassment without intent. How can you harass someone without even knowing you are doing it? Doesn’t harassment require a known object of the harassment? The story says the music director revealed his homosexuality to the priest after the priest allegedly harassed him. Time for a revival of the ancient legal maxim: lex non favet delicatorum votis (the law does not favor the wishes of the dainty).

    cweaver says: But if we’re committed to the resurgence of top-notch liturgical music, I don’t believe we can impose moral restrictions on whom we hire. It would be a different story if Scandal were involved, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. Many (or most?) excellent church musicians do not lead lives in accordance with the teaching of the church.

    Public sinners should not be given public positions in any parish, period. To do otherwise is scandalous by definition. Remember that you cannot do evil in order that good may prevail.

    cweaver also says: I also resist the idea that children cannot or should not be exposed to someone like this because of his lifestyle. Good musicians are good musicians, and good musical instruction is morally neutral. This person managed to keep his personal life out of the public eye for a long time; there’s no reason to believe he couldn’t have kept it that way.

    This person did not in fact keep his personal life out of the public eye. The story says he himself revealed his lifestyle to the priest. To me that suggests a cause and effect relationship between the revelation and the priest putting the kibosh on the children’s project.

  22. P.S. It also appears from the story that the music director himself is the one who made the whole incident public.

  23. Scott W. says:

    Interesting how you can be guilty of harassment without intent. How can you harass someone without even knowing you are doing it?

    The erroneous answer you will get from the usual suspects is the idea of “latent” homophobia or “institutional” homophobia. Sound familiar? It should because it’s same belch of smog progressives have been using about sexism and racism for decades. The irony is that progressives don’t really believe it and the proof is that every progressive accepts as dogmatic that intangible racism (as opposed to rightfully condemned overt racist acts) does harm to society. They can’t prove it, but they insist on it anyway. The result is regular innocent people pestered with “sensitivity training” workshops, while actual racists (the kind that would punch you in the nose if you tried this bs on them) go unmolested. And YET, if you say that homosexual culture and same-sex marriage does harm to society, all of a sudden those same progressives turn into hard-core empiricists demanding double-blind research scientific proof of tangible harm.

  24. Ef-lover says:

    Hip-Hip to Fr. Astarita

  25. AnAmericanMother says:

    cweaver,
    I beg to differ (aside from the fact that I know many church musicians who are not homosexual. Music is not an exclusive preserve, stereotypes notwithstanding).
    An ‘out’ and active homosexual running a children’s choir is a disaster just waiting to happen.
    The Episcopalians have proved it, of course, but you will never read about it in the newspaper because the Episcopal hierarchy/administration supports all the same liberal political goals that the newspapers do, and they will never breathe a word.
    When I was in that denomination, I knew which higher clergy had boyfriends, which preferred younger game, and I heard all the corrosive, catty gossip that percolates around an active homosexual group. Sexual license leads to more sexual license. As I said earlier, you can’t stop it at any given point, it just gets worse and more widespread.
    Sex was completely and absolutely the focus – worship, theology, education, charity, all came in a very distant second. And none of this made the news, then or now.
    The Episcopalians have already test run it, and it doesn’t work.

  26. Joshua Gonnerman says:

    Henry Edwards: you are correct that some celibate homosexuals do not identify themselves as gay. Some of them, however, do. Like me.

  27. Bob says:

    That cloud of dust on the horizon is probably the ACLU coming to the rescue! I sincerely hope the courts rule in favor of the Church on this one, we don’t need our ability to properly present the truth in the sermon restricted or edited by civil judges.

  28. Mundabor says:

    Franciscans out, Catholicism in, it would appear…

    Poor chap must have thought he works for the Presbyterians….

    As for the member “since 1970″, the smell of Birkenstock (or worse) can be felt from here….

    Mundabor

  29. edm says:

    Dear AnAmericanMother,

    I am an Anglocatholic in the Episcopal Church, and I know that many parishes are just as you have described. Many, perhaps most, are not. I could say the same exact thing about quite a few nearby Roman Catholic parishes. I could tell you who “Father’s Boyfriend” is in many places, and so could many of the parishioners. This is not something exclusive to the Episcopalians. As far as the number of children who have been abused by church employees in Episcopal parishes as compared to in Roman Catholic ones and how much has been covered up by the hierarchy of each church is not even close. One group is numerically far greater than the other. I, however, prefer not to paint with a very broad brush.

  30. edm says:

    North Jersey Media Group, which publishes The Herald News and The Record continually publishes stories that are critical of traditional/orthodox Christianity. Rarely is there a positive article about Christian institutions. However, the number of positive articles about Muslims, their religious holidays, community outreach efforts, etc, are frequent. If one were to graph the amount of coverage given to the Muslim community in the Thursday religion page of those publications, one would think that they are newspapers in mostly Muslim communities, which is not at all the case.

  31. mrose says:

    Regarding who ought to be employed by parishes for liturgical music during Mass and other liturgical functions, I think we would do well to remember and heed Fr. Z’s regular reminders (as in the fresh post about the Bl. John Henry Newman Liturgical Music Institute) that sacred music is an intrinsic part of the liturgy, not some “add-on.” Thus, in the same way that we should not allow lectors and acolytes (and their substitutes, readers and altar servers) to be persons who publicly and gravely oppose the Church’s teaching, neither should we do so with musicians.

  32. robtbrown says:

    I agree with DisturbedMary–for years the bishops, priests, and religious in the Church ignored doctrine, pretending they were not Catholic. It was the opposite of Anglicans, who pretended they were.

  33. robtbrown says:

    Although New Jersey has anti-discrimination laws that include sexual orientation, I’m not sure there is a possible discrimination suit. If so, this will go to SCOTUS.

  34. Fr Martin Fox says:

    Notice the music director himself approached the priest and made the issue. And he resigned; he was not fired. It doesn’t sound like a witch hunt or anything like that.

    The appropriation of the late Father Judge for causes he chose not to identify with in life is beneath contempt. I don’t care if he was same-sex attracted or whatever. He was a priest who gave his life heroically.

  35. chadrey2 says:

    As I have followed this story and in light of last week’s readings it seems to me there is a fundamental question about freedom to be considered as I read several exegetical pieces. Is the Church that Christ founded (and I am not referring to the Roman Catholic Church) adequately large enough for people to express and live out their faith without such narrow-mindedness?

    It seems with the passing of John Pau II, the tendency and not the theological bent of the Catholic Church has moved not toward true orthodoxy but to stance contrary to the very word Catholic which is suppose to be at the center of who we are.

    My prayer life begs the question why does this freedom scare SOME, and not the many, to think if a beloved child of God thinks differently, prays differently, loves differently then the complete underpinnings of the Faithful is at risk. Such believe could be viewed as not having much faith in the Good News I proclaimed this past week when the Luke writes “for God all things are possible.”

    For this group of Catholics to believe that the Church is above Civil Law in its dealing with the faithful and its ministers and employees, and can simply justify bad past practices as status quo is like using old wine skins for new wine. If we believe in the Social Justice message of the Church, then let us move forward in correcting unjust practices.

    This story is more complicated than any of our quip answers. Let us try to be respectful and openminded as the one we profess to follow.

  36. AnAmericanMother says:

    edm,
    I can only speak to the respective dioceses here in my state, which is the only area for which I had information.
    In the South there are not huge numbers of Catholics, and the Episcopalians are a relatively small denomination compared to the usual Southern Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, etc. And perhaps in the South the Catholics have had to watch their step more carefully from a moral standpoint simply because of the traditional hostility here towards Catholics, and the overall more conservative moral climate than the country at large.
    But when I was in a position to know, the Episcopalian clergy here were involved in far more homosexual activity than the Catholic priests. You’re right – it’s not even close, but not in the direction you think.

  37. Cincinnati Priest says:

    What I found interesting in the “reporting” was the quotes. They do not seem to look for the truth of any matter, but merely explore the “feelings” of Mr. Russell and the parishioners.

    ->Longtime church member Pam Lakefield was in the congregation when Astarita preached the sermon and said his comments were “offensive,” and that the priest is teaching horrible thoughts.

    And

    -> Mr. Russell: “I felt his words were an attack on my integrity and I felt it was hostile and it was harassment.”

    One does not teach “horrible thoughts.” One either teaches the truth (facts) or he doesn’t. Mr. Russell expresses his “feelings” that his integrity was attacked (whatever that means), and “felt” that the pastor was hostile.

    The point is, one can’t argue “feelings” and emotions. And that is precisely the game of the p.c. crowd and the feel-sorry-for-me-because-I’m-‘gay’ crowd: to shut down rational argument.

    They are not interested in truth, preferring rather to beat people over the head with their sense of “being offended” and imposing a false guilt at “making me feel bad about myself.”

    As a pastor myself, I can tell you that it is very frustrating to work with people like this, who don’t care about truth, and refuse to advance beyone the level of pure emotivism.

  38. frjim4321 says:

    The link provided by Disturbed Mary seems to be a better written account than the one at the top of this post. Whether or not the outgoing Pastoral Associate for Music has a valid civil claim will hinge on the facts of the case (which cannot be ascertained from these articles alone) and state law. According to Mr. Russell’s attorney, “Any employer who creates any type of hostile environment based upon any discriminatory reason, in this case it would be based upon sexual preference, cannot take any adverse actions or promote any type of adverse actions against that employee.” It is possible that the pastor violated state law. As mentioned above, it will be for the courts to decide.

    If, as the second article suggests, the pastor suggested that Mr. Russell should receive therapy in order to repair his sexual deviancy, that might be grounds for a suit. We were warned long ago in the seminary that we should not tell people that they need therapy, because we were not licensed to diagnose mental illness. In this state it is not legal to act as a mental health professional if one is not properly trained.

    At any rate it will be an interesting legal case.

    Obviously many gay men are music directors in Catholic parishes and they do conduct youth choirs. They certainly present no more or less of a risk to youth than would straight music directors. That having been said, it Mr. Russell was forcing the issue or turning his orientation into cause celebre, he may have unwittingly backed the pastor into a corner.

    At the same time, from the first article, it seems possible that the new pastor – who presumably should have had many other things on this plate – was for some reason obsessed with his need to decry same-sex marriage. Could some of his preoccupation with this have originated with self-loathing over dealing with conflictual feelings of his own? Is there some subtext here of which we are not aware?

    Again, it is a very interesting matter, but there does not seem to be enough information here to really know what’s going on.

  39. Margaret says:

    Fr. Jim–

    The pastor gave a strong homily condemning same-sex “marriage” two weeks after Jersey’s next-door neighbor, New York, created it via legislative fiat against the will of the people. As far as I can tell, he was doing his pastoral duty to form and catechize his flock on a pressing moral issue of the day.

    Could some of his preoccupation with this have originated with self-loathing over dealing with conflictual feelings of his own?

    That insinuation is, frankly, beneath your dignity as a priest of Jesus Christ.

  40. robtbrown says:

    frjim4321 says:

    It is possible that the pastor violated state law.

    And probable that the state law violates the Free Exercise Clause.

  41. Charivari Rob says:

    moon1234 – ” This “person” knew what the Church teaching was if he had been …”

    Ummm….

    One might contest his grasp of natural law, his morals, his sexual preferences, his understanding of employment law, and perhaps even his taste in music…

    …but, really – I don’t think his personhood deserves such a snide reference. Charity arm-in-arm with truth, after all. We’re called to be better than dismissing him as a “person”.

  42. edm says:

    Dear AnAmericanMother,

    I too can only speak from what I see. In my case it is in the tri-state (NY, NJ, Conn) area. Although I am a life-long Episcopalian, I have attended R.C. parochial and diocesan grammar schools and high school (and by the way I am very grateful for the education which I received in them, both academic and religious).
    I can tell you that the co-principal in my high school was suddenly gone from that institution one weekday; the students and parents having only been told that father had had a condition which required that he rest. A year or so later he was assigned as pastor to a parish with a parochial school. Eventually the students learned that Father had been involved with two pupils who were brothers. But nothing happened for years. Eventually the authorities got involved. He was arrested, tried, jailed, etc. A similar story happened with the rector of the cathedral and several altarboys. He was arrested in the cathedral rectory, tried, jailed and finally died while imprisoned. The hierarchy knew about these cases well before the authorities and nothing was done. This is the sort of thing that I was referring to when I was replying to your comment “An ‘out’ and active homosexual running a children’s choir is a disaster just waiting to happen. The Episcopalians have proved it, of course, but you will never read about it in the newspaper because the Episcopal hierarchy/administration supports all the same liberal political goals that the newspapers do, and they will never breathe a word.”
    As far as gay clergy in the Roman Catholic parishes around here, I cannot tell you what percentage are gay. It would be ridiculously presumptuous of me to try to give you a percentage or fraction. I do not wish to fall into the same trap with regard to the local Roman Catholic clergy as those who say that the Episcopal Church is “mostly” this or that. What I can tell you is that I have been very close to Roman Catholic priests, families who are personal friends of priests and staff of Roman Catholic parishes and institutions. I would not want to gauge wether the Episcopal clergy or the Roman Catholic clergy are “more involved in homosexual activity”. I can also tell you of a friend who is an organist (and a heterosexual one, yes, as someone pointed out, it is possible) who was persued by a priest. Or the seminarian who was treated a bit as an outsider by staff and students for not responding favorably to advances.
    I will, of course, concede that many of the Episcopal clergy are “out” and openly and publicly gay. None of the Roman Catholic priests around here have made public or official statements about their orientation.
    All this being said, I do not want anyone to assume that I think Mr. Russell is correct. I do not. I also do not want anyone to assume I am against the Roman Catholic Church. I am not. Nor am I trying to push for a “liberal” agenda. I am not. However, there are times when I wonder if some of us are not somewhat burying our heads in the sand.

  43. Shoshana says:

    Fr. Jim, I agree with Margaret. Your insinuation about Fr. Astarita is scandalous. He needs your brotherly support, not a vicious attack. It makes me wonder whose side are you are really on.

  44. Norah says:

    Sometimes I wonder if active homosexuals and lesbians put themselves in position where they can sue a Catholic parish or a Catholic school.

    I am shocked, I tell you shocked that you would suggest such a thing!

    In this state it is not legal to act as a mental health professional if one is not properly trained.
    Could some of his preoccupation with this have originated with self-loathing over dealing with conflictual feelings of his own

    4321 what was that you were saying about not acting as a mental health professional?

  45. frjim4321 says:

    Why limit the range of hypotheticals here? Several posts above raise the hypothetical that the music director would pose a danger to children. There seems to be great comfort here entertaining that hypothetical. I raised what may be an equally unlikely hypothetical and that has been met with great disdain. Why would insinuations that an openly gay man is dangerous to children be any different than wondering out loud that protesting too much about sexual orientation may sometimes be a defense mechanism for one who is conflicted in that arena?

    Also, if you reread my original post I did in fact agree that if the music director was in fact turning an agenda into a cause celebre he may have backed the pastor into a corner. Also, as I raised in my post this entire string follows one news report that contains bad grammar that the Reverend Blog Master pointed out. In other words, the report may be faulty. Thus, as stated, everything here is hypothetical. It’s no less valid to raise a hypothetical that could conflict with the prevailing ideology than to raise one that reinforces it, nor is it an undignified insinuation.

  46. Shoshana says:

    Fr. Jim: The posts you refer to are concerned with the SPIRITUAL danger to children when they are put under the influence of someone who has, as one poster said it, “a lifestyle antithetical to the Church.” Another post mentioned it would be a scandal for the children. This is no hypothesis or insinuation. It is a fact. It is common sense. If you want a child to be holy, give him a holy model. Bad company corrupts good morals. This is not rocket science. I would not want my child in a church choir led by anyone with a serious vice, public or not. Stating the obvious, as these people have done, is far different from making up a nasty scenario about a fellow priest, then posting it on the worldwide web. Why would you want to kick him while he is down? Especially with an “unlikely hypothetical”?

  47. Singing Mum says:

    Fr. Jim,
    As a professional musician and a mother to four boys, I would not want my sons involved in a program, parish-based or otherwise, that was led by someone in an openly same sex relationship. Kids look up to choir directors. And a person in such a situation would not be a good model for my children. As tolerant as I am, I know other mothers feel the same way. It’s basic gut-level mothering.

    How many times have we heard that vocal opposition to the homosexual lifestyle means that the one voicing criticism is probably a closeted gay? How tiring. I would hope you could be more original in your insinuation. :)

  48. jflare says:

    “But if we’re committed to the resurgence of top-notch liturgical music, I don’t believe we can impose moral restrictions on whom we hire. It would be a different story if Scandal were involved, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. Many (or most?) excellent church musicians do not lead lives in accordance with the teaching of the church.”

    BONG!! That’s the sound of my jaw falling to the floor!
    We don’t need to compromise morals for good Mass music. No, we merely need people who’re willing to spend time and effort on learning to sing and/or accompany. OR, if you’ve grown accustomed to a ho-hum regimen of music for Mass, you might be surprised at how refreshing a “silent” Mass can be. If you attend with prayerful intentions, you may find yourself preferring it.
    OR……you could always learn Chant….
    There’s plenty of THAT available that the average parish could learn quite quickly and easily if they but tried for a few weeks.

    “I also resist the idea that children cannot or should not be exposed to someone like this because of his lifestyle. Good musicians are good musicians, and good musical instruction is morally neutral. This person managed to keep his personal life out of the public eye for a long time; there’s no reason to believe he couldn’t have kept it that way.”

    NO!!
    Good music is VIRTUOUS and HOLY, and so are good musicians!! Yes, we’ll fall short from time to time, but I reject the idea that we should tolerate sin that willingly.

    I think it highly unlikely that he managed to keep his personal life..unknown..that well. I think it more likely that at least a few of the choir, if not the parish, suspected something. Most people are not so skillfully protective of their private lives as to be capable of deception along those lines, unless they’re routinely working at it.
    Then again, if the parish has as liberal a mindset as hinted, I’d suggest that the director’s lifestyle might’ve been something of an open secret, but one that raised few eyebrows because few cared.

    I also think it plausible that children might’ve understood rather more than the fellow might’ve realized. I recently saw a comment about how “Little pitchers have big ears.” I think that a good point. Every kid may not realize anything’s amiss and even those who think something’s weird may not know WHAT precisely, but a few discerning youngsters–girls especially, I think–might notice that Mr. Whomever..is a little strange, but not in any way that most people could explain.

  49. Ezra says:

    Sad that when a priest lives up to his priestly calling, re-stating the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and ensuring that the teaching is not undermined by bad example, there will inevitably be priests and bishops only too willing to attack him. Is it because they are lashed by their consciences for not having the courage to do the same? Is it because they disagree with the Church’s teaching in this area? Depressing, whatever the cause.

  50. Rev Mr Flapatap says:

    There is a case at a parish in Washington, DC where the pastor became Episcopalian so that he could marry the choir director. He is now pastor of a nearby Episcopalian parish but his wife has remained as choir director. The new pastor is fuming about the situation but realized that the couple are looking for any excuse to bring in the press and is not taking the bait. He told the bishop that he will fire her (and her relatives who are in the choir) at his direction but the bishop is not taking the bait either.

  51. cweaver says:

    Supertradmum,

    I know there are many great heterosexual church musicians out there. I like to think I am one of them. I live in a city with a rich and flourishing choral music scene, and I reiterate that many or most of the singers and organists on the top level live lives not in accordance with the church: either the openly gay lifestyle or cohabiting in a heterosexual relationship. I find such things to be completely secondary to æsthetic concerns when it comes to church music.

    And I am a parent. My wife, one of the best singers I know, grew up in the Episcopal church and was trained by an openly gay choir director. So I find it less threatening, I suppose. I agree completely with you about having some moral restrictions on church hires, (VIRTUS training is a requirement in the diocese where I work), but I do not believe a closeted homosexual in a long-term relationship is really a threat to children.

    Sr. Moore, you are right: I seem to have misread the chain of events. I agree that once it is public then it can cause scandal.

  52. Supertradmum says:

    cweaver,
    As a person who has worked in the Church, with children and adults, most of my life, I can say that the influences are not as easily seen as one would think. You have completely ignored the spiritual world, which is more real than the material one. When a person is living in mortal sin, an entire separation between the person and grace occurs which affects not only the person, but that person’s surroundings. We do not live in vacuums. Influence may not even be perceived by some. For example, I have moved into two houses in the past where we had to get exorcists to clean out the rooms, when the people before did not notice, or were content, to live with such things. Separation from God opens to door to all types of negative spiritual activity in and around such a person. We must love, but we do not need to put our children under such influences. As to threats to children, in such a case as described here, the threat is real and serious. Children who have been abused in the Church have been subjected to people who are masters of manipulation, and despite worldly views, there is a connection between pedophilia and active homosexuality, as several bishops have pointed out publicly. To believe that children are someone immune to spiritual “vibes” is naive and, in some cases, irresponsible.

  53. amenamen says:

    It would seem to be necessary, as a matter of course, to have all Church employees and volunteers sign an explicit statement that they agree with everything that the Church teaches, as a condition for working in the parish. If they refuse to sign it, they should not be hired, and if they violate it, they should know they will face immediate dismissal.

    This should apply to all Church employees, but it should be absolutely required for those who are involved in handing on the faith through liturgy or catechesis. How can they teach what they do not believe? The leader of liturgical music is not merely a “technician” but a teacher of the faith.

    No one (man, woman or child) is “safe” in a parish where the liturgy is in the hands of those who do not believe in it.

  54. Kyle S says:

    “His comments against gay marriage were insensitive and uncomfortable,” said Russell

    So the pastor’s comments made Mr Russell uncomfortable. Good. We should all be uncomfortable when confronted with our sinfulness. That’s one of the things that makes us repent and seek forgiveness.

  55. worm says:

    I have a question to those more knowledgeable about law than I. Can parish administrators or the diocese somehow make “living out the faith” a condition of employment? I realize we are all sinners so none of us live out the faith perfectly, but I think the issue here is one of the public nature of certain sinful behaviors and the public stand that they are in fact correct and the Churh is wrong. Is it unreasonable for parishioners to expect that the employees of a parish are not public witnesses against the teaching of the Church? I think the music director would have a much stronger case if the pastor were firing him while he (the director) publicly acknowledged that he was wrong and publicly expresed a desire to change (even if he really had no such desire).

  56. frjim4321 says:

    It depends on the state.

    If your state is an “At Will” state it is much easier to dismiss an employee.

    However, it is not so easy when there is a possible matter of discrimination.

    For example, even in an “At Will” state it can be tricky to dismiss an older employee and replace him/her with a much younger employee. An age discrimination case will trump (at least in this state) the “At Will” employer status protection.

    The pastor in this case may be free and clear with respect to New Jersey code. BUT as we have seen, anyone can sue anyone for anything at any time. So, whether the DLM has a civil case or not will be up for a judge and/or jury to decide.

  57. Athelstan says:

    Hello Fr. Jim,

    Could some of his preoccupation with this have originated with self-loathing over dealing with conflictual feelings of his own? Is there some subtext here of which we are not aware?

    This is not a mere “hypothetical.” It is tantamount to calumny. If there is no evidence that the music director behaved inappropriately with choir members, neither is there any evidence whatsoever that Fr. Astarita is same-sex attracted. To indulge in such provocative speculation really is beneath your dignity as a priest.

    Why would Fr. Astarita make a point of speaking about same-sex marriage? The reasons are surely not far to seek without making insinuations about his sexuality. A major state just over the border from his parish made tremendous waves by legalizing same-sex marriage less than two weeks before his homily. Why was this not sufficient explanation?

    I urge you to retract your statement. Surely you’re capable of better than this.

  58. Joe in Canada says:

    With regards to the word ‘gay’, the Canadian Bishops in their wonderful document Pastoral Ministry to Young People with Same-Sex Attraction http://www.cccb.ca/site/images/stories/pdf/ministry-ssa_en.pdf say

    The terms “gay” and “lesbian” are not used to define people in the Church’s official teachings and documents. Although these words are common terms in current speech, and many people use them to describe themselves, they do not describe persons with the fullness and richness that the Church recognizes and respects in every man or woman. Instead, “gay” and “lesbian” are often cultural definitions for people and movements that have accepted homosexual acts and behaviours as morally good.

  59. Shoshana says:

    Supertradmum–Well said!
    Spiritual concerns trump aesthetic ones always. Chant at Mass is supposed to be worship, not a performance. What does God think of those of us in parishes who, through our offering envelopes, pay musicians to offer him “worship” from the mouths of habitual mortal sinners who scorn God’s laws? I think it offends Him very much.

    A very long time ago, as a child, I attended a school next to a monastery. On certain days the monks would chant for our morning Mass. I felt a wonderful spiritual warmth at those Masses. Years later, after enduring much bad music, I now live near a parish with a choir that sings world class polyphony. It is in Latin. It sounds marvelous. But I found myself wondering at times why the spiritual atmosphere at our Masses was rather cold compared to Masses with the monks as a child. At that time I had no idea a Catholic Church would employ non-Catholics to sing at Mass, let alone people who are habitual mortal sinners. When I learned that some members of our choir are not Catholic, perhaps not even Christian, my first shocked reaction was, “Aha! Now I know where the coldness is coming from.” Supertradmum is right. Not everyone is equally spiritually sensitive. But be assured that the angels, who are present at every Mass, are very spiritually sensitive, and are offended by so-called “worship” offered by practicing homosexuals. Why offend God and the angels when we are supposed to be worshipping?

    This topic reminds me of a conversation I had years ago with an eastern rite priest. I was complaining about the hideous amateur icons in some of the homes and churches. He told me that often, the people with the ugly icons were far closer to God than the people whose icons were correct and beautiful. I started paying attention to the atmosphere in certain places, and came to agree with him. Often there was humility in homes and churches with amateur icons, and pride in churches with marvelous frescoes or egg tempera icons done at great expense by iconographers imported from Russia or the Middle East. Not always, but often enough that I have never forgotten my lesson. Though I’d prefer having both grace and artistic beauty, if I have to choose, I’d rather have ugly art and mediocre music and the presence of God, rather than cold perfection.

  60. frjim4321 says:

    Unfortunately my browser just ate a wonderfully cogent response to Athelstan’s post.

    There are dozens of insinuations about about the DLM that we know nothing about from the two articles in question. Why should not those also be retracted?

    When speaking of the church teaching on same sex marriage (when the scriptural readings call for it) it would be important to be accurate and to use appropriate discourse. Provocative expressions such as “marriage between two men is a lie” are not helpful and generate more heat than light.

    For a much better approach, the video of Archbishop Nienstedt on this subject to his diocese is a good example.

  61. chadrey2 says:

    “amenamen says:
    16 September 2011 at 8:25 am
    It would seem to be necessary, as a matter of course, to have all Church employees and volunteers sign an explicit statement that they agree with everything that the Church teaches, as a condition for working in the parish. If they refuse to sign it, they should not be hired, and if they violate it, they should know they will face immediate dismissal.”

    I find your strict guidelines for Church staff would be an interesting concept if we were to apply it to ALL the faithful who come forward every Sunday to receive Eucharist. Do you honestly know what it means when you say AMEN (at least when it is supposed to be said)? If that be the case I might suggest that a majority of Catholics would be automatically excluded from receiving.

    Additionally the comments about those who suggest one’s orientation directly leads one to the state of sinfulness is incomprehensible. God created humanity in God’s image and called it good. It seems to me that what is created in God’s image is being cursed as sinful by its accidents (philosophically speaking one’s orientation would be an accident and not a person’s substance). I wonder how those who out of fear or the unknown will explain themselves in the Beatific Vision, of course that is will they be able too?

    Of course if those in the Church hierarchy would be honest about their own selves then those who are gay or straight, rich or poor, with proper documentation or not, wouldn’t have to feel or find themselves on the fringe and be truly welcomed. Did not Jesus eat with sinners and saints? That is the one practice we still continue today…in case you’ve missed my point go back to my first paragraph.

    Peace and all good!

  62. frjim4321 says:

    chadrey2:

    “I find your strict guidelines for Church staff would be an interesting concept if we were to apply it to ALL the faithful who come forward every Sunday to receive Eucharist. Do you honestly know what it means when you say AMEN (at least when it is supposed to be said)? If that be the case I might suggest that a majority of Catholics would be automatically excluded from receiving.”

    For all of the exclusionary statements that I read pertaining to the reception of communion and various litmus tests, I never hear anyone say that in the spirit of justice neither can we in good conscience receive the monetary offerings or benefit from the other generous gifts and talents of those same individuals.

  63. jeffreyquick says:

    I don’t think it should be mandatory for a Catholic church musician to be Catholic. It is far more important that they be musically competent (which eliminates about 2/3 of Catholic music directors right there). They might convert (hey, it happened to me.) Nor do they have to be straight, given that nothing in their job duties involves sexuality at all. HOWEVER, if we’re going to employ professional musicians (and we should), part of the definition of professionalism involves knowing the rules and acting in assent with them. When you enter the church, you’re Catholic, regardless of what you believe. You know the faith, you especially know the liturgy, and if you have disagreements, you keep your mouth shut. Likewise, the Church is no place to parade your sexuality, straight or gay. There are very few situations where you have to mention your “roommate”. And if the Church’s teaching on homosexuality offends you, DON’T WORK THERE.

  64. cweaver says:

    Jeffrey,

    Right on. I was trying to say much of this in my first comment.

    Shoshana, the church teaches that when the celebrant at mass, be he ever so wicked or sinful, pronounces the words of consecration, the sacrament is valid. How much more should that apply to the members of the choir! When they sing the mass, the soul is recreated, and God is glorified. That should be all that matters.

  65. Shoshana says:

    cweaver:
    The Church teaches that the soul is returned to the state of grace (I assume that’s what you mean by “recreated”?) through the Sacrament of Penance, not through singing, or tap dancing, or yodeling, at Mass. And a priest who begins Mass in mortal sin is still in mortal sin when he finishes saying Mass. And the documents about the Donatist controversy have nothing whatsoever to do with artists or musicians. Singing in the choir is not a sacrament. Let’s see you back up your statements with some relevant documentation. (I’m not holding my breath).

  66. Shoshana says:

    “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me…”

    Mark 7:6-7, wherein Jesus quotes Isaiah 29 (LXX)

  67. jflare says:

    I have, on two occasions, been a member of a parish in which the choir director wasn’t Catholic. I cannot recommend this situation.
    On both occasions, you could readily discern a genuine musical competence on the part of the director. You could ALSO discern that this person didn’t truthfully comprehend the intent of the Mass, nor the music we ought to offer.

    I think people who hold positions of leadership in the Church SHOULD be Catholic. Choir directors definitely should be, if at all possible. Choirs aren’t there to provide nice-sounding music, they’re there to help pray the Mass. You can’t properly pray something you don’t believe in.
    If we can find professional Catholic musicians to offer their help for Mass, great. I might even tolerate aid from a few non-Catholics for rare occasions. But those occasions should be rare indeed.

    I can’t agree that a priest’s sinful behavior provides apt analogy. He’s able to offer Mass validly and offer you full sacramental grace because of his nature as an ordained priest. A choir cannot necessarily impart grace to you by offering beautiful music. If you don’t believe what you’re singing, sooner or later it’ll be noticeable.

  68. cweaver says:

    Shoshana,

    I was paraphrasing J S Bach on the purpose of music, and did not mean recreated in any theological sense.

    I’m afraid I have written rashly and stirred up some controversy, for which I am truly sorry. I think we are conflating several controversies here: whether the singers are habitual sinners, or whether they are Catholic etc. If I may offer my own story: when I first joined a professional schola, I was an indifferent Catholic and possibly in danger of rejecting my faith, but after a couple of years of immersion in chant and traditional liturgy, my whole life was turned around, and I came back into the fold. I would never have encountered the EF mass if I had not been hired to do so, and it has been a tremendous grace to me.

    It’s difficult to translate my experience into abstractions, which of course colored everything I wrote before, and I apologize to anyone whom I may have offended.

  69. Shoshana says:

    cweaver, yes, I think a lot of things were conflated. I was a bit hasty myself. My apology offered, and yours accepted. jflare did a lot better job explaining than I did. Thanks for telling us your story; that is very encouraging.

  70. Nancy D. says:

    To suggest that the new pastor’s refusal to condone the engaging in or affirmation of demeaning sexual acts and demeaning sexual relationships is a result of “self-loathing over conflicting feelings of his own” is absurd, and suggests a desire to deflect from the issue of affirming disordered sexual behavior. As the mother of a daughter who struggles with a disordered, homosexual inclination, I can assure you that it is because I Love my daughter as I Love all my children, that I want her to develop healthy and Holy relationships and friendships that are grounded in authentic Love.

  71. schmenz says:

    I am really quite astonished that in none of the responses posted have I read the simple Catholic truth stated, that one who is in a state of mortal sin (by thought, word and/or deed) cannot receive Holy Communion without bringing judgement to himself. And not one, I believe, has pointed out that we are dealing with an unnatural vice, buggery. In our understandable eagerness to be loving and kind we omit, to the spiritual detriment of ourselves and others, the phrases needed to jolt people back to sensibility.

    Then there are the idiotic comments from those who try to convince us that the Catholic Church must accept lovingly the choices people make. Yes, the Church accepts people who make bad choices, encouraging them to visit the Confessional to wash away their sins; it does not accept that they continue to live in mortal sin and still masquerade as practicing Catholics and continue to receive sacrilegeous Communions. Some responder said something about the Church Christ founded was not the Catholic Church. I wonder where this chap has been for the past 2,000 years?

    And how many of you, again in your desire to be gentle, use a perfectly innocent word to describe this most unspeakable perversion? Try to remember this: we are in a War of the Words, and we must never concede a single inch to the enemy in this War. I admonish my fellow Catholics to stop using the term “gay” to describe this unnamable lifestyle. When you do that you give them a victory. And that mysterious weasel-word “orientation” turns up with almost sickening regularity. Let us look at that word this way: does a thief have a felonious orientation? does a killer have a murderous orientation? does a guy who cheats on his wife have an adulterous orientation? A thief is stealing, a murderer is murdering and an adulterer is commiting adultery. So could we stop all this confusion by using words like “orientation” to describe someone who is, at the very least, in the first stages of serious mortal sin? Can we start, at last, to tell it like it is? Using words like “orientation” keep sinners away from the Confessional, by implying they are somehow born that way. Is that helping them to save their souls?

    As for the homosexuals themseleves God, of course, will have the last laugh. He always does. They are living in a way that will bring physical death upon themselves and certain spiritual death, unless they make their peace with God in the Confession box before they die (like Rock Hudson, among others, did). And as to the case in question it is quite clear that this is going to be a setup for a big court case, the ramifications of which will be extremely interesting.