Is NCR taking sides against Archbp. Chaput and the school in Boulder, CO?

It looks as if the NCR editorial policy is to take sides against the Archbishop of Denver and the parish in Boulder, CO, in favor of the lesbian "couple" who sought to an children accepted into a parish school.

You can read the article yourself and make your own determination.  The piece is offered by the editor of the NCR, Thomas Fox.


I sat down with the women, both professional physicians, in the living room of their home here, walls covered with framed photographs of their five-year-old and three-year-old daughters. As we spoke for more than an hour, a long haired dog playfully rolled on the living room carpet before us.

The couple explained they agreed to speak with NCR because they wanted to clear up misconceptions in the media and specifically wanted Catholics to better understand their situation.


You read it and decide what NCR is doing.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. A cursory reading of the NCR article shows the “parents” playing dumb. “Gee willikers, we didn’t even know there was a problem cuz no one told us.” So they’re doctors. I don’t care if they’re nuclear physicists; they most certainly knew that, sooner or later, this would come up. It would be interesting to see whether the school or the parish priest really were aware that this was an avowed lesbian couple. I’m betting it was kept pretty quiet.

  2. EnoughRope says:

    The NCR excerpt makes it seem like a Little House on the Prairie episode, complete with Rufus, the “long haired dog.” God Bless their little homespun hearts!

  3. TomB says:

    No “rest of the story” found there. I’m sure there is one.

  4. Scott W. says:

    We said that if it was going to be a problem we could go else where. We were very open and they said it would not be a problem.

    Aha! This actually does mitigate their responsibility a little bit. They got bad information. The question is, who told them it wouldn’t be a problem? Of course that doesn’t mean they can enroll the daughter. Objective reality being what it is and all that.

  5. Mary Bruno says:

    “We will continue to raise our children with strong Catholic values and hold faith that through our actions, we are doing our part to create a more loving, inclusive world.”

    Two women each conceived one child which would be through either artificial means or with a man who is not their husband. This is not a Catholic Value.

    They never hid the fact they were a lesbian couple and no one ever asked if they were celibate. Is this a Catholic Value to live as a lesbian couple? Why would one ask if they were celibate if they were telling the school they were a lesbian couple? If they were not a couple wouldn’t they just be two single moms living in the same household sharing expenses?

    Other parents are coming and telling them they are divorced and remarried outside the church or using contraception. Is it a Catholic Value to not follow doctrine? Does many people sinning make all sins ok?

    They value religion and love God. But are they as they call themselves “practicing Catholics.”

    We all sin, we all do things that are against God and our Faith, but we need to try our best to not sin and to fight temptations and not live a scandalous life style.

    If they were friends not a family living in the same household it would cause scandal. But when you say you are a lesbian couple it opens you up to scandal because they cannot be a family and follow the teaching of not only the Church, but of God.

  6. EnoughRope says:

    Every once in a while I’ll see a blog on Inside Catholic that mentions a NCR piece that just looks so inflammatory- I’m tempted to go check it out. I usually don’t because A.) I know this is just what they want B.) I know they are so hungry for viewership that they need real Catholics to go to the site (now that the biology of aging is taking out the hippies that once longed for their trash C.) It will just make me mad and angry. These days, there is so many other good ways to help and argue for the faith. NCR is just a heat sink.

    Their days are numbered! Hallelujah!

  7. Mary Bruno says:

    whoops in my post I meant to write

    “If they were friends not a family livingin the same household it would NOT cause scandal”

  8. TNCath says:

    Taking sides? Ha! If the New York Times is “Hell’s Bible,” the NCR is “The Devil’s Mouthpiece,” nicely concealed under the guise of being a “Catholic” newspaper.

  9. Federico says:

    Unfortunately, the Church loses credibility when it is inconsistent. Divorced and civilly remarried parents routinely send their children to Catholic schools, even in the archdiocese of Denver. Open adultery is every bit as scandalous as homosexual behavior; arguably even more so because it is likely to become a temptation for a greater percentage of the children in the schools. Sure enough, the NCR seized on this point.

    So, while I appreciate archbishop Chaput’s stance on this issue, as well as Fr. Breslin’s obedience, I would appreciate it even more (and it would make a much stronger statement about what being Catholic means) if they were to throw out the adulterers. Public sin is public sin.

    In cases where remarried Catholics may be living as brother and sister, let me suggest that a public scandal requires public repudiation; a solution would be to make such couples sign a statement every year, to be published in the school newsletter, affirming that they are, indeed, living in continence.

  10. Federico, you are absolutely right. Same sex couples make an easier and more obvious target. The principle should be applied across the board, and it isn’t. If it were, it would have great consequence$.

  11. Steve K. says:

    Is anyone surprised at NCR’s stance? Had the NCR done their Catholic duty and sided with Archbishop Chaput, *that* would have been a true man bites dog story.

  12. Scott W. says:

    Same sex couples make an easier and more obvious target.

    Actually same sex couples make themselves easier and obvious targets. Objective reality isn’t fair like that. IOW, if one wants appeal to the presence of other sinners, they need to call them out by name rather than some vague appeal to someone, somewhere, out there which is hard to interptret as something other than a thinly-veiled argument that if we don’t go into full inquisition mode on everyone, then we shouldn’t go after the obvious ones. Of course, if one does indeed call out the names, they’d better be right and not engaging in detraction. That’s a much taller bill I think.

  13. Scott W., I was responding to Federico. He calls them out by name.

  14. Scott W. says:

    Scott W., I was responding to Federico. He calls them out by name.

    I’m responding to the general “what about other sinners?” argument, which, the more I hear it repeated, the lamer it gets.

  15. Federico says:

    Scott W.: I’m responding to the general “what about other sinners?” argument, which, the more I hear it repeated, the lamer it gets.

    My point (that Timothy was responding to) was about contumacious public sin. I thought I was clear, apparently not. I hope I’ve clarified it now.

  16. eulogos says:

    What NCR is doing is portraying these women as sympathetically as possible, in order to cloud the moral issue with the “niceness” and Catholic cultural attachments of these women.

    I believe that they are nice, and that they do have Catholic cultural attachments. They want to be Catholic EXCEPT for this one thing. They probably believe that the Church will eventually get around to changing on this one thing.

    NCR and the others pursuing this strategy are being highly successful; you could tell that if you read the comments Fr. Breslin finally decided to delete.

    This is going to be one of those points which makes a stark separation between Catholicism and the rest of the culture. With birth control, we could be perceived in some sense as having the high ground; we were asking something difficult that people didn’t want to do, just too difficult, people decided. On the gay issue, we are not going to be perceived at all as having the high ground. We are going to be like racists, haters, bigots.

    Remember what the Romans called the early Christians? “Haters of mankind” because they eschewed and condemned all the normal pleasures and recreations of life.

    This is going to be a rough one. Because these women ARE nice people. They love their children and take good care of them They would make good neighbors.

    Because of the comment about no one knowing whether they are having sex or not, and because they do appear to be attached to their Catholic identity, I think the pastor should ask them to come in, explain the Church’s teaching to them, and ask if they are willing to promise not to engage in mutually sexually stimulating behavior….and he should be clear what that is and isn’t. If they agree to that, and are willing to have it said that they agree to it, that would mean that they were willing to try to live according to what the Church teaches, and their children should be kept in the school. It would be understood that if they fail at any time they would go to confession like any other sinner. What would involve a near occasion of sin varies from person to person, and needn’t mean that they don’t live in the same house. And the pastor should start doing this when it is public knowledge that any other couple whose children are in the school is in an illicit relationship, as well. I say this, both because I think it is right, and because I think it is very important that we be understood as condemning behaviors, not people.

    We are going to be raked over the coals on this issue. I want to be raked over the coals for practicing the truth in charity, and nothing less.

    Susan Peterson

  17. Geometricus says:

    Here is the comment I tried to leave on the NCR site:

    “First of all, the teacher who contacted the media should be quietly let go at the end of the year, along with the rest of the staff who is not honest enough to leave on their own if they don’t agree with the decision of the school not to add to these poor childrens’ confusion. This activist miscreant violated the privacy of some very humble, quiet and loving lesbians who really didn’t (if you take their words in this article at face value , and I do) want this to be an issue fought out in the media and discussed on websites like this one. If it were up to me, this so-called teacher would not last one more day in my school for his/her rabble-rousing and life-ruining actions.

    Second, expect that things like this will continue to happen as more and more of our Churches and schools wake up to the intellectual and spiritual honesty that the “reform of the reform” brings us, as the aging hippies of the false “Spirit of Vatican II” surrender the reins of power to younger and less reactionary Christians. At some point, the Church has to come back to the teaching of Christ, but it is never easy to say no to the spirit of the age.

    I have lots of admiration for people like this Fr. Breslin and his principal who are willing to face the wrath of people like almost all of the commenters above who don’t hesitate to lecture their own bishop on ageless Catholic teaching. No one likes being disliked, and being called a self-righteous Pharisee or worse is probably one of the strongest social proscriptions our society has left. Yet Chaput and Breslin lovingly stick to the teaching of Jesus for the sake of the poor souls (like me and you) who would be absolutely lost without the light of Jesus’ full message, faithfully and charitably passed on.”

    I didn’t see it on their after pressing “Save” so I don’t know if it will appear, or if it was too long to what.

  18. The ladies cannot be both “very private” about their situation and at the same time claim they never hid the fact that they are a lesbian couple. Though the story doesn’t tell us, I’d bet my dog that they were waltzing up for Communion every week too…

    This should have nipped in the bud from day one, but the fact that it wasn’t doesn’t mean they should be granfathered in. So to answer the writer’s question “What changed?” The only thing that changed is that the school has decided to act like a Catholic institution. Better late than never.

    “We want our kids to learn about religion. We feel religion is really important…”

    This is hardly a firm commitment to teach the Catholic faith, in fact, given the context in which this is offered it’s as much as an oath to teach otherwise. These children shouldn’t have been baptized. The “moms” have no intentions of forming them in the Catholic faith, but rather their brand of what they believe the Church should be. In other words, they think the Church needs to learn a thing or two from them, not the other way around.

    “We will continue to raise our children with strong Catholic values and hold faith that through our actions, we are doing our part to create a more loving, inclusive world.”

    These women aren’t just trying to blend in; they’re subversive revolutionaries who are committed to “doing their part” to promote their own version of what it means to be Catholic from within (read, homosexual agenda).

    The fact that this story is creating a stir among other parents, staff and the broader community (and even the nation) is a wonderful blessing. People need to choose who they will serve, and clearly presented, unambiguous teaching is the only thing that will “smoke out” those teachers and others who are also determined to quietly destroy the Faith from within.

    God bless Archbishop Chaput.

  19. wanda says:

    I think NCR wants to keep the pot stirred. They probably want to keep this out there so as to sell a few papers. They should stop trying to create division in the Church.

  20. MattW says:

    I have never been to the NCR site before I went to read the article under discussion. WOW! The article on the practicing Catholic active lesbian couple is just the tip of the iceberg. I won’t be going back there to read anything. It’s just too ugly.

  21. sejoga says:

    MattW: I went back to look around after reading your comment, and realized I didn’t even have to look at another article to decide it’s a worthless site… I just saw that one of the sections linked to at the top was “ecology”. Any Catholic publication that sees “ecology” as a defining aspect of the faith probably isn’t worth the name Catholic, the way I see things.

  22. JimP says:

    I think that the editorial policy of NCR is to take sides against anyone who may be seen to uphold Catholic Tradition and standards. I believe that what they would really like would be for the Catholic Church to mirror TEC, accepting any behavior among clergy and laity, and accepting any beliefs, with everyone doing what is right in his own eyes, or at least what is right in their eyes.

  23. AJP says:

    Federico is right – the Church loses credibility when it is inconsistent. Another glaring inconsistency here (if the NCR article is correct) is that initially these women were told that it would be OK to enroll their daughters in the school.

    While I recognize that NCR is very slanted, I do think “Mary” and “Martha” come across well and a lot more mature than most dissenters do. Give them credit – they were upfront with the school about their lesbianism, they acknowledged that this conflicted with Church teachings, and they said they would be willing to go elsewhere if it would be a problem. If only more NCR-types had the intellectual honesty to do the same. The school really dropped the ball, given how “easy” the situation initially was.

    I wonder if there has been, in the past few years, a recent change in the school’s administration – some one new is trying to move things in a more orthodox direction. This is a problem a lot of Catholic schools and parishes face – it is very difficult to impose orthodox policies/teachings when people have grown accustomed to heterodoxy. When a Catholic institution is not orthodox, most people really do not know any better – they are acting in good faith and assume that if it’s a Catholic school then everything that goes on there must be kosher. That certainly was my personal experience in not-so-Catholic Catholic schools.

    Finally I do remain puzzled on how these two women reconcile their claims of being practicing Catholics with their lifestyle. I appreciate that they (at least according to NCR) aren’t trying to change the Church or be “in your face” about their lifestyle (most gay people are like this in my experience – not closeted but not flaunting it either). But I just cannot understand the thought process that they’re using, especially since they both must be very intelligent (doctors). Maybe they are celibates after all?

    FWIW, at my Catholic high school there was a lesbian teacher who lived with her partner. She wasn’t “out” but there really was no need to be since everybody knew (it was very obvious). However another teacher, who was a close relative of mine, once told me about the time she was at the lesbian teacher’s home and noticed that the two women kept separate bedrooms. What that implies, who knows, but these cases sometimes are more complicated than they appear. How a woman like this teacher fits into a Catholic school is a really tough question to answer. My school didn’t give a flying fig about orthodoxy to begin with, so the point was moot.

  24. isabella says:

    OK, I wondered on another thread if they were possibly making sacrifices to get a better education for their child because of bad public schools. Since they are both physicians, they are unlikely to be poor, so I was not only naive but stupid. Sorry.

    And, no, they are not practicing Catholics – any more than I was when I was living with somebody I wasn’t married to before I came back to the Church. So why did they send the girl to a Catholic school to begin with, unless they wanted to stir up trouble? Oh well, I’d hoped for a happier ending.

  25. catholicmidwest says:

    Is anyone surprised?

  26. John 6:54 says:

    Mary & Martha? For Real? Which one choose the better part?

    Even if “No one has every asked us if we are celibates. How do they know we are not upholding official church teachings?” living together could cause scandal.

    I’ve got a Mary & a Martha living across the street. Great neighbors, they act like sisters in public except one calls the other one “the wife”. For all I know they may be celibate, then again they may not.

    If everything in the article is true, which coming from NCR I’m not sure we can assume that, there is blame on all sides of this.

    We should pray for all involved. Especially the kids and the Bishop. The Catholic Church has some major persecution coming in the next 50 years and it isn’t going to take that long for it to get really bad.

  27. TJerome says:

    AJP, you sound sincere but another victim of post-Vatican II catechesis, if you can call not teaching anything about the true Catholic Faith catechesis. There is no “liberal” or “conservative” Catholic position on homosexuality or lesbianism. Catholic theology is unambiguous: the condition isn’t sinful but the practice is. They sound like they fit into the sinful category. They should be prayed for constantly to amend their sinful lives.

  28. TJerome says:

    The NCR is soooooooooooooooooooooo 1960s, passe, irrelevant, and dead. I would guess the average age of their readership is similar to the average age of the “Spirit of Vatican II” religious orders of women, around 75.

  29. PostCatholic says:

    It’s interesting to see people lament “division in the Church” while in the same breath drawing battle lines. The NCR article presented a point of view that adds to our understanding of the motives of these women, and had some fair points both about hypocrisy and about making assumptive judgments that might otherwise have been lost in this debate. Surely it’s rational to admit these things?

    In the words a reformation hero whom Calvin burned at the stake, “We need not think alike to love alike.” We ought to be respectful of the inherent dignity and worth of our opponents even when we’re convinced they’re dead wrong.

  30. Denis says:

    NCR: The deuterocanon to Hell’s Bible.

  31. medievalist says:

    These ladies may have chosen the wrong paper to “clear up misconceptions”. NCR purveys little except misconceptions.

  32. dhgyapong says:

    I dunno.
    What if every care was made to make sure the teachers and the administrators had robust, well-formed Catholic faiths and lifestyles that reflected their spiritual maturity instead of making sure every student came from a perfect Catholic family? And what if those teachers had such Godly love that their faith was more than a set of rules and intellectual propositions but ablaze with the power of the living God. The problem is not with making sure you have perfect students, it’s cleaning up the people who are supposed to be passing on the faith so that broken people can give their children a chance at finding a real faith in Christ.

    I’m not talking about leniency here, which is what seems to be what the NCR article is implying should be the case, but I don’t think the answer to leniency is legalism. Is there not a way that is like the parting of the Red Sea so you don’t have to choose the devil or the deep blue sea, a loving approach like Jesus’ Go and Sin No More to the adulterous woman?

    Then, once the teachers and the administrators are in line with the faith, let the Lesbians send their girls. Let the divorced and remarried moms send their kids. Love those girls and those children of divorce and adultery of what have you. Teach them and form them in the faith in a totally unwatered down, unapologetic, singe-your-hair beauty empowered by the Holy Spirit. Those who deep down hate the faith will yank their kids out on their own. Those who deeply regret their past mistakes and are enmeshed in remarriages and blended families or disordered emotional dependencies but are not strong enough in the faith to make that right might still hope that their children would get a better start than they can give them through their own example.

    If the teachers were more like the missionaries that came to patiently teach and pass on the Catholic faith to children and parents who had never heard of Jesus Christ 400 years ago on this continent, maybe there would be more fruit. And maybe some Lesbian parents might be truly converted to become more truly and deeply Catholic, some divorced and remarried Catholics might come to repentance.

    The scandal is not in the broken people who might want to send their kids to a Catholic school and may think it’s only about “religion” and not the living faith, it’s that there is so little Catholic faith of the kind that makes saints there in the first place.


  33. frjim4321 says:

    It seems a “no-brainer” that we don’t punish children on the basis of the sins or perceived sins of the parents. That being said, there could be a back story here that we don’t know. For example, I know a Catholic grade school teacher who lost a job due to entering into an invalid marriage. The pastor tried to deal with it pastorally, and was going to permit the teacher to keep her job while working on the annulment and validation. Somehow the news media got involved, it became public, and the teacher had to be removed. So, what is there to this story that we don’t know? Were in fact the parents on some kind of “campaign” here, fluanting a situation, or overtly causing a scandal? (From the article, this does not seem to be the case.) Or, was this situation being handle appropriately at the parish for quite a while, then the diocese heard about it and decided to make a public stand? In other words, was this a situation that met the needs of the diocese of make a statement? The answers to these questions are only known by the principles. To the point of the subject of this thread, there’s no evidence that the jounalist is picking a fight. The pastoral solution would be to allow the children to remain in the school; but it’s probably too late to solve this problem in any constructive manner. Fr. Jim.

  34. MikeJ9919 says:

    I’ve got to admit, I was feeling very sympathetic for these women. I believed them, right up until this point:

    “The morning after meeting with Fr. Breslin the women woke up to see their story on the front page of the Boulder paper. They were shocked and worried. So they immediately called Breslin and had him paged. They said they wanted to let him know that the leak did not come from them. ‘I actually called to warm him this was coming out. He needed to know,’ said Mary.”

    Think about that for a second…they didn’t find out about the article until it had already come out on the front page of the paper. You’re telling me that the writer never contacted them? You’re telling me that the editor approved a front page article without ever contacting the principals in the story? Even a high school newspaper wouldn’t do that, let alone a major commercial newspaper. Aside from violating all sorts of principles of journalistic ethics, no newspaper’s legal department would EVER let them…that’s simply asking for a huge libel suit.

    The idea that they opened up the morning paper and that’s the very first clue they had and then they rushed to immediately call Fr. Breslin…absurd. Who knows what else in this article is untrue?

  35. Clinton says:

    MikeJ9919, that is an excellent point. No newspaper in America is going to publish a story announcing that two women are lesbian
    without some fact-checking and confirmation–unless the editors want to be sued to cinders.

  36. Stephen Hand says:

    It’s interesting(and ironic) how those who talk about waiting for the ‘aging liberals’ to die sound allot like soviet communists from back in the day. There’s a joke that goes like this:

    A member of the communist party is talking to a Russian Orthodox Priest, and noting how most of the people who attend services in the priest’s church are old women, asks the priest “what will you do when all of the old women die off?”
    And the priest shrugs and answers “I guess i’ll just have to find more old women.”

    The same can be said about the ‘aging radicals’ from NCR. Many people change their beliefs as they age. I’m always astounded seeing photos of young priests in cassocks and birettas, as well as nuns in habits in 1955, and by 1965 and by 1975, a sizable portion of those same priests and nuns were wearing t-shirts, denouncing humanae vitae, and tearing statues and altars out of churches.

  37. AJP says:

    TJerome, did you mean to respond to someone else? I don’t understand why you think I drew a distinction between “liberal” and “conservative” versions of the Church’s stance on homosexuality. I am also offended that you imply I am a “victim” of bad catechesis and don’t know/don’t agree with the Church’s teachings. Take some time to read my previous posts on this blog if you think I’m some badly educated dissenter.

    I brought up the case at my school because it is relevant to a possibility raised on this thread – an avowed lesbian couple who lives together but does so chastely. While I do not know for sure (and seriously I do not want to – TMI!) what the sexual “status” of my teacher was, it seemed to me at least a potential real-life case of a celibate gay couple. It is not readily apparent what the Church’s teachings on this are, and how that might relate to employment at a Catholic school or enrolling a child at a Catholic school. As I said, my school didn’t care about orthodoxy to begin with, but for those of us who are orthodox, this is a tricky question.

    Obviously a lesbian couple who engage in sexual acts with one another are violating Catholic teaching. But if two lesbians agree to live as “sisters”, is this still unacceptable? I am not sure. On one hand, there’s the issue of scandal given by two women who profess to be a couple and live together. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure that the Church allows for couples in invalid marriages to share a home and publically refer to each other as husband and wife, as long as they live as “brother and sister.” Could similar principles could apply to a celibate gay couple? I don’t know.

    To the best of my knowledge, Rome has never stated something along the lines of “gay couples may not ever share homes, even if they are celibate.” Because there isn’t any official clarification on this, it raises some difficult questions. We have to apply general moral principles (involving things as varied as scandal, occasions of sin, charity, chastity, behavior vs inclinations, etc) to a very specific, rather rare, situation. That’s not easy to do – and acknowledging that fact doesn’t make me poorly catechesized, nor does it mean I think the Church’s clearly stated teachings on homosexuality are ambiguous or up for debate.

  38. Steve K. says:

    AJP – this situation isn’t as rare as you think. There are quite a few homosexual couples who have adopted children around the US and try to live together as a family. I think it isn’t as difficult as you are making it out to be – what sort of Catholic upbringing are those kids going to get having “two mommies?” Their arrangements are an occasion of sin and a deprivation of a healthy Christian upbringing. Go back and read Mary Bruno’s comment at the top:

    “Two women each conceived one child which would be through either artificial means or with a man who is not their husband. This is not a Catholic Value.

    They never hid the fact they were a lesbian couple and no one ever asked if they were celibate. Is this a Catholic Value to live as a lesbian couple? Why would one ask if they were celibate if they were telling the school they were a lesbian couple? If they were not a couple wouldn’t they just be two single moms living in the same household sharing expenses?

    Other parents are coming and telling them they are divorced and remarried outside the church or using contraception. Is it a Catholic Value to not follow doctrine? Does many people sinning make all sins ok?”

    I think no further comment is necessary after that.

  39. AJP says:

    Stephen Hand,

    I think the sentiment comes from the fact that the “professional dissenter” phenomenon is confined to a very specific generation – the Silent Generation and some of the Baby Boomers. What’s unique about these “aging radicals” is that they don’t believe in most of Catholicism, yet insist on remaining priests, bishops, nuns, theologians, or actively involved with the Church. Because of their positions w/in the Church they can do so much damage to souls.

    Meanwhile, there are plenty of people under the age of 40 or so who claim to be Catholic but don’t believe or practice. However few of those people attend Mass weekly, few are actively involved in their parishes, and next to none of them are interested in becoming priests, nuns, or bishops. Subsequently, while they put their own souls in danger, they don’t have much effect on the rest of the Church because they are largely disassociated from it. The old mentality of identifying as a Catholic and revolving one’s life around the Church even when you outright hate Catholicism, is laregly confined to people born before the 1950s. I don’t see it coming back among people my age (I am 28). People my age who don’t like the Church just stop going and forget about it. McBrien won’t be able to find “new old ladies” to replace himself because the young men who share his ideology are not going to become priests.

    I am also confident that our young vocations (young priests and nuns) will retain orthodoxy over time. It’s true that many of those habited nuns and cassocked priests of the 1950s “changed” their minds by the 1970s. Or at least they seemed to. I suspect that a lot of those folks really didn’t have true vocations or were not properly formed. The 1950s was hardly a golden age of Catholicism – there were serious problems with catechesis and how vocations were dealt with. These problems were in many ways very specific to the time and culture and don’t appear to be an issue for 20-something Catholics nowadays.

  40. Rob Cartusciello says:

    The article is so predictable , I wonder whether the editors of the NCR have replaced its writers with a computer algorithm.

    The narrative is familiar: nasty church hierarchy discriminates against kindly sympathetic people just trying to “do what’s right”.

    The comments section writes itself as well: another example of the Church out of touch, too old, too narrow-minded, yadda yadda yadda.

  41. Stephen Hand says:


    I agree with much of what you say, I just think that it is far too soon to declare victory, and that generally over the trajectory of their lives people change their beliefs and attitudes, especially in our culture, where conformity in religious belief isn’t especially enforced.
    For example, I know one person, who began as a conservative Catholic, preferring a ‘reform of the reform’ ‘novus ordo’ mass, then he started to attend the tridentine mass, then refused to attend the novus ordo at all, then became a sedevacantist, then doubled back and is now studying to be a priest for the sspx(he really dislikes Pope Ratzinger).
    I have another friend who used to be a staunch traditionalist, was a seminarian for the FSSP, and is now living with his male lover, and is a high church anglican(women priests and all). Both of these instances happened over the course of only 3-5 years. Most of the traditionalists(and ex-traditionalists) that i’ve met have a trajectory, and this makes me feel think that the shape of the future is far from certain. Especially in the current generation, change in beliefs and religious commitments are very common and can be very swift.

  42. pjsandstrom says:

    One of the things that intrigued me about this story is that the ladies are identified as ‘professional physicians’– is there any other kind? And also in what branch of medicine do they practice? That would be interesting information especially if they practice in the community they want to send their children to school in. For example are they ‘general practitioners’ or ‘ob-gny’?

  43. Stalin had a cute daughter and he kept animals. And he was a former altarboy.

    So… NCR’s okay with Stalin coming to parent/teacher conference night? No scandal there?

  44. Joan M says:

    While adultery is scandalous, it can never be as scandalous as a homosexual couple. The first, sinful indeed, are at least indulging in sexual actions that are “normal” – using the sexual organs in the manner for which they were designed, although illegitimately. The second, since there is no compatibility of organs, have to find totally unnatural ways to achieve sexual pleasure. (This is the most delicate way I can find to put this).

    Truly, persons living an actively homosexual lifestyle are far, far, more scandalous than any adultery. There are mortal sins that are far worse than others.

  45. Let’s pray for these poor misguided souls. Father forgive them, they know not what they do! Do not hold this sin against them.

  46. Cath says:

    “Mary” and “Martha”? Bet they just drew those names out of a hat.

  47. GordonB says:

    I do think there needs to be more clarity about why its OK to send kids to CCD but not to the Catholic School. . .

  48. MikeJ9919 says:

    Joan M, I’d like you to consider that your position may be the result of a simple dislike of homosexuals. Truly, their actions are contrary to natural law and Divine law and therefore sinful. But saying that it is “far, far more scandalous” that adultery? That seems simply ridiculous.

    Adultery violates both Divine law and vows taken before God in the Sacrament of Matrimony. Homosexual relations violate no such sacramental vows (assuming those involved are not married…the issue of adultery with someone of the same sex is a separate one entirely.) For that reason, I would say adultery and homosexual relationships are at least equally scandalous.

  49. Scott W. says:

    But saying that it is “far, far more scandalous” that adultery? That seems simply ridiculous.

    I believe there is some confusion over sinfulness vs. scandalousness. Adultery is no less a sin than homosexual acts in that both will land one in Hell assuming all conditions for mortal sin are present. Scandal is leading or encouraging others to sin by one’s own behavior and words. So one could say that adultery is less scandalous in the sense that adultery is usually covert. That is, you can’t encourage another to engage in a sin if they don’t know you are doing that sin. If the adultery was discovered and known to much of the parish as an overt homosexual pairing usually is, then yes, it could be reasonably argued that they are at least as scandalous as the other.

    Which brings me to an interesting bit related to Canon Law 915 that it would be great to get Ed Peter’s take on [my emphasis]:

    Olim: 1917 CIC 855. § 1. All those publicly unworthy are to be barred from the Eucharist, such as excommunicates, those interdicted, and those manifestly infamous, unless their penitence and emendation are shown and they have satisfied beforehand the public scandal [they caused]. § 2. But occult sinners, if they ask secretly and the minister knows they are unrepentant, should be refused; but not, however, if they ask publicly and they cannot be passed over without scandal.

    So granted that this is about the Eucharist and not Catholic school policy, Bp. Chaput seems to be operating under the same logic and this is why the “What about kicking out the kids of adulterers?” objection fails.

  50. MikeJ9919 says:

    That’s a fair point, Scott. I did mash up the terms a bit. I think your argument on sin vs. scandal is correct.

    Speaking to the larger point of the policy, though, I’m still not sure I agree with it. I understand Archbishop Chaput’s reasoning and the fact that the Church wants to protect the parent / child relationship even where those parents are sinners. Nevertheless, Christ called us to cast off our family if they are impediments to holiness. I am sure that attending a Catholic school (especially one overseen by a steadfast priest like Fr. Breslin) would be better than going to a public school and simply attending CCD (not that there aren’t excellent CCD programs out there.)

    I think there is an elephant in the room not being addressed. The children of these women (and other children in the school) would, through proper catechism, eventually question the relationship of these women. But if the children are to be genuinely Catholic, does it matter whether they come by this knowledge through school, CCD, private instruction, etc.? That is, since the path to salvation is through Christ, the path to Christ through the Church, and the Church’s path is through following her teachings, to be truly Catholic they must eventually confront this issue. (And when they do, it will be very difficult…please pray for them.)

    Isn’t it better that they be “forced” to confront this issue by attending a Catholic school, rather than being allowed to simply play cafeteria Catholic and pick-and-choose their faith? (And if your response is that they are simply too young for such a difficult issue, that is a fair point. I am speaking more theoretically than I am to this precise situation.)

  51. PostCatholic says:

    It’s interesting(and ironic) how those who talk about waiting for the ‘aging liberals’ to die sound allot [sic] like soviet communists from back in the day.

    Liberals aren’t merely aging out of the Catholic faith; they’re moving out of it. The result has been that Catholicism has become a more homogeneous, more orthodox and smaller religion in the Americas. Personally, as a former Catholic I think that’s great–this means both less arguing among yourselves and less influence you folks can exert over civil society.

    One thing that strikes me about this blog (both in Rev. Zuhlsdorf’s writings and in the comments he receives) is the intensity of the tone of anger and vehemence with which views are expressed towards those who do not share the same viewpoints, convictions, interpretations or faith. One might suppose that Christian reproof would be done with a sense of sorrow and patience; but one would be wrong.

  52. Martial Artist says:

    eulogos (Susan Peterson),

    I couldn’t agree with you more if I tried concerning the universal application of Church teaching on public sinful behavior (in this instance sexual conduct outside the sacrament of marriage).

    It must surely be one of the more difficult responsibilities for the pastor of the parish, but it is necessary that public defiance of infallible church teaching on faith and morals must be handled directly, impartially and consistently if the Church is going to successfully proclaim its truths through both words and actions. The failure to deal with disobedience in an open and consistent manner is, I think, a significant, if not major, contributor to diluting the authority of the Church and, thereby, to the encouragement of self-identified Catholics behaving in ways that undercut her ability to bring the Gospel to others through confusion about what she really teaches and believes.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  53. Scott W. says:

    I think there is an elephant in the room not being addressed. The children of these women (and other children in the school) would, through proper catechism, eventually question the relationship of these women.

    I don’t think it is an elephant in the room. Obviously we want everyone saved, but there is a limit to what we can morally do to that end. As Ed Peters noted, we can’t do something that amounts to formal approval of immoral acts, utter some exculpatory words that we don’t approve of it and that makes it all better. Thus, we are “left” with prayer (pardon the expression) and leaving it God. As the recent NYT kerfuffle shows, we simply will never win on the PR front, no matter what we do. Our enemies’ hostility renders them incoherent. How many times have we heard the Church is irrelevant and the greatest evil ever to walk the earth in the same breath? Might as well get it right and let the world pound its fist in impotent rage.

  54. What happens when little Johnny’s mother and father are remarried after one of them, let’s say the mother, was previously divorced, and Johnny’s “other daddy” regularly comes to pick him up after school, attends school concerts, etc? This situation is not so uncommon or “occult,” is it?

  55. Scott W. says:

    What happens when little Johnny’s mother and father are remarried after one of them, let’s say the mother, was previously divorced, and Johnny’s “other daddy” regularly comes to pick him up after school, attends school concerts, etc? This situation is not so uncommon or “occult,” is it?

    I’d say the question isn’t about commonality, but overtness. If it is overt, then yes, there is a case to be made for booting them as well. But note the canon law. I always thought that it was absolute–If the priest knew, and the sinner knew, then no communion no way no how. Now if I am reading it correctly, it seems that is not the case. The point being, if there is that kind of leeway for a Sacrament, how much more for a school policy? Quite a bit it would seem. But of course it has a limit, and I think the Bishop right on to apply his policy as he did.

  56. Stephen Hand says:


    I agree with you, especially in regards to the way that the people here express their views. I take some small solace in the fact that it only serves to make their views look even more ridiculous.
    However, when it comes to the daily life of the vast vast majority of the people in the church, being Catholic has always been much more about cultural and social belonging than assent to doctrinal propositions. Most(well, almost all) people go to mass, receive the sacraments, and participate devotions because that is the way that their tribe has come to express their relation to the religious dimension of human experience, to the mysteries of human life, etc.
    The number of people who spend their time reading blogs and learning all sorts of religious apologetics and trivia is extremely small. Most people won’t know the difference between a crozier and a cruet, and wouldn’t care to know.
    When I was a traditionalist and helped organize tridentine masses, I was always shocked at how few people developed a lasting attraction to them, and how small the groups interested were. Catholicism is only going to survive as a mass phenomenon to extent that it will be able to keep the devotional cultic element at its center, and that is exactly what is happening with the Church in the third world, but there the church is quickly adopting pentecostal practices(though albeit with certain traditionally Catholic twists) in order to keep believers.

  57. John F. Kennedy says:

    BTW, NCR is editing the comments / responses. I left three different responses this morning questioning the thoughts and reasons of several people who support the lesbians and their public sin. My comments were cool, reasoned responses. Apparently they were not allowed since they are not the view the NCR wishes to convey. That explains why the comments are 10 to 1 in favor of pro-lesbians and anti Church.

  58. doanli says:

    Talking about aging liberals, my husband was as liberal as they come during his youth. Smoked pot regularly, was pro-abortion, had a “Question Authority” bumper sticker on his car. Didn’t go to church, and only did go because his mum from England called an Episcopal church to get in contact with him because he was all alone on Christmas and she wanted him to make friends.

    Now he’s done a big turnaround on all–no more pot smoking, questions abortion on demand (My pregnancy with our son has changed his thinking a lot, he says.). He has since left the mainstream Episcopalian church because they have become too leftist. He is a member of a local Anglican church now…those former Episcopalians who have stuck with the Bible who are pro-life, anti-women priests, anti gay marriage–traditionalists. He is very excited about a possible Anglican Rite that will be in communion with Rome—something he found abhorrent when we met years ago because he thought the Church was too harsh.

    Certainly people can change!

  59. PostCatholic says:

    Interesting. The diocese where I went to seminary in the early 1990’s was sued for failure to protect minors from a priest with a pattern of predatory homosexual behavior. In 1997 in that same seminary said priest (a member of the faculty) and one of his victims had an “altercation [that] awakened many, if not all, of the seminarians and faculty,” but another priest dealt with the victim who was “was calmed down and then fell asleep in [the abusive priest’s] room. When [the victim] woke up the next morning, he found that he was in [the abusive priest’s] bed with [the abusive priest’s] in bed next to him. [The abusive priest’s] hand was down Roe’s pants and was touching Roe’s penis.” Meanwhile the Rector (my old Rector, and a priceless ass to this day) had been contacted about the altercation and the homosexual and yet still allowed these two people to sleep together that night in the same bedroom in the seminary.

    Read this for yourself.

    I dunno. Hypocrisy much? Guess tolerating homosexual relationships and even criminal behavior is fine as long as no one sees it happen.

  60. Joan M says:

    “Joan M, I’d like you to consider that your position may be the result of a simple dislike of homosexuals.” Comment by MikeJ9919

    No, Mike. My position has nothing to do with a dislike of homosexuals. It has to do with what I learned about their activities. It is totally unnatural. Remember, although adultery is condemned in the New Testament, it is not spoken of as an abomination, as is homosexuality.

    Furthermore, Sodomy is one of the sins crying out to Heaven for vengeance. I quote: “Sodomy strikes at the root of human nature because of its perversion of the procreative impulse, without which the race must die. But in case we don’t see it, God does.” (see

    Unfortunately, today’s culture ignores the abomination and tolerates anything.

  61. PostCatholic says:

    That’s terrible reasoning with regard to sodomy, Joan M. I think you could shut down just about every Catholic middle school if “perversion of the procreative impulse, without which the race must die,” taking place where only God can see it is the standard to on. The simple truth is that the primates (as in advanced hominids, not as in bishops… although sure, them too) have impulses that are not simply procreative, as any trip to the zoo can confirm for you.

  62. Joan M says:

    “The simple truth is that the primates (as in advanced hominids, not as in bishops… although sure, them too) have impulses that are not simply procreative, as any trip to the zoo can confirm for you.” Comment by PostCatholic

    PostCatholic, primates are animals without an immortal soul. We are not. And, it’s not my reasoning with regard to sodomy, it’s God’s. We have the capacity to reason and to know the difference between good and evil. Animals do not.

    With that, I am finished with commenting on this.

  63. PostCatholic says:

    PostCatholic, primates are animals without an immortal soul. We are not.
    No, you’re also a primate. (And the immortal soul bit is debatable too, but beside the point.)

    And, it’s not my reasoning with regard to sodomy, it’s God’s.
    No, it’s not God’s, it appears to be that of a Catholic catechist who wasn’t being specific enough. As I said, if you use “perversion of the procreative impulse” to argue that same-sex sexual activity is particularly extra-special super-bad wrong, it casts a very wide net that takes in a lot of other behaviors, like those of most pubescent school kids.

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