At Fishwrap (aka National Sodomitical Reporter), usual suspect Michael Sean Winters has risen from his couch to defame me with a libelous statement. Libel is a published false statement that is damaging to a person’s reputation.
Winters wrote a piece about Pope Francis’ alleged words to a homosexual Chilean man. The Pope is alleged – we only have the man’s report – that the Pope said to him that, “God made you like this. God loves you like this”.
Winters goes on to attack me by name, with something
liberal… er… libelous.
Similarly, Fr. Zuhlsdorf suggested the pope might not have even said it, and used the occasion to expose his own homophobia. I half-expect Zuhlsdorf to start “praying away the gay” any day now.
Winters himself begins his piece with, “I cringed when the news broke that Pope Francis reportedly said,…”. “Reportedly”.
Yes, I indeed suggested that the Pope might not have said what Winters himself says he “reportedly” said. I wrote:
I am not going to accept the claim that that is what the Holy Father actually said. Gratis asseritur…. And, were he to have said that, that would do nothing in any official way to change or to redirect the Church’s teachings about homosexual persons.
Doctrine is not officially taught and Popes don’t change the Church’s teachings in off-the-cuff private remarks that can’t be substantiated one way or another.
In the end, there was a claim that the Pope made that remark. It can’t be substantiated.
Next, Winters goes on to defame me. He wrote of me: “used the occasion to expose his own homophobia.”
“Homophobia” is a word with a real meaning: “dislike of or prejudice against homosexual people”. I do not dislike people who are homosexual. I don’t have a prejudice against people who are homosexual. I do strongly dislike it when people push a homosexualist agenda on the majority or purposely confuse sex, gender, sexuality, etc., and what the Church teaches.
However, “homophobia” has also become go-to, cheap-shot word used by homosexualists, and the dim-witted who parrot them, when they lack a good argument and when they lack charity. If anyone resists changing laws that allow “gay marriage”, that person must be tarred and defamed with the “homophobia” brush.
In the same piece I wrote, over which Winters defames me, I included the following:
Homosexual persons with same-sex attractions or desires have disordered, improperly directed, attractions or desires. That doesn’t mean that they are “bad people” or “automatically sinful” or name your label. They are made in God’s image and likeness and, therefore, have the dignity inherent in all human beings. God permitted the disordered inclination and, somehow, we shall see what it all means in the vast scheme of His plan when the General Judgment rolls around. Meanwhile, I firmly believe that people with those inclinations, if they remain chaste and continent or learn to redirect themselves, will – because of their trials and sufferings – have a high place in heaven.
Great challenges bring great graces and, eventually, great rewards, though those rewards may not be realized until heaven.
Meanwhile, I utterly reject and abhor strident efforts to normalize these disordered inclinations and the acts that follow upon them. I also find loathsome the efforts of those who vilify people who uphold the dignity of human sexuality as God clearly intended it.
I have a decent record, I believe, when it comes to my views on homosexual persons. In a post about Andy Warhol I wrote:
I sincerely believe that people with same-sex attraction, if they strive to be chaste and bear their subsequent suffering, will have a very high place in heaven. The greater the burden and suffering, the greater the graces and reward.
Support of homosexual persons is obligatory for true Catholics. However, also obligatory is the whole truth, which necessarily includes the explicit and clear renunciation of same-sex acts, which violate human dignity and do great harm to individuals and society.
Again and again over the years, this has been my position.
I have tremendous respect and admiration for people who strive – and therefore suffer – when overcoming their sinful inclinations, whatever they may be.
Priests who hear confessions cannot but be moved, sometimes to tears, hearing the pain endured in some penitents. At the same time – and I think I can speak for most confessors – we are amazed, impressed, edified by the confessions. Everyone struggles against some temptation or inclination. I don’t happen to have those disordered temptations. However, over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that same-sex inclinations are among the most challenging and painful. I pray for those who have them when they make their confessions.
Some confessors, by the way, will do the penances also that they assign to penitents, in solidarity of prayer. I actually acquired that practice from a priest friend of mine who had his own actively homosexual past. But, remember, I’m supposed to be a homophobe.
On the issue of homosexual priests, No, I don’t think there are many as some claim. No, I don’t think that men with homosexual inclinations should be admitted to seminaries. However, if they are ordained, and they have taken on the frightening burden of responsibility that comes to those to whom much has been given, then, Yes, if they want to live a continent life and not commit public scandals, I think they should strive with courage and suffering to be the best priests they can be: as all the others must as well. Priests are human beings, after all. I think the same about men who are husbands and fathers.
Winters used a phrase which I didn’t quite understand. It is obviously meant to be arch, and something he disparages. Note the scare quotes: “I half-expect Zuhlsdorf to start “praying away the gay” any day now.”
Is that a … bad thing? To pray “the gay” away? I did a quick search on the phrase and found some wisdom from the likes of Katy Perry about summer Bible camps. But, seriously, when is prayer – by people who have these disordered inclinations and for these people who have them – not the first thing, middle thing, and last thing we undertake? It may be that Winters’ use of that phrase means that he thinks that I have a simplistic view of what homosexual people experience. I don’t think I have a simplistic view. I don’t think Winters’ view is simplistic, either.
We are all in this together. We all of us fell in the Original Sin of our First Parents. When we as individuals sin we hurt everyone. That’s why, when we receive absolution in confession, we are being reconciled both with God and with the Church. Sin hurts the bonds we have with persons, divine and human. Some sins harm those bonds more than others. Hence, overcoming those sins and resisting them is an occasion for great graces and admirable victories. Homosexual acts are counted among the four sins that cry out to God for vengeance because they are so harmful to souls and the whole human race. The graver the sin, the more urgent must be our response in prayer and in action.
Were I to remain silent in the face of what is going on, I would put my own soul at risk, as a negligent priest before the judgement seat of the Just Judge.
That said, as you read the whole of Winters’ piece, his overriding motive becomes clear: he is fulfilling his self-appointed role as a member of the New catholic Red Guards and trying to name and to target people with whom he disagrees for attacks by others who have power. For example, in the same piece Winters attacks Prof. Chad Pecknold of Catholic University of America for expressing his views on Twitter. Winters wrote: “Pecknold teaches future priests who live at the Theological College seminary and take their courses at CUA. His mandate to teach theology should be stripped”.
Yep. That’s how seriously Winters takes himself and his agenda.
He added: “The Pecknolds and the Zuhlsdorfs of the world seem to think pastoral accompaniment consists of repeating abstract moral laws.”
I respond, saying: “Winters doesn’t have a clue, if that is what he really thinks the Pecknolds and Zuhlsdorfs are doing. But I am not sure that is what he really thinks. He uses cheap shots and he acts like a bully who tries to get people fired. He also has a track record of changing the definitions of words so that he more easily creates straw men and can also vilify his opponents, as he does time and again with ‘libertarian’ and Acton Institute.”
In any event, at least this provided an opportunity to be associated with Prof. Pecknold, and to expose at greater length what I think about homosexuals, the homosexualist agenda, and bullies.