Responses to Card. McElroy’s essay in Jesuit-run Amerika

Jesuit-run (who else?) Amerika ran a piece by – and this still has me shaking my head – Card. McElroy of that key See of San Diego, suffragan to Los Angeles.  The Amerika piece is a dreadful obfuscation of Catholic moral teaching and defined doctrine, wrapped in a fog of cliches about synodality (“walking together”) and buzz words like “inclusion”, “dialogue”, “pastoral”.

In effect, McElroy wants to change the Church’s teachings on homosexual acts, sexual activity outside of marriage and admission to Communion and the ordination of women.  The real basis of his arguments?  “Because!  Spirit!”

At The Catholic Thing there is concise unmasking of McElroy’s essay, which I warmly recommend that you look at.  “A Road To Nowhere” by Stephen P. White.  HERE

Somewhat less diplomatic is Rod Dreher at American Conservative who penned a note called Cardinal ScrewtapeHERE

One of McElroy’s premises deserves special recognition.  He will go on to claim that those who hate homosexual acts that a sinful really hate the sinners, not the sins.  That’s, of course, a plain lie that we reject with scorn.  Here’s McElroy:

It is a demonic mystery of the human soul why so many men and women have a profound and visceral animus toward members of the L.G.B.T. communities. The church’s primary witness in the face of this bigotry must be one of embrace rather than distance or condemnation. The distinction between orientation and activity cannot be the principal focus for such a pastoral embrace because it inevitably suggests dividing the L.G.B.T. community into those who refrain from sexual activity and those who do not. Rather, the dignity of every person as a child of God struggling in this world, and the loving outreach of God, must be the heart, soul, face and substance of the church’s stance and pastoral action.

It is a “demonic mystery”.  Since McElroy brought up demonic, which he pins on those who think homosexual acts are sinful, let’s bring in another voice.

In her Dialogues (ch 124), St. Catherine of Siena’s conversations with God, the Doctrix of the Church writes that the Enemy, demons, incite people to unnatural sins (homosexual acts) but that they don’t stick around to see it happen, because those acts  are too repulsive even for them.

Those acts are so contrary to nature that they offend their angelic intellect, even though they are fallen and apostate.   They want the sin to take place and they incite it, but it is so offensive to them that they absent themselves when it is happening.

Here she describes demons inciting men to these acts.  GOD is talking at this point.

“I wish thee to know, dearest daughter, that I require in this Sacrament from you and from them as great purity as it is possible for man to have in this life. On your side you ought to endeavour to acquire it continually. You should think that were it possible that the angelic nature should be purified, such purification would be necessary with regard to this mystery, but this is not possible, for angels need no purification, since the poison of sin cannot infect them. I say this to thee in order that thou mayest see how great a purity I require from you and from them in this Sacrament, and particularly from them. But they act in a contrary way, for they come full of impurity to this mystery, and not only of that impurity to which, through the fragility of your weak nature, you are all naturally inclined (although reason when free-will permits, can quiet the rebellion of nature), but these wretches not only do not bridle this fragility, but do worse, committing that accursed sin against nature, and as blind and fools with the light of their intellect darkened, they do not know the stench and misery in which they are. It is not only that this sin stinks before Me, Who am the Supreme and Eternal Truth, it does indeed displease Me so much and I hold it in such abomination that for it alone I buried five cities by a Divine judgment, My Divine justice being no longer able to endure it. This sin not only displeases Me as I have said, [NB:] but also the devils whom these wretches have made their masters. Not that the evil displeases them because they like anything good, but because their nature was originally angelic, and their angelic nature causes them to loathe the sight of the actual commission of this enormous sin. They truly enough hurl the arrow poisoned with the venom of concupiscence, but when their victim proceeds to the actual commission of the sin, they depart for the reason and in the manner that I have said. Thou rememberest that I manifested to thee before the plague how displeasing this sin was to Me, and how deeply the world was corrupted by it; so I lifted thee with holy desire and elevation of mind above thyself, and showed thee the whole world and, as it were, the nations thereof, and thou sawest this terrible sin and the devils fleeing as I have told thee, and thou rememberest that so great was the pain that thou didst receive, and the stench of this sin, that thou didst seem to thyself to see no refuge on this side of death, in which thou and My other servants could hide so as not to be attacked by this leprosy. Thou didst see that thou couldest not remain among men, for neither small nor great, nor old nor young, nor clerics nor religious, nor prelates, nor lords, nor subjects, were uncontaminated in body or mind by this curse.

God made it pretty clear to St. Catherine what the truth is about sodomy and all the other unnatural acts that fall into that fell category.   So hideous, so offensive are those sins that even demons who provoke them won’t stick around while they are being committed.  Demons can, however, and will, stick around the places where those acts were committed.

This is clear, charitable talk.  It is not the vague and slippery lulling of certain homosexualist activists who are so very popular with those who have given into the wisdom of the world.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Liberals, Sin That Cries To Heaven, Synod, The Drill and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Amina says:

    I try not to read too closely any “rot” – after the first sentence or description of the direction or intent to persuade, I skip the quote. One of the aims I believe of evil- is to spread itself by word or thought,etc. – the least details suffice to understand- in a vague way.

  2. maternalView says:

    The use of the word “orientation” I think is an effort to obfuscate what is happening— people sinning or being tempted into sin.

    When speaking of the commandments being broken we don’t speak of an orientation to larceny or murder or adultery. We know quite well we are speaking of sins.

    But somehow a person who favors homosexual acts is “oriented ” towards it much like another favors chocolate or Starbucks coffee. It’s just a preference.

    The reality is these people, especially the ones we see regularly on tv, are blatantly exhibiting their fetishes. Which used to be a cause for shame and scorn.

  3. TheCavalierHatherly says:

    Many people, and this includes almost all the theologians who have rejected scholasticism (philosophia perennis), don’t really think about anything: they have impressions of things, and respond to those things based on how it makes them feel. Then they manufacture some post-hoc explanation garnered from the back a series of cereal boxes.

    The production of an explanation takes it a step further than my cats. But if my cats ran the house, it would quickly turn into disorder… they don’t really have the concect of “order” nailed down. Their fine for a while, but if they ran the show long enough they would run it into the ground. Which is what is happening at Amerika. And in the Jesuits. And in Church and State. Humans behaving like irrational animals. Order and disorder are basically undistinguishable if you refuse to be reasonable.

  4. DeeEmm says:

    Stephen P. White puts it quite succinctly when he points out the Cardinal “attempts to collapse the distinction between sinner and sin”. Holy Mother Church has always welcomed all of God’s children, but she does not welcome sin. How do we know what is sin? The Ten Commandments is always a good place to start. But these men in the hierarchy are not informed or guided by moral teaching. I can’t even tell if the reality of Jesus who is man and God registers for these prelates. It seems like they are using a made-up Jesus who taught whatever is expedient for them in the moment, that is if they even acknowledge Jesus at all. I also had a curious thought, do these prelates ever go to confession? What would they confess? Why should they anyway, they just need to be pastoral (lie?) to themselves and then their conscience feels eased. Everything is squared away, nice and tidy.

    I try not to let fear creep into my daily life, but I do fear God, and I believe now his wrath is upon us for apostasy. He will act to put things right, as he freed Israelites from Pharaoh, he will free us from these unbelievers. Don’t ask me when or how, I have no idea. The sodomy sin that the hierarchy seems to be desperate to condone is such an abomination to God that he eventually is unable to endure the offense. So, by his own admission to St. Catherine of Sienna, God acts decisively to put an end to these evil works. We must pray for these men who court destruction, and for the Church, I suspect things will continue to get much, much worse before they get better.

  5. SeelDad says:

    Using his logic, there’s no difference between a chaste man who is heterosexually oriented and one who is a fornicator or adulterer. Making a distinction of that sort would be divisive you know.

  6. Gab says:

    I wonder how the Catholic Church appears to outsiders these days? This infernal focus on lgtbqxyz etc etc may seem to others that the Church is just another ”gay” rights lobbyist. It is depressing! What’s next for the Jesuits of that ilk? ”Trans” rights being pushed?

    I have no answers other than prayer, penance and patience.

  7. The Vicar says:

    “Many people, and this includes almost all the theologians who have rejected scholasticism (philosophia perennis), don’t really think about anything”

    Hmmm. Basil, Ambrose, Augustine, the *three* Gregories, Athanasius knew nothing of scholasticism.

    I would not suggest that they “don’t really think about anything,” and they are not scholastic theologians.

  8. anj says:

    This Cardinal writes just like an Episcopalian bishop.

  9. Phil says:

    “It is a demonic mystery of the human soul why so many men and women have a profound and visceral animus toward members of the L.G.B.T. communities. ”

    It is actually quite telling why people have, and should have, such visceral reactions to things like sodomy. Think of what happens there. To experience sexual attraction to that is, to put it pointedly, gross. I think the Holy Father used a word once which denoted such attraction…But this is why supporters of sodomy have to massage the language as they do, in order to avoid triggering the natural repulsion we have toward such things.

  10. Benedict Joseph says:

    Cardinals McElroy and Hollerich jettisoning established teaching aside [although one does wonder what other facets of the perennial Magisterium are rendered to deconstruction by their personal wisdom], we are astonished and scandalized that such individuals, who do not hold to Roman Catholic reasoning, remain priests in good standing let alone roles of privilege and responsibility.
    The infinitely rich tapestry of revealed truth preserved in the Catholic theological tradition is not and cannot be subject to the subjective judgements of men who are not, to the best of our knowledge, particularly gifted or recipients of infused wisdom from the Holy Spirit. These individuals are mere mortals who have exhibited no characteristic of heroic virtue. They work out of their own wits, employing a manner of deductive “reasoning” which appears more than quite alienated from Catholic faith. It comes down to the appearance of a sort of egoism which requires therapeutic intervention. The laity could not be more poorly served.

  11. summorumpontificum777 says:

    Three decades ago at a wedding reception in San Francisco, my now-departed mother had an extended conversation with the priest who’d officiated at the wedding. Shortly after that conversation, my mother pronounced the gentleman to be quote-“the poorest excuse for priest I’ve ever met”-unquote. It’s perhaps a blessing that my dear mother didn’t suffer the indignity of witnessing that priest become America’s newest cardinal.

  12. josephaloisius says:

    Can a priest of his diocese bring a canonical case of heresy against him, thus depriving him of his office? He seems to pretty clearly meet the conditions.

  13. Kent Wendler says:

    My opinion is that most if not all cases of homosexuality are examples of arrested development. It seems to me that maybe most of pre-pubertal children go through a stage wherein they find the opposite sex undesirable:

    Girls: “Boys are yucky!”
    Boys: “Girls got cooties!”

    And they never get beyond that point, even though puberty with its attendant sex urges arrives. So they focus that attention on members of their own sex.

    And do you ever notice how much of their “activity” seems to be perverted imitations of heterosexual intercourse?

  14. Boniface says:

    The Vicar: to know nothing of scholasticism is not the same thing as “rejecting” scholasticism.

  15. TheCavalierHatherly says:

    @The Vicar

    “Hmmm. Basil, Ambrose, Augustine, the *three* Gregories, Athanasius knew nothing of scholasticism.

    I would not suggest that they “don’t really think about anything,” and they are not scholastic theologians.”

    I would argue they knew *most* of scholasticism. The great genius of the schools was to polish the work of the Fathers. The philosophia perennis begins with Aristotle and Plato, and goes forth from there: the font of what would later become, in the hands of St. Anselm, what we call “scholasticism” in the technical sense. But in the broad sense the term covers the Fathers and Doctors of the Church prior to that time. Especially since every single one you listed was formally trained in the schools of the time, and deeply versed in matters of philosophy.

    In the Fathers, the very same approach to reality is undeniably present (despite the lack of ‘technically’ being designated as scholastic: St. John Damascene reads far more similarly to St Thomas than he does to Hegel and the moderns who read Augustine, etc, through Hegelian spectacles. Furthermore, attempting to read them outside of the great tradition which eventually results in scholasticism tends to produce, in my experience, some really odd interpretations. (For example, John Calvin’s “Augustinus totus noster est” statement: which is a testament to his brief and shallow aquintance with Augustine’s works)

  16. Pingback: FRIDAY EDITION – Big Pulpit

  17. Gaetano says:

    McElroy cravenly sets up a strawman to besmirch his opponents. It’s a coward’s ploy.

    Beyond St. Catherine of Siena, we should recall the old catechisms that detailed the “Four Sins that Cry Out to Heaven for Vengeance”: murder (Gn 4:10); oppression of the poor (Ex 2:23); defrauding workers of their just wages (Jas 5:4); and the Sin of Sodom (Gn 18:20-21).

    Contra James Martin, Scripture explains the Sin of Sodom in two places:

    “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.” (Ezekiel 16.49-50)

    “Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.” (Jude 1.7)

  18. nycdreamr says:

    There is no exclusive “homosexual act” or anything that LGBTQ couples do that heterosexual couples don’t also engage in. The only difference is same gender vs. mixed gender. [Ummm… no. Sex. not gender.] The closest comparable behaviors would be sex outside of marriage among heterosexuals and masturbation, neither of which seem to provoke much anger or calls for denying the Eucharist. [Ummm.] Adultery is a sin of deceit more than anything else. [1ummm.] Knowing sexual orientation is neither contagious or chosen [?!?!?] it is hard to come up with an objective harm in LGBTQ people having sex. [Ummm…. no.] If they are subject to mandatory celibacy, [Perhaps you mean continence or chastity.] they will not produce children. If they have romantic relationships that include sex, that sex will not produce children. Either way, the result is the same.

    [I don’t even know where to begin to comment in detail on all of this… mess. I recommend that you refrain from commenting on these issues at all for a while.]

  19. JonPatrick says:

    I suppose it is understandable that they conflate hating the sin with hating the sinner if one’s whole identity is tied up in how one chooses to have sex. This is not how I see homosexual men that I know – they all have different personalities, skills, interests. For some reason there is this need by people like McElroy to one-dimensionalize people and reduce it to this one identity. The same happens with identity politics in general as practiced by the Left. I see it as more a political move to try to break down traditional beliefs in this area rather than an attempt to actually minister to people.

  20. sjoseph371 says:

    josephaloisius – I am sure one can – but when was the last time you heard of a lowly priest SUCCESSFULLY challenging a bishop, much less a cardinal AND coming out intact and with his priestly faculties? I know, I know, a brave priest wouldn’t be afraid to pursue the truth, etc, but that’s easy for people like us to say, but nearly impossible for someone who has to suffer the consequences to do. And again, even if there was such a brave priest, do you honestly think that in today’s climate that ANYTHING (even a sternly worded letter) would be done? Have you seen what they’ve gotten away with lately? I’m not advocating just doing nothing, but to expect anything to come from anyone’s efforts would be folly. HOWEVER, a possible path would be for a considerable group of priests AND laypeople to do such an action – again, I’m not sure if anything would come from it, but it would at least make a greater statement.

  21. sjoseph371 says:

    josephaloisius – I’d also follow up with this . . . . I’d almost want him to keep spouting this nonsense, in the spirit that he should be giving himself as much rope as he can to hang himself (metaphorically speaking OF COURSE). It does seem that he has generated so much outrage that further highlighting of it is completely unnecessary . . . . I’d even go out on such a limb that if he keeps spouting off like this, it may even be too much for PF to ignore as well. . . . if for nothing else than he’s guilty of “saying the quiet part out loud”

  22. Rich Leonardi says:

    Stephen P. White puts it quite succinctly when he points out the Cardinal “attempts to collapse the distinction between sinner and sin.

    And McElroy is fully aware of what he’s doing, which, given that he’s a bishop responsible for teaching the faithful, compounds his lies with scandal and treachery.

  23. ThePapalCount says:

    Me thinks the eminent cardinal doth protest too much.

  24. JesusFreak84 says:

    And this Cardinal will be part of the group that picks Pope Francis’ successor…

  25. paterscotus says:

    This prelate’s proclivities became apparent to me years ago when I was still celebrating both “forms” of the Mass and helping out at St John the Evangelist parish in San Diego after the unforeseen death of their pastor. I’d offer the regular morning Mass then, as a favor to the Little Brothers of the Oratory, offer a TLM at the side altar of Our Lady of Fatima. After awhile the Vicar General (Fr Dolan, now Ordinary in Phoenix) called to tell me that the bishop had taken notice of my little TLM (typically all of 4 congregants) and ordered me to stop. The reason, I think, is that this parish, being very near the rainbow-draped Hillcrest neighborhood, was to become the designated “gay parish;” and, as we know, TLM and homosexual don’t mix.

  26. TheCavalierHatherly says:

    “and, as we know, TLM and homosexual don’t mix.”

    Which is really interesting, because historically speaking, those who were of homosexual propensities, such as Oscar Wilde, were always drawn to the Church by the TLM. So drawn in that they relinquished their sins in favour of the Sacraments.

    Perhaps this is the worry…

  27. hilltop says:

    I’m with PapalCount:
    Be wary of those who make room for sins and committers of those sins. They often are seeking to make room for themselves and for their sins.

    I’m NOT with NYCDreamer. Where to start?

  28. Ages says:

    @Gab: The Catholic Church (of McElroy’s machination) is right in line with the rest of culture. Virtually 100% of children (Catholic, Atheist, and everything in between; state-schooled, parochial-schooled, home-schooled, doesn’t matter) are fully propagandized on matters of modern sexuality by age 10, and much younger in many cases. McElroy wants what the culture wants; if he is not totally malicious, he probably thinks he is pragmatically saving the Church from irrelevance.

    Also, the failure to win the cultural battle of the 1960s-2000s does not mean we have to just give up in 2023.

  29. Fr-William says:

    I suspect that my decision to use St Paul for this Sunday’s background is correct. Paul’s letter to Rome pointed out that Christians will be told many things about Our Lord and his Church. One thing dealt with what a believer is to do when being told Satan’s scripture rather than God’s. The Cardinals’s statement is one of those teachings that need to be tossed aside (along with the Cardinal).

  30. Hugh says:

    What is to be done?

    1. Thoroughly examine anything dodgy in your own life re. the 6th commandment, confess it, and make relevant firm purposes of amendment. I put my hand up there as a matter of urgency. Prayers please.

    2. Pray and fast for this wretched bishop and his ilk. Really. Make plans re fasting, rather than blogging and feeling good about that (as I often do.)

    3. Write him a letter including the lines of Catherine of Siena’s “Dialogue” which Fr Z has very helpfully posted.

    4. Write to, or talk to, your local ordinary, again quoting St Catherine – and/or St Peter Damian’s “Book of Gomorrah” , for light relief.

    Invite your ordinary, in the suavest possible terms, to ask himself: “Where would I have been at Nicaea? With Arius? Or Athanasius and Santa Claus (aka Nicholas of Myra)?

    At the next Synod On No Sin, will I temporize, or will I go up to an unrepentant, radically unpastoral Bishop McElroy (et al) and punch him (et al) in the mouth, a la the jolly St Nick?

    Honestly, where would I have been under Henry VIII’s punch down of Catholicism? With all the compliant, terrified English hierarchy excepting the martyr John Fisher? Or with John Fisher (and the layman Thomas More and all the English martyrs)? Seriously: which side do I consider I would have taken in that tyrannical regime? Or today, likewise: will I just go on, Prufrock-like, smiling and drinking tea whilst safely flying under the regime radar, planting trees in primary school gardens, and rabbiting on about climate change, with suitable photos for the diocesan newspaper?

    If you’re like me, I’d add: “Your Lordship(/Grace/Eminence): I have no doubt that I would have felt similarly tempted so to yield to that tyrannical murderer Henry. And my Monday morning quarterback martyrdom advocacy is not listed as one of the virtues.

    But the question is: fear aside, what was the right thing to do then (Nicaea/Henrician suppression) and thus the right thing to do now?”

    Oh, and your L/G/E : it only takes a small number of bishops, especially ordinaries, united in staunch opposition, to drastically discombobulate these tyrants. They’re cowards under a very thin skin. Where do you stand? Under, or courageously above, the parapet? If you think homosexual acts do not disbar reception of Holy Communion, then say so loud and clear so I can make my next move. If you don’t, and that anyone who opposes the Catechism (so far unamended on this) and/or who practices likewise should not be admitted to Communion then say so as well, so I can act accordingly.

    It’s a very confusing world and Church these days, your L/G/E ! Let your yes mean yes and your no mean no. For us sheeps’ sake!

    5. Ceteris paribus for your P.P.

  31. Fr. Reader says:

    @Kent Wendler

    It might be the case, and you might end up in jail for saying it openly. ;)

  32. MB says:

    I think perhaps the picture that we get of homosexual love is very white-washed. Yes, thank you Fr. Z for posting the bit from St. Catherine. Homosexual sex at least between men completely trashes the human body, and so I think in reality there is a ton of exploitation. Older men abusing younger men, rich men abusing poor men, etc. Rapists often don’t rape for sex, they rape for dominance instead. I think at least some homosexual sex is also more about of that character. I know my first- hand knowledge about the homosexual culture is small, but I’m afraid it is far more vicious then we are led to believe. I think of St. Charles Lawanga and his terrible plight. And once you’ve been abused in that way … well, hurt people hurt people. And so it goes on and on.

  33. Orual says:

    @nycdreamr Oh, please! Homosexual actions by their very nature are not practiced by heterosexuals. If you’re referring to sodomy, well, that’s a sin regardless of who’s doing it. The implication that all heterosexuals practice sodomy is a lie.

    Homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered precisely because they are not ordered to procreation, which is the primary end of sexual intercourse. Homosexual sex is NOT sexual intercourse, it’s sodomy, which is a gross abuse of the body. Our reproduction organs, like every other organ in our bodies, have a God-given purpose. Humans are not created with a complete reproductive system: men have half and women have the other half. Homosexual acts are an abuse of the very meaning and purpose of sex. They are never open to life. They also spread disease. They are a dead-end and oppose God’s plan for humanity. They are sinful and will always be sinful regardless of what any Cardinal has to say.

  34. Kent Wendler says:

    Fr. Reader:

    On what grounds? I did not name any individuals, neither did I actually ascribe any moral values to these disposition. I also described it as a personal opinion.

    I am also personally inclined (and I have the means) to forcefully defend myself in court, and (counter)sue for false arrest or defamation.

    Also, just how “open” is this branch of Fr. Z’s blog? Actually, as I am not a “public person” I hope that some prominent person(s) in that category will pick up on this idea and go with it.

  35. Not says:

    I have been saying for years now that the goal of homosexuality is the corruption of the youth a.k.a. pedophilia. Matthew 18:16 But he that shall scandalize on of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck,, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea.

    [I think that the “gold ring” is the lowering (or elimination) of the legal age of consent.]

  36. Not says:

    Yes, Fr. Z. That is the “Golden Ring” . They have been trying for years and now the Demons are out in full force.

  37. Seamus says:

    “I think that the “gold ring” is the lowering (or elimination) of the legal age of consent.”

    I think you’re right. Age of consent laws were very useful for about a generation, when they were used to prosecute Catholic priests for molesting 16- and 17-year-old boys. Now that progressive opinion has exhausted the usefulness of such laws as clubs with which to beat the Church, I expect we’ll see a return to the climate of opinion I remember from the 1970s, which regarded setting the age of consent higher than 14 or 15 to be ridiculously puritanical.

Comments are closed.