I will be traveling to Southern California this week. Blessings to you all.
Monday, October 20, 2014
|First Edition of The Catechism...|
The interim report from the Vatican Synod on the Family caused much controversy, and, interestingly enough, much excitement in the gay media; the much-read “Advocate” opened with the headline - “Vatican Document: Value Gay People's 'Gifts and Qualities' - The church should recognize positive aspects of same-sex relationships, the document says.” Yet, many in the Curia were far from enthused. Discussing the interim report from the Synod, Cardinal Raymond Burke stated: “The document lacks a proper foundation in the sacred Scriptures and the perennial and rich teaching of the Church regarding holy matrimony. It also does not reflect a proper theological anthropology, with its reference to the natural law. The effect which the document has already had upon Catholics, non-Catholics and people of good will has been disastrous. The document, not without reason, gives the impression that the Catholic Church is abandoning the apostolic faith regarding marriage.”
After much discussion, what finally emerged from the Synod, regarding homosexuality and the question of gay marriage, had little do with the vague and open statements found with the interim report:
“The pastoral care of people with homosexual orientation some families live the experience of having family members with a homosexual orientation. In this regard, we have examined pastoral care which is appropriate to deal with this situation by referring to what the Church teaches: ‘There is no foundation whatsoever to assimilate or to establish even remotely analogous, including same-sex unions and the plan of God for marriage and the family.’ ‘Nevertheless, men and women with homosexual tendencies must be accepted with respect and sensitivity. In their regard should be avoided every sign of unjust discrimination.’” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons.)”
Gone are all the references to gay “gifts;” gone are “valuing” and “accepting” the homosexual orientation; and gone is the “valuable support” provided by same-sex unions. Instead, the Bishops redacted verbatim from “The Catechism of the Catholic Church” and from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons;” both of which were overseen by the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) under St. John Paul. And, herein resides the great power of the Catholic Church: for it continually lokks towards Tradition and the Magisterium for guidance. Such as, back in 1994, the first edition of “The Catechism” arrived in the US. Unbeknownst to me, 1994 would be a seminal year in my life: I would finally graduate from UC Berkeley, my idol and one-time debauchery partner Joey Stefano died of an overdose, and I decided to do another porn movie after a couple of years hiatus. That year marked a sort of beginning of the end for me: I was 25, no longer the cute young thing, and I had been away from the attention of the Castro long enough to really start craving it all over again.
Five years later, I would desperately crack open “The Catechism.” Little did I know, it was the first edition; so what? Well, even to my warped and uneducated mind, the line: “They [homosexuals] do not choose their homosexual condition…” did not ring true to me. Was I born this way? Is my gayness inevitable? If so, how will I ever get away from this?” Far from comforting, I became a little desperate. Through the Grace of God, the bright-green second edition fell into my hands. There, I read: “This inclination, which is objectively disordered…” Now, as seemingly harsh as the language had become, this made sense. Okay, I had a disorder. And, a disorder can be fixed; it can be healed. This offered Hope.
Wisely, the Synod Bishops went back to the two great Catholic minds of the 20th Century. With both voices, we experience the resolute Truth of the Church: that the homosexual lifestyle can never be accepted; but that the homosexual person suffering from same-sex attraction must never be marginalized; they should be thought of as children of God. Again, in the end - the Church has triumphed.
Unofficial translation of the interim report:
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons:
Earlier blog: “Cardinal Ratzinger and the Catechism: How the Future Pope Saved Millions From Confusion and Moral Destruction”
Saturday, October 18, 2014
My favorite part of the Pope’s closing address at the Synod on the Family:
“It is the Church that is not afraid to eat and drink with prostitutes and publicans. The Church that has the doors wide open to receive the needy, the penitent, and not only the just or those who believe they are perfect! The Church that is not ashamed of the fallen brother and pretends not to see him, but on the contrary feels involved and almost obliged to lift him up and to encourage him to take up the journey again and accompany him toward a definitive encounter with her Spouse, in the heavenly Jerusalem.”
What I like most about this passage is the inclusion of the word “ashamed.” Wow! The Church should not be ashamed of Her fallen brothers; it brings tears to my eyes. Because, when I left the gay lifestyle, I was filled with so much shame; I was ashamed of myself; of what I had done; I was ashamed to confess these awful things to the priest; and, afterwards, I was still ashamed - I couldn’t let that shame go. I was so unhappy, that at one point, a priest told me to go back to the Castro; only, curtail your activity. I thought, the Church doesn’t want me gay; and it doesn’t want me chaste either.
As dear as the Courage apostolate became, in a sense, I felt as if us ex-gays, or prospective ex-gays, were being forced into the catacombs. The first meeting location in San Francisco was a dungeon-like bunker at the Cathedral. Those early get-togethers back in 1999 and 2000, were, for me, sort of a bizarre clandestine type gathering that were hidden on a weekday night: we would arrive, the poor persecuted priest would come in, often a rather traditionally-minded man who served on the periphery of the diocese, a bit shunned by his fellow priests, and quietly ridiculed by them - because he was deluded to think that the Church could convert the gays, then, everyone would sullenly drift back into the darkness of the city.
Yet, like these good and holy priests of Courage, Pope Francis has not given up on us. He invites the lowest of the low. And, he invites the entire Church to openly embrace those that have fallen so far from all that is good. And, this is the Church - “who is not afraid to roll up her sleeves to pour oil and wine on people’s wound…” As such, this is a grueling, dirty, and messy endeavor. This does not mean a blind acceptance of all that the world tries to pass off as the true source from which happiness and contentment may be found; i.e. homosexuality. On the contrary, what the Pope directs us towards is not something passive; not a lazy sort of liberal egalitarianism epitomized by those who thoughtlessly bow to the “born this way” mantra. What it requires is the complete trust and obedience of the faithful: a willingness to seek and accept the Truth; and then, the bravery to love others enough so that they too may one day understand.
According to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, the vast majority of Catholics agree with the Supreme Court action which allowed gay marriage to go forward in several states. A whopping 62% of Catholics approved; this number was only exceeded by Non-Evangelical Protestants who approved by 65%; by contrast, just 24% of Evangelical white Protestants approved.
The Church has been repeatedly clear on this point; most notably in “Consideration Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Person” (2003) from The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which heavily quoted from “The Catechism of the Catholic Church:”
“There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law. Homosexual acts ‘close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.’
Sacred Scripture condemns homosexual acts ‘as a serious depravity... (cf. Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:10; 1 Tim 1:10). This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.’ This same moral judgment is found in many Christian writers of the first centuries and is unanimously accepted by Catholic Tradition.
Nonetheless, according to the teaching of the Church, men and women with homosexual tendencies ‘must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.’ They are called, like other Christians, to live the virtue of chastity. The homosexual inclination is however ‘objectively disordered’ and homosexual practices are ‘sins gravely contrary to chastity.’”
Friday, October 17, 2014
Original text of the “Relatio post disceptationem” (in Italian) concerning the question of a possible Catholic approach to homosexuality:
50. “Le persone omosessuali hanno doti e qualità da offrire alla comunità cristiana: siamo in grado di accogliere queste persone, garantendo loro uno spazio di fraternità nelle nostre comunità? Spesso esse desiderano incontrare una Chiesa che sia casa accogliente per loro. Le nostre comunità sono in grado di esserlo accettando e valutando il loro orientamento sessuale, senza compromettere la dottrina cattolica su famiglia e matrimonio?”
And the English translation provided by the Vatican:
50. “Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community. Are we capable of providing for these people, guaranteeing [...] them [...] a place of fellowship in our communities? Oftentimes, they want to encounter a Church which offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of this, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?”
Originally, the Italian word “valutando” was translated as “valuing.” More accurately, the word means “evaluating.”
While I think the questions being asked in the “Relatio” are certainly noble and charitable ones, as a former gay man, I can relate with a great amount of certainty that: those who earnestly embrace and hold onto their gay identity will not be able to conform their lives with the teachings of the Church; in effect – they will demand that the Church must compromise, or radically change her position on homosexuality. Why?
Blessedly, I just got to attend a lecture by our own Bishop Robert Vasa (Diocese of Santa Rosa) on St. John Paul’s Encyclical “Veritatis Splendor.” One section of the text that interested me the most was:
“the man who wishes to understand himself thoroughly — and not just in accordance with immediate, partial, often superficial, and even illusory standards and measures of his being — must with his unrest, uncertainty and even his weakness and sinfulness, with his life and death, draw near to Christ. He must, so to speak, enter him with all his own self; he must ‘appropriate’ and assimilate the whole of the reality of the Incarnation and Redemption in order to find himself. If this profound process takes place within him, he then bears fruit not only of adoration of God but also of deeper wonder at himself.”
The first part of this citation expertly expresses everything that is the foundation of the gay lifestyle: “immediate,” “partial,” “superficial,” and “illusionary.” In the homosexual world, all that are drawn there seek a solution to the interior question of oneself: a somewhat unconscious attraction to the quick solution of salivation through sex. I found this fact often grossly and obliviously apparent in the gay male penchant for quick encounters within a public bathroom stall or amongst a clump of trees at the edge of a park. But, the rush was merely a bandage across a gaping wound – never really healing much of anything; just providing a short reprieve from the constant inner disquiet. And, even that instant of succor is an illusion based solely on the surface. This extreme swerve towards meaningless superficiality was one of the first things that struck me about the gay community: epitomized by the constant obsession with the top/bottom ratio, penis size, and the minuscule details surrounding the various lives of pop-singers and movie-stars. It was a fantasy world based on a gay social construct of false sexual freedom and a feigned sense of gay happiness. But, always lurking within this imaginary world was the constant fear that it would all be pulled away – symbolized by the gay paranoia concerning Christians, conservatives, and a few hyped-up incidents of homophobia. In reality, it was all masking the true terror surrounding the continuing epidemic of AIDS.
In the end, what disappointed and frustrated me most about being gay was all of this: its transitory grasp on happiness, its shallowness, and its reliance upon illusion. Yet, it was all I knew. Moving outside of those four walls, even though it all seemed to be crashing about me, frightened me – even more than the thought of contracting HIV. For the most part, I saw no other alternative. I was distant from my family, all my friends were either gay or gay sympathizers; and I had been away from the Church for so long that its existence never crossed my mind. I thought I was alone.
Another very important passage from “Veritatis Splendor,” covered by Bishop Vasa in his talk, was: “Those who live ‘by the flesh’ experience God’s laws as a burden, and indeed as a denial or at least a restriction on their own freedom.” This completely describes the gay mind-set; for, the body is at the center of gay living: the beautiful male body has become the new god; the idol to which we all bow down in front of. This came crashing into my reality, during a very early experience in the Castro District of San Francisco: I was in a bar, getting hit on by a cadre of older men; many were white-haired, heavily wrinkled, and flabby; my friends and I, all in our late teens and early-twenties, kept pushing them off and refusing their free drinks. Suddenly, a handsome and exceedingly muscular man entered the place; it was if Moses walked by as the crowds parted like the Red Sea. The man then took his choice of seats and proceeded to be adored and fawned over by every young thing there. Looking back, it was sickly Darwinian, a sort of survival of the fittest, reverting Man back to the animal world: the one with the biggest horns, brightest feathers, or largest testicles got all the attention. Then, because I was young, I accepted it. When I got older, and was prematurely wasted and burned out as I neared thirty: I understood that the body was the only means of gay expression – deprived of it – you were literally without a prayer.
Consequently, for any Catholic outreach to the gay community to be successful: there must be true change of heart inside of the gay person: a realization that God made them for more than this; that they are more than just a desire for the same-sex; that they are truly wanted and Loved by God - for themselves. And, herein lays the opportunity with the Synod: to hold out a welcoming hand to those, who like me didn’t know where else to go. But, once they walk through the door, they must be presented with the Truth – as I surely was by a kindly, but uncompromising priest. But, it only worked because I wanted it. I was tired, and I was willing to accept what the Church now requested of me. Before, anything even remotely Christian always smacked of prejudice and intransitivity. But, God had brought me low, and I knew that I needed Him.
For those who reach this place, blessedly, the Catholic Church already has an outreach for these men and women: Courage. If the Synod really wants to embrace, and Save, our lost brothers and sisters: the Bishops need to provide for a Courage chapter, or more than one, in every Diocese; educate the local parish priests about Courage and what the Church actually teaches regarding homosexuality; and then apply those teachings to everything from Sunday homilies to spiritual direction. Most importantly, we must pray. Pray for those lost inside the lie of homosexuality; pray that their eyes be opened; and that they may then know the Truth.
Renowned American author John Grisham recently shared his bizarre views concerning those convicted of child porn possession when he spoke with “The Telegraph” in the UK, he said:
“We have prisons now filled with guys my age. Sixty-year-old white men in prison who've never harmed anybody, would never touch a child. But they got online one night and started surfing around, probably had too much to drink or whatever, and pushed the wrong buttons, went too far and got into child porn. His drinking was out of control, and he went to a website. It was labeled 'sixteen year old wannabee hookers or something like that'. And it said '16-year-old girls'. So he went there. Downloaded some stuff - it was 16 year old girls who looked 30. He shouldn't ’a done it. It was stupid, but it wasn't 10-year-old boys. He didn't touch anything. And God, a week later there was a knock on the door: ‘FBI!’ and it was sting set up by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to catch people - sex offenders - and he went to prison for three years. There's so many of them now. There's so many 'sex offenders' - that's what they're called - that they put them in the same prison. Like they're a bunch of perverts, or something; thousands of ’em. We've gone nuts with this incarceration.”
With regards to the relationship between child pornography and child molestation, the opinions of Mr. Grisham are extremely naive, or highly deluded. According to several studies, there is a very distinct link between those who view child porn and child sexual abuse:
“Child pornography offenses are a valid diagnostic indicator of pedophilia.”
Seto, Michael C.; Cantor, James M.; Blanchard, Ray
Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Vol 115(3), Aug 2006, 610-615.
“This study investigated whether being charged with a child pornography offense is a valid diagnostic indicator of pedophilia, as represented by an index of phallometrically assessed sexual arousal to children. The sample of 685 male patients was referred between 1995 and 2004 for a sexological assessment of their sexual interests and behavior. As a group, child pornography offenders showed greater sexual arousal to children than to adults and differed from groups of sex offenders against children, sex offenders against adults, and general sexology patients. The results suggest child pornography offending is a stronger diagnostic indicator of pedophilia than is sexually offending against child victims.”
“From Fantasy to Reality: The Link Between Viewing Child Pornography and Molesting Children.”
Child Sexual Exploitation Update - Volume 1, Number 3, 2004.
“...studies demonstrate that those who collect and disseminate child pornography are likely to molest an actual child. According to the United States Postal Inspection Service, at least 80% of purchasers of child pornography are active abusers and nearly 40% of the child pornographers investigated over the past several years have sexually molested children in the past. In a 2000 study issued by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, 76% of offenders convicted of internet-related crimes against children admitted to contact sex crimes with children previously undetected by law enforcement and had an average of 30.5 child sex victims each.”
“A Profile of Pedophilia: Definition, Characteristics of Offenders, Recidivism, Treatment Outcomes, and Forensic Issues.”
Hall, Ryan MD, and Hall, Richard MD; Mayo Clinic.
“…76% of individuals who were arrested for Internet child pornography had molested a child.”