Archive for August, 2003

The Blackouts of August 2003 (On Christianity and Homosexuality)

Sunday, August 17th, 2003

Regarding the appointment of the first openly “gay” Episcopal Bishop, V. Gene Robinson.
satellite photo of the blackout of 2003 
Homily — 20th Sunday OT August 17, 2003

This month of August, 2003 will go down in the history books as being the month of the great blackouts.

The lights went out on millions of Americans this past Thursday, and for many they are not on again.

But a week before this electrical blackout, our country saw a spiritual blackout when on Friday, August 8th, 2003, Episcopal Church leaders approved the appointment of V. Gene Robinson as Bishop of the Episcopal Church in New Hampshire.

And the public reaction to this election as well as the accompanying push for civil unions bills is showing us that millions of Christians, even Catholic Christians, are also still in the dark regarding the morality of homosexuality.

One such Christian is the Episcopal Bishop of Providence, Geralyn Wolf, who voted to approve Bishop Robinson’s election as a moral leader of her Church — even though she’s not sure whether or not his lifestyle is seriously immoral.

Judging from Bishop Wolf’s statement in last Sunday’s Providence Journal, she is certainly a person sincerely suffering from the moral and spiritual blackout that has slowly swept our nation and the world over the past 50 years.

And the more one is connected to the “grid” of moral and religious relativism, the more affected one is by this blackout. And it seems that Bishop Wolf and her church are very hooked in to the grid. And unfortunately, so are many individual Catholics.

And yet the Catholic Church Herself isn’t suffering from blackout. We are not at all in the dark regarding what are objectively good moral actions and what are objectively evil ones.

And so I feel obligated as a priest to make sure all the lights are working here at St. Joseph Church, and that no one is in the dark regarding what is right and what is wrong.

But before I turn on those lights, let’s first see where the darkness that needs to be banished lies.

First dark area. In the Journal article, Bishop Wolf stated that “she and her Church are on a ‘journey through the wilderness’ as they seek to determine God’s will on homosexuality.”

The phrase ‘journey through the wilderness’ is an obvious allusion to Moses and the Israelites journey through the wilderness in the Old Testament. But during that original journey in the wilderness, God was ANYTHING but silent regarding His will about homosexuality.  In fact, it was in the wilderness that God made it clear to the Israelites that homosexual actions were “an abomination” (Numbers 18:22). I don’t know what kind of wilderness Bishop Wolf is journeying through, but it isn’t one based on the Word of God.

Second dark area. Episcopal Bishop Wolf, when asked point blank whether homosexuality is a sin said “I have to say I really don’t know”.

Some people have praised this woman for her courage to say, as a person in a position of authority, “I don’t know”. And I suppose that is praiseworthy, a sign of true humility, had she stopped there.

But to say “I don’t know if it’s a sin or not” and then go on to act without resolving the doubt is seriously wrong, and every moral leader should know better than that.

Turn on the lights! Whenever there’s a doubt in our conscience about the morality of an action, we cannot act until we resolve the doubt, no matter how much we would like to do so.

If a deer hunter sees a rustle in the bush, but he’s not sure at all whether it’s a deer or a human being, he can’t take the shot. If he shoots anyway and kills a human being, he’s responsible for that person’s death. See the light?

In the garden of Eden, the serpent made Eve question whether or not the fruit was actually bad to eat. She and her husband ate of it anyway, and so began the fall of the human race. See the darkness?

On Good Friday, a man named Pontius Pilate was in doubt as to whether a man named Jesus should be crucified. He finally said “what is truth (anyway)?,” and ordered the death of Jesus. See the darkness?

Anyone who has been in high school the past 30 years has maybe had moral doubts as to whether to do drugs, whether to have sex before marriage, whether to cheat on an exam.

Are we moral leaders to teach our children that it’s OK to do it, even if your not completely sure it’s right to do? Certainly not. Let’s keep the light of truth shining bright in our Church, which has always taught that it is absolutely wrong to act while one is still in moral doubt.

Hiding behind all this darkness is the complex issue of homosexuality.  And so many are in the dark, not only in what they think about this issue, but even in what they think the Church teaches about it.

The Church’s answer to the world, yesterday, today and always, is that homosexuality is not a sin, but a disordered inclination in a person.

A person with attraction to persons of the same gender is not an evil person. Yet acting out on this inclination is seriously sinful, as are any other sexual relations outside of traditional marriage.

People who struggle with same-sex attractions are certainly most welcome in the Catholic Church, and should in no way feel marginalized. They have our prayers and support as we all together strive to overcome whatever sinful tendencies we struggle with. As Bishop Mulvee stated last week, the Church certainly condemns any violence or unfair discrimination towards these people, based on their orientation alone, apart from their actions.

There is a great international group in our Church called Courage, founded by a priest named Fr. John Harvey. Courage is a support group for homosexual men and women who are striving to live a life of Chastity according to the teachings of the Catholic Church.

There is a Providence Chapter at St. Charles Church in Providence. They meet the last Sunday of each month in the Church rectory. I highly support the great work they are doing in our Church.
I have tried in this homily to repair the moral blackout of August 2003. The light I offer you and all people of good will is not the light of my own opinion, but the light of the Catholic Church, a light which radiates from Jesus, the Bread of Life.

May the Eucharist we will now celebrate shine out in this darkness our nation is now in, a darkness which may continue to grow deeper, but a darkness that will never prevail over this most noble, most gentle of Lights.