A Duplicitous Catholic Church

OK. Now that I have your attention, let me hasten to say that not everything in the Catholic Church is dishonest, deceitful or duplicitous. But then we have the Archdiocese of Denver and its actions toward an innocent preschooler. The child in this case has two mommies. Many children do, usually the result of divorce. In this case, the child's mothers are living together in a homosexual relationship.

The official statement of the Denver Archdiocese reads, in part, "Homosexual couples living together as a couple are in disaccord with Catholic teaching." The absurdity of using that statement to justify discrimination leaves one wondering where to begin a response. Whatever one might think about Archbishop Chaput and his ultra-conservative theology is quite beside the point. However, what is directly on point is that the Archbishop is applying Church teaching selectively, targeting only gay couples, and that, simply put, is an abuse of authority.

This is not the first time that the issue of homosexual parents has arisen in regard to a Catholic school in the United States. What is very troubling is that no one takes the authorities to task for decisions that are at least as immoral as the acts that they claim to condemn. I suppose the average Catholic would assume that an Archbishop knows what the teaching of the Catholic Church is. In the case of Archbishop Chaput, they would be wrong--or at least greatly misled.

I hope this does not sound simplistic, but the Catholic Church has a serious problem with sex--any kind of sex--outside of Church-sanctioned marriage. Ironically, that is where most sex actually takes place in the real world! But the teaching of the Catholic Church states that sexual activity is reserved for legitimately married couples--"couple" being understood as a man and a woman. That means that anyone engaging in pre-marital or extra-marital sex is sinning, as are those Catholics who are married outside the Church. This latter group includes those in a first marriage as well as though who are divorced and remarried civilly. In all these cases, a couple is "in disaccord with Catholic teaching." Let's not even begin to look at other teachings such as contraception. So this begs the question, why does not the Archdiocese of Denver also deny enrollment to children whose heterosexual parents are not married, or are married outside the Church?

I am not endorsing such a policy, although I am sure that some bishop, somewhere thinks it is a good idea. To stave off such nonsense, it is worth noting historically that marriage was only first declared a Sacrament by Pope Innocent III in 1208, affirmed by the Second Council of Lyons in 1278 and finally defined by the Council of Trent in 1563. It was not until Trent that the Church claimed jurisdiction over marriage and required couples to marry before a priest. For some 1500+ years, the Catholic Church was quite content for couples to marry civilly and be done with it. Admittedly, laws change. But this brief history calls into question the wisdom of the Church's approach to sex and marriage.

In spite of the fact that the Catholic Church has a major problem with sex outside of marriage, it has a particular problem with homosexuality. No one has, or ever will accuse Archbishop of Chaput of progressive thought. They would be hard-pressed just to make the case that he is even-handed, or to assign him that most treasured of intellectual gifts, integrity. Then again, maybe he really does believe that homosexuality is wrong. Otherwise, one is left to wonder if his attack on this innocent child is not simply a gross example of pandering to the conservative elements of the American culture wars.

To begin with, no child can be held accountable for the actions of its parents. There was a time when society used to look with accusation upon children who were born out of wedlock, even coining a terribly derogatory term to describe them--"bastard". That remained in force until legitimately-born adults claimed it as their own self-identity! In the same way, children are not responsible if their parents are homosexual. Such children can, however, be grateful that they are being raised in a loving home. And if the Scriptures are correct that "Out of the mouths of babes..." then these children have much to teach their archbishops. How ironic that the school in question is named "Sacred Heart of Jesus", a symbol of God's love for all people!

There may be something darker and more sinister going on here, however, than mere authoritarianism. While the Catholic Church teaches that homosexuality is disordered, and homosexual acts are sinful, it does not actually condemn anyone for being gay. On the other hand its teaching leads gay Catholics to develop a kind of self-loathing, not unlike what many minority groups have experienced over centuries of oppression and abuse. Like minorities, homosexuals have come to realize that they cannot change who or what they are. Like race and ethnicity, homosexuality is a creation and a gift of God.

Of particular note in the Catholic Church are bishops who, over the last several years have been exposed as homosexuals. With that revelation comes the reality that there are even more gay bishops who are required to teach a discredited theology. What kind of self-loathing must they experience as they are pushed into closets of shadow and seclusion? When one considers the insensitivity of the Church to its own leaders, perhaps it is not surprising that discrimination embeds itself in places like Sacred Heart School. Perhaps, not unlike Jesus, it will be the suffering of a child that moves the Catholic Church to reject evil and discriminatory policies that oppress the innocent and bring ridicule upon the Church.