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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Conscience Is Not A Scapegoat

Fr. Pierson, OSB has come forward and made it clear to the people that he ministers to that they can openly dissent from Catholic teaching.  Furthermore, he distorts Catholic teaching in the process, by two methods.  First, Father clearly omits parts of teachings in order to form the teaching to his own view.  The Church has never accepted this as a form of catechesis, despite how Fr. Pierson presents it.  The 10 minute talk is to follow.  Below I will have my commentary on his talk.

Fr. Pierson has taken a step to question the fact that God is just.  While he most certainly is loving, he is also just.  And in that justice, judgment does play a part.  To think that God is simply a lover of all things without holding those things He created accountable for their actions is absurd.  Looking back in Scripture there are examples of both love and justice everywhere.  Actions must be judged.  An example that was passed along to me recently from a friend comes to mind.  Why was Moses not allowed into The Promised Land?  Because God judged him unworthy.  Moses was unworthy because he did not trust fully in the Lord.  Well...this applies to the issue at hand with Fr. Pierson.  Yes, God loves His creation.  No, God will not forgo justice in the name of love.  For that is an abandonment of the true love (agape) which God has for all of His creation.

Father Pierson chooses the Catechism of the Catholic Church to defend his position.  He only gives part of the story though.  He quotes CCC #2358 which says:
The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

This is true.  We must accept all people, because they are people with respect compassion and sensitivity.  But nowhere does it say that we are to accept their actions.  As a matter of fact, the Church teaches the exact opposite in CCC #2357:
 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." They are contrary to the natural law. They 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.

Interesting how Fr. Pierson leaves out this part, which is important.  The Church teaches that while we do accept the person, the acts of the active homosexual person are contrary to the natural law.  They close the sexual act to the the gift of life and they do not proceed from genuine complementarity.  The cannot be approved.

What Fr. Pierson also leaves out (and this is key), is CCC #2359:
Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.
The person is addressed.  He is called to chastity.  He is called to self-mastery his actions which lead to inner freedom.  These things are not negative, no.  They are positive, yet in the mind of Fr. Pierson they are ignored, at least in this talk, because it doesn't fit his worldview of homosexuality.  Fr. Pierson has decided that his understanding is a partial acceptance, not total of what the Church teaches on homosexuality.  The Church understands human failings, to be sure and the Church always has a way to help overcome those failings, in the most judicious way possible and with the most compassion.  Sadly, Fr. Pierson doesn't want to see that.

Fr. Pierson while most probably already out of the closet decides to cause scandal.  He announces immediately after reading the Church's teaching on homosexual men being ordained that he is gay.  Obviously, the Church won't rescind it's ordination, it cannot.  It can however limit Father's ministry and should.  Clearly the support of the gay lifestyle is at odds with the Catholic Church.  Fr. Pierson will address this a little later on.

Father goes on to speak about freedom of conscience.  Again Fr. quotes the Catechism, #1782:
Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. "He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters."
Interestingly enough he doesn't continue.  To take the Catechism out of context is to disavow what the Church teaches on a clear, open and honest way.  CCC #1781 states:
 Conscience enables one to assume responsibility for the acts performed. If man commits evil, the just judgment of conscience can remain within him as the witness to the universal truth of the good, at the same time as the evil of his particular choice. The verdict of the judgment of conscience remains a pledge of hope and mercy. In attesting to the fault committed, it calls to mind the forgiveness that must be asked, the good that must still be practiced, and the virtue that must be constantly cultivated with the grace of God: 
We shall . . . reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

Remember what Fr. Pierson left out earlier?  Just judgment.  Man does have the right to act in concscience and freedom, as long as the act is moral and witness to the universal truth of the good.  To commit evil is not to act in justice.  However, when the two paragraph's are put together it is clear that it is contrary to Fr. Pierson's view.

As for his commentary on Fr. Ratzinger, it is a quote taken out of context, much like that of acceptance of the homosexual person.  As for what he says prior to being Pope, he can be wrong.  I'm not saying that he is or he isn't, but rather that he did not carry the charism of the Pope at that point.  So, even if he were to make a statement which is incorrect, he still had the chance to amend or clarify said statement.  To simply condense all that Pope Ratzinger or any other theologian has said into one statement is not only wrong, it is an indefensible maligning of the idea of personal growth.

Fr. Pierson then moves on to speak about how one cannot be forced to adhere to Catholic teaching if one is not Catholic.  To an extent he's right.  But he's wrong when that teaching is universally moral or right.  Then it can apply to all and it should.  He talks about "fudging the facts" with regard to the Church's view.

1.  Same Sex Marriage will destroy the sanctity of the Sacrament of Matrimony.  --  It will.  A Sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to bring about Grace. The Church teaches in CCC #1661:
The sacrament of Matrimony signifies the union of Christ and the Church. It gives spouses the grace to love each other with the love with which Christ has loved his Church; the grace of the sacrament thus perfects the human love of the spouses, strengthens their indissoluble unity, and sanctifies them on the way to eternal life (cf. Council of Trent: DS 1799).
He goes on to speak about how the Church doesn't recognize civil marriage and that committed same sex marriage has nothing to do with the Sacrament of Matrimony.  He's right.  But the Church does teach that if one is not married, then one must be chaste.  And if one is not married, then to engage in living as married persons doesn't fulfill the chaste role of a single person, in the eyes of the Church.

2.  If gay persons are allowed to marry, then the Church will be forced to accept gays adopting children.  --Fr. then lists off several government agencies to announce that gay couples are as effective as heterosexual couples at raising children.  So, we have an agenda of supporting the government's view of how to raise children.  What is the counterpoint and who are the counterpoints from?  He lists only the Church.  So he is setting himself up as a defender of the government as opposed to a priest of the Catholic Church.  To which he is supposed to adhere and support, in word, action, deed, and obedience.

3.  If same sex marriage is recognized, then it will have to accept them in their social service outreach.  He then goes on to say that it is true to the extent that the Church accepts government funding for social service programs.  Fr. Pierson asks if we would want other faiths to discriminate against us?  They do already.  But he doesn't want that to happen.  How out of touch he must be.  The Catholic Church is discriminated against all the time.

Finally, he says that marriage is about love, commitment and  responsibility.  But if that love does not come from a genuine source of complimentarity, then it is not really love.  He says that in Catholicism that Marriage is a Sacrament a commitment to God, a commitment to live with one's partner, to raise a family, but most of all to live the Word of God.  Really?  I don't see how that lines up with the definition above.  It really doesn't fit.

Regardless of want, gay persons are called to the same thing as other persons.  If they want to marry, they are free to.  She is free to marry a man, if she is a woman and a woman if he is a man.  There is no impediment if they can enter into the Sacrament freely and espouses a genuine love for the prospective spouse.  But Fr. Pierson doesn't speak to that.  He speaks to support of a disordered action as being normative.

The Church is clear about one thing when it comes to homosexuality.  The Church is clear that it is a matter of self-mastery and while a deep seated tendency it can be overcome with disinterested friendship and compassion.  I don't condone homosexual actions.  I have compassion toward those who are afflicted with homosexual tendencies and I do everything I can to support and help them to overcome the affliction.  I cannot, however stand idly by and allow for a priest to support the gay agenda and to mislead the faithful as to what the Church actually teaches about the homosexual person.

I will pray for Fr. Pierson.  I will pray that he comes to understand that his view is wrong.  I will pray that his understanding of Catholic moral teaching on homosexuality comes in line with what it actually is.  May God keep him close.

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