This column has been critical, on some occasions, of Francis Cardinal George (and to a greater extent some of his lay staff). Indeed, it has taken some heat because of it (to which archdiocesan operatives say huzza!). But no one can deny one of his strongest, most enduring, attributes: his precise definitions of moral law as certainly the nations leading theological and philosophical Catholic bishop who is both extraordinarily articulate teacher and exemplar. Unlike many other prelates, George solely writes his column; you can tell: it is the work of one who is at ease with the written word.
So it is not in a spirit of recompense but in deserved recognition of the Cardinals ineffable talents as gifted teacher that prompts todays praise. This talent gave candid dimension last week in his weekly essay in Catholic New World. It is inadequate to single out portions of it for praise since it deserves publishing in entirety--and, pro-forma, the secular media have ignored it. Here it is.
A Conference Misconceived; an Opportunity Missed.
On Oct. 19 ands 20, a conference for Catholic college faculty and administrators will be hosted at DePaul University on the topic of ministering to gay and lesbian students in Catholic colleges and universities. Called the Out There Conference, this program is coordinated out of Santa Clara University in California and has as its stated purpose to discuss how to be pastorally present to homosexuality oriented young people.
That is a good purpose. Young people who identify themselves as gay and lesbian have particular challenges and special needs that call for a pastoral approach that can assure them they are loved by God and give them the means of grace needed to live chastely. There are sometimes psychological problems of self-rejection and social problems of how to find their way as disciples of Jesus Christ and responsible members of society. Sometimes they experience personal prejudice because of their sexual identity and finding true friendship and opportunity to share who they are becomes difficult. All of these topics call for collective reflection and a particular sensitivity on the part of those who minister to students with same-sex inclinations.
Unfortunately, while it seems that some of the conference talks will respect and apply Catholic moral teaching, the descriptions of other talks seem to press the case that the Church should change the moral law or that people should ignore church teaching and form into groups that reject the magisterium of the Catholic Church. To the extent that this is true, the purpose of the conference moves from reflection to advocacy in the name of being pastoral. My concern as pastor of this Archdiocese is that some speakers at this conference intend to justify behavior that brings peoples salvation into jeopardy.
Some, in discussing what constitutes a sympathetic and encouraging pastoral outreach to people with same-sex inclinations, say that you cannot truly accept persons unless you also accept without moral judgment their sexual activity. But isnt it odd to demand that, in the name of respect o inclusion, someone must agree with everything someone else desires to do? No one can demand that those who understand as true the moral teaching of the Church must give up their own convictions in order to respect or befriend someone who is gay or lesbian. In any other area of human experience, such an attitude would be seen as clearly unfair and self-righteous.
A pastoral outreach to homosexually oriented men and women is based on two truths: (1) every person must be respected and (2) acting out sexually with a partner of the same sex is objectively mortally sinful. This second truth doesnt depend only on Scripture or even on official Church teaching. Non-Christian and even non-religious peoples understand that the sexual complementarity of men and women is built into the morphology of our bodies and into the very purpose of our sexual acts.
Most people understand that between and inclination and act there is a free decision, if it is a human act. Because of good habits and the power of Gods grace, people can live with even very strong inclinations and not act out. To sayh otherwise is to be a determinist and bring the basis of our common life as well as the whole economy of salvation into question. Everyone experiences some form of sinful inclination; not everyone acts out. The inclination is to be met with understanding and sympathy: the action is to be met with correct judgment and then forgiveness.
My hope in the days ahead is that the participants in this conference will come away with a deeper desire to love and respect gay and lesbian students and a clearer understanding of homosexual behavior and the moral law that governs it. Then the conference will be genuinely supportie of authentic campus ministry. In every area of human behavior, campus ministers need to search for faithful ways in which to assist young adults toward salvation ands the eternal happiness it promises. Thats the purpose of all ministry in the Church, because its the purpose of Jesus Christs self-sacrifice on the cross and his resurrection from the dead. God bless you.
Congratulations, Matt Nelson.
Matt Nelson, responding to my article on the folly of so-called campaign finance reform, points out that in 1968 Eugene McCarthy was funded by a number of mega-multi-millionaires who were against the Vietnam War including Stewart Mott, heir to the GM fortune. He is right that without recourse to those funds McCarthy would not have been able to mount a challenge to Lyndon Johnson a challenge that even though Gene lost in New Hampshire convinced LBJ to withdraw. He is absolutely right. The so-called reform bill that passed in 1974 ended any possibility that a moderately non-well-off candidate (as McCarthy was) could have mounted the challenge. The only way a challenge like McCarthys can be mounted today effectively is to have a billionaire do itsuch as Ross Perot in 1992 and 1996. McCain-Feingold was a cynical attempt by John McCain to redeem himself from being one of the Keating Five by condemning the country to live under a law that abrogated its free speech traditions. And George W. Bush equaled the cynicism by signing it and hoping the Supreme Court would find the courage (to render it unconstitutional) that he lacked.
Use of the old fashioned way of contributions was applied in the Swift Boats TV ads of 2004 which used by those using the 527 provision of McCain-Feingold which allows those not directly connected with a federal campaign to fund communications that are not provably to be tied to a campaign. It is significant that McCain and Bush attacked use of this provision as an escape hatchan invaluable provision that the Supreme Court allowed to stand in deference to the 1st amendment.
Why Wouldnt a Christian Vote for a Mormon?
I am always bemusedand puzzledwhen religious Christians, fellow Catholics and compatriot evangelicals, tell me they cant vote for Mitt Romney because of his religion. Why in the name of God (and I ask this respectfully) with the stakes such as they are with our resistance to terrorism and to abortion foremostand continuation of economic prosperity secondarily would these well-meaning people bother themselves fretting about whether Joseph Smith, Jr.s Book of Mormon is comparable to scripture? Or that before 1890 some Mormons practiced polygamy? Or the differences between Mormonism and other Christian churches on the Trinity. Or whether after a Mormon dies it is thought by believers in his religion that he goes to another planet rather than to what has traditionally been termed the Hereafter?
Why if true acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior is paramount to them evidently for the continuation under original Christian formulae of this republic would these folks be willing to vote for a Jew for president who believes the Messiah has not yet come? I would certainly vote for a Jew and would regard his views here as non-essential for conduct of public affairs. No, I would most certainly not vote for a Muslim because after studying his religion I do not believe it is a religion of peace. Nor would I vote for an atheist. But I would have no hesitation about voting for Mitt Romney at all. He has many signal virtues as well as talents. As it stands, I may well support him first among all the others and, if the verdict be Giuliani, be prepared to apply the Pascal Wager test to that candidacy. But not voting for one for the sole reason he is a Mormon? Incredible.
You certainly dont have a lot of other things to worry about in this life or for this country if this is the sole reason you cannot vote for Mitt Romney, let me tell you. Let us have your views.