My old church is catching some gruff over a decision it made in reaction to the Boy Scouts allowing gay members. According to the Chicago Tribune, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church dropped its sponsorship of a local Boy Scout troop because of a ruling by the national organization. Father Brian Grady notified the Boy Scouts of its decision by mail last week.
I am by no means an expert on the Catholic Catechism but based on what I know, this ruling is unfair. I’m sure some of my fellow Catholics and Christians will disagree with me. That’s OK. I cannot and will not condemn an individual because they are gay. That is part of church teachings. Acceptance.
Last I checked, and this was essentially said at our new church, St. Thomas the Apostle, we should not discriminate against homosexuals. We should treat everyone with respect and dignity. We should love and accept all as would Jesus.
According to the Catholic Catechism (from The Catechism of the Catholic Church, second edition, English translation 1994) on homosexuality:
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, (Cf. Gen. 19:1-29; Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:10; 1 Tim1:10) tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Persona humana 8) 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.
2358 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.
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.
I guess the debate is whether St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s actions can be considered as discriminatory. Possibly. It’s largely dependent on how one define’s discrimination. The dictionary definition of discrimination: treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit: racial and religious intolerance and discrimination (dictionary.com).
Is Elizabeth Ann Seton treating gay scouts with acceptance, respect, compassion and sensitivity? No from where I sit. How can it be? The church is basically saying you can’t use our church anymore because your national organization allows gay members. Is that accepting? Based on the dictionary.com definition of discrimination, is the ruling made by church leaders based on individual merit or against a group, class or category to which a person belongs? Hmmmm.
And can Seton church leaders safely say that they have no gay members? I would think they would have a difficult time saying no. And if that is the case, isn’t the decision then a bit hypocritical? I’m curious what the church would do if a gay person in need came asking for help. Based on this decision, I’m guessing they would turn that person away. I would hope they would be more Christian than that.
What does this decision say to fallen away Catholics, new or current members? If I were a member of Seton, I would seriously have to think about the message being sent to parishioners. We’ll accept you, to a point. And that’s what bothers me. This is not a Christian act. It is not respectful. It is not accepting. And it is not compassionate. It is judgmental.
I follow church doctrine to the best of my ability. I’m not perfect. That’s why I’m a sinner. But, I absolutely try my best to look at the heart of a person. When I’m in a situation where a person has upset me, I really try to see the big picture rather than the isolated situation. I try to respond with compassion, though I’m fallible. So I pray that Seton church leaders reconsider their decision and admit that they may have reacted too harshly. I pray.
Cross and Rosaries
Until Next Time,