Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Battle in Seattle

So…I mentioned in a previous post that Cardinal Schonborn’s support of an openly homosexual man who was elected to serve on a parish council, garnered praise from all the wrong places – in particular from the organization called “New Ways Ministry”. This group describes itself as “a gay-positive ministry of advocacy and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Catholics,” and it was banned by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1999. With supporters like that, you don’t need detractors.

On the other hand, over in the Diocese of Seattle, there’s another battle in progress, also centered on the issue of homosexual behavior. This one pits Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, who is trying to reverse the decision of the state of Washington to legalize homosexual “marriage”, against the liberal “progressives” in the Church who refuse to follow Church teaching on this issue.

Archbishop Sartain issued a carefully-worded letter last week which said parishes would be “allowed” to collect signatures for Referendum 74, which would put the same-sex “marriage” question before voters in the November general election. He’s now receiving criticism and condemnation from all the right quarters: the liberal progressives are bashing him big-time.

One publication, The Stranger[1], clearly supports the homosexual agenda and clearly demonizes Archbishop Sartain. I am not familiar with that publication, but the Seattle Post-Intelligencer commented that The Stranger “is finally discovering happenings in the Catholic Church of which it approves”. Well, that’s saying something!
Tricia Wittman-Todd

At any rate, several parishes – including even the Cathedral parish! – have made a very public point of their refusal to do any signature-gathering for the initiative that would restore marriage to its proper definition in the state of Washington. The Seattle P-I story mentions St. Mary’s parish, where the “Pastoral Life Coordinator”, one Tricia Wittman-Todd runs the show. She seems to be very much in charge, even though the parish has a priest – listed as “parochial vicar” on the parish website.

Ms. Wittman-Todd said in a letter to parishioners (my emphases):

I have decided we will not collect signatures at the parish. I am certain you will find ample opportunity elsewhere to sign whatever petitions you choose.

This decision is based on two primary considerations. St Mary’s mission is “House of God, Home for Everyone”. One of our highest values is inclusion and welcome. I fear that the collection of signatures would be hurtful and divisive to our parish.

Read: We’re “inclusive” – “unless we have to include those who hold Catholic beliefs about the sinfulness of homosexual activity.” And there are those other watchwords of progressives – “hurtful” and “divisive”. Fr. Michael Ryan, pastor of St. James Cathedral, used exactly the same phrase (here). (And Catholic Culture notes that Fr. Ryan has served on the board of directors of the National Catholic Reporter, and has been a leading opponent of the new translation of the Roman Missal.

In a variation on the theme, one St. Mary’s parishioner reportedly defended her dissident opinion and action by saying:

"Jesus was all about inclusivity and love—the stand our bishop is taking is the opposite," [Barbara] Guzzo says. Along with an organizing committee, Guzzo has formed a group called Catholics for Marriage Equality in Washington designed specifically to resist Sartain’s campaign.

I cannot understand how those who uphold Church teaching can be seen as “divisive”; it seems to me that those who seek to undermine the Church are the ones causing division; they fail to understand the importance and non-negotiable nature of obedience to the Church. These dissident Catholics are simply saying, “I WON’T believe and serve God.” As one commenter at Catholic Culture quipped, “’Non serviam.’ Does Lucifer collect royalties every time his line is used?”

“Pastor” Tricia at St. Mary’s went on to write in her letter:

I am particularly concerned about our youth who may be questioning their own sexual identity and need our support at this time in their lives.

Holy smokes! For the love of God and the salvation of souls, let’s make a great big deal about collecting signatures for the express purpose of protecting the youth! Let them know that they can question their sexual identity all they want, but that there is a correct answer, and it is their very own Catholic Church that teaches it!
How can any Catholic think that condoning and encouraging homosexual behavior is in any way a “loving” response to grave sin? A truly charitable response is one that leads the soul toward salvation, not damnation.

St. Mary’s priestess pastoral life coordinator seems to have a problem understanding formation of conscience, too:

The second consideration is that as Catholics, each of us is asked to form our conscience and decide how to vote on this and other issues, ie tax policies, services to the poor, environmental laws, capital punishment, etc.

Yes, we must form our conscience. And we are free to disagree with each other on the many issues that are not directly addressed by the Church – like taxes, environmental laws, and even capital punishment. But as Catholics, we are NOT free to disagree with the Church on the grave sinfulness of certain behaviors or actions (homosexual behavior, abortion, contraception), and if we form our conscience so as to condone those actions, then we have formed our conscience wrongly, and we are not in communion with the Church.

I have no idea how many people in Seattle support the homosexualist activists (or even how many are simply passively sitting by while the homosexual agenda poisons the Church in addition to secular society). But probably by now, Archbishop Sartain has an idea – as if he didn’t already! – as to who among the pastors he has appointed to look after the flock is faithful to the Church, and who is not.

Perhaps it’s time the Archbishop of the Diocese of Seattle took a look at the “Affirmation of Faith” Bishop Vasa instituted in the Diocese of Baker a few years ago (see my post here, and read the Affirmation of Faith here on page 156).

When Bishop Vasa introduced the pastoral letter and the Affirmation, many homosexualist activists left the Church – or at least their local parish, especially the one in Bend. It’s sad to think of those lost souls. But I think they were already lost.

In parishes like St. Mary’s in Seattle, it seems, those who engage in homosexual behavior are not corrected in any way – that would be “judgmental”. But that failure of their pastors (or even their fellow parishioners) to offer some information and correction will not help them get into Heaven.

This is not a good sign.
Requiring that pastors and lay leaders make an “affirmation of faith” could result in some much needed “housecleaning” at the parish level. How many lay leaders parishioners would leave? Who knows? And it’s not that we shouldn’t care about that. But what good is it for dissident Catholics to come to Mass every Sunday and receive Holy Communion if they engage in sinful behavior and refuse to acknowledge that it is a sin, even when the Church teaches that it is? There are people who are living in sin and who are receiving Holy Communion unworthily, bringing condemnation on themselves (1 Corinthians 11:27).

Let’s expose sin for what it is. Those who want to persist in it may leave the Church, but let’s not allow that fear to keep us from speaking the truth in love. At least then, even if they leave, they will have been exposed to the truth. God’s grace and mercy are surely abundant enough to bring them back into the fold at some point.

[1]  I know nothing about this publication, but I found it sadly predicable that The Stranger (along with its blog “Slog”), is a liberal/radical, “progressive”, pro-homosexual publication by looking at the number of headlines that include the word “sh**”. I really do not understand the affinity liberals seem to have for that word, and for the f-bomb as well.  To me, resorting to over-use of those words merely suggests that the user lacks an adequate vocabulary and level of maturity to express himself in more appropriate and specific ways. In other words, liberals, it makes you sound stupid.

1 comment:

  1. Its sad to see what is going on in Seattle. Archbishop Sartain is new to the job. What is going on are the results of many years of neglect. The parishes involved are right in the middle of the LGBT community in Seattle. Seattle University is also in the same area. At least Archbishop Sartain is taking a stand. Its going to be a long struggle. I wonder what would happen if the same were to take place in Portland OR? I think the problem there is worse than Seattle. When the new Archbishop is named he will have an even larger problem.


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