Picture this: A young priest on fire with his faith and love of the Church does what he wishes more priests had done when he was growing up: Take a stand. But may God have mercy on the priest who takes a stand on a topic that's too hot to handle.
Homosexuality is a very divisive topic within the Catholic Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, however, is quite clear:
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.
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.
There is nothing new about this teaching, as it calls homosexuals, as it does all unmarried Catholics, to live a life of chastity.
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.
Like abortion, the Church opposes homosexuality because it violates natural law. Lest any gay person take offense, keep in mind that overeating, drug abuse, compulsive gambling and other high-risk behaviors also violate natural law. And the number of men and women who suffer with these other aforementioned problems of human desire is not negligible. So why is it then, that when we refuse to enable these other behaviors and urge those enslaved by them to get help that we are called compassionate, but if we do the same for homosexuals, we are called bigots?
Which brings us back to the young priest who takes a stand, in this case, Fr. Michael Rodriguez of the Diocese of El Paso.
For the last few weeks, a series of ads called The Truth About Homosexuality, penned by Fr. Rodriguez and paid for by an anonymous married couple have been published in El Paso's papers. In a culture that is downright anemic in defending morality, Rodriguez has had the courage to speak the convictions of his faith: "All Catholics have a moral obligation before God to oppose any government attempt to legalize same-sex unions."
And he's right. All Catholic DO share this obligation. Social justice sometimes means taking an unpopular position. The problem for Fr. Rodriguez is that his diocese is less-than-willing to take that stand with him.
Fr. Anthony Celino, Vicar General of El Paso has publicly stated, "These paid advertisements are the personal views and opinions of Father Michael Rodriguez."
Now before reading further, it might benefit us to actually read Father Rodriguez' ads. You can read them at these links:
It's important that we read the ads first because it is all-too-apparent that Fr. Rodriguez writes in an articulate, sensitive and respectful tone and that the texts he wrote quote generously from the documents of the Church and the bishops.
So why is the Vicar General of the Diocese insisting that the ads only reflect the "personal views" of Fr. Rodriguez?
If he means that the Diocese did not authorize the ads, why did he not say so in those words? If he means that the Diocese disavows the ads and their content, we have a problem. If the Diocese cannot stand behind the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the teaching of the U.S. Bishops Conference, something is very, very wrong.
Another priest, Monsignor Frances Smith, said "I do not agree with that lifestyle, but I will help anyone who needs it."
So does that mean that remaining silent about grave violations of natural law and mortal sins that, according to scripture, "Cry out to God for vengeance" is a way of helping homosexuals?
Has silence about homosexuality curbed the spread of AIDS?
Has silence about homosexuality stopped the sexual abuse of minors by priests with homosexual desires?
Which, brings us, ultimately, to the question that this begs: Are so many priests silent about homosexuality because they are, themselves homosexual?
In 2002 Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska spoke up at the U.S. Bishops' gathering and said that the bishops should study the actual causes of the scandal, and was met with silence. Eventually, the bishops had to commission such a study, and the study found that a vast majority of the priest-abusers committed their crimes upon adolescent males, a finding that the politically-correct leaders of the USCCB were quick to attempt to spin as irrelevant.
It's a terrible thing to ask such a question, a question that has hideous implications. But the abandonment of this priest begs the question: Are there powerful priests in the Diocese of El Paso who are themselves homosexual? And, if so, how high up does this go?
Just as we cannot afford a laity that "picks-and-chooses" which teachings to accept, we cannot afford leaders who "pick and choose" which teachings they will support.
Please pray for Fr. Rodriguez and the leadership of his diocese.