Held after our Social Meeting 7-21-14
The march toward great orthodoxy and unity in the Church continues. After some 40 years of violating Church law, the diocese of Rochester will no longer allow the laity to usurp priests and deacons in preaching homilies at Mass. The thanks goes out to Bishop Salvatore Matano for insisting that canon and liturgical law be followed. He stated, “It is not a policy shift as regards to the universal law of the church. I am trying to help the faithful understand what is the universal law of the Church and how important it is that in the celebration of Mass, we do what the Church asks of us.”
I well remember Bishop Matthew Clark who started the deviation. He was regularly invited to give talks by the progressive or liberal staff at CUA when I was a student many years ago. He even gave us a retreat where he speculated about women priests and about how a priestly calling might be a temporary vocation and that God might later call some men to other things. I was young but shocked by the statement.
In any case, it looks like the compass in Rochester is returning to the proper settings of the universal Church. Now comes the hard work, not just of correcting abuses, but reforming hearts and minds. People will be hurt and disappointed, especially the women who made up the majority of the lay homilists. But where one door closes, others are opened. Hopefully these women will not feel discarded or alienated. Inclusion and empowerment was never dependent upon the clericalization of the laity. I have confidence that the bishop will find a way to involve these women, with their theology degrees and gifts, in the building up of the Church. God forbid that they should walk away from the Church that has always been their home.
Archie Andrews, star of the long-running Archie Comics universe, will take a bullet on Wednesday in a fearless leap to save his gay friend from an assassination attempt. The 73-year-old character’s impending death was first announced in April when Jon Goldwater, co-CEO of Archie Comics Publications Inc., said in an interview with CNN that Riverdale’s famous ginger will go out a hero in “Life with Archie,” which explores Archie’s life as an adult.
“Casper the Friendly Ghost Reveals that He was Abused & Murdered as a Child”
“Donald Duck Arrested for Indecent Exposure”
“Olive Oil Dies from Chronic Anorexia, Popeye Ate All the Spinach!”
“Scooby Doo Put Down from Drug Overdose, Shaggy Arrested”
“Garfield Run Over in Hit-&-Run, Keep Your Pets Leashed!”
“Little Lulu Comes Out as Lesbian, Says Stop the Hate!”
“Little Ol’ Lady Who Lived in a Shoe Demands Obama Care Contraceptives”
“Wilma Flintstone Leaves Fred Over Affair & Too Many Yabba-Dabba-Doo Times!”
How should the pastor proceed when a same-sex couple comes forward, wanting their child to be baptized?
It is already the case that we get many heterosexual couples wanting their children baptized, even though they are married outside the Church or even cohabitating. In these situations, I will not absolutely forbid baptisms, but I will beseech the couples to do what they can to regularize the relationship. Of course, if the couples have broken up or were only casual with which to begin, then it would be madness to insist upon them marrying. The child should be the fruit of a bond that has blossomed, not an element to manipulate in favor of a marriage that would otherwise never occur. These couples sacramentally married or not, still signify bonds that are in accordance with natural law.
Same-sex unions violate both divine positive law and our understanding of what is and is not “according to nature.” There is no way to make it right unless the couple separate. I had a situation of this sort back in the 1990’s. The grandfather came to see me quite upset because his daughter and her female lover had asked to have their child baptized and the priest said no. They did not know where to turn. The grandfather begged that something might be done. I asked that he send his daughter “and her friend” to see me. I had to disguise the revulsion I felt in hearing their story. They wanted a child and so made an appeal to a gay man. He masturbated into a spoon and then the lesbian couple used the semen to amateurishly inseminate the willing partner. As it turned out, she conceived and they had a little boy. Sometime later I heard there was legal wrangling with the homosexual neighbor who wanted his rights as the biological father. It is my understanding that today many lesbian couples do not even know the source of the seed and the insemination is accomplished through fertility clinics.
Both of the ladies who came to see me were raised in the Church and had attended Catholic schools. The grandfather of the mother had told me that he would do all in his power to make sure the child received a Catholic upbringing. I was blunt with the women, but no one was in the dark about how difficult a situation this was. I asked them point blank, “Can you promise me that despite your relationship you will raise this child as a Catholic, teaching him his prayers and taking him to Mass? They were both polite and agreeable. They both promised. It was not a compromise with which I was happy, but the alternative would punish the child for the sins of others. It seemed to me there was sufficient hope that the child would be raised as a practicing Catholic. I ended up baptizing the child. A person’s salvation might be at stake. In retrospect, I cannot recall what was written in the baptismal registry. I think only the name of the mother was inserted. I did tell them that the choice they made would be difficult. Because of their union, they would not be welcome to receive the Eucharist themselves. Nevertheless, they were adamant that they would still go to Mass and make sure their boy would receive all his sacraments. I recommended that they quietly live their lives, respecting the moral teaching of the Church even though they felt unable to realize it in their relationship. Here too they were agreeable. They felt no need to make their baby the poster child for a cause. I instructed them about how baptism makes the child an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven, a member of the Church, an adopted son or daughter of the Father, kin to Christ and a temple of the Holy Spirit. I added that baptism washes away original sin and invokes saving grace.
Despite their dissent and self-imposed alienation from the Church because of their lifestyle, I urged the couple to pray daily, placing their needs and weakness before the Lord for healing. I wanted them to know that while I disagreed about their personal lifestyle choices; God still loved them and that the Church would not turn her back on them. While their living together was a public statement against Church teaching, it did not have to be a deafening announcement. I urged them to do all they could to avoid scandal, both for themselves and the Church. I felt they had been truthful with me. Otherwise, it is doubtful that I would have offered the sacrament. The godparents were Catholics who were living their lives wholly in accordance with the commandments and precepts of the Church. While always important, here it was absolutely crucial.
- Today the situation is evidently becoming more common. Either through insemination or adoption, lesbians and homosexuals are becoming parents. Despite their battles with the Church, some still feel an attraction to her message of salvation and sacraments. They want to share this with their children. This is no longer a singular aberration. How do we proceed?
- Do we have Archdiocesan policies to deal with these situations? Should the Chancery be consulted on each and every case that comes forward? I know the local policies in Washington stipulate that there should be two godparents and that they should be representative of each gender.
- Can a same-sex family structure constitute a true family?
- Can parents perpetually in a state of mortal sin genuinely witness to the faith and Gospel?
- Given the canon law problems, should registries list only one partner or can both be acknowledged?
- It would be easy enough to list the mother alone but in adoption, there is the claim of two mothers. Should one be listed in the side annotation?
- We were recently informed to stop listing children as legitimate or not legitimate. Should there not be remarks about a same-sex union?
- As for liturgical adaptation, will we need a special liturgy to get around the language of a mother/wife and father/husband?
- Priests will routinely omit the blessing over the mother and father when couples are not married in the Church. Is this justified and should the blessing be omitted over same-sex couples? I would think so.
- While it is probably good to seek out Archdiocesan consultation, would priests need higher permission to perform such baptisms?
- Do we have programs in place to offer pastoral care to these children and households after baptism?
- Would these children be welcome in our Catholic schools?
I can well understand that one answer would not fit all. There might sometimes be little or no hopeful sign that the responsibilities that come along with baptism would be fulfilled. Some treat baptism like magic or as an empty cultural rite of passage. Activists might even exploit a request for baptism to ridicule the Church or to make a political statement. This is where it becomes all the more problematical.
Priests are supposed to be good stewards of the sacraments. And yet, many of us are fearful that we cannot even safeguard the Eucharist at Mass because of policies that place a greater weight on public scandal than actual spiritual readiness and ecclesial unity. Here too, there may be times that being a good steward will mean saying no and facing repercussions. Is it a passive capitulation to just throw up our hands and leave it to God to straighten out? I suspect so.