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Courageous Words from a Montgomery County Pastor

Maryland

When the vote was over, despite all the work of the Maryland Catholic Conference and our own Archdiocese of Washington, the same-sex marriage initiative passed. The day after, when analysts were looking at the numbers, it was noted that Prince Georges County had voted against the measure by a razer thin margin. No doubt while there were many Obama supporters, this was also the church mecca of the state, a county with a 93% minority population. The more affluent Montgomery County voted for the measure, almost two to one. Msgr. Filardi is a Montgomey County pastor. Here is his message:

WELCOME TO SODOM

Pastor’s Letter
Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Bethesda, Maryland

Welcome to Sodom. Yes, that is what Maryland has now become. Sodom with its neighbor Gomorrah was a city of antiquity whose disregard for the natural law of human love led to its destruction. That same disregard is now written into state law. The distinctive physical and life-cultivating complimentarity of woman and man has been dismissed as a basis for marriage. Additionally, those who cannot honor this diluted definition in their personal and business activities will be held legally liable for discrimination and punished accordingly.

Already, the owner of a trolley service in Annapolis seeing this coming announced he will no longer offer wedding services. By doing so he will lose much of his business, but he cannot in good faith go along with treating as normal what is not, neither can we.

It is a great sadness that many of Satan’s helpers in ushering in this demonic distortion of marriage were Catholics, such as our governor. In promoting this desecration they have not only brought dishonor to our holy faith and shame to all Catholics, but invite the real possibility of damnation on themselves. We must pray that they recognize this error, repent and make reparation.

Some may interpret my words as an unfair disregard for individuals who bear same-gender attraction. It is not. Such brothers and sister must be loved and embraced. Indeed, we must make greater efforts of proper inclusion and support. At the same time true love is not allowance for any activity. It has no authority to overlook what is written in nature. Love cannot comply with a lie. It first honors what God has designed, and then encourages all to live in authentic love that leads to true fulfillment. Nothing changes for us, because God defines marriage. This has not changed. The purposeful union of man and woman was the crown of God’s creation. Anything else by that name mocks what God has created, and therefore mocks God.

Maryland is our home. It is where we are placed, and it is where we will continue to live. But especially now we must live upholding in word and honor the truth of marriage with clarity. We cannot betray what God has created without betraying God. This means never placating or playing along with a false notion, no matter how “well intention” some may be. It will not be easy. We do so at the risk of the ire and even legal sanctions this will invoke.

Our beloved state is now a modern-day Sodom. We should not be surprised at the coming of confusion, conflict, and even catastrophe. We reap what we sow. May God have mercy on us.

Msgr. Edward J. Filardi
Pastor, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish
Bethesda, Maryland

Catholic Bandita / Courageous Priest / Parish Bulletin / A Culture of Life / Father Z’s Blog / Deacon for Life

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10 Responses

  1. Father, as the parent of a gay child who is one of the most compassionate and caring people I have ever met, I’m willing to bet eternity that I am on the right side of this issue.

    FATHER JOE: As a parent, you rightly should love and support your child. I too have known many homosexuals who were very caring and loving people. I had two dear friends who went to Confession together and then Mass every week. They took care of their mothers and were there for each other through troubles and cancer. They were not militant about their lifestyle and like all of us, they struggled to be the best people and Catholics they felt they could be. Certainly I disagreed about their lifestyle but in good conscience they tried to be good Christians and loved the Church so much that they actively sought to avoid scandal. Their struggles were between them, God and their priest. People we love can be very wrong. Pretty much all of us are broken in some way. As a pastor and confessor we deal with where people are. The Church takes strong stands on certain issues because such comes down to us in Scripture and the deposit of faith. However, we try to bring healing to our people all the same, where ever they are in their faith journey.

    God made my child who he is and that is a wonderful, caring, giving person. I see nothing in Christ’s words or works that would condemn him.

    FATHER JOE: The criticism against a sexual disorientation is no cause to condemn or hate anyone. But the Church and her shepherds, like many of the rank and file believers, have a right to be critical and to their own view. We believe that God is offended by homosexual acts. That does not mean that either God or the Church hates them. We love them.

    I suggest that you talk to some of your parishioners who have gay children– who have watched them grow and watched them struggle and if you then come away with your position intact– then maybe I would consider it– but for now you are doing your god you church and yourself a great disservice.

    FATHER JOE: No priest who is faithful to Christ and the faith is doing anyone a disservice. Indeed, if I were to dissent against the Bible and the universal catechism on this matter, substituting personal opinions or secular slogans– then the real disservice would be committed. People want to hear the kerygma of faith from the Church from a priest, not questionable theories or complaints for things to be different. Do you think I was born yesterday. My cousin, the late Fr. Harvey was the founder of COURAGE, an approved Catholic organization for homosexuals. A genital life is replaced by one of friendship, prayer and service. I have known many gay men and lesbian women. Back in the 1980’s I regularly gave the Last Rites to countless young gay men who were dying from AIDs in the local hospice. I touched them with my hands and anointed them when most others ran away from them in fear. I counseled gays who struggled to remain faithful to the Church. I gave them absolution when they stumbled. One of my best friends from high school was a boy who later came out as gay. I am as straight as they come (albeit celibate my whole life), but he will always be my friend. I am convinced that the Church is right; but critics are wrong to interpret the Church’s opposition to so-called same-sex marriage as animosity against the gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgendered individuals or community.

  2. I find Msgr Filardi’s comments neither courageous or pastoral in nature. Rather I find them bigoted and sort sighted.

    Clearly the Lord taught many lessons during his brief stay on this earth — some of the greatest of which were acceptance and the strength of God’s love.

    Msgr. Filardi’s threatening comments about eternal damnation are not worthy of the space they consume on the internet — (which is almost as vast as God’s universe) which they consume.

    I will pray for the day when the church rejoices and accepts monogamous and committed same sex couples into the fold in at least the same manner that it accepts divorced Catholics who have purchased an annulment.

    I remind Msgr. Filardi that the Church is not in Rome, it is not even in the Rectory on Pearl Street — the church is people who gather and worship in the name of God. The Church is those that embrace their brothers and sisters particularly those who no through no fault of their own are born different than most — whose fervent desire is to lead a complete and loving life, thanking their lord for the wonders he has bestowed upon them and going about their lives in a manner that will allow God to rejoice in their lives when it comes time to judge them.

    Based on the teachings I have learned I would be much more comfortable approaching my judgment being an individual who has been kind, charitable, and faithful to his/or her partner — than having been one who has been judgmental, bigoted, and intolerant — no matter which way my collar faced.

    I only hope that those like Msgr Filardi can focus internally on their own salvation rather than for purposes unknown spread hatred and bigotry while trying to cloak it in the holiness of God’s Son who gave up his life in order to teach us forgiveness and salvation.

    The Flock of the Church of my childhood is not being well served by its pastor and I will pray that Msgr Filardi gains a better understanding of the loving and compassionate nature of our Savior — either that or he selects a more suitable vocation for his life.

    FATHER JOE:

    Dear Mr. Desroches, the post is six months old; but given the Supreme Court decision today, I guess the topic is back in the news. My brother priest takes a strong stand, and given that this makes him an outnumbered sign of contradiction, I would label this as courageous. Is it bigoted? I suspect you would read the Bible as bigoted on this issue, and such is God’s inspired Word. As for pastoral, okay the words are harsh, but a priest’s work is not simply to keep you happy or content with sin; his mission is to preach the truth of the Gospel and to save souls.

    Certainly our Lord exhibited “the strength of God’s love,” but Jesus showed no acceptance of sin. Our Lord was merciful but always quick to admonish, as with the woman caught in adultery. He tells her to go and to avoid this sin in the future. Jesus associated with the ostracized tax collectors and sinners and in doing so acknowledged their worth as human beings. He echoed the message of John the Baptist, “repent and believe.” Father is not condemning those with disorientation, only those who think that there is nothing wrong with contravening natural and divine positive law.

    The threat does not come from a simple priest, but from almighty God. Homosexual acts are listed among those sins that would cost a person a place in the kingdom of Christ. I think he says what he says because he has a real love for sinners.

    Annulments are not for certain and they are not purchased. Indeed, one has to pay the court costs even if an application is rejected. There must be grounds. Otherwise, a couple remains husband and wife until one dies. Divorced and remarried Catholics (without annulment) are encouraged to attend Sunday Mass but they are not invited to receive Holy Communion. Adulterers are also counted among those shut out from the kingdom. Monogamous marriages must be witnessed by a priest or deacon; otherwise, as with unlicensed cohabitation, we are spiritually still talking about a form of fornication. As for same-sex unions, genuine Christianity can and should love and care for all our people; however, the Church cannot change the moral law. Homosexual acts are intrinsically immoral. Nothing and no one can change that.

    You write that “the Church is not in Rome.” Actually, the Church is Rome. Where you find Peter, you find the Church. To strictly define the Church as “the people who gather and worship” or as the laity is a form of “congregationalism” but not the hierarchical Church established by Jesus Christ. We have been gifted with God’s inspired Word and a teaching authority protected by the Holy Spirit. While we are all born “different” from one another, not all these differences are positive or good. Yes, we have our gender roles and gifts. We have our biological inheritance. But some are born with hardships or challenges that will set them apart or make their lives difficult. While some homosexuals are formed, it may be that disorientation plagues others as an element of disease or handicap. Children are born with autism, various levels of retardation, blindness, deafness, crippled, missing limbs, and breathing and heart issues. When it comes to these many physical ailments, almost everyone would say that it would be best to be whole or healed. Although there is a group who suffer from bodily integration disorder who claim that they should have the right to chop off limbs to reflect their own sense of body image. In any case, when it comes to matters of sexual disorientation and behavior; others like you contend that it should be regarded in a neutral fashion or treated within the range of normalcy. Proponents for deviancy get nervous when they hear argued also that dreaded pedophiles might suffer from a genetic inclination that would lead them to commit villainous behavior. Would you argue that we should be understanding, infinitely forgiving or encouraging of this crime? I sure hope not. The Church, like Christ, embraces all our brothers and sisters; however, that does not mean that we can or must condone their evil acts.

    I would suspect that the good Father is very compassionate and caring in the Confessional or in counseling situations. We meet people where they are. Life can be very messy. However, priests, bishops and popes must sometimes speak in generalities and paint the truth in large brush strokes. The priest gives us an instance of tough love. Priests are held to a special standard by Christ. He will ask us:

    Did you love those who hate you and speak ill of you, like Mr. Desroches?

    Did you speak the hard truth when you knew you would pay a personal price for it?

    Did you allow brothers and sisters to suffer hell because of fear or to preserve harmonious friendship?

    All priests count themselves as the first of sinners. We are wary of Christ’s condemnation of the Pharisees for their hypocrisy. Is it bigotry to condemn pedophilia, bestiality and polygamy? No, because these are evils deserving of reprimand. And such is also the sin of homosexuality.

    You would question his priesthood for speaking out the truth? Boy, maybe you should consider how in sync you are with authentic Catholicism? The error is yours— about the mercy and justice of Christ— about the nature of the Church— about the moral law— and about what constitutes a priestly sacrament.

  3. Someone needs to remind Clare that the Monsignor’s boss is Our Lord Jesus Christ. She may find her ‘orgasmic self’ (whatever that is) quite irrelevant when she meets Him.

  4. Very well said. We need more priests like this. His view reflect the views of real Catholics. And we are growing in number (and we reproduce and educate our children in the truth).

  5. I am struck that you find the organismic self so offensive. Why? Prayers are always welcome, Joe, because the Spirit can deal with any sin in them. Also, I am unclear why you think the letter courageous. Many Catholics courageously stand up to the hierarchy on this matter, and support equal marriage. Doing what his boss tells him to is hardly courageous.

    FATHER JOE: There are many in the Church who would prefer priestly silence so as to avoid making waves. But there is a moral tidal wave facing us and some response must be made. Our society is increasingly sympathetic to the gay agenda. Individuals, even in the Church, often find themselves abandoned or alone as they confront such issues of our day. A priest who argues for traditional moral values becomes a sign of contradiction to our modern world. He teaches that marriage is only between a man and woman, that marriage is until death-do-you-part, that sex outside of marriage is wrong, that artificial contraception leads to an anti-life mentality and is the handmaid to the greater sin of abortion. All these teachings can make a priest very unpopular. Your agenda is not his, or that of the Catholic Church. Jesus asks the question, “Who do you say I am?” You would answer differently from the good priest or me or the Church. Why? In your case, I suspect it is because of how you would answer the question about your own self-identity. We may even be at odds about what constitutes human nature and personhood. I would urge prudence and modesty where you would celebrate eroticism. My definition of male and female within natural law would be very strict without blurring of roles. You would understand this as bigoted and/or intolerant. By comparison, I interpret critics like yourself as suffering from gender confusion and a desire to be something you are not.

  6. Father Joe, the letter from Msgr. Edward is spot-on, and it is refreshing to hear the Truth spoken clearly and fearlessly. Clare is a typical liberal deluding herself with this recently-contrived artificial myth that the punishment for Sodom was due to lack of hospitality. How long is the term ‘sodomy’ in the language, and how does she think it derived its meaning? It is time the Church reintroduced excommunication, because we are infested with apostates. I fear those who hold on to the Faith may soon be heading back to the catacombs, while the rest revert to the style of Caligula.

  7. I agree with Rita. The letter is foul. Sodom was the city where desert morality codes were not obeyed. The story of Sodom is about hospitality. It is a byword for bad hospitality for Jesus: so, Jesus said to those he sent out, if they reject you shake the dust off your feel (as they would leaving non-Jewish lands) and it will be worse for that town than for Sodom. The man does not understand the words of Jesus.

    Thank God for increasing equality of marriage, now in Spain and in the UK soon.

    FATHER JOE: Thank you for commenting. On your blog you write that you “seek Carl Rogers’ Organismic Self.” Such an admission in itself shows the distance between you, the good priest and traditional Christian morality. I know full well the interpretation of some authorities who attempt to shift the cause for divine judgment over the doomed cites away from “sodomy” or same-sex relations to biblical codes of hospitality. But such does not exclude the long-standing view and the teaching of the Church fathers. The inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for their unnatural sins with “brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven” (Genesis 13:13; 18:20; 19:24, 29; Hosea 11:8). St. Paul stressed in his moral lists that such sins exclude one from the kingdom of heaven. But I suspect you would either reject the apostle outright or relativize his teachings to the point of insignificance. We stand under God’s Word, not over it. In this sense, the good priest understands the teachings of Christ far better than hedonistic secularists, even those who feign religiosity and/or practice new age religion. The Church will continue to oppose the sham of same-sex marriage, even as it becomes clear that we will have to endure the legal ramifications for many years to come. Today, even assertions that we love the sinner but hate the sin are rejected as intolerant by those who wrongly define themselves chiefly by their sexual orientation. We would argue that persons are so much more and that chaste celibate love is both possible and a door to grace. Please note that because your blog contains images and sentiments which traditional Christians would regard as vulgar or deviant, I have had to delete your attached link. I will pray for you.

  8. Who are you to judge me? I am as God made me. I am not broken. I am not diseased or mentally sick.

    Christians are supposed to be about love. But all I hear in these words is hate.

    Jesus restored the prodigal and outcast; you would force millions out of the Church.

    It seems that our society is more enlightened than the Church with its false and antiquated views.

    This subject undermines all the claims of Catholicism.

    Some would argue that Christianity, itself, cannot be salvaged because of its backwardness.

    Just as the Church’s teachings have evolved regarding the equality of women and the evil of slavery, so too must it change here.

    We need someone in the Church to say, “We were wrong. Please forgive us.”

    If I had my way, all Catholic churches would be required to marry homosexuals and lesbians seeking the sacrament.

    You are right, I think opposition on this topic is discriminatory and hate speech.

    Change will come or the Church will die.

    Wrong-headedness will not win out forever.

    FATHER JOE:

    You are so very, very wrong.

    God will be your ultimate judge and he has revealed his will in Scripture and the teaching Church.

    We are all sinners. We are all broken.

    Tough love is not hate.

    Many left Jesus too and he asked his apostles, “Are you going to leave me, too?” Nevertheless, he refused to compromise or rescind his message.

    Truth is truth, no matter whether it is old or recently discovered. Truth is objective, not subject to our manipulation or legislation.

    The teaching authority of the Church will not compromise itself by shifting on this issue. The magisterium interprets received truth, she does not manufacture it.

    Christianity and the Church will endure because Jesus said so. Jesus keeps his promises.

    Our undertanding of the revealed deposit of faith grows. Such is the meaning of the development of doctrine. However, the Church is not free to reverse direction.

    I believe in Christ and the Church. Have you considered the possibility that you are the one who is wrong?

    You would strip the Church of her religious liberty and yet is that not intolerant and hateful?

  9. I noticed Father that you allowed another priest to speak for you. Does his angry rhetoric fully reflect your views? Despite what he says, not all Christians see homosexuality as in conflict with the faith. You may have read in the news that Episcopalian clergy will be conducting same-sex marriages at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. Queer does NOT equal damned.

    FATHER JOE:

    I will admit his language is strong but the issue is crucially important. I suspect you would view even the most timid and polite opposition to homosexuality as “angry rhetoric.” As priests, we do not want to hurt people; but, at the same time we are charged to speak the truth and work to save souls. Love means sometimes saying things that maybe people would rather not hear.

    No one is making an absolute judgment about a particular person’s soul. However, homosexuality is judged by the Church as “disorientation” and any committed act is the “matter” of mortal sin. This is the catechism answer. Anything that might cost people the gift of eternal life is literally from the devil. People might suffer some ignorance in this regard, but the Church has made every effort to speak clearly and inequitably on the subject. What we lament is that many Catholics now take their marching orders from a liberal political party and a secular society, but not from the authentic shepherds of the Church.

    Many priests have the very real fear that there will come a day when reading or preaching upon St. Paul or the Old Testament on this issue will be judged a hate crime. Already, Christians are being compelled to recognize the legitimacy of same sex unions in their private associations, housing, jobs, etc. Already the federal government is encroaching on religious liberty regarding contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization coverage in health-care plans. Spousal benefits will be required of same-sex couples. Add to the situation a cultural climate that is saturated with vice and pornography and I can well understand the priest’s interpretation of our society as a new Sodom and Gomorrah.

    Msgr. was very active in the fight to preserve a legitimate definition of marriage in Maryland. I am sure he feels very personally the defeat of our efforts. We all desire to be liked and to get along, but when does tact and compromise become surrender and complicity? The good priest writes: “The purposeful union of man and woman was the crown of God’s creation. Anything else by that name mocks what God has created, and therefore mocks God.”

    I have shared my own opinions on this subject in the past. While I think we should be welcoming and loving of our homosexual and lesbian friends, we should insist upon chaste celibate relationships and forgiveness as people struggle with their weaknesses. We can make room for them in the Church. What is uncertain is whether or not room will be given the Church (which includes parishioners who sit in the pews) to coexist in our society without compromising values.

    I supported the recent marriage campaign, but feared that the Church waited too long to get mobilized. Marriage was threatened long before the issue of same-sex unions came to the forefront. When more couples are cohabitating than married— marriage is in trouble. When half of all marriages end in divorce— marriage is in trouble. When virginity is undervalued and sex outside marriage becomes the general rule— marriage is in trouble. When condoms become the new party balloons and women pop contraceptive pills like candy— marriage is in trouble. When there are a million abortions a year in the U.S. and the fruit of the marital act is denied— marriage is in trouble. When adultery both actual and virtual (through pornography) pollutes hearts and minds— marriage is in trouble.

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