I see a radical shift to the right, not among our Bishops and Priests, but among political activists and social commentators who carry the banner "Catholic." Without more profound leadership from the Church the lay faithful are being led away from our ultimate calling, to love one another, toward a direction of distrust and divisiveness. Continuing in this direction we will lack diversity of community and become an exclusive club.
I was taken aback some weeks ago when a Priest suggested to me that the faithful need to read the Church documents and encyclicals in order to understand some fine point of the Liturgy. I thought it was his job to teach it, not to sit and wait while the faithful catch up. Not all of the faithful are literate, for one thing. And the obtuse and sometimes complicated vocabulary of the encyclicals presuppose that one is a theologian. It is too much to ask.
The Communion of Saints is not a private party, it is not a country club, and it surely is not a self-study online university. Yet if it were this way we would have just what we have today: Souls being lost because the pundits have more to say than our priests, and are usually much better at getting the word out.
The recent case of the executive director of Catholic Citizenship (Larry Cirignano) is a case to consider. I'll leave the assault charge aside for now and wait for justice to do its work. Catholic Citizenship (catholicvote.org) has on the front of their webpage a coat of arms very closely resembling the Papal coat of arms. I have no doubt that the organization has Catholic supporters but it is not affiliated with the Ho;y See. In December of 2005 when Catholic Citizenship was promoting a petition against same-sex marriage only twenty percent of the priests of the local parishes signed the petition. I thought this a pretty low figure considering the Church's stand on same sex marriage. But I find it a rather telling statistic in regards to Catholic Citizenship's credibility within the Church community.
The other case that comes to mind is the myth of Same Sex Attraction Disorder (SSAD). It is, briefly, an attempt to establish homosexuality as a medical disorder and, inter-alia, it is a choice. This theory was popularized by NARTH and the now largely discreditted Joseph Nicolosi and Paul Cameron. Now the same myth is being promulgated by Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons under the umbrella of the Catholic Medical Association. It is new wine in old wineskins.
The myth of SSAD enjoys no official support from the Church. On October 18, of this year The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops stated in Guidelines for Ministry to Persons with Homosexual Inclination: “There is currently no scientific consensus on the cause of the homosexual inclination.”
The medical community concurs. Still, Fitzgibbons and his ilk continue to peddle snake oil. Not that I have an axe to grind against snake oil peddlers. It is the political implication here that bothers me. The proponents of SSAD are influencing extremely few gay folk. But they are convincing many straight folk that gay is a choice. And by this queer metamorphosis the persecution of gay folk becomes acceptable. While the Church states clearly that being gay is not sinful, the proponents of SSAD are stating that it is a choice, and a wrong choice.
I leave you with this caveat from Truth and Tolerance written by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger before his recent promotion:
"Wherever politics tries to be redemptive, it is promising too much. Where it wishes to do the work of God, it becomes, not divine, but demonic."