25 December 2006

Paulist Center invites the flock home

Perhaps the priests of the Paulist Center in Boston share my view that the Church lacks diversity in the pews. They have engaged in an $800,000 advertising campaign aimed at those who have might feel neglected by the Church. The director of the center, the Rev. John B. Ardis, said "Fewer and fewer Catholics are connecting with the church. They're not necessarily finding another home, and they've, in a sense, somewhat given up. . . . This was the time to really let people know this is a place that welcomes all."

The project is not without opposition, perhaps because the Paulist Center has targeted the gay community as part of their outreach. C.J. Doyle, executive director of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts said that Gays who enter the church have to act in accordance with Catholic teachings. Since homosexual acts (and all sexual acts outside of marriage that are not open to conception) are sinful then I would guess that Mr. Doyle is saying they shouldn't have sex in Church. O.K. if that's what he meant he is a very silly man to bring it up.

Or he could have meant that he expects gays who enter the church to know when to genuflect and when to kneel. I hold a more charitable view towards those who have been away from Church for a while but if Mr. Doyle wants hold that view well, God bless him and God bless his situation. That said, it is a view that he holds out to a particular group, not to all, and for reasons that are not readily apparent.

Mr. Doyle's role as an anti-gay political activist clarifies his stance. Mr. Doyle isn't in a position to determine who should and who should not enter the Church, nor how they should "act." We know this and he knows it also. Clearly, though, his rhetoric has a tendency to poison the well. By "poisoning the well" I mean the logical fallacy "where adverse information about someone is pre-emptively presented to an audience, with the intention of discrediting or ridiculing everything that person is about to say."

Mr. Doyle is a political activist, not an evangelist; a propagandist, not a priest. When his views are read in the light of Catholic doctrine their lack of Catholicity is revealed:

From the Catechism 2258: "They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided."
From Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination, (USCCB Nov. 14, 2006) "All people are created in the image and likeness of God and thus possess an innate human dignity that must be acknowledged and respected.

In keeping with this conviction, the Church teaches that persons with a homosexual
inclination “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.”2 We recognize that
these persons have been, and often continue to be, objects of scorn, hatred, and even violence in
some sectors of our society. Sometimes this hatred is manifested clearly; other times, it is masked and gives rise to more disguised forms of hatred. “It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church’s pastors wherever it occurs.”

Those who would minister in the name of the Church must in no way contribute to such injustice. They should prayerfully examine their own hearts in order to discern any thoughts or feelings that might stand in need of purification. Those who minister are also called to growth in holiness. In fact, the work of spreading the Good News involves an ever-increasing love for those to whom one is ministering by calling them to the truth of Jesus Christ."
Emphasis is mine.

So whom shall we trust? The Catechism and the Bishops? Or the political activist?

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