Of Pride and Charity: A Tale of Two Tobins

(Trigger warning: for the purposes of this article I will use terms like “gay,” “heterosexual,” and “LGBT” as they are commonly used for the purpose of readability and reach.)

Chastity isn’t the only virtue, and there’s a lot more to being Catholic than what we don’t do. However issues of sexual morality bring the Church into conflict with the world, and internally.

“So, do you think being gay is a sin?”

If you’ve been asked this question, it means you have liberal friends who are being honest with you.

When I was first coming into the Church, it didn’t throw people so much that I had decided that 2,000 odd years ago, Our Lord was born to a virgin, died on the cross, and auto-resurrected before hanging out for 40 days and eating some fish, then shooting back up into Heaven leaving His apostles gaping at the sky.  Oh, by the way, His Most Holy Mother was assumed into Heaven where she prays for us most efficaciously.

One would think it is clear that this is artistic expression attached to a religious ceremony, protected by the first amendment, but it’s 2019, so bake the cake, bigot!

No, none of that was quite as bizarre to my friends as the prospect I would no longer be a consenting “ally” to the LGBT movement.  The first impulse of many Catholics when asked about their views on gay rights is to try and disambiguate same-sex attraction from homosexual acts.  This certainly does not fly when confronted by a secular individual who supports the compulsory recognition of same-sex unions as marriages by religious institutions.

My response to this question, learned from a witty gent at my church, is now to say being gay is sinful “only if you’re doing it right.”  That never fails to elicit laughter, and perhaps acts as a smoke-bomb to avoid the discussion on their misunderstanding of the nature of sin (even an extra piece of chocolate cake is sinful) and the sensitive subject of the Church’s righteous refusal to budge on this aspect of her moral teachings.

To be honest, when I was first coming into the Faith, I didn’t think of purity as critically important.  Indeed, among the seven deadly sins, the “sins of the flesh” such as lust and gluttony, are often considered less serious than spiritual sins like wrath and pride.  From an outside perspective, someone who does not realise how all virtues are connected might say “charity is more important than chastity” as if the practice of chastity was not rooted in love of neighbor.

Before I’d ever set foot in a Catholic church, I was acutely aware of the abuse issues and homosexuality in the clergy, as well as a prevalence of suspiciously small Catholic families (statistics vary but most agree that the majority of Catholics use birth control, despite Church prohibitions against it.)  I thought to myself “does anybody actually follow all the sex rules?” Surprisingly, although the larger Catholic community may not, in my experience most serious practitioners of the faith are making a real effort.

At the end of the day, however, being a practicing Catholic who accepts the teachings of the Church means (at least in theory) embracing a pro-life viewpoint and seeing marriage as between one man and one woman. This places us at directly at odds with the world.  This division is only deepening as support of LGBTQIA+ rights becomes not only a topic of political debate, but a barometer for whether or not one is a “good person.”  

So when Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence  (Not to be confused with famously modernist Cardinal Tobin of Newark) took a stand, saying Catholics should not participate in Pride month, Twitter exploded with rage.  He eventually issued a heavily qualified apology. Father Kevin Cusick of Washington, DC, ignited similar ire over asking women to dress modestly in the church.

On the heels of the explosion in the online abortion debate over many states restricting abortion to a near-total ban, conservative representatives of the Catholic church seem to many to be merely hypocritical morality police, as progressives decry us as “Christian Taliban.”  The reticence of the Church to bend on issues of sexual morality seems particularly strange to outsiders in the wake of the abuse scandals, but that’s another topic for another time.

Obviously chastity is not the only measure of a Christian or Catholic, so it is not entirely unfair to ask questions along the line of “why are you policing what people do sexually instead of performing acts of charity?” The answer is that there are not two different groups of serious Catholics, one who shows up for homeless outreach and soup kitchens, and the morality police that attend pro-life prayer vigils, rather there is significant overlap between those two groups.

Those who take their faith seriously find themselves at odds with the world over their rejection of the new hegemony of cheap sex and LGBTQ issues.  They have chosen this out of the same love for Christ that pulls them into serving the poor in Saint Vincent DePaul societies and other such ministries.  Though different charisms and political beliefs mean this is not a 1 to 1 correlation, it is not two different Churches that cry out against abortion and serve the poor.  Some orders such as the Sisters of Life and Franciscan Friars of the Renewal have such a dual charism.

Indubitably, charity is the highest virtue and the greatest measure of a Christian.  Every child raised in the Church knows the refrain “they shall know we are Christians by our love.” Why can’t the RCC, as Fr. James Martin suggests, give equal consideration to homosexual couples, and create an environment in which a man can exchange the kiss of peace with his male partner “or soon to be husband.”

Note:  James Martin, SJ, has often lamented his status as a punching bag for the Catholic Right.  As editor-at-large of America Magazine, he was appointed to the Vatican communications secretariat in 2017 and with 246k followers on twitter, he is an easily accessible bellwether for the latest pipe-dreams of progressive Catholics.  So, sorry Fr. Jim, but you just make it too easy.

Indeed, many parishes have taken a “pastoral” approach to this issue.  Sunday, June 30th, will mark the second annual “Pride Mass” at the church or Our Lady of Grace and St. Joseph in Hoboken.  Ironically, this is within the diocese of Cdl. Joseph Tobin (not be confused with the more orthodox bishop Thomas Tobin of Rhode Island.)  Priests who are openly (or at least obviously) homosexual are not uncommon, regardless of the Vatican II proscription against ordaining men of such “deep-seated” tendencies.  Pope Francis even promoted such an individual to an important position in the IOR (Institute for the Works of Religion, i.e the Vatican bank.) It was in defense of this appointment that he famously pronounced “who am I to judge?” when speaking of gay men who “earnestly seek God.”

The pontiff’s oceans of mercy in overlooking transgressions of his appointees could consume an entire post or more, so let’s leave that where it is and dive into the Vigano accusations another time. Although Pope Francis’ declination of judgement echoed throughout the world, the Holy Father has by no means been up to progessive standards (Trigger warning: LGBTQ blogger) on this subject.   In fact just a few months ago His Holiness reaffirmed the importance of marriage as between one man and one woman and the natural family resulting from such a union. This was a repetition of a 2014 statement in which the Pope repudiated the idea of same-sex marriage but left the door open to legal recognition and benefits for same-sex and opposite-sex cohabitants.

Perhaps the most dramatic stand against the LGBT agenda that this pontificate has taken is the 2016 statement in which Pope Francis described transgenderism as “the annihilation of man” and blamed “ideological colonization” financially backed by hostile foreign actors.  How can this come from the same mouth as “who am I to judge?” The simplest explanation is that “LGBT” fundamentally signifies four different conditions and they were not always as united of a front as they are presented in 2019.  

Lesbian women and gay men clash frequently, and bisexuals (or pansexuals, to use the modern trans-friendly term) are often on an uneasy middle ground, as like Miley Cyrus they can eventually settle into heterosexual marriages, thus escaping “oppression” while still trying to claim a queer identity.  

Within the last decade or two TERFism was the norm, with campus Gay-Straight Alliances (this was a thing before LGBT) trying to distance themselves from what they saw as a bizarre transgender movement that they did not want to be lumped in with. The idea of taking the statement “trans-women are women” literally has resulted in girls track competitions (along with wrestling and some women’s body building events) being dominated by transgender athletes when they choose to enter.  Recently, tennis star and lesbian activist Martina Navriatilova expressed her dissatisfaction with this state of affairs, saying it was “insane” for transwomen to compete in the same division as cis (biological) women.

To make blanket proclamations about “LGBT people” or “LGBT Catholics” equates a range of sexual behaviors (some of which are flexible and change over time) with the idea that a female soul can inhabit a male body or vice-versa.  The stakes are higher than sporting trophies and scholarships, of course. In lieu of (conspicuously absent) rational arguments or scientific evidence as to why these behaviors could somehow be compatible with Catholic theology, the refrain is that if we do not take a “pastoral” approach and discard the hard truths of our faith, souls will be lost to separation from the Church, and lives will be lost to suicide.  What do our squabbles over restrooms and changing rooms matter in the face of lost souls and lives?

This is akin to someone holding a gun to their own head and demanding you deny your faith or they will pull the trigger.  However, the question must be asked: if everyone is a sinner, why can’t we cave in just a little bit? If for no other reason, wouldn’t that be good optics?  For some, the temptation to allow for gay marriage and legitimization of the transgender epiphany may come from a place of misguided charity.

The biggest and clearest problem with this would be that the Catholic definition of a valid marriage includes an “openness to life.”  Theology of the Body, as taught by Pope St. John Paul II details that all sexual acts even within marriage must also be ordered in such a way as they could be naturally ordered towards creation of life as well (many traditionalist Catholics consider even this to be lax, to put it mildly.)  

The entirety of Catholic sexual morality is centered on the notion that the creation of life is not an accident of the pursuit of pleasure, but rather that the joy that comes from the union of man and woman is an echo of the incredible beauty of participation in God’s creative power.  This joy also cements a lifelong bond that supports a natural family (or perhaps a spirit of adoption.)

To condone gay marriage would be to pull out the bottom blocks of the Jenga tower and collapse the entirety of Catholic social teaching.  Those who wish to do so anyway are basing their view of marriage in the secular idea that marriage is simply two individuals who are contractually bound to support one another, perhaps temporarily. Marriage is seen as a step above roommates, and in our oversexualized society the Catholic notion of marriage as “free, full, faithful, and fruitful” is seen as wishful thinking in a culture that so often fails at it.

Transgender identity is a separate issue altogether. While supporting gay marriage is understandable if you only see marriage as a civil contract, that has nothing to do with the idea that someone is truly a different gender than they were “assigned.” The elephant in the room, of course, is that we believe that we were assigned our characteristics by God. For the sake of argument, lets explore this issue as people argue that perhaps God created people transgender.

Recently, the Vatican published a document signifying they have no such intention of plunging down into this abyss of a rabbit hole.  This set off a firestorm of raging emotions, still tellingly devoid of actual explanation as to why gender is in thoughts and feelings instead of biological expression. A refrain of indignation about the Catholics (of all people) doing this during Pride month reverberated through the left side of the internet.

Conversely, The Church of England recently authorized a ceremony of renewal of Baptism as a signifier of a gender transition.  Declining attendance in mainline Protestant churches suggests that such a move in the Catholic Church would not bring people running back into the pews.

Those who suggest that simply abandoning our sexual mores and embracing the LGBTQ+ movement would increase attendance are short on evidence and common sense. If a moment were to come where we were to apologize and reverse our sexual norms, it would not matter.  The admission we had been wrong in the first place would only be used to attack us for “historical oppression.” Apologizing to the Left only emboldens the mob.  Caving in would not bring more souls into the churches, it would only cause us to cease being the Church, and as in mainline Protestant churches, a spiritual emptiness would soon be followed by empty pews.

Even with Fr. James Martin publicly dissenting from the Vatican’s document (it is far from an infallible dogma) and broadcasting the secular LGBT dogma with his collar on, even with the media amplifying Pope Francis’ ambiguous statements while ignoring his orthodox ones, even with a second annual “Pride Mass” with no consequence in sight, the secular humanists still deride us.  Their objective at this point is no longer tolerance or acceptance. The corporate embrace of the rainbow flag would mean victory if it was. The goal of the LGBTQIA+ movement and third-wave feminism at this point is simply the destruction of Christianity as we know it.

I guess this is what oppression looks like in 2019

Perhaps they believe that if the Church were to capitulate it would mean they would finally find peace with themselves and the world, a peace we know can only come from Christ.

Yesterday it was “tolerance” of gay marriage and the attitude that “if you don’t like one, don’t get one.” This was of course before they gained leverage, and began suing and otherwise destroying those who felt religious obligation not to participate in such ceremonies.  The corporate/Hollywood pro-LGBT zeitgeist has since come into full effect. Today, mandatory acceptance of “pride” is the norm. Tomorrow it is loss of parental rights for refusal to go along with the program. It’s already happening in Canada.

How the transgender explosion is being inflicted on children is worse than any right-wing propaganda from the Obama era could have predicted.  “Drag kids” Desmond Is Amazing has been heavily featured at a Pride parades from the young age of 8, and his family received a visit from CPS when it was reported he was performing for money at a gay club.  He has been photographed alongside a nude man in a pose not entirely innocent.

Vice magazine tweeted a video of other such children describing them as the “next generation” of drag.  They are not only future drag queens however, they are being used as entertainers in the present.  The recruitment and normalization of this practice is being proliferated by performers such as “Annie Christ” (yes that is the drag queen’s real name) performing readings for children at public libraries at “Drag Queen Story Hour” events, and often the coverage is focused on the “bigots” protesting the indoctrination of children with the new gender ideology.  

The litany of exploitation is long and could consume a post (or several) of its own.  The point is that we are far from being morality police breaking down bedroom doors. The gender revolution at this point is demanding tribute from our families, and access to young minds to turn them into their version of a “good person,” and that is someone who has a view of sexuality completely anathema to Christianity.

We cannot, however, lose this fight against an overtly satanic influence by overreaction or purity spiraling against our brothers and sisters in Christ who experience same-sex attraction, even those who fall and act on it.  We have an unlikely allies in those who, like Milo Yiannopolis, believe that the Church is right even though they persist in sin. Church history is full of colorful, even knavish individuals such as Andy Warhol and Oscar Wilde who recognized the truth even as they struggled to live it.  They are more common than you might expect.

WARNING: Strong and offensive language

Milo, incidentally, has written a book entitled “Diabolical” regarding the abuse scandal in the Church (of which he is a victim) and he should not be the subject of our prayers, not our scorn. Conservative and Traditionalist opponents of Pope Francis have a dangerous man in their corner.

What can we do, though, as the family is under attack and children are confused and even abused?  Calls to charity, prayer, and fasting ring may ring hollow as churches are desecrated and the faith condemned in the public square.  Saying “take care of your own, and build large, beautiful families” doesn’t protect the children who are being sexualized and warped.  Yet as our fruitless social media arguments daily prove, conversion comes not from being correct but from God Himself.

Saint Thomas More was persecuted for his silent refusal to endorse the lesser madness of his time.  Although we may be persecuted for silence sometimes, we must have faith it its power, and that Christ will ultimately, inevitably win, whatever we must suffer before His return.  Patience and prudence are virtues we will all have to grow in, at least for a generation or two as this fire burns itself out. Political correctness runs in cycles, as eventually a precocious child will cry out that “the Emperor has no clothes.”

“A Man for All Seasons” indeed

In the meantime, defend the Church as far as is possible.  We must stand fast to practice our faith, and not a hollow secular echo thereof.  If “Pride Mass” comes to your parish, vocally oppose it. Rebuke false shepherds that scatter the flock.  Do not offer even a single grain of incense to the altar of Pride.

We don’t do the regular pride, let alone the LGBT kind.

My Borders, My Choice

Earlier this month, May 2019, hundreds of migrants in France occupied a Parisian airport chanting that “France belongs not only to the French” and that they had the “right” to be there.

To say immigration is a wedge issue in today’s church would be a serious understatement. While I hate to further the oversimplification of our increasingly divided congregations by splitting us into left and right wings, it is the easiest way to describe the current situation. The right tends to hold opposition to abortion and church approval of same-sex unions as their pet issues. Most of us would say that is because distortion of our sexuality is the weapon that the devil is using to attack the church, but liberal leaning Catholics might say that we are simply prudish and obsessed with sexual repression. We are simply “behind the times” they say, clinging to useless old rules, and lacking in the mercy Christ showed the Samaritan woman at the well and the adulterous woman about to be stoned, etc.

An issue the Catholic Left commonly latches on to as a proof of their Christian agape towards their fellow man is support for unrestricted immigration, or at least indefinite asylum for an unending stream of refugees. After all, weren’t the Holy Family refugees when they had to flee to Egypt to escape Herod?

Above: Refugees occupy Charles DuGalle airport. Below: The Flight of the Holy Family. If you can spot the differences, you may have read Highlights magazine as a child, or have a modicum of common sense.

Pope Francis has been famously vocal on this subject. The pontiff criticized Donald Trump for his proposal of “building walls, not bridges” during the 2016 election and went so far as to suggest the candidate (now president,) along with his supporters, are not Christian if they support deporting illegal/undocumented immigrants and building a physical barrier on the border. More recently, His Holiness contributed $500,000 to a migrant caravan who were denied entry into the United States.

I would advise anyone particularly concerned about the last point to read the full article and not just the headline. Presuming the money is spent where it is proposed to be (and that might be a large presumption,) it is a truly Christian work of mercy to save the poor from starvation and exposure. Whether the caravan was entitled to entry into the United States, or the migrants occupying Charles du Galle are entitled to a share of France, is another topic altogether.

The Catholic Church “acknowledges and supports the right of nations to control their borders and to enforce their laws.” (trigger warning: America Magazine) The reason this article, which unsurprisingly leaps to the conclusion that the ill-established “rights” of migrants supercede borders, cedes this so bluntly is because the church has taught thus quite clearly for centuries.

” In truth, Catholic teaching, as articulated by several popes through the years, is remarkably clear on national sovereignty and borders. Pius XII, the author of “Exsul Familia”—known as the Magna Carta on Catholic teaching on migration—wrote to U.S. bishops in 1948 that while national sovereignty “must be respected,” migrants should be accepted as long as “the public wealth, considered very carefully, does not forbid this.” Saint John XXIII, in his encyclical, “Pacem in Terris” (“Peace on Earth”), taught that nation-states have an obligation to the “universal common good” that requires them to welcome newcomers: When there are just reasons in favor of it, he [every human being] must be permitted to emigrate to other countries to take up residence…”

Kevin Appleby “America Magazine”, emphasis added

Appleby goes on to quote paragraph 2241 of The Catechism of the Catholic Church:

“The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him. Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants’ duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.

The italicized portion was not only formatted differently, it was omitted entirely from the article. America Magazine could not even cherry-pick one paragraph out of the catechism to advance the liberal point of view on immigration, they had to split one in half.

Robert Cardinal Sarah, originally from Ghana, is the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and a consistent voice of Reason in a conflicted and confused church.

The conversation among the faithful should therefore not be about an perceived obligation to accept a tsunami of humanity that does not “respect with gratitude” what it means to be a citizen of their new country, but rather when there are “just causes” to accept such immigrants/migrants, and whether “the public wealth” can sustain that acceptance.

Liberalism, and its shadow of Socialism, claim to be for the worker. For a long time in the United States, the Democratic Party was allied very closely with the Catholic Church, as it had been the party of the Irish and Italian “working man,” and has only recently become the party of abortion and the other facets of the sexual revolution. JFK made no public statements on abortion, but his SCOTUS nominee Byron White joined the dissent in Roe v. Wade, accurately writing that abortion was a new “right” with no constitutional basis, wholly manufactured in the Roe decision. Top democratic presidential candidates (trigger warning: Hillary Clinton) relatively recently opposed recognition of same sex unions before supporting it.

There are points on which I may not seem as “counterrevolutionary” as my header would suggest. Society should be ordered in a way that all workers are paid wages that allow them to live a decent life and support their families. A basic level of healthcare and education should be available to everyone. Liberals and socialists in the United States seem to believe this as well, but they seem willing to make an exception if the worker is Mexican. In that case it is apparently acceptable for them to do demeaning tasks such as cleaning toilets for slave-tier wages.

Imagine for a moment holding the point of view that we must increase the minimum wage to $15/hr, and medicare must be provided for all, while simultaneously believing that we should import thousands of unskilled workers who are willing to work for beneath minimum wage and with no benefits. The latter drops the price floor out of the labor market. If you dissent with my point of view (I dare to dream such a person is actually reading my blog) this is the one link I want you to click. Not only has the old alliance of Catholics and democrats become morally unfeasible, it is no longer beneficial to the working class the left purports to represent.

It is not heartless to “preserve the public wealth,” as Pope Pius XII suggested we do. To allow our healthcare facilities, education system, and housing market to be utterly devastated for the sake of “equality” only brings us the equality of Venezuela, where nobody gets basic amenities besides those at the very top, so mostly everyone is equal.

Image Source

The Marxist notion of equality is akin to advising a man to dive into a whirlpool to save his drowning friend, that in drowning together they might be equal. Those who try to claim moral equality with those who wish to save the innocent being slaughtered en masse because they also support an economically unfeasible and exploitative strategy on immigration need a drastic re-examination of their views.

Cultural self-destruction does not come from the gospel, as Cardinal Sarah pointed out so eloquently, but rather from the lord of self-destruction himself. In the same way as God says “I AM” and encourages us that we should be and should grow, the devil says “I am guilty, and you are too, and neither of us should be.” Marxism and liberation theology are but poisonous fruits of this tree, and we should feel no guilt in resisting them as our forebears did.

Imagine Starting a Blog in 2019

In a chorus of Catholic voices, all vying for clicks and shares, what good is another blog?

A number of battlefronts are raging in our culture right now, and many are coming to a critical head.  Like many, my participation has been screaming into the void of social media.  Nuances are ignored and minds remained unchanged, cauterized by the demands of the world to supplicate to its demands.

This blog is meant to be unapologetically Catholic, as charitably as possible.  My goal is that my thoughts might touch yours, and yours mine, for the pursuit of truth above all else.

Wedding Weekend

Letting Judas Go

The gospel from this Sunday’s readings was, for many, relief during a turbulent week. Alabama just joined Georgia in passing strongly pro-life laws, and the Alabama bill only allows exemption for “life of the mother.” It remains to be seen how such an exception would be qualified, as many doctors believe direct abortion is never medically necessary. Catholic ethics state that receiving medical treatment that results in the termination of a pregnancy is not an abortion but an example of “double effect” so this law, while it still allows Plan B, and IVF, effectively represents Catholic social teachings on abortion.

That is more than we can say for those who fill the pews (although to me they didn’t seem as full last week.) Social media and Catholic news sources are bursting with opinions of those who differ from the church’s position on this sensitive subject. Fr. James Martin is up to his usual tricks, calling the Alabama bill “stupefying” because Alabama still enforces the death penalty. A Catholic church in Pennsylvania was vandalized for daring to “tell others how to live.” Familes and friends took to emotionally charged comment sections, virtually screaming at each other to how many exceptions they think there should be to this bill, and to church teaching in general.

What a relief then, what a divinely inspired coincidence, that the gospel reading this week was “love one another as I have loved you.” Across the nation last Sunday heard a message of acceptance, that despite our differences on sensitive issues, we are all one body in Christ and should love each other as He commanded us. This is probably what we needed to hear, given the improbability of dramatic conversions over facebook or at the dinner table. There’s only one problem though, with the timing of when we were given this command.

Judas had already left the room.

Many Catholics struggle with the fate of Judas. After all, we are all sinners. We all betray Christ in certain ways for personal gain, don’t we? We empathize with the rich young man or with Peter when he doubts his worthiness (or even denies Christ,) but I would caution against seeing ourselves in the worst traitor of all traitors. He stole from the money box and left our Lord during the Last Supper to sell Him to His death because he loved money more than truth. Like Anias and Sapphira in Acts (who are struck dead after cheating the early Christian community) Judas cut himself off from Christ, forfeited his office and even his life.

Christ did not plead with Judas to stay just a while longer. Christ did not despair of the loss of Judas’ contributions to His apostolate, and I’m sure they were many despite the theft. Christ did not fear Judas’ famous father or the loss of His treasurer. In the same way we must not fear the absence of those who cannot respect life. If a Catholic cannot support the church any longer because they believe unrestrained sexuality is worth the price of slaughtering the innocent lives that come out of it, or that it is worth aborting hundreds or perhaps a thousand babies for no “good reason” so a rape victim can abort hers too, we do not “risk losing them” by celebrating the passage of this bill. They are already lost.

God is love, love that gives life. God is the great “I AM,” the architect of the universe, whose plans are beyond our comprehension. If we cannot trust in His plan, which sometimes involves great suffering in this fallen world, or at the very least keep His commandments to love each other, and not to kill, can we really say we believe in Him?

It is not for us to judge who is lost beyond all help. The clergy are right in giving instruction to love the one sitting next to us. But it is an act of love, as one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy, to admonish our brothers and sisters when they fall into error. Do not worry about driving people away from God with the truth, charitably spoken. If someone truly belongs to God, in the end they cannot hate the truth, and will find reconciliation with it one way or the other.