Category: Catholic Sexuality

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Burning Bridge

Jesuit priest James Martin—close friend of Pope Francis and the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communication—is bright and just and merciful.

He is also committed to normalizing LGBT realities in the Catholic Church.

Martin was chosen as the featured Catholic to address LGBT issues at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin last month and contributed to the Youth Synod document that Bishops from around the world will study together next month. That document employs LGBT language, a first for the Catholic Church.

Martin artfully wrote a book–‘Building a Bridge’ between the Church and LGBT community—in which he pretends to be within the lines of the Catechism by emphasizing ‘respect, compassion and sensitivity’, all duly noted in #2358 as attitudes that should guide our treatment of persons with same-sex attraction.

Martin quietly oversteps the bonds of orthodoxy by expanding #2358 to include the LGBT spectrum, which spawns fresh configurations constantly. Is Martin really advocating for the tendency of a generation to find social traction by creating new and varied gender selves? What used to be an inner struggle rooted in unfinished emotional business has now become a dance card for kids in search of ‘selves.’

Martin insists that respecting LGBT persons means embracing their ‘coming out’ and honoring their new names and (I presume) gender impersonations. It’s wacky. Here’s a brilliant guy who wants to reach a generation by celebrating their delusion. And employing Scripture to reinforce it. He emphasizes the importance of ‘naming’ and new names in which Abram becomes Abraham, God becomes ‘I Am’ to Moses, and Judy becomes Jimmy (pp. 115-8). Good Father Martin unites good with evil by using the Bible to reinforce self-created gender identities.

More seriously, Martin takes aim at the Catechism, especially its reference to ‘objectively disordered’ desire, applied both to same-sex tendencies (#2358) and behavior (#2357). He finds those words cruel and unusual for young people. He goes so far as to imply that such a harsh description may cause Jimmy ‘to destroy himself’ (p. 75). If ‘disorder’ provokes anyone to hate or self-hate, Martin has a point.

How much better to awaken to the fact that same-sex aspirations (or any along the LGBT continuum) are disordered because they ‘close the sexual act to the gift of life’ and do not ‘proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity’ (#2357)? Simply put: you cannot create your own gender self and be happy! The whole of the Catholic moral life? Human freedom=lining up with what the Creator wills for His creature.

In truth, a generation fueled by more disordered desire than ever before needs clarity. How good and right and true for the Church to marry its understanding of human freedom with empowered compassion, to accompany persons under the sway of deception into true human freedom.

Martin stops short of authentic compassion because he fails to reveal the One whose love opens the horizon. Jesus names us afresh as He invites us out of disorder into holy order. Martin resists that truth and settles for a worldly one—‘be LGBT just as you are and want to be’; his bridge burns the most vulnerable. Please pray for Catholics who become the bridge over which weak ones cross from disorder to true happiness.

We’ll be starting our prayer/ fasting time on October 10th for anyone who wants to join. If you’d like to pray along with us, let us know and we can send you a book or you can get it through kindle here: https://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Good-News-Andrew-Comiskey-ebook/dp/B07F95JKP5!

 

 

 

 

 

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Muddy Mercy

Things just got a whole lot messier for the Church. Archbishop Carlo Mario Vigano—the papal ambassador to the US from 2011-2016–alleges that he made Pope Francis aware of Cardinal McCarrick’s homosexual abuses in 2013; further, Vigano claims that the Pope failed to discipline McCarrick until five years later (he was forced to resign in June) in part due to their strong political alliance: McCarrick advocated for Francis’ election to the papacy and the pope relied upon him significantly to oversee the American Church. If these allegations are true, Pope Francis should step down immediately. This could be the defining moment for a Church that repents in action.

There’s much I love about Pope Francis, especially his action toward the poor and displaced. But his unclear pastoral directives toward persons facing same-sex attraction have always unsettled me. I perceive him as a man who has been evangelized by winsome practicing homosexuals and won over. His legacy to ‘not judge’ persons with same-sex attraction paired with his counsel ‘to accompany’ them on their journey appears to be to a road going nowhere. Mercy without truth ceases to be mercy at all; it merely confirms people in their fractured, fruitless lives. And it leads to tolerating absolutely vile and inexcusable behavior in leaders. Francis judged McCarrick way too late.

Vigano’s report broke the morning I preached to a beautiful congregation in the San Fernando Valley. Given how the Church of Los Angeles lives in the face of the LBGT+ dragon, I emphasized the Cross: Jesus’ self-giving which commands repentance of any sexual expression that raises itself above His Lordship. Mercy flowed as many came forward to weep before the Crucified, including Kim, a 13-year-old girl wrestling with same-sex attraction who wondered whether or not she was a ‘lesbian.’ We prayed for her as with all others, confident of Jesus’ capacity to reconcile her to His best for her.

That church is a clear and cohesive witness of how mercy and truth meet. In contrast, my Roman Catholic Church is a house divided, if Vigano’s letter has any merit. He points out how homosexuality figures large into the current scandal, as most cases of clerical abuse involve male teens, not tots. Vigano also describes how Pope Francis with McCarrick’s help appointed American bishops with a ‘gay-leaning’ sensibility.

All this in a Church that has at its center a robust, life-giving vision of human sexuality: St. John Paul ll’s ‘Theology of the Body’ and the extraordinary role that Pope played in the Catechism in which he defines chastity as integration—reconciliation to our bodies, our genders, and our freedom when surrendered to Christ to offer ourselves purely and well to one another.

Where chastity is mocked by divided churchmen who lead the sheep in darkness, we must reclaim this dynamic vision of human sexuality and seek to live it with all His strength. We can assume responsibility and act upon what our gracious God has taught us, in spite of dodgy shepherds.

As for the shepherds, may Jesus Himself raise His sword over all priests, bishops, cardinals and popes who desecrate God’s children through abuse, its cover-up, and the promotion of pagan LGBT+ liberties that enslave little ones. I am praying for many to submit to Christ and to resign in the wake of this recent shakedown, including Cardinal Wuerl who allegedly knew of McCarrick’s wickedness for years and did nothing.

Unfaithful shepherds have brought us low. They must go. For too long shepherds have waved the rainbow flag over the sheep rather than teaching them to raise the Cross—Christ Crucified and lifted high–as the only means through which we can be reconciled to God’s good will for our sexuality.

Kim deserves better. I shudder to think of her in the hands of a McCarrick or even the confusing counsel of Pope Francis. She needs pure mercy, free from the muddy waters flowing from the Vatican. So do all the Catholic faithful whose trust has been undermined by secrets and LGBT+ lies.

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For the Devoured

Shepherds who abuse sheep consume them; they devour their dignity, trust, and faith. Scripture makes this clear in Ezekiel 34 when God through the prophet rails against pastors who ‘eat the curds, clothe themselves with the wool, and slaughter the choice sheep’ (v. 3).

No better description of the impact of clerical abuse: demonized consumers-in-collars who gobble up the innocent and leave them with gaping wounds and parts missing.

Abusers usher their prey into ‘the day of clouds and darkness’ (v. 12) where they become ‘food for all the wild animals’ (v. 5). Anyone abused by predatory priests becomes vulnerable to a host of moral, spiritual, and relational compromises. Other predators smell blood and discern the disorientation of those weakened by abuse. No wonder that a disproportionate number of adults who identify as LGBT+ have experienced sexual abuse as children. And now resist the Church as a healing community.

We as Christians must take seriously how clerical abuse and its cover-up have fueled alternate communities that celebrate sins against chastity. Their exotic sins sprout from our toxic soil. Look at Ireland—once the pride of European Catholicism. The recent exposure of the Irish Church’s grotesque, long concealed abuses have scattered the sheep there and empowered them in the last two years to vote in a ‘gay’ prime minister, ‘gay’ marriage, and abortion rights.

Unless and until we confess and renounce our self-protection (rather than victim protection), we limit our authority to call sinners to repentance. How can we champion chastity when our shepherds eat sheep and we fail to rout them on behalf of the consumed?

Ezekiel nails decisive action toward the shepherds and their collaborators. To those who knew and minimized the devastation, the prophet rebukes: ‘Woe to those shepherds who only take care of themselves! Should not the shepherds take care of the flock?’ (v.2)

Shepherds at the highest levels of the Catholic hierarchy need to do just what Ezekiel declared: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says, ‘I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I WILL REMOVE THEM FROM TENDING TO MY FLOCK SO THAT THE SHEPHERDS CAN NO LONGER FEED THEMSELVES. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them’ “(v. 10).

The application is obvious. Starting at the top with Pope Francis, a sword needs to be wielded that severs from the Church all priests who abused any person sexually, as well as any overseer (cardinals, archbishops, bishops and so on) who knew that sheep were being consumed and looked away. The faithful should tolerate nothing less. The scattering of sheep and rise of wickedness in our land demand nothing less.

The devoured can only be restored when the Church acknowledges her complicity with predators. The abused cannot heal while disintegrated shepherds roam the Church undisciplined! Inaction speaks louder than sweet apologies; it minimizes victim suffering and sustains an unsafe environment for all. We need to let go decisively in order to take up our mandate to bind up the wounded.

Only then will Ezekiel’s promise of restoration for the devoured be fulfilled. As members of Good Shepherd Jesus, we shall “search for the lost and bring back the strays; we shall bind up the injured, shepherding the flock with justice…No longer will wild animals devour them; they will live in safety and no one will make them afraid…they will no longer be victims of famine in the land or bear the scorn of the nation. ‘You my sheep, the sheep of My pasture, are people, and I am Your God’, declares the Sovereign Lord” (vs.16, 28-31).

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Seeds and Weeds

I heard the news in Ubon Thailand, during our first Living Waters Training there: 70 years of clerical abuse in Pennsylvania involving 300 priests, over 1000 of God’s beloved kids, and the Church’s systematic attempt to cover her tracks.

I knew the report was coming. Nothing prepped me for its magnitude. Jetlagged and restless at 2am, I read until I could not. In the gray light I recalled the night before when we as a delegation from 9 Asian nations renounced idolatry—our relentless self-preservation: we took a stand against constructing false religious personas that hid a multitude of sins. Beneath our robes, over half of us admitted that we as children had been sacrificed on the altars of adult perversion. Otherwise smiling Asians wept as Jesus washed us with His blood and water.

We gathered before the Cross where Divine Mercy met us in our misery. None of us are noble by human standards, most of us sinned grievously as we staggered into adulthood; all of us know now that Jesus considers us deep rich soil in which the Father of lights is supplanting seeds sown from the father of lies. Rooted in Him, we the weak are becoming strong, saplings destined to become oaks of justice. He is Jesus, after all. He acts as He wills with whom He wants. He chooses the least to shame those most inclined to preserve face and place.

I stammer to answer for churchmen who in decades past (today’s clergy is painfully aware of clerical abuse and mandated to root it out) sacrificed sons and daughters in the fire of lust (2K 17: 17, 31) then concealed their deaths. Predator priests and those who guard them are weeds that choke life and incur judgment. These are demon seeds sown among the good wheat of the Gospel. Jesus describes His Kingdom as nothing less–a harvest-to-be of righteousness challenged by deadly weeds. Jesus permits the mixture in preparation for the time that His angels ‘weed out of the Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil…’ (Matt. 13:41).

A Grand Jury report pales in contrast to the final judgment of the weeds and vindication of the trampled seeds. In the meantime, we must take seriously these gifts of judgment on God’s house and ask for them to be effective in crushing all vestiges of Christian idolatry.

More importantly, I urge you to invest liberally in sowing and tending to the good seed. And may we who have been crushed by sin and summoned by mercy know who we are! We are nothing less than ‘plantings of the Lord for the display of His splendor’ (IS 61:3), tiny seeds emerging into the tallest, strongest of trees that shall provide food, shelter, and healing for wounded ones (Matt. 13:31, 32).

Thank you my friends. As I fly home now from Ubon, I am reminded that your support of Desert Stream Ministries has sown seed and provided tools of growth for the saints in Thailand, Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, Korea, China, Singapore, the Philippines, and India. You free us for the fields. I praise God for you, His gift to the nations.

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Betrayal

For the last month, I have been sickened by reports of ex-Cardinal McCarrick’s long history of sexual abusing male teens and adults; more deadening still is his denial of the allegations (how so when a diocese settled a couple of these cases years earlier?). Most crucifying are reports that some leaders around him knew of his atrocities and turned a blind eye.

Each Christian bears the shame of this. Those aware of the devastating impact of sexual and spiritual abuse bear more. How could a religious system betray her most vulnerable over and over again? The Church’s structure lends itself to cohesion (for which I am grateful) and cover-up (for which we must become stubbornly intolerant).

Scripture guides me here. As the McCarrick allegations unfolded, I completed a Bible study on the Gospel of St. Mark with my children, using a commentary written by Dr. Mary Healy, a Catholic biblical scholar whom I esteem as one of the greatest gifts to the Church today. St. Mark is the leanest of the Gospels and thus fails to soften much of anything. His account of the events leading up to the crucifixion broke me; I shuddered as demonized men abused Jesus rapid fire, relentlessly. He suffered betrayal on every side, as if dark forces had captivated all men and made them violently stupid. On the cross, Jesus’ only words conveyed forsakenness (‘Where are You, Father?’), ending in a death cry.

Thank God for the cross, the Father’s inner logic that boomerangs wickedness into divine power and wisdom! Yet in St. Mark, even Christ Resurrected is hidden from witnesses who are either too dull or too afraid to believe the Risen Jesus at all. Mary Magdalene ‘gets’ Him but her report to the disciples falls on deaf ears and blind eyes. And this from the Gospel I most associate with spiritual power: St. Mark’s blazing witness of the Word confirmed by signs and wonders.

St. Mark reveals the cross as God’s strength, glory just waiting to shatter the husk of clueless men. If God truly works through human impotence, then we the Church have given Him a lot to work with—the ex-cardinal whose dazzling gifts obscured a predatory double life, dutiful men who doubted their guts and settled on hiding gangrene rather than amputating it. To quote Pope Benedict: ‘In the Church, Jesus entrusts Himself to those who betray Him again and again.’

Eloquent and true. Yet humanly-speaking, how are we to trust the Church now? We must grieve for persons abused by clerics who cannot help but gag at pics of McCarrick gazing effusively at Pope Francis. And what about the innocent clerics who fight for chastity and who urge us to integrate our own, priests now complicit in the eyes of the public who see ‘cover up’ in every Roman vestment? We must cry out for the abused who need justice, and for clergy who should not be maligned because of a cowardly few. And for the unbelieving world who needs to know that the Church is not a secret, self-protective refuge for perverse men who enjoy the theater of religion. Rather, she is a beautiful Mother, served by amazing Fathers.

Power in impotence—the cross, the gist of the Gospel, St. Mark’s especially. And that is what we are beholding as Pope Francis, with the help of friends, acts decisively and strongly to no longer tolerate clerical abuse. He is wielding the surgical knife, as evinced by the resignation of 34 Chilean bishops last month who participated in an extensive cover-up of ongoing abuse, and the conviction of an Australian Archbishop on similar grounds. Most resoundingly, Pope Francis stripped McCarrick of his cardinal status and removed him from public ministry. That is huge, a first, and needs to become standard practice for shepherds who eat sheep or look the other way while others do.

A trustworthy Church? Yes, when she verifies the truth of abuse, disciplines abusers, while making every effort to heal the abused and ensure the sexual integrity of her leaders. Strength at work in weakness: our faith is founded on nothing less. We’ve miles to go. Still, when lived in her members, the cross on which God was betrayed overcomes the sting and stink of this most intimate human betrayal.

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