Who's the homophobe?
Msgr. Swett has endured the most difficult experience in his 38 years as a priest, but it hasn't stopped him from fulminating, with the parish laity as his target:
Maybe I am naive; maybe Bishop Steinbock is naive. Perhaps we were both mistaken. We believed that St. Philip’s would be a welcoming and supportive community that would receive a fallen priest who sought help and now, wounded healer that he is, was ready to return to pastoral ministry.
Thus continues the bullying by Fresno diocesan clergy on behalf of Father Lastiri, longtime web-cruiser and aficionado of gay travel arrangements, who has, at last report, been given the 6-month tune-up and tire rotation at the St Luke Institute. Yes, Father Lastiri is the fallen priest "who sought help," but it bears mentioning that the help was sought a little after the fact.
Parishioners aren't satisfied with the service warranty from the St. Luke service, which the bishop in the green sports jacket is waving in front of them. These assurances from the clergy leave entirely unanswered the obvious question: Whether (in clergy-speak) the wounded healer's wounds are healed, or (in John Q. Public dialect) is the front end realigned, and can that frame be straightened? For most, the obvious question remains: "Doesn't that kind of crash total most cars?"
The failure of the laity to respond appropriately to the bishop's sales pitch drew another rebuff:
The fact that the Christian community can forgive sins and trust in the power of God to transform sinners into saints, the way God did for another sexual addict, St. Augustine, is a sign that we are people led not by fear, not by prejudice, not by a false righteousness, but by the Gospel and the good news of Jesus Christ, the good news of healing, liberation and freedom that it proclaims.
For the time being, the parishioners of St. Phillips will not be cowed by veiled insults of homophobia, and they evidently know, probably without benefit of having studied Augustine, that sex addiction just doesn't go away after a few months in psychiatric treatment facility. Fervent belief that a stint at any treatment center will convert a man with a life-long habit of cruising for gay pleasures, strains well past the breaking point of moral common sense. The faith requires that the Christian submit his mind and heart to real mysteries, not to moral nonsense.
Contrary to the condemnations by bishop and pastor, this is not a case of the laity's lack of compassion and forgiveness as mandated by Christ, nor is it, as they hint, a case of redneck homophobia.
In fact, we might add that this is really a case of clerical homo-phobia: Bishop Steinbock and others are guided by their fear of homosexuality or of homosexuals-- a fear of having to contend with the problems created by actively homosexual clerics. The homo-phobic clergy has made a truce with homosexuality in general and homosexuality of the clergy in particular. Now, blaming others for their own weakness, they are restless and short-tempered with a flock that hasn't accepted the same terms of surrender.
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Posted by: -
Jun. 17, 2005 12:56 PM ET USA
Fr. Lastiri's misdeeds are commonplace among the priesthood: an internet-trolling homosexual who steals from his flock. Usually, the bishops send someone like this into prison ministry. I'd rather the civil authorities send them to prison. By the way, I forgive Fr. Lastiri. I just don't want him posing as a priest.
Posted by: Ignacio177 -
Jun. 17, 2005 7:30 AM ET USA
Same sex attraction is a corruption of the passions. Homosexuality is a corruption of the will. Who in their right mind would trust someone with a corrupted will for: spiritual advice, sermons that lead to the sheep to green pastures, sound confessional practice? What parent in their right mind would let their son be alone with the pervert in a confessional? There is somthing to be said for congregationalism.
Posted by: Sterling -
Jun. 16, 2005 10:58 PM ET USA
St. Augustine was a sex addict? Was he sent to the St. Luke Institute? I'm looking at an icon of Augustine as I type this. His Byzantine features seem to say, "Give me a break!"
Posted by: -
Jun. 16, 2005 4:20 PM ET USA
Forgiveness (by the way when did Lastiri ask for forgivings and from whom did he ask it?) never, never ever meant forgeting, nor does it mean sloth and never demands that prudence be put aside. As I recall, Christ, who is perfect, will forgive all who ask for it but will still hold us accountable at the last judgement for the required Purgation. And if Lastiri is really rehabilitated, why not have him begin anew at the Bishop's cathedral and live in the Bishop's residence.
Posted by: benedictusoblatus -
Jun. 16, 2005 12:02 PM ET USA
It is right for Christians to forgive a penitent sinner. It is folly for them to then reintroduce the sinner into a situation that would put him and the faithful at risk. This is not a case of a want of charity, but a demand for prudence. Send the homo to a monastery, lock him up, throw away the key, and hope he eventually becomes a saint to his benefit and that of all the Church.
Posted by: -
Jun. 16, 2005 9:38 AM ET USA
The issue should not be one of forgiveness vel non, but of prudence. Is it prudent to place a fallen priest back in a parish setting so soon after completion of "treatment," the effects of which have yet to be proven. Prudence dictates that a priest with such proclivities prove his own fitness to return to the parochial ministry through a reasonable period of penance in a monastic setting.