Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview


By Diogenes ( articles ) | Nov 03, 2003

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OK, the Episcopalians have consecrated an openly gay bishop, and people on both sides of the issue are claiming the ceremony to be the most momentous event in the history of the Anglican communion, etc.

It isn't.

Media coverage apart, what's the theological difference between the claim that God is pleased with sodomy in a bishop and the claim that God is pleased by sodomy in a priest (a Rubicon crossed some years ago by ECUSA)? Pleased by sodomy in a communicant layman? Pleased by sodomy in a schoolboy at Eton? The point is that the only important pass was already sold years ago -- when the C of E hesitated about whether, in certain circumstances, homosexual gratification might not be a sin -- and what we're now watching is simply a mopping-up exercise in the culture wars.

Newman pointed out that, in the eyes of the Catholic Church, the whole of human civilization is less important than the commission of a single venial sin. Her bishops might themselves be exceptionally wicked persons, but she cannot teach that God wills us to sin. Were the Church to make her peace with a sin -- any sin, no matter how seemingly trivial -- she would in that same instant cease to be the Church.

Gays understand this, at least intuitively. That's why it's so desperately important for men like Bishop Kevin Dowling to persuade the Church to allow condoms. Yes, yes, his concern is for illiterate married couples in sub-Saharan Africa who might transmit AIDS to one another and to their children -- his best shot is to find the most extreme, over-conditioned case in order to get the single exception he wants. Because philosophically speaking all he needs is to travel that 40 microns (or whatever the thickness of a condom is) and he has it made. Were the Church to say Yes to Dowling's proposal, she would have erected a moral partition between sexual coition and potential fecundity, and -- bingo! Gene Robinson's in the Chair of Peter. The intermediate steps may take years to eventuate, but are of zero philosophical consequence.

The same war is being fought on the same-sex marriage front by pro-gay agitators like Fr. James Keenan, S.J. Here the game is to get the Church to acknowledge the validity of sodomitical relationships under the rubric of non-traditional households. There's lot more ambiguity in this arena (even a convent of Poor Clares is a "same-sex domicile" in one sense) and gays have used the murky legal language to score some victories in the civil sphere. Yet it's no accident that Keenan was in on that put-up job in America magazine a couple years ago, where they pretended to find evidence in Osservatore Romano that the Holy See was changing its mind on condoms -- the Vatican flatly denied the suggestion, of course, but the damage was done. These boys have learned how to beat the drums in the hearing of an overwhelmingly sympathetic media: "The Church is letting babies die in Africa! The Church wants children to be deprived of benefits in Medford!" Many bishops are terrified by this kind of agitation, and are more than willing to sell Catholic doctrine short in order to buy themselves good press.

It's an effective game, and the pros are experts at it. Ask Gene Robinson, D.D.

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