Be gentle, bishop pleads

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jul 01, 2005

"If the trumpet give an uncertain sound," asks St. Paul (1 Cor 14:8), "who shall prepare himself for battle?" After Canada's approval of same-sex marriage, when Catholics might expect a clear summons to the ramparts from their bishops, they get ... this:

Bishop Fred Colli of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Thunder Bay said he doesn't disapprove of gays and lesbians being in loving relationships. But he is concerned about what it could mean for the future of the church if they have the right to marry, even though the law wouldn't force churches to perform same-sex marriages. "You never can tell what kind of securities do exist today," he said. "A judge can decide that the laws are not right."


Let's try to drive a stake through the heart of the "loving relationship" ruse. Say a secretary falls in love with her married boss. If, in addition to the promptings of eros, she also truly loves him, she wants what is objectively best for him. If she wants what is best for him, she will not endanger his salvation, which means she will not imperil his marriage commitments, which means she will not even consider a romantic --much less a sexual -- relationship with him. Her love for him requires non-consummation, period. A tough course, but the only one consistent with charity. Anything else would point, not to love, but to self-deception and self-gratification at the expense of what was really the best for the other.

By the same token, if a person really loves someone of the same sex, the desire that the beloved attain what is objectively best demands chastity of both. There is no such thing as same-sex "loving relationships" where the word "relationship" is understood -- as it almost universally is today -- to include sexual activity.

It goes without saying that it's cold comfort to a person besottedly enamored of another to point out that, while their eros will never find satisfaction, chastity demonstrates a more profound and genuine love. At the time, it sounds both idiotic and cruel. That's why such persons need all the help they can get, especially from the Church, and especially in terms of clear, unbending, and absolute moral norms. Perhaps we can't blame a bishop for not wanting to appear callous and doctrinaire. But he should lavish his compassion on those unfortunates who, against the odds, struggle to remain chaste and true to themselves, rather than bestowing smiles on "loving relationships" that lead to degradation and, if unrepented, to hell.

What does he think he was given a crosier for?

Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 11 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Jul. 05, 2005 8:21 AM ET USA

    No one gets through this life without a cross to bear. Indulging in mortal sin pretty much removes one's chance at eternal happiness. If one indulges in homosexual sex for happiness, one has sold his precious soul for the most fleeting of pleasures and lost any chance at deep and lasting happiness. Far better to deny your pleasures on Earth, than suffer eternity in Hell. Oops, did I sound judgemental?

  • Posted by: - Jul. 04, 2005 8:15 PM ET USA

    It is unfortunate that the analogy of the secretary who falls in love with her boss is a false one unless, she can only truly love married men, which is silly. Once she distances herself from her forbidden desires, there is a chance she can find happiness with an available guy. Gay men are to remain celibate, but not enter seminaries. Is it acceptable for a man to marry and have sex with a woman past child bearing age? They might only be uniting for love and physical union. Shameful!

  • Posted by: Eleazar - Jul. 03, 2005 1:53 PM ET USA

    Part of the problem is that neither reason nor natural law are taught in our schools and most certainly not in the American Catholic Church. As a result, people don’t know how to construct an argument and they certainly can’t spot a flawed or weak argument, when one is presented. A second problem, of which the bishop’s statement is certainly an excellent example, is a general lack of courage. People, especially when faced with moral questions, will avoid confrontation at all costs.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 03, 2005 3:21 AM ET USA

    Verum res... oh :-0 I misunderstood what the commentary was supposed to be about. Please excuse me for being clueless, but I thought that Bishop Colli's remarks were OK and pleasantly pastoral. I suspect (just my impression) that bishops and priests who make harsh statements would drive away people who are on the edges of the Church. Hard to make someone to heed statements about mortal sin and Hell when the person who is in danger of Hell does not believe in mortal sin or Hell's existence.

  • Posted by: Fr. William - Jul. 02, 2005 11:10 PM ET USA

    n.b.: I recently read that 85 percent of Canadians were AGAINST this vote by parliament. They are NOT being represented by their own government. As for Bishop Colli, he needs to read the Catechism & maybe we might draw him a picture of "loving relationships" involving two men or two women. Or, better yet, since he is a successor to the Apostles, let's pray for Canon 401-2 to be invoked, for Bp. Colli is leading people away from the Truth... Saint Josemaria Escriva, pray for us.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 02, 2005 3:28 AM ET USA

    Pier Giorgio, thanks for the point about Spain. My public school education implied that if a "majority rules contrary to reason & the natural law", then the majority prevails nevertheless. I suspect such a thing might happen even in the US — but I have lived my entire life in SoCA, which is a world unto itself :-) When a majority rules contrary to reason (as defined by the Church) and natural law, the best thing to do is to change the minds of the majority, one by one, as gently as possible.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 01, 2005 8:31 PM ET USA

    Diamantina, I think you've missed the point. The post has nothing to do with secular democracies, but with the behavior to be expected of a Catholic bishop. As for the bishop's crosier, perhaps we can use it to drag him off-stage.

  • Posted by: visions - Jul. 01, 2005 5:20 PM ET USA

    Bishop Colli should read The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis. Perhaps the question of gay marriage may be a little clearer.

  • Posted by: Vincit omnia amor - Jul. 01, 2005 5:11 PM ET USA

    Diamantina, don't know about Canada, but if Spain were a strick democracy then the whole homosexual pseudo-marriage thing would not have even been brought up. The vast majority of Spanairds are against such an abomination. There's more that could be said re: your view of a democracy...unfortunately it sounds conditioned by the secular forces, etc. Heaven forbid that majority rules contrary to reason & the natural law! (which, at least in our Republic, theoretically, shouldn't happen BUT...)

  • Posted by: - Jul. 01, 2005 4:27 PM ET USA

    Actually, I expect Bishops to be doctinaire especially when discussing areas where the Church has established doctrines. Otherwise, why bother -- with Bishops that is?

  • Posted by: - Jul. 01, 2005 1:57 PM ET USA

    It is ridiculous to expect secular democracies (Spain, Canada, etc.) to follow the moral norms of the Catholic Church when their citizens believe that the Church is wrong-minded. Democracies are majority-ruled, even when the majority disagrees with the Church. Millions of people believe that adults who abstain from genital sex are masochistic; that "loving relationships" can never be degrading; and that there is no Hell after this life. To change the laws, change citizens' minds. Good luck