hearing voices

By Diogenes (articles ) | Dec 31, 2005

The Springfield (MA) Republican is reporting that only 20% of the priests in the Springfield Diocese (31 out of 154) signed a petition aimed at amending the state constitution so as to eliminate same-sex marriage.

Larry Cirignano of Catholic Citizenship, which helped organize the petition drive, was at a loss to explain the low percentage of [clergy] signatures.

I can't share your confoundment here, Larry. One out of five is a predictable score among Blue State Catholics -- lay or ordained -- when we're talking about a public stand in which Church teaching is at odds with popular sentiment. The Massachusetts bishops supported the petition, true, but with the same pistol-to-the-forehead sincerity you hear in the PSA at the end of game-day beer commercials: "Anheuser-Busch reminds you to drink responsibly." Right. And Massachusetts clergy have contributed about as much to the protection of family life as Anheuser-Busch has contributed to campus sobriety. (You'll have noticed that Fr. James Aquino and his chum Msgr. Piermarini got their pencils stuck in their shoes along with their driver's licenses, and weren't able to sign the petition either.)

Among that 80% of non-signatory clergy, I suspect 20% are in sympathy with the petition, but gutless. Most, however, though they sometimes agree with the Church, have long ago ceased to be taught by her. Taking their moral bearings from the sentimentalisms currently prized by the "aristocracy of feeling," they can see nothing particularly noble about the Church's view of marriage and nothing amiss in including gays therein.

Unsurprisingly absent from the signatories of the Massachusetts petition are the staff of Boston's Jesuit Urban Center, the parish famously celebrated by Boston Magazine as the "Best Place to Meet a Gay Mate," and effectively a staging area for assaults against Church teaching on sexual issues. On the Feast of Christ the King past, the pastor urged his flock to greater efforts at ignoring the Holy See:

I have sensed with sadness how for some in our own community being valued and respected by church authorities has loomed so large recently and caused so much pain and anger. ... That makes me sad as your pastor. Because I believe that any of us can only been really be hurt deeply by someone to whom we have given permission to hurt us. If you pay attention only to the voices that seem to misunderstand or even revile you, and you give those voices permission to get inside, to get under your skin and into your soul, then those voices can and will hurt you deeply. But there is a choice here; you don't have to let those voices in.

I practically begged you a few weeks ago not to let Boston Globe headlines set the terms of engagement for your faith. That is crazy and finally self-destructive. I begged you not to let Vatican documents perturb you unnecessarily -- even those already released let alone those still unpublished. That is equally crazy and self-destructive. You have to give them permission to hurt you!

Get the impression that there are a lot of young families crowding Sunday Mass at the JUC? Neither do I.

And, besides, there are alternative voices to listen to. The British, gay, theologian James Alison has been begging audiences for several years now not to let anyone else set the agenda by provoking your anger; that's exactly what they want. The legendary John McNeil has been urging the same calm and equanimity; John goes so far as to say he is delighted by recent strange and repressive Vatican statements on gay seminarians. He says it shows clearly the "last gasp" of an outmoded system and it will surely usher-in and accelerate a new era of the Holy Spirit, where people choose to listen to the voice of God, and not too many others. John's conviction remains strong: God is very shrewd in all this. Trust God. And I will add today: listen to God -- again.

The Society of Jesus is especially well-placed to help Larry Cirignano of Catholic Citizenship explain the paucity of clergy signatures on a pro-family document. "Look at it this way, Larry: you are the enemy, you and the Church you serve. And every day you keep us in our jobs is one more day we'll be working to knee-cap you and bring your project to calamity. Who needs a Church, after all, when there are alternative voices to listen to?"

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Show 9 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Jan. 03, 2006 8:13 AM ET USA

    The priests at my SW Ohio parish often state from the pulpit that we Catholics need to be countercultural even to the point of being politically incorrect. Tolerance does not equal acceptance. As for Pope Benedict, he has been pope for what, a little less than 8 months? I am sure he needs time to sort the wheat from the chaff before acting decisively and this recent document ("DDD") is a shot across the bow of the Good Ship Lollipop.

  • Posted by: Fr. William - Jan. 02, 2006 3:52 PM ET USA

    Such priests as the ones you've cited, Diogenes, do not have the moral courage or integrity to face that fact that they are, by their own words/lifestyle, no longer Roman Catholics. I pray for their conversion, the virtue of humility, the virtue of obedience to the Holy Father, the Church, the Magisterium. AND I PRAY that some religious superior &/or bishop remove them from their assignments to minimize the damage that they're doing to the Church/faithful. Sts. Basil & Gregory, pray for us!

  • Posted by: - Jan. 01, 2006 10:55 AM ET USA

    So sad; so true.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 01, 2006 6:10 AM ET USA

    From Dio's link: the priest: "I know many contemporary people are offended by the image of a King. Kings do not exemplify the kind of power most of us like. And the image is, for some, clearly sexist, patriarchal, and outmoded. But if you insist on getting stuck in the image, my word to you today is: get over it! As I said to you last year, some in our community have much *more experience with queens than kings*; if that helps you, change the image." Will no bishop act to stop this?

  • Posted by: - Dec. 31, 2005 10:36 PM ET USA

    There was a time when responsible bishops - and even/especially the Pope - would have left no stone unturned to convert these people. Until Truth again reigns supreme over sentiment, souls will continue to ignore the Church to their eternal peril. Truth once held first place, for the most part. The hierarchy blinked, "reform" occurred, and the Church finds herself nearly dead throughout Europe and most of the United States. And I dare say, souls are falling like rain into hell.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 31, 2005 10:32 PM ET USA

    Despite Fr. Loftus' words, he isn't anybody's pastor, as the JUC isn't a parish. Maybe some of these non-parish communities (e.g., the JUC and the Paulist Center) should be "reconfigured".

  • Posted by: - Dec. 31, 2005 8:51 PM ET USA

    The war drums are beginning to throb in the Orc camp. Those are the alternative voices.

  • Posted by: - Dec. 31, 2005 4:31 PM ET USA

    Why is the Jesuit Urban Center still open, since it is in open opposition to the Church's teachings and pray tell what is a "gay theologian"?

  • Posted by: - Dec. 31, 2005 2:01 PM ET USA

    "Information about petition signers was gathered from the Web site of the pro-gay marriage organization, knowthyneighbor.org." This could have something to do with it...intimidation. I'm wondering just when the Pope is going to live up to his "conservative" reputation? The Church can only blame itself for allowing this sort of dissent and betrayal. At what point does Benedict have an obligation to protect his flock from predators whose aim is to bring down the Church by corrupting from within?