Who's the homophobe?
By Diogenes ( articles ) | Jun 16, 2005
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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