Honest questions deserve honest answers.
For twenty-five years I have built a reputation as an international scholar[i] and as an innovative teacher[ii] dedicated to the formation of future ordained and lay ministers in the Catholic Church. During this time, I made regular contacts with anguished individuals who poured out their grief and despair to me:
I heard the anguish of a seminarian who fears that he might be gay. I heard the anguish of a mother who pleads with her son to give up his homosexual way of life and to save his immortal soul from hellfire. I heard the anguish of a wife who has confessed to her husband that she is unable to love him with the passion he deserves because she recognizes that her passionate love is reserved for another woman. I heard the anguish of a dedicated teacher who has been trapped into signing the archbishop’s teaching contract that binds her never to support same-sex unions when she knows full well that she cannot withdraw, by even a hair’s breadth, her devotion to her dear brother who happens to be engaged to marry a man who is his lover.
As I was writing my book, the American Catholic bishops were openly declaring that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling of 16 June 2015 did not change their minds and that God’s Law trumps human law. Since then a vocal minority of bishops has been zealously orchestrating a campaign to shame and marginalize any Catholic who supports or who enters into a same-sex union. In this campaign, hundreds of Protestant ministers have shown themselves to be fervent allies.
Teachers are fired in my archdiocese for supporting youths who come out as gays or lesbians. Lesbian couples in my parish who are active contributors to parish activities live in fear that their pastor will find out and that their ministries and/or their right to take Communion at the Sunday worship might be withdrawn. A gay Catholic suffering from a heart attack was denied the last rites by a self-righteous hospital chaplain because he “refused to repent of his lifelong homosexuality.”
When Pope Francis extends a warm welcome to those who are in same-sex unions, he has been sharply criticized. Four cardinals have even been so bold as to claim that Pope Francis is acting “heretically” and that he should do the honorable thing by retiring in shame. Entire websites are devoted to denouncing our current pope[iii] on the basis of his “unlawful conduct” and his “rash ideas.” In their minds, Pope Francis has gone soft on sinners and their zeal for God’s law knows no bounds.
So what would Jesus say and do regarding same-sex unions? That is the $64,000 question that my book wishes to resolve.
[ii] For insights into my innovative teaching, go to http://188.8.131.52/PDFs/2012_progress_report_r.pdf and http://184.108.40.206/CVall.htm.
[iii] To understand why some cardinals and bishops have accused Pope Francis of heresy, go to http://www.supportpopefrancis.com/