Bishop to gays: "The church is your home"

It happened in Mexico.  Details, from CNS:

Celebrating Mass for participants in a diocesan-endorsed forum on sexual diversity, Bishop Raul Vera Lopez of Saltillo told gays and lesbians, “The church is your home.

“Jesus founded the church to bring in those on the outside, for those suffering exclusion and rejection … so that they find the love of God,” he said March 27.

Bishop Vera has made the inclusion of homosexuals in the Catholic Church a priority in his northern Mexican diocese, which has a reputation for championing human rights issues.

The Diocese of Saltillo recently held the “Fourth Sexual Diversity, Family and Religion Forum” and now sponsors a ministry for homosexuals that promotes the ideas of providing gays and lesbians with expanded legal protections and human rights — along with an expanded sense of dignity for individuals whose emergence from the margins of society has caused conflict for many Catholics.

Bishop Vera told Catholic News Service he objects to the mentality of love the sinner and hate the sin promoted by many Christians and the view that people are “homosexual by choice.”

“I can’t judge a gay person or a lesbian by their sexual preferences,” Bishop Vera said. “The most important thing for us is that they have legal protections. Period.”

He emphasized that gays will not marry in the Catholic Church and the sacrament of marriage is exclusively for heterosexual couples, even though he endorsed a 2007 law in Coahuila state — which includes his diocese — allowing same-sex civil unions.

Bishop Vera said the church needed to better address the issue of same-sex couples adopting children, too.

“How am I going to evangelize to these people who already have children in their care?” he asked.

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  • Tom

    Thumbs up to the Bishop.

  • George

    I don’t know why you deleted my comment, but here are some references for my assertion.

    1) During 1990, Rev. Thomas Crangle, a Franciscan priest in Passaic, N.J., mailed a survey to 500 randomly selected priests. Of the 398 responses, about 45% said that they were gay.

    2) Father Donald Cozzens, an author, psychologist, and Catholic seminary president says that there is such a high percentage of gay priests in the church that he is concerned that “the priesthood is or is becoming a gay profession.” In his book, “The Changing Face of the Priesthood,” — published in the year 2000 — he estimates that 50% of Roman Catholic priests have a homosexual orientation.

    3) During a press conference in Rome on April 24, 2002, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Wilton Gregory, was interviewed regarding the homosexual problem in the Catholic Church. In his own words he said: “…it is an ongoing struggle to make sure that the Catholic priesthood is not dominated by homosexual men” (Newsweek, May 6, 2002, p. 23).

    4) Fr. Donald Cozzens, former rector of St. Mary’s Seminary in Cleveland and author of The Changing Face of the Priesthood, puts the figure much higher (Donald B. Cozzens, The Changing Face of the Priesthood, p. 101f). Confirming these results are the inordinate numbers of Catholic priests dying of AIDS – a rate much higher than that of normal male population. An extensive survey by the Kansas City Star revealed that, “there are at least 400 known deaths of priests from AIDS, and probably twice that number — ranging from four times to eight times the rate in the general population.” Two thirds of the priests interviewed said they knew at least one priest who had died of AIDS, and one third knew at least one priest living with it (January 2000: poll of 800 priests, Wills, p. 193).

    [George: you asserted, without any attribution, that "most priests are gay." It's frankly irresponsible to make a sweeping statement like that. The numbers posted above are more helpful and, seemingly, more accurate. But they are also more than a decade old, and it's debatable whether their conclusions still hold up. But thank you for the clarification. Dcn. G.]

  • http://themightyambivalentcatholic.blogspot.com Steve

    George, those are interesting statistics you’ve posted, though I’ll confess I can’t see exactly how they are connected to the good bishop’s central message, which I take to be this — Jesus loves all of us, and the church needs to welcome all of God’s children, no exceptions.

    Maybe there are folks out there who would dispute what the bishop preached (the Westboro crowd would, no doubt), but as for me, I think I’ll embrace the idea that Jesus loves everyone and calls each of us to love one another without exception.

  • Deacon Kurt

    Amen to Bishop Vera, its about time we minister to all God’s children and not just those whom we choose as worthy.

  • Dev Thakur

    Thank you Bishop Vera. After all why burden those gays with the *entire* Gospel! Those silly gays and lesbians need no call to radical holiness … let’s just accept them so they come to Church. Leave holiness for the old Church ladies.

    Deacon Kurt, of course we should minister to all. And no one is “worthy” … but in what since is being completely indifferent to serious sin “ministering”?

  • diakonos09

    Thank you, Lord, for a bishop who is an icon of the Jesus we know from the Gospels, the same Brother and Savior and Companion to those deemed “unworthy” to be among God’s people by the religious authorities of his day.

  • RomCath

    “its about time we minister to all God’s children and not just those whom we choose as worthy.”

    The Church doesn’t minister to gays???????? I thought that is what the group called COURAGE was all about.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    The problem is that whereas Jesus protected the woman caught in adultery from violence. (In otherwords said love the sinner.) He finished by saying what everyone likes to forget: “Go! And sin no more.” (In other words–hate the sin and don’t do it any more).
    But that isn’t what many in the Gay Rights movement are pushing. They seem to be doing everything possible to brainwash society into approving the sin they are embracing and promoting.
    And telling people that ANY grave sinful act is somehow acceptable — using psychology as an excuse. (The media has ignored it, but the gene excuse no longer holds water.)
    Lieing to ANY person about the sinfulness of an act is NOT ministry. It is what it is–a lie. And using lies to counsel people is a sin in and of itself.

  • Mary M

    Bishop Vera should be reprimanded on the position he has taken. Deacon John, I commend you for your post.

  • diakonos09

    Why do people assume that when someone identifies himself as gay or homosexual it means that he is sexually active? And why would you assume that a gay couple living together are necessarily sexual active? I happen to know two such couples who live as roomates in chaste friendship. It’s hard for a gay person to have a roomate who isn’t gay and who would be someone who could understand his issues, struggles and frustrations. We all need good close friends. Unless someone – individual or couple -discloses the nature of his/their sex life I think to assume such is happening is rash judgment.

  • http://ConvertJournal.com George @ Convert Journal

    Cutting to the chase, two questions for Bishop Vera: are homosexual acts mortal sins and if they are, will he clearly teach this?

    Souls are at stake so I hope the answers are yes and yes.

  • pagansister

    “—-the greatest of these is love”. Bishop Vera is following what that statement says. Good news indeed.

  • carmen

    I agree with Deacon John, Jesus forgave the adulterous women her sin but he told her not to sin no more, that is the part that a lot of people forget or choose to forget.

  • Rosemary Shillue

    RomCath is correct. COURAGE is a 30 year old ministry that very successfully ministers to gays. Father Harvey (R.I.P) brought Courage to Mexico many years ago.

  • Barbara Peters

    Actually we don’t know what sin Jesus forgave the woman for. She was accused of adultery but do we know whether she was truly guilty? No one stepped forward to condemn her – could it be that those men couldn’t condemn her because they were lying and thus were not without sin? God Bless Bishop Vera. And since none of us are without sin, no one should be condemning our gay brothers and sisters. Jesus ate with sinners and died for all of us knowing that we are imperfect.

  • Mike

    Souls are at stake so I hope the answers are yes and yes.

    You’re right: souls are at stake, and those who answer as you do are in the most peril, for the teaching of the Catholic Church about homosexuality is perverse and evil.

  • Greta

    SAD and one of the reason so many are confused in the Church. Dissent from Church teaching is allowed even on matters which the Pope and Magesterium have spoken such as marriage between one man and one woman open to God. Pope John Paul II gave us Theology of the Body and it clearly explains that we need to all sacrifice and to become less so that Christ can be more within us. God created man and woman. We are all sinners with our own weakness. What makes the homosexual attraction weakness one to be made normal rather than all the other serious sins? Yes, we welcome sinners because it welcomes all of us, but we also need to hear truth so as to overcome our weaknesses. The church should end all major sin according to the liberals and end the need for the sacrament of reconcilliation. God loves us and that is all we need to have in our lives. Bring on the guitars and liturgical dance for we have been saved and sin no longer matters. Eat till you puke and gain 500 pounds because God loves every inch of you. Lust after everything and let it consume your life in porn and adultery. Jesus loves you. Lie, cheat, and steal babe. God loves you to. We have to do nothing, sacrifice nothing, pick up no cross. Welcome home, God loves you. Send your mom and dad off to some horrible old folks home and forget them. They should have prepared their lives better and stopped wasting all their money raising and caring for you..welcome home.

    Is there grave sin in this Bishops view at all? I bet it might be around things like failure to support big government programs for social justice or supporting that evil rich loving Republican Party. And you just know that social justice far outweighs the murder of infants. Why yes, if you are a political hack that votes for abortion in every way,,,,welcome home, Jesus loves you and we have a special mass lined up for you when you leave this world because we know you cared about the poor even as you helped bring about the worlds largest holocaust of all time…Welcome home. we have that dance move just for you…

  • diakonos09

    I didn’t see where it says that the bishop is approving of homosexual sex acts but I did read that he is talking about various human and civil rights issues. I also read where he restates Church teaching regarding marriage and heterosexuality as the marriage requirement.

    As for Jesus rightly telling the woman caught in dultery to sin no more…wouldn’t he say that to all of us no matter what our sinful tendencies might be? The gossip is not to gossip any more; the greedy not to lust for possessions any more, etc? Does this mean that we must eject anyone from our churches who continues to fall into their tendency to gossip, to lie, to cheat, to lust in their heart, to judge their neighbor as only God can do? etc

    If this is the case then only the most canonizable among us should be active and present in the parish for we all sin, repent, sin, repent…I bet that this perfect parish would be one heck of a small community…if it would even exist at all.

  • Joe

    “I can’t judge a gay person or a lesbian by their sexual preferences,”– nor should anyone but that’s from where they (the gay political activitist) take their primary identity. When asked, does anyone say first their nationality anymore? their political party preferences ? Its been (of late) one’s sexual orientation. The Catechism doesnt “condemn” the sinner but the sin. Sure, the church is home for those who label themselves as gay as well as hetero, metro, bi, whatever. Its the actions and they way one lives is the key. Take the sexual orienation out of the picture and what do you have ?

  • RomCath

    “Actually we don’t know what sin Jesus forgave the woman for. She was accused of adultery ”

    I think the Gospel says she was caught in the act. Never heard anyone doubt that she had committed adultery.

  • Barbara Peters

    Her accusers said she was caught in the act. Yet none came forward to condemn her – not one stood by the story when challenged. Perhaps we have all just assumed she was guilty? Jesus never said she committed adultery but we have been part of the crowd that falsely accuses her. We have been stoning her for centuries with no proof. Is our tendency to rush to judge and accuse others part of this Gospel story that needs further reflection? Maybe we should think of this before we all rush to accuse others of sin.

  • Sal

    So… if no one can say anything is a sin b/c we all sin, and we ‘shouldn’t judge’,
    where does that leave catechetics? Or being an accessory to another’s sin by silence? Or reporting crimes?
    You see where I’m going with this.

    And like Greta, I’m getting a little tired of ‘bishopspeak’.

  • diakonos09

    Sal – admitting we all sin is NOT saying we cannot say anyone sins nor point out what is good/evil behavior. It’s called allowing God to be the judge for ONLY he knows the raw material and intentions of a person’s actions. It’s called fulfilling our Christian mission of making judgment upon objective actions and not upon those who engage in them. AND it is called a Christian spirit in which a person sees clearly that he is a sinner, that he has a log in his eye and so should not think he is some mini-savior called to take a splinter out of another’s eye (Jesus’ words not mine).

    Joe – I think the reason sexual orientation was used as an identifier here is that this is what the discrimination is based on: denial of civil rights BECAUSE of their orientation. Also, not every gay person is a supporter of the militant (minority but very vocal) gay rights political movement.

  • Sal

    Still… how do you know that’s not what we’re doing? Simply pointing out that the Church teaches X, but the bishop, politician, priest, catechist is teaching not-X? And we’d like to know why that is.

    Sometimes there’s a good answer- more often, there’s not.
    But there seems to be a lot of conclusion-jumping in comments these days that any criticism is un-Christian “judging”.

  • IKE

    Deacon John,
    She was caught in the act of adultry.
    Next question: Where was the man?

  • naturgesetz

    I see nothing in what is reported about what the bishop says that is in any way contradictory to the teaching of the Church.

    I think it is safe to say that virtually every adult Catholic knows that the Church teaches that homosexual sexual activity is morally wrong. (Far fewer know of the immorality of detraction or rash judgment.) What many, both gay and straight, don’t know is that the Church proclaims that 1.) God loves gay people (just as he loves everybody else), 2.) gay people are not excluded from the Church, 3.) gay people are entitled to respect as human beings, including full civil rights (which, as the bishop agrees, does not mean same-sex “marriage”).

    Our religious education programs must clearly present the Church’s teachings about all aspects of morality. But for those who have already heard that teaching, what is more important than telling them what they already know is to tell them what they may not realize. This does not mean that anyone should deny that gay sex is immoral, just that in general, we can take it for granted that people already know that is the teaching.

  • Deacon Greg Kandra

    naturgesetz…

    Good points. Thank you. I’ve lost track of the number of times people have stated on my blog, “The Catholic Church hates gays,” and said as much simply because it doesn’t condone their behavior. Guess what: it doesn’t condone similar behavior among straight people, either. The catechism makes clear that homosexuals are to be respected and treated with charity. The church is indeed their home, as it is for all the rest of us miserable sinners, too…

    Dcn. G.

  • Greta

    The issue with gays is that they have by and large rejected the teaching of the Church of love the sinner and detest the sin. That is a fact and one that has seen the rainbow rallies forcing thier way into masses to make their political point of openly gay and proud of the act and that they deman equality based on that open sin. Thus when a Bishop does what this one does clearly emphasizing the love of the person while not making clear that they cannot be in the state of grace when openly living in defiance of Church teaching.

    The failure of the bishops to point out the teaching loudly and clearly on all sin, is that we have grown to a place with many Catholics where sin and satan are not real any more than the Eucharist is the real Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ. Does anyone here believe that all those who present themselves for the Eucharist are in the State of Grace? Yet most run up and in taking the Eucharist are committing a very serious sin. By lowering the standards, we have left many souls drift away from God with shattered souls. Why bother to have a Cathecism and lay out grave sin and the need to only approach the Eucharist in the state of grace and that we must be at Mass every sunday and holy day of obligation or sin again and that we must go to the sacrament of reconcilliation at a very minimum of once a year and do so with a well formed conscience. Every one of these failings seperate us from Christ and by not making certain we hear this from our Bishops, we get things like this Bishop is pouring out which is dangerous to the soul.

    Yes, we have Good News, but it does not come cheap. It requires us to form a solid conscience and to know the teaching of the Church in their authentic wonder. Jesus said that heaven is only found on the narrow path, not the wide highway of putting butts in the seats with only part of the story. I would have no issue of this Bishop welcoming in the Gay sinner or any other, but make sure they know that their answer is not to expect the church to change its teaching or their requirement to lead a celebate life to find grace and mercy. It also welcomes them in if they clearly intend to lead that type of life and fail occasionaly for this is indeed where love and repentence and reconcilliation are found…the Good News. But they are not welcome if their intent is to destroy the teaching of the church or normalize that sin. Jesus chased the money changers out of the temple because they did not understand and agree that it was a place of God and His Laws. He gives us these laws not to be mean, but to help us find eternal life with him in love. The parent of a drug addict does not welcome them home and provide them with drugs that will destroy them. The parent in trying to be loving does not allow the child to run onto a dangerious street. That is not love and trying to allow gays to taste love that is cheap and does not bring them back to Christ and away from grave sins is no different that giving drugs to the addict.

    I hate it when we point out church teaching and are attacked with those who are pushing cheap grace and lies. I want a church to remind me of the hard road and that includes my weaknesses and sins and the path to salvation with the cross I must take up. In days long ago, we may have had too much emphasis on sin and damnation and not enough on the Good News. But providing Good News that is without truth is at least as equally bad. If the Church does not bring the hard truths in our society, who will?

    And yes deacon, when we preach the truth, many gays will not accept that as love for to them love is perverted and demands that we say the act is normal and equal and not sinful. Jesus gave us the hard truths and many walked away. But what should he have done, run after them and given a more liberal truth? I did not mean you actually have to stop doing that or that you really had to eat my Body and Drink my Blood. If that bothers you, you are welcome and you can think of it as strickly symbplism and of course we will not point out anything that makes you feel unwelcome in our home. Having raised 7 children who are all still in the Church and know its teaching and the narrow road, I know first hand that this did not come by making them feel welcome when they were going astray. I love the fact that they are now teaching my 22 grandchildren the actual teaching of the Church. If we only had strong bishops who gave us real love and not the cheap version of grace where souls are lost to Christ.

  • pagansister

    Greta, are you saying that those who are children of God and created by Him/Her shouldn’t be brought into the love of the RCC because they love someone of the same gender? Doesn’t your church talk about love? The bishop in the article is truly displaying that love—not condemning those who love a same gender person. How in the world can it be sinful to love? It’s not. True love is never sinful. There is more to love than the physical act. You have strong beliefs, yes and that is a good thing, but there is room for interpretation and apparently the above bishop has found that.

  • Felix

    Greta, you got it absolutely right. I can see how the evil one worms his way in every chance he gets. We open the door when we try and justify our actions. reconciliation is good but meaningless without total commitment


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