Father “No communion for you!” not the whole story

By now you’ve likely heard the story of how this past Saturday morning, at Saint John Neumann Catholic Church in Maryland, Barbara Johnson was denied holy communion by the priest officiating at the funeral of her beloved mother.

At the crucial, deeply personal moment in the Mass when Barbara, a life-long Catholic, expected Father Marcel Guarnizo to utter “the body of Christ” as he offered her the communal host, Fr. Marcel instead covered with his hand the communal bowl, and offered Barbara a quick lecture on why she is an abomination before God.

“I cannot give you communion,” he said, “because you live with a woman. And that is a sin according to the church.”

Fr. Marcel was made aware that Barbara is gay when she and her partner of nineteen years met with him that morning well before the service began. It was his ecclesiastic responsibility to at that meeting offer to take Barbara’s confession and then grant her absolution; this would have allowed him to then in good conscience later offer her communion. And Barbara would have certainly been pleased to do a confession with Fr. Guarnizo.

“Obviously, I don’t think being gay is a sin,” she told me. “But this wasn’t about me. This was about about my wonderful mother having the beautiful funeral that she deserved. So yes, I would have let Father Marcel grant me absolution.”

But Fr. Marcel failed to offer Barbara that rite.

Strike one.

Then he denied Barbara communion.

Strike two.

Then, at the moment Barbara began delivering her mother’s eulogy, he made a point of rising from his seat and walking off the alter.

Strike three.

Then, after the funeral service, Father Knows Worst hid in his chambers, and after fifteen minutes sent out word that he would not be accompanying the grieving party to the cemetery, leaving no one to properly bury Barbara’s mother, a life-long devout Catholic.

Yikes, man. Could this guy be more of a disaster?

I spoke with Barbara on the phone the day before this story hit. She is an intelligent, kind, sensitive woman. She was extremely close to her mother, who fully accepted and loved Barbara’s partner as if she were another daughter.

Barbara and her brothers, all raised deeply Catholic, are still reeling by what Fr. Marcel did at the funeral.

And the Internet, of course, was on this story like Brylcreeem on the head of Fr. Guarnizo:

The story of what happened at the funeral of Mrs. Johnson is tailor-made for people eager to prove that religion or Catholicism is evil. It’s like a 10-pound steak thrown into a dog pound.

And if you know me, you know I don’t exactly have a problem with denouncing aspects of religion and/or theology that in any way promulgate the condemnation of LGBT people. If the steak is right, I’m happy to belly right up with the other dogs.

But there’s meat on this steak upon which so far no one’s been chewing. (Wow. Best metaphor ever!) And that meat is this: While there’s no question but that Father No communion for you! picked a spectacularly horrendous time to bare his bigoted fangs, he is also the sole villainous Catholic in a story starring a great many Catholic heroes.

Yes, Fr. Guarnizo denied Barbara communion. But almost immediately thereafter a layperson acting as the service’s Eucharistic Minister did lovingly serve Barbara communion.

Yes, Fr. Guarnizo essentially shunned Barbara. But directly following the service (and to a necessarily lesser degree during the service), Barbara was also surrounded and hugged by fellow Catholics who made a point of telling her that Fr. Marcel in no way represented the love of the Church.

Yes, Fr. Guarnizo shamelessly refused to go to the cemetery. But immediately thereupon the funeral director (“an angel,” says Barbara) comforted Barbara with assurances that he would quickly secure a priest to perform the burial. He then turned to Fr. Peter Sweeney, who wasted no time at all stepping right out of his retirement, and right into the Johnson funeral service.

“Father Sweeney was perfect,” says Barbara. “We couldn’t have asked for a kinder, more loving priest. Both Father Sweeney and the funeral director acted as soothing balms on our very scarred hearts.”

When the head of Saint John Neumann’s, Fr. LaHood, was made aware of what had happened at the Johnson funeral, he phoned Barbara to apologize. Barbara played for me Fr. LaHood’s message. It left nothing on the table: his apology was sincere, obviously heartfelt, and accompanied by every last means to reach him, including his personal cell and home phone number.

After Barbara later met with Fr. LaHood, she reported that, “He was very kind, compassionate, and apologetic.”

Even the Archdiocese of Washington rushed to repudiate Fr. Guarnizo’s actions, via this statement released Monday:

In matters of faith and morals, the Church has the responsibility of teaching and of bringing the light of the Gospel message to the circumstances of our day. When questions arise about whether or not an individual should present themselves for communion, it is not the policy of the Archdiocese of Washington to publicly reprimand the person. Any issues regarding the suitability of an individual to receive communion should be addressed by the priest with that person in a private, pastoral setting.

The archdiocese is looking into the incident at a funeral Mass that was celebrated by Fr. Marcel Guarnizo and will handle this as a personnel issue.

What else could they have said so early on? They’re looking into it. That’s only fair.

“Before we will feel resolution,” Barbara told me, “my family wants a public apology from Father Marcel, and to see him removed from parish life. Our purpose is that he never be allowed to harm another family in this way again.”

Again: fair enough.

And in our thinking about this we of course also want to be fair. So then let us not fail to appreciate that in this matter, for this family, on this hallowed occasion, it was their religion, and their fellow adherents to that religion, that provided the peace, succor, and communion that served to bless all present. Fr. Guarnizo’s hatred of some people failed to eclipse God’s love for all people, and if anything highlighted people’s capacity for loving and comforting one another. Neither the Johnson family, nor the spirit of Barbara’s mother, lost in this affair. The loss is entirely Fr. Guarnizo’s.

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter. If you shop at Amazon, help support John by entering the site through this link right here--Amazon will then send John 3-4% of the cost of anything you buy before exiting the site again.

 

  • Mary Wisner Miller via Facebook

    This makes me ashamed and horrified.

  • Mary Wisner Miller via Facebook

    And it made me cry.

  • Evelyn Marie via Facebook

    Ugh… I can’t read this right now… Already I know it’s going to make me mad

  • Kay Carrasco

    John, thank you for your gracious words and your completely appropriate and faithful response to this incident. Indeed, Fr. Guarnizo could not have been more wrong; but it’s true that at the same time, so many many others stepped forward to ease that painful wrong as best they could. Thank you for your fairness in pointing it out. Bless you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patricia-Mascone-Lewis/1325691149 Patricia Mascone Lewis via Facebook

    I cried when I read the original story. That priest is a disgrace. But what wonderful examples were shown by the other parishioners, the eucharistic minister, the funeral director, and the priests who responded to the crisis. They give me hope.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnShoreFans John Shore via Facebook

    No, it won’t make you cry.

  • Barb

    John, Thank you so much for this update. I’m relieved and happy that Barbara felt God’s love as the Spirit moved through all those in attendance. And I am so glad to hear that others who have the ability to do something about Barbara’s treatment are taking this seriously and to heart. No one who is grieving deserves to be treated the way she was.

  • http://www.facebook.com/hannahstar.baker Hannah MiamiSun Johnson Baker via Facebook

    Me too :’(

  • Mary Wisner Miller via Facebook

    It made me cry. But I think I cried more out of love for the Eucharistic Minister, the faithful of that church, and the main Pastor there.

  • Mary Wisner Miller via Facebook

    My Mother’s former priest did stuff like this ALL the time But selectively at random, which made it worse. Much like the soup nazi.

  • Peggy Tener Taylor via Facebook

    Thanks for telling the part of the story that shows God’s grace in action.

  • Mary Wisner Miller via Facebook

    I too am excommunicated. But my Mother’s priest will bless me when I go up, which gives me great comfort. And it was my choice to tell him the truth about my divorce and remarriage.

  • Evelyn Marie via Facebook

    I’m thankful that Ms. Johnson was taken care of by caring people. Also, I also really like the meat/dogs metaphor :-)

    • Andrew Raymond

      Second that on the metaphor :-)

  • Megan Stelzer

    I love your work and thank you for doing it. As a news junkie, I especially need to hear voices of reason and compassion coming from the religious community, if only to lessen the sting of what gets in the news from our Christian Right politicians. This was a great story and I love that you included all the lovely things the Catholics did for Barbara to try to minimize the hurt done by that priest. Something that I didn’t appreciate though was your flip comment “Time to tear the ecclesiastical robes off this vicious clown and give him a job cleaning the bathrooms. With his face.” It is the only thing preventing me from splashing this post all over my Facebook wall. To be honest, though, it’s not bad enough to stop me from reading your blog. Thanks again.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Megan: I agree; I’ve deleted that comment.

      • Megan Stelzer

        Thanks! You’re awesome. Now I will go post. Peace.

  • Theresa DePaepe via Facebook

    Great story but not great that it happened in the first place. It’s good to know the entire story as I have been avoiding Mass because of a similar incident that occurred AT Mass after the blowup over the birth control provisions incident – the presiding priest comparing Obama to Hitler and said he (Obama) was turning our country into China and the transitional deacon’s homily saying no good Catholic could work in the health care industry and they would have to shut down all the hospitals. These comments were met with applause by many in the congregation. We were mortified.

  • Andrew Raymond

    Speaking as a former Catholic with a Jesuit education, I am very heartened by the responses from the people involved other than Fr. Marcel Guarnizo.

    That said, I also feel that Fr. Guarnizo needs to be not only reprimanded, required to resign and removed from pastoral life, but excommunicated as well (preferably from Rome.) Priests need to be held to a higher standard, and his behavior was completely unconscionable.

    Unfortunately, this is only the latest example of the misuse of the sacraments as political instruments in the Catholic church, from San Diego’s Bishop Brohm denying a Catholic funeral to a local bar owner because his bar was used for the making of gay pornography to the denial of communion to presidential candidate John Kerry because of his refusal to agree to a legal ban on abortion. The politicization of the Catholic church in America needs to STOP. IMMEDIATELY

  • Mike Henderson via Facebook

    I’m thankful for the good people who surrounded her and her family.

  • danielle

    Shame on Fr. Guarnizo, using a funeral to make a petty little point. How dare he call himself a servant of God. He had ample opportunity to back out of the service and call in someone else, but he didn’t. He rubbed that poor woman’s face in it right in the middle of the service.

    With “clergy” like this, the only thing holding the Church together is the compassion and understanding of those true followers of Christ who actually HEARD his message (and sadly, not enough of them are priests). God bless the people who lovingly came to her and showed her the compassion that sanctimonious little TURD could not.

  • Valerie

    I am so glad there was someone to step in and take the place of this man. It gives me faith that there are still good people in the Church. Blessings to Barbara and her family.

  • KateN

    It is people like Barbara, her mother, the loving Eucharistic minister, the other loving parishioners and Fr. Sweeney that help me stay Catholic, the religion of my ancestors as far back as St. Patrick. Just as I will not abdicate my US citizenship and leave my country to the haters, I will not leave my religion and leave it to the haters. I applaud Barbara and her partner for comporting themselves as they did.

    • Diana A.

      Good for you! I’m a Prot. (Methodist variety ), but I feel the same way.

  • Jenn Jackson Paprocki via Facebook

    Thank you for this…evidence that WE are the church. Each one of those people who stepped up when that disgrace of a priest walked away is the true witness to Christ’s unconditional love.

  • Jennifer Sandberg via Facebook

    As usual, John, you make a fine pie out of bad apples.

  • John Sawyer

    Thanks for “the other side of the story”. I’m an agnostic, but these details really make me feel much better about the situation.

  • LVZ

    “My family wants a public apology from Father Marcel, and to see him removed from parish life… [He must] never be allowed to harm another family in this way again.”

    I hope everything Barbara asked for comes to pass. However, given the behavior of the Catholic hierarchy over the past decade or two, I think it’s much more likely Father Marcel will be transferred to another diocese where he will be free to continue this behavior.

    I apologize for my negative attitude, but after scandal after scandal after scandal, it seems to me that the Catholic leaders are completely divorced from the needs of ordinary Catholic people.

  • Leslie

    John, like so many others I was appalled when this story first started making the rounds. I’m so glad you talked with Barbara and found out that there were others, more loving, that provided the comfort and acceptance that she needed on that day. I had wondered if there was some goodness mixed in; was hoping there was. Thank you for pointing out that God’s love can never be overshadowed by hatred and bigotry. God’s love covers everything!

  • Kirk Childress via Facebook

    thank you for sharing this. I am happy to know that this priest’s reaction was not the only one she received at her mother’s funeral. I feel it should be pointed out, however, that the sentiment that the priest’s action “in no way represented the love of the Church” is not entirely correct. In fact, the priest’s reaction exactly mirror’s the position of the roman catholic church’s leadership and doctrine. I am even heartened somewhat by the statement of the archdiosece but that pales in comparison to the statements further up the chain of command, such as the Pope’s recent pronouncement that treating gay people equally under the law would threaten the future of humanity.

    yes, lay catholics [especially here in the US], support gay people and equality in large numbers. But their church continues to pour millions of dollars and thousands of person-hours into antigay political campaigns like the ones currently on the ballot in Wisconsin and North Carolina, including urging their members from the pulpit to vote for antigay discrimation. The very archdiocese in question in the funeral sent representatives to the Maryland legislature to testify against the just enacted marriage equality bill. Until those loving catholics take back their church, it will continue to be a hostile zone to gay people where events like the sensationalist funeral in the spotlight continue to occur.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Connie-Jones/637403919 Connie Jones via Facebook

    Thank you John for the rest of the story. Thank God for the right minded people who reflected God’s love and truly did what Jesus would do!

  • Betsy O’Leary

    Thank you for addressing this story and providing further details. It’s priests like that who have chased me far away from the Catholic church of my youth. While I am not gay, I support gay rights, women’s rights and our Democrat president. I feel that there is just no place for me in the pew anymore without feeling like a hypocrite, and this saddens me a great deal. I miss the ritual and the comfort of the Church. But the condemnation and the subjugation I can sure do without.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jean-Ehrman/100000222848986 Jean Ehrman via Facebook

    John, well done. Jennifer Sandberg’s response is golden.

  • Kimberly Moser Musci Phillips via Facebook

    SO. At the Last Supper, after Jesus washed everybody’s feet, He had his 12 guys confess their sins and he counseled them, *before* He broke bread and passed the cup of wine? And of course, Judas wasn’t permitted to partake? Damnthose NIV translators, they must’ve omitted that part of the story. ;)

    • abracadabra

      Yup, but it would be the American Standard translators.

  • Gordon

    So, now we know where Professor Snape ended up after the last Harry Potter movie. Father Guarnizo, you’re not fooling anyone. In fact, I hope you have saved some money, because I think you’re about to get the boot. But good! Now get your bony ass out of our sight.

    • Pamela

      Come on now, that is *totally* unfair to Snape. Dude was a hero.

      • Gordon

        I haven’t seen the final movie yet! Netflix, here I come!

        • LSS

          oh yeah you have to see the end. (*_*)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rick-Smith/1047193902 Rick Smith via Facebook

    When I went to church as a kid I NEVER remember the minister using the bible to promote a political or social agenda, they used it to promote love & compassion of all people. Back then, knowing someone was a Christian used to mean they were a good person & there was no need to fear them, but today the first thing I think of is that this person hates me & wants to discriminate against me because of who I am & who I love. It’s a real shame that religion & faith have been hijacked by radicals and given such a bad name today.

    • Andrew Raymond

      The precipitating incident for my departure from the Catholic church of my youth was the pastor stating in his sermon during the 2004 election that if I didn’t vote Republican I wasn’t a ‘real Catholic’. I still hope to go back some day, and haven’t formally renounced, but I won’t go back until this kind of CRAP stops.

      • Jacqueline

        Republican Catholics love to use the religion as their weapon, it’s the nature of the beast. I think the majority are actually left leaning, these are usually the ones who have good taste not to bring politics into God’s business.

        • Andrew Raymond

          I agree, Jacquline. But until the majority of us take the faith back, I’m staying away.

          • Diana A.

            And this, really, is the bottom line.

    • Diana A.

      Yes, it is a shame.

  • Susan

    This sounds so cliched, but I have to ask…what’s in his closet?

  • http://rescuinglittlel.wordpress.com Little L

    I started to comment with the word “unbelievable” when I realized it was sadly very “believable”…

  • http://shiningpearlsofsomething.blogspot.com Suz

    It’s a shame the Catholic Church spent so many years hiding bad priests, instead of excommunicating them. It is left with a faithful flock and no shepherds.

  • http://lesfemmes-thetruth.blogspot.com Mary Ann Kreitzer

    If Barbara Johnson and her “lover” are faithful members of the flock; I’d like to know what constitutes an unfaithful member. This entire thing smells to high heavens. I’m praying for the repose of Barbara Johnson’s mother who did her no favors by tickling her ears about the immoral relationship with her lesbian partner. Read Romans. It’s pretty clear about the seriousness of immoral sexual relationships and their consequences for eternal life.

    I know this will get me viciously attacked by the “compassionate” and “tolerant” members of the homosexual community, but the truth is the truth.

    • Jennifer Edwards

      Wow, why are you even following John Shore if your beliefs are that completely at odds with what he says? I won’t attack you viciously for you beliefs, but they are not the “truth.” I’ll be praying for you and about your hatred.

      • JT

        Well stated, Jennifer. When we dwell in Truth, we are free, not “right”. The truth does not make you right, it can only make you free. This is the Peace that surpasses all understanding: The Peace of God. God does not punish us for our perceived “sins”…we are punished BY our sins, we do it to ourselves. The only real sin is to act or think towards another without love. God is that simple. It is only the human mind’s need to be right and to control, label, and judge that keeps people from attaining alignment with God’s will. His only will is that we Love one another, just as we are.

    • JT

      If you could really hear yourself, you already know that you are going to reap what you sow. You are speaking judgment of others, so you will receive it from others. the law of circulation fails no one. If you generate Love, then you will receive it. It is the whole reason we are here on this Earth.

      • DR

        yes.

      • http://lesfemmes-thetruth.blogspot.com Mary Ann Kreitzer

        You do reap what you sow, JT. If you refuse to listen to the law of God you will not be welcomed to His table. Who does He say will enter the Kingdom? Those who hear the word of God and keep it. The Ten Commandments are one of four main sections in the Catechism. If you don’t follow them, you haven’t even begun to live the Christian life. Adultery, sodomy, fornication — they all are serious moral evils.

        • DR

          You do reap what you sew MaryAnn but your 15 minutes of fame that you and others have held the church hostage within are over. People aren’t willing to allow homophobia to be masked in the Gospel. Enjoy these last few minutes of daylight you have as it relates to this topic, it’s almost over.

        • DR

          Just once, I would have loved to see the Mary Anns of the world get this angry and outraged about the molestation and rape that innocent kids had to suffer at the hands of Priests the church recycled for years and years and has only recently apologized for. But even then, these people were defending the Church, making sure everyone knew it was only a very small minority of priests. It’s so gross.

        • http://www.exilemusings.blog.com Amaranth

          I seem to remember Jesus in the book of Matthew being quite specific about who will and will not enter the Kingdom. Something about who was feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger, caring for the sick, clothing the naked, and visiting those in prison.

          Funny how sexual sin didn’t make that list of Kingdom-worthy criteria. It’s almost as though Jesus was more concerned with how people treat one another rather than what they do in the bedroom.

    • Andrew Raymond

      I think you need to be reading more of the gospels and less of ‘saint’ Paul.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      How I yearn for the day when just ONE person like Mary Ann here manages to get through their comment without using the phrase “tickling ears.” It’s like … it’s programmed into them. They never, ever, ever don’t use it. The sheer certainty of that phrase making its appearance in every fundy comment is becoming the freakiest thing about running this blog.

      • Andrew Raymond

        Better you than me, John.

      • Donald Rappe

        My first thought when I read the word tickle.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

          Right? It’s unbelievable. You’d think the same people so enamored of the KJV Bible would love language enough to come up with ANYTHING to replace “tickle your ears.”

      • Joyce

        Hmmph! That’s the first time I’ve ever heard that expression!

        Thanks, John, for following up on this story. I am so pleased to hear that Ms. Johnson was treated compassionately by other folks. Really a shame that the priest couldn’t bring himself to be Christ for her.

      • otter

        wtf are “tickling ears”? i am allergic to fundies so I never heard this before. Sounds kinky… :-)

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

          From Wiki: Itching ears is a term used in the Bible to describe a person who seeks out messages that please them and fit their lifestyle, as opposed to seeking a truth that might make them uncomfortable.The term is used by the Apostle Paul in2 Timothy 4:3-4: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (KJV)”

          • Gordon

            Thanks for clearing this up for me, John. I took ecstacy once and it made my ears itch like crazy, so I figured that’s what Mary Ann was probably referring to. In her case, maybe a little X wouldn’t do her any harm? ☺

    • Donna W.

      Mary Ann, it breaks my heart that you have so deeply misunderstood the book of Romans and that you believe a committed relationship between people who love each other faithfully is somehow “immoral.” I thank God that there were compassionate and tolerant, and I would add, loving, people from the Christian community who understand that God is truth, God is love, and God commands that we love one another, and that we judge not. Those kind people truly represented the body of Christ to that grieving daughter and her family. You, Mary Ann, are the one who is vicious and I pray one day you will see that truth and repent. (By the way, I’m a straight, long and happily married, 60 year old Sunday school teacher.)

      • Christy

        Thank you, Donna.

    • http://brickandtimber.wordpress.com/ DR

      Wow. This is a vicious, evil remark. Thankfully you represent an ever dwindling representation of Christianity that will be remembered with shame and deep regret and the millions of people you hurt and could care less about hurting. God have mercy on you – I mean that.

      • http://brickandtimber.wordpress.com/ DR

        PS I’m a devout Catholic and you blogging about our faith as you post this kind of filth makes me sick to my stomach. Though I love the opportunity to counter you, I doubt you’ll come back or if you do, you’ll stay because you’ll play the ‘I am a victim of these evil people who are attacking me for standing up for God!” routine that most of you who don’t have the moral, emotional or spiritual maturity to actually stay and deal with any opposing individual.

        • Andrew Raymond

          Likewise. Well said, DR.

      • Donald Rappe

        Thanks DR.

    • http://www.sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

      I don’t care what you believe “stinks” – a funeral is a time to *put aside your shit* and to comfort the grieving and give dignity to the dead. It is no time for personal politics.

      *Tosses a billy goat Mary’s way*

    • Steve Horwatt

      Mary Ann,

      For what constitutes an unfaithful member, see Matthew 25:41-46.

      • Steve Horwatt

        I hope no one thinks I’m tickling their ears when I say that.

      • Steve Horwatt

        Mary Ann,

        Also, I have to say, it’s pretty classy, attacking the dead person in the story.

    • Leslie

      Mary Ann, I get so tired of hearing people like you say something like Romans is “pretty clear.” It’s not. If it was there wouldn’t be differing opinions.

      If YOU believe it’s wrong then by all means, don’t date a woman. I personally believe it’s not a sin. That’s between me and God. I imagine if I was wrong, God would have found a way–through the Holy Spirit–to convict me. I prayed about it for years and years, submitting totally to God’s will. I prayed, fasted, studied, sought counsel from others, including those who held beliefs like yours.

      I don’t think I’m that unusual. Most Christians who are gay or lesbian have gone through similar times. You see, for me and my fellow LGBT Christians, it’s more important for us to be right with God than to even have a relationship. But God made it very clear to me that not only is He the one who made me lesbian, He’s the one that will lead me to a partner if that’s his will. He did once.

      Just lay off the “pretty clear” garbage. If you think it’s pretty clear then I absolutely know you’ve never opened yourself up to God to let HIS wisdom on this topic shine through to your heart. For that I’m sorry for you.

  • Josie

    Jesus himself communed Judas Iscariot…how dare WE exclude ANYONE??

    But thanks, John, for the rest of the story. It reaffirms my belief that the TRUE love of Christ is still reflected in his people, and can overcome the vilest hate.

    • Jane Carlton

      Josie, you hit the nail right on the head….I wish more people felt this way. Born and raised Catholic with members of my family who are clergy and the other members of my family who are gay I have seen FAR too much discrimination on the part of the former toward the latter.

    • Andrew Raymond

      Well said Josie!

  • Meredith Ridgway via Facebook

    Eucharistic ministers are trained never to refuse anyone. He is a sick and cruel individual, but every human institution is rife with sick, vindictive individuals. Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison. I’m Catholic and we have openly gay couples at our parish and they are never denied communion.

    • Donald Rappe

      Kyrie eleison. This is what the Kyrios is doing among us now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/maryterry17 Mary Knox via Facebook

    God bless those other members of her parish & the funeral director! They truly displayed the love of Christ to her & her family!

    • Mary E

      Amen

  • http://www.facebook.com/marcus.loidolt Marcus Loidolt via Facebook

    Yes, she should not have received the Eucharist…in THAT way the priest was in the right, BUT, and this is a big one..TO DENY her the possibility of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, to ANY form of pastoral care BEFORE this incident is unconscionable!! It is hard to say this, but WE should all be going to confession before receiving the Body and Blood of Christ..

    • Andrew Raymond

      I don’t accept that AT ALL. In all my years of exposure to the Catholic church, I’ve NEVER seen anyone turned away for not receiving reconciliation (though I do abstain for that reason, but that’s a personal decision.)

      If you won’t turn people away for that, then turning them away for their sexual orientation or politics is UNACCEPTABLE

  • MaryKaye

    At some point, if the shepherds have turned into wolves the sheep need to get together and do something about it. This kind of thing *hurts*. The kindness of the congregation members can help heal that hurt, but the fact remains that spiritual leaders shouldn’t be in the business of ruining their flock’s funerals. I hope the Archdiocese does take firm and effective action; but it scares me that if it does not, the lay members have so little power to change their situation.

    • Andrew Raymond

      MaryKaye, I doubt they’ll act decisively (though I plan to write some scathing email tonight.) I honestly think what the Catholic church needs is the emergence of a bishop or cardinal with the strength of will that Martin Luther had to start a second reformation. Not that I necessarily agree with Luther mind you, but I do admire the strength of his convictions.

      • Donald Rappe

        I believe that has already happened with John, the reformer pope. It is necessary now to keep the dominoes falling.

        • Andrew Raymond

          Interesting point, Donald. John was before my aware time (I baptized under him, but not active until Paul.) Would this then be a reference to the (now nearly dead) Vatican II?

    • Donald Rappe

      The lay members have the ultimate power. When the hierarchy becomes unresponsive, they may go into a confessing state and redirect their offerings to more accurately reflect their Christian values. The hierarchy can only exist with lay support.

  • Donna Runion via Facebook

    Love your concluding remarks. Well said.

  • Angela

    Not much I read on the internet brings tears to my eyes. This story did. I don’t know any quotes from the bible in favor of or against Barbara or Guarnizo but my heart tells me what is right and wrong.

    I am so sorry that this member of the clergy took this particular time, when Barbara was honoring her mother’s life, to try and judge her. Isn’t God the only judge?

  • http://www.facebook.com/olwyngdh Amy Butler via Facebook

    Thank you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kimberly-J-Edwards/1248096635 Kimberly J Edwards via Facebook

    awesome.

  • Sybil Buzzkill TenEyck via Facebook

    Thank you, I now feel better. <3

  • Michael

    is a priest allowed to refuse confession? i know that for catholics an unrepentant sinner is not to be given the eucharist, but ive never heard of anyone denying a person confession no matter how grievous their sin.

    • DR

      It sometimes happens when the priest believes the person confessing is not truly repentant.

      • Donald Rappe

        I think this is a refusal of absolution. Just to pick the nit.

        • Andrew Raymond

          A nit well picked, Donald.

      • LSS

        is it technically permitted by church laws or is it something they do out of “activism” ?

    • Lymis

      I’m certainly not a canon lawyer, but as someone raised Catholic, I can say that whether or not a priest can refuse to hear a confession, he certainly isn’t supposed to grant absolution to someone for something that they show no repentance over.

      I’m gay, and I’m married. I don’t consider myself Catholic any more. But I would certainly not go to confession for being gay or being in a gay relationship.

      At most, a priest could give a general sort of “you are forgiven for any of your sins that you are truly sorry for” but that would sort of avoid the whole point of this discussion.

      I think the Church is deeply, deeply wrong to hold that homosexual relationships are a sin, but given that they do, they shouldn’t be granting absolution for it.

      • Michael

        i was raised catholic as well, and was never confronted with this. i have trouble believing that priests honestly think that 12 year olds are truly repentant at their first confession.

        • abracadabra

          First reconciliation is generally done in 2nd grade, or 7 or 8 years old — just prior to 1st communion.

          • Michael

            7,8,12, whatever to early to be genuinely regretful of many sins.

        • cat rennolds

          I was quite dreadfully repentant at 12. Then I grew out of it.

  • Calvin R. Griffin via Facebook

    Excellent post, John!

  • Gardy

    As a former Catholic nun, I often attend gatherings of my former community for celebrations and for funerals of nuns. I am a 64 yr. old lesbian and my former community accepts myself and many others of us who have left and are lesbians, and we are NEVER kept from recieving Communion. Loving another of the same sex, is NOT A SIN……it is a current Roman Catholic Bueracratic BELIEF. It is not anything that Jesus ever spoke of and you can be sure that gays and lesbians were known during his time.

    • Donald Rappe

      It’s better not to mess with the holy nuns. My R. Catholic friends have told me this.

    • Donald Rappe

      The logic of your last sentence is impeccable. Because I am a member of a mixed religion extended family I at first would decline to take communion in a Catholic church because I knew their canon law rule against it. One day (after the aggiornamento) I realized I was hearing from the altar the invitation “Come, take and eat” from Christ and had a decision to make. I chose to follow Christ.

      • Dan

        What a liar you are Gardy! Sounds like a reprobate order of nuns like a Benedictine order I know of. As far as what Christ said about it, He was addressing an audience of Judeans, not gentiles, but in Matthew He did say, “Do not think that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill”. So check out ‘THE LAW’ Gardy!

        Saint Paul was one who addressed the church of a larger audience than just Judeans. Because of his dealing in particular the Greeks, we can refer to the first chapter of Romans. Furthermore in 1 Corinthians Chapter 11 you can find out what is taught regarding the reception of Holy Communion unworthily. But as is often said by many addressing liars like you Gardy, don’t let the truth get in your way.

        • DR

          Consider losing the creepy personal attacks and demonstrate that “one true church” kind of love you are claiming to have while the others don’t. That’s the first thing.

          Secondly, don’t be ridiculous. Honestly, wake up. There are thousands of actively gay men and women in the Catholic church who are also gay men and lesbian women, many of which are priests and nuns. I realize you’re terrified of the church changing but it’s never really changed, dear. It’s always been like this.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

          Please back off you hostile tone, Dan. We play nice here. Thanks.

        • Richard

          Dan I read your harsh words and wonder at the smallness of your soul. You are the worst kind of Pharisee.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            No, he’s the best kind: the kind that’s gone.

        • Gordon

          Buy bye, Dan! Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out. Speaking of “way out”, I know dozens of practicing Catholics and none of them are as strident as this guy. He must go to the same church as Rick “Man on Dog” Santorum. And, as a proud gay Christian, I have to tell you that my clan shakes our collective head in wonder whenever sanctimonious Catholic clergy or their followers presume to lecture us about sexual morality. Please. DR is right. The church has lost all credibility on issues of sexuality.

    • LSS

      i just want to say i think it’s really cool that this exists. and always appreciate when people would choose conscience over burocrazy.

  • Dan

    As far as offering her confession, I don’t think that is viable, since Ms. Johnson in no way considers her lifestyle sinful and just like presenting herself for communion was making a mockery of the Holy Eucharist, her confession would have been a joke. As a confessor, the priest is typically obliged to instruct and as Christ said, “now go and sin no more”. The church teaching and theology is clear and if Ms. Johnson chooses to conveniently forget that her lifestyle in the eyes of the church is sinful, then she set herself up.

    I have been to many funerals where family members of the deceased who were divorced and had not gone through the annulment process did not go to communion, though the norm is to simply forget about the theology and do what feels good. Now that is the issue here isn’t it? Father made Ms. Johnson feel bad. Her ego was bruised.

    Disagree with the church and throw all sorts of straw arguments out there if you wish. This we are allowed to do of course. Ms. Johnson had plenty of time to repent if she thought is necessary which she obviously did not. Father’s obligation is not to decorum or the moment, but to almighty God, who through Christ we are told that He did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. Therefore if Father knew that Ms. Johnson was in what the church considers a sinful lifestyle, he had no choice, unless he is a fake himself. The real scandal is the uproar being made by Ms. Johnson.

    Oh and Suz, I know of many priests that have been excommunicated because of their transgressions. But let’s not let the facts get in the way. Just go ahead and throw up diversions and be willfully ignorant or dismissive of the facts regarding the abuse situation, a discussion that belongs in another conversation.

    Most likely I will not banter back and forth, most likely, so go ahead and take your shots.

    • DR

      Dan, As a catholic myself, I know the drill, I know what you’ve posted. I know you’re going to set yourself up as the victim who has to “take his shots” but here’s the actual facts. The truth of the matter is that the Church is so deeply stained with sin herself at this point that any kind of credibility it had around defining what the right “lifestyle” is is just over. She’s allowed thousands of innocent children to be raped for years, hiding those responsible. An apology literally had to be forced and it took years to get it. The Catholic Church can’t even protect children, chose *not* to protect children because it was too busy protecting itself. Any kind of moral authority around any kind of sexual behavior is just gone. We as Catholics should focus on repairing the damage our willful, passive and ultimately lazy posturing of allowing this power to become so corrupt instead of focusing on gay men and women who just want to bury their momma.

      • Donald Rappe

        “presenting herself … was a mockery” “her ego was bruised” etc. There can be no doubt you are correct about your judgement Dan. Just as there can be no doubt that the measure with which you judge is the measure with which you shall be judged. Good luck with that. You may believe that on the Day of the Lord Jesus Christ he will change his mind about which measure to use in judging you, but, I doubt it.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Wow. I hadn’t seen this before warning Dan (below) to play nicer. The tone on this is just too offensive. Dan: I’ve put you on moderation. You’re welcome back as soon as you lose your completely dickish attitude.

  • Donald Rappe

    It is very good to hear these fine things about the Spirit working in the catholic church. I do not believe this could have happened before the council called by Pope John the reformer.

  • Donald Rappe

    Just a technicality, but I am skeptical of a 10 pound steak. Sounds more like a standing rib roast. I have a terrible mental image of apiece of meat like that falling on one of the fluffy little dogs that lives in our trailer park and crushing it.

  • Brook E Mantia via Facebook

    I love when the real Power of the Holy Spirit shines through to overcome the arrogant, churchy, religious bullshit. It just reminds me that there really is something larger than us all at work, something that will not be denied, despite the douchebaggery of jerks like Father No-Communion-4U.

  • Allen

    Sounds to me like this Fr. has forgotten what the role of a pastor is, caring for his flock, right? He didn’t care about the woman who died, or her family, he cared about following rules. A mother’s funeral is not the time for Sunday School lectures, and if this guy met with the family before the funeral that was the time to say “and I hope you don’t think you’ll be receiving communion, you sinner.”

    Heartless, unprofessional, useless.

    I’m SO glad to read this post, John, which reminds me that for every reprobate there’s a group of decent caring people who step up in a crisis.

  • http://www.integritynycmetro.org MaryO

    The Episcopal Church welcomes -everyone-, especially those who have been driven away from God’s table in their original faith communities. About a third of Episcopalians (anecdotally) are former Roman Catholics. Integrity/NYC-Metro is happy to help anyone find a local Episcopal parish.

    • http://lindysadventureblog.blogspot.com/ Linda Diane McMillan

      Well, let’s be honest about that: Some Episcopal churches, in some Episcopal dioceses welcome everyone. Many of those offer a lavish welcome. Many other Episcopal churches, in many other diocese do not. The “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You” sign should have an asterisk beside it and provide the explanation that in many parishes and diocese there are certain terms and conditions.

      • http://www.integritynycmetro.org MaryO

        There are a few bad dioceses but in every one there are parishes that are welcoming, which is why Integrity can connect almost any seeker to a good one.

        • Andrew Raymond

          MaryO, could you please clarify? Who would I be contacting for help?

          • http://integritynycmetro.org MaryO

            Integrity is the national organization of LGBT Episcopalians and allies. The organization has a good list of, and contacts in, local parishes that are welcoming to LGBT seekers. Many of those parishes have a long history of integrating LGBT people into the life, service, and leadership of the community.

  • Heidi Thibodeau via Facebook

    Thank you for sharing this. I’m Catholic, and was very upset by what had happened – stories like this make me wonder why I *am* Catholic. The response of other Catholics, especially other priests, was wonderful.

  • Peggy Tener Taylor via Facebook

    I was raised Catholic, went to all Catholic schools, and didn’t know anyone who was not Catholic until the 3rd grade. I left the Catholic church at 23 when I attended a Methodist service and before communion the minister informed us that all are welcome because this was not the church’s table, but God’s. Not the church’s sacrament, but God’s. God welcomes everyone. It was a life changing moment for me. God was for everyone.

  • Jenn Kirby via Facebook

    Great post, John. Heartfelt hugs to Barbara, her partner, and those folks at the funeral who behaved like true Christians.

  • Frank Quintana

    Although not a Christian, a very Christ-like man once said,”Be the change you want to see in the world.” I subscribe to that philosophy. If we see an injustice, or an unjust practice, we should act toward its opposite. Despite what the Bishops say, despite what the Vatican dictates, as a Catholic and priest, I DO NOT withold the sacraments from LGBTQ Catholics. In fact I am gay affirming. I am gay. I belong to a Community of congregations where ALL are welcome. We are Catholics who choose to be faithful to a gospel of Peace and Justice in an array of issues. Check out the Ecumenical Catholic Communion.

    • LSS

      i’m curious, are you (ECC) accepted by the catholic hierarchy or have the vatican kicked you out? i don’t understand a lot about catholic politics, but i just wondered.

      also i am glad to see you posting with what is possibly a Latino last name… the Father in the article was kind of making Hispanic priests look bad and dinosauric.

    • Andrew Raymond

      Found you! I hope to see you this Sunday in Vista, CA.

  • Erin D.

    Thank you for providing the enlightening 2nd half to this story, John. As a former Catholic who still harbors a lot of resentment, I have to oftentimes force myself to acknowledge the good Catholics. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of demonizing an entire group of people due to the actions of a few. Thanks for taking the higher road.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      You so rock, Erin D.

  • A. Storey

    He who is without sin cast the first communion wafer! With the tales of gay/lesbianism within the priesthood and nunnery (I know), we are constantly told to forgive them for their sins and move forward, allow them to minister to the public and forget their pasts. When confronted head-on with a chance to do just that, this minister failed miserably. Now I expect that we must forgive HIM for being unforgiving. I do, but DANG!

  • Richard Lubbers

    I’ve often wondered why it is so easy to accept the idea that one bad apple can ruin the whole bunch. How is it that the bad actions of one person can negate all of the good that is accomplished by the rest? Is it possible that one good apple can save the whole bunch?

    Yeah, that’s basically the Christian message.

    Was not the righteousness of one man imparted to all? When Jesus said, “It is finished!” was He not claiming there is nothing more to be done? After all, He didn’t say, “My part is finished, now it’s up to them.”

    All are made acceptable by Him. The priest in this instance passed judgement on Barbara, causing her added anguish. But God did not pass judgement on her; the love of God was demonstrated by the others around her. And the real fact is, even Father Guarnizo will find grace in this.

  • http://www.paxchristi-ecc.org Rev. Michael Nicosia

    Well balanced article; so glad you brought the compassion of the other members of the parish to light. In regard to your comment about confession and absolution, based solely on my being homosexual (albeit celibate at the time) I was once denied absolution for totally unrelated “sins.” I’m certain absolution in this case would have been denied unless Barbara had repented of her orientation and swore to leave her partner. It seems the Roman Church is attracting a lot of young fanatics to the priesthood, while people like myself are leaving for better, more compassionate alternatives. If searching, check out the Ecumenical Catholic Communion. Blessings.

  • Cathy Peterson via Facebook

    To really appreciate what happened to this woman, it is very important to read “the rest of the story.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Beeson/530994390 Michael Beeson via Facebook

    Thank you John, and I am not a Hippy! I was born too late and you know that. :)

  • Lymis

    I’m a gay man.

    I’m married to another wonderful gay man.

    I was raised Catholic and took it very seriously.

    I was summarily pitched out on my ass when I came out.

    That said, when I go to Mass with my family on visits, I don’t receive Communion. I’m not longer in what the Church considers to be in right relationship to the Church and its sacraments. That’s fine with me – they get to decide that. They don’t get to decide whether I am in right relationship with God.

    Even before I left the Church, I remember more than a few weddings and funerals where this issue was handled far more gracefully. The priest explained that, unlike in some other Christian denominations, the Catholic tradition reserves Communion only to followers of the Catholic tradition, and that “we” would appreciate it if people would honor that. And that anyone who was not a Catholic in good standing who wished to participate in the fellowship could join everyone at Communion and receive a blessing rather than participating in the sacrament.

    It put a few people’s noses out of joint, but far less so than the incredibly insensitive way that this guy did it – and it was also clear if you watched that, having made that announcement, Communion was given to anyone who asked rather than expecting anyone to screen the state of people’s souls at the altar rail.

    For the record, I think the Church is deeply wrong on the issue of gay people and gay relationships, and about a great deal of sexual things in general.

    But for the people who are upset, not just at the horrendous insensitivity in how this was handled but also about the actual fact of denying communion to someone the priest knew was in violation of Church law, I have to ask this – how would you feel if this was a Baptism?

    If a priest or pastor was baptizing people, and someone approached who the priest or pastor knew for sure did not believe in Christ or Christianity, and did not intend to. Should the officiant go ahead and perform a baptism of someone he knows does not meet a fundamental criterion that his denomination requires of someone seeking the sacrament, just to avoid hurting feelings or causing a scene?

    I think he handled it abysmally. But Barbara put him in a possibly untenable position by seeking Communion when she knew that the Catholic Church felt she was ineligible and knew that the priest knew.

    It’s true that her mother’s funeral wasn’t the place for the priest to make a scene or a political statement or go out of his way to belittle or exclude someone. But there needs to be some counterbalancing awareness that your mother’s funeral isn’t a place to make a statement about your disagreement with Church doctrine, either.

    I think a far stronger case can be made that if Barbara intended to participate in the Eucharist, she should have raised the point in that morning interview and had the situation clear then as to whether she should step up to receive at all.

    The Church is wrong on this issue, I don’t deny that – and I’m personally hurt by it as well. And I think that Barbara and her family are very definitely victims of this narrow-minded and bigoted policy. But she knew the policy and the doctrine and chose this time and place to fight it. She’s not innocent in regards this specific incident.

    I disagree that it is “fair enough” for her and her family to demand that a priest be removed from office over this.

    • abracadabra

      Lymis –

      I am a practicing Catholic (not technically in good standing — I am one of the 98%) and I would be more inclined to agree with you if it had *only* been a matter of denying her communion. However, he also made a point of shaming her not once but twice in front all in attendance. And then he attempted to refuse a Catholic woman reportedly in good standing a proper burial to make a point. Even if he was within bounds with refusing her communion (more below), the his behavior outside of that was not pastoral in the least.

      In 2004, when our archbishop made a point of saying that politicians who were pro-choice weren’t eligible to receive communion, I asked, out of curiosity, how that should be dealt with. The priest I asked said it was something that should absolutely be dealt with in private because the Eucharist is not a political football and it is not okay to make it one. Fr. Guarnizo apparently plenty of opportunity to address that before the funeral mass — aside from missing the opportunity to offer to hear her confession. Yes, one can make the argument Barbara was at fault for seeking communion knowing the Church considers her ineligible. However, Fr. Guarnizo, in his capacity as pastor, failed in not addressing the issue in private and offering her the opportunity to seek reconciliation.

      For all intents and purposes, it appears that he set this up to make a point at the expense of Barbara and her mother’s mourners in their moment of pain.

      As for your argument concerning baptism, having had 2 children baptized in large parishes where there was a baptismal orientation class, I know several couples who were not technically in good standing — but not being gay, good enough, apparently — and had little to no intention of actually raising their child Catholic (or Catholic in name only) but they did it just to make someone happy or because it was they were doing what was expected. And there were a couple of stories of grandma getting the baby baptized when keeping the baby for the weekend.

      • Lymis

        I made it quite clear that I think Fr. Marcel handled this abysmally, and unless there is some HUGE missing detail, refusing to continue the service at the graveside is pretty inexcusable.

        But I don’t believe blame is a zero-sum game – that if you can prove that one person is more at fault, then everyone else is by definition blameless. Real life doesn’t work that way.

        Your other examples don’t work. The pro-choice thing doesn’t fit – expressing a belief that others are free to make choices that the church doesn’t agree with is not the same as making those choices yourself. Denying communion to people with pro-choice views isn’t the parallel here. The closest you could come with that parallel is someone who clearly and openly admits to performing abortions and says they plan to continue performing them, who is known to the priest personally, and presents themselves for communion. I don’t know how a priest would handle that, but that would be the parallel.

        Similarly, presenting an infant for baptism isn’t the same as presenting yourself for baptism. The presumption is that, regardless of the views of the parent, that the infant will grow up to make that choice for themselves. And the infant is not standing there claiming that they don’t believe in the teachings of the Church and don’t plan to follow them. My example was of an adult who was doing just that. Should a priest baptize someone who clearly states that they themselves don’t believe?

        And this whole “he should have held confession” thing is, I’m sorry to say, ridiculous. He can’t offer absolution for something the individual isn’t repenting. Period. And in the circumstances, it would have been just far more offensive – to tell her that she would be welcome to participate in the Sacrament if she was willing to step aside for a few minutes and claim before God that her relationship is a sin, she’s sorry she’s in it, she repents of it, and she promises to try not to do it any more. I’d find that utterly horrible to do to someone on the morning of her mother’s funeral, and it repels me that people think it not only would have been appropriate, but that he’s at fault for not demanding it. That’s disgusting.

        I’m sorry, but all of this essentially requires people to say that one of the central sacraments of the Catholic Church is just a pleasant game that they are playing, doesn’t mean anything, not really, and that they have no right to decide how to conduct their own sacred rites. People can feel that; a lot of people do. But either it’s a cracker and they should pass it out to anyone who shows up, maybe with a can of Cheez-Whiz to make it tastier, or it’s something divine and serious, and they have a right to take it seriously.

        The guy was a prick and a coward, and yet another signal that the Catholic Church really needs to retool its whole approach to the priesthood, and the family absolutely deserves an apology. An abject apology. For the way they were treated and the way this was handled, and the pain this utter jerk caused them.

        But not because they reserve their sacraments to people who are following the teachings of the church. He should not have offered her Communion, and he should not have offered her Confession. Either one would have been rank hypocrisy. She has no more right to demand Communion than she has to demand Ordination to the priesthood.

        Their policy is morally offensive. It’s medieval, and it’s stupid. I don’t believe it in any way reflects the reality of the work of the Holy Spirit or the teachings of Christ. But they get to set the rules for their own Mass.

        I’m a Gentile, and I don’t get to demand to go into the parts of Orthodox synagogues reserved for Jewish men. I don’t get to demand to walk through mosques with my shoes on. I don’t get to demand Mormon baptism. I don’t get to demand that the Catholic Church solemnize my marriage to my husband.

        Whether or not the people who don’t let me do those things are raging assholes about it is really independent of the fact that it would be inappropriate of me to demand it.

        And yes, I’ve been in this exact position. I didn’t go to Communion at my father’s funeral mass. And I didn’t go to communion at my mother’s funeral mass. And yes, I had to sit there while all my brothers and sisters (and my mother, at Dad’s memorial mass) stood up and went, and I know that it deeply hurt my mother that I couldn’t, in full view of everyone else who was walking by knowing exactly why the gay son wasn’t going to Communion. It sucked then and it sucks now, and I’m not going to defend the hurtful bigotry (and hypocrisy, given the huge number of sexually active gay priests) of the Church’s position.

        Wrong was done, and apologies are in order. But not for this part of it.

        • sayla1228

          While I respect what you have written, it is obvious that you truly believe that Queer/LGBT Christians are not allowed to be Catholic/Eastern Orthodox Christian. Queer/LGBT Christians don’t have to be Episcopalian or Protestant. Based on what you have written, might as well tell LGBT folk not to be Christian, spiritual or religious at ALL since most ‘religions’ and spiritualities are against them anyway.

          • Lymis

            That’s not what I believe. Sorry, but that’s entirely misreading me.

          • sayla1228

            To be honest, I don’t buy that one bit.

          • Lymis

            Well, certainly, you’d know my beliefs better than I would. Glad you could clear that up for me.

            But while you’re on the subject, you are aware that the Catholic Church is quite clear that sexually active gay people can’t be Catholics in good standing, right?

            But then, they probably have no say in it either.

          • DR

            Wow. You’re a jerk.

          • sayla1228

            I thought for a while. You’re right :(. I should not projected my own issues or reading into more than what is being said that would led me to wrongly hurt someone.

          • DR

            Super cool of you to acknowledge that. I’ve been there too. :)

          • Lymis

            I have no idea how you get from “even though I think their theology on the subject is medieval, a church has the right to choose how to celebrate their own sacraments” to “No LGBT people can be Christian, spiritual, or religious at all.”

            That’s a bit of a stretch.

          • sayla1228

            It is not as much of stretch as you think. Many homophobes use the religious liberty rights or my culture belief line to justify exclusion of LGBT. They often used the “church/temple/mosque has the right to choose how to celebrate their own sacraments/ordinances/traditions” as a code line for saying since condemning LGBT is our religious/spiritual tradition, we have that right to exercise it. Sorry for being angry at you but your words “a church has the right to choose how to celebrate their own sacraments” sets off my alarm b/c I have seen many use their religious freedom or freedom of speech as a shield from the responsibilities the comes with those freedoms.

            http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/401901/november-09-2011/the-word—bully-pulpit

          • Lymis

            You’ll note, if you read my post, how often I say that they are wrong – I think I repeatedly used words like “medieval” and “stupid.”

            I am not, and would not (because I do not) defending their beliefs on LGBT issues. And yes, I agree that they use that “we have a right to choose how to celebrate our sacraments” to excuse bigotry, misogyny and homophobia, as well as other isms.

            And yes, I don’t think their right to define their own beliefs and practices from a theological point of view excuses them of the responsibility for the damage they cause with those beliefs – nor for the culture of shame, secrecy and denial that it creates that has as direct consequences things like the the rape and coverup of rape of defenseless children.

            Nor can they be excused from either directly saying, or allowing to be said, that those beliefs translate into the systematic denial of equality to anyone, but most recently most egregiously, against LGBT people in the civil and secular areas. And they should be held responsible in civil law, for every abuse and every harm they cause that violates civil law.

            But yes, they get to say who they will marry, who they will ordain, who they will confirm, and who they will baptize. They do, rightly or wrongly, get to say “In order to be a member of our franchise, you have to follow these particular rules.”

            They don’t get to say who God loves, or have any say whatsoever in how people who don’t identify as members of their church get to arrange their personal relationship with God, and I sincerely wish they’d realize that and shut the hell up about it.

            I’ll be the first in line to help rail against the Catholic Church declaring what elected officials should do and what laws they should pass. To fight to keep purely religious doctrines from being the basis for denying equal civil rights, or who and how we can love.

            But no, I don’t get to tell them who they can give Communion to. I can say they are wrong in those choices. I can choose and have chosen to break off my participation in community with them. I can declare that I think some of their theology is ridiculous, outdated, hurtful, or just plain silly.

            But of course they get to decide how to run their own show, in matters internal to the workings of their own Church, as long as it doesn’t conflict with civil law – like with the child rape issue.

            And yes, that does mean they get to say that gay people can’t play. And it means that they are wrong when they do.

        • abracadabra

          Lymis –

          I do think the example of the pro-life politicians is apt, simply because the response was couched as for anyone ineligible to receive communion. I wasn’t so much quibbling with the actual refusal of communion but the manner in which it was done. It appears to have been done in way to intentionally draw attention to the refusal — it was using the Eucharist to make a political point. A priest’s responsibility extends beyond administering sacraments according the letter of the law — we don’t call ‘em father for nothing.

          • Lymis

            Okay, on that point we can definitely agree.

        • LSS

          I think we should wish that the priests were activist on this, rather than following the policy. If i remember right, the RCC already has the idea that the church should adapt to history, much more so than many protestant churches, at least the kind i came from. So why not on this issue? There are activist priests about things that matter to them. Isn’t that part of how the church changes? I think we should desire that, not feel it’s ok for the church to follow its own rules when they are so ugly. But then, not being catholic maybe i am not in any position to tell you what you should want for your own culture.

        • Cathleen Gillies

          Lymis – you are receiving more graces by being honest – with God – you don’t trust what the church teaches so therefore at the moment you are not in communion with the church. When I was wrestling with the church and all it’s teachings – I remained in my seat. Later I discovered that the Lord used my humbleness of feeling mortified that everyone else was receiving and I wasn’t as one of the best moments in my life. A priest once told me that our journey with God is the most beautiful mystery if we just be still and listen for his Will…boy does that take a lot of surrender. Prayers for all the people on this blog. The Lord is waiting for us to TRUST in Jesus – who is truly present in the holy eucharist.

    • DR

      You are truly, one of the most gracious people I’ve encountered online.

    • tp

      I think a far stronger case can be made that if Barbara intended to participate in the Eucharist, she should have raised the point in that morning interview and had the situation clear then as to whether she should step up to receive at all.

      Nope.

      It is imperative for the Priest to make the determination of the communicant’s status, and offer them confession.

      Fr. Marcel has NO IDEA if Barbara is chaste or not, which is, supposedly, the Church’s standard “love the sinner, hate the sin, punish behavior, not identity”.

      But she knew the policy and the doctrine and chose this time and place to fight it. She’s not innocent in regards this specific incident.

      Actually, she knows the policy quite well, and can cite BOTH the canon law on it, and the Archdiocese’s policy on how to handle it, which is that the Priest should, BEFOREHAND BEFOREHAND BEFOREHAND, offer pastoral counseling to the potential communicant, to determine if they are indeed obstinately persisting in a state of grave sin, and should offer them reconciliation BEFOREHAND.

      Marcel sure as hell did none of that.

      Barbara is most definitely innocent – the priest chose not to take the time to ascertain whether she was chaste or not, and gave her no options to repent, if she so chose.

      • Lymis

        I’m sorry, but nope right back at you.

        “Obviously, I don’t think being gay is a sin,” she told me. “But this wasn’t about me. This was about about my wonderful mother having the beautiful funeral that she deserved. So yes, I would have let Father Marcel grant me absolution.”

        It doesn’t work that way. There seems to be a serious misunderstanding about how Confession works. Is she saying that if he had only bothered to ask, she would sincerely have repented being a lesbian and renounced her relationship?

        Again, I’d find it much more offensive if some asshole priest presumed to take it upon himself to pry into whether I am being chaste by Catholic standards in my gay relationship – “What’s the matter, Father, you don’t know what ‘gay’ means?” – and asked me on the morning of my mother’s funeral if I was willing to chuck it all and maybe he could introduce me to a nice single Catholic girl, had I thought of giving that a try?

        When I introduce myself and my husband, the LAST thing anyone, priest or not, has a right to pry into is the state of our sex life. The proper response is “How nice to meet you,” not “You have separate bedrooms, right?”

        He most definitely did NOT have the obligation to do that, unless she herself brought it up and asked for it, at which point, frankly, he still would have been perfectly right to question her sincerity if it appeared she was just trying to punch a ticket so her mother’s funeral was “beautiful.”

        “But this wasn’t about me.” Huh? Again, either the sacrament of confession is a serious question by serious people about the state of their immortal soul or it’s a silly game – and one a priest should politely decline to get dragged into.

        Once again. Stupid theology. Dickhead priest. Abject apology required. But not for either the Confession or Communion stances.

        • tp

          Lymis – my comments regarding the fact that the priest did not know if she was chaste or not (which IS the standard that is consistently preached from the RCC pulpits) are directly from Barbara.

          She herself said as much – that the priest did not give her any benefit of the doubt, which the Church directs him to do, through pastoral counseling.

          You want to keep coming back to the proper stance regarding confession and communion – the Archdiocese has already ruled on that: the priest had an obligation to properly address this in private pastoral counseling once it came to his attention … which happened before the funeral. He also had a copy of the funeral mass program, which indicated that Barbara was going to be performing the eulogy.

          He could have, right then and there before the funeral, if this was so much about not wanting to be the man who besmirched the Rites of the Church, said he wasn’t going to do it. Instead, he kept mum until they were right in the middle of it.

          Let me say it again – his own superiors have confirmed he had an obligation, beforehand, to offer pastoral counseling in order to determine whether Barbara was actually obstinately living in a state of grave sin.

          He did not avail himself of that opportunity beforehand – he was fully in the wrong.

          • Lymis

            And I’ll say again, that unless Barbara is saying that if she had just been asked she would have repented of her relationship, renounced being a sexual active lesbian, and agreed before God to work on never acting on it again, this is just a red herring. Since she says she doesn’t feel being gay is a sin, it seems that way.

            It would have been inexcusably offensive of him to raise that point unless she specifically asked him to. That doesn’t make anything else he did particularly right, but you can’t seriously be suggesting that he should have done so. Unless it was made clear that she intended to go to Communion, why in the world SHOULD he have raised the point?

            Are you saying that you feel Catholic priests have a moral obligation to grill every passing gay person about their sex lives on the off chance that they might turn up at the altar rail? That’s unhinged.

    • Leslie

      Lymis,

      This line you wrote sums it up: “They don’t get to decide whether I am in right relationship with God.”

  • Anne

    The Archdiocese says this was against their Policy, right? The fact that the Archdiocese even HAS a policy tells me that the Catholic church as a whole DOES NOT have a policy in effect. Priests are allowed to do whatever they want.

    I really believe this Priest let his politics rather than church Doctrine, inform his actions. Does the Catholic church have an official policy that clergy should remove themselves from the altar during the Eulogy and refuse to go to the cemetary in addition to denying communion? This would be news to me.

    Just one of the reasons I’m now an ELCA Lutheran.

    • Bill Freeman

      Check out Cannon Law (1983 edition). The English edition approved by the American Catholic Conference of Bishops specifically states the Catholic Church official policy. Strangely, or not, it is exactly the same as the Archdiocese’s policy and exactly the opposite of the actions of this so-called “priest.” See Fr. Maher’s comments for a more orthodox explaination of the policy.

    • Cathleen Gillies

      I left the church at 9yrs old with my parents and returned to it at 31 yrs old after years of mulling over does Truth and happiness really exist. What a pleasant surprise I had when Jesus turned up in the Catholic church and his holy priests who are called to shepherd us with the sacraments. Jesus is truly present in the holy sacrament of the eucharist. Given the days of visiting with the deceased Mrs Johnson’s family it is to me clear that father loved this woman so much that he used his gift from the Lord to quietly and discretely save her from receiving Jesus. Again we weren’t there – but as I know from personal experience grief causes different reactions from people. It appears that mother Johnson was a faithful catholic and wants her children to repent and return to the gospel. What father offered her daughter was an act of mercy and grace. He probably got physically sick during the eulogy and this is why he had to leave. Where is the mercy on father? Taking the walk with Jesus is serious business – why else did so many thousands leave after his declaration of “unless you eat this bread and drink this cup” part of scripture. Free will is an open invitation from the Lord to get to know him more. The Roman Catholic church teaches us to love our neighbor and our enemy and we gain this courage through the sacraments. Upholding the 10 commandments is important. Could it be that the daughter explained to father that she belongs to another church – left the catholic church years ago etc etc. Because He loved her – she received immeasurable blessings for wanting to receive the body of Christ – but as Jesus teaches us – all things in God’s time…we need to be prepared to receive the Lord’s supper, if we are not – a blessing or a spiritual communion is much better than receiving something you don’t understand —- YET.

  • BC Erickson via Facebook

    How those other people stepped up to the plate for her really ministered to me. Thank God for them, and thank you John for sharing. It reminded me of my calling to be a ”minister” to the hurting. Good article, thanks for keeping the hate out of the steak :-)

    • http://pomeraniancatholic.blogspot.com/ Geoffrey Miller

      Amen.

  • AnnaAsher

    Only Catholics in good standing with the Church are to present themselves for Holy Communion. Only Catholics who are properly prepared…according to norms set down by the Church. If it were a softball club and there were rules for participation no one would question. But let it be the Catholic Church and suddenly everyone wants in but not to really live it. Why do to seek acceptance by something you do despise.?

    • abracadabra

      The thing is, we don’t despise it. It is one in the same as family. I, for example, get frustrated with my bigoted, sexist grandfather but he’s still my grandfather and as nasty as that part is, that is not the core of who he is. I understand that he has his reasons for believing as he does, reasons that at one point seemed self-evident to (nearly) everyone. However, we’ve grown in our understanding of what it means to be human and we are waiting around, telling grandpa he’s wrong on occasion, for him to either die or have a late-life epiphany. Whatever we feel about it, it is not a softball club that we join for the season (ironically, that is actually how my in laws became Presbyterian – they needed players for the church softball team).

      There are many of us who are not willing to get pushed out for challenging some of the rules – which are not as immutable as some would like us to believe. It might be because most of us are baptized as infants . It is part of our identities – we became officially Catholic before we can remember, 6 days old in my case. Or maybe it is because we don’t really understand our relationship with God as an exclusively personal one (i.e., Jesus is my personal Lord and Savior is just not how we say things) but something that we experience in community (i.e., where 2 or 3 are gathered in my name).

      Yeah, right now, I am pretty disgusted with the leadership on any number of issues. But just like I am not going to stop being American, no matter how many people say if you don’t like it you can move to Canada (even though I think about it 2001-2009), I am not going to stop being Catholic, regardless of how many people tell me or announce people who think like me are not “real” Catholics.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        excellent, abra.

      • http://uphillbothwaysinthesnow.blogspot.com justin t.

        6 days old? Really? The idea of a “catholic” child makes about as much sense as the idea of a Republican child or an environmentalist child. Being baptised as a newborn no more makes one a catholic than being dipped in a river makes one immortal.

        • Lymis

          In theory, at least, the Catholic Church shifts that personal acceptance in one’s own life to the sacrament of Confirmation, where you make that commitment that someone made for you as an infant in your own right.

          • http://uphillbothwaysinthesnow.blogspot.com justin t.

            In other words, you’re not a catholic until you decide to be one yourself. I.e. there is zero point in baptizing a baby.

          • DR

            There’s an actual point to it, it just sounds like it’s one with which you disagree.

          • Donald Rappe

            I’m with DR.

        • abracadabra

          The Catholic understanding of baptism is a sacramental one — it is not just a profession of faith but it leaves an indelible mark on one’s soul. It is an outward sign of the inward receipt of grace. In Catholic teaching, the focus of any sacrament is the receipt of grace (i.e. Actor is Christ) rather than profession of faith (i.e., Actor is Believer) and one can receive grace before one is of the age of reason because it isn’t an intellectual matter.

          I agree with Lymis that the “adult” part of accepting Christ is done with Confirmation but, in my experience, it is different in effect from the believer’s baptism. That is probably because it is a matter of becoming an adult rather than a member — in practice that means everyone gets confirmed in 8th or 11th/12th grade rather than when the spirit moves them (it takes 6mo+ to prepare anyway). That and you can go without being confirmed and still participate more or less fully in the Church.

        • LSS

          Cultural feelings are not something you can argue logically. They just are that way until enough people change their feelings about them and the culture changes.

    • sayla1228

      I understand what you are saying the one needs to be in the state of grace to receive the Eucharist. The real issue is that many people in the laity and the clergy are using the “church/temple/mosque has the right to choose how to celebrate their own sacraments/ordinances/traditions” line to demoralize and violate the personhood of LGBT people as well as making it into a political football. I find the politicization of the Eucharist and using it as an means to inflict injury on someone’s soul to be much more pungent and disgusting than people in “not good” standing receiving the consecrated Blood and Body of Christ.

    • Lymis

      This is probably going to confuse some people who misread my point down below, but I have to take issue with you here.

      To cast this issue as Catholic bashing is missing a huge part of the point.

      Father Guarnizo was within his rights. The Catholic church was with in its rights.

      Neither one of them was right, and neither one of them did the right thing. That is a completely different question. And that appears to be your point, which I why your post bothers me.

      The Roman Catholic Church continues to declare, and has for hundreds, if not thousands of years, that gay and lesbian people are not welcome. That we are disordered. That our lives and our loves are dirty and not beloved of God.

      When you add to that the stance that the Roman Catholic Church holds that they are the best, and often, if only by implication, the only path to God and to salvation, it takes on an overtone of evil that simply cannot be ignored.

      And yes, people can point to specific canon law and papal statements that Catholicism isn’t the only way, but the Church’s stance isn’t that maybe gay people might be happier in the United Church of Christ, it is that we are wrong, that we are bad, that we are disordered, and as recently as the last few weeks, the Pope was saying that our relationships are a threat to humanity.

      To say “coming before this table in fellowship is the path to salvation” and then saying “but not you, no way, no how” cannot be excused. I don’t know if you are Catholic, but if you didn’t grow up Catholic, it’s probably hard to imagine how linked one finds “being Catholic” and “being Christian” – even when you haven’t the slightest issue with the idea that God works through all churches.

      abracadabra compares is to being American – which is a great analogy. If the United States threw me out, I could lives somewhere else, and appreciate being welcome, and create a life full of love and happiness and community, but it would very likely never feel like home.

      When the Church threw me out, it wasn’t just a matter of being asked to go find a different club to join. And it isn’t a matter of asking for “acceptance” or a matter of “despising.” It’s a matter of being exiled, of being tossed out of our own home. And a matter of being declared unclean and disordered for something that is neither.

      And the Church doesn’t position itself AS a club. It positions itself as a home, as a community, as the One True Faith. And then points the shunning finger at all sorts of people, boots us out, and slams the door in our faces.

      I don’t seek acceptance from the Church. Frankly, I’ve given up any hope of being welcomed back at any point during my lifetime. And, yes, you could certainly describe my feelings as less than warm and fuzzy about it.

      But whether they say so or not, they threw me out of my home.

      Look to the Master. I seem to remember some discussions about how justified it would have been not to heal on the Sabbath, or to let lost sheep die, or to lock the doors to lepers and tax collectors.

      If you are following the words and actions of Christ, people come first, and people in need so far outweigh religious rules that they might as well not have been written. If Jesus broke the Sabbath to heal, can you imagine Him refusing Communion to someone at her mother’s funeral because of who she loves?

      They told Barbara that it was her home, and the home of her mother, and during a celebration as family – not only her own actual family, but the family of believers, when she stepped to the table to join in the central act of community, they snatched it away from her and told her she was dirty. In front of God, speaking for God. In what they told her was her own home.

      I will support their right to do that. But nobody dare smugly announce that they were right to do it. Or that in any way, it was a Christian thing to do.

    • Michelle

      This always confused me. I understand reasoning behind the “Catholics in good standing” argument, I just don’t think it floats. Jesus didn’t hang out with people “in good standing.” He met them, shared a meal with them, where they were as they were: sinners, tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers, crazy homeless people, widows…

      • Lymis

        It floats if they are following the rules. I agree that it doesn’t float if they are following the example of Jesus.

      • Donald Rappe

        Not many would say the Catholic hierarchy behaves anything like Jesus. Not since John 23′d.

      • Anya

        Chist also told them to sin no more. You kinda skipped that part.

        • DR

          Did she? He never said that to anyone who didn’t have the capacity to change the “sin”, did he? He focused on behavior and *being* gay is incremental to what one does with one’s vagina or penis, and with whom.

          In short” stop twisting what homosexuality *is* so it fits your definition of “behavior” so you can condemn it.

  • Todd Xavier

    The priest acted correctly. She knew the rules and chose to attempt to break them.

    • Lymis

      Because Jesus was so big on rules and punishing people who break them. Let’s all cast stones, just as Jesus taught us!

    • David Milloway

      If that priest acted correctly, then God bless all those other Catholics for acting inappropriately.

      • Andrew Raymond

        I’m with you, Todd.

    • Andrew Raymond

      Clearly I will have to agree to disagree on the matter of the eucharist, but how can you stretch that into refusing to complete the service at the graveside? That alone is completely unconscionable.

      • cat rennolds

        granting that he may legitimately have a moral imperative to deny the Eucharist to anyone for any reason – the reason in this case is a red herring. he could have confessed her and granted her absolution, which would be his higher responsibility by that same imperative, and he chose instead to make a political statement from the pulpit with her as the scapegoat. this was not good faith.

        • Lymis

          Absolution for what sin? The Catholic position isn’t that it’s a general dry-cleaning, but the specific repentance and forgiveness of specific acts that are sinful. Of what was she supposed to confess and be forgiven?

          • cat rennolds

            one would assume, in this case, the sin of homosexual behavior (note – NOT my position on this. Not Catholic, not Christian, not straight:). Plenty of “good” catholics repent their chronic sins every week, take communion, and then go back out and fall again.

            Now, if she doesn’t think it’s a sin, or does but isn’t willing to repent, and he’s not able to overcome his moral qualms, then BEFOREHAND they have a chance to dialogue and decide how to handle the situation so as not to humiliate anybody or disrupt the service.

            I attended a Catholic church for a while where the priest would not give ANYONE communion whom he did not KNOW to be Catholic and confessed. but this was made perfectly clear to everyone in both printed and spoken announcements, and anyone who wanted to come up and receive a blessing could still do so. it was a small church.

  • Peter Maher

    Surely the priest failed in two ways:

    1. judging Barbara to be in a state of mortal sin (only God can do that). Remember the church still teaches the inviolability of conscience – even an erroneous one – as much as some would like this doctrine to be expunged from our faith. However Barbara may not have an erronous conscience. And why do we not refuse almost all at the communion table for their clear differences with church teaching about war, the death penalty, asylum seekers, illegal immigrants, contraception, almost anything sexual, divorce and remarriage etc.

    2. failing to follow basic common sense – I think it used to be called pastoral care.

    But what of the responsibility of today’s seminary leaders. These men should never have been ordained. They are encouraged to be “saviours” of the church by doing all they can to destroy the “excesses” of Vatican II by imposing their fundamentalist positions on vulnerable parishioners and their bishops wonder why their actions bring the church into disrepute.

    When I was in seminary we were constantly reminded we were but servants and to “pull our heads in”. We didn’t because we were young and “right” (read “self-righteous” like today’s young men) but we were made aware that this was unacceptable behaviour – so we had better find ways to fashion our enthusiasm and tame it to at least tolerable levels if we wanted to live to fight another day. In other words our seminary training, with all its faults, made us conscious that we may not be right about everything and even when we were, we were dealing with human beings and they are just that – human – “give us a break for crying out loud”.

    In our parish we reach out to GLBTI catholics, their families and friends in our mission statement and through a regular Mass that specifically ministers to the GLBTI community. We don’t judge them – they do more than enough of that for themselves; we don’t refuse them communion (just as we don’t refuse anyone else as we can’t know their state of grace); we baptise their children if they fulfil all the conditions the church lays out – one parent must be a Catholic and they need a Catholic godparent and they must intend to raise the child in the Catholic faith. The ritual does not say you can refuse baptism because the parent has a partner (irrespective of gender); you are a single parent, the father or mother is unknown or if one parent has followed his/her conscience in a way that the priest disagrees with. If during good pastoral care in a pastoral relationship a matter comes to the attention of the priest, he can then discuss this being careful to respect the dignity of the person seeking his care.

    Note – the church constantly warns against discrimination of any kind.

    • Lymis

      “Note – the church constantly warns against discrimination of any kind.”

      • Lymis

        Snort.

    • Cathleen Gillies

      Thanks for reminding me — Why I love my Bishops and Priest and the Pope the most – THEY LOVE GOD so much they work their hardest to provide me the graces from God to TRUST IN THE LORD that my soul can get to HEAVEN…Trust in the Lord – it’s simple and transformative. Living your rhetoric is way to complicated. Jesus tells us you are either with me or against me — He’ll provide you the courage to do the WILL OF THE FATHER – LISTen to him and trust.

      • DR

        Cathleen, you’re on a blog with devout Christians as well as devout Catholics. We’re already listening, we’re already trusting. What seems to be too terrifying for you to actually consider is that you’re not. That we’re not the problem, that you are.

  • http://pomeraniancatholic.blogspot.com/ Geoffrey Miller

    Great article. The only point I disagree with is removing the priest in question from parish life. I don’t believe in crucifying someone for their mistakes like that. Then, of course, there is the categorical difference between being against homosexual behavior and considering it sinful, and say, being a racist. A bigot is someone with an irrational hatred of another group of people based solely on their identity. Here, we see only the clash of people with variant, and probably very well thought out, moral philosophies about what constitutes right behavior.

    A more interesting question to address is whether, in the objective sense, homosexual acts are indeed moral. This leads to several other inquiries that must be answered.

    1) How is Scripture to be interpreted? Given a proper interpretation and application, if such a thing exists, are homosexual acts considered sinful according to the Bible?

    2) Depending on how we answer the above question, we will need to address how and in what sense the Bible serves as a moral guide. Can we, while still being faithful to God and intellectual honest with ourselves, disregard the sexual theology of a religion and continue to claim to be adherents? How do we decide what to believe and what not to?

    3) How is a community to safeguard and communicate what it perceives to be the truth? What should be done when someone questions or challenges what the community feels is its mission?

    My personal conclusion is that support of homosexual acts is irreconcilable with traditional Christian moral beliefs, as evidenced by Scripture and its interpretations up until the modern era. The LGBTQ movement is based on principles derived from other belief systems alien to the Judeo-Christian mindset. That is not to say that the movement is incorrect, just that it and Christianity cannot both be correct–it’s either/or here, by logical necessity. I could see a new religion which approves homosexual behavior conceivably rising from Christianity, but it would stand in relation to it as Buddhism might to Hinduism, or Christianity to Judaism.

    In regards to the priest’s actions, he was not acting in accordance with canon law. Edward Peters gives the best explanation.

    http://canonlawblog.wordpress.com/2012/03/01/a-thought-exercise-occasioned-by-the-lesbiancommunion-controversy/

    • Lymis

      “Can we, while still being faithful to God and intellectual honest with ourselves, disregard the … theology of a religion and continue to claim to be adherents? ”

      So, you’re okay with slavery and telling women not to speak in church?

      If you want to talk about the divinity of Jesus as central to Christianity, I’m right there with you. But you’re really putting the condemnation of loving same-sex relationships between people who are homosexual or bisexual by nature at the heart of what it means to be Christian?

      How charmingly smug and arrogant of you.

      “A more interesting question to address is whether, in the objective sense, homosexual acts are indeed moral. ”

      No, it isn’t a more interesting question.

      • http://pomeraniancatholic.blogspot.com/ Geoffrey Miller

        It is indeed an interesting question because it is very important to structuring a just society and happens to be much discussed in the contemporary world.

        And no, I’m not being smug or arrogant, I’m simply putting the theology of the body and the human person at the center of Christianity. Viewing homosexual acts as sinful along with all other extramarital sexual acts is a minor corollary. And that’s just academic honesty in the study of comparative religion, which deals with neatly categorizing belief systems according to their hierarchies of ideas, not necessarily the attitude of the average adherent. I’d recommend reading the collection of Pope John Paul’s audiences on Theology of the Body.

        http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0819874213/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=0819873942&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=1DES3WTHKG7DW8EX65ZK

        Even though it’s billed as something new, it’s simple regurgitation of Patristic thought on the subject matter.

        Regarding your comments on slavery and women not being permitted to speak in churches, this is a red-herring, but I will nevertheless address it.

        First, concerning women teaching in church. You seem very well-informed, so I’m sure you’re aware that St. Paul was speaking about a very specific liturgical function in Jewish synagogical liturgies, which finds its analogue in the homily of modern Catholic services (and is why only a deacon or priest is able to deliver said homily). In other passages, St. Paul explicitly mentions women preachers who traveled with him and engaged in missionary work. There were even deaconesses, although most research suggests they had a far different role than deacons and were not considered to be part of the clergy.

        Second, concerning slavery, only certain kinds are intrinsically immoral, such as chattel or sexual varieties. Many governors of provinces and men of high rank were slaves in the ancient world, and by ancient standards, most modern employees would in fact be considered slaves of the corporations they work for since they depend on a relatively fixed stipend (salary) for living expenses and sometimes even surrender their residency rights to move when the company tells them to. So I don’t see how the passages in the New Testament about treating slaves with human dignity is at all irrelevant to the modern world. They’ve been used to argue for employer healthcare, the union movement, and other similar endeavors.

        Definitions of words sometimes change over the century, and even though we wouldn’t call the employer/employee system slavery, in the ancient sense, that’s exactly what it is.

        • Lymis

          Viewing homosexual acts as sinful along with all other extramarital sexual acts is completely missing the point, and dismissing the lived experience of an entire class of your fellow human beings.

          Our lives are not “a more interesting question” for you to mull over. We are people, not a hierarchy of ideas to be neatly categorized.

          Insert rude, but in context, perfectly appropriate, remark here.

          • http://pomeraniancatholic.blogspot.com/ Geoffrey Miller

            How is viewing extramarital acts as sinful completely missing the point, when the point is, in fact, whether or not they are sinful?

            Consider the teleology of sex. What does it do? It unites a female and a male for procreation. Thus, sexual desire is rightly ordered toward unitary and procreational ends, with the unitary end subordinate to and serving the procreational one (since the spouses are united primarily to rear children). Sexual desire ordered toward something besides its proper ends is “dis”ordered. Likewise, violent passion is properly ordered toward defense and competition, but disordered when its end becomes pleasure (sadomasochism).

            Categorically, I cannot distinguish homosexual desire from something like BIIDS (which many claim as a part of their inherent identity). You can read about one woman’s struggles here since you value input from lived experience.

            http://transabled.org/thoughts/dear-father-joe.htm

            Sexual desire which becomes ordered toward mutilating the body is disordered. If we can’t agree on that, then this conversation can go no further. Note that the desire, not the person, is disordered, because persons do not have a proper end beyond their own existence. Christianity teaches that all persons feel certain disordered desires as a result of living in a fallen world, though the disordered desires vary considerably from one person to another. Sin is when a person gives in and commits an act in accordance with a disordered desire–sin literally means, “missing the mark.”

            I myself suffer from a persistent, disordered sexual desire known as an inflationism fetish. Choosing to act in accordance with it would be very sinful. I will not describe what it entails, but readers are free to Google it to see how damaging it would be to me, to my future wife, to everyone involved. Homosexual desire is far less disordered since it retains a partial ordering to the unitive end of sex. There are those who struggle with sexual inclinations just as strong as yours, but which could never gain public approval and rightly so–these desires are immediately and apparently dangerous, unlike your own.

            Having desires is not a choice. What you do with them is, if we are to ascribe any semblance of freedom to human will.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            Wow. It’s like logic—but different.

          • Allie

            For real.

          • otter

            yeah I like the logic of calling Gay relationships extramarital after denying us the right to marry!

            Catch 22 fyor real!

          • cat rennolds

            Unfortunately, John, it IS logic. He does it very well. That’s why it’s so dangerous.

            The fault lies not in his logic, but in his premises. GIGO.

            this would seem to be the case with the whole issue, actually.

          • http://pomeraniancatholic.blogspot.com/ Geoffrey Miller

            “The fault lies not in his logic, but in his premises. GIGO.”

            Exactly. My argument is valid. If you wish to challenge it, you must ask whether it is sound, or in other words, whether the premises are true. I’m always open to follow the truth no matter what, so if someone could present a compelling case as to why my premises are wrong, I would definitely listen. I’ve flip-flopped on the issue several times, in fact. But no one has ever offered a compelling argument to me before, just strings of emotivist statements and ad hominem.

          • cat rennolds

            that is going to take me some time. check back.

          • http://pomeraniancatholic.blogspot.com/ Geoffrey Miller

            Cat, I look forward to dialoguing with you about this important issue. You may ask John for my email, since he should be able to see it.

          • cat rennolds

            on second thought: You should read a LOT more of John’s blog. this has been covered and covered.

            but a short hint: start with verifiable, observable DATA before you do any more logic with second-hand information.

          • http://pomeraniancatholic.blogspot.com/ Geoffrey Miller

            I will search around the blog as you wish, but I’m disappointed we couldn’t have a dialogue.

          • cat rennolds

            don’t have a problem dialoguing. just I’m supposed to be earning a living right this minute. As I said on FB, I *AM* considering the lilies of the field, but they are not upside down on their mortgages.

            why o why am I a Mary stuck in a Martha world?

          • http://pomeraniancatholic.blogspot.com/ Geoffrey Miller

            I will offer prayers for your mortgage. These are terrible times.

          • http://pomeraniancatholic.blogspot.com/ Geoffrey Miller

            “Unfortunately, John, it IS logic. He does it very well. That’s why it’s so dangerous.”

            I’m a mathematician. And I’ve done a whole lot of logic theory, so I take this as a complement. However, like you pointed out, it’s all about the premises.

          • Diana A.

            LOL!

          • http://pomeraniancatholic.blogspot.com/ Geoffrey Miller

            Wait, what? Did I miss something?

          • Donald Rappe

            I too am a mathematician and I often say exactly that when I miss something. You are missing the fact that you have an incorrect premise. (or more, but, as we both know, one is sufficient to draw any nonsensical conclusion.) We are finite beings and the relevant important premises may be near infinite, so we can never be aware of them all. In your case, your notion of God’s love for who he has created is too limited. You seem to have very little acquaintance with God’s created LGBT beings. You need to make friends with more of them.

          • Lymis

            “Consider the teleology of sex. What does it do? It unites a female and a male for procreation. ”

            Not all that clear on what “homosexual” means, are we?

            Do try to keep up.

          • http://pomeraniancatholic.blogspot.com/ Geoffrey Miller

            Homosexual means to feel an exclusive or predominant sexual desire for members of the same sex. Am I incorrect?

          • Lymis

            You are incorrect when you create a circular definition of sex that flies in the face of all reality. When you define sex as exclusively between a man and a woman for procreation, of course gay relationships lie outside that.

            But that isn’t what sex is, not even for heterosexuals. Infertile people can have sex. Postmenopausal people can have sex. And yes, homosexual people can have sex. And you simply cannot justify claiming an “inherent meaning” to any activity that is based on ignoring how people actually go about that activity, and what the actual, rather than conveniently constructed, results are.

            If you were to construct a teleological definition of human sexual acts, it would have to be that its inherent meaning is one of physical and emotional support, bonding, and pleasure, which, on numerically rare occasions, also acts as the mechanism for the creation of a new human being. And that’s true even if you limit it to mutually fertile heterosexuals.

            Your definition appears to claim that elderly people, infertile people, and same sex couples cannot have sex.

            You need to get out more.

          • http://pomeraniancatholic.blogspot.com/ Geoffrey Miller

            “If you were to construct a teleological definition of human sexual acts, it would have to be that its inherent meaning is one of physical and emotional support, bonding, and pleasure, which, on numerically rare occasions, also acts as the mechanism for the creation of a new human being. And that’s true even if you limit it to mutually fertile heterosexuals.”

            All of the functions you have listed, however, fit into the ordering scheme of procreation and childrearing. You need physical and emotional support, bonding, and pleasure to sustain the continued act of parenthood. In the case of infertility, there is a defect or impediment of mechanism, but this is irrelevant to the teleology of the act.

            You might go so far as to say that marriage is friendship between a man and a woman which is ordered toward the rearing of the next generation. Sexual acts come into play precisely because of that.

          • cat rennolds

            Yes, all of those functions DO fit into the support of childrearing. REGARDLESS OF GENDER COMBINATION. Regardless of whether your children are adopted or your own blood. Regardless of whether the children you are rearing are even legally your children. Regardless of whether you are rearing any children ….wait, what?

            Sexual satisfaction and bonding between non-parenting individuals of a society enable and motivate those individuals to contribute to the support of the society itself. We’re gregarious. This is our species survival mechanism. When we are happy and supported we support each other.

          • cat rennolds

            Now, further suppose: You and your female spouse have created an offspring. And this offspring is gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgendered or asexual or infertile. He or she has incredible talents – music, math, art, history, psychology – to offer in the service of the survival of the species. But if this offspring is taught that it is an invalid human being because it cannot or will not reproduce, that it does not belong, assuming s/he survives, then what reason does he/she have to contribute ANYTHING?

          • http://pomeraniancatholic.blogspot.com/ Geoffrey Miller

            You’re assuming that I would reject a child who came to hold a moral philosophy different from my own. And besides, I once considered becoming a monk, so why would I teach someone that an inability or choice not to reproduce would make them worthless?

            I really haven’t discussed what my beliefs look like in application yet, only portions of the general theory. You might be surprised.

          • cat rennolds

            nope, not assuming anything. pointing out the logical end consequence of setting male+female=procreation as the only valid basis for sexual behavior.

            kids do logic too. if you teach a gay child that only “man-on-top-get it over with quick” is the “right” way, then the child does the math, and you don’t find out they hate themselves until it’s too late.

          • LSS

            you have missed another definition. Being gay is not a philosophy, any more than being straight is.

          • cat rennolds

            Your definition is incomplete. To be homosexual is not ONLY to feel sexual desire for people of the same gender. It also includes romantic attraction, ie, the desire to be in RELATIONSHIP with a person of the same gender.

          • http://pomeraniancatholic.blogspot.com/ Geoffrey Miller

            I include romance under sexual attraction. Sorry for the confusion over my definition of terms.

          • cat rennolds

            that could be the problem, you know.

          • http://pomeraniancatholic.blogspot.com/ Geoffrey Miller

            How so?

          • cat rennolds

            Because they are two very different things, and can relate to one another in a number of different ways. keeping your terminology specific and accurate is crucial to valid logic. it is also considerably useful in determining the truth or falsehood of a premise.

          • http://pomeraniancatholic.blogspot.com/ Geoffrey Miller

            Okay, then give me your definitions for the terms we’re discussing. I think it’s very odd to argue that romance is not part of sexual attraction.

          • cat rennolds

            sexual attraction, as I use it, refers to a body/brain response – my eyes see someone of a certain physical configuration, I smell a certain set of scents or feel certain tactile sensations, and I process that as “potential sexual interaction candidate.” It doesn’t require my emotional involvement or my conscious consent. a romantic attraction is primarily emotional – someone I would want to spend long hours getting to know, daydream about a future with, give presents to, enjoy the company of….the two CAN occur together, but don’t have to. I can sexually desire, totally involuntarily, someone I would never even want to meet. Conversely, I can have a romantic infatuation with someone who doesn’t spark my hormones at all. when you have both, this is a love relationship worth pursuing further.

          • Soulmentor

            *******(since the spouses are united primarily to rear children). *******

            Says who?!!!!! Where in the Bible will that be found? Rhetorical question of course. It isn’t there. So…..says who?

            The only thing the comes even remotely close to a reasoning for the “unity” of marriage is the statement that “it is not good that the man should be alone”. That sounds a lot more like a “companionship” reason, with procreation being a secondary RESULT of the companionship.

            And so, woman was made to be a man’s companion…..but no law was given that a woman should be man’s exclusive companion. THAT, is a human interpretation.

          • http://pomeraniancatholic.blogspot.com/ Geoffrey Miller

            For the primary ends of marriage being the rearing of children, see Genesis 1:28. From context, the creation myth is clearly talking about the man’s search for a suitable mate, which could not be found among the other animals.

            In the New Testament, we have Jesus’ words in Mark 10:6-9 and the other Synoptic parallels. “The two shall become one flesh” is a Semitic idiom referring to children that will result from the union, i.e., the spouses are indeed “one flesh” in their children. I don’t know how you could argue around Jesus’ viewing this as the purpose of marriage when he clearly states his belief on the matter. Feel free to disagree with him all you want, but at least have the intellectual integrity not to make somebody else’s philosophy mean whatever you want rather than what it does, in fact, mean.

          • cat rennolds

            besides, if the primary end of marriage IS to rear children (which I’m not debating here) …gay couples do it better.

          • http://pomeraniancatholic.blogspot.com/ Geoffrey Miller

            We had a very nice lesbian couple in my Boy Scout troop. I’m not arguing against letting homosexual couples adopt. And I think it’s an unreasonable assertion that they raise kids better than other family arrangements. It depends on a lot of factors.

            The debate here is whether sexual acts other than sexual intercourse between the genitals of a man and a woman are disordered. My vote is yes, they are. For instance, oral sex, even between a husband and wife, in my mind, is disordered.

          • DR

            That’s the debate you want to have because ifs the one that your current theology can defend. But it’s not the actual debate because it is not what “being gay” is.

          • http://pomeraniancatholic.blogspot.com/ Geoffrey Miller

            Then what exactly is, “being gay,” according to your definition, DR?

          • Diana A.

            But what gives you the right to judge anybody else’s sex life other than your own? Are you the Sex Police?

          • cat rennolds

            ooh, me, me!!! this ties in with the “romantic attraction” question. Being gay is MORE than having only-same-sex sexual desires. it’s having only-same-sex happily ever after dreams.

          • http://pomeraniancatholic.blogspot.com/ Geoffrey Miller

            “Being gay is MORE than having only-same-sex sexual desires. it’s having only-same-sex happily ever after dreams.”

            I’m not disagreeing. But I don’t limit sexual desires to only the sex act.

          • http://pomeraniancatholic.blogspot.com/ Geoffrey Miller

            “But what gives you the right to judge anybody else’s sex life other than your own? Are you the Sex Police?”

            Is DR? She’s judging my sex life plenty and pretends to know all about it. The street goes both ways, and so do cars, because both sides really do genuinely care about what’s right and wrong and whether people are getting hurt. That’s at the root of why we both judge each other in this manner.

          • DR

            Yes, being gay is far more than sex but you keep trying to debate the sex part. You are creating an artificial construct around “being gay” that does not exist, no one is reduced to what we do with our genitals. Have the debate, Geoffrey, just have it on the macro-human level. Jesus did not die for our genitals. He died for the *whole* of the human being, you have to start facing gay men and women as people whose sexuality is not just what they do with their penis or vagina.

          • DR

            Geoffrey, I’ve not judged your sex life. I’ve not said that you need to stop acting on whatever desire you might have or you’ll go to hell. I used your word “disorder”, I did not insert that into our dialogue – you did. Copy and paste where I made any kind of judgment at all. Face the real reason you’re getting defensive, stop blaming me.

          • cat rennolds

            It has been my personal experience that, IN GENERAL, gay and lesbian couples make better parents because they have to work so hard to be allowed to do so. Committed intentional parenting, in general, works better, regardless of gender combinations. I sadly suspect that in the day when same-sex parenting is taken for granted, we’ll begin to see that “normalize.” Though I hope I’m wrong:)

          • Diana A.

            I don’t see exactly where DR judged your sex life. She might well have judged your attitude toward others, but not your sex life.

            And if DR jumped off the Empire State Building, would that be a good reason for you to do the same thing?

          • DR

            Geoffrey I’m a straight woman. I’ll let gay men and women define what “being gay” is. They have the last word on it.

          • http://pomeraniancatholic.blogspot.com/ Geoffrey Miller

            Yes, DR did judge and pretend to know all about my sexuality.

            Quoting DR: “Your fundamental disconnect is how terrified you are of sexuality as a result of your own disorder. You’ve separated it so you can control it and change it and still feel “OK.”

            “Why is it that people with the most extremes of sexual fetishes so often hide within Christianity? I find that fascinating Geoffrey, you get to decide the sexual path that is right for you according to God. You absolutely do. I hope you’re getting some therapy to help reconcile these sexual parts of yourself in ways that don’t create excessive self-loathing.”

            “You are hiding [your sexuality], Geoffrey. I just don’t think you’re able to face that yet.”

            “You – because of whatever experiences you’ve had with sex – are identifying being “gay” or ‘straight” with sexual arousal, that is the beginning and ending point of your definitions…You are moving sexuality into a narrower realm so your beliefs can match it. That’s what is happening here.”

            “I’ve lived within some very rigidly imposed guidelines as a result of lots of unresolved stuff so I guess it makes it kind of easy to spot it.”

            Please refer to the response thread below this one for the quoted responses. My only objection to gay relationships is a misuse of the genitals and physical passions. Everything else is fine and healthy about them. If two men want to live together forever as sort of adopted brothers, that’s excellent and good.

          • DR

            Geoffrey all of what I’ve offered is commentary on your ::attitudes about sex;;; which is very different than your :::sexuality:: Keep the definitions clear.

          • cat rennolds

            If sex serves purposes other than procreation, which I believe we have now firmly established that it does, then those other sexual acts are valid to the extent that they serve the purposes we’ve described.

            Sexual acts which create harm, on the other hand, can be legitimately considered disordered. and penis+vagina in the wrong circumstances can create incredible degrees of harm. it isn’t the physical specifics that matter. it’s the love or lack thereof.

          • http://pomeraniancatholic.blogspot.com/ Geoffrey Miller

            @Cat: Valid so far, but can such sexual acts fulfill a proper function in isolation from procreative ends? That is, can we separate the unitive legitimately and just have that? When do sexual acts become wrong? When are they right? After establishing those questions, all that remains is to integrate the answers into a solid, Christian theology that is both consistent and true.

          • Gary

            Really? Song of Solomon would clearly indicate God does not agree with you.

          • cat rennolds

            @Geoff: If you are a Christian, then by definition the unitive function is a higher order than the procreative function.

            It doesn’t say, For God so wanted the world to procreate that He sent his only beloved Son. Procreation is an Adam and Eve function. Love is a Jesus function.

          • Soulmentor

            Genesis 1:28 is an admonition to “go forth and multiply”, which may or may not be a command. If you choose it to be a command, that is a human interpretive choice….merely. Conversely, there is no admonition against NOT multiplying.

            “the spouses are indeed “one flesh” in their children.” That too is a human interpretation of “one flesh”, and a strikingly specious one at that. It’s a human extrapolation, not a fact.

            Jesus words in Mark 10 are NOT a command, but sound more like an explanation of marriage. If they were a command, then should it not be that ALL men and women be married? To anyone? Just to be married by divine command? How utterly ridiculous. I trust even you wouldn’t advocate that. So then, where is your point?

            You may live with whatever interpretive choices you have been taught if you wish. Others have differing interpretations. Since all are made my humans (usually men, need I point out?), why aren’t all equally valid? My theologian is as good as yours.

            Speaking of theology, Mr Santorum has trapped himself in that discussion(vis-a-vis the President) that he can’t win, providing a stark reason why mixing politics and religion is a very bad idea…..as if the history of the Vatican, for instance, hasn’t provided reason enuf.

          • vj

            ““The two shall become one flesh” is a Semitic idiom referring to children that will result from the union”

            I’m not sure what your source for this information is, but even a ‘plain’ reading of Scripture does not support your assertion that ‘one flesh’ refers to the resulting progeny.

            1 Cor 16:”Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”

            Clearly this verse is using ‘one flesh’ to refer *solely* to the ‘mechanical’ joining of two physical bodies during the sex act; there is absolutely NO indication that the problem with ‘uniting’ with a prostitute has anything at all to do with any child that may arise therefrom.

          • LSS

            Are you serious? I thought “become one flesh” meant on a physical level “insert tab A into slot B” (or other configuration, of course) and also the whole emotional connection where you consider the other person and take care of them (including physical wellbeing) as much as or more than you do yourself.

          • vj

            I also used to think that ‘one flesh’ included the emotional & spiritual aspects of unity, but it seems from the Corinthians passage that it pretty much is just about the physical…

          • vj

            Also, the Biblical practice of a childless widow marrying her husband’s brother in order to produce children for her original husband’s lineage is another argument against the term ‘one flesh’ having anything to do with children. In such cases, the physical coupling of the widow and the 2nd husband produced children that, for *legal* and *religious* purposes, were considered to be the progeny of the first husband.

          • vj

            “(since the spouses are united primarily to rear children)”

            Rubbish! My husband and I have been married for almost 20 years; we have 4 children, the youngest of whom is 9 years old. Within the next 10-15 years we fully expect all of our children to have left home. However, as we are currently in our early 40s and have no immediate health issues, we also fully expect to live for at least another 40 years. Projecting about 60 years of being married, with only about 25 of those years devoted to raising our children, I cannot see how our marriage is PRIMARILY for the purpose of raising children? Our marriage gives us love, friendship, companionship, comfort, support, etc. THAT seems to me the primary reason – raising children has been a wonderful blessing, but it’s hardly why we got married in the first place.

          • Cathleen Gillies

            Catholics continue the sacrament of marriage a covenant with God – first the union of man and woman is to bind us with the love of God and the fortitude to keep doing the good for the kingdom of God. Children are a blessing from God – but are not needed to confirm this covenant. Your statement doesn’t support catholic teaching.

          • http://pomeraniancatholic.blogspot.com/ Geoffrey Miller

            Yes it does. The intention to have and openness to receiving children is absolutely required for a valid sacramental marriage.

            Can. 1096 §1. For matrimonial consent to exist, the contracting parties must be at least not ignorant that marriage is a permanent partnership between a man and a woman ordered to the procreation of offspring by means of some sexual cooperation.

            That’s verbatim what I’ve been saying all along, right there in Catholic canon law. Cathleen, I know what I’m talking about. I’ve studied this stuff a lot. I’m not just shooting off the cuff.

          • DR

            You guys keep fighting about canon law and splitting hairs on what makes a marriage a marriage while a bunch of us just stay focused on how to keep gay kids from killing themselves as a result of what you do agree on – that they are too perverse to be loved by God and can’t change what makes them that way, as much as they try.

          • http://pomeraniancatholic.blogspot.com/ Geoffrey Miller

            First of all, everyone is infinitely loved by God. And everyone suffers from some sort of disordered behavior that is very displeasing to God. Disordered desire is different, and if resisted, gains one greater merit than another person who doesn’t feel such desire. There are many kinds of disordered desire, and all have the same bad end for the individual who consents to them.

            Homosexual inclinations should by no means be singled out. Compulsive lying or kleptomania or spiritual pride are far more deadly. I personally believe most active homosexuals make it to heaven because their offense is relatively minor compared to others and was at least partially ordered to charity.

            If you want people to feel better about themselves, make it clear that we’re all struggling, and all loved by God and offered help to improve, but that we’ll all stumble at some point and that there will be a helping hand ready to pick us back up. Also, people need to stop identifying themselves with their desires.

          • DR

            Your fundamental disconnect is how terrified you are of sexuality as a result of your own disorder. You’ve separated it so you can control it and change it and still feel “OK”. Gay kids have no ability to do that because being in love with someone – wanting to share a life with someone – wanting to have someone who listens to all of your secrets, to have a companion – those are all parts of the Good that God created. You are telling them that all of those parts of them are *bad*. That innately, their fundamental connection to a human being is bad. Any attempt of you trying to explain your theology in ways that release you from the impact of it will not work here. Know that.

          • vj

            [we've run out of nested comments; this is a reply to Geoffrey Miller above]

            “I personally believe most active homosexuals make it to heaven because their offense is relatively minor compared to others and was at least partially ordered to charity.”

            Personally, I believe that the only reason anyone gets into heaven is because Jesus has paid the penalty for our sin, and we are therefore washed clean from all unrighteousness. There is no way a Holy God decides to ‘let’ some people in because their sins are ‘relatively minor’!!! Sin is sin, holiness is holiness – and the only way to reconcile the two is through the blood of Jesus.

          • Donald Rappe

            There’s a reason no one gives a crap about Catholic canon law except certain parts of the hierarchy. And their concern frequently has to do with self promotion.

          • DR

            Why is it that people with the most extremes of sexual fetishes so often hide within Christianity? I find that fascinating Geoffrey, you get to decide the sexual path that is right for you according to God. You absolutely do. I hope you’re getting some therapy to help reconcile these sexual parts of yourself in ways that don’t create excessive self-loathing.

          • http://pomeraniancatholic.blogspot.com/ Geoffrey Miller

            I’m not hiding. It’s just one of those odd psychoses all human beings have, perhaps an artifact of evolutionary biology. And I’ve never had any therapy because the disordered desire rarely manifests itself anymore. I felt it a lot during puberty, realized the fantasies I was entertaining were gravely sinful, and stopped thinking about them. I simply said “no” to the temptations. No consent, no sin, and ultimately, no more desire.

            If you don’t feed the wolves, they eventually die or at least become so weak they can’t do anything to you. In the article about the woman with BIIDS, she fed the wolves for a very long time. And now she can barely focus on everyday life.

            And I appreciate your charitable response to my posts, because it seems everyone else skipped over the part where I said I really do know about disordered sexual desires. However, to say that they are “parts of yourself” doesn’t make sense to me. A desire is something I feel, not something I am. And why should I be tempted to loathe myself? When you get so angry you want to punch someone, is that anger a part you, or just something that happens to you?

            Identifying yourself with your desires is a very deadly mistake. And that’s what leads people to despair. Because inside each and every one of us, without exception, are equally dark desires. Christianity isn’t kidding about all people existing in a fallen state.

          • DR

            You are hiding, Geoffrey. I just don’t think you’re able to face that yet.

          • cat rennolds

            you know, I looked it up. And without spoilering for people who may not want to deal with this topic in depth, I don’t see any inherent sinfulness in an inflationism fetish. I just don’t. it’s sure as heck not prohibited in the Book because I bet they never even thought of it.

            and this leads me to the whole “if it ain’t penis+vagina, it’s disordered” fallacy. Read back over and take seriously what people are saying here about the various ACTUAL, factual functions of sex, and its connection to love itself. All over the living kingdoms it is used for more than just procreation.

          • Givemeliverteaorgivemedeath

            Having desires is truly, not a choice; but we do with those desires is a choice.

          • DR

            When did you decide to be straight and not act on it?

          • http://pomeraniancatholic.blogspot.com/ Geoffrey Miller

            I decide not to act on sexual desires for members of the opposite sex all the time. I say “no” to fantasies that arise about women I find attractive at work or in the hall, “no” to starting relationships when my prior obligations at school and work would interfere, etc.

            Strictly speaking, one doesn’t choose the desires one feels. I’ve even felt fleeting attractions for members of the same sex on a few occasions. I’m pretty sure everybody does, because certain body types or patterns line up with our wiring and trigger arousal, unless we say “no.” I could, however, feed or summon a desire, and in that case it would be a choice.

            I’m very attracted to women with round faces and freckles, for example, and if I put the right images in my mind, I could easily objectify them and become aroused, i.e., choose to feel desire. But I usually choose not to, and in that case, interacting with them is like interacting with anyone else.

            I object to the view that man is a bestial creature at the mercy of his desires. We can control ourselves. Placing sex at the center of our identity is a denial of our true character and freedom.

          • DR

            This only illuminates my point. You – because of whatever experiences you’ve had with sex – are identifying being “gay” or ‘straight” with sexual arousal, that is the beginning and ending point of your definitions. But being gay or being straight is about love, about connection and about intimacy Geoffrey. You can’t just engage that darling girl with the round face and freckles “just like anyone else” because she’s a girl, you’re a boy and you want to someday have a girl to hold, to hold you. To hold hands with. To trust with all of your secrets. To grow old with. Your penis and her vagina have little to do with that.

            You are moving sexuality into a narrower realm so your beliefs can match it. That’s what is happening here.

          • http://pomeraniancatholic.blogspot.com/ Geoffrey Miller

            I take it you are a psychologist? And I mean that seriously, not snarkily. I have many issues, but trust me, this is not one of them. We have very different philosophies about sexuality and the human person, but I can tell you that I’ve never had bad experiences with sex, I don’t consider it dirty, and I don’t feel any shame whatsoever in talking about it.

            I would advise against accusing the opposition in a debate of emotional or mental defect. I understand you want to reach out and help me because you perceive profound suffering behind my words, but your perceptions in this case are not accurate.

            You strike me as a very compassionate, holy person with a strong prayer life and devotion to souls, but from my own experience in combox debates, sometimes comments like yours, even though they’re coming from a good source and very good intentions, can come across as a little condescending and rude. It feels like you aren’t taking the opposition seriously and are treating me like a child rather than engaging my points of argument calmly and reasonably.

          • DR

            I promise you that I’m not intending any disrespect. I’ve lived within some very rigidly imposed guidelines as a result of lots of unresolved stuff so I guess it makes it kind of easy to spot it.

          • http://pomeraniancatholic.blogspot.com/ Geoffrey Miller

            I’m sorry to hear that, DR, but please refrain from projection and ad hominem. The curious thing is, I didn’t grow up with any rigidly imposed guidelines. I was raised spiritual, but not in any particular religion or denomination. My parents made it clear to me that there was nothing wrong with same-sex relationships, but I now politely disagree with them. I came to my philosophy independently.

          • DR

            It’s so odd that you’re seeing our dialogue as an ad hominem. I’m not attacking you, I’m talking to you. I think your need for control is so intense that anyone who moves this conversation away from having it strictly on your terms is “attacking” you.

          • cat rennolds

            also, it is necessary to distinguish categorically between desires which can be fulfilled without harm and those which cannot.

            with certain crucial exceptions, ie, the desire to DO actual harm to an unwilling victim, there are very few categories of human desire that can’t be fulfilled without harm. If you are creative, that is.

            Abnormal – that is, minority, peculiar, weird – does not automatically mean sin.

          • Allie

            Don’t you see a difference between mutilating the body and making love to someone in a way that hurts no one? Why are you grouping the two?

      • otter

        Loving someone of the same sex, with constancy, integrity, and tenderness is as moral as it gets…if your brain is wired that way. It would be totally immoral for me to commit a “heterosexual’ act!…it would be dishonest and perverted becasue it would not express any real caring or intimacy.

        I am always amazed by the folks that think gay people ought to marry straight ones……(think Michelle Bachmann). such dishonesty would make a miserable mrriage.

        the church has gotten over so many outmoded taboos. how long are they going to scar lives with this one.

    • Lymis

      Oh, and that link misses the point. This isn’t some random “how could anyone know she’s a lesbian, because nobody could possibly know she was a lesbian.”

      The linked article makes it quite clear that the author felt that refusing communion to members of the Rainbow Sash movement – openly gay people who identify as gay Catholics and wear rainbow sashes to make it clear that everyone knows they are gay – is perfectly appropriate – even though the priest wouldn’t actually know whether or not they are actually gay, or if, being actually gay, they are sexually active.

      How is that different from a lesbian woman who the priest knows personally, who is a member of the family that everyone is there to support, so presumably, at least a significant number of people would “know the reason” that Communion was refused?

      Surely you aren’t actually saying that Canon law really is just about appearances?

      • http://pomeraniancatholic.blogspot.com/ Geoffrey Miller

        “Surely you aren’t actually saying that Canon law really is just about appearances?”

        No, it’s about only denying communion in the rarest of circumstances when there is a grave possibility of scandal or politicization of the Eucharist and letting God be the sole judge of the heart’s condition otherwise, as he should be.

    • Allie

      His job is to deliver the sacraments. He didn’t do his job. Why on earth shouldn’t he be removed from a job he doesn’t do?

      Regardless of what you believe about the Church’s stance on the fitness of gay people to receive communion, the dead mother was in no way deserving of being denied Christian burial, even by his own standards. He was just a total punkass through and through – and a cowardly one – because he did this without warning her that he was going to do it, and instead of taking responsibility, he hid.

      • Diana A.

        “He was just a total punkass through and through – and a cowardly one – because he did this without warning her that he was going to do it, and instead of taking responsibility, he hid.”

        This is it, exactly.

    • Diana A.

      “The only point I disagree with is removing the priest in question from parish life. I don’t believe in crucifying someone for their mistakes like that.”

      I don’t consider the priest’s actions to be a “mistake.” A mistake is something that is unintentional. His behavior and attitude was very deliberate, even pointed. He took the opportunity of a funeral to (attempt to) publically humiliate and shame a grieving woman for what he perceived to be a sin on her part. No, what that priest engaged in was deliberate wrongdoing.

    • cat rennolds

      1. How is scripture to be interpreted? According to Scripture itself: Through the lenses of the Great Commandment, which is love, and through the inner conviction of the Holy Spirit, or, direct experience of Truth itself. The law was made for man, not man for the law. Further, according to the apostles, salvation through Christ supersedes any of the previous righteousness through following rules. One of my sistren or brethren here can quote you chapter and verse.

      • Diana A.

        Thank you, Cat. Your summary of the Christian Faith is as close to perfect as a mere mortal human can get.

        • cat rennolds

          um, wow. gee. thanks.

    • cat rennolds

      “2. how and in what sense {does} the Bible serve as a moral guide? Can we, while still being faithful to God and intellectual honest with ourselves, disregard the sexual theology of a religion and continue to claim to be adherents? How do we decide what to believe and what not to?”

      Well, for myself, I decided no longer to remain an adherent. This may be subject to change if John and the Unfundamentalists reclaim Christianity for Christ. I love Christ, believe in the Bible and talk daily with the Spirit, but I can’t stand in the same corner as the established Christian church, because it has become so unChristlike over the centuries. It’s turned into the same thing He came to change in the first place. People being people.

      Iow, I can’t be faithful to God, intellectually honest, and remain in Christianity, as long as it is self-contradictory and contradictory to the Spirit behind the laws.

      John, etc, have decided that if you are a follower of Christ, it’s time to bring His church back in line with his teachings. An endeavor with quite a bit of Christian precedent.

      How do you decide what to believe? Think. Love. Pray. it’s gotta pass all three.

  • Cathleen Gillies

    Greetings and good morning John:

    Could you consider that your attack of Parochial Vicar Father Marcel Guarnizo is a hate crime?

    He loves this women and her girlfriend so very much that he protected her soul. Too bad the minister of the eucharist is confused about the true presence of our Lord and Savior in what was once bread. Our God calls us to stop sinning and to listen to HIM – the our father is a big real prayer that Jesus teaches us to pray and live. The sacraments give us the fortitude to look toward God and less at ourselves.

    The Catholic church understands that our loving Father created us out of love and blessed us with free will. Confession and as some refer to it is reconcilliation – is available for people who want to CHANGE THEIR LIVES – and surrender to God. Priests are available to adminster these sacraments – not to SELL them. The journey to eternity with Jesus is really a fun ride – it causes me to reflect on my individual call, repent for my mistakes and start anew – the church you talk about is not the catholic church founded by Jesus Christ aka God made man to set us free to know and love God. Knowing Father – he’s forgiving all of you and eager for you to look in the mirror, ask Jesus if he is really with you and LISTEN to HIM.

    • Lymis

      ” look in the mirror, ask Jesus if he is really with you and LISTEN to HIM”

      I did.

      He is.

      Still gay.

      I did.

      No longer Catholic.

      • Cathleen Gillies

        Thank you all for wondering why I posted in the first place. When I read that the reporter suggested in his seeking to find Father for an interview after seeing he wasn’t at the office to me it appeared he was stalking the priest to get “his side of the story” Rage can lead people to turn a situation into something more. Unfortunately when you read through several of the exerpts you see a slight tendancy of others to be less logical and leaning toward not going to see your side of the story syndrome and rational for agreeing to disagree has left the discussion. Suggesting that Father be forced to resign, make a public apology for doing something he probably thought was a beautiful act of mercy forcing several posters to be extremely upset is why I wrote in the first place. Thank you for praying the Divine Mercy chaplet – I too pray it often for all my faithfully and unfaithfully departed friends and enemies. The prayer does begin with the Our Father – which ends with Jesus I trust in you.

        • DR

          You need to apologize to the hundreds if not thousands of gay men and women who read this blog for your comparison of their physical abuse committed during hate crimes to those of us taking issue with a priest who hurt a woman at her mother’s funeral. You need to apologize for it for any hope to have your intention listened to here. To make such a suggestion is just so terrible.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      OKAY I WILL.

      • Andrew Raymond

        Catherine, you would first need to assume that it is a crime to be a hate crime. The only way that could happen is for it to qualify as hate speech. That requires some kind of call to violent action against a disadvantaged person or group.

        Well, I don’t see any call to violence here. The man is the predator here, not the victim. His actions were neither conscionable nor condonable.

        So here we have you of the old school, once again blaming the victim. Why am I COMPLETELY unsurprised?

        • Cathleen Gillies

          This is a very sensitive situation – first death of a person’s mother, plus the side of the loving priest. Most of my family is self excommunicated from the church -and rolls into the church during funerals for example WANTING things DONE THEIR way…I’ve seen it – lived it and it is so sad. By God’s grace the times of baptisms, weddings and funerals can be wonderful vehicles to heal people and to bring them back to Jesus. It can be a time HEAL from all the years of baggage that get really heavy from doing things “my way”. Since none of us were there – it probably is best that we love each other and discern and pray for all parties involved. Since this sad situation made FRONT page news turning a situation of mourning into an anger and off with his head event. Everyone is broken – humbling ourselves to the Lord is an act of faith which is a blessing from the Lord and sooo hard in a world where the biggest predator Satan is busy working hard to lure souls into his pit of darkness. So because I love you all as commanded me in the Our Father – not through my will but from God’s I will offer my divine mercy chaplet tonight for you all and pray that you all hear the Lord’s voice – “I love you Trust in ME!”

          • Andrew Raymond

            Odd, I don’t see any recantation of your claim of ‘hate crime’ here.

          • Cathleen Gillies

            I won’t be recanting my statement. Hate is not agreeing to disagree and I think the reaction of some of the other posters are filled with anger and rage that are causing the parishioners and father fear at this point.

          • DR

            I am totally stunned by that decision. You are completely removed from the definition of a hate crime and clearly have never interacted with those who are victims of it, you have no idea what drawing an analogy that paints “being angry” with someone being murdered or victimized because of something they cannot change. That you would actually not apologize for that makes me sick to my stomach. And what’s worse is that you’re going to take my reaction to that as a sign that you’re some kind of spiritual martyr and that we are reacting to you because we aren’t opened to God’s Truth.

            God have mercy on you, you have no idea what kind of damage you’re doing. And God have mercy on you for seeing yourself as the teacher here and not the student.

          • Gary

            Disgusting. Sickening. You desperately need to seek the face of God for your bigotry and hate.

          • DR

            You’ve got gay kids being beaten senseless – murdered – as a result of being gay and you actually equating being frustrated and angry with this Priest’s decisions to that hate crime? That literally makes me sick to my stomach.

            Here’s the deal. Your speech is protected in the United States of America. You can express what you want. You – as well as this priest – is not protected from other people thinking you – and him – are vile for what you say.

          • DR

            PS – I pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy every night – including my Rosary. I’ll offer it for anyone who was damaged by you actually equating a hate crime to being angry with a priest.

    • Allie

      No. Only a liar could consider that. Lying is bad and God does not need you to lie for him. The truth is that a hate crime is very different from accurately describing someone’s actions as a representative of his church.

  • Andrew

    Thank you for sharing the whole story, John. The actions of the other parishioners at the funeral really warmed my heart.

  • PETER DAVID THOMAS BOLAN

    Please just forgive him and pray for him–there is too much hate already!

    We are all sinners and the greatest sin is lack of Charity!

    • Andrew Raymond

      Calling for the diocese to take action against him and keeping this action from happening again is not hate, nor is it lack of forgiveness. His actions were damaging to the Church, and shameful to many of us of the faith. Action is still needed.

      I have no standing to forgive him and I don’t hate him.

      • Givemeliverteaorgivemedeath

        I see a lot of so-called ‘haters’ on this blog. Some appear to hate the sin of homosexuality and understand it rightfully as a disorder–a product of ‘fallen’ human nature. Others appear to hate those who call it as it is ‘written’ of in Holy Scripture–an ‘abomination.’

        It’s a harsh word, but most Christians believe that Holy Scripture is ‘Inspired’ by the Holy Spirit, the Third ‘Person’ of the Blessed Trinity–God.

        Indeed, this is a persecution, but not against Ms. Johnson. It’s not the priest who stands in need of forgiveness on this particular manner.

        Homosexual acts are, indeed, sinful, that’s all. Theosis does not mean we remain ‘stuck’ in our sin, and Transfiguration of a ‘fallen human nature’ to the restoration of the Image and Likeness of God within each of us is not possible if we do not renounce ‘ALL’ aspects of ‘fallen’ human nature.

        This is what Great Lent is all about; in the words of our Father among the Saints, John Climacus, it is “the denial of all nature for the sake of what is above nature.”

        Our Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ accepted the sinner but never the sin. He often said ‘go, and sin no more.’ It’s also written in Sacred Scripture that there are those who could not accept his message. It would appear, albeit sadly, that many fall into this category today.

        In the face of militant social ideologies, one must stand against it with the Truth. Homosexuality is a human condition–one that is disordered. For those who suffer from it, their struggle must be unimaginable–yet, we are all called to master our body not becomes slaves to it. Facts are, same-sex relationships cannot fulfil the First Commandment (book of Genesis) given to man and woman in the Garden which was ‘be fruitful and multiply.’

        This simple statement, like all other misuse of the human body, are sins that leads to death of the soul. Christ came primarily to heal the will of man, it was through the will, that death came into the world. The Incarnate God-Man, Jesus Christ, took flesh from the Virgin, lived an ascetic life, conquered the flesh, and healed the will–he did not ssuccumb to it like we all do (and that means all of us). He ‘chose’ what the first Adam did not ‘choose’ — obedience.

        This, ultimately, is what Ms. Johnson rebels against, and the priest–well, he’s a priest with the power to bind and to loose in the confessional. What more can be said about that?

        • DR

          Icons it so fascinating how quickly those of you who can’t face the honest reactions to this situation characterize it as “hate”.

          It’s as if you want to have the last word on sexuality that you don’t even experience – you have this excessive need to manage and control what God says about it – you throw millions of dollars to legislate around it – you even form groups that you volunteer within to further your efforts – and then you have this emotional breakdown when people you are hurting say ” You are doing a bad thing and you need to stop it right now”, characterizing it as “hate”. It is the most narcissistic thing I’ve seen in a long time.

        • Diana A.

          “It’s a harsh word, but most Christians believe that Holy Scripture is ‘Inspired’ by the Holy Spirit, the Third ‘Person’ of the Blessed Trinity–God.”

          The key word is “inspired,” which is not a synonym of “dictated.”

        • Gary

          I’d be willing to bet you either eat shellfish or wear mixed fabrics…or both.

          Frankly…you disgust me. I am ashamed that people like you run around calling themselves Christian.

        • LSS

          These time travellers like livertea and santorum are boring (counterintuitive as that may seem) and give regular catholics a bad name. If they are in danger of getting or keeping power over other humans, they are more alarming than boring, though.

          • LSS

            No idea if the person is boring. Meant the ideas.

          • Andrew Raymond

            Sell said, LSS.

  • Michelle

    John, thank you so much for this article; for the time you took to dig deeper and find the heart of it. I shared it with my family and friends, after having shared the original news story a day earlier. As a woman, a daughter, a mother, and a former Roman Catholic (now a member of a great Episcopal community) it healed some of my own old wounds (and those of at least a few others whom I know) and reminded me that WE are the body, the community. And it is truly a magnificent thing when we live as such.

  • Soulmentor

    Oh Lord. Now see what you’ve started, John. You’ve done resurrected the Tower of Babel.

  • Givemeliverteaorgivemedeath

    What cannot be denied are the references in Holy Scripture which are clearly ‘written’ regarding homosexual behavior in both the Old and New Testaments. That which has been written, can never be taken away, though people (in our sinfulness) always try to interpret Divine Scripture to suit individual needs or motives. God, the Most Holy Trinity, truly ‘loves mankind’ – so much, that he prayed the Father ‘forgive them, for they know not what they do’ while hanging upon a cross to which he was nailed at Golgotha. Our God, is a God of the living; a God of creation and creation has a particular order required in order to ‘create’ life. One must understand the Eucharist, not for ‘what’ it is, but ‘who’ it is. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that it is ‘Jesus Christ: Body, Blood, Soul, and Diviinity.’ That’s correct, yet us Orthodox would say that is insufficient; for where ‘One’ Person (Jesus/the Word of God) of the Blessed Trinity (True God) is present, so are the other Two (Father and Holy Spirit). This is why St. Paul stated that those who are ‘unworthy’ that receive the Eucharist ‘bring condemnation upon themselves.’ Yet, one must first believe that what is Written in Sacred Scripture has not been abrogated in some way or no longer applies based on the social manner’s of life of the day. In my humble observance of this great struggle of our day, I find it interesting to watch the contrast between the fruit which the LGBT and heterosexual trees produce. If that which occurs in the flesh direclty relates to the spirit; then it’s rational to assert that one way leads to life, and the other, to oblivion. The priest acted properly, and in good faith, according to Roman Canon 916; to wit ‘A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition which includes the resolution of confessing as soon as possible.’ Just a few thoughts on the matter.

    • Lymis

      Anyone – ANYONE – who wonders why LGBT kids kill themselves or why LGBT adults are bitter about religion only has to read – stuff- like this and imagine being barraged by this day in, day out, regardless of what the topic is. Mention gay people, and you get this crap. Every. Single. Time.

      “If that which occurs in the flesh direclty relates to the spirit; then it’s rational to assert that one way leads to life, and the other, to oblivion.”

      There really is no word for this other than evil.

      I wonder how many LGBT people who are wondering whether there is a place for them in the Body of Christ read your words and walk away in despair.

      • Givemeliverteaorgivemedeath

        Lymis, Truth is usually best measured by one’s opposition to it.

        ‘Gay people’ or ‘LGBT kids’ as you call them, ‘kill themselves’ because the secularists have socially engineered concepts of faith, hope, and love that run contrary to the Gospels and also to the teaching of the Apostolic Church. The argument posed by those who promote LGBT causes is that it’s not disordered and therefore it’s not sinful.

        Same-sex attraction really has no special signifigance against the long list of ‘passions’ that can be found in Sacred Scripures. People who struggle with drug or alcohol abuse, pedophilia, pornography, adultery, seek out help from counselors, ministers, churches or secular groups like AA, NA, PA, etc. They understand that it is a ‘passion’ a ‘disorder’ and seek help to ‘change their lives.’

        There is not one LGBT Anonymous that I could find on the internet–that’s because it’s now accepted as ‘normal’ behavior.

        You took the ‘oblivion’ quote out of context; you heard, but do not understand. You can apply this particular ‘Truth’ to any human condition or behavior; thievery, murder, adultery, lying–all conditions of the fall which damage the soul and I know many people (including myself) that struggle with certain ‘fallen conditions.’ It is God’s will that my own personal struggle is not same-sex attraction–it’s alcoholism and other things. For each one of us, we all have our obstacles to spiritual progress, but we don’t celebrate it, and those things require personal discernment. In my case (as in the case of all), it is up to me to master my own temptations for the benefit of my soul–not become a slave to them.

        The ‘despair’ which ‘LGBT’ people ‘endure’ is no less than anyone else who suffers from one disorder or another. Sadly, secularism, a rampant disease withing our culture, has infiltrated the Churches of God and the people are confused regardless of the Apostolic teaching on the subject.

        Christians are are meant to be Children of the Light, not Children of the world. Giving in to our passions leads to oblivion–homosexuality and alcoholism are a few of those passions. No need for LGBT people to despair, it’s like all things, we practice, practice, practice a moral and virtuous life as best we can… eventually, we have faith that God will free us of our passions… how we use our free will has stake in the outcome.

        • DR

          Your theology is directly responsible for the suicide of gay kids. Period. You tell them they are hopelessly condemned before God. Their blood is on your hands. I’m so glad all of you are here because there are Christians (and Catholics) on this forum who don’t realize you exist, how deeply committed you are to not see the truth about yourselves and the damage that you do to these little children. So now they know, now they know that the wolf in sheep’s clothing who is hurting our GLBT kids so much is sitting right next to them in Church.

          • Givemeliverteaorgivemedeath

            Suicide is a tragedy, indeed, though I doubt my position on the matter forced any small children to go jump off a cliff. If you actually read my post, you would’ve noted that I placed homosexuality on the same level as other passions in scripture–that is a product of the fall, nothing more, and like all passions is meant to be conquered.

            I think I pointed out the truth about myself and my own passions in my prior post. I did not say they were hopelessly condemned before God.

            I did not place the curse upon them that you placed upon me.

            God bless you Dr. Lamb,

            Mr. Wolf

          • DR

            You’d be wrong. Gay kids growing up in Christian homes are 4x as likely to harm themselves. Your theology is What condemns them, not “society “. You.

          • Givemeliverteaorgivemedeath

            Post the source of your statistics that so-called ‘gay kids’ in Christian homes are 4X likely to harm themselves if you’re going to put it out there.

            As for me, which is it: I’d ‘be’ wrong or ‘am’ wrong in your estimation? Is it ‘my’ theology or ‘me’ personally that condemns them?

          • DR

            Go do the research yourself, there are even links to it here within an interview posted by the Trevor project. After dealing with people like you for so long, I know you’ll either not read what I post or you’ll just discredit it. How about you post the name of the Catholic organization that’s created to specifically support gay kids – then I’ll go do the work to dig it up.

            2nd question:

            It is your theology that condemns them and your choice to continue to express it and if you do, make choices to legislate it.

          • T. Krasner

            If one buys into a bunch of lies and then doesn’t take a young person with an ailment to a doctor for treatment, (even to ‘doctor ‘Jesus) they cannot then turn around and blame others who noticed something was wrong and said so, for that young young person’s life ending badly.

          • DR

            Organizations like the Trevor Project are taking responsibility for the damage your theology does by providing 24 hour supprt to kids who are compelled to harm themselves. They’ve saved hundreds of lives.

            Where is the Catholic organization that supports this at risk group of teens? There’s massive amounts of data supporting their vulnerability and as a result of how much you and others care about their well being, I’m sure you’ve organized yourselves to support them. Would be great to get a name of that organization, thanks in advance.

          • Givemeliverteaorgivemedeath

            You’re quite tolerant of my position. Bless you.

          • DR

            No answer to the question? You’ve identified your care and concern for kids who are gay, where is the practical support? Where do you take the much needed steps to ensure they understand you aren’t condemning them?

            You can take yourself out of accountability for their despair if it makes you feel better but whether a bullet is accidentally shot or shot with intention, the laws holds the shooter accountable for the impact. And you can’t run from the Law my friend. Not for long. I realize you think you’re the teacher here, not the student, but you’ve chosen to be in this conversation. You’re no victim of intolerance. You’re facing a mirror that you’ve managed to successfully avoid for a very long time.

          • Givemeliverteaorgivemedeath

            You’re assuming that I am Catholic.

            I could despair at your bully tactics, but I was raised on the principle that sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.

            If the law says that free speech is illegal, then that is an unjust law and I believe in your right to spoute nonsense.

            A bullet is a projectile (usually lead) fired from a weapon called a gun. If you associate words as bullets and opinions as their weapons than you need a therapist.

          • cat rennolds

            well, probably we would not associate them quite so closely if we weren’t watching children die from the impact of words.

          • DR

            It doesn’t matter if you’re Catholic or not.

            Holding you accountable for the impact your theology has is not “bullying”. It is expecting you to be a grownup who would already apply that logic to his/her life. You and those like you are the only ones with power in this country who are telling gay kids that the way they are is unnatural and is condemned by God. There is substantial data and direct testimony that tells us you doing so is one substantial reason why gay kids attempt suicide. It’s a simple cause and effect, for goodness sake.

            As I’ve said, the law protects all of us to express ourselves. It certainly does not protect you from being held accountable to the *impact* of your words. Which is what I’m doing.

            The metaphor stands, of course, as a metaphor. And if you think you’re somehow immune from the impact of “words” – if you honestly believe they have no meaning – then what are you even doing here? Words are all we have. You’re clearly trying to make some kind of impact. I guess your own rules don’t apply to you.

          • Lymis

            It always amazes me how many people say “bless you” when it’s perfectly clear that they mean another word entirely.

            Well, bless you, too.

          • Givemeliverteaorgivemedeath

            Thanks brother or sister–I appreciate the blessing.

          • DR

            The hostility, fear and shame that is within you is revealed in what you write. You’ll not be let off the hook for using “bless you” as means to escape from a conversation where you’re having to face some very difficult truths about yourself. But you know what? I bet somewhere inside of you, you’re secretly relieved that someone is finally telling you the truth.

            The Bible says the heart of the stubborn never finds rest. I really do hope you find rest. It’s a courageous journey to face ourselves. It’s so, so difficult. Do it as much as you can, there’s not a lot of time.

        • Lymis

          ” Lymis, Truth is usually best measured by one’s opposition to it.”

          BWA-HA-HA-HA!

          Not to mention that the same argument apples (if it had any validity whatsoever) to your opposition to the actual lived experience of millions of LGBT people. Talk about resisting truth!

          • Givemeliverteaorgivemedeath

            I think you meant to say ‘applies’ vs ‘apples’ but you must have had fruit on your mind or something similar? Fitting, really, because it was through the consumption of fruit from a particular tree that suffer as we do–which is my whole point.

            Not being L.G.B. or T., I can’t imagine the ‘lived experience of millions of LGBT people.’ In fact, I can’t imagine the lived experience of one. On one side, it must be a real struggle for those who suffer from it to consider it a disorder when the world tells them it’s not. On the other, the acts themselves are so deplorable and have such proven and impacting health consequences that it’s difficult for any rational person to defend it.

            That’s the truth, whether you or I resist it or not.

          • Lymis

            Pretty much the only aspect of being gay that causes me any suffering is having to constantly deal with people who express the sort of views you are expressing, oh, so sweetly declaring that we are disordered and that our souls are dying.

            On the other hand, I’m deeply grateful that you can’t imagine the lived experience of any actual gay people, because that likely means you aren’t deliberately spewing this vileness in anyone’s face. I hope that the people you are hurting have other sources of support for themselves.

            Luckily, God most clearly doesn’t feel about me the way you do. I have ample evidence of that in my life, my love, and my friends.

            And you might want to look at the parable of the sheep and the goats, and stop condemning the fruits – you clearly have no idea what you are talking about.

          • cat rennolds

            Check your medical data, please. What health consequences? Proven by whom? Saying “that’s the truth” doesn’t make it the truth.

            Unless your health data comes from multiple reliable scientific studies, it’s not proven. And it doesn’t. Research it yourself some time.

          • Lymis

            Cat, I know you know this, but just about all the “negative heath consequences” that have been identified are all associated with homophobia and oppression, not with actually being gay.

            Things like not being able to marry, not being welcome in one’s community, being excluded from churches, having to hide in the closet, having less social support for one’s family (including not being able to get insurance, not getting equal tax benefits, having to pay more for services than someone whose marriage is recognized, and so on) all carry with them additional stress, and with that, additional health effects.

            Most of the people trumpeting how unsafe being gay is simply ignore the conclusions that most of the actual researchers themselves come to – that being gay is medically neutral, but being systematically discriminated against by bigots is toxic.

            What studies there are clearly show that gay health and medical issues are predominately caused not by being gay (how could they?) but by being gay in a world that treats us like Givemeliverteaorgivemedeath wants us to be treated.

            This is one of many examples of people like this using selected facts to tell damaging lies.

          • cat rennolds

            and before I run out of liver tea, let me just add that the health risks popularly associated with being gay – HIV, etc – are equally high for straight people who engage in risky sex behaviors.

            which a lot fewer gay kids would do if they weren’t being told they were already evil.

          • DR

            Lymis again, the amount of patience, generosity and tact you have displayed in these conversations is a testimony to your relationship with Christ. Thank you for being such an example. I’m a loose, angry cannon on this forum and you’re helping me see the benefits of self-control and what needs to be addressed on a deeper level.

          • Lymis

            You don’t hear what I say to the screen before I start typing, nor how often my husband looks at me and says, “What’s wrong?”

            I suspect I feel everything you feel. At least, I absolutely honor your feeling what you feel.

            Some people may pooh-pooh it, but in one of the most powerful experiences I have ever had of an immanent, personal God, while I was home, weeping in frustration after my parish priest smugly told me I was no longer welcome, I remember shouting to God that I couldn’t do it any more, and that I was afraid I couldn’t stay in the church. I felt a deep calm presence (“But God was not in the wind….”) and heard a voice telling me, “You have a choice. You can stay in the Church, or you can follow Me.”

            For what it’s worth, many of your posts have meant a huge amount to me. Loose cannon, or not, and whether you choose to try to focus your tone, I’ve always heard Truth from your posts. Whatever else you choose, don’t lose that.

          • DR

            These conversations exhaust me and then I watch you in them and think “How has this community – how have these precious people – even survived us?” That you have done so with such patience and wit is one thing. That you’ve allowed your suffering to craft your communication with such graceful precision is another. But that you are someone who clearly tries to see all sides of these crazy Christian fences that we’ve constructed all over this world is simply remarkable. You are the type of person who has earned “Well done good servant”. Thank you, thank you. Thank you for continuing to be here, thank you for not giving up on us.

          • Lymis

            DR,

            It’s sometimes really hard, in some ways especially here.

            Something “out there” happens, and someone like John wades in to make the point he makes, with his wisdom and humor, and hundreds of people wade in to post “well done” and “yes, thanks for proving we’re not all like that” and about how horrified they are that Christians say these things and send these messages.

            Then someone like givemeliverteaorgiveme death comes here, right in front of them, and says things that are often far worse than what John is reacting to, and… with the exception of a very few voices, the board always goes pretty much silent.

            It’s truly wonderful that there is a place like this where people can come to see that there are those who don’t share the toxic and destructive views that are all too often the voice of modern Christanity.

            But when they won’t even speak up here, in the face of people who have invaded THIS space with that hateful message, it’s hard to imagine that people will speak up out in the world, and it can’t help but reinforce how very alone we are in this.

            I honestly don’t know how long I will be willing to keep being here. It hurts. It sometimes feels a lot like “Hey, we got your back! (Until you need us, that is.)” I’ve done that far too often in my life, and yes, it’s exhausting. Getting better, but exhausting. At least when I was a vulnerable teen, people on both sides of the issue were largely silent. That isn’t true for today’s LGBT kids, and I can easily see why so many of them give up.

            I know it’s unfair, and that it’s allowing the negative to have disproportionate influence. But this is yet another example of why so very many LGBT people feel that if there is a place for us, it isn’t among Christians. Even here, I’m a “they” an awful lot of the time. And I’m not blind to the people who do speak up, and I probably haven’t done enough to have their backs, either.

            I want to be where I’m a part of “we.” I deeply appreciate that this sort of place is coming into existence, and it is no doubt helping a lot of people, and as this movement of renewal grows, it’s going to help a lot of people. And that’s wonderful.

          • LSS

            @Lymis

            Doubt i would have thought of anything amazing to say to this person that you guys hadn’t already said, but in my case (which i mention only because it might be more common than realized) i missed the whole conversation! I always turn on “notify of all replies” when i post here, and all comments are supposed to go into a particular folder in my email account… but it doesn’t 100% work. It has happened a lot of times that i come to the blog and find many exchanges that hadn’t been sent into my email.

            Also, for what it’s worth, even apart from the other GLBTQI/etc. folks here, a lot of us know what it’s like to be an Other for other reasons, so totally empathize with that part of it.

          • DR

            It’s important to know what your limits are. For me, I have little expectation of people like this changing (though I did, largely from people like you). But I like to engage them because I know new people are reading all of the time, many of which have been discouraged by that silence and cowardice of Christians who won’t stand up (I don’t think that’s what’s going on with the regulars here). So I engage because I will always make sure that this kind of evil is countered and countered effectively. I want someone who has suffered like you and your husband to read where a straight Christian actually defends you and cleans up this mess so you don’t have to. That’s my motive and it works for me. :)

          • http://leap-of-fate Christy

            Lymis, I agree with DR. Your posts are insightful and wise and patient. I know the behind the scenes frustration of which you speak…the quickened pulse…the twitching under one eye. How desperate is the desire to be understood. It is exhausting as DR said. Emotionally. Physically. Intellectually. How painful it is. And it often feels tempting or even necessary to give up.

            Many of us have walked our own dark paths. Many of us too have cried out in despair as you did….and, truly, bless you for sharing the peace you found when you did. It is a reassuring, guiding, transforming, take your shoes off experience when it happens. My peace came as a sense of knowing that said, “It doesn’t matter if they think you are on the right track or not. It only matters if I do. So stop worrying about them.”

            It was while reading Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott that that epiphany transpired. Her work reminds us God loves us when no one else does or seems to, including ourselves. God shows up. God sits quietly in the corner during our most lonely and desperate hours reassuring us that we are not alone.

            Know too that you are not alone. I love what your voice had to say. It is a choice we must all make. Blessings and namaste as you follow that voice.

          • T. Krasner

            do you allow your children to play with feces? And if not, why not?

          • Diana A.

            What a childish statement.

          • DR

            You are vile and repulsive. I’d not let my children play with you, that’s for certain.

          • DR

            There are no health consequences to being actively gay that straight people also face. You couldn’t distinguish them if you tried. And you won’t.

          • otter

            Obviously you are GROSSLY uninformed about lesbians. Our freedom from men renders us free of most STD’s, HPV and cervical cancer and the rigors of pregnancy and childbearing. We usually are fitter and younger looking than women of our age married to men. We avoid the problems that go with high heels, crash diets and fashions fads, mostly. And we don’t encountering as much battering and physical abuse because our partner’s moods are not fueled by testosterone.

            And while men married to women live longer than single ones, the opposite is true for women.

            Ooooo, did I just burst your tidy little bubble???

        • Mindy

          Your blathering is despicable. I am truly offended by the fact that you think spit out such bigoted, hateful rhetoric in the name of my loving God is acceptable. How dare you? You think you know what you are talking about, when in reality you are utterly clueless. Clueless as to the way life and biology work, and clueless as to the damage you wreak. Shame on you. Truly.

      • Soulmentor

        I didn’t read beyond his first sentence. Such rants are so common and worn out that they all talk like ignorant, blathering parrots. We know the drill better than they do. We understand it. They don’t have a clue what they are saying.

    • cat rennolds

      If you are interested in the fruits of the LGBT tree, you should look sometime at the research done on the health and wellbeing of children raised by gay couples as opposed to those raised by heterosexual couples.

      That tree would produce a lot more fruit if you lot would stop hacking at it and pouring poison on it.

      If that which occurs in the flesh directly relates to the spirit, then it is rational to assert that love – which occurs in the spirit – should be expressed in the flesh. Regardless of gender combinations.

    • cat rennolds

      hey, where did s/he go?

    • Gary

      Wow. Your ignorance of true scripture is staggering…and a poor excuse to for protecting your bigotry.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

    This is in response to this comment by Lymis:

    Lymis: If it “hurts” to engage people here, don’t. Just leave them be. I’d delete half the dumbass comments people leave on this blog–the bigoted, fundy, anti-gay-type ones, I mean—except oftentimes before I can get to such comments in order to delete them, people such as yourself have already responded to them—and then I’m stuck leaving them on the page, since deleting them would also mean deleting the responses to them, which, like your own, are often written with real thought and care.

    It’s hardly true that people here are too timid to come to your defense when you’re arguing with people like giveme (whose tone I don’t find too offensive). It’s just that most people here have learned what you’re learning right now: it’s simply not worth getting tangled up with such people. If you’re going to argue with them, that’s great: have at it. But don’t be … martyrish about it, yeah? Christian or not, most of us here have fought for our common cause as hard as you ever have. We’re maybe just a little more careful about picking our battles. You’re shooting lovely, wonderfully crafted arrows at a target we all know you don’t have a chance in hell of hitting.

    • cat rennolds

      the main reasons I don’t leap to your defense are, a, I can’t keep up, and b, you don’t appear to need it! you do know that you are much, much loved, yes?

      and John, I was just talking to my husband yesterday about the constant running troll battle on this site. I don’t know about Lymis, but I don’t really have a lot of hope or intent of changing troll-minds with my defense posts. I am truly, deeply grateful for every troll who posts here: for every troll who posts, there are readers who don’t. who may learn from what we repeat and repeat. or who may pick up the arrows we expend, and use them in their own defense.

      • Lymis

        That’s certainly a good way to frame this, cat. Thanks for that.

      • Lymis

        And, at the risk of sounding martyish – I personally probably don’t need defending. I’ve been at this for quite a long time, under far worse conditions than this for a bunch of it. But I encourage you not to make the mistake of assuming that someone who is standing up – especially in the face of this sort of thing – doesn’t need support.

        In my experience, while it’s toxic to stuff it and sit quietly – there’s a limit to how many battles you can choose not to fight before doing so has its own negative effects – there’s a special sort of vulnerability when you stand up and fight and are the only voice you hear. I won’t argue that I picked this particular battle, and I won’t pretend I had any expectation of changing any minds, especially not that particular mind. I’ll probably be less likely to do so going forward.

        I understand the need to pick your battles. And that’s a very real consideration, and I know all about feeding the trolls. But remember to balance that with the awareness of the effect that not picking the battle has on the people who can’t avoid it, or at least, can’t avoid taking the stray arrows from the other side.

        On a site like this, where support can pretty much be assumed, and silence truly can’t be assumed to mean assent, not engaging the trolls may well be a good tactic, and I was no doubt wrong to take other people’s silence the way I did.

        I hope people don’t take the same approach when faced with similar situations outside these pages. No doubt that’s part of what brought up the feelings it did, having this experience call up for me memories of similar situations in real life, when that same level of group acceptance not only wasn’t something I could assume, it actually wasn’t there at all.

        So, apologies to anyone who took my comment as an attack on anyone’s motives. Please, keep up the good fight.

        • DR

          Lymis, while I’m straight, this issue is one that’s deeply personal for me because it isn’t just about being gay. It’s about Jesus, it’s about our Church and children being pushed to hurting themselves. It’s about adults who barely survive this Church that Jesus died to redeem and save. It is truly, a battle between good and evil for me.

          But I get to walk away from this dialogue and still be straight. I never have to *feel* the abuse, the rejection. The contempt that’s been institutionalized isn’t something I have to find a way to live within. So for me, there is no apology you’d ever have to make for losing any kind of patience due to an expectation that more people step in and battle this head on like John has, like so many commenters have. To not have a FLOOD of resistance, of countering from everyone would be at minimum, disappointing. John’s done a beautiful job (as usual) of why that might not occur but that you’d expect it and want it and need it? For me that’s entirely reasonable.

          You’ve been such a big part of things here. If you need to recharge for a bit, we’ll keep up the fight while you’re gone and we’ll be here when you get back. Know that I will never leave this dialogue, I will never let these people have the last word. I will never stop fighting and beating this back. It’s part of my purpose.

        • cat rennolds

          bear in mind, too, Lymis, that while for you Bile …. I mean, Liver Tea … is a real person with the power to affect you, that’s because YOU are a real person and grant everyone else the same status. For most people, however, a voice on a blog is no more real than the guy in the next car in traffic or an alien in a video game.

          which is the OTHER reason they get so angry when we turn it back on them. it’s terrifying. the alien is not supposed to jump off the screen and shoot back.

        • cat rennolds

          besides … you were standing up for all of us. you were doing a great job. we were 100% behind you and cheering all the way. I know when I’m the front man I need the support, so please take this to use in the future…..GO LYMIS!!!!

    • Allie

      And yet sometimes there are miracles. I haven’t even been here that long and I’ve already seen someone here change his mind.

      And please be aware that even if it seems you’re not getting through to anyone at all, there are thousands more people reading than commenting. Sometimes your response to the most hardened bigot may help someone else who is on the fence. Sometimes the hardened bigot may, years later, come to a crossroads, and remember your words. Sometimes there may be a kid reading who faces bigotry in his life and needs to hear and see someone fight back.

      Lymis, fight the good fight, but when you get tired, don’t be ashamed to step back and let someone else take over for a while. It’s exhausting and can be spiritually bad for you to constantly fight with bad people. Just make sure you are drinking enough clear, good water – reading good words written by good people – to stay refreshed!

    • Lymis

      I’ll work on not being “martyrish.” And you’re right, choosing battles is the key. And no, John, that’s not something I’m just now learning. But it is something I didn’t exercise in this set of conversations.

      I think we’ll have to disagree about the tone of giveme’s posts – declaring that homosexuality is a passion that inevitably leads to oblivion and that “the acts” are so deplorable that no rational person can defend them seems pretty offensive to me – but then, since many of the comments were aimed at me, perhaps I took them more personally than people they don’t apply directly to might. And I don’t know why they hooked me so much this time when I usually can write them off.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        This one hooked you because of its tone, which was … exactly the kind of reasonably rational, apparently thoughtful, open-to-conversation tone that always hooks people.

      • DR

        This one is super creepy and is making my skin crawl as well but perhaps they all get to a certain point where that’s the case. I’m reading a book about narcissism right now and it talks about this being a really typical response to dealing with it.

      • cat rennolds

        I think the hook was, that in combination with Geoff’s arguments, the logic is internally self-consistent, and quite accurately represents the centuries of Christian tradition that has made us martyrs in the first place. Just in case you’d missed it at some point, I’m not gay…I’m bi. And I went to the Christian hell as a young person, missing suicide by a margin too narrow to dwell on.

        It’s easy for someone who has no personal experience with homosexuality to deplore what they don’t understand, with absolutely no emotional understanding of exactly how corrosive their attitudes are. they literally do not grok that they are wounding us to the very soul. that’s why we get the “why are you being so mean to me?” response so often when we *DEFEND* ourselves.

        but think about this, Lymis: this also means that, very often, they do not grok or appreciate what they themselves have. If they can’t understand that our love for our partners is a thing of the soul, that it is God-given, that it would be perversion to deny….what kind of love is it that they have in their own relationships? is it just, well, this is what I was SUPPOSED to do? Look, my wife, mother of my children, think I’ll go play golf now?

        If they “let” us love, because love is the most important thing….then they’d have to learn to do it.

        • Brenda R

          Lymis, hello. I’m relatively new here and have only commented once or twice. I read the exchanges between you and livertea, though not as they were happening. I was absolutely sickened by what he said, and even though I was reading hours after, I should’ve said something when I saw what he’d written. I should’ve joined my voice to yours. I am a straight woman with a husband, grown daughters, and grandchildren. I am a high school teacher, and in my years of teaching I have seen the cruelty aimed at those perceived to be the “others”…. I know that silence taken as assent can be damaging. At school I am open to my students, treat them all the same (because to me, they ARE the same – sexual orientation means nothing to me, just as color means nothing, gender means nothing – I mean as in neither better or worse than the next), and I try to be a voice for them when they need one. All my students are “mine”, no matter who they love or to what race they belong, etc., and I’m painfully aware of some of the poison they hear at home. Sometimes teachers can be a port in the storm. Sometimes not. Thankfully, we have finally taken bullying seriously, and we have programs in place to deal with the bully. That said, those programs don’t always work (I’m sure that’s no big surprise to you), so I try to be vigilant in my classroom to make sure it’s a risk-free environment for everyone, no matter what his or her stripes might be.

          Unfortunately, I can’t guarantee them the same environment at home or even at church. I vehemently agree with DR when she says that we straight folks are in a good position to support and defend those of you who are in the real midst of the battle. I also agee with her remark about how we are able to walk away and be straight, while you must still battle on. I don’t think of you as someone less entitled to your life than I am to mine, and it makes me sick that there are those who do. What makes me the absolute sickest is that those asinine creatures almost always use religion to support their views. Because it happens to be my religion, too, I take great offense.

          You were handling livertea so well that I made the wrong assumption that you didn’t need me to say anything. Also, I suppose partly because I’m new to the blog, I’ve fallen into the habit of reading without commenting. I’m enjoying the blog and all your voices. There is so much judgment in the world, so much hyprocisy, that I’m relieved to hear the sanity here expressed by all of you. Lymis, you were handling that troll beautifully, but I’m sorry you were having to suffer his slings and arrows without more help.

          • Lymis

            Thank you for saying so, and thank you for believing as you do. It always makes a big difference.

            I sometimes wonder if straight people “really get” the flip side of what you describe, and how deeply important it is to a lot of us. The flip side of being able to step away from this kind of engagement and “walk away and be straight” is how very powerful it is for us when you dnn’t.

            We’re stuck with the battle, because that kind of person insists on keeping up the attacks. So we learn to fight back, to go under, or to build up callouses and scar tissue. We can walk away from any particular fight, but we can’t walk away from the issue, because they’ve made *us* the issue.

            But when someone who doesn’t have to be in the fight, didn’t have to choose that battle, not only can “walk away and be straight” but never had to walk toward in the first place adds their voice, I don’t think most straight people really understand how very powerful that is – the “even a few drops of water in the desert” idea comes to mind.

            One of the first, and often one of the mildest, jabs that bigots almost always use when they are trying to frame the “debate” is some version of “so, what, are you gay?” One of the bullies’ biggest tools is constantly reinforcing to us that nobody who isn’t gay would possibly stand up for us or our issues. You see it with politicians and pundits who make comments about how “3% of the population” is trying to “change society for their own agenda” and “the rest of us need to stop them.” You see it with even seemingly well-meaning people who ask “So, are you gay?” whenever gay rights come up.

            I guarantee you that people like Givemeliverteaorgivemedeath walks aways from this sort of interaction smugly aware that they can ignore what we say, because, “well, of course, that’s what a gay person would say.” And I have seen the power of it myself – on racial issues, and been told by friends on sexual orientation issues – when a bigot who thinks they are among “just people like me” and spouts their hate, it shocks them silly when someone else calls them on it.

            I don’t want people to misunderstand – John called it being martyrish – the point isn’t that I want straight people to defend ME. I don’t want anyone else telling the bully that I’m weak or helpless or tired or should be humored or that I can’t make my case for myself. I want straight people offended in their own right, and standing up for themselves. These people are corrupting YOUR religion and claiming to speak in YOUR voice, and that should be getting you riled up on your own, for your own sake.

            The tide will turn when this isn’t about “being able to walk away and be straight” but when it turns into “not being able to walk away okay with this being the voice that LGBT people hear from the people of God.”

            I get that no straight person will every truly understand at the deepest level what it feels like to be gay, bi, or transgendered in the face of this kind of crap. And that it’s our job to share that with you by being our own voice.

            But I will never understand what it is like to be straight, to constantly hear people say that this sort of thing – whether it’s anti-gay, anti-women, racial or ethnic bigotry, or just “hey, if you’re not rich, you didn’t pray hard enough, so just suffer” – and not rise up in righteous indignation. This is YOUR church they are poisoning in order to hurt us. Whether or not it is our church as well is a different discussion.

            People are reacting as though my weariness was feeling that people weren’t defending and protecting me. I don’t think it’s that so much as simply honestly wondering why, here of all places, people aren’t standing up more for straight Christians. John makes the point that feeding the trolls is rarely a good thing, and catrennolds makes the case that hearing their voices lets people know just what level of (whatever you want to call it) is out there.

            But I’m standing up for LGBT people, Christian or not. And while I will deeply and sincerely thank straight Christians who wade in on our side, I’m not particularly invested in standing up for straight Christians who aren’t attacking us. That’s where “choosing one’s battles” comes in.

            “Hey, bully, leave that one alone” is an important message – and one a lot of vulnerable LGBT people, especially kids, need to hear far more than they do. But what we rarely here, and why John is such an inspiration, is “And now that I’ve got your attention, bully, how DARE you speak for me and say this kind of thing in my name? Run along, gay person, this jerk just made it personal between us, and I’m going to put him in his place.”

            In some ways, it’s not so much “these people aren’t defending poor, sad, woeful me” as much as it is “can I really trust them to have my back when they aren’t even standing up for themselves? Do they even mean what they say?” And yes, I know it’s different, especially since the vocal bigots are a minority and it’s possible to have a lifelong experience of one’s own personal straight Christianity without ever actually engaging one of them.

            And I get so used to them that often, for me, it’s not “Oh, my God, how shocking!” as much as “Oh, sigh, here we go again.” It’s easy to forget that it isn’t that way for most people. There are plenty of issues that I am conceptually firm on but have never felt the need to research and refute enough to dive into an argument on – especially not when someone is throwing around things that look scholarly – if someone else was mopping the floor with them point by point and my best argument was “I know you are wrong but I can’t give you detailed specifics as to why,” I’d stay back and cheer them on, too.

            So, once again, I apologize for questioning anyone’s motives.

            And Brenda, you cannot know how important it is to those kids to see that there is someone watching out, and how important it is to those of us out here knowing that there are people watching over the young ones. That is so very much more important than tilting at windmills with an internet bully with a stupid name that it isn’t even in the same league. Thank you.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

            You’re doing a wonderful job, Lymis. And I know you’re making a difference.

          • Lymis

            Thank you. You have no idea how much that means.

          • http://brickandtimber.wordpress.com/ DR

            This comment is so beautifully written and contains some essential truths that I nominate it become its own post.

            Much love to you.

          • Mindy

            You. Are. Amazing.

            And this straight momma will support you and my gay friends and my daughters’ gay friends and every LGBTQ person I’ve never met through all the fights – good and bad. I will keep saying it, keep posting about it on Facebook, keep talking about it, until you are treated with the respect and decency you deserve. Because you are human, because you are worthy.

            I haven’t spent nearly as much time here on John’s blog as I like because, well, life keeps happening all around me. But know that if I’m not here speaking up, I’m speaking up on Facebook and “in real life,” because it is a message that has to be repeated until it seeps through all the thick skulls out there who won’t shut up.

          • Brenda R

            Lymis,

            Once again your eloquence amazes me. I so “get” what you’re saying. You made some truly good points, and I’ll remember them. I honestly AM that person who is offended because my religion seems to have been hijacked. Please keep on keepin’ on! One more thing I thought I had already mentioned in my other post, but I see now that I didn’t. I have a lovely niece who lives with her equally lovely girlfriend in a beautiful, monogamous relationship. Our family embraces them because, of course, we’ve loved my niece all her life, and now we also love her girlfriend. Plus, the bigger issue to me is, why not? Period. Love is beautiful.

          • Lymis

            Thank you!

            And, by sharing that fact, that as a straight person you consider your niece’s partner to be just as much family as any other person, you can witness in a way that gay people never can.

            Because someone who is absolutely convinced that LGBT people are “other,” they’ll never identify with our concerns, and always see us as the enemy. But when someone who isn’t “other” but who is “just like them” can show that they accept and appreciate and welcome us as family and friends without bursting into flames, it can make a huge difference.

          • Kajikit

            Lymis honey, people like that pompous windbag are the reason there are so many ex-church-people (especially ex-Catholics) in the world. He’s so caught up in his self-centered, punishment-based ‘theology’ that I feel sorry for him, because he’s entirely missed the point of God’s love and grace. I doubt he’s ever truly accepted it for himself, and he’s certainly not able to share it with anybody else.

            btw, I’m PROUD to attend and support a church that shares God’s love equally with everyone. That’s the way it should be. Fat, thin, tall, short, gay, straight, black, white, the good Lord made us all the uniquely individual people He wanted us to be. Any religion that says ‘you’re not good enough for God’ is the true abomination in His eyes.

  • Donald Rappe

    The Brylcreme really says it all doesn’t it.

  • T. Krasner

    I’m not Catholic, but WAKE UP FOLKS. The Bible–which I have read cover to cover more than once and studied for years — is incredibly persistent and clear on the topic of sexual mattters and what IS and IS NOT permitted. Anyone who rejects it’s teachings reveals this about themeself–they desire to have sex on their OWN terms, not God’s. That’s the thing about being a Chrsitian, you’re supposed to submit to God’s way of living life, not the sinful nature or what the secular culture thinks it good.

    The Bible teaches that there is to be:

    No sex unless your married (and that means a man and woman)

    No sex with family members or non-humans or adultery

    No sex with members of the same sex.

    Check it out–it says the same thing in regards to sex in the OLD and NEW Testaments. So scrpitural teaching didn’t change on this after Jesus came.

    But since what I read here seems to be the epitome of “seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear”, I’m sure that you’ll trot out the usual denials. Key word being “denial”. Anyone who thinks the Bible gives the green light to homosexual activity is in DENIAL.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      I’d bet my house that when you say you’ve read the Bible “cover to cover more than once and studied [it] for years,” you’re lying. No one who’s really studied the Bible like that would ever use the word “themeself,” to name but one of your ridiculously obvious giveaways.

      • DR

        Love this quote:

        “I contend that in a divided Christianity, instead of reading the Bible to assure ourselves that we are right, we would do better to read it to discover where we have not been listening… Then the Bible would be doing for us what Jesus did in his time, namely, convincing those who have ears to hear that all is not right, for God is asking of them more than they thought.” — Raymond E. Brown

        • Jill H

          I’m so glad to have read this now. I love it too DR.

    • Gary

      Deny what? You have provided absolutely nothing but personal opinion without even a hint of substance or foundation. There is no need to “deny” anything since you provided NOTHING to begin with. Of course this is best for your argument…since it is not based on actual scripture.

      For the record…I have read, studied, and taught the bible for 30 years.

      • T. Krasner

        Get some knew glasses.

        • Diana A.

          Learn the difference between new and knew.

        • Gary

          LMAO – Oh good one. Your witty repartee is all you’ve got so you may as well use it.

        • DR

          Honestly. I’m trying hard not to be unkind but what is it with these people and their horrible spelling?

          • Melody

            BC w/ teh internetz ppl dont haf 2 wury bout thingz lyk speling. Duh. ;)

    • Mindy

      I don’t believe anyone here said anything about the Bible giving anyone a green light for any kind of sexual activity. What the Bible does not do (and you would know this if you’d actually studied it with any kind of honest rigor) is forbid loving, monogamous gay relationships. The same sex activity to which it refers, when you examine those texts within their cultural and historical context, is predatory and non-consensual. And anyone with even the tiniest sense of morality would agree that that kind of sexual activity is bad, bad, bad.

      You go right ahead and live your life in the shadow of your paternalistic, authoritarian God. And I will go ahead and live my own bathed in the light of my loving God. I’ll not try to change you – if I feel anything at all for you, it will be pity. But the moment you DARE tell a single LGBTQ friend of mine that he or she is doomed, I will come at you with all I’ve got. In the name of love, in the name of my God, I will.

    • Saje Williams

      You mean the bible that has been written and edited by at least a thousand different men, with differing personal opinions about various objects of faith? You mean the bible that describes a Holy Father who not only condoned, but encouraged war, attempted genocide, rape, slavery, and infanticide? You mean the bible that is full of things that could never have really happened? That bible?

      With all the sects interpreting the same holy book in so many different ways, I argue that NO ONE can claim a monopoly on the “truth” of the bible. It is important to note that “abomination” also describes the act of eating shellfish, or wearing clothes of two different fabrics. I think its moral standing is, at best, suspect. And, for the record, Christ said nothing about homosexuality. Nothing.

    • vj

      You have interpreted the Bible in a particular way.

      Exodus 21:7-10 (a man’s obligations towards a female *slave* if he marries *another* woman) and Exodus 22:16-17 (a man’s obligations towards an unmarried woman if he seduces [=has sex with] her) do not support your assertion that the Bible teaches that sex is permitted ONLY between a husband and wife.

      The prohibitions against adultery and sex with family members are about properly honoring one another and preventing the relational *betrayal* that necessarily results from such encounters.

      The Biblical prohibitions against same-gender sex are in the context of *idolatrous* sexual practices that are an affront to God.

    • DR

      These kinds of comments are just so embarrassing for other Christians who have to clean up the mess. The arrogance and hostility you’re spewing – yet seemingly completely unconscious of – is deeply unsettling. I think you’re probably very young and very lonely.

  • Marcey

    This woman is actually a Muslim. I couldn’t make this up. There is always more to the story than meets the eye. She may have wanted to go back to her childhood days as comfort in her time of grief. However, the Catholic church continues to believe in transubstantiation. That is, the host becomes the actual body of Christ during the mass. It is not a passifier, and should not be used as such, even after a bunch of bullies have decried her denial of communion after hearing half-truths. Public opinion will never replace knowledge and truth, although it may change behaviors. I feel for her, but just as we should treat the grieving with respect, the traditions and sacred beliefs of generations should not be lain aside because it “feels good” either.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Where in the world did you get the idea that Barbara Johnson is a MUSLIM?

    • Diana A.

      Did you mean Buddhist?

      • LSS

        I could totally see confusing 2 words that have the same vowels in them… I do it all the time with names. Big difference, though: it’s entirely possible to be Buddhist and still Catholic. It might not be possible to be both Muslim and Catholic. And then of course is the question of fact, what religion and what philosophy does the person in question profess.

        • Crisy

          There is no way you can be Buddhist and still Catholic, you are either or but not both, you stop being one when you start being the other, and what is more, you can not change what IS and has been for 2000 years, to accommodate the feeling of the moment (grieving ) the church does not condemn the persons, but the sinful acts that they are not willing to change, we love all children of God, but do not condone on their behavior, specially if is going against their own nature, just like a parent does not stop loving his child if he is acting up or doing a wrong, but will discipline him as well, and there are definitely ways to disciplining our children, and in this you all have to know we are not going to have the full story on either side, because the media is a circus that gives us what they want… never the full story, all, always to their interests and plans! she would not have been able to receive either absolution, less the HOLY BODY OF CHRIST! unless she was determined to change her life style, and desired to abide by the rules of CHRIST…!!!

          • Melody

            Crisy, please, do us all a favor, and get off your narrow, self-righteous soapbox. I get the impression the people involved (except the homophobic priest) are following Christ’s teachings better than you ever will with your kind of attitude. Stop it.

          • Diana A.

            Whether one can or cannot be both Buddhist and Catholic depends upon who you talk to. Buddhists have no problem with people continuing to practice Catholicism while being Buddhist. Catholics (at least on the official level) have a huge problem with anyone practicing any other religion expression while professing themselves to be Catholic.

          • DR

            That is not accurate. You do not have the last word on what one can be and cannot be according to what and who is saved. You do not have the authority to separate the sheep from the goats, you’ve stolen the “proofing” of authentic salvation selection from the Holy Spirit. Doing so has actually, inflated your responsibility of what it means to be Christian and distorts it into a very dangerous, spiritually arrogant place. You need to have the courage to really take a look at this – which is really, a total desire for control and a need to be “right” – and offer it to Jesus. He’ll redeem it for you. But do it quickly.

          • (King Matthew)

            Why not? A Buddhist Christian would simply be one following in the tradition of Saints Barlaam and Josaphat (surely you have not forgotten Saints Barlaam and Josaphat?), while a Christian Buddhist would be one who recognizes the Buddhahood of Lord Jesus, who is called the Christ, and strives to follow his teachings.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            Oops, forgot to change the “Name” line.

    • Mindy

      Marcey, check your facts. She is most certainly not a Muslim.

    • DR

      WTF are you talking about.

  • Anya

    Ms Johnson is not good person, because she has lied about an innocent priest.

    1) You CANNOT receive absoution if you are not sorry. She stated she didn’t think her living with another women was a sin. She did not repent.

    2) The priest HAD to deny her communion and HAD told her not to request it before the mass

    3) He was ill and it was Ft G who made sure their was a replacement priest.

    Shame on you for not getting the facts before writing a BS article

    • DR

      Dear Anya,

      how about you lay down your defensiveness and actually read with the intention to understand unless your intention was to come across as a hostile religious prick? Then you’re doing a marvelous job demonstrating the love of Christ to people who are totally shunned by your hostility.

    • DR

      PS #3 is complete fiction, another cover up brought to you by the powers within the Catholic church.

    • Gary

      Oh my…Shame on YOU for bringing all of your UNChristlike BullShit in here and spreading it around. You really know how to stink the place up.

      Do try to get YOUR facts straight before writing such a BS comment. The priest has now officially been placed on leave for engaging in “intimidating behavior”. This is a direct quote from the archdiocese. They also stated that his actions “violated policy”. Innocent priest my ass. This man is a disgrace to the Catholic church AND to the cause of Christ.

    • Mindy

      Wow, Anya – misinformed much? This is not a BS article at all. You might want to pause at the keyboard and actually READ everything before jumping in to a conversation with a completely bogus rant. Since his archdiocese has taken disciplinary action against him, methinks he’s nothing close to innocent. The senior priest of the parish jumped in to cover for him, came out of retirement on a moment’s notice to give this woman the proper burial she deserved, and to give this daughter the respect SHE deserved. Fr. G. behaved like an ass. Kind of how you present yourself in this fictional response.

  • Jack

    One other thing……

    Barbara Johnson has elsewhere identified herself as a Buddhist.

    http://newsbusters.org/blogs/tim-graham/2012/03/07/dramatic-page-one-washpost-story-lesbian-scarred-priest-scandal-begins-f

    http://www.womenofgrace.com/blog/?p=13012

    http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2012/03/lesbian-buddhist-agitator-spits-on-her-mothers-faith-at-funeral/

    Since by her own words, she is NOT a Catholic (or even a Christian), she should not have presented herself for Communion.

    It sounds like she is not after merely an apology, but revenge. Is this really in keeping with either Christianity or Buddhism?

    • LSS

      Did she say she wasn’t a catholic anymore?

      It *is* possible to be both christian and buddhist, as it’s a philosophy compatible with various religions and/or no religion.

      Catholic + Buddhist is, i think, a fairly common combination.

  • tempus_aeterna

    Having a good knowledge of the Catholic Church, the priest denying communion was probably appropriate given the Church’s position on homosexuality (which I don’t personally agree with, but is how they feel). However, his other behavior (walking off the altar and refusing to bury the mother – who was in communion with the church) were completely inappropriate. Also, if he knew he was going to have to deny her communion before the service (as he must have) he should have said BEFORE the service in a clear, loving, and caring way that by church law unless she was actually willing to view her sexual behavior as a sin and admit guilt and accept forgiveness, he could not in good conscious give her communion. If she chose to still come up, he should have simply put his hand on her head and said a blessing over her instead of offering her communion, making it not a big deal.

    As a non-Catholic who has been to many Catholic services, I have seen a number of priests, who could for whatever reason not give communion to someone, let that person come up to communion and have a blessing. It allows a feeling of togetherness and participation without the priest feeling that his moral position is compromised due to the Catholic view on what happens during communion. He should NEVER have made the communion table a place to lecture her on her morality. And he should NEVER have let his feelings about her sexuality effect the way he conducted her mother’s funeral. I am very glad to hear that almost everyone else involved (from the parish priest, to the funeral director, to the congregation) responded to the situation with love and caring for both this woman and the soul of her mother; and am very glad that the Catholic Church is looking into the actions of this priest.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Perfect, tempus.

    • DR

      Yes. The voice of reason. Thank you.

      • tempus_aeterna

        Thanks. I often find myself frustrated with both sides of many religious arguments because I’m generally a moderate about many things. I hear lots of statements in response to this that the priest is wrong for not giving her communion, which is false, as by church law, he should not have given her communion. On the other hand I hear lots of statements which say that he was right to publicly chastise her at the communion table because she is gay. I think both sides completely miss what for me is the main point, he acted without a care for any of the people involved. He didn’t have to give her communion, but he also didn’t have to be pompous and insensitive. He could have been respectful of her and yet denied her communion as she clearly is not in full communion with the Catholic Church. If after he explained the situation and then gave her a blessing, she still made a big deal about not having communion, the issue would be hers and he wouldn’t look like a big jerk.

  • Joe Vadis

    Bottom line is, Catholics MUST abide by what the church teaches is morally correct and by what the church teaches is mandatory for the faith to be viable in a persons life and mandatory for salvation. It is not for us to interpret the Gospels as we want to. That is why we have the magisterium.

    If a self-proclaimed “Catholic” chooses to act as a protestant then they should be honest with themselves and just LEAVE and stop pretending they are something they are not.

    Either we align ourselves with Rome 100% or we have placed ourselves outside of the faith no matter how many cretinous “theologians” and imbecilic “religious” claim dissent is the “work of the spirit!”

    • n.

      is it any wonder some people think the catholic church is kind of scary?

  • Jill Hileman via Facebook

    Thank you for this John. But the comment section made me miss Lymis and DR too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnShoreFans John Shore via Facebook

    Yeah, what happened to those guys? People move in and out in these big, long waves. It’s … one of those things.

  • Jill Hileman via Facebook

    Must be an interesting dynamic as a blog writer and host over the years. Watching your little ones leaving the nest… :)


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