Thursday, August 16, 2018

Thoughts on "Wrongcalli"

I graduated from Roncalli High School in 1997.  Roncalli is a Catholic high school on the south side of Indianapolis.  I shared in just the previous post about my Dad's 40+ year career there, and he still serves as the school's president.  I also, sadly, just got to a place in my life where I publicly acknowledged that Roncalli had in fact done so much for my Faith as I wrote "An Apology to Roncalli" HERE.

The school has been in the local news for placing a guidance counselor on administrative leave when the school learned that she entered into a same sex "marriage" several years ago.

I think it helpful to share some thoughts on this situation as even many people WITHIN the Catholic community itself are being vocal AGAINST Catholic teaching.

1) First of all, up front, it should be noted that the Church's teaching on same-sex marriage is nuanced.  Many "Catholics against Catholicism" in this instance are saying "The counselor is being punished for being gay"

That isn't true at all.  The Church teaches that people who experience same sex attraction are to be treated with the utmost respect and dignity and none of us are judged by God for whatever attractions we experience, whether heterosexual or homosexual attractions.

What the Church teaches about MARRIAGE, however, is different.  The Church (and, frankly, everyone else on both sides of this issue) says marriage is a BIG deal.  It MEANS SOMETHING.  It is why we give up Saturday's to go to them, and buy people gifts, and travel great distances at times...because marriage is a BIG DEAL!  If marriage didn't mean anything, then people wouldn't have been fighting for same sex marriage in the first place.  

So the Church (and you and I) see that marriage is something REALLY central to its teaching.  The Church says it this way officially: "Marriage is not a simple agreement to live together but a relationship with a social dimension that is unique with regard to all other relationships"

Here, if you'd like more on this topic, I'm including a podcast I did with Catholic Radio Indy.  I think even if you hate me you might find the discussion interesting

2) There has been an utter failure on the part of the Catholic Church in America to teach what it believes about marriage.

If we could rewind for a moment, I was a high school teacher at Cardinal Ritter when I was first ordained. My classes on homosexuality went viral and in teaching the topic I realized that a lot of the young people had ZERO idea what the Church teaches and why (and that I, as a priest, didn't know nearly enough).  That's why I set out to make "The Third Way" (which has been translated into 9 languages and seen about 500,000 times online).  I had no idea how it would turn out, but I think it has helped show a lot of young people what the Church teaches about homosexuality.

When it was time to do the "sequel" - "What the Church teaches about same sex marriage" people scoffed at it and we didn't raise hardly any money.

So again, as I did 3 years ago when we tried to put the marriage film together, "Where can you go to show someone clearly, quickly, and beautifully why the Church teaches against same-sex marriage" there literally is NOWHERE to go.  So the fact that even a lot of people in the Catholic community hate the Church's teaching is not a surprise to me.  We've done nothing to teach it as an American Church, and for that we'll have to answer.

NOTE: People have said a lot over this past week to me, "Why do you always talk about homosexuality, and blog about it and preach about it?"  I've done about 2,000 blog posts and I bet 20 at most are centered around homosexuality or marriage.  I've preached about 600 different weekend homilies - and I think 3 or 4 of them are on homosexuality or same sex marriage.

Here IS the video we were able to put together with the little bit we raised to cover marriage.  This is a video called "What Catholics Get Wrong About Marriage".  This has 750,000 Facebook views, which isn't bad, but we, as a Church have to do more on a scale about 1,000,000 times larger if we want to reach the culture today

3) There is a rumor that I turned this guidance counselor in.  I can say clearly I did not.  Jesus said "let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no."  I did not turn her in, or her certificate, and, as I've shared elsewhere, if you'd told me this person's name Sunday morning and asked where she worked, I would have had no answer.  

I do think it is interesting, though, that some would try to paint this as me and my Dad pulling this off.  First of all, I'm honored to stand next to and with my Dad.  But I also think perhaps the rumor spread around because if orthodox Catholicism is a leprosy that some in the community would like to drive out so that our Catholic Church looks more like the world, well then it is more convenient to blame it on two people from the same family.  It is more frightening to those who would want to drive out orthodox Catholicism to think that anyone outside the two of us had anything to do with this.

Along these lines, too, many people who believe what the Church teaches are contacting me privately.  "Hey, Father, we just want you to know we totally appreciate you explaining and defending the Church's teaching" and "We're with you on this."  That's very kind, but I'd say this - don't tell me privately, tell everyone else!  It is COMPLETELY shocking to me that faithful Catholics are afraid to tell other Catholics that they believe the Catholic Church's teachings!  Look, I get it, I get a lot of flack through the years on the blog, social media, etc., but you also find out that a lot of other people that you didn't know before who DO believe what you believe.  If you say "I'm Catholic and I uphold Church teaching," and you lose friends over that, sure it is hard, but ultimately, WHO CARES?  Jesus said "If the world hates you, know that it hated me first."  And you'll find new friends who do believe what you believe, and you'll have made a stand for what you know is right. 

Affirming Catholicism, the Archdiocese and/or Roncalli privately and quietly is meaningless.  No one ever gets credit, in the long view of history, for being privately in favor of something but not telling anyone they are for it.

4) The Catholic Church, as G.K. Chesterton notes, puts itself forward as a truth-teaching machine.  Either what the Church teaches is the Truth or it isn’t.  You can’t cherry-pick which truths you like and which you don’t.  That’s called cafeteria Catholicism.  If a person decides that the Catholic Church is wrong about its teaching on same-sex marriage, that person should have the moral courage to run as far away from Catholicism as possible because if it isn’t teaching the Truth, then the Catholic Church is an abomination set up by the Devil.  


I would first of all say that I've preached the two strongest and most forceful homilies I've ever preached have been this month, and they've been condemnations of those who've committed these crimes (if you want to watch either, they are HERE and HERE).   My heart absolutely breaks for all these sins, and I simply sat down in the confessional this morning after Mass and just wept for 10-15 minutes by myself for all of this awfulness.

But, at the same time, it is completely illogical that the failure of some Catholic prelates to live by Catholic teaching somehow invalidates the Church's teaching.  

Either the Church teaches the truth or it doesn't.  If it doesn't teach the truth, you should want to leave it.

5) This reminder about the larger American Church's failures to teach what we believe as Catholics is also I think partly explained by the fact that I can introduce you to a priest on the South side of Indianapolis (and any other side of town) who would teach just about anything, particularly with regard to human sexuality and marriage.  

a.  I could introduce you to a priest who will tell you contraception is okay in marriage "in certain circumstances"

b. I could introduce you to a priest who will tell you that you can be divorced and remarried without an annulment and still take the Eucharist.

c. I could introduce you to a priest who will tell you that you can go to weddings that are contrary to Church teaching.

And on and why would we expect anyone to understand the nuanced but CRITICAL teachings of the Church on same-sex "marriage"????   The Catholic Church also says it is a pillar-esque teaching of the Church that we have to go to Mass every weekend and holy day of obligation and 80% ignore THAT teaching, and that teaching is really simple.

Given all that, why would we be shocked that a lot of people don't understand why a person would be let go from a Catholic institution after having made a permanent and public vow to live in direct opposition to a core teaching of the Catholic Church?

1 comment:

  1. Father Hollowell is correct.

    Roncalli High School is a Catholic high school. It is a part of the world-wide Catholic Church. It is not permitted to create its own rules of behavior. It must follow authentic, magisterial teachings. By the way, Angelo Roncalli (Pope John XXIII for whom the school was named) was a loyal son of the Church and an orthodox pope would have been condemned with Ms. Fitzgerald's same-sex "marriage," and rightly so.

    My attitude: A Catholic school MUST transmit Catholic values, not just some of them, such as every person is made in the image and likeness of God, but all of them, including the prohibitions against abortion, homosexual behavior, and same-sex "marriage.". Ms. Fitzgerald was not being judged, her behavior was being judged. If a teacher or counselor started to promote abortion on their Facebook page, I would expect that person to be dismissed, too.

    Additionally, as guidance counselor she is in sensitive position as she must counsel students, including students with same-sex attraction. Does she counsel them against homosexual behavior??? Does she counsel them to follow the Church's teachings on homosexual behavior??? I sincerely doubt it.