WELCOME! Here is my not-terribly-eloquent attempt to grow closer to God via... blogging. Unfortunately for you, I'm not sure what that means either. I guess we'll find out!

I'm 30 years old, married to an IT Guy and a stay-at-home-mom to two spectacularly gorgeous children. While we attend Mass on Sunday mornings, I spend the entirety of the Eucharistic Prayer focused on making sure the baby uses her crayons on the bulletin, not the pew

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03/10/2010

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Erin

I am pretty much right there with you. I don't know for certain how I feel about a lot of aspects of this issue, but I do know a few things. (1) Gays/ lesbians have been treated HORRIBLY by (a lot, but not all)Christians-like, shamefully so. It is sickening and so far from Christlike it makes me cringe. (2) You don't have to agree with everything someone does to show them God's love and kindness- which is what you should do if you follow Jesus. (3) I DON'T GET THE FINAL SAY. It is not MY place to say, "hey, this is wrong, stop it, if you don't stop we will cut you out of everything we can because you are a sinner" (which we all are, by the way). Judging is GOD'S job. Not mine. END RANT! Thanks for not being afraid to speak so eloquently on a subject like this.

Kat

I agree 100%. I also wish that I had a parish like the one you describe. I'd be much more willing to go to church if i wasn't surrounded by such hypocrisy all the time. Thank you for sharing!

Sarah in Ottawa

Thank you for writing this Maggie. I apologize in advance for the comment hijack.

As I said in our twitter conversation this morning, this is the area of Catholic teaching where I struggle the most. It's not contraception, it is THIS. And last week in my Familia group, this was part of our catechesis, so it's stirring this up for me right now.

As I also mentioned on Twitter, ITA with your thoughts on the senseless of punishing the kids for the behaivour (right or wrong) of their parents. Didn't we deal with a similar thing when we said that illegitimacy was irrelevant - the kids shouldn't pay for the sins of the parents? Why are they being made to pay here? AIEE!

Paragraphs 2357-9 of the CCC deal with homosexuality, in relation to teaching on the 6th commandment. You've effectively articultated 2358 and 2359, but the one I struggle with (and think is a bit of a cop out) is 2357 itself: "Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved."

Ok, so "Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained." And if (I want to say when) evidence supports that its basis is genetic or happens in utero - what then? God, a loving God, created all of us, including those among us who are gay. Who can say if He did it deliberately or not? And if He did, we are treating His creations reprehensibly.

I have a huge number of gay friends, many of whom I have known since childhood and have seen their struggles to come to terms with their identity EVEN AS CHILDREN. Children created by God, in His image. When they came out, one by one, I had similar feelings to the ones you had - it made sense. But am I supposed to believe that God's vocation for every single gay person is the single life (since they're aren't supposed to be in the religious life, LOL)? Every single one?

I wonder what arguments were used by Christians justify prohibitions on interfaith and interrace marriage? Are they some of the same ones we're using now, here? I struggle so much to make peace with this.

Emily

Well said, Maggie! I loved this quote:

"...in these situations, what is love? To expel them, or make them welcome? All have a place at the table, and granted I'm unclear on the etiquette and who sits where and who gets the coveted train plate (what? you don't fight over train plates at your house?), but if I'm going to screw up somewhere I want it to be because I don't have enough chairs, not because I left people off the invitation list."

I, too, am unclear on my stance on homosexuality as taught by the church. But! Guess what? It's really not my business what anyone else does. I'm not a pastor or a teacher. I'm a person who isn't gay and who knows nothing about being gay, and so who am I to say anything? You know what? I consider myself blessed that I don't struggle with that particular "sin." And if I DID struggle with it, or if I IDENTIFIED myself as a gay person, I would most definitely want to be loved. Regardless. I would want to be welcomed and not shamed, because ultimately, it's between that person and God anyway.

I mean, yes, I could think of a THOUSAND tangents, but I think our generation is becoming more of a Love generation than the Tolerate but Don't Welcome generation that went before us. Do you think so??

-R-

I'm Catholic and agree with this post 100%. I disagree with the Church's stance that gay people need to remain celibate, but as long as my parish welcomes all people, I don't have a problem worshipping there.

A'Dell

So, I read this with a totally non-religious slant.

They're a private school, they can accept or deny whatever students they want, on whatever grounds they want. That's their right.

Except, if this was any old private school without religious affiliation, people would be screaming that it was discrimination.

Can you imagine HARVARD denying admission to a child with lesbian parents? Can you imagine the public reaction to that?

If feels as if the church is using the Bible as an excuse/shield to discriminate with permission. And, because they're a church, they seem to get away with it.

Morons all the way around on this one.

A'Dell

Also, unlike other private groups/clubs/schools with specific and transparent admission standards in their bylaws, this school probably doesn't have a rule somewhere that says, "no gay parents."

That's the part that's really shocking and reeks of an ACLU battle.

Karen

Okay, I am going to say a bit in defense of the school, NOT because I think they should kick the kids out. Instead, they should not have admitted the kids in the first place.

Why? Because as a Catholic school, they are there to teach the students not only academics, but theology. Specifically, theology of the Catholic Church. And the Catholic Church clearly teaches that while BEING gay is not a sin, living a gay lifestyle--i.e. being a married gay couple--is. It would be very confusing for these children to be taught that their moms were living a sinful lifestyle and needed to repent and change their ways.

I'm sorry, but that's the way it is. I don't know why this couple thought that it would fine and dandy to enroll their children in a Catholic school, being that their lifestyle--NOT their sexual orientation, but the lifestyle--flies in the face of Catholic doctrine, and I have every confidence that they knew that. But I have a teensy weensy suspicion that they were trying to do it to Make a Point.

One should never use one's kids to make a point. Never, ever, ever. If you want to be a gay Catholic and have a gay lifestyle, then do so. But don't enroll your kids in a Catholic school, and expect them to never find out and start scrambling to make sure they're fulfilling the Catechism.

We are called, as Catholics, to live in this world but not be of it. The Church is not here to change with the world, but to provide an anchor in an ever-changing world.

But here's the rub. The school already admitted the children, probably not knowing all the particulars of their parents' home life. And no, nobody is sinless. I bet nobody here knows that if you're using artificial birth control, or living together outside of marriage, or dating a divorced person, you should not be receiving Communion, right? It's up to us to know those rules and abide by them, and if I was using birth control and my priest found out, I would be DISAPPOINTED if he did not talk to me and let me know I could not receive the Eucharist.

The Church has rules. Those rules are not here to be changed to allow for our human fraility; they are there to keep us from sin DESPITE our human frailty.

Karen

Argh, that was an incredibly rambling comment and I apologize for the length. I also wanted to add that I think the parents have some 'splaining to do, such as why they chose a Catholic school when they know that the Catholic Church teaches what they do about homosexual lifestyles; why would they think their children would be happy in that environment? It reminds me of my neighbors, who were thinking of homeschooling but decided to send their kids to public school so they could evangelize and be "soldiers for Christ" in the public school setting. Again, STOP using your kids to fight your battles.

And yes, maybe the school should take to task the parents who are calling themselves Catholics but flouting a lot of the Church's teachings. Like I said, I would expect my priest to call me on it if he found I was doing something sinful and not doing the proper penance for it. That's what he's there for, that's what the Church is there for.

Maggie

Karen - good points about the kids getting confused and why the parents chose a Catholic school - hadn't thought about that.

Emily

Karen, you make a very good point. I liked everything you said, especially the part about using your kids to make a point. If that's what these people were doing, it's disgusting.

I would add to that, though, how many people who AREN'T Catholic send their kids to Catholic schools? I am aware of many people who do that because they view Catholic schools as safer or more strict... or in some cases, kids who are "problem kids" at public schools are sent to Catholic schools to "straighten up." So there are likely kids at that school whose parents are divorced... but no one is worried about Catholic teachings making THOSE kids uncomfortable.

I guess my biggest problem with it is that you can't be strict on one area if you aren't going to be strict on them all.

Sarah in Ottawa

"I bet nobody here knows that if you're using artificial birth control, or living together outside of marriage, or dating a divorced person, you should not be receiving Communion, right?"

Karen, there are a number of faithful Catholic posters (myself included) who know this. But the point is - would parents who are engaging in this same behaviours IN THIS SAME SCHOOL be asked to leave on the same grounds (i.e. would they force out all the children whose parents are committing grave sin)? That's one of the points that Maggie was making above, and she and I both suspect that the answer would be no.

Emily

Oh, Sarah. You said it so much better than me.

She Likes Purple

This is the best thing I've read on the Internet today: "if I'm going to screw up somewhere I want it to be because I don't have enough chairs, not because I left people off the invitation list"

Oh that applies to so much.

I won't get into how I really feel about this because it's too personal to me, but erring on the side of love is never a bad idea.

And, in case you're interested, this is the best thing I've ever read on faith and homosexuality: http://www.sweetsalty.com/sweetsalty/2008/10/23/what-was-planted-to-heal-the-world.html (esp this line: "How dare anyone put conditions on love - that which was planted to heal the world by the very God they invoke?")

-R-

I completely but respectfully disagree with the idea that a Catholic education is only for Catholic children, and I disagree even more with the idea that it's only for Catholic children of parents who strictly follpw all the teachings of the Catholic Church. While Catholic schools do teach theology, I don't think they have ever been intended to exclude others. In fact, I don't know of a single Catholic school that only accepts Catholic students.

Karen

Emily, I think maybe those parents who are divorced, should think about it. Whether they want their children to be attending a school that is run by an institution whose beliefs they themselves do not hold.

For instance, my son was invited to a Baptist youth group meeting. Obviously, we are not Baptists. I have nothing against Baptists; I have a best friend who is Baptist. However, their religious beliefs are different from our family's religious beliefs, and the group was based on religious education, so we declined. I did not want my son being confused, even if it was going to be a fun meeting with other boys his age. I wouldn't send my kids to a Muslim school, nor a Jewish school.

And when it comes to being Catholic, and living a Catholic life, you cannot pick and choose what you wish to follow and do not wish to follow when it comes to the Catholic Church. There are people who do, mind you, but they are not experiencing the fullness of the faith.

I don't think the school should have admitted the children IF they knew about the parents' lifestyle choices, and yes, I do think the school is being hypocritical if they do not call attention to other lifestyle choices that are against Church teaching. So I think there were bad decisions made by both the school and the parents involved.

Petroni

Oh, this issue is so, so hard. Maggie gets it exactly right that having a homosexual orientation isn't the sin; acting on it is. All Catholics are called to chastity, according to their state in life. For married folks, there are rules-- being faithful to your spouse, not using contraception, and so forth. For single folks (gay or straight), there are also rules-- and the overarching rule for them boils down to, don't have sex.

I agree that this requirement falls particularly hard on those with a homosexual orientation, but I have plenty of straight friends who are single, getting older, would love to be married, and may never marry. I'm not sure that the burden of their call to celibacy is any less onerous than my gay friends' call to celibacy.

I can't completely decide how I feel about this decision, but I am leaning toward agreeing with it. On the one hand, it certainly isn't the child's fault that his parents are living a sinful lifestyle. But I can certainly see the point that allowing the child to remain in the school might make it look like the Church is condoning the homosexual lifestyle.

Emily made an excellent point on Twitter about those who have porn addictions, extramarital affairs, and so forth. Why, she asked, should their children be allowed to remain in the school? OBVIOUSLY such individuals' sexual sins are no less serious than the sins of this gay couple. The difference, I think, is that the gay couple is living in open and notorious sin, whereas the other examples are presumably hidden from public view. This doesn't affect the sinfulness of the behavior, of course, but it does mean that there is more of an opportunity for scandal through the appearance that the Church is condoning the gay parents' behavior. If a straight, married couple publicly declared themselves to have an "open marriage," I would not expect their child to be permitted to remain in a Catholic school. Likewise, I would not expect the child of, say a porn producer to be enrolled in a Catholic school. When people make their ongoing, unrepentant sinful choices public, they put the Church in a position to have to take a public stand against those sins. (It's the same issue we see with the question of whether to deny Holy Communion to Catholic politicians who are pro-legal abortion.)

The other difference, I think, is that there isn't really a push going on to normalize and legitimize sexual sins like adultery and pornography use, whereas there is most certainly a push to normalize, legitimize, and even celebrate homosexuality.

In the end, the situation is sad. I feel for the child. I feel for the lesbian parents, because I know that their orientation must be a tremendously heavy cross to bear and that the call to celibacy is a difficult one. I feel for the priest(s) and bishop, who are being vilified for defending Church teaching. I will keep everyone involved in my prayers.

Karen

_R_, this is true. I attended a Catholic high school, and there were a lot of non-Catholic students there. But they were all expected to attend our school Masses. So if the parents didn't want their Protestant kid attending a Catholic service, they should not send their child to a Catholic school. And a gay parent sending their child to a Catholic school may end up hearing their child ask, "Mom, are you a sinner?"


So no, Catholic schools do (and should) accept everybody. BUT...here's a big BUT...those parents and kids should be aware that they will be hearing things they may not like, if those teachings do not jibe with their own personal worldview. Such as, marrying another woman is a sin, or marrying again after a divorce, if you're Catholic, is a sin, et cetera. And most likely the school, in this case, felt the children were going to be confused and possibly teased if their family's orientation came to light. Children are cruel, and they don't always absorb that "love your neighbor as yourself" teaching immediately.

Karen

Petroni, you said it all better than i could. Thank you.

Miriel

I was just typing out a long and laborious comment that said half of the things Petroni just said, half as eloquently. I don't think there's anything to add.

Amanda

This is what the priest who made the decision had to say about it on his blog: http://www.fatherbillsblog.com/heart/2010/03/moses-and-the-burning-bush.html

Essentially, it boils down to:

1. He must uphold the Church's teaching on marriage.

2. He is protecting the teachers/school community. He states: "If people are living other conflicts with our faith and publicly defend that conflict (for example someone publicly encouraging divorce) we would have the same problem."

If I had the time to write out my thoughts, I would basically be repeating what Petroni, and parts of what some others, stated above.

Layla

Another echo to Petroni's comment. She said it perfectly.

antonia

I also agree with Petroni & Miriel.

The question of homosexual acts isnt a 'grey area' at all; it's an unjustifiable sin. It serious distortion of the natural order, as established by God, and therefore can never be morally right....no matter what people 'feel' about the issue.

xxx

Maggie

But is that really the criteria? The opportunity for scandal? REALLY?

I know I am very sympathetic to the plight of gay Catholics and that has a lot to do with how I see this situation, but that said, I seriously fail to see how teaching the children of gay parents in a Catholic school condones gay relationships, any more than welcoming gay people to the Mass (without communion, obvs) is condoning the relationship.

UGH. There is a reason I do not write about Stuff Like This! TWITCHY!

Emily

Oooh, a point I hadn't thought about!! Nice work, Petroni. For me, the hardest part of being a Christian is finding the balance between agreeing with the Bible on sin and convincing others that my stance doesn't mean I "hate" those who are involved in it. Sin not the sinner and all that, right? Does that make sense??

Anyway. The one thing I don't actually agree that there isn't a push to legitimize other sexual sins - adultery and pornography is EVERYWHERE and no one seems to care anymore. Whether it's the cover of a magazine or a reality show about the Playboy mansion or celebrities who are married 16 times over and cheat on each other... I think the public finds those practices totally ok.

I would have to expect, however, based upon the way the gay couple's children were treated, that if another family in the school was found to be unmarried and living together (and presumably having premarital sex), that they should be asked to withdraw their children as well. Right?

I just keep rambling on and on and not making any sense. I'm not Catholic, so I hope anything I say isn't offensive to those of you who are!! I would never mean to be offensive.

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