Friday, May 29, 2015

Response and Reflection to NY Times Article (Catholic Countries Support Gay Marriage)

You can find the aticle here. Non-Scripture quotes are from said article. 

This is sad for a number of reasons:
"That’s because “Catholics” includes not just worshipers who attend Mass weekly and perhaps tilt in a more conservative direction but those who go less frequently and those for whom Catholicism is as much an ethnic as a religious identity."

Catholics who identify themselves as cultural and claim that their views are inspired by their Catholicism, when really its inspired by pluralistic influences, should not say "because of my Catholicism."

 Not participating in the sacraments whatsoever and no taking even the slightest time to understand what the Church teaches (or read Scripture) is doing a disservice to one's conscience.

In that same vein, (2):

"We journalists too often use “the Catholic Church” as a synonym for the pope, the cardinals and teachings that have the Vatican’s stamp of approval.
But in Europe and the Americas in particular, the church is much more fluid than that. It harbors spiritually inclined people paying primary obeisance to their own consciences, their own senses of social justice. That impulse and tradition are as Catholic as any others."

Primary obedience to one's conscience is not a blank check to do and act as you please, but a right given to all to exercise their free will to the best of their ability and knowledge.
One's conscience formed by his or her own convictions and preferences is not a "Catholic Conscience," but a "church-of-me" conscience. The Church can and won't infringe upon anyone's free will, but she does reserve the right, by virtue of her teaching and authority, to say if a given claim is erroneous, heretical, or schismatic to Catholicism and truth. So it is with myself or with anyone else who says they are Catholic, we must be humble in light of what is taught and obedient to the Church through a conscience formed by the Cross, a daily incorporation of Scripture, understanding of Tradition, and guidance from one's spiritual leaders.

Blame should probably fall on priests, myself included, who are not a steady witness to the Gospel, but rather seek comfort in those who agree with them and in topics of universal agreement, such as feeding the poor (which still isn't done enough, along with other corporal works of mercy), as opposed to preaching the Gospel on matters of gay marriage, divorce, contraception, the dignity of all persons, war, and the death penalty (things which pertain, I think, to spiritual works of mercy).

It's difficult to preach on these difficult issues without hijacking the mass which, in turn, makes the sacraments of the Church vehicles of personal preference as opposed to sources of life-giving grace. Yet we and our faithful don't do much before or after mass to build off that grace to grow in knowledge of our Church. So when should we talk about them? It's worth discussing, I think.

Thus, with brief reference to this article, advocating for gay marriage, even in a Catholic country and saying that it is a result of a Catholic conscience is, in my opinion, erroneous as best (insofar as they are mistaken about Church teaching) and those who proclaim it publicly (knowing consciously the teachings of the Church), with the intention of persuading other Catholics into seeing it as a "Catholic answer/alternative," speak in a heretical fashion. Neither of these actions are/become sinful unless those who hold to it as a Catholic position are obstinate and refuse to discuss it with their local, spiritual leader (typically a priest or deacon; or bishop). Catholics may, out of respect for their consciences, hold gay marriage as a personal belief, but publicly proclaiming it as coming from Catholicism is wrong.

My opinion is that most people simply speak in error because they have been taught to let "their conscience be their guide" while never being taught how to form it for themselves. "Do not be carried away by all manners of strange teaching" (Heb 13:9), rather, "test everything, hold onto what is good" (1 Thes 5:21). "Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours." (2 Thes 2:15)

**tl;dr verson:**
It's time we as Catholics actually started forming our consciences, priests included, and be in genuine discourse with each other and the Tradition.

Feel free to give comments on this or similar topics below.