Saturday, July 5, 2014

Debate With Terry Nelson: Ministering To The Gay Community


Terry Nelson of Abbey Roads and I have a friendly disagreement about the "pre pride" Mass which was celebrated at St. Francis of Assisi in Manhattan.  If you read this blog, you know that I was present at the Mass and found nothing at all against Church teaching there.  The Mass was held during Gay Pride Weekend in NYC, and it was an invitation from St. Francis of Assisi Church for Gay Catholics to come to the Mass and experience the Catholic Church.  At the top of the poster advertising this Mass were the words "Feed My Sheep."

As they wrote on their website:
This is an opportunity for our whole parish community to remember that the Lord invited all people to follow him, regardless of race, ethnicity, economic background, gender or sexual orientation.

It is also an opportunity for all of us to invite to Mass any of our friends who many not feel welcome at the table of the Lord for whatever reason, but especially if they are gay or lesbian. Take the opportunity to bear witness to the unconditional love of God by reaching out and inviting back a brother or sister who hasn’t been home in a while.
Terry and everyone else who has responded to my posts are convinced that these are code words for "there is nothing wrong with homosexuality and we're having a Mass to celebrate that fact". Michael Voris did a video to promote this idea, and most people thought it was spot on. As Terry said, "Voris nailed it".

Terry wrote a very nice comment to me explaining his position which I now want to respond to.  His comment was:
I may write a post in response - but maybe not. How do I expect the Church to respond to gay people? The same way it responded to me. The Church opened it's arms to me through the sacraments and teaching and pastoral care. That was before Courage Apostolate was even conceived.
Today there is Courage. http://couragerc.net/
The churches who espouse LGBTQ theory are not teaching Catholic doctrine.
Michael Voris wasn't lying.
I think your other commenters are saying the same thing.
What some of these gay-friendly churches do is close to what some of the pro-choice nuns do and those who escort women into abortion clinics do - they enable grave sin. They condemn themselves and those they imagine they minister to.
A parish can indeed welcome and be open to gay people and many do so. Not everyone is ready for Courage, but to receive the sacraments one needs catechesis and formation in the faith - that means telling gay people the truth. As one guy commented here - you heard what was said with the ears of faith, I read what was said in the same way. However, gay Catholics heard according to their mode of perception, and taking a second look at that, I think the priest intended that they would.
I know there are many active gay people who go to Mass but refrain from Communion - because they know homosexual acts are condemned - and they are not ready to change - but they have faith and consider it a serious obligation to attend Mass on Sunday.
We can't tell people it's okay to live in sin and receive Communion. But we can welcome them to Mass and devotions - and the sacrament of penance - before they attempt Communion.
Catholic teaching - the truth - can be accomplished with compassion and sensitivity while not concealing or dissimulating the truth. Saints such as Philip Neri, Alphonsus Ligouri, Vincent De Paul and others demonstrated that in their ministry.
The best booth for the Franciscans of Holy Name Province to operate is the confessional - that is the best way to win souls for Christ - perfectly in keeping with the Franciscan charism.
I sincerely do appreciate Terry's response and explanation. His opinion has definite merit and not something to be dismissed. That is why I am doing another post just to respond to Terry, and if he is interested, get his further reaction.

Terry, you said that you came out of this lifestyle and back into the Church before Courage ministry began. The first meeting of Courage was here in NYC in 1980, so you came back many, many years ago. It has been an entire generation or more since your return to the Church. I daresay that was a completely different world than than the one we live in today. Back then, I believe that even Psychiatry still considered homosexuality to be deviant behavior. 1980 was slightly before the AIDS epidemic became known. No one "came out" in those days. They all stayed "in the closet" as it were because the homosexual lifestyle was completely condemned and rejected by society. People's careers and their entire lives could be ruined if it was publicly known they were homosexual.

Now we have gone to the exact opposite extreme, where the homosexual lifestyle is so accepted in our society that it is taught as completely normal and acceptable to kids in kindergarten. People's lives are ruined today if they don't support the homosexual lifestyle.

Look at this video where kids today are asked about their views on same sex marriage:



As this video says, kids between the ages of 5 and 13 years were interviewed on their feelings about same sex marriage. The kids were shown two videos of public marriage proposals, the first being a man proposing marriage to another man.

The older ones had no problem at all. They say such things as "That's cool." "They're gay, but that's okay." "That's so cute." "That's nice." Another girl claps and says "Congratulations!" One boy claps in approval. Another comment was, "That was so cute. It doesn't matter if they're like gay or anything."

However, there is a very different reaction from the younger kids who have not been so thoroughly indoctrinated by society yet. One little girl looks at the video in horror and says, "This is crazy!" Another little girl says in protest, "How does a guy marry a guy?!"

The second video is shown in which a woman proposes to another woman. Again, the older kids have no problem with this video ("That was so adorable!"). However, one of the little girls says, "How does a girl propose to a girl and how does a guy propose to a guy?!" Another little girl pretends to turn away in disgust.

Then the kids are questioned about their personal views on gay marriage. Personally, I think that alone is an outrage. Kids should not have to even be thinking about such subjects, especially when they are not even 10 years old yet. Back in the 50's and 60's when I was a kid, I had no idea there was such a thing as homosexuality. Now kids are no longer allowed to keep their innocence.

But I digress.

The kids were asked how the videos made them feel. Most said it made them feel good, no problem at all. But one little boy said, "I'm sad. Gay is bad for you." The little boy is asked, "Why do you think that is bad?" Of course, the little boy cannot answer that question. He just instinctively feels it. This instinct has been brainwashed out of the older kids.

One little girl who had initially reacted in horror now said, "You don't see that every day. But it's okay. A boy can like a boy and a girl can like a girl." She was obviously saying what she thought she was expected to say. Another little girl who had also had an initial negative reaction to the videos was asked, "A lot of people were upset at these marriage proposals because it was a man proposing to a man and a woman proposing to a woman." The little girl picked up on what was suppose to be the proper reaction, and she now said, "I don't get why anybody would be mad", having completely forgotten her own initial reaction.

All of the comments from the kids were very much in favor of same sex marriage and condemning of anyone who disagrees with this. When asked how people become gay, the kids respond almost in one voice, "That's just how they were born." When asked whether being gay can be "corrected," one girl responded, "That kind of stuff makes me sick." Another said, "You can't be like all bossy to people, You can't be like, 'You can't do that. You can't do that.' . . . When it's yourself, don't let people tell you what to do."

The interviewer then says, "In only 14 states are you allowed to get married if you are gay." The phrasing of the question, of course, is intended to bring out indignation at this injustice, and it works. One little boy says, "That is just insane." Another: "Out of 50. That's outrageous." "I need to talk to Mr. President!" "Kind of takes away from the whole freedom thing." And then of course came the comparisons to racial bigotry and hatred. Only one little boy still held out: "I think you have to find a boy and a girl, and you can get married like that. But gay? You can't get married." The interviewer asks with an incredulous tone, "But do you know why you don't like it?" The little boy answers honestly, "No."

Then the interviewer brings up the fact that in some places homosexuals are put in jail or even killed for being gay. This again, is designed to show how evil intolerance is when it comes to those who are homosexual, and again it works, as all the kids react, and rightfully I might add, in disgust at the fact that people are jailed because of their sexual preferences. However, it is obvious that this question is intended to lend credence to the idea that being gay is normal, and any negative reactions are intolerant and hateful.

Then the kids are asked about the reasons why people are against gay marriage. The interviewer says some people are against gay marriage because they can't have children, and it's not natural. Again, this question is sent up so the kids can shoot it down, and they willingly and happily comply.

Then the interviewer says, "Every major religion has something in its books that could be interpreted as being against people who are gay. What are your thoughts about people who are against it for religious beliefs?" Again, this question is deliberately phrased so that the kids will shoot it down, and once more, it works like a charm. One kid says, "It's the 21st Century. Things have changed."

That last statement, Terry, explains exactly why approaching homosexuals as you were some 30 to 40 years ago will not work now. One girl captured the thinking of many in society, "Think of God. Like he loves everybody, and he can't hate anything." Another said of those who oppose gay rights, "You need to realize that you're just a little speck. No one cares what you think." Another said, "I wouldn't exactly say you suck, get out of my life. But I would say it in the nicest words possible."

As I said in a previous post on this subject, Terry, in the past society did a lot of our work for us. This was most definitely true at the time you returned to the Church. Society condemned homosexuality as aberrant behavior. It was wrong and unacceptable. The Church could label homosexual acts as sinful with no repercussions. The rest of society was in total agreement.

But as this video shows, that is just not the case anymore. Those who do not accept homosexuality as normal are labeled bigots and haters, in the same class as the Ku Klux Klan and Nazis. Kids are literally being brainwashed and indoctrinated into this thinking almost from the time they can talk. The Catholic Church is now the pariah in society. We are the hateful ones who just want to destroy people.

Terry, you say,
What some of these gay-friendly churches do is close to what some of the pro-choice nuns do and those who escort women into abortion clinics do - they enable grave sin. They condemn themselves and those they imagine they minister to.
Yes, no doubt some parishes have crossed the line and are actually being too supportive in that they no longer label homosexual acts as sinful, thus opposing church teaching.  But my posts were talking about what I saw at the "pre pride" Mass at St. Francis of Assisi Church.  That was most definitely not akin to pro choice nuns, etc.

I printed the entire text of the sermon given at the Mass in question, and nothing in there condones homosexuality.  The sermon tells people that if they are separated from the church they are in a very precarious position and mostly likely will not survive, like sheep who wander from the sheepfold.  The sermon told people told people to get rid of their preconceived ideas and prejudices which block the love of our Lord.  You reject the idea that this was directed to homosexuals, but who else was invited to the Mass?

This sermon was never meant to be put on the Internet for public consumption as I have done.  It was meant for the people who were sitting in the pews of that Mass.  Yes, this same sermon was give at the immediately preceding Mass, which was not billed as a "pre pride" Mass, but I can tell you that there were many gay people at that Mass as well.

Terry, do you really believe that it would have been effective if the message at St. Francis of Assisi last week had been "repent or you will go to hell"?  As can be seen in the video I have posted here, telling people that homosexuality is a sin and they need to come out of it just won't work.  One boy's reaction pretty much sums up the response from society, "You need to realize that you're just a little speck.  No one cares what you think."

You say that you agree with Michael Voris, who says we have to "tell it like it is".  According to him we have to say loud and clear that homosexual acts are a sin and if not repented of, will result in eternal hell fire. That kind of talk worked in past generations. Now all people get from that kind of talk is that the person saying it is a hateful, intolerant bigot.

Pope Francis gave an interview to a Jesuit magazine last year and said things that caused no little controversy.  Many condemned him for his remarks, this being one of the main targets of their condemnation:
“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.
Cardinal Burke, when asked, said he could not explain this statement.  The plain fact is, the world will not tolerate our speaking about these issues.  They will and do turn a deaf ear to this talk.  Does that mean we just forget about these subjects?

Hardly.  These are very serious sins, and Voris is right when he says many can lose their salvation over these issues.  But that is where the great message of Divine Mercy, as given to St. Faustina, comes in.  I don't think it is a coincidence that Our Lord appeared to St. Faustina some 80 years ago and told her that the message of His Divine Mercy needs to be brought to the world.  That message has now become the only message that will connect and resonate in any way with our current world.

In Diary paragraph 50, Our Lord said:
I desire that priests proclaim this great mercy of Mine towards souls of sinners. Let the sinner not be afraid to approach Me. The flames of mercy are burning Me - clamoring to be spent; I want to pour them out upon these souls.
The entire message of Jesus to St. Faustina is not that we, as His Church, need to go to the world and tell everyone they're rotten sinners going to hell. We need to go to the world and tell them that Jesus Christ came to earth and literally poured out His Life on the Cross because of His Great Love for you, and now He wants you to spend all eternity with Him. 

Voris denounces this as the wimpy, ineffectual message of the "Church of Nice" that just wants to talk about "love" and not address the "real" issues. Voris needs to take this up with Our Lord, because this is exactly what He asked of St. Faustina.   And our Holy Father, Pope Francis, is living this message in his every word and action.  When he says that we should not obsess about issues like abortion and homosexuality, he is not saying these are unimportant issues.  He is saying what Our Lord told St. Faustina:
"Today I am sending you with My mercy to the people of the whole world. It is not my desire to punish hurting mankind, but to heal it, press it to My merciful Heart (Diary, 1588). You are the secretary of My mercy. I have chosen you for that office in this and the next life (Diary, 1605) (...) to make known to souls the great mercy that I have in store for them, and to exhort them to trust in the bottomless depth of My mercy" (Diary, 1567).
I have written this many times before, but I think it needs to be repeated again.  Our world no longer recognizes right and wrong.  The only sin they recognize is intolerance of sin.  I have put a quote from Cardinal Dolan on my sidebar which I think expresses the mission of the Church in our day:
“And so Francis is reminding us, look, if we come across as some crabby, nay saying shrill, we’re not gonna win anybody. If we come across as a loving, embracing holy mother church who says, “Come on in. We love you. We need you. We want you. And once you get to know us, then maybe we can invite you to the conversion of heart that is at the core of the gospel. And then maybe we can talk about changing behavior. That’s a very effective pedagogy.”
This is what I saw at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Manhattan last week.  I think what many interpret as Church acceptance and tolerance of sin is in actuality the great message of  Divine Mercy being extended to sinners.  People are hurting, they are drowning in their sin.  They first need to be pulled to safety, and then, as Cardinal Dolan says, we can talk about what is wrong in their lives.

As I pointed out, Voris told deliberate falsehoods about the events at St. Francis of Assisi Church. You, Terry, seem to be willing to overlook those facts because you like what he is saying.  That message did work in your time.  But we live in a very different age, and that message now will only drive people away from the Mercy of Christ, not towards Him.

Yes, Voris nailed it, but for whom?

Here is another video which I think you will appreciate.  This is put out by Salt and Light Ministry which has been condemned more than once by Michael Voris.  The video talks about the great work that Courage is doing.  It should be noted that mercy and compassion are a big part of their ministry.

There is an interview with a gay man who is very active in Courage and now lives a totally celibate life.  He was asked, "How would you say you found God's love in this way of living, because the Church's teachings are difficult.  But how is your experience of love different now than when you were living the gay life style?"

He answered:
Well, when I was living the gay lifestyle I never found any real happiness or true joy as I sorta mentioned. I felt empty. It's almost like this constant search, but you never find anything. It's like on a treasure hunt but there is no treasure to find. And for me, it was just oh well, something is going to get better. My day will come, but it never did. So through Courage and the spiritual life and trying to live a chaste life, I found that there is a place that you can call home, that you feel that joy and then you feel the love of God.

5 comments:

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    1. Ah, Terry, you are actually making me feel bad! There must be something in post that is wrong, somewhere that I have gone off track. If you have second thoughts, please let me know. I am sure others will.

      God bless you!

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. I think you've transferred your hatred of Voris into a reflexive defense of St Francis. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. You seem worried that the parishioners of St Francis will leave the Church if their spiritual needs are not met. Yet apparently other parishes don't get that same treatment. Holy Innocents and other parishes on the chopping block just need to pull on their big boy pants and deal with it. Would you feel as bad if some of them left for the SSPX if they felt their needs were not being met? It's as easy to fall out of the boat on the right side as the left side, but doesn't charity demand we offer each a life preserver?

    I don't like Voris either, but if he sees issues with the Mass, and if others see issues, then maybe there's really an issue. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

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    1. I don't hate Voris (at least I hope I don't). I do hate what he is doing, which I feels is causing division and rebellion among Catholics. If you read my other posts, you will see that he misrepresented the events of the Mass at St. Francis of Assisi, creating things out of whole cloth to make it seem something that it most definitely was not. None of his listeners, of course, were at the Mass, which he obviously was counting on, so they all just accept his false version of what happened. I was there, I recorded the entire Mass, and so I know that he lied.

      As to your comment that I am not giving Holy Innocents the same treatment that I give to St. Francis: if I have not seemed sympathetic to the plight of the parishioners at Holy Innocents, I am truly sorry. I know it is very traumatic to face the prospect of losing the place they consider their home. I personally know, after attending there for over three years (at 3 to 5 times a week), how hard they have all worked to make Holy Innocents into what it is. Many, many people have given of their time, talent and treasure at Holy Innocents.

      The concern for those who attended the Mass at St. Francis, though, is of a very different nature. The "Pre pride" Mass was an attempt to bring fallen away Catholics back to the Church. These are Catholics whose eternal souls are in danger. They have rejected Holy Mother Church and her teachings. If you look at these two situations as a kind of triage, you have to admit that the souls in peril at St. Francis are in much dire need of attention those those at Holy Innocents. The people at Holy Innocents may lose their physical church. The people whom St. Francis of Assisi Church was reaching out to are in danger of losing their eternal lives.

      That being said, the reason I posted about Holy Innocents is because I am truly concerned about what seems to be an attitude of anger and bitterness that may be developing there. Fr. Wylie's sermon and the article in the New York Times paint the Archdiocese of New York as the enemy of Holy Innocents. That would seem to be getting into precarious spiritual ground. As I said in an earlier comment, I was just recently at St. John the Baptist Church which is also facing potential closure, and their only comment was that the final decision has not been made and we must pray for God's Will to be done. That seems, to me, to be a much healthier attitude to have.

      Also, this particular post was about a lot more than St. Francis of Assisi Church. This was about how to bring gay Catholics back into the Church. It was not just a "reflexive defense of St. Francis."

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