08 April 2009

On people who need to keep their mouths shut

It's that time of year, when I start writing more blog posts instead of studying for exams. Oh, what fun.

Anyway, there's been a lot that has happened recently that is worth noting, but I'd like to focus on something that just happened today. In an interview with Attitude, a gay magazine in the UK, Blair basically criticized the Pope and the Church for being "anti-gay" (which is far from the truth, regardless of how much gay rights activists want to smear the Church -- they might want to consider doing their research before embarking on crusades like these). In relevant part, Blair's interview reads:
"Look, there are many good and great things the Catholic Church does, and there are many fantastic things this pope stands for, but I think what is interesting is that if you went into any Catholic church, particularly a well-attended one, on any Sunday here and did a poll of the congregation, you'd be surprised at how liberal-minded people were."


On many issues, I think the leaders of the Church and the Church will be in complete agreement. But I think on some of these issues, if you went and asked the congregation, I think you’d find that their faith is not to be found in those types of entrenched attitudes. If you asked "what makes you religious?" and "what does your faith mean to you?" they would immediately go into compassion, solidarity, relieving suffering. I would be really surprised if they went to "actually, it’s to do with believing homosexuality is wrong" or "it’s to do with believing this part of the ritual or doctrine should be done in this particular way".

Right off the bat, Tony Blair might want to think about his own views on things before he criticizes anyone else's. I was cautiously optimistic when Blair was first received into the Church, but I knew that he would have to change a lot of his stances on things, especially his well-known, long-standing support for abortion rights and homosexuality. Now, I see that my caution was well-founded, as it seems that Blair has no intention of renouncing his views in these areas. I must ask, Tony, if you weren't willing to accept the teachings of the Church and were probably just as happy being Anglican (a church in which your views were accepted and lauded), why did you convert?

In the excerpt above, Blair uses a dangerous argument, and one that is more and more common these days. He argues that since your average Catholic parish is more "liberal-minded" than the Pope and other Church leaders, Catholic doctrine and dogma should be liberalized to match the views of the majority. Fortunately for him, truth is not and has never been decided by a majority vote. Otherwise, the Church would have caved long ago to forces seeking her destruction. People use this argument to say that the Church should change her attitudes on a whole host of issues, including abortion, homosexuality, and contraception. The Church's stance on each of these "hot-button" issues has been temperately formed over many, many years, and it's a shame that the culture of "me" has made people think that they know better.

What the Church actually teaches about homosexuality is a hefty topic that deserves its own post, but for the sake of openness, I'll post two relevant sections of the Catechism here:
Chastity and homosexuality
2357 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.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

It would be one thing if Blair were calling for increased "respect, compassion, and sensitivity," echoing the words of the Catechism. I don't think any Catholic would argue that we should not reach out with respect and compassion to homosexuals. But this isn't what he's saying, and it's incredibly damaging.

My advice for Tony Blair: take this opportunity as an exercise in humility. The Church's views on life and marriage have been formed by hundreds and thousands of years of observing and living the human experience (plus, y'know, her God-given authority). Try giving that experience some thought and respect -- and consider why you think you have the authority and experience to argue for change. Spend an hour (or four) in front of the Blessed Sacrament and surrender yourself to God's will. You might not like what you hear, but it might just help your soul.

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