Saturday, June 24, 2017

Father Z and the Catholic Blogosphere Proudly Proclaim Their Righteousness


The Catholic blogsophere, as I have previously written, does not like Father James Martin.  They write scathing posts against him because he refuses to condemn homosexuals.

Father John Zuhlsdorf has written against Father Martin for several years, and has recently ramped up his condemnation because of a statement by Father Martin that "pretty much everyone's lifestyle is sinful."  Father Martin made this statement in an interview with the New York Times, which you can read HERE.  The "offensive" statement, in context, reads:
In [Father Martin's book, “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the L.G.B.T. Community Can Enter Into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion and Sensitivity.”], he calls on church leaders to show respect by using terms like “gay” and “L.G.B.T.,” instead of phrases like “afflicted with same-sex attraction.” He also argues that to expect a sinless lifestyle from gay Catholics, but not from any other group, is a form of “unjust discrimination” and that gay people should not be fired for marrying a same-sex spouse.

“Pretty much everyone’s lifestyle is sinful,” Father Martin said. “Unless the Blessed Mother shows up in the communion line, there is no one sinless in our church.”
This was a bridge too far [pun intended] for Father Z.  In a post entitled, "More of Fr James Martin’s whining", Father Z linked to a tweet by Prof. Chad Pecknold, which Father Z feels "pretty much sums it up about this Jesuit".  Here is a screenshot of Pecknold's tweet:



How does Pecknold go from Father Martin's statements that gays should be treated with respect and only the Blessed Mother is sinless to: "Does Father Martin believe we need to be in a state of grace to receive Holy Eucharist?"

This deception was easily accomplished.  Pecknold was able to draw his false conclusion from the article because, as you can see from the screenshot, Pecknold deliberately hid the first part of the paragraph of the New York Times article. As can be seen quite clearly from the actual article, Father Martin is not talking about being in a state of grace to receive the sacraments. Father Martin didn't go anywhere near this subject. Quoting from the article, Father Martin "argues that to expect a sinless lifestyle from gay Catholics, but not from any other group, is a form of 'unjust discrimination' and that gay people should not be fired for marrying a same-sex spouse."

If Father Martin had said that it is unjust to bar gay people from receiving Communion because they married a same-sex spouse, I would be in total agreement with Pecknold's tweet. But Father Martin is merely calling for compassion, understanding and respect for those involved in same sex relationships, just as we do with everyone else living in this fallen world. Pecknold, through his deceptive screen shot, is able to draw our attention away from the true meaning of Father Martin's words to arrive at a completely false conclusion.

Father Z backs up this deception with the following:
This Jesuit’s goal is the same as those who push a homosexualist agenda: to mainstream same-sex … everything. That means that the Church’s teachings about sin, guilt, penance, absolution and amendment of life must be undermined and jettisoned.
Where, oh where, in this article does Father Martin even imply such a goal, much less say it?

For an extra kicker, after this calumnious and inflammatory statement, Father Z has the chutzpah to write:
The moderation queue is ON.
OH PLEASE!!  Father Zuhlsdorf does everything he can to destroy a fellow priest, and then actually tells his readers, "The moderation queue is ON."  Father Z would do well to moderate his own comments.

But Father Z was not done. Not by a long shot.  A day later he followed up with a blog post entitled, "More on Fr. James Martin’s wickedly stupid remark". This time Father Z linked to a post by "the perspicacious Phil Lawler" (Father Z's words).  Lawler's post is entitled, "Not Every Life Style Is Sinful."

It should be noted that Phil Lawler has had no problem in the past attacking Catholic hierarchy, specifically Pope Francis.  Just a few months ago he wrote a post entitled, "This Disastrous Papacy". In this article, Lawler wrote:
But has there ever before been a Roman Pontiff who showed such disdain for what the Church has always taught and believed and practiced—on such bedrock issues as the nature of marriage and of the Eucharist?
The reasons for Father Z's great admiration for Phil Lawler are quite apparent.

Back to Lawler's article on Father Martin. In Lawler's article, he quotes even less of the New York Times article than Pecknold did. All we get from Lawler is one small sentence, with no context whatsoever: "Pretty much everyone’s lifestyle is sinful."

In his article, Lawler becomes that Pharisee standing in the temple and thanking God that he is not like those wretched homosexuals who are most certainly doomed to hell. Yes, Lawler admits that we all sin once in a while, but those living an outwardly Christian life are basically good and have nothing of which to be ashamed!

Here is what Lawler wrote, with Father Z's comments in red:
Pretty much everyone’s lifestyle is sinful,” Father James Martin told the New York Times.
That statement is outrageous. In a sane world, Father Martin’s Jesuit superiors would order him to apologize. [That’ll be the day.] 
We are all sinners; we are all sinful. But we are not all engaged in sinful ways of life.  [Precisely.]
First of all, where do we have an example of even one great saint in Church history extolling their own righteousness as we see in this article from Lawler? All great saints have one great assumption in common: without the saving grace of Jesus Christ, they are the worst of sinners headed to hell. As I have written in prior posts, even the great St. Paul doubted himself writing, "I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."  (I Cor. 9:27).  Our Lord Himself told us that no one is good except God (Mark 10:18).

I have read more than a few books by and about saints, and one common thread I find in all of them is that these saints all refer to themselves as wretched sinners.  This is exemplified in a book I have just recently started entitled, "The Way of Divine Love" by Sister Josefa Mendez.  She is not canonized, but the the book has a letter at the beginning from Cardinal E. Pacelli dated April 1938 in which he endorses this book.  Cardinal Pacelli, of course, went on to become Pope Pius XII.

Sister Mendez was a Spanish mystic to whom Jesus Christ appeared in the 1920's and who did great and painful reparations for sinners.  She was a very holy woman.  However, the preface of the book tells us this:
In all her heroic fidelity, perhaps the most admirable feature was her conviction that, owing to her fear and occasional repugnances, she was (and this she sincerely believed) ungrateful and unfaithful and had done absolutely nothing for God.
This is certainly not how Phil Lawler, Father Z or any of Father James Martin's other critics seen to feel about themselves.  Lawler goes on to explain:
The awkward word “lifestyle” complicates things here. In his conversation with the New York Times, Father Martin was speaking—as he so frequently does—about the homosexual “lifestyle.” [I think we know what he means by it.] But how can one generalize about the “style” of the lives of homosexuals, except by reference to homosexual activities, which are sinful?  [Exactly.] 
By contrast, a single person living a chaste life is not engaged in a sinful lifestyle. A cloistered nun, her daily activities structured by the rhythms of prayer, is not engaged in a sinful lifestyle. Nor are married people, devoted faithfully to their spouses and their children.
Hmmm.  So Lawler is saying that since gay people are engaged in sin, then everything they do is sinful and they have nothing of any good to offer anyone.  They must be completely and wholly rejected.  That is exactly the feelings of the Pharisee standing in the temple towards that *wretched sinner* next to him.   And Phil Lawler, like the Pharisee, is saying "Thank God I'm not like that wretched homosexual."
Are all these people sinners? Certainly. But it is not their way of life—their “lifestyle,” if we must use that term—that is sinful. Not every “lifestyle” is equal in the eyes of God. Marriage, the priesthood, and religious life are not neutral “lifestyle” choices. They are inherently good, blessed, even sacramental. That a Catholic priest would suggest otherwise is, again, outrageous.
I wonder if Lawler has ever read Luke 12:47-48:
47 That servant who knows his master’s will but does not get ready or follow his instructions will be beaten with many blows. 48 But the one who unknowingly does things worthy of punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and from him who has been entrusted with much, even more will be demanded.
These two verses make it very plain that those engaged in *sinful lifestyles* will be judged on a very different basis than those who have been the recipients of God's love, mercy and forgiveness.  A practicing homosexual, who has not received the grace of Jesus Christ, will not be judged nearly as harshly as a professing Christian who does not practice true charity in his life.  Just "doing" all the right things and looking good on the outside is not enough for a follower of Christ.  That is why we cannot judge other people, either for good or bad, because we don't know their hearts.
It’s possible, I suppose, that the chaste single person could be selling illegal drugs, or the faithful spouse could be embezzling corporate funds. Then it would be fair and accurate to say that they were engaged in sinful lifestyles. And then it would be fair and just for pastors to confront them, to demand that they change their ways[By Martin’s logic, the unjust employer, the serial rapist and the mafia hitman shouldn’t be told that they have to change their “lifestyle”.]
As I have often stated on this blog, when Jesus Christ was engaged in his earthly ministry he spent almost all of his time with those who lived *sinful lifestyles.* And he never engaged in condemnation of them.  He reached out to them with love and compassion, just as we see Father Martin emulating. Our Lord never made sinners feel like they were somehow less than others. He did not reach out to them with words of condemnation but with love and acceptance.

The story of Mary Magdalene is a classic illustration of this. She gave her entire life to Jesus Christ to the point where she stayed with him even through that terrible crucifixion. Why? Because she had experienced Christ's love and forgiveness.  Condemnation never brought anyone to Christ.  We are drawn to Jesus Christ when we experience not our condemnation but Divine Love.  


And yet Lawler, Father Z and much of the rest of the catholic blogosphere think that preaching the Gospel means throwing people's sins in their faces.  The only result from such an approach will be to drive people even further away.  

Thankfully, there are priests like Father James Martin and other Catholic hierarchy who do understand that the way to reach out to people is with love, not condemnation.
In the event described in the New York Times story, Cardinal Joseph Tobin welcomed homosexuals to the cathedral in Newark. The cardinal rejected as “backhanded” the notion that perhaps he should challenge the homosexual visitors to live in accordance with the teachings of Christ. “It was appropriate to welcome people to come and pray and call them who they were,” he said. “And later on, we can talk.”
 [QUAERITUR:] But when will “later on” finally arrive, and what will be said if and when that talk finally takes place?
In answer to Father Z's *Quaeritur": our job is not to condemn. Our job is to preach the good news of the Kingdom of God, to show people that there is a better way of life and to open people up to the Holy Spirit. It is God's job to convert people, not ours. As St. Paul wrote in I Cor 3:6: "I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow."  



The condemning and self righteousness tone displayed in Lawler's article would seem designed to destroy all efforts to bring the gay community to Jesus Christ.  Lawler's article is the textbook example of the Pharisee standing in the temple and saying, Look how great I am! I may fall once in a while, but I'm on my way to heaven, unlike that wretched sinner next to me who is headed straight to hell.

Does anyone honestly believe that such a self righteous attitude is going to draw anyone to Jesus Christ and salvation?  Is this how Jesus Christ drew sinners?  Hardly.  Thank God there are priests like Father James Martin and others who understand this.  

Father Martin, like Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity, believes that love and acceptance are the best ways to reach out to people, letting them know that they are children of God who deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.  Father Martin follows the lead of Jesus Christ, who never hesitated to unconditionally and freely give his time and energies to sinners - e.g., Zacchaeus, the woman at the well - without a lecture about their sins,




I think it is safe to say that Jesus would not have been accepted into people's homes if all he did was condemn them for their sins.  We know from the statements of Jesus recorded in the Gospels, that the only sinners he ever condemned were the religious leaders of his day for their hypocrisy and for laying heavy burdens on the people.  But search the Gospels backwards and forwards and you will not find a single word of condemnation against any other individuals.

For his efforts in reaching out to sinners, Jesus, was roundly condemned by the Pharisees:


Prof. Chad Pecknold, Phil Lawler, Father John Zuholsdorf and others have made themselves into the Pharisees of our time.  As Jesus Christ stated, "I tell you that [the tax collector], rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."



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