At school, we were taught to call priests “Father” because they are the father of our souls. They care for our spiritual well-being, and work for our salvation. Easy enough to understand. No problem. Answering the Protestant criticism that the Bible says “call no man on earth your father” was/is also easy – click here to read a very clear explanation of the correct interpretation of that biblical verse.
There are, however, priests who dislike the title, which is purely honorific – that is, it is simply a means of showing respect. It is meaningless in terms of the status, ministry, duties etc of the priest.
When I come across priests who dislike being called “Father” or who fall into the “Call me Joe” category, I simply avoid calling them anything.I cannot bring myself to address them by their Christian names. A deep respect for, and love of, the priesthood is instilled in Catholics and few among us wish to show disrespect for the priesthood, even if we are less than impressed with the aforementioned “Fr Joe” and his ilk.
Lately, however, I’ve been re-considering this – more in terms of writing than speaking. Take Cardinal Marx, for example. Please. Take him. Anywhere. The German cardinal, Reinhard Marx, who is about as Catholic as Sadiq Khan has as much right to a Catholic title denoting honour and respect as Theresa May, if you ask me, which I know you didn’t…
Anyway, what about it. Should Catholics show respect for an individual churchman (by applying honorific titles) simply because he is ordained, no matter how much he abuses his office and betrays Christ by his words and actions? Or, is it acceptable to say “Hi Joe” or to write about “Marx” – what do you think?
Recently, a priest who was prominent in the pastoral care of those with sex addictions received his fifteen minutes of fame when he revealed to his congregation at a Sunday Mass and to the National Catholic Reporter that he was “gay.” According to news reports, his self-congratulation was met with thunderous applause. In a television interview, he proclaimed there is “nothing wrong with being gay.”
The game plan of a gay priest “coming out” was quite predictable and is politically effective. In revealing his homosexuality, the Midwestern priest was careful to assemble a string of ambiguous assertions that cannot be immediately assailed on grounds of orthodoxy, but when bundled together are morally subversive. Here is the template: Claim that sexual transparency is a matter of personal integrity.
Remind the public that you are a Catholic priest in good standing. Proudly proclaim that you are “gay.”
Cultivate the adulation of your congregation by claiming victim status and the freedom that comes from such an honest revelation.
As a pre-emptive strike against disciplinary actions by ecclesiastical authorities claim that your self-revelation is truly courageous.
Feign humility and presume you have become a necessary role model for others. Remind us that you and all gays (and members of the alphabet soup of sexual perversion) are created in the image of God (implying our sinful neglect).
Commit to celibacy (i.e., not to marry), but carefully avoid the term “Christian chastity.” Each of these assertions, standing alone, would likely withstand ecclesiastical censure. But when woven together, the gay agenda promoting the acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle within the Church comes into a clear focus.
The priest’s bishop also responded according to a predictable contemporary ecclesiastical template: “We support [the priest] in his own personal journey and telling his story of coming to understand and live with his sexual orientation. As the Church teaches, those with same-sex attraction must be treated with understanding and compassion.”
The bishop probably succeeded in preventing a media firestorm. He also effectively allowed the priest to rise in stature as a gay freedom fighter. The studied moral ambiguity of the clerical gay activist proved to be an effective political buzz saw. The full and beautiful teachings of Christ on human sexuality, however, were further undermined.
Faithful and orthodox Catholics are at a political disadvantage in our gay-friendly culture. We realize that same-sex inclinations – as with all seriously sinful inclinations – cause great suffering and, unrestrained, can become a true slavery that endangers others including adolescents and even young children. But our opposition to the gay agenda is often crudely characterized as hateful and unreasonable. So a brief sketch of natural law in Catholic sexual morality may be helpful.Click here to read the rest of this article by Rev Jerry J. Pokorsky
The standards for entry to seminaries would at one time have automatically excluded candidates such as the above priest, and ought still to do so today. The strict criteria for acceptance of candidates in Catholic seminaries must be restored as a matter of the utmost urgency – yesterday is almost too late… Yes? No?