In a public comment, bishop Steinbock stated: “Proposition 8 is not about homosexuals and their rights.” I had to read that twice, that is EXACTLY what Proposition 8 is about. Proposition 8 if approved by California voters would take away the civil right to marry from same sex couples. In his actual “pastoral” letter for July, the bishop referenced the State Supreme Court decision and compared the court to the Nazi and Communist regimes. We have also heard the courts derided by others in our society. “Activist Judges” is a derisive term often employed by people in positions of power who are displeased the courts act as a curb to their power. Ironically, when our own State Assembly passed a bill authorizing same sex marriage, the governor refused to sign it and stated that it was an issue best resolved by the courts. Our own bishop, in his “pastoral” stated that it was by a slim margin that the court made this decision. I don’t recall him once complaining when the courts ruled in favor of the Church in civil cases, even if it was by a slim margin.
The judicial branch of government is there to protect everyone's rights. An independent judiciary is essential to safe guard minority rights from the tyranny of majority power. If it were not for our judiciary, African Americans and Hispanics would not enjoy employment protection laws, equal housing laws and other rights which were non-existent and would have been thought impossible just two generations ago. Inter-racial marriage would still be illegal in California. In the 1960’s had these issues been decided by popular vote instead of by the courts, these minority groups would not have been given their civil rights and the human dignity that was denied them by society at the time.
The bishop stated, in his letter of suspension: “Your statement contradicted the teaching of the Catholic Church and has brought scandal to your parish community as well as the whole Church.” A scandal is not created by speaking the truth. The real "scandal" is placing impossibly heavy burdens on the faithful, faulting them for an act of the Creator in having created them with same sex orientation and then, not lifting a finger to help them. The traditional definition of theology is: “faith seeking understanding.” The idea that theology is a “done deal” is absurd. In the area of bioethics alone, theologians and the Church can’t even keep up with new developments in science. Psychology and neurology also have offered us considerable new insights into same sex orientation in the last generation. The Church itself has officially stated, that there are “homosexuals who are such because of some kind of innate instinct.” This begs additional commentary by the Church and ultimately these new understandings should be translated into pastoral practices. We are required to teach and guide those entrusted to our care by God. Jesus himself stated: I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth (John 16:12-13).
My “sin” was not to hold the position, which I hold, nor, was it even to voice it. What I stated represents current thought on this issue by many theologians, pastors and some bishops. My sin was to voice it publicly. Why is that such a big deal? Because, it represents a “crack in the dam” if, one lowly pastor in Fresno can state something contrary to the official party line today then, tomorrow it could be several priests or, God forbid, even a bishop or, two. Privately, in the ballot box on Election Day, most priests, most nuns and several bishops will vote NO on Proposition 8. Most of these people involved in pastoral ministry will do this because, like me, they know it is the right thing to do. Perhaps, fifty years from now, the “official” churchmen will.
- Boycott the Knights of Columbus
- A wedding sermon.
- An open letter to my parish community.
- Why was a college student in the car of drunken Archbishop-elect Cordileone at 12:26 AM, when Cordileone was arrested for a DUI?
- When the Church married Same-Sex couples.
- The Supreme Court’s Decisions and the New Mason-Dixon Line
- How It All began
- What the Vatican & American bishops DO NOT want you (and Politicians) to know.
- The Morality of Sex, gay & straight.
- San Francisco in archbishop Cordileone’s sight