Category Archives: Church Teaching

Gender ideology

Counter gender ideology, encourage confessions, Pope urges bishops
Catholic World News – June 08, 2015

Pope Francis warned against the influence of gender ideology in a June 8 message to visiting bishops from Puerto Rico.

The Pope told the bishops, who were making their ad limina visits, that the distinct roles of men and women are designed for “communion and generation, always as the image and semblance of God.” He encouraged them to protect and defend the beauty of marriage.

The Pope cautioned against the influence of other ideologies as well, reminding the bishops: “The Church, by virtue of her mission, is not linked to any political system.” He urged them to work together to promote the Gospel, noting that divisions within the Church dampen the force of evangelization.

During the Jubilee Year of Mercy, the Pope said, all bishops and priests should be “faithful servants of God’s forgiveness, especially in the sacrament of Reconciliation, which allows God’s love to be experienced in the flesh and offers every penitent the source of true inner peace.”

Pope: marriage between man and woman, no to gender ideology

(Vatican Radio)  The challenges facing the Church in Puerto Rico were under the spotlight in the Vatican on Monday as Pope Francis met with the bishops of the Caribbean archipelago.

Among the difficulties facing people there, the Pope mentioned the serious economic situation leading to widespread migration, unemployment, corruption, drugs trafficking and domestic violence.

Stressing the need to focus on the pastoral care of the family, Pope Francis also spoke of the challenge of gender ideology in his prepared remarks which were handed to the bishops during the audience .

In his discourse, the Pope again invites the Church to distance itself from ideologies and political trends and asks the Church leaders to bind together to address the many problems facing the Caribbean country and U.S. territory.

The sacrament of marriage is one of the Latin American people’s most important treasures, the Pope says, and it must be defended. He urges them to emphasize family pastoral ministry in order to counter “serious social problems” such as “the difficult economic situation, migration, domestic violence” and  “unemployment, drug trafficking and corruption.”

No to gender ideology, protecting the complementarity between men and women

The complementarity between a man and a woman is being questioned by the so-called gender ideology in the name of a freer and more just society, the Pope observes. In fact, he warns, the differences between men and women are not a question of “opposition or subordination but rather of communion and generation… always in the image and likeness of God.” Without mutual giving- he adds – neither can have an in-depth understanding of the other.

Bishops are united to face the country’s problems

The Pope invites the Church leaders not simply to pray but also to reach out in friendship and “fraternal aid” to address the many serious problems facing Puerto Rico. And, he warns them against “wasting energy in divisions and clashes.” “The more intense the communion…the more it favors the mission,” he says. 

Pope Francis encourages the bishops to distance themselves from any ideologies or political trends that can “waste their time and a real passion for the Kingdom of God.” Because of its mission, he points out, the Church is not tied to any political system so that it may always safeguard the transcendence of the human person.

Be merciful pastors, care for vocations

The bishop, the Pope affirms, “is a model for his priests and motivates them to always seek spiritual renewal and rediscover the joy of leading his flock in the great family of the Church.” In view of the forthcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy, the Pope therefore asks bishops and priests to be “servants of God’s forgiveness, especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  To have good shepherds , he notes, one must start with the seminaries so that they can generate an adequate number of vocations. And, he urges the faithful of Puerto Rico,  in particular associations and movements, to cooperate generously in proclaiming the Gospel in every environment including the most hostile and alienated from the Church.

Church does not accept gender theory

European bishops: say
Catholic World News – September 17, 2015

The presidents of Europe’s episcopal conferences issue a message at the conclusion of a six-day meeting in the Holy Land.

In the message, they lamented the plight of refugees, called for peace in the Middle East, and discussed the importance of religious freedom and “the fundamental right of parents to educate their own children according to their convictions.”

In view of the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the family, the bishops said that at the meeting of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE), “the human and Christian beauty of the family and its universal reality was reiterated: father, mother, children. The demographic decline to be seen in almost all European countries is a matter of particular concern.”
The bishops added:

The Church strongly believes in the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman: it is the basic cell of society and of the Christian community itself. It is difficult to see why different situations of coexistence should be treated in the same way. Of particular concern is the attempt to apply “gender theory”: it is a plan of the “one thought” which tends to colonize Europe, too, and about which Pope Francis has often spoken. The Church does not accept “gender theory” because it is an expression of an anthropology contrary to the true and authentic appreciation of the human person.

Orthodox leader criticizes transgender ideology

CWN – April 02, 2014

In a meeting with Russian business leaders, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church criticized transgenderism.

“The fact that marriage is considered to be between a man and a woman and that gender choice is not an intellectual choice, but God’s choice is being disputed,” said Patriarch Kirill I of Moscow, according to an Interfax news agency report.

“Probably, some sick fantasy exists,” he added. “Of course, it can be said that this is a clinical case. And probably, this will be the most reasonable reaction. But this clinical case is protected by law in some countries. And children are taught this and are told: you should choose yourself whether you are a boy or a girl.”

Me: All you have to do is look down, then you will know.

Separate civil divorce from Christian marriage

A suggestion for First Things: separate civil divorce from Christian marriage
By Phil Lawler Nov 24, 2014

First Things is a journal with a proud tradition of fostering intellectual debate. (Remember when the late Father Neuhaus hosted a symposium on the question of whether the US government had lost its legitimacy?) Now a new editor, R.R. Reno, has stirred things up again by publishing, and strongly endorsing, a call for Christian ministers to stop signing marriage certificates.

The “Marriage Pledge,” as it was called, proposes to “separate civil marriage from Christian marriage” on the grounds that our society and its laws no longer comprehend what marriage really means. In the debate roused by that proposal, the most thoughtful critics of the Marriage Pledge fully agree with the authors of the proposal insofar as they say that our society does not understand marriage. Nevertheless they insist that the Marriage Pledge is profoundly misguided.

Edward Peters has provided a compelling critique of the proposal. When a minister signs a marriage certificate, he is attesting to the fact that a particular couple exchanged vows before him and are now legally married. He is not being asked by the government to make any comment on what marriage is and is not a true marriage. Peters reasons: “If the wording on the state’s wedding form says anything false (and I mean, false) then one must refuse to sign it. Even if that refusal leads to persecution. As it very well might. But if what the state’s wedding form says is true, then one can sign it. And for a host of reasons should sign it.

Borrowing from the Peters’ analysis, I find three fatal flaws in the logic behind the Marriage Pledge:

1 The Pledge calls for a unilateral retreat by Christians from our society’s struggle for control of the meaning of marriage. Homosexual activists and their libertarian allies have been arguing for years that churches should not be involved in the question of civil marriage. This proposal would give them what they want, and remove the possibility that the churches might eventually exert enough influence to restore a proper understanding of marriage.

2 With the Pledge, ministers would be crying before they are hurt. It is quite possible that at some point in the future, laws will be enacted requiring ministers to assent to a vision of marriage incompatible with Christian principles—to accept, for instance, that the union of two men is the same as the union of man and wife. In fact, if the most principled American clerics withdraw from the political debate now, that day may come sooner rather than later. At the moment, thank God, no such assent is required. When the minister signs a document witnessing to one marriage, he is not commenting, one way or another, on the claims of other couples to be lawfully married. And while it is ugly and awkward to identify the happy couple as “Party A” and “Party B,” those designations do not violate any point of Christian teaching.

3 Finally, the Marriage Pledge places a new burden on engaged couples. Even if their ministers refuse to sign certificates, the couples still will be compelled to go through a potentially degrading legal ceremony—at town hall, or before a justice of the peace—where they will be fed into the governmental machinery alongside same-sex couples and the veterans of multiple divorces.

Confronted with such arguments, Reno has retreated only slightly. He now acknowledges that a Christian clergyman is not morally obligated to sign the Marriage Pledge. But he retains his enthusiasm for the proposal, and insists that a withdrawal from civil marriage is not a retreat from engagement with civil society but a demand for recognition of Christian principle.

Could I jump in, at this point in what promises to be a lively continuing debate, and suggest that we’re arguing about the wrong topic?

As I mentioned above, many thoughtful critics of the Marriage Pledge (and I’d like to place myself in that category) share the authors’ concern that the Christian understanding of marriage has been lost—first in our society, and then, as a result, in our laws. We are wholeheartedly in sympathy with Reno when he argues that “the illusion that the Christian view of marriage can comfortably accommodate a definition of marriage that has strayed so far from revelation and reason that it now allows men to marry men and women to marry women.” We part company only when Reno argues that the Marriage Pledge is “an assault on the complacent notion that government marriage in a place like New York (which redefined marriage in 2011) is still marriage.”

If Christian ministers are really intent on assailing complacent notions, I propose that they withdraw all recognition from no-fault divorce laws. These laws, which swept through the legal world a generation ago (with very little effective opposition from the Christian community, I am ashamed to say), totally undermined the public understanding of marriage and paved the way for legal acceptance of same-sex unions. Once no-fault divorce laws were in place, it became impossible to obtain government recognition for a Christian marriage—that is, for an indissoluble union. With no-fault divorce, our society accepted the outlandish notion that a marital commitment can be severed at any time, for any reason, by either party. Marriage came to be seen as whatever the two partners thought it was. So when two men or two women thought they were making a marital commitment, the stage was already set for acceptance of their legal reasoning.

When a Christian minister accepts the validity of a legal divorce, he is tacitly acknowledging the state’s ruling that a marital commitment is a disposable item; he is accepting a debased understanding of marriage. Even for those Christian denominations that accept the possibility of divorce, the willingness to rely on the state’s authority to sever marital unions, when the state has shown its contempt for Christian marriage, is scandalous.

For the Catholic Church, which strictly uphold Christ’s clear teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, the problem is even more pronounced. Church tribunals routinely ask that, before a case for annulment is filed, a civil divorce must already be in place. Why?

In a civil divorce, the state affirms something that the Catholic Church regards as an impossibility: that a couple, once married, is no longer married. It is possible that they never were validly married; that is something for the tribunal to decide. But if they were never married in the eyes of the Church, the state’s ruling is irrelevant; and if they were married the state cannot un-marry them.

St. Paul wrote to his followers:

There is a certain wisdom which we express among the spiritually mature. It is not a wisdom of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are men headed for destruction. No what we utter is God’s wisdom, a mysterious, a hidden wisdom. … Of this wisdom it is written:
“Eye has not seen, ear has not heard,
nor had it so much as dawned on man
what God has prepared for those who love Him”
See 1 Corinthians 2: 6-10a