It's only a problem if you presuppose that there's nothing sinful about sodomy.When I was asked – with mind-numbing regularity – how I could remain happily gay and a Catholic, I answered honestly that, for those very reasons, I could live with institutional dissonance, as any thinking member of a hierarchical church has to, from time to time. But I think now that I misread a couple of things – and that the whole question may be a much bigger deal than I once believed and hoped. Here’s a story thatunderlines the problem:A Catholic church in Montana has told two gay men that they can no longer receive communion simply because of their gay marriage and, in order to do so again, they must file for divorce. The two men, Paul Huff, 66, and Tom Wojtowick, 73, have been together for over 30 years and were married in Seattle in 2013. They’ve attended Saint Leo The Great Catholic Church in the town of Lewistown since 2003 and have also been members of the church’s choir. The’ve also now been denied participation in that church group.
Maybe years ago, removing two faithful choir members because they’re gay would have passed some kind of muster. First off, the couple wouldn’t have been out of the closet and so the entire don’t-ask-don’t-tell paradigm would have allowed the pastor to ignore the fact that two gay men were in the choir – or to keep their expulsion on the down-low; second, they would probably have been too ashamed to protest, and their peers too embarrassed to support them. But those two conditions are now no longer close to being met:
Huff and Wojtowick have received support from many of the church’s congregation. Forty members have reportedly either voiced their disapproval of the church’s offensive decision or have quit attending mass there altogether. One parishioner has suggested the title of a song sung at the church be changed from “All are Welcome” to “Some are Welcome.” How apt.There's a difference between manfully struggling with one's own sinful nature versus demanding public approval and celebration of unrepentant sinners' ongoing sin. All are indeed welcome to attend Mass. Only baptized Catholics in a state of grace are welcome to receive the Eucharist. If priests and lay people wish to speak up in defense of sodomy and sacrilege, then I'm sorry they've chosen to become lapdogs of Satan through their formal cooperation with evil. The bishop must, for the sake of his own soul if nothing else, must bar notorious public sinners from committing sacrilege.
The controversy has now led to the bishop intervening and holding a meeting with 300 parishioners to air views. The bishop claims there is polarization in the congregation over this and is now mulling the decision to bar the couple from the sacraments and from participation in their church – unless they get a civil divorce and sign a statement supporting civil marriage as exclusively heterosexual. Yes, the church is now in favor of divorce as a condition for being a Catholic! If that sounds perverse, you’re not wrong.It's only perverse if you presuppose that two men can validly marry one another. They can't, so it isn't. Sullivan knows perfectly well that the Church doesn't recognize two sodomites shacking up together as marriage, but he prefers to make a cheap gotcha in order to rationalize both his own behavior and that of the two men in this story.
And the action against the men came not because they are gay but because they decided to celebrate their love and friendship with a civil marriage license. So they’re not really being targeted for sex; they are being targeted for their commitment and responsibility and honesty. And the only reason they have been excluded on those grounds is because they are gay.Let's try this with another sin: "And the action against the man and woman came not because they are adulterers but because they decided to celebrate their love and friendship with a civil marriage license after divorcing their spouses. So they're not really being targeted for sex; they are being targeted for their commitment and responsibility and honesty. And the only reason they have been excluded on those grounds is because they're adulterers." Sullivan reminds me of the school yard bully who claims he didn't punch anyone, but nerds keep bashing their faces against his fist.
If the church upholds this kind of decision, it is endorsing cruelty, discrimination and exclusion.A dogmatic church is, by definition, exclusionary. If you formally accept its teachings in both faith and morals, then you're in. If you willfully reject them, then you cannot claim to be a good Catholic. By definition, all forms of authority discriminate in favor of a particular vision of the Good. For that reason, liberalism is incoherent because it demands that we discriminate without discriminating. Sullivan knows this and has made a career out of rationalizing away something which he knows is sinful. Sullivan and his readers have chosen which side they're on, and it won't be long before they discriminate against their fellow Catholics while claiming they are not discriminating. They can try, but men made of sterner stuff than they have tried and failed. I pray that bishop has the courage to hold fast to the Gospel and doctrine and tell them that they can go straight to hell if they think they have the right to have their sins celebrated in public.