More problems at Seton – ‘gay friendly’ parish using questionable materials August 10, 2010Posted by tantamergo in Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, North Deanery, sadness, scandals.
I sadly continue to have to report on things going on at St. Elizabeth Seton parish in Plano. I have reported in the past that Seton has been rated as “gay-friendly” by the Vatican- and USCCB-condemned New Ways Ministry. One might wonder how one gets rated as a gay-friendly parish? Well, one way is by having a ministry, Outstretched Hands, that ostensibly offers some kind of ‘Catholic counseling” for the parents and family members of homosexuals. The basis for this Outstretched Hands group is a set of lecture materials called “Let’s Talk About Homosexuality,” and therein lies the problem.
“Let’s Talk About Homosexuality” seems innocuous enough on the surface. It was put together by the father of a gay son named Jerry Furlong. However, in reading through the materials, which are available online at the Seton link, I immediately saw a number of items for concern. First and foremost, as a matter of theme, the entire set of “Let’s Talk About Homosexuality” is totally oriented, and I mean totally, toward dismissing legitimate traditional views of homosexuality as sinful behavior, and instead tries very hard to get family members and friends to “accept” the homosexual orientation of their relation. In fact, while the document does, in Section 5, discuss the Church’s proclaimed doctrine on this subject, it offers severe criticism of that doctrine within Section 5, as well as dedicating Sections 6, 7, and 8 to dissenting views that seek to take apart the doctrine established by the Church. I must note again for the record, that the teaching the Church gives on homosexuality is definitive and unchanging, and must be accepted by all in the Church as an act of Faith. This teaching states that the homosexual orientation is objectively disordered and that homosexual acts constituted grave sins.
Second, it is in its sources that “Let’s Talk About Homosexuality” is most revealing. It is a veritable who’s who of dissenting or outright heretical Catholics over the past 30 years or so. Much of the material is based on that drawn up by the discredited Fr. Robert Nugent and Sister Jeanine Gramick, two extreme proponents of homosexual acceptance and even reverence by the Church. The work of Nugent and Gramick was specifically condemned by the Vatican in 1999 after repeated attempts to engage with them and convince them to modify their stance on homosexuality in light of the declared doctrine of the Faith. They refused. Thematically, “Let’s Talk About Homosexuality” draws deeply from the work of Nugent and Gramick, and repeatedly cites quotes from both. In addition, there are numerous other “dissenting” Catholics cited in the 8 part “Let’s Talk” series, including:
- Bishop Raymond Lucker
- Msgr. William Shannon
- Bishop Thomas Gumbleton (who repeatedly compares active homosexual Catholics to those in the military – both are wrong, apparently, but while claiming he is no one to judge, he plainly makes it known who he thinks is more sinful)
- Patricia Schoelles
- Fr. Richard McBrien (is anyone surprised?)
- Archbishop Rembert Weakland (ditto)
- Charles Curran
Well, the list goes on an on. Strangely, I can’t find any quotes from Bishop Sheen, Fr. Groeschel (who deals with issues of homosexuality very frequently), or anyone else faithful to the Magisterium of the Church. Virtually all the quotes are from well known dissenters and regulars in the NCR/Call to Action circuit. In addition, while the “Let’s Talk” series dedicates 10 pages to the Church’s doctrine on homosexuality, about 40% of which consists of arguments against that doctrine, it spends the next 34 pages largely trying to take apart that doctrine. It is clear where the emphasis lies: Church doctrine is not definitive and unchanging, but is up for debate and can be bent to suit whatever particular group happens to be favored by the progressives at the moment.
And so we see another problem with the “Let’s Talk” series, where there is not just tolerance for those with a homosexual orientation and help to get them to lead a chaste life dedicated to continence in accord with the Truth revealed by Christ, but an expressed acceptance not only of homosexual orientation but also of homosexual acts. In Section 7, stories are told about homosexuals in the Church. All of these stories involve those in homosexual relationships, and there is no reason to believe, given the stories told, that these people are leading lives of chastity. Quite the contrary, the stories include descriptions of partners and even quitting jobs when being encouraged to lead a chaste life. Although other parts of the “Let’s Talk” series are less specific, the message throughout the series is clear: not only is the homosexual orientation to be tolerated and accepted as a Cross to bear for Christ, but, to the contrary of clear Church doctrine and over a dozen Biblical prohibitions, homosexual acts are to be accepted and treated as not only normal, but some glorious gift from God by the people of the Church. In essence, this profound misdirection in the materials of the “Let’s Talk” series at times subtly, but at other times openly, encourages both homosexuals, and their Catholic families and friends, to believe things contrary to the proclaimed doctrine of the Faith. Throughout the series, references to chastity and continence are, at best, incidental; the entire series is based on changing thinking of faithful Catholics towards acceptance of homosexual acts.
As such, one will find few, if any references, being made to the numerous Catholic bishops, priests, theologians, and lay people who DO accept Church doctrine – they are as marginalized by the “Let’s Talk” series as any group has been. As I stated earlier, there are no references to Fr. Benedict Groeschel, to the dedicated COURAGE ministry, to Terrence Cardinal Cooke, to Fr. John Harvey – in short, to any of those Catholics who work to aid those with a profound homosexual orientation in striving towards a chaste life, towards offering up the use of their sexuality as a great gift to God. In contrast, at times the “Let’s Talk” series seems to be arguing in favor of a completely equal acceptance of active homosexual relationships, up to and including gay marriage.
There is more, such as confused interpretations of Dignitatus Humanae which seek to make personal conscience trump all doctrine of the Faith, but this is a blog post, not a dissertation, and I don’t want to bore you, my dear, sweet readers, so I must conclude.
I am quite certain that the very good people of Seton who instituted this program of Outreach towards gays and their families have done so from the best of intentions. Unfortunately, perhaps in their zeal to overcome past maltreatment of homosexuals, they have chosen to use materials which are problematic on a number of fronts. My only concern is that the doctrine of the Church be presented as fully and faithfully as possible. After having read through all of the “Let’s Talk About Homosexuality” materials, I cannot conclude that this material is Faithful to the declared, inviolate doctrine of the Faith. I also know that there have been complaints about the materials used for some time – at least for over a year that I am directly aware of. I am not the first to raise these concerns. Fortunately, there are today groups like COURAGE dedicated to helping those Catholics with a strong same sex attraction to lead lives consonant with the Faith. I would ask that Fr. Petter and the other staff at Seton reconsider their use of the “Let’s Talk About Homosexuality” materials and the current direction of their gay outreach program.
One final note: I don’t like having to repeatedly bring things up about St. Elizabeth Seton. I know some there think I’m some wrathful man with a ridiculous sense of self-righteousness, casting down judgements on those whose Faith doesn’t reach my exalted heights. In actuality, the opposite is true, I’m very aware I’m nothing more than a poor, repeatedly failing sinner. It’s because I know the self-inflicted pain of sin, ongoing, heart-wrenching pain, that I cling so tightly to the Truth revealed by Christ through His Church, and I care deeply not only about the Church in general but about all of our local parishes and the people who belong to them. It pains me to see that people may be being led, the best of intentions notwithstanding, away from the doctrine repeatedly made clear by the Church. That is why I bring this up. That is why I pray these materials will no longer be used, and that the direction of the gay outreach at Seton will change.