The Personalist Project

Two small incidents yesterday brought starkly home the society-wide moral inversion that seems to have happened in the blink of an eye, though, in truth, it's the outcome of a decades-long, aggressive propaganda campaign.  

Our littlest was home from public school (for a teachers-in-service day, whatever that is), so Jules took him and a couple of friends bowling and then to lunch at Chik-fil-A.   One of the friends, a sweet boy from a lovely, dedicated family, was especially excited to be going to Chik-fil-A for the first time in ages.  His family never goes there anymore, he said, "because they're anti-gay."  It's a matter of principle.

I have cousin born just nine days before me.  We were very close growing up.  Now we live in different worlds.  She's a senior editor at a major fashion magazine in Manhatten.  But we still email each other affectionately on our birthdays.  Hers was yesterday, so I sent her the usual note, telling her I would have her and all her intentions in my heart at  Mass.  She wrote back and said she hoped to see me next month at our cousin's wedding.  He is marrying his boyfriend.  I think all the aunts and uncles and cousins will be there, except us.  They all went to the knot-tying ceremony of his sister and her lesbian lover last fall.

I am guessing that all these aunts and uncles and cousins feel that showing up and being supportive is obviously the morally right thing to do.  I suspect they look on our declining to go with disapprobation.  They think we are judgmental and bigoted and harsh and cold. 

How have things come to this pass?  How is it possible that a large family, raised Catholic, is evidentally convinced that they are doing something good and right by witnessing and treating a same-sex-marriage, as if it's no different from all the other weddings of the cousins over the years?

Even more, how has it happened that those who take a stand in defense of natural marriage are so widely repudiated as bigots and hate-mongers—no better than the racists of the Jim Crow era?  To distinguish between marriage and homosexual liaissons is understood to be not just unreasonable, but morally backward, even shameful.

This morning I came across this story, about a Pastor at a Catholic Parish, who removed a portrait of Pope Emeritus Benedict from his Church.  Here is how he explained himself in the the parish bulletin:

Two weeks ago, after Pope Benedict XVI had announced to the world that he would be resigning the office of Peter as of February 28th, I put the Pope’s picture, that usually hangs in the rectory, in the church. A handful of people told me that they would rather it not be there. They explained that the feeling was while he was Pope, as well as his time as a Cardinal, Pope Benedict had made hurtful and hateful statements regarding the LGBT Community and thus, his picture should not be placed on the altar of MHR. I was also warned, many parishioners would walk out of Sunday Mass if the picture was not removed. I spoke with a close priest friend of mine, and even though both of us were saddened by this, the wisest course, I felt, was to remove the Pope’s picture.

So, a picture of the Pope is banished from a Catholic Church, because some parishioners found his treatment of the LGBT Community too morally offensive to be borne.

The Pastor goes on to elaborate what he sees as the proper Christian response in situations like this:

I continued to think and pray about this and started to think about the bigger picture: How do we deal with the Pope, the Archbishop, Priests, Family and Friends that don’t understand or accept us as we are? Do we banish them from our lives, or do we pray as Jesus did while dying on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” I think in learning to forgive, and embrace the Pope and the Church, even when they don’t accept us, we learn to do the same for our own family and friends, and in the end, grow to be more accepting of our own failures and limitations. I find that forgiving people’s shortcomings, including the Pope’s, makes it easier for me to forgive my own shortcomings.

The failure to endorse homosexual behavior—to treat it as perfectly normal and wholesome—is here simply assumed to be a moral shortcoming on the part of the Pope and the Church.  By a priest.

It's not only that what is immoral is deemed acceptable, but that to call it immoral is deemed reprehensible.  In the mainstream.

We are rapidly de-composing from a Post-Christian society into an anti-Christian society.  

Comments (5)

John Brooks Randle

#1, Mar 8, 2013 2:27am

Pray for a Cardinal

A website has been created that randomly assigns you a Cardinal to pray for during this time of transition in the Catholic Church.

If you are interested, please check out [url=][/url]

Rhett Segall

#2, Mar 8, 2013 8:34am


Your and Jules decision not to attend your cousin’s ritual of a homosexual marriage is rooted in a commitment to truth. Your presence at this ritual would be affirming what you hold to be erroneous, i.e. that gender is irrelevant to marriage.

 I agree with you. Yet the situation raises other questions:

 If your “married” cousins, I’ll call them Bob and Ted, invite you to dinner should you refuse? My response is no because I do not see how cutting off all contact with them can be beneficial (“objective good for the person”!) to anyone concerned.

 Should Catholic parents refuse to attend a civil wedding of their child who no longer believes in Catholicism? My response is no because marriage is a natural institution. The adult child’s negation of the faith does not negate his/her natural right to marriage.

 Should Catholic parents refuse to visit their adult child if the child is living with someone of the opposite sex without “benefit of clergy”? My response is no because a marriage ceremony does not establish a marriage. I would simply expect my child to be living a faithful life to their partner.

Some responses to your very relevant situation!


Katie van Schaijik

#3, Mar 8, 2013 9:08am

These are challenging questions, Rhett, and I think there are no simple answers that apply across the board.  Or rather, the only case that's simple (among those you mention) is the one of whether to attend a SSM ceremony, which, to my way of thinking, is worse than "erroneous."  It's closer to blasphemous.

If your “married” cousins, I’ll call them Bob and Ted, invite you to dinner should you refuse? 

That depends on the individuals involved.  I could understand and respect a person's decision not to go, because he sees it as a way of "giving countenance" to immorality.  

In our case, I made a point of telling my cousin that I couldn't come to the event, because I hold so deeply that marriage can only take place between a man and a woman, but that I love him just the same, and look forward to meeting "Ted" someday, because he's such an important person in his life.  Whether I would go to dinner at their home, I don't know.  I think probably not.  I would sit at table with them, though, and invite them to my home, and do what I can to show true friendship.

Katie van Schaijik

#4, Mar 8, 2013 9:20am

Rhett Segall

Should Catholic parents refuse to attend a civil wedding of their child who no longer believes in Catholicism? 

That, too, would depend on the case.  Suppose the parents are convinced that no natural marriage can take place?  Suppose, for instance, one of the two is divorced.  Suppose the two openly flout the notion of indissoluability.  Suppose the impression of the parents is that this is a highly irrresponsible and deliberate "thumbing of the nose" at God and the Church? In such cases, they may conscientiously decide that they ought not to go.

Should Catholic parents refuse to visit their adult child if the child is living with someone of the opposite sex without “benefit of clergy”? 

Here again, it depends on the case.  A friend of mine told me yesterday that her 40-something sister has just  moved in with her fifth "partner."  She appears to be completely unserious about commitment.

I don't know what my friend will do, but if it were my sister, I wouldn't go to their apartment, unless she were sick or something and needed my help.  I would not treat her latest live-in lover as if he is a member of the family.

Sam Roeble

#5, Mar 8, 2013 1:02pm

ENCOURAGE (support group for family members of those with SSA) recommends inviting the same sex couple over to dinner rather than vice versa.  by serving and loving them as guests, they can know that they are both welcome/and obliged to be respectful

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