Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Mark Shea says Anthony Marquis was wrong to say his policy recommendations reflected a "God hated gays" attitude.

I'll agree that "hate" is probably too strong a word (even though Marquis never accuses him of such). But I will say that Shea has helped create an environment people feel free to express and state the worst stereotypes about gays. Check out a typical comments section to see what I mean. This is spreading to other Catholic blogs, as many of Amy Wellborn's readers expressed relief that Bishop McCarthy's affairs were with women, as if that somewhow makes it better. To her credit, Wellborn expressed outrage at this reaction.

Shea would say he's not about building hate for gays. He just wants us to face up to the undeniable truth that the abuse of boys (boys, boys, and boys) is connected to homosexuality. And that those who focus on other issues are influenced by the PC culture and are afraid of the ugly truth.

Fine, but what now? So, homosexuality has something to do with this abuse. Where does that take us? How does having someone or something to blame help us to overcome this? It doesn't. It's just finger-pointing, and an attempt to pin the current crisis on political enemies. An it gets us nowhere. That's not just PC politics; it's the truth.

Well, Shea and others argue that since homosexuals are more likely to abuse, they must be barred from the priesthood (Shea himself makes exceptions for existing priests). Even if you accept this (and Mike Hardy offers some good reasons why we shouldn't), this isn't how we run a Church that we believe is guided by the Spirit.

Just this last Sunday, we heard in the Gospel about how Jesus called Matthew, a tax collector to be an Apostle. Now, at the time of Jesus, most would agree that tax collectors would statistically be more likely to lie, cheat, and steal than would others. But did the stop Jesus from calling him? Did Jesus say, "Matthew, you can't be my Apostle, since as a tax collector, you are likely to steal, and I can't take that chance?" No!

Do we really think that the Jesus who called Matthew the tax collector to be an Apostle would be here today urging us not to ordain gays, and defrock the existing gay priests? No. Barring gays from the preisthood is an act of fear, not love.

Which brings me back to one of my basic questions -- what are we "Catholic bloggers" doing here? Are we spreading the Gospel, spreading Jesus's message of justice and compassion? Or are we using this as a megaphone to take swipes at our political enemies, and bring others down and make them look bad? Are we creating a space where hatred is welcome, and love and compassion are not?

I would suggest that all of us "Catholic bloggers" commit to saying a brief prayer before we blog. The Prayer of St. Francis strikes me as a good choice:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Many bloggers lament that everything we do in Mass should be a prayer. Let's set an example by making everything we blog a reflection of God's love. If we ask ourselves, is this post an example of being "an instrument of God's peace" before we type, maybe we can tone down the vitriol a bit, and make a real contribution to the public conversation instead of taking potshots at each other.

And maybe we can show non-Catholics and those who are disconnected from the Church what we're about. It's an easier step to click on a link than it is to walk into a Church. What would someone curious about the Church think of her after visiting your blog? Would she be inclined to come to Mass on Sunday? Or would she be turned off by the negativity and backbiting?

This is especially true this week as the bishops meet. It's true that this will be an important test for the bishops, to see how they act. But it will be an equally important test for us bloggers. The world is watching.
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