One of the things I think we've become very good at recently is finding reasons not to listen to people.
This discussion is in an interesting exhibit of that. Gays think they don't have to listen to the Church because it uses words like "intrinsically disordered" to describe their behavior. Priests write a letter showing how this presents a pastoral problem, and commenters say we shouldn't listen to their concerns, because they use words like "vile an toxic." Cardinal George responds with pretty much, "let's talk," and some commenters say he should have been more forceful. Those disagreeing say Cdl George's was a "prudent" response. This is another hot button word, since many see it as a sign of excuse making for bishops.
Maybe it's because we're so bombarded with images and messages that we have to filter things somehow. It's true that certain words are tip-offs that the commentor is coming from a personal malice rather than principals. If someone refers to President Bush as "Dumbya", chances are I'm not going to find what she has to say interesting.
But I think there's something else going on here, and it's that people just want o find reasons to not listen to things they want to hear.
Again, I think Cdl. Martino's comments last week are illustratative of this. Some reasons to dismiss Martino have been floated around the past week including:
- He wasn't speaking for the Vatican.
- He supports the UN, and the UN supports birth control (nicely debunked by Kevin Miller here)
- He wasn't nearly critical enough of Saddam.
All these things are side issues to the real question Martino's comments present, "Was televising the examination an affront the dignity God had put in Saddam that can never be taken away?"
That's a hard question, and an affirmative answer leaves us with some unpleasant implications.
Going back to the original point, there is a difficult question, which is how do we take the Church's teaching on homosexuality to a hostile culture? That's another hard question. And brushing it aside by questioning the motives of the questioner doesn't do us much good.