Bishop Matthew H. Clark has distributed in all parishes his "We All Need Redeeming" letter to justify his welcoming, this week, a conference of the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries [NACDLGM] to Rochester, N.Y.
The group's founder, the Rev. Jim Schexnayder, has expressed his gratitude for "the support Bishop Clark has given our conference" (Speaking Out, Sept. 14).
Both Bishop Clark and Rev. Schexnayder defend the gay ministry group as representing legitimate "pastoral care" fully in accord with Catholic teaching. However, many Catholics and other Christians disagree.
It is distressing that both the gay ministry group and Bishop Clark's letter sanction the vocabulary of homosexual activists in using the terms "gays" and "lesbians". Such terms reflect the political language of propagandists seeking to have society accept the homosexual condition as though it were not disordered, to condone homosexual acts as moral, and to accept homosexuality as a normal variation of the human condition.
In its love for every person, the Catholic Church knows that there can be no true pastoral care for homosexuals experiencing pain and confusion unless they have access to the full truth of Catholic teaching concerning their spiritual condition. The [above-mentioned] gay ministry group does not give them the full truth.
The Rev. John Harvey, noted American Catholic moral theologian on the subject of homosexuality, has observed:
"The term 'gay and lesbian ministries' is an oxymoron. As our experience has shown, such ministries do not provide a spiritual program for chaste living. I see nothing of this in the National Association of Gay Ministries".
Is the Gay Ministry Association a "legitimate group loyal to Magisterial teaching", as Bishop Clark says, or does it ignore or fudge Catholic teaching on chastity, the moral obligation of homosexuals to practice celibacy, and the necessity to have frequent recourse to the sacrament of penance for God's forgiveness and restoration of purity of heart?
Is the Gay Ministry Association interested merely in human rights for homosexuals or is it a vested interest group seeking to influence legislation at every governmental level to obtain special rights for homosexuals?
If the group is a "legitimate ministry," why are dissenters from Catholic teaching speaking at the Rochester conference? The Rev. Richard Peddicord is the author of "Gay and Lesbian Rights" which blatantly supports the goals of radical "gay and lesbian" activists.
Representatives of the local diocesan "Gay and Lesbian Ministry" are noted for their silence concerning the spiritual need of active homosexuals to change their immoral lifestyle and live chastely. One will not hear from them the teaching found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church that:
"Homosexual acts are acts of grave depravity"; that "those who behave in a homosexual fashion are among those who shall not enter the Kingdom of God"; and that "the sins of the Sodomites" are among the "sins that cry to Heaven".
Lip-service to Catholic teaching is not enough. Adherence to key elements of Catholic doctrine might have prevented Rev. James B. Callan's "gay and lesbian ministry" or the scandal of 20 Rochester diocesan priests celebrating Masses in a non-Catholic church for members of Dignity of Rochester (an [homosexual] organization at odds with Catholic doctrine).
Neither the Gay Ministry group nor Bishop Clark's letter addresses the
serious abuse by priests permitting active homosexuals to receive Holy Communion without
In his letter, Bishop Clark unfortunately misleads readers in giving as a quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church a passage from another document that has no juridical authority in the Church, namely, the controversial "Always Our Children" by a committee of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.
In attempting to call for action against "prejudice and discrimination" and for "full, equal, participation of homosexuals in the life of the Church," he omits key distinctions and nuances insisted upon by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in its document "The Pastoral Care of Homosexuals".
In conclusion, the gay ministry group represents more of a problem than a solution in regard to the pastoral care of homosexuals. Serious ommissions in "We All Need Redeeming" provide more evidence that to remain silent on key aspects of Catholic teaching on the pleas of pastoral care is to be neither pastoral nor caring.