Wednesday, October 28, 2020

"Francisco" - My Response to People's Concerns I

I always welcome and respect people's responses to my writings and presentations. I really do, especially those expressing concerns because concerns not voiced can easily lead to misunderstandings and cause unnecessary alienations. As a result, I'd like to thank a couple of my contacts who took the time to let me know their concerns about my last email on Pope Francis' endorsement of "convivencia civil". In doing so they graciously accorded me an opportunity to explain. 

One of them, to whom I had replied directly, thinks that the claim that "very close unions between people of the same sex do not in themselves imply sexual relations" is "naive". Since this is a good opportunity to explain the Church's core teaching on homosexuality, I'd like to share my reply as follows:

We all know that the Church is against homosexuality and sees it as a grave sin. Her position on this will not change and shouldn't (CCC 2357). 

At the same time, the Church also understands that she herself is but a house of sinners who receive redemption not because they deserve it but because of God's unfathomable mercy. She understands that the proper execution of her magisterial duty of teaching - "don't do this or that" -  must always be balanced out by the same mercy she receives from God. Therefore, the Church must take a loving and merciful approach in handling the homosexual community, always ACCEPTING them "with respect, compassion and sensitivity", and cautioning against any unjust discrimination that sees them as social outcasts (CCC 2358). 

Since the homosexual acts are "intrinsically disordered" (CCC 2357), "homosexual persons are called to chastity", accepting the difficulties of their sacrifice as a participation in the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross (CCC 2359).

From the Church teachings above, it's easier to understand why Pope Francis embraces the concept of "convivencia civil" to the extent that sexual relations, i.e. the homosexual acts, are not involved. Are they still homosexuals? Of course they are. The "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" are still there, although "they do not choose their homosexual condition" (CCC 2358). But the difference is that people with homosexual inclinations, who opt for chastity, accept that the homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and sinful. They are willing to shun their homosexual desires and offer up their effort as their sacrifice to unite themselves to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross. This is a noble endeavor that deserves our full support, and the Pope is not afraid to embrace it. 

As for the concern that people in "convivencia civil" may not practice chastity, that's for God to hold them to account; nobody else can, not even the Church. The Church takes the same position on those priests who have homosexual inclinations. Her advice is for them to "at least try not to express this inclination actively, in order to remain true to the intrinsic mission of their office" (Pope Benedict XVI, Light of the World, p.153). What if secretly some of them disregard the Church's advice? Only God can hold them accountable. But the Church will not kick all of them out just because there are a few bad apples. 

God have mercy! More reason to pray for the Church and our clergy!

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