Friday, June 10, 2011

What if we shut it all down?

First we had this:

In a March 8 letter to the charitable arm of the Diocese of Springfield, the Illinois attorney general's office said it was investigating reports the group "discriminates against Illinois citizens based on race, marital status and sexual orientation in its provision of foster care services."

The letter, which was included as an exhibit in a lawsuit filed by the charitable arms of the dioceses of Springfield, Peoria and Joliet, warned that such policies violated the Illinois Human Rights Act, a statute that bars discrimination, harassment or retaliation based on marital status or sexual orientation, among other things.

Now, we have this:

( - David Hansell, who runs the federal government’s Administration for Children and Families, told a group of high school students at the U.S. Department of Education’s “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT)” youth summit on Tuesday that the Obama administration is recruiting “LGBT parents” to adopt children.

“[O]f course, we’re also trying to recruit more foster and adoptive parents who are lesbian and gay,” Hansell said in a general session of the summit held at the Washington Court Hotel in Washington, D.C. (As previously reported, the Department of Education barred reporters from attending the summit’s breakout sessions, which were also held at the hotel.)

You know what I think?

I think it's high time the Catholic Church in America called the secularists' bluff.

First, every single Catholic organization which aids in the adoption of children should shut down. Yes, this would be sad for the children--I'm not ignoring them. But it would be much, much worse if the government forced Catholic agencies to place children in evil situations, such as making them pawns in the gay "marriage" game.

Then, every branch of Catholic Charities in the United States should be closed. The plan would not be to abandon the poor, but to disentangle completely from both government aid and the "strings" which accepting this aid always creates, and from government agitation and political activism. A new, purer version of Catholic Charities could then be set up in which no government funds would ever be accepted and no political activism would ever be condoned. Oh, and as a totally private, church-funded agency this new charity could possibly avoid situations like having to pay for the mortal sin of artificial contraception for its employees. And if that's not possible: then no more Catholic Charities, ever.

Next, every Catholic hospital and health care agency would shut down. There would be no more pretexts about "Oh, this is a Catholic hospital, but the government requires us to hand out emergency contraception, and a separate agency performs abortions down the hall, and our doctors prescribe birth control to their patients, etc." and all the associated bull excrement that our so-called "Catholic" hospitals play with now. If it would be possible to open the hospitals in the future under Catholic moral principles, fine--but I suspect that it won't be.

Then, every Catholic school that accepts government aid, uses mandated secular curricula, and otherwise entangles itself with the government would close, as well. This would include every single diocesan Catholic school. In the states where it's possible to run a private religious school free from government aid and/or government mandates, small private Catholic schools could reopen. These schools would teach according to Catholic doctrine unapologetically and would have student bodies which would be at least 98% Catholic; there would be no more pandering to wealthy non-Catholics to view the schools as a less-expensive option (compared to ordinary private schools) to keep their little darlings sheltered from the chaos of the local public school district; there would be no more watering down the curricula so as not to offend the benefactor parents who are not married, are divorced and remarried, are publicly supporting abortion or birth control, and are otherwise openly dissenting from Catholic teaching. If the government made even that sort of small, private Catholic school impossible--then no more Catholic schools.

Imagine, in a time of economic downturn, the consequences of ending all official Catholic involvement in the secular American world. Imagine the strain on existing government agencies, already underfunded, understaffed, and so burdened with red tape that they can hardly do much as it is. Imagine what it would be like if we Catholics called the secularists' bluff, and said, "So, you want us to restrict our Catholic faith to Sundays at Mass? Fine. Bye!" and left the public playing field, focusing our efforts on funding our own, non-government-entangled Catholic groups (what a boon that would be, for instance, to orthodox religious orders like this one or this one!). Imagine what it would be like for America if, labeled "bigots" for our religious beliefs, we Catholics rebuilt the Catholic ghetto--and retreated there.

Frankly, I'm starting to think that secular America deserves for us to do exactly that.


bearing said...

Deserves? Probably.

But resolving to give people what they deserve is incompatible with showing mercy.

I'm not quite ready for that step.

John E. said...

Actually, I think that would be a fine idea.

Show the rest of us how your faith community works when it isn't subsidized by the non-faithful such as the secular government or those benefactor parents you mention.

While you're at it, run off all the divorced, co-habitating, fornicating, and contracepting members who might be bringing their impure selves into your Church.

Pare your membership down the the most orthodox, the most loyal, and most pious and see how things work out.

It should be Heaven on Earth once all those Bad Other People are gone.

Red Cardigan said...

Yes, Bearing, there's the rub, as they say. Still, I think about how the early Church worked, and about how her charitable efforts were (of necessity) confined to her own people. The primary mission of the Church is to teach the truth, not to let the truth get watered down by making a devil's bargain with the state on social issues.

John E.: just as one example, the Catholic School system was an exemplary model of greatness when it was staffed by dedicated religious sisters and supported by charitable donations from the parish. It has failed, and failed miserably, since it joined hands with the government, stifled the religious message, charged high tuitions, employed primarily lay people many of whom aren't Catholic (let alone dedicated to the faith in the way the Sisters were), and turned out a couple generations of pagans and atheists who spurn their faith within a few years of graduation.

All those divorced, co-habitating, fornicating, and contracepting members got the idea from the "schools in the Catholic tradition" they attended that it's fine and dandy to call oneself a Catholic while living lives diametrically opposed to the Gospel. Oh, but their SAT scores were good, so the schools are a success from the secular standpoint--which is the only standpoint by which they are judged anymore.

In the news today: a staggering number of so-called Catholics think they can spit on the Cross and the Gospel while still considering themselves Catholics in good standing. What we are doing now in regard to the bastardized Catholic institutions in bed with the State is losing souls. And that's a sin.

John E. said...

Red, I'm seriously saying that you should go for it. Toss out the unfaithful and break your ties with the State.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I partially agree, with no sarcasm intended. I might note that my younger brother and sister were born in a hospital that was subscribed for and built by people in the community who were concerned that St. Elizabeth's, a Catholic hospital, was the ONLY one available. At that time, St. Elizabeth's objected. Likewise, one reason the Catholic school system is so intertwined with government funding is that the hierarchy DEMANDED government money for some decades, and finally GOT some of it.

But basically, I would like to see Catholic charities funded entirely by Catholics and run according to Catholic principles. I would like to see Planned Parenthood funded entirely by people who respect what PP does, according to precisely the principles the donors are motivated to cough up the money for. Etc.

The Catholic schools will have a problem finding sufficient brothers and sisters to staff the teaching positions for a pittance -- there aren't enough sons and daughters of the church seeking such vocations any more. Maybe if the only alternative was life in the coal mines 16 hours a day, or in some firetrap sweatshop, or a hellish steel mill with no occupational safety regs, more would consider it.

One caution, on which again I would support what I think Erin would say. There MAY be state laws which presume to dictate how ANY adoption agency will run, based on licensing requirements. rather than merely as a condition for receiving government funding. I believe there are enough unestablished variables that we should not impose one size fits all as a licensing requirement. If some agencies specialize in placements with gay couples, others include it without much caring one way or the other, and others specialize in placements with married heterosexual couples, then water could seek its own level. There is something to be said for all those options.

(What is there to be said for adoption by gay couples? Well, there aren't enough married heterosexual couples seeking to adopt, to take care of all the kids bouncing around the foster care system. As long as that is true, I'd say adoption by two gay men beats five foster homes in four years).

Geoff G. said...

"But it would be much, much worse if the government forced Catholic agencies to place children in evil situations, such as making them pawns in the gay "marriage" game."

Prove it.

Prove that being moved around through foster care is better than being in a stable situation with two same-gender parents. Prove that's it's "evil," not according to religion but by some objective standard, like how those kids turn out as adults. (And "it's self-evident" or "it's common sense," isn't proof, although it may be evidence of bias)

Here's a start that actually takes a fairly critical view of the extant research:

Do some research instead of parroting the party line.

Red Cardigan said...

You know what, Geoff? Medicines, even those used for children, are never tested on children (because it would be unethical). Child safety data is not collected by testing the safety of products on children (because it would be unethical). You are proposing that we test the notion that children do not need either a mother or a father as the case may be--that we may tell a little girl her two dads are fine for her and any longing she has for her mother is proof of her own psychological disorder, for instance--by putting children in these situations for a few generations to see what happens.

I don't need to prove that this will be harmful. Your side needs to prove that it won't be--without testing the idea on innocent children. You can't--but your side isn't really all about the children anyway, is it?

Hector said...

Re: Medicines, even those used for children, are never tested on children (because it would be unethical).

Not true.....medicines and vaccines are tested on children ALL THE TIME. They have to be, because child metabolism is different from adults', and without testing them on children we would never know if they were safe.

Just the first handful of recent studies I could find:

Personally, I don't see anything wrong with gay couples adopting children (of course, I don't think homosexuality is a sin), and as far as I know the results of whatever studies have been done, so far, indicates that gay parents do as good a job as straight ones.

Red Cardigan said...

Sorry, Hector; my information was old, from medical books I have from quite a while when it was still considered unethical to test experimental medicines on children.

Unless, of course, these studies you link to show how children react to different doses of medicines already tested on adults--that is, medicines generally believed to be safe, and gradually adjusted for children's use? What I had in mind was the idea of testing some completely unknown drug on babies, or something--sort of like testing some completely unprecedented societal reconstruct on innocent children who have no say in whether or not they're going to be part of the "study."

Here's the thing: as a woman, I'm particularly upset that gay men see mothers as unnecessary excrescences; I'm sure some traditional men feel the same way about how gay women see men that way. I have three daughters, and I can tell you that navigating daughters through puberty is a bit easier when one of the adults in the house knows personally what it's like to experience menstruation (all that blood, all those cramps and hormones, etc.). Forgive me if I just don't see two gay "dads" as being of much use to a girl at that time in her life, or as she struggles to learn how to be a woman. I'm sure the same thing goes for two gay "moms" trying to teach "their" son how to be a man.

Oh, but we've moved beyond all that gender stuff, right? Kids don't actually need to learn how to be women or men--how silly and conservative of me to think that there aren't dozens of genders for them to choose from when they're old enough to decide for themselves!

Mike in CT said...

A world that only begrudgingly accepts the notion of corporal works of mercy and does not recognize the need for spiritual works of mercy will refuse to acknowledge that the spiritual works of mercy are the primary mission of the Church and that the corporal cannot work against the spiritual.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I don't think the church should worry about what the world accepts, begrudgingly or otherwise. So long as coercion is not employed, nor the trespass committed, the church should be free to offer the world what it's mission calls for, and let each person accept or reject it.

It is certainly true that men cannot experience menstrual cramps, nor can men nurse a new born baby, no matter how UNFAIR this may be to a perfect notion of gender equality.

I would presume based on simple biology that it is most healthy for a child to be raised in the same pattern that conceives and delivers a child: a man and a woman. Even boys need a mother sometimes, and girls need a father. Further, a married couple is more likely to remain stable for that child for 18+ years than a cohabiting couple, although that is no guarantee.

That said, I would certainly agree with Geoff that adoption by a gay couple is much, much, better for a child than bouncing around the foster care system.

Hector... you surprise me. You are so orthodox in most of your presentations, I never would have guessed that you don't consider homosexuality a sin. I don't really worry about whether it is a sin, because I'm not tempted. It is more important for me to focus on whether adultery is a sin. Geoff has to decide whether homosexuality is somehow offensive to God -- and Geoff definitely believes in God. He doesn't believe it is, and I am content to leave that between Geoff and God.

Hector said...


I'm really not orthodox in the wholesale sense of the word. I have some orthodox views, and some decidedly non-orthodox ones. Having said that, I agree with you that it's somewhat besides the point for straight folks to decide whether homosexuality is OK. My personal preoccupations at the present, regarding sex, are whether solitary vice and premarital sex are sins. The conclusions I come to are 1) yes, unquestionably, and 2) sometimes, but not always.


Well, of course, drugs are not tested randomly on children. First they're tested on animals, then (I presume) on adults, and only then on children.

I actually somewhat agree with you that, intuitively, I'd prefer children to be raised by a mother and a father. However, that's often not possible, and when the choice is between an orphanage and a gay couple, I'd prefer the gay couple. All other things being equal, I'd prefer that kids have role models of both sex, and if any of my good gay friends expressed a desire to adopt, I'd express my consern that they have male and female role models, and my concerns about gay adoption. That having been said, I don't feel confident enough in my concerns to say that gay people should not be allowed to adopt.

Deirdre Mundy said...

If you want Gay couples to be allowed to adopt because of the 'shortage' of adoptive couples, then shouldn't they only be able to adopt older children? Because there's no shortage of parents for newborns of any race or disability class. In fact, there's quite a waiting list and (at least in Indiana) many agencies have quit taking new couples, because the existing waiting lists are so long. Even couples who don't care what they get, as long as they get a baby, are waiting 4-6 years for a child....

Geoff G. said...

Red, I'm not talking about opinions on policy or homosexuality or anything else.

You made a factual statement, which I will again quote for you in its entirety:

"But it would be much, much worse if the government forced Catholic agencies to place children in evil situations, such as making them pawns in the gay "marriage" game."

I asked you to back that up with something other than your opinion. You either cannot or will not.

Instead, you stated in your response that the matter cannot be tested. Which means that you're now saying that both your position that children are worse of in same-sex households and the opposite position, cannot be stated factually.

In which case, I call on you to withdraw your statement, as it is factually unknowable by your very own standards.

(I will point out to interested readers that what Red is avoiding here is that when these things actually have been objectively tested (and I freely admit that there are a number of caveats to the research here), the outcome for children raised in same-sex households has turned out to be about as good or even slightly better than for kids raised in opposite sex households. Red doesn't want to acknowledge this because it destroys her position. Hence, her non-answer.)

Red Cardigan said...

Geoff, I'm really not in the mood to turn this into another mega-comment thread; it's my daughter's birthday, and I've got better things to do.

But let me just say this: every study ever done of children raised by same-sex parents has shown that those children are more sexually active and more sexually experimental (gender-wise) than children raised by their own biological heterosexual married parents. I call that evil. You, of course, call it good.

We will never agree in this life on this issue. If you actually believed in the next life, I might be able to reach you. But I think you believe in nothing but the primacy of the sexual appetite, and so I have nothing further to say to you here.

Red Cardigan said...

In other words, Geoff, when I say, "But it would be much, much worse if the government forced Catholic agencies to place children in evil situations, such as making them pawns in the gay "marriage" game..." I am speaking of the evil that will be done to the souls of innocent children growing up in such an environment where they are made to embrace the evil of a relationship based on homosexual acts and call it good. I am speaking of the evil of the loss of those children's eternal souls.

You either don't believe they have immortal souls, or don't believe in an afterlife, or don't believe God really meant what He said about the various evils of sexual deviancy (including many things heterosexuals do, but which children are not usually forced to embrace as goods--well, until the Planned Parenthood rep. in the public school gets hold of them), or don't care about such things at all. I'm not sure which, and I don't think it really matters.

When I use the word "evil," I use it to mean those sins of action or omission that by their very nature offend Almighty God and deserve eternal punishment. Gay "marriage" is such an evil. It would, therefore, be worse for the innocent children in question to be placed in a situation where they must accept and embrace the evil of gay "marriage," especially if the false impression is given that the Church has no problem with this evil.

Now, when you use the word "evil" I suppose you must mean things that are merely pragmatically less than optimal. You are free to use the word "evil" in that way, but you are not free to force me to redefine that (or any other) word to suit your definition.

Red Cardigan said...

And I apologize for saying I had nothing further to say and then leaving a longer comment--it occurred to me that the crux of our problem was that "marriage" isn't the only word we define differently. If you think "evil" means "not so great in this life" then we're not even talking about the same thing.

Geoff G. said...

Red, on the topic I brought up, I'm perfectly prepared to let the matter drop. I've made my point.

While I'd disagree with the beliefs you attribute to me, your fundamental point is sound: we are approaching the question from completely different angles, with different interests and different assumptions.

Now, I can't speak for the legislators you originally cited, but I absolutely will stick up for your right to arrange your affairs as you see fit, create and maintain the best family you possibly can in accordance with whatever standard you please. I think it's wonderful that your daughters have such a dedicated mother and father and I wholeheartedly support your right to make the best choices you can and do the hard work it takes to implement them.

Moreover, I wholeheartedly support your right to speak out on these issues, to articulate what you think is the best kind of family life and to encourage anyone willing to listen, including me, to follow your advice. (And please note, I have never encouraged you or anyone else to marry anyone of the same gender. Frankly, I wouldn't presume.)

What I absolutely reject is the right you claim to have to use the force of law to take that choice away from me and to force me into a set of options that are dictated by your faith.

Now, I am going to go out on a limb here and tell you something that you may find surprising: I actually agree with a lot of what you have to say on the marriage issue on a personal level. Even if same-sex marriage were available in my state, I would not avail myself of it for the basic reason that I personally don't view my own relationship as being the same as a marriage.

In other words, I am, in my personal life, a little bit of a traditionalist.

But, and here's the distinction I've been trying to get you to understand, I don't want that choice taken away from me or from anyone else. You do. And that's the difference between the two of us on this issue.

And it's that choice that I've been passionately defending ever since we met on Rod's old blog.

And with that, I'll wish Hatchick the very best of birthdays.

Anonymous said...

I think the disentangling ourselves from the federal government is the best thing that could happen. On more issues than merely adoption.

It is because of the Catholic Church that we have universities, hospitals, food pantries, international law, etc. See: "How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization" by Thomas E. Woods. Alas, these areas have all been hijacked by secularists with an agenda.

If left to its own devices, WITHOUT all the dirty politics of working with government, Holy Mother Church can save the world from itself. It begins with Church Teaching on subsidiarity. Let what can be done at the smallest, most local level be done by those at the smallest, most local level.

Render unto Caesar, but don't get in bed with Caesar. Turn our backs on it all and set up shop on our own. A marriage of the corporal works with the spiritual works -- Mary and Martha together. THIS is the answer to schooling reform, health care reform, welfare reform, and -- yes -- adoption reform!


Red Cardigan said...

Geoff, what you don't seem to realize is that your side is forcing the Church to adopt its agenda.

In Massachusetts, for instance, Catholic Charities had to get out of the adoption business with no possibility of setting up as a private agency even if they never take a dime of government money. This is because it is now illegal in MA for any agency to place children for adoption unless they agree to the unspeakable evil of placing them with same-sex couples. What your side wants, Geoff, is to create a world where the options for religious believers who accept the centuries-old teaching that homosexual sex is evil to be ended.

And that, alas, is what will eventually make the compromises Colleen suggests impossible. We can see what has happened in places like Canada as a chilling precedent for those of us who know same-sex acts are evil. We will be marginalized and excluded from society, and only "permitted" to use our time, talent, and treasure to help the poor if we accept the devil's compromise with the state--even if, as I said above, we never take a dime of state money.

Look at what's been happening in Florida, for instance (totally apart from the gay question), where people trying to feed the homeless are being told their actions are illegal without state licensing and state permissions. The next step for the state will be to exclude those who "discriminate" against the practitioners of same-sex sex acts from those licenses and permissions. I expect that private schools will be the next targets, told they can't operate if they "discriminate," and that eventually even homeschoolers won't be allowed to teach at home without including whatever pro-gay sex curricula has been mandated by the state.

Hence the tone of frustration in my original post. If the Church were to remove herself NOW from all state-entangled charitable acts, BEFORE laws are enacted that will strip religious believers of our rights, it might be possible to carve out private exemptions (as Rod used to posit when he spoke of the "Benedict Option"). But if we wait until the gay rights agenda has been forcibly implemented upon our nation, we will lose the ability (just as Catholics in MA lost the ability to conduct morally sound adoptions) to do any charitable works at all without compromising our deeply held beliefs about sexual morality.

Better to live lives separate from society than be forced to remain quiet in the face of evil. And that, believe me, is the choice that lies ahead.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

That's the point at which I find Erin convincing. There is nowhere near the firm, overwhelming scientific evidence to justify using the coercive powers of the state to REQUIRE that an agency place children for adoption with same-sex couples. (Federalism and states rights may leave Massachusetts with the legal authority to make this error, constitutionally).

I also don't see the overwhelming evidence to justify laws which FORBID adoption placement with a gay couple, much less the practice some courts indulged not too long ago, of terminating a mother's parental rights if she took up with a lesbian partner.

Both "sides" of this debate have a point about the other side trying to coerce everyone to "be reasonable, just do it my way."

There is an odd distortion of the legacy of the civil rights movement at work here. At one time many people who thought of themselves as "white" literally and sincerely believed that people of African descent were inferior, and had to be subjugated by law for general public safety. Our nation didn't reject that on the ground "anything goes." We rejected that because there was zero scientific basis to sustain it (although God knows many tried), and because we had made explicit constitutional amendments to turn away from it.

Since then, a long list of constituencies have gotten in line saying "Our turn, we want recognition too." They may, and many do, have a valid point. But discrimination is an essential attribute of human intellect. We discriminate between food and poison, between rotten meat and fresh meat, between people whose company we enjoy and people who are unpleasant to be around, between politicians with sound programs and principles and those who are sheer opportunists. EVERYONE is not entitled to "respect" merely because they offer a public statement of their own existence as a category.

Those who style themselves "gay" are entitled to be left alone, as established by Lawrence v. Texas. They are not entitled to an affirmative commitment by The People of the United States that everything is good about their choices. Let a hundred schools compete, and let God judge in his own good time.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Deirdre has an interesting point that seems to have been lost in the sauce. I'm not up on the distribution curve of ages in the foster care system, but if those without placements are indeed older kids, we have a whole new problem.

These kids are already feeling rejected, because, let's face it, they HAVE been rejected. They may or may not have picked up some anti-homosexual attitudes, and may or may not have good reason for embracing such attitudes.

But I wonder about the wisdom of dictating to them that they will move in with a gay couple? If a teen responds "You're sending me to live with a queer?" (or worse language), does the self-affirmation of the gay couple take precedence over what may well be the best interest of the child? Should we force the kid to accept the adoption as an experiment in promoting tolerance? Is that even what gay couples who seek to adopt are looking for? And if they are, would they be fit parents?

A lot of those questions are hypothetical, but most are likely to arise at some point. Which is why it is dangerous to put every child, or every agency, on the Procrustean bed of political correctness. (Don't forget, a few years ago the "politically correct" position, even if it wasn't called that, was that no child should ever be within 100 miles of a known homosexual).

Geoff G. said...

Except that in this case, the Catholic Church is acting as an arm of the government.

There's actually a parallel here with the current legal cases over how to deal with government contractors in Iraq, like the 2007 Blackwater case.

In this case, the Church is essentially contracting with the government to provide a service to the community.

I'll also point out that if Red's really so concerned about the souls of the kids in question, then she ought to be freaking out if the Catholic Church is placing them with Protestants or non-Christians or atheists (example: "Catholic Charities serves individuals and families of all faiths and backgrounds" - in the context of adoption services).

Now, if I were a Catholic (and I don't claim to be), I'd probably prefer to see kids placed with a gay self-identified Catholic couple that attends Mass regularly even if they are so-called "cafeteria Catholics" because at least under those circumstances the Church has a shot at molding them into the kind of Catholic that Red approves of. If you place a kid with a Protestant straight couple, the odds of that diminish sharply.

But considering that we're freaking out over the gender of the parents and not their religion tells me that we're not really all that concerned about the kids' spiritual welfare here.

As I've said before, Red, if Catholic Charities is acting privately with money and volunteers donated by lay parishioners, clergy and the diocese, I've got no problem whatsoever with letting them impose whatever restrictions they please on their services.

But you don't get to dictate how all adoption agencies, religious (regardless of denomination) or secular, run. And that's precisely what the Catholic Church wants to do.

Patrick said...

@ Geoff:

"As I've said before, Red, if Catholic Charities is acting privately with money and volunteers donated by lay parishioners, clergy and the diocese, I've got no problem whatsoever with letting them impose whatever restrictions they please on their services."

*You* may not have a problem with that, but it's my understanding that Massachusetts state law wouldn't license this type of agency. Even were the adoption agency not taking public funding of any kind, what you describe is currently illegal under MA state law.

That's the thing; Red sees this as a trend and wants to retreat into the "new Catholic ghetto" and stop dealing with these people entirely; or else, so the theory goes, "calling the secularists' bluff" will reveal the need/convenience of the state for, yes, subcontracting this service (I guess according to Red's theory, a lot of this would cost the public *way more* if done entirely by a state agency instead of a subcontractor like the Catholic Church. The work of Catholic Charities would probably remain undone, and if Catholic hospitals and retirement centers were shut down...well, it would cause stress on a system that basically can't deal with the poor/elderly/etc.)

I think it depends on the situation. In the Massachusetts case, the Church had no choice but to shut down; but the Church ought to exhaust the possible remedies first.

Turmarion said...

I apologize in advance for breaking this into two posts, but there's that pesky character limit.

Red: Still, I think about how the early Church worked, and about how her charitable efforts were (of necessity) confined to her own people. (emphasis added)

Uh--not quite correct.

All those divorced, co-habitating, fornicating, and contracepting members got the idea from the "schools in the Catholic tradition" they attended....

Are you sure? Did all this stuff begin before, during, or after the changes in the Catholic school system which you decry? Is there correlation, causality, both, or neither? At least in the case of contraception, the evidence is that the shift began at the time of Humanae Vitae. Even if you want to blame the schools, the hierarchy has sure been supportive of much of this. I have never in twenty-one years as a Catholic, not even once, heard even priests I knew to be very conservative preach against divorce. In fact, almost every priest I know promotes the diocesan tribunal so divorced Catholics can get right with the Church. I'm sure you know that the 65-odd million American Catholics obtain over 80% of annulments granted to the world's one billion Catholics. To my knowledge even the very conservative (or if you prefer, tradtional, orthodox, whatever) bishops who are always decrying gay marriage never utter a peep about a tribunal system so lax it is a farce. Heck, I know deacons and priests who have been ordained after divorce and (in the former case) remarriage. I might also point out that I'm not aware of many examples of openly cohabiting couples being denied communion or being sternly lectured in pre-Cana, or much preaching on birth control from the pulpit. Does it occur that the Church itself, in its inconsistency, is largely to blame for the failure of laity to take it seriously?

I am speaking of the evil that will be done to the souls of innocent children growing up in such an environment where they are made to embrace the evil of a relationship based on homosexual acts and call it good. I am speaking of the evil of the loss of those children's eternal souls.... This is because it is now illegal in MA for any agency to place children for adoption unless they agree to the unspeakable evil of placing them with same-sex couples.

Well, this gives the game away. As Geoff pointed out in the link he gave, Catholic Charities serves people of all religious backgrounds, or none. Would it be imperiling a child's soul to put it with an atheist couple? A non-Catholic couple? A Protestant couple? A divorced and remarried couple? In the case of those who deny God, would the evil not be even more "unspeakable"? To my knowledge, Catholic agencies in fact do just this. Is this "evil"--is it endangering souls? Should such agencies, in fact, place any children from any religious background only into practicing Catholic households so they at least get a fighting chance? I mean, that seems to flow with perfect logic from what you're saying. Regarding evil, btw, the Church has traditionally defined divorce and remarriage, premarital sex, cohabitation, and contraception as "objectively evil". It seems an awful lot less vocal and more tolerant, by omission, anyway, of these behaviors. Are they any less perilous to souls?

Turmarion said...

OK, part 2!

I'll be upfront—I'm a cautious universalist. I don't think sin is good, I'd actually agree with the vast majority of Catholic moral doctrine, I'm not in favor of gay adoption or gay marriage, particularly, I don't think it's OK to do whatever you want, and I do think that social mores have real consequences. However to imagine a God that by most traditional definitions would seem to be damning the vast majority of the human race to perdition for things that in many cases weren't completely the individual's fault seems to me to be putting up an image of someone I don't want to worship. I do take the concept of Hell very seriously—every person must choose in the end to serve God or not, and God respects free will. However, I'm not sure this final choice necessarily happens before the encounter with God after death—and along with Hans Urs von Balthasar, I'm not sure that God will give up on even the “damned” until they change their minds in the experience of His love. Heck, at Fátima Our Lady told us to pray that Jesus “lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need of [His] mercy”, right? Seems odd to pray for something if we know a priori that it's impossible, right?

Anyway, I'm not sure Christ gave us the option of living lives separate from society—after all, we're supposed to be the salt of the earth and the leaven of the world. I'm not saying the Church should compromise its values. However, the institutional Church already has done so vis-à-vis divorce, contraception, and child abuse by clerics, so that short of massive resignations of dozens of bishops and a truly unprecedented act of penance by the rest, I think it's hardly surprising that the laity has become impervious and blasé about it all. If the Church wants a hearing, it needs to work on consistency and it putting its hierarchical house in order. Yes, logically the sins of some clergy and the failure of the hierarchy to preach consistent teaching doesn't absolve the laity from obedience to doctrine--but I recall that Christ excoriated the religious leaders of his time, not the "sheep without a shepherd". The other thing I'd point out is that there are probably better ways of proceeding than implying that the dastardly forces of Evil Liberalism in the government are conspiring with the Wicked Homosexualists to ensnare innocent souls to make of them Hell-fodder. I mean, really—what ever happened to “speaking the truth in love”?

Turmarion said...

OK, I really don't want to wear out my welcome, but I ran across the quote from Anthony de Mello over here, and I just had to quote it for felicitously making much the point I've been groping for:

When you say of someone "He's a communist," understanding has stopped at that moment. You slapped a label on him. "She's a capitalist." Understanding has stopped at that moment. You slapped a label on her, and if the label carries undertones of approval or disapproval, so much the worse! How are you going to understand what you disapprove of, or what you approve of, for that matter? All of this sounds like a new world, doesn't it? No judgment, no commentary, no attitude: one simply observes, one studies, one watches, without the desire to change what is. Because if you desire to change what is into what should be, you no longer understand.

A dog trainer attempts to understand a dog so that he can train the dog to perform certain tricks. A scientist observes the behavior of ants with no further end in view than to study ants, to learn as much as possible about them. He has no other aim. He's not attempting to train them or to get anything out of them. He's interested in ants, he wants to learn as much as possible about them. That's his attitude. The day you attain a posture like that, you will experience a miracle. You will change -- effortlessly, correctly. Change will happen, you will not have to bring it about. As the life of awareness settles on your darkness, whatever is evil will disappear. Whatever is good will be fostered. You will have to experience that for yourself.

One could take this too far in saying that it doesn't matter what the other does or that we shouldn't try to make the world a better place; but that's not what I think de Mello is saying. I think he means that we have to get our own interior house in order first; then enter deeply into where someone else is coming from, without demonizing them or idealizing them; and then we'll be in a position to effect change. That's all for now--promise!