Friday, October 10, 2014

The gay son and his partner: Cardinal Burke speaks

Benediction on Corpus Christi, SS Gregory & Augustine's, Oxford
Life Site News asked Cardinal Burke to respond to the scenario proposed by the Australian lay couple, the Pirolas, of a homosexual son wanting to attend a family gathering with his gay partner: the implication being that he and his 'partner' are in an immoral relationship. The Pirolas appeared to think (a) it was obvious that they should both be welcomed as heartily as possible, and (b) this is a model for how the Church as a whole should act. One may disagree with either or both parts of this response, particularly the implication for Holy Communion. The suggestion that refusing Communion to public sinners is wrong simply because it appears unfriendly is, despite its crass superficiality, increasingly treated as a truism. This is what Cardinal Burke had to say.

Cardinal Burke: This is a very delicate question, and it's made even more delicate by the aggressiveness of the homosexual agenda. But one has to approach this in a very calm, serene, reasonable and faith-filled manner. If homosexual relations are intrinsically disordered, which indeed they are — reason teaches us that and also our faith — then, what would it mean to grandchildren to have present at a family gathering a family member who is living [in] a disordered relationship with another person?
We wouldn’t, if it were another kind of relationship — something that was profoundly disordered and harmful — we wouldn't expose our children to that relationship, to the direct experience of it. And neither should we do it in the context of a family member who not only suffers from same-sex attraction, but who has chosen to live out that attraction, to act upon it, committing acts which are always and everywhere wrong, evil.
And so, families have to find a way to stay close to a child in this situation — to a son or grandson, or whatever it may be — in order to try to draw the person away from a relationship which is disordered.
And we know that with time, these relationships leave the person profoundly unhappy. And so it's important to stay [as] close as one can. But, that particular form of relationship should not be imposed upon family members, and especially upon impressionable children. And I urge parents or grandparents — whoever it may be — to be very, very prudent in this matter and not to scandalize their children or grandchildren.
There's so much in our society today which is giving the message that any form of sexual relationship, if it somehow pleases you — or you’re attracted to it — is alright, is correct. And we don't want our children to get that impression, by seeming to condone gravely sinful acts on the part of a family member.
It certainly is a source of great suffering, but striving to do what is right and good always involves suffering. And in this case, it surely will. But that suffering will indeed be redemptive in the end.
Now with regard to parishes, the situation is very similar because the parish is — I believe it was Saint John Paul II who once said — a ‘family of families.’ And so, if you have a parish member who is living in public sin in a homosexual relationship, well, the priest should try to stay close to that individual — or to both the individuals if they’re Catholic — and try to help them to leave the sinful relationship and to begin to lead a chaste life. The pastor [should] encourage them also to pray and to participate in Sunday Mass and other appropriate ways of trying to overcome grave sin in their lives.
Those people [who] are living in that way certainly cannot have any leadership role in the parish, because it would give the impression to parishioners that the way they are living is perfectly alright. Because, [when] we lead in a parish, in a certain way, we are giving witness to a coherent Catholic life. And people who are not coherent with their Catholic faith aren’t given leadership roles. They are not asked, for instance, to be a lector at the Holy Mass — or [to] assume some other leadership position — until they have rectified their situation and gone through a conversion of life and then are ready to give such leadership.
On the one hand, it certainly gives scandal to parishioners with regard to a very essential part of our life, our sexuality, [and] what it means. On the other hand, it's not good for the two people involved in the disordered relationship because it also gives them the idea that the Church somehow approves of what they're doing.
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  1. With respect to the Cardinal it is not a “delicate” situation. It is a simple straightforward one. Sex, homo or hetero, outside a valid marriage between a man and a woman is a mortal sin.

    It in no way bars anyone from attending Mass and indeed they should be encouraged to do so.

    However such people may not receive Holy Communion, unless they have Confessed, have a firm purpose of amendment with the intention not to commit that sin again, and have carried out the stipulated penance.

    It actually quite straightforward.

    Yes, no doubt these situations cause grief and uncertainty in families and otherwise. Well so does any matter of grievous sin. We all have a cross to bear.

  2. Sorry Jacobi. I don't agree. This is not about whether someone in this position should be allowed to receive Holy Communion, it's about whether someone should be able to attend a family gathering.
    And even then, Cardinal Burke comes down on the right side and says no. He talks about keeping close to your son/ grandson or whoever and encouraging him to come out of that relationship.
    And he also talks about, specifically not exposing young children to that type of relationship.
    Of course, in England, children attending schools, very much including Catholic ones will have already been exposed to this type of relationship and told that to discriminate in any way would be "unfair"
    Cardinal Burke is clearly on the side of right. If only there were more like him.

    1. Absolutely right, Richard, I was about to say the same thing!

      Dealing with this kind of thing within a family is *always* a delicate situation. I would extend that the parish setting as well. Of course they can't receive Communion, but the Parish Priest still needs to maintain good relations with these individuals if he can.

    2. @richardhj,

      I accept your point, of course. Family is family and all must be assisted within that. I would go further, all must be instructed, in an appropriate way of course, and not just "lovingly" accepted.

      With regards to the reception of Holy Communion, let’s not kid ourselves. This major campaign in the Church at present is aimed at breaking down conditions to receipt of Holy Communion and therefore the concept of the Real Presence.
      It’s also, as has been pointed out repeatedly by more acute minds than mine, about sex. After all, no one worries about those who have a disordered orientation to being a conman, or a pickpocket or a glutton, (obesity being now one of our principle deceases), or an aquisitor, or the obsessively envious. I could go on.

      Do they?