As a follow up to the topic of our blog from Tuesday (Catholic bishop faces complaint to human rights tribunal for removing gay altar server), Michael Coren has written an op-ed piece for today’s National Post is which he argues that faithful Christians don’t challenge the teachings of their church in a state arena. After you have read it over, let us know your opinion.
Michael Coren: The faithful don't challenge the faith
Posted: July 16, 2009, 10:00 AM by NP Editor
It did, as it were, have to happen. A human rights body taking on the Roman Catholic Church. In this case the issues are still murky and confused, but it appears that an openly gay man who has been living with his partner for 19 years has been dismissed as an altar server in his Peterborough, Ont., parish. Several long-standing parishioners complained, and local Bishop Nicola De Angelis, one of the gentlest and kindest priests you are likely to meet, decided that the situation was inappropriate.
The man in question, spa-owner Jim Corcoran, claims that while he is homosexual he is celibate and a devout Catholic who observes Church teaching. Not, it seems, so devout and so observant of Church teaching that he is prepared to accept with Catholic humility and self-control the decision of that very Church to terminate an entirely voluntary (if important) position. Instead, he has appealed to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, a secular body that has habitually ruled against individual Christians and, some would argue, is in direct conflict with Roman Catholic teaching and pursues a pugnaciously anti-Catholic agenda. These are hardly the actions of a faithful Catholic in good standing, which leads one to wonder if there is more to this story — and to Mr. Corcoran.
Any serious Catholic knows of people who faithfully attend Mass but cannot receive Communion, let alone be an altar server, because they are waiting for an annulment or face some other obstacle. Nonetheless, they accept Church teaching; they love and follow the Church. For Mr. Corcoran to lash out at the Church because it refuses to bend to his will indicates, at best, a somewhat weak faith, and, perhaps, utter hypocrisy.
As a result of Mr. Corcoran’s actions, Bishop De Angelis and 12 parishioners could face financial penalties, and be forced to defend their actions — and the basics of Catholic theology — before an increasingly delegitimized tribunal. More significant, the challenge will establish a precedent of whether the Roman Catholic Church in Canada is allowed to behave as the Roman Catholic Church.
This is not really about homosexuality or Scripture, but about the separation of church and state. This is important, because it is invariably the left, social activists and gay leaders who are some of the most vociferous supporters of human rights commissions, and the strongest opponents of Catholicism. These are people who lecture about the concept of church and state separation and insist that organized religion not interfere with state policies. (By that logic, they should also argue that state policies should not interfere with organized religion.)
Their history is, of course, terribly wrong. Church and state separation is an American, not a Canadian, idea — and anyway was introduced to protect evangelical Christians from the established Anglican church. More to the point, however, the argument is used with a staggering inconsistency. It is considered acceptable for a liberal Protestant to speak out in favour of same-sex marriage but heresy for a Catholic or evangelical to speak out against it. When the Pope condemns poverty in Africa he is praised, when he opposes contraceptives he is abused.
Good history or not, this latest nonsense should outrage honest atheists, statists and gay people just as much as it does Catholics and other Christians. Nobody is demanding that Corcoran not be gay and nobody is denying him a home or an income or even preventing him from attending a church. Those given authority within the Catholic Church are daring to act as people given authority in the Roman Catholic Church — to govern and decide regarding internal issues as they are obliged by oath and faith. For a non-Catholic body to interfere at all in such a manner is disgraceful; for an obviously politically driven human rights tribunal to potentially smash the barrier between church and state is terrifying.