Thursday, July 16, 2009

Can the faithful challenge the faith and still be considered faithful?

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.


Anonymous said...

It is frightening that many churches and "christians"behave like the frog in the pot of water on top of the fire,slowly being cooked!
The refusal to recognise the danger of a coming state regulated practise of faith and religion will be catastrophic in the future when official laws are instituted to forbid any public expression of faith unless sanctioned by the state.And that is already beginning in Canada.
What will it take for many to wake up and smell the stale brew of compromise??
Suzanna Meyer

Arla M. said...

I agree with the article. If this should get a hearing with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, anything we Christians believe and back up with teaching from the Bible will be open for discussion by opponents of the Church in the government arena. The devil has found a method to attack Canadian Christians... Having said this, I know what Christians who have landed in Communist prisons shared with us. They saw their captivity as a way to share Jesus with those who would otherwise have no opportunity to hear about God. Perhaps the wisest among us could prayerfully comment on the public articles in newspapers, and use this as an opportunity to give atheists, and those who have gone astray, some jewels in words to think about from Christ's representatives. We must speak back, but measure our words very carefully, as we know who wants to shut us up... We pray for wisdom in the government leaders, and back our prayers with wise comments, and petition our government representatives to weed out the Human Rights Commission. May God's will be done among us.

GlennT. said...

The one thought that perhaps needs more clarification for me is that this Catholic gentleman, although admitting to being attracted to the same sex, remains celebate. That means he is not acting out what his natural sexual urges would dictate. What else is he to do? Yes, he could, as a good Catholic choose to respect the church's rules, yet should the church not also revaluate its level of mercy and justice? In essence how is the church, protestant or catholic, to include those who have such inclinations? Is it correct not to make a place for them, for in not doing so they are will likely be driven from the church itself? Please understand, I am talking only about his dedication to celebacy, not to being a practicing homosexual within the church. Thank you.

Glenn Penner said...

Glenn T.

I want to answer you respectfully, so please take my comments in that light, please. Your response assumes a couple of things that I think need some correction:

1) that the response of the Roman Catholic and many Protestant churches to homosexuality is based on "rules". Rather, it is important to see that they are based than biblically-based convictions; convictions that Christians have always held, by the way. Hnece, these convictions cannot, in my opinion, be reviewed, as you suggest, without compromising who they are as the Body of Christ. Mercy cannot cancel out truth. Both must be held in tandem.

2) You refer to this man's "natural" sexual urges. It is just at this point the Bible departs from our the common view of homosexuality. The Bible does not see such sexual urges as "normal". Personally, I see homosexual inclinations as just that; an inclination or tendency, just as other sinful behaviour that must be resisted and, by God's grace overcome. We all have certain sins that draw us more than they do other people. For you it may be stealing or lying. For others, lust or greed. For me, it might be something entirely different. But such pulls are a sign of our sinful nature, not something to be accepted as "normal". Should the church be merciful to such sinners? Yes, but not if he refuses to see his inclinations as sinful. If you read this man's blog, you see that he does not view his homosexuality in this light. Yes, he is celibate but he does not confess homosexuality as sin by the fact that he allows his sin to identify who he is. If you struggle with lust, would you publicly want to identified as a fornicator or an adulterer? Or if I struggle with the temptation to steal, would I say on my blog that I am thief and need to be accepted as such? Why do we apply different standard to homosexuality then, unless that we have accepted the assumption that same-sex attraction is "normal" and impossible to change? This the Bible will not allow.

Of course, Jesus does say that all sins begin in the mind and it is possible to sin without acting committing the act itself. But He does not say that we should just accept that state of affairs as being "normal."

Anonymous said...

This man says he is living a celibate lifestyle however he is still living with the man who was his partner. It seems to me that that gives "an appearance of evil" as well as presents strong temptation to give into his strong desires. Eunice