THE USCCB'S 'MINISTRY TO PERSONS WITH HOMOSEXUAL INCLINATION'
More Magical Moments With Our Bishops
March 2007By Randy Engel
Randy Engel is author of The Rite of Sodomy: Homosexuality and the Roman Catholic Church. The book is available online at www.newengelpublishing.com; by mail from NEP, P.O. Box 356, Export, PA 15632; or by phone at 724- 327-7379.
Magicians practice sleight of hand or misdirection as part of their stock-in-trade. So does the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The adoption of the USCCB document "Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination: Guidelines for Pastoral Care" at the bishops' annual fall meeting held in Baltimore from November 13-16, 2006, is a case in point.
How the USCCB was able to pull off yet another amazing feat of prestidigitation on behalf of the Homosexual Collective within the U.S. Church is the main theme of this article. But first, some background on the origins and content of the bishops' Guidelines.
While much of the background on the Guidelines remains shrouded in bureaucratic mystery, we do know that the document on homosexual ministries originated with the USCCB Committee on Doctrine sometime in late 2002.
"Gay"-friendly Archbishop William Levada of San Francisco, the modern city of Sodom, was elected Chairman of the Committee on Doctrine at the November 2002 meeting of the USCCB. He is credited with being the main architect of the Guidelines and with shepherding them successfully through the intricate labyrinth of the bishops' bureaucracy. Although Levada resigned his office in August 2005 to accept his new appointment to the Roman Curia as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he continued to exercise control over the final content and direction of the Guidelines from behind the scenes.
Bishop Arthur Serratelli of the Diocese of Paterson, N.J., is the new USCCB Chairman of the Committee on Doctrine. A champion of consensus in the Bernardin-mode, instead of confrontation, he was consecrated Auxiliary Bishop of Newark, N.J., by "gay"-friendly Theodore Cardinal McCarrick in July 2000. He served under Archbishop John Myers of Newark until McCarrick secured the Diocese of Paterson for him.
When the Doctrine Committee is not in session, its day-to-day activities are handled by the Secretariat for Doctrine and Pastoral Practices. From 2001 to 2003, Msgr. John Strynkowski, a priest of the Brooklyn Diocese and the former Rector of the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception on Long Island, N.Y., headed the Secretariat. A more "gay"-friendly cleric would be hard to find. While serving as Executive Director of the Secretariat, Strynkowski also acted as the representative of the USCCB to the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries (NACDLGM).
NACDLGM was co-founded by Fr. James Schexnayder. He was one of three priests who helped draft the USCCB's disastrous 1997 pro-"gay" document, "Always Our Children." This Berkeley-based "ministry" preaches the gospel of "sexual integration" whereby a homosexual can be a practicing Catholic and a "gay" or lesbian at the same time. Its overall goal is to build de facto "gay"-affirming congregations and develop a new and innovative "gay" and lesbian ecclesiology.
Msgr. Strynkowski was the keynote speaker at a NACDLGM-sponsored one-day conference held on May 31, 2003, at the notorious St. Bernadette Parish in Severn, Md. This "inclusive" parish features numerous "gay" ministries, including Teen Haven, a mentoring program for homosexual youth, ages 14 to 18, led by "gays." After Msgr. Strynkowski returned to the Brooklyn Diocese and secured a plum assignment as Rector of St. James Cathedral Basilica, he continued to defend NACDLGM. In 2005 he was a speaker at the organization's annual convention in Brooklyn. He also arranged for NACDLGM to hold its closing Mass at St. James, but public outrage caused the cancelation of the Mass.
The Introduction to the Guidelines explains the ostensible purpose of the document: to provide guidance to bishops in evaluating Church-sponsored homosexual ministries and to provide direction and assistance to those engaged in this ministry. The document justifies such ministries on the basis that homosexuals are a persecuted class subject to "scorn, hatred, and even violence." "Purification of negative thoughts or feelings" is demanded of those who minister to homosexuals. A "welcoming stance of Christian love" is required of Church "leadership and the community" because "more than a few" homosexuals feel "unwelcome and rejected."
In flat language, homosexual acts and inclinations are described as being disordered because they "cannot fulfill the natural ends of human sexuality" that find their expression in marital love and the procreation and education of children. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune (Nov. 13, 2006), Francis Cardinal George, Vice President of the USCCB and a consultant to the Committee on Doctrine, confessed that the Committee tried to "find a language that does not betray the teachings of the church, but will perhaps express it in ways that are not so offensive" to homosexuals.
In accordance with the overall false equality of the document, we are instructed that everyone, not just homosexuals, is in need of "training in virtue" and needs to strive for "growth in holiness." There is no suggestion that homosexuals, like all persons ensnared in the web of sexual perversion who strive for normality, face special problems and require specialized care and instruction that normal men and women do not.
The section of the Guidelines on therapy for homosexual inclinations falsely states that there is "no scientific consensus" on the cause of homosexuality, and then proceeds to damn with faint praise the idea of therapeutic intervention for homosexuals. The document requires no moral obligation on the part of persons with homosexual inclinations to attempt therapy. Catholics who seek to overcome their homosexuality are told to walk -- don't run -- to a therapist or counselor, if they so wish.
The section on pastoral care for homosexuals urges their "full and active participation" in the life of the parish. Public self-outing by homosexuals in the parish environment is discouraged, but private disclosures of one's homosexual "tendencies" may provide "spiritual and emotional help."
Bishops are told they bear the primary responsibility for monitoring individuals and groups engaged in homosexual ministry to make sure they are faithful to Church teachings. Here and throughout the document, the alleged plight of homosexuals as victims of unjust discrimination and violence is reiterated. Catechetical instruction and parish social justice offices are cited as useful tools in the all-out war to remove any trace of anti-"gay" sentiment found among rank-and-file Church members.
The paragraph on the baptism of children in "gay" or lesbian households is a heart-stopper. After pointing out that the Church "does not support" any form of same-sex "marriages" or civil unions between cohabiting homosexual couples or the adoption of children by homosexual couples, the Guidelines state that the Church "does not refuse" to baptize children in the care of homosexual couples, providing there is "well founded hope that the children will be brought up in the Catholic religion." But unless the child is at the point of death, prudence would dictate that cohabiting homosexual partners be advised that, given the unnatural and immoral nature of their relationship, Baptism is to be deferred (cf. Canon 868 §1, n.2), either temporarily or indefinitely, until such time as the relationship is severed and the legal guardians of the child agree to live in accordance with God's laws and the moral teachings of the Catholic Church.
This section on pastoral care ends with a call for expanded pastoral and counseling services to homosexuals, especially to adolescents struggling with same-sex attraction, and to families with homosexual members. A plea for "respectful dialogue" between those who minister on the Church's behalf and homosexual persons concludes the document, followed by thanks to, and an expression of confidence in, "our brothers and sisters who have labored so patiently and faithfully in pastoral ministry and outreach to persons with a homosexual inclination," because they have frequently done so "under adverse and difficult conditions." As such, "they have set an example for this important service to the Church."
Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane, Wash., USCCB President, announced to the assembly of bishops on November 13, 2006, that there was a procedural "oversight" on the part of the Committee on Doctrine in connection with the document that needed to be rectified before the bishops could take up the agenda item the following day. He explained that, contrary to the rules and regulations of the USCCB, the Committee on Doctrine never actually polled the American bishops as to whether or not they approved, at least in principle, of the study on homosexual ministries. This meant that the Committee on Doctrine conducted a highly controversial study on "gay" ministries in the Church for four years without the majority of bishops knowing that such a study was underway, and without their explicit approval.
Predictably, when faced with this fait accompli, the bishops gave their belated approval by a voice vote to the drafting of the document they would be debating and voting on the next day. By the end of the day's afternoon session, a large number of amendments to the document had been submitted to the Doctrine Committee for consideration, most of which were cosmetic in nature.
The debate began on November 14, 2006. Bishop Serratelli, Chairman of the Committee on Doctrine, led the charge in support of the document. He was backed by Francis Cardinal George of Chicago, Justin Cardinal Rigali of Philadelphia, Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco, Bishop Kevin Boland of Savannah, Ga., Retired Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Sullivan of Brooklyn, and Auxiliary Bishop Peter Rosazza of Hartford, Conn.
The opposition forces were lead by Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Neb., Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis, and Bishop Robert Vasa of Baker, Ore., the former Vicar General of Lincoln under Bruskewitz.
Bishop Vasa made a bold move to return the document back to the Committee on Doctrine for further study and revision. His main complaint was directed at the document's lack of accurate information on medical and psychological advances in the understanding and treatment of homosexuality. The motion failed.
Archbishop Burke rose to introduce an amendment that would explicitly recognize the work of Courage and Encourage as models for ministry to homosexuals who are striving for normality and living a virtuous life. Opponents of the Burke amendment, including Chairman Serratelli, argued that by singling out these two groups for special commendation, other groups ministering to homosexuals would feel slighted. The motion failed by a vote of 121 to 105. A motion to cite the work of Courage and Encourage in a footnote to the Guidelines passed.
The final vote on the Guidelines was 194 in favor, 37 against, with one abstention.
To be fair, chances were slim to none that a document from the powerful USCCB Committee on Doctrine, crafted in large part by Archbishop (now Cardinal) Levada, the current Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the second most powerful office at the Vatican, was going to get sent back to committee, much less voted down by the American bishops. After all, "gay" ministries (Courage and Encourage are not included in the definition of "gay" ministries) have been around for more than 30 years -- 37 years if we include the notorious Dignity, the model for all future "gay" ministries.
Yet the Guidelines provide no background or objective analysis of the impact "gay" ministries have had on the life of the Church. Still more remarkable, not a single bishop asked the Chairman of the Committee on Doctrine to produce this critical information as part of the discussion on the document. The assumption that "gay" ministries, in principle, are good and should continue to be supported by the American bishops was never challenged. The document's proponents were happy to quibble with the scant opposition over text rather than focus on the moral destruction these "ministries" have wrought on Catholic parishes, the diocesan priesthood, and religious life. Most "gay" ministries are about this:
- "Gay" ministries are "inclusive" -- that is, they cater to a wide range of sexual perverts in addition to sodomites and lesbians. These include bisexuals, transsexuals, transgendered persons, transvestites, sadomasochists, and others.
- "Gay" ministries subvert authentic Church teachings on faith and morals.
- "Gay" ministries recruit -- like the Army -- especially among vulnerable teens. They give a new meaning to "youth outreach."
- "Gay" ministries exploit parish resources, financial and otherwise.
- "Gay" ministries have access to corridors of power in the U.S. Church, including the USCCB -- access that is routinely denied to opponents of the Homosexual Collective, such as Roman Catholic Faithful.
- "Gay" ministries, especially at the leadership level, do not provide programs for chaste living.
- "Gay" ministries systematically strip parishioners of every vestige of natural revulsion the normal person experiences when initially confronted by sexual perversion. Alexander Pope captured the dangers of "gay" ministries when he wrote:
Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.
The U.S. bishops do not need these Guidelines. They need a step-by-step manual on how to defund and dismantle "gay" ministries. And this, dear reader, is something the USCCB will never provide.
DOSSIER: Homosexuality & the 'Gay Rights' Movement