El Paso diocese backs away from priest’s stance against homosexuality
EL PASO, Texas, September 8, 2011 (LifeSitNews.com) - A priest’s exhortation to the faithful to reject homosexual activity and help homosexuals live chaste lives received no backing from the local diocese, which reportedly called the statements out of line with Church teaching.
A report in the El Paso Times detailed the paid-advertisement columns authored by Fr. Michael Rodriguez of San Juan Bautista Catholic Church in the Diocese of El Paso. The essays begin by summarizing the teaching on homosexuality presented by the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which calls homosexual acts a “grave depravity” and such an attraction “an objective disorder.”
The priest also takes pains to distinguish homosexual acts from the person who experiences homosexual attractions. “Homosexual persons are called to chastity and growth in virtue,” wrote Rodriguez. (Emphasis in original.)
“Without question, God loves all of His children, regardless of sexual ‘orientation,’” he continued. “We Catholics must show charity, respect, and understanding towards our homosexual brothers and sisters. Above all, we are to show love and compassion towards homosexuals by leading them to the truth, and helping them to reject sinful homosexual activity.”
In the final essay, Rodriguez faults modern culture in harsh terms for framing the breakdown of the family as an advancement for society, and criticizes El Paso officials for “acting immorally” by promoting gay domestic partnerships.
“Here in El Paso, certain City Council members have remained obstinate in promoting public recognition and legitimization of homosexual unions,” he wrote. “Whether they realize it or not, their actions are objectively immoral and gravely harmful to marriage and the family. It should be obvious to all Catholics what our duty is with respect to these members of City Council.”
Rodriguez says he did not pay for the essays’ publication or submit them to the Times. The pieces were paid for by a couple from Plano, Texas.
The ads are stamped with a disclaimer from the El Paso Times distancing itself and all its affiliates from Rodriguez’s message - a posture also assumed by the El Paso diocese, who say the ads do not represent Church teaching.
“These paid advertisements are the personal views and opinions of Father Michael Rodriguez,” Rev. Anthony C. Celino, the vicar general and moderator of the curia for the diocese, told the Times.
Celino said that the Church could not take a side on a recall petition launched by local pro-family leader Tom Brown to oust three El Paso officials for promoting gay rights legislation. Other commentators accused Rodriguez of meddling with political affairs by alluding to the effort.
Celino did not answer LifeSiteNews.com’s emailed questions on the dispute.
Brown, the petition leader and a Protestant pastor, was disappointed that the diocese was silent on the recall effort. “I think Catholics should have an opinion,” he said.
Another effort promoting the pro-family petition, in which fliers were distributed on car windshields at St. Raphael Catholic Church, was also dismissed by church leaders.
“We have been asked several times to take their stance, and we will not,” said St. Raphael pastor Msgr. Francis Smith. “I do not agree with that lifestyle (homosexuality), but I will help anyone who needs it.”
Diocese of El Paso
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