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Miami archbishop rebukes Bishop Lynch’s claim Catholics share blame for Orlando massacre

Claire Chretien Claire Chretien Follow Claire

CORAL GABLES, Florida, June 24, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The Archbishop of Miami has publicly rebuked St. Petersburg Bishop Robert Lynch over his statement on the Orlando massacre claiming Catholic teaching was in part to blame for the atrocity.

Archbishop Thomas Wenski, Lynch’s metropolitan archbishop, made the comments in a June 19 homily kicking off the U.S. bishops’ annual Fortnight for Freedom religious liberty campaign.

“In our confusion and in our anger, we must be careful lest we make truth another casualty in the aftermath of this lone-wolf terrorist attack,” Wenski said. “And to blame a particular religion or religion in general for this atrocity would do just that.”

“One bishop who should know better even opined, and I quote: ‘It is religion, including our own which targets…and often breeds contempt for gays, lesbians and transgendered people,’” Wenski said.

In a June 13 blog post, Lynch wrote: “Sadly it is religion, including our own, which targets, mostly verbally, and also often breeds contempt for gays, lesbians and transgender people.  Attacks today on LGBT men and women often plant the seed of contempt, then hatred, which can ultimately lead to violence.”

In his homily, Wenski responded: “Where in our faith, where in our teachings — I ask you — do we target and breed contempt for any group of people? In today’s second reading, St. Paul teaches us: ‘Through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus. There is neither Jew nor Greek… there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.’ Our faith, our religion gives no comfort, no sanction to a racist, or a misogynist, or a homophobe.”

“In any case, Christians who support traditional marriage did not kill 49 people,” continued Wenski. “Omar Mateen did. Religion and freedom of religion did not enable the killing and the maiming that we witnessed last Sunday. An evil ideology which is a corruption of Islam did.”

The Catholic Church teaches that same-sex attractions are “objectively disordered,” but those who experience them “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided” (CCC 2358).

The Catholic Church also teaches that “under no circumstances” can homosexual actions be approved. Such actions “are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity” (CCC 2357).

Wenski delivered his homily to the Church of the Little Flower as the parish was visited by the tour of the relics of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, English martyrs for the sanctity of marriage and religious freedom.

“Today, a regime of ‘political correctness’ wishes to impose itself on us and force us to conform ourselves, our values and our beliefs to the ascendant secularism of our time,” warned Wenski.

He lamented the genocide of Christians in the Middle East, who are “beheaded, crucified or burned alive” for proclaiming faith in Jesus Christ and cautioned that “in this country and in other liberal democracies, people of faith are being increasingly subjected to a soft despotism in which ridicule, ostracism, and denial of employment opportunities for advancement are being used to marginalize us.”

“A new religious intolerance is being established in our country,” said Wenski, citing the expulsion of social scientists from university campuses for “having turned up ‘politically incorrect’ facts” and the harassment of charitable organizations and religious schools “if they take seriously their faith’s moral precepts and require their employees to support their missions.”

“Professing a religious faith should not make anybody a second-class citizen or worse,” Wenski continued. “But to stand up for the rights of conscience, could require us, as Jesus reminds in the Gospel today, ‘to deny ourselves and take up our cross daily.’ This is the cost of discipleship — a cost that Thomas More and John Fisher paid courageously with their lives.”

It would be uncharitable to fail to give witness to the Catholic faith despite the risks of doing so, Wenski said.

“If we honor the memories of Thomas More and John Fisher, if we invoke their intercession today, it is because they would not contradict, by behavior or lifestyle, what they preached and what they believed,” he said.

Lynch is not the only Catholic bishop to blame the Catholic community for the Orlando terrorist attack. San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy said that the attack “is a call for us as Catholics to combat ever more vigorously the anti-gay prejudice which exists in our Catholic community and in our country.” 

Lynch has made a number of puzzling, troubling statements in the past. In January 2015, he suggested in a Tampa Bay Times article that homosexual relationships can be “marked by holiness” and can benefit the Church and society.

Lynch is notorious in the pro-life community for refusing to act to save Terri Schiavo from forced starvation and dehydration within his diocese. Schiavo’s brother Bobby Schindler said that Lynch’s behavior during the fight to save Terri from forced euthanasia “brought scandal to the Universal Church and to the faithful, particularly here in Florida.”

Father Mark A. Pilon wrote at Catholic World Report that Lynch should be forced to resign because his remarks on the Orlando shooting “slandered the Catholic Faith” and “[incited] contempt for the Catholic religion and Catholics in general.” 

In 2002, Lynch admitted to “crossing boundaries” by inappropriately showing affection for his Director of Communications, Bill Urbanski. Urbanski accused Lynch of rubbing his legs and upper body, booking only one hotel room for the two of them when they traveled together, and photographing Urbanski in his Speedo bathing suit. Lynch denied any wrongdoing; in 2003, the diocese paid Urbanski a $100,000 settlement.

Read Archbishop Wenski’s full homily here.

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