Kathleen Gilbert

That ‘Catholic’ gay debate at Georgetown: the unanswered question

Kathleen Gilbert
Kathleen Gilbert

December 10, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - On Wednesday evening I attended a debate on gay “marriage” proudly hosted by Catholics for Equality at Georgetown University. Broadcast as a “family conversation,” the gig pitted Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage against Atlantic writer and gay Catholic Andrew Sullivan.

By the end, moderator E.J. Dionne politely concluded that dialogue had been successfully engaged. I doubt that most people in the audience agreed.

That’s because the event wasn’t about marriage, and it wasn’t about homosexuality, either.

The entire setup was not for the sake of dialogue, but was simply one of the nascent group’s first forays into mushing together the ideas of Catholicism and the gay agenda, and making them stick, inside young brains.

The tone for a not-so-honest discussion was set even before the fact. Another illegitimate gay “Catholic” group, the Rainbow Sash Movement, had proudly tooted the event’s horn in a press release claiming that Cardinal Wuerl had a “change of heart” by allowing the group on campus. The archdiocese angrily denied the claim.

Of course, the battlefield was largely won to begin with. The room at the Intercultural Center was full of mostly Georgetown students, the vast majority of whom, when polled on their support for same-sex “marriage,” shot up their hands. The cheers and howls that ensued trended decidedly in Sullivan’s favor.

The debate was mostly civil, and completely disjointed. Gallagher explained the rational basis for legal marriage as a manifestation of the state’s interest in procreative unions, a point altogether undermined by Sullivan’s heartfelt plea for a truly Catholic and inclusive love for gays, which delighted his audience.

In fact, Sullivan’s talking points were very similar to the position of the Church, whose teachers have held that a sincere love for gay persons is the only proper response to them. However, the Church’s view is that such love also forces us to confront homosexual activity as truly degrading and harmful to those who practice it - a notion too large to do justice to here.

The Atlantic writer’s intent, on the other hand, was not to agree with Catholic teaching, but to redefine it, and in so doing he offered a description of his personal “conversion” to the lifestyle as a prayerful Catholic experience.

“The first person I came out to was God,” said Sullivan, who also declared that, “I’m openly gay because I’m a Catholic.” After all, the Church, he said, was always in pursuit of “new data” and a truly dynamic church would recognize that “the world is bigger and wider than we once believed.” He ended by “prais[ing] God for the great phenomenon of homosexuality” and condemning discrimination against homosexual relationships, a deed he called “wicked.”

It was only when Sullivan talked about any Catholic other than himself that the warm rhetoric surrounding Catholicism began to grow ice cold.

The vast majority of the Catholic hierarchy, Sullivan asserted, cruelly suppress homosexuals (and “the reason they’re not OK with gay people is because they’re gay.”) Thanks to them, the hierarchy is rife with pedophiles - which, Sullivan acknowledged, were homosexual priests with a more twisted appetite.

As for the pope, words appeared not to be strong enough to express Sullivan’s anger. “The current pope, knowing that a child under his auspices had been raped by a priest under his authority, covered it up and sent that rapist to go rape other children,” he stated, referring to media accusations against Joseph Ratzinger regarding Rev Huellerman of Munich. The room, in a moment that will forever blacken the history of Georgetown, erupted in applause.

In any event, the lesson appeared to be that the pope, hierarchy, and the dogma they taught were far less Catholic than Sullivan himself.

I wondered what it was that defined Sullivan’s idea of “Catholicism.” It was unlikely to be the Bible, given Paul’s statement to Roman Christians that God punished mankind with “degrading passions” in which “their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another.”

So who decides what Catholicism is? After reducing the name “Catholic” to a mere shell (not unlike “marriage,” which Sullivan tellingly asserted “is what you believe it is”), why even keep the name? That, it seems, was the unasked question at the crux of the show.

The answer is easy from a historical point of view, as this same drill has been acted out over and over by upstart social movements since the turn of the 20th century or so. Social reformers, such as those behind liberation theology and feminist theology, understand the power behind the name “Catholic:” fusing a new idea to the old Catholicism, or replacing one with the other, is now an almost textbook procedure for gaining trust on a large scale. 

In a relativistic world, what was once a measure of truth works awfully well as a hollow stamp of approval. It was only a matter of time before the gay rights movement became “Catholic.”

I ran into the same train of thought at the Women Deliver conference in June, when Elfriede Harth of Catholics for the Right to Decide explained with great ease how abortion is not only permitted by the God of Catholicism, but that a woman should feel guilty for not aborting her child if it would threaten the wellbeing of herself, a child of God, in any way.

“They [the hierarchy] are always trying to say we’re not real Catholics, which is wrong, because the criterion to say you’re Catholic is that you’re baptized. That’s all,” she explained. “And I don’t accept that other people pretend that they define what is Catholicism. You know? The way the Vatican presents Catholicism is incomplete.” I could easily imagine these words at last night’s “family conversation.”

After Wednesday’s event concluded, I had only one thought. I approached the stage to offer Sullivan, as a journalist and a fellow Catholic, more information on the media accusations against the Holy Father. Sullivan’s presentation had been even-tempered and rational for the most part, so I expected a polite, if not enthusiastic reception.

I was wrong. In a bizarre exchange, I found myself defending against, among other things, the accusation that I denied that the sex abuse scandal ever occurred, which of course I don’t. Why Mr. Sullivan appeared so defensive against an exchange of information I honestly couldn’t conceive.

“I don’t believe, I know,” he told me firmly of his conviction of the Holy Father’s guilt. Respectfully, and especially since nothing but circumstantial evidence was ever brought against the pope in the case, I was forced to wonder how the New York Times ended up more infallible than Sacred Scripture.

I hope that one day, someone will get a straight answer from Catholics for Equality and their ilk about exactly why they cling to the name “Catholic” while emptying it of recognizable meaning. They might learn a lesson about honesty from the 16th century Protestant reformers.

Red alert! Only 3 days left.

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
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Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

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