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Bishop Joseph Strickland addresses the USCCB meeting Nov. 13, 2018. YouTube screen grab
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Texas bishop speaks with clarity while pro-LGBT Fr. Martin sows confusion

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Fr. James Martin in a March 7, 2018 America Magazine Youtube video titled ‘Spiritual Insights for LGBT Catholics.’ America Magazine / Youtube

July 12, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — When Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, shared an essay on Twitter by respected Catholic commentator, journalist and author Phil Lawler this week, he spoke with typical clarity on a crucial issue related to the salvation of souls while again pledging to do his job and defend the Catholic faith.

The article aptly critiqued the confusion of sexual morality at the foundation of the concept of gay “pride,” the problem of endorsement from within the Church of such so-called “pride,” and the real attack on morality and Christians who espouse it in our culture today.

“I encourage every faithful Catholic to read this and pray for all who are caught up in the culture of lies,” Strickland said. “As a bishop, I will do my best to ‘guard the deposit of faith, entire & incorrupt’ from the wolves who attack it. Mercy abhors bigotry AND sin.”

It is indeed a culture of lies that seduces God’s children away from the truth of His plan for their sexuality – the expression that is intended and reserved for the marital embrace. Just as we are made in God’s image, that marital act images Christ and His love for his bridegroom – the Church. 

This expression exercised anywhere else is counterfeit. 

True love for others and ourselves means the upholding and pursuit of chastity, whether married, single or clergy and whether an individual is same-sex attracted.

So who on earth would encourage people to act upon same-sex attraction, which is against the teaching of the Catholic Church, and do so when it would lead them away from God and jeopardize their salvation?

Diversionary censure 

That same piece by Lawler in a LifeSite reprint rankled Jesuit Father James Martin, who pulled the “hate” and “homophobia” cards to denounce the article on social media.

Martin’s initial tweet sharing the Lawler essay indicted LifeSite for what he called an endless stream of “homophobic, hateful articles,” as though LifeSite produced the article authored by Lawler. 

And Martin never named Lawler in his tweets on the essay — only called him “the author.” 

Lawler is the founder and editor of Catholic World News, the first English-language Catholic news service to operate on the Internet. He has been long considered an orthodox and reasoned voice. 

His essay is in keeping with this regard, while being frank about what is before faithful Catholics right now.

The war from within on the Church’s moral teaching

Lawler notes in his article that there is a very real war in progress for our society, one that is escalating. 

He recounts a snapshot of the climate of the culture in his essay in stating, “Anyone who dares to oppose the LGBT agenda is subject to public denunciation for ‘hate speech,’ perhaps barred from social media, or even “doxed” and harassed at home.”

Perhaps more important is the battle also happening in our Church – and it must be addressed.

He lists examples of LGBT green lights emanating from within the Church – a parish pride Mass and a pride month holy card promulgated by a bishop – and he points to the somber fact that they “can no longer be considered exceptional.” 

Lawler then asks a key question:

"How can we expect to gain a hearing for Catholic moral teachings when the Church issues such confusing messages?" 

“We Catholics cannot restore sanity to society until we have restored integrity in our Church,” he states. “We cannot continue fighting a two-front war.”

Who has the kids’ best interests at heart?

Further examples Lawler gives of problems signifying promotion of sexual confusion within the Church are whether parishes in a given diocese welcome and encourage LGBT activists, and also whether there are gay-straight alliances in parochial schools.

Using this, Martin accused “the author” of “attacking the idea that LGBT youth might be loved and supported by straight friends in their schools.” 

The purported purpose of such clubs is to show love and support for children who may be feeling the confusing and most often transitory, inclinations of same-sex attraction a young person can have as they mature sexually. 

But it is neither loving nor supportive to encourage these children to embrace or act upon them, and it is not honest to pretend that allowing such clubs doesn’t send a message of acceptance of homosexual behavior. 

This is again, against Church teaching, and detrimental to the child – the child who needs clarity and steadfastness from the Catholic adults in his or her life.

Lawler is correct on the subject of these clubs in parochial schools.

It’s worth nothing that another example Lawler gives for confusing messages on LGBT issues coming from within U.S. Catholic dioceses, listed right after whether a parish welcomes and encourages LGBT activists, is the example of whether or not Father James Martin has come to speak to a parish or college group. 

It makes one wonder whether it is “the author’s” mention of those alliances in Catholic schools really is the trigger issue. 

Martin, a popular author and speaker, utilizes his sizable social media following to perpetuate controversial outreach promoted as being about welcoming LGBT Catholics with the claim of not being out of line with Church teaching. But it comes across as decidedly in favor of acting on homosexual or gender-confused tendencies. He is the U.S. Church’s most ubiquitous, bold and resolute agent of LGBT affirmation.

While arraigning LifeSite with Lawler’s piece, Martin said as well the article is among the things making LGBT Catholics feel vilified, targeted, unwelcome and hated, taking issue with Lawler’s stance that Catholics are facing a culture war.

Who’s ‘homophobic’?

One of the most effective things Lawler does to illustrate his point – and likewise one of the most effectual things anyone fighting for the Church here can do – is to reference and quote Joseph Sciambra.

Sciambra is a survivor of the homosexual culture at its worst, telling his painful story without holding back, and putting himself on the line again and again in hopes of saving souls going through what he did. 

His outreach is very much a threat to the LGBT movement, because he tells the truth about it and the truth about the fact that the lifestyle can be left behind. He triggers its proponents to no end.

“Sciambra knows whereof he speaks,” Lawler says, “having once been caught up in the homosexual underworld, since experiencing a conversion he has made it his special mission to reach out to homosexuals, helping to heal their wounds.” 

“And they are wounded,” Lawler continues. “The grotesque excesses on display at ‘Gay Pride’ events are evidence that these people need help.” 

I would argue that Sciambra’s most important message right now is that Catholic priests let him down when he was falling into the lifestyle, and that Catholic priests and bishops continue to fail same-sex attracted Catholics by encouraging them into things like gay pride. 

Lawler’s article pulls from one of the most important voices in the debate today on homosexuality and the Church - Sciambra.

Is Lawler hateful and homophobic?

Is Sciambra — who ministers to gay-identifying men without financial gain while his own body is broken from the lifestyle he left — homophobic?

Church teaching is just fine, thank you

Martin went on some more in his tweets against LifeSite, but not Lawler, saying, “religious groups and websites like LifeSite need to be aware of the real-life consequences of their stigmatizing language and dehumanizing articles.”

Which religious groups? Like, the Catholic Church?

Martin has said the language in the Catechism on homosexuality is hurtful, an indication it needs to change.

No, the Church’s teaching is not broken, it’s society and mankind that are broken, and neither of them will be served or saved by watering down the Lord’s truth.

Martin cited homelessness and the high suicide rate among LGBT youth as well to rationalize his contention that LifeSite’s reprint of Lawler’s essay was hateful and homophobic.

Yes, let’s do all we can to get anyone contending with same-sex attraction and gender confusion the help they need to avoid homelessness and treat mental health issues – but let’s get them authentic help, not a nudge and a wink telling them that its OK to pursue confusion.

We need Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

I call for prayer for anyone who is suffering in any way – that they will see Christ and his Church as the path to peace and salvation.

I call for prayer for everyone in the Church who is acting in any way to lead others to confusion and away from Christ, and for all those in Church leadership who are not acting to stop the promulgation of such confusion in their purview.

I call for prayer for Bishop Strickland – whose forthright articulation of Catholic principles and consistent mention of his duty as a bishop, the promise bishops make at episcopal ordination — to guard the deposit of faith — make him a bit of an anomaly in the episcopacy. 

Strickland’s candor and clarity on sexual morality and other issues is drawing gratitude from Catholics and giving them cause for encouragement. 

This is especially the case when, despite the Church’s ongoing devastating clergy sex abuse crisis, the genuine addressing of sexual sin remains radioactive for most prelates. 

Strickland’s is a most welcome voice in this, as Lawler so suitably put it, “war for the integrity of our Church.”

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