Here we have a loving, welcoming, community, dedicated to helping those who strive to live as Jesus calls us to live. This is what our gay Catholics have long sought: a home, a welcome, a sense of inclusion in the church they love.
Imagine my surprise and disappointment when I learned of the cancellation of a talk by a retired priest of the archdiocese (a remarkably gentle and holy man, by the way), active in Courage, that was to be given, at their request, to parents of Catholic high school students, intended to help and support those parents whose children may sense a same-sex attraction.
The reaction to the planned lecture at Cardinal Spellman High School is a shame — one that distorts the very meaning of “tolerance.”
It seems that no one can talk of virtue anymore without, at the very least, being labeled out of touch with reality, and in this case, accused of far worse — spreading hatred. But didn't Jesus promise, "Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God." (Mt 5:8) A pure heart is a chaste heart, a heart that loves others for who they are and not simply for what they can do or how they can satisfy me.
A pure heart leads to generosity, peace and fulfillment. We are all called to chastity — to keep God's gift of sexual love within marriage — and for married couples to live in faithful fidelity to one another, all in keeping with God's plan. Yes, sex is a beautiful gift from God, but we see the effects of the misuse of this gift all around us, don't we?
The epidemic of pornography, adultery, sky-high divorce rates, human trafficking, treating others as objects and not as people made in the image and likeness of God, all can be traced back to the lack of virtue and purity in our lives.
Which is part of what makes the intolerance of those who seek to drown out the church’s beautiful teaching so alarming. For individuals and groups to bully, to threaten, to protest, when a priest seeks to explain this timeless and timely message to parents who invited him to do so, is a scary precedent. We have gone from the days when the plea from some activists was “all we want is to live our lives in peace” to “you shall not have the right to present your teaching.”
Who is being intolerant here? I am reminded of the recent shameful episode when Police Commissioner Ray Kelly was unable to give a talk after being shouted down by students at a renowned "liberal and tolerant" Ivy League school. Have we really reached the point where only one point of view can be expressed?
One thing must be made clear. Courage is not against anyone or anything. Having been a supporter of Courage for many years, and now serving as chairman of its episcopal board, I know what it is unwaveringly for: for the person, for the faithful expression of God’s love and mercy, for helping people who are seeking Jesus to live full, happy, integrated lives. There is never an intention to impose on anyone, but always to extend an invitation to those who wish to respond.
"Who am I to judge?" Pope Francis asks. How sad that those who claim to be in favor of tolerance have pre-judged and blocked a message of love and acceptance from being delivered, tarnishing the reputation of a splendid group and a school which has as one of its goals to help our youth live out their faith.