Friday, April 5, 2013

Answering Michael Voris


I'm responding to a letter from Michael Voris' staff, posted on the First Things web-site in the com-box. ChurchMilitant.tv writes:

Mrs. Selmys,

We thank you for taking the time to write a lengthy rebuttal to our work; however, we feel that your comments are totally off base.

The entire point of the program is to help people see the homosexual sexual movement for what it is – a rejection of the divine and natural law. It wasn’t aimed at ardent homosexuals, but those who love and want to be apart of the church.

In actuality, we spoke the truth and if that’s hard for people to hear so be it. We’re told to preach the gospel in season and out of season. The point of the Christian life is to become a saint and not to hide, rethink, rework, or downplay the gospel. It needs no reworking or rethinking. What it needs is strong Catholics to go out and preach no matter the personal cost. Each person deserves to hear the truth in the clearest terms possible.

Now, in the comment section of your article you said, "My first five attempts to reveiw [sic] his work were just long catalogues of factual and logical errors that he makes. There's about one every two minutes, and eventually I realized …that a) it would take me thousands of words to detangle them all, and b) it would be more helpful to try to figure out what was driving these errors." Will you please provide us with just ONE of these so-called "factual and logical errors”? If there is an error we would like to correct it.

In conclusion, we want to extend an invitation for you to come on our Blog Talk Radio show. We produce this show live every Wednesday night @ 8:00 P.M. EST. We would love to discuss your article at more length.

God Bless,

ChurchMilitant.TV Research Staff

I was hoping to avoid having to do a point by point analysis of Voris' work, but it appears that some people think I'm bluffing. So here goes.

  1. In the definitions section, “homosexual” is referenced as an incorrect term. It is the term used by the Vatican.
  2. In the definitions section, “gay” and “lesbian” refer to people who practice homosexual sex. In common contemporary usage, they refer primarily to orientation and only secondarily to practice.
  3. Always Our Children is presented as a misleading/confusing document produced by lay people. The Vatican asked for revisions of AOC, the revisions were made, and the Vatican approved the document with those revisions. It is simply erroneous to promulgate the meme that this is a 'pro-gay' document, and to imply that it contradicts authentic Catholic teaching. This article by Richard Sparks, C.S.P, which is included as one of the supporting documents for the production, gives a more detailed explanation of the history and importance of the document. (EDIT Sat. April 6, 2013, 15:16: Some people have had a problem with Sparks as an authority. I only learned of Sparks through Voris' production, where he offers Sparks' article, linked above, as a supporting source. I have read the article and found it to be accurate, fair and compassionate -- it also has the imprimatur of the diocese where it was published. Please judge this work on the merits of the text itself, not on the reputation of its author. See additional remarks in the com-box.)
  4. “One can conclude that it's their [gays'] behaviour that's causing the problem,” the problem being elevated rates of mental illness in homosexuals. This is a very delicate topic, and the research into it is highly contentious and problematic. The production favours studies which do show elevated rates of mental illness, and then considers two reasons why this might occur: a) it could be caused by homophobia, b) it could be caused by behaviour. Since one of the studies was done in the Netherlands, where homosexuality today is acceptable, homophobia is dismissed, therefore it has to be behaviour. Amongst the many problems with this argument: a) it commits the post hoc propter hoc fallacy, b) it contains a false hidden premise (that there are only two possible explanations – I can think of at least five others, and c) the studies don't tell us whether rates of mental illness are the same or different in chaste vs. sexually active homosexual populations, which would seem to be an important question if we are going to conclude that behaviour is causing the problem.
  5. It is strongly implied that Ancient Greece is the only historical society in which homosexual relations were socially accepted in order to develop the inference that this is highly abnormal. Actually, they were widely accepted during certain historical periods in Japan, China, certain parts of India, the Arab world (there was a particularly fertile period of homoerotic Muslim poetry and spiritually during the late Middle Ages), pre-colonial America (this was one of the reasons why early Spanish missionaries to the Americas saw the existing cultures as barbarous and depraved), etc. etc.
  6. The entire “history” section suffers from massive Western chauvanism. The result is a misleading and lop-sided portrayal.
  7. Voris says that those who say that homosexuality has any genetic predisposition are “wrong.” This is neither Church teaching nor established scientific fact nor does he give adequate argumentation to support the claim.
  8. Scriptural quotations are consistently clipped in order to make them as harsh and condemning as possible, sometimes in a way that does damage to the actual text and its context (Romans 1, in particular)
  9. Misuse of the John Jay Report (This has already been dealt with in detail in the comments box by David Nickol at First Things)
  10. Blatantly scandalous hearsay from Gawker Magazine (a left-leaning scandal-mongering rag that published an anti-Catholic smear piece about the rate of homosexuality amongst Priests) is presented as though it represents reliable data about the state of the Catholic clergy.
  11. It is strongly implied that the entire mainstream media over the past twenty years has been guided by After the Ball. It's much more reasonable to believe that the gay rights movement naturally gained popular acceptance as a result of the wider implications of the sexual revolution and the rejection of the traditional family amongst heterosexuals.
  12. Paranoia abounds. This is strictly speaking not a factual error, but it is an extremely problematic form of thinking.
  13. There are constant uncharitable assumptions about the motivations of people involved in politics, the USCCB, and the APA. In order for Voris' theories to be true it would be necessary to assume an astounding lack of personal or professional integrity across the board. This violates the principle of Christian charity which demands that we assume that people are acting in good will until there is a sufficient body of evidence to suggest that they are not. Little attempt is made to give people the benefit of the doubt.
  14. Incidents in which individual people behave unusually badly are presented as though they represent the typical behaviour of gay activists. Kevin Jennings for example.
  15. Father Paul Check of Courage has specifically told me that it is a goal of Courage to be pastoral, not political. Check is cited saying that the Church offers homosexuals so much more than just “no.” It would be really helpful for both Catholic and homosexual viewers to see a more practical and detailed examination of what the Church is offering.
  16. NARTH's therapeutic explanations for the cause of homosexuality are presented as if they are both true and authoratative. The fact that the Catechism specifically tells us that the psychological genesis of homosexuality is largely unknown is not addressed. Nor is adequate attention paid to the fact that only a very small minority of psychologists – including Catholic psychologists – believe these theories.
  17. The following argument is offered: gay people have higher rates of mental illness than heterosexuals, therefore gay behaviour causes mental illness, therefore gay relationships cause psychological harm. It is assumed that the rates of mental illness and substance abuse found in a sample which includes a large number of promiscuous homosexuals will accurately reflect the experience of those in long-term relationships. In fact, the majority of statistical studies have found that being in a long term relationship is a major predictor of improved mental health outcomes for both straights and gays.
  18. A study finding that LGBTQ people consult mental health professionals at a higher rate than heterosexuals is given as evidence of poor mental health in gays and lesbians. Other possibilities are not considered (e.g. that mental health services are often visibly marketted to LGBTQ consumers, that consulting mental health service providers is generally linked to high levels of disposable income and free time, that the victimization tropes of the '90s have made it more acceptable for LGBTQ people to access such services, etc.)
  19. Benedict XVI said that “policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself.” This is presented as “The supreme pontiff has also used stronger words, stating that so-called same sex marriage "undermines the future of humanity itself." This is misleading: the Pope's statement is deliberately decontextualized in order to make it sound like a harsh and concerted attack on gay marriage when in fact the Pope is talking about the entire ensemble of policies that break down the family, not about gay marriage in particular.
  20. We are told, on the say so of one of NARTH's members that research clearly shows that children need a male parent and female parent to develop properly. Voris' production team did not actually familiarize themselves with the research itself, which is still largely inconclusive. There is no consideration of what implications this would have for the morality of allowing orphans to be raised by single-sex religious orders, which has been typical Catholic practice for centuries. (This one I do have to own up on. I gave the same argument myself in Sexual Authenticity. I hadn't thought it through.)
  21. The intervention of Western nations into African politics vis a vis discriminatory anti-gay policies is presented as evidence of cultural imperialism and a “Worldwide Push” in the gay agenda. Consideration is not given to the fact that in Africa there really are laws and policies (such as Uganda's proposed law to impose the death penalty on homosexuals, or “corrective rape” in South Africa) which Catholics are legitimately morally obliged to oppose because they violate the Catechism's teaching on the dignity of the homosexual person.
  22. The section on Harry Hay is just weird. Voris admits that no-one in the Mattachine society would even sign Hay's manifesto. Why does he not draw the obvious conclusion that Hay's position is on the outlying fringes of gay activism and that most gay activists are a lot more reasonable and moderate?
  23. Voris conflates “sexual orienatation” with “chosen sexual behaviour” in order to try to deny any legitimate affinity between the gay rights movement and the civil rights movement. This is very poor argumentation: it's a classic example of redefining the terms in mid-argument so that they will be better suited to making your point.
  24. This isn't a factual error, but it's a serious omission: The APA section portrays homosexual activists at the '72 conference as devious, disruptive and irrational. No mention is made of the fact that the homosexual activists were protesting a long history of medically motivated violence against homosexual persons, including “aversion therapy” (that would be a euphamism for torture), electroshock therapy, and castration.
  25. We're told that the removal of homosexuality from the DSM was political. It doesn't deal with the obvious question of whether its inclusion in the DSM in the first place was also political. Again, not a factual error per se, but evidence of bias and a lack of balanced reporting.
  26. The presentation lists the complete set of factors that may contribute to the formation of queer identity, and then “focuses in” on the father-wound explanation in a way that will likely give the impression that most homosexuality is caused by the explanations given by Fitzgibbons et al.
  27. NARTH's research is taken presumed reliable, and is not subjected to the same kind of scrutiny that is employed against Hooker and Kinsey. This is a double-standard in the evaluation of evidence.
  28. Cardinal Dolan, talking about contraception, is quoted as if he was talking about homosexuality. I think it's apropos here to point towards Dolan's recent statement that “We gotta do better to see that our defense of marriage is not reduced to an attack on gay people. And I admit, we haven’t been too good about that. We try our darndest to make sure we’re not anti-anybody...We’re still trying. We’re trying our best to do it. We got to listen to people. Jesus died on the cross for them as much as he did for me.”
  29. Ezekiel 16:50 is mentioned but not quoted. It is implied that if it were quoted it would substantiate Voris' argument. It actually undermines it. The quote is “the crime of your sister Sodom was pride, gluttony, arrogance, complacency; such were the sins of Sodom and her daughters. They never helped the poor and needy; they were proud and engaged in filthy practices in front of me.” (Ezekial 16:50-51) This is a case where the Bible self-interprets, and the interpretation that it gives is contrary to the widespread belief that Sodom was destroyed for homosexuality. We're told here, very specifically, what it was destroyed for, and “sodomy” is not on the list.
  30. No discussion of the obvious fact that the sexuality portrayed in Sodom was ritualized gang-rape of supernatural beings (angels), not consensual sex between human male individuals.
  31. Jude 7, an ambiguous text, is presumed to refer to homosexuality. It might, but the text certainly doesn't make this explicit.
  32. The fact that homosexual acts may be non-culpable is mentioned very briefly and then skipped over. Throughout the presentation, and in Voris' other works, he routinely argues as though anyone who has gay sex is going to go to hell for it. This is one of those focus things, there isn't a factual error but the interpretation that the audience will draw is not in fact in accord with Catholic teaching. The fact that a very large proportion of all homosexual acts being committed in the contemporary West probably don't meet the criterion of full knowledge and full consent of the will required for a sin to be mortal is an important consideration. It's not something to “save for another discussion.”
  33. The Church does not teach that it is sinful to vote for a politician who supports SSM. Catholics are supposed to vote in accord with their consciences by evaluating the options available to them with regards to the whole teaching of the gospel. That includes social justice and peace issues as well as sexual morality and abortion.
  34. The Church does not teach that it is sinful to keep quiet if the topic of homosexuality comes up in discussion with friends and family. St. Thomas Aquinas points out that one ought not to give fraternal correction in cases where it is likely to make the person being corrected worse. Holding one's tongue in cases where speaking up will do more harm than good is not a form of “support” for homosexuality, it's the virtue of prudence.
  35. As an overarching concern Voris promises that he's going to show what homosexual people struggle with, what we suffer, what we're really going through. Most of the real sufferings and struggles of faithful SSA Catholics are not even given a glancing mention in this production.
  36. Viewers are told to help SSA Catholics shoulder the cross of homosexuality. There is no advice given as to what this practically involves. This is a glaring oversight.
  37. There are also some general problems throughout that occur with too much frequency to document each instance. One of the big ones is decontextualization: quotations are excised from their context in a way that gives them a meaning which is at odds with the actual intent of the source material. This is a valid film-making technique if you are producing a work of post-modern deconstructionist art, but it's irresponsible as journalism.
  38. The sources are highly inbred and selective. We're told “There were over 500 research hours devoted to this program, and many documents were used and referenced.” The bibliography shows that a disproportionate number of sources are actually from NARTH. See my other work, and Warren Throckmorton's blog, for a detailed discussion of why this is problematic.
  39. Michael Voris in his defense of his work says “We talked to all kinds of people.” It's clear that few of his 500+ research hours were spent talking to people who have actual experience of same-sex attraction. In his Micd Up defense of his production he admits that he once talked to a homosexual colleague for four hours straight about homosexuality and that he listened for only two minutes.
  40. This isn't in the video, but it's a frank admission that my fundamental criticism of Voris work is bang on: Voris says “The idea that what it says, or how it says looks like 'raving homophobic lunacy' to someone who disagrees with it is totally beside the point. I don't care how someone who disagrees with it thinks.” It is impossible to enter into dialogue with people if you don't care how they think. This is contrary to the teaching on the Church on the importance of communion, solidarity and understanding in evangelization. Voris has given, in this sentence, a clear and concise explanation of the deepest level problem with his film. No matter how many times he says that we should be compassionate and charitable, or tells his viewers that he is being compassionate and charitable, what the production overwhelmingly conveys is that he doesn't actually care about people who do not think as he does.

53 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Isn't it obvious that Voris himself is a self-repressed homosexual? He sorely needs to reconcile with God's love instead of promoting ignorance and suffering!

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    2. There is a comment here from Royal Oaker that has been deleted, and the author seems to be dismayed at its deletion. If he wishes to contact me, my e-mail address is melinda@vulgatamagazine.org.
      Sorry, all others, for the mysteriousness!

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  2. They asked for it, they got, bang! What an incredible response/critique. Thank you for taking the time answering your critics. I gained much from it!

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  3. Mr. Voris has absolutely no understanding of how to construct an argument. He exercises no form of reasoning, and then comes up with a conclusion that is absolutely NOT supported by the premises.

    I fisked him once or twice on my blog, but I had to stop. He is such a piss-poor essayist, it was way to easy that it was absolutely no challenge in it

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  4. Corrective rape is neither a law nor a policy and is practiced by people whom South African society categorically consider deranged delinquents. It is not at all mainstream, nor does it enjoy any form of approval from government or society in general. These vile acts are performed sporadically and by fringe individuals. It is absolutely a crime under SA law and no policy change is required. Creating awareness is necessary, certainly, but it's not as if this is legal. As for the rest, thank you. It has been very enlightening.

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  5. Georg,

    This was an issue several years back. It wasn't a matter of corrective rape being policy, but rather of corrective rape being insufficiently addressed within some communities. As I understand it, measures were taken by the SA government when they became familiar with the problem. I apologize for not being clearer about that in the original post.

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  6. Sorry to change the topic but I can't find another place on the web to ask this question: is vulgatamagazine still in service?

    Thanks

    Steve

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    1. vulgata hasn't been updated in forever. We used to have a number of people involved, but most of us got really busy doing other things. We wistfully imagine a day when it might be resurrected. Perhaps when God adds an extra hour or two to the diurnal cycle... :)

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  7. One more question. Is it possible to get some writing advice from you. I know you are extremely busy - bye bye vulgata - but I could use some advice regarding a catholic novel I recently finished writing. Sorry if I'm really out of line raising the issue her but I don't know where else to reach you.

    Thanks

    Steve

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  8. It seems to me that the main point Michael Voris is making is that the homosexual lifestyle is defined by the Church as intrinsically disordered; that this disordered behavior has consequences for an individual’s salvation; and that accepting a disordered behavior/lifestyle as “normal” or “healthy” has negative consequences for society in general. Everything Michael Voris says is consistent with CCC 2357-2359, while what you say is not. Please explain how something defined by the Church as "intrinsically disordered," "acts of grave depravity," a "trial" and compatible only with "chastity" is compatible with anything you have written on the subject. Especially in this “point by point” critique, it seems that you are doing your best to argue that the Church is wrong, and yet you claim to accept the teaching of the Church; which is it? Michael Voris says "The Church is right" and you say "Michael Voris is wrong." Please sort that out for me.

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  9. Being Catholic is difficult, naturally. On the one hand, it is true that most if not a majority of homosexual acts are done by persons who are not fully aware of their gravity or sinfulness. A person who commits a homosexual act is indeed committing a gravely disordered act. So that fulfills step 1 of a mortal sin. But unless that person knows it is sinful and yet still freely consents against his or her conscience (even if not fully formed), it cannot be considered a mortal sin. In other words, they are not bound for Hell at that point. Now a person who does know the gravity of the acts and consents against his or her conscience freely and without compulsion or coercion is likely committing a mortal sin. It is best to err on the side of caution and seek forgiveness and repentance if one's conscience has been violated in such a manner.

    Yes, we Catholics must tell the truth about human sexuality and other matters. But we must do so prudently and lovingly as well. Never striking, but never yielding either. Turning the other cheek means just that - to stand one's ground but not attack back. There are times when prayer is our only refuge - our only means of conversion. There are other times when a person honestly seeks our opinion on homosexuality, and we then must seek the courage and ability to speak it clearly, lovingly, and truthfully. It is not a weapon, but rather a vehicle for salvation. We don't treat our cars are weapons when they are meant to simply bring us where we want to go.

    But it is a minefield. I love moral theology, but it is not for the faint of heart. Emotions must sometimes be checked. You cannot rely on the gut instinct, for that is human and we are speaking of things divine.

    I always have to remember that this world will not be perfect. I need to stay close to Christ for my own iniquities. I need to try and help others find Him so they can do the same. I cannot change an active homosexual. Christ can. But to do so, I may need to introduce the two of them, and then let Him do His work.

    What does this mean on a practical level? Such as when faced with persons who identify as homosexuals and admit they commit the acts? I love them as children of God. Do I love their pride in their acts? Do I love the acts? No. I'm not called to love acts. I'm called to love persons. I am not called to love identities or orientations. I am called to love persons. I seek to introduce them to Christ. They reject it often, but really, what else do I have aside from Him? Science and philosophy will only go so far. Ultimately their conscience must be lit and strengthened in the presence of the Logos. Only then will they want to stop the acts that I cannot accept as good.

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  10. Mrs. Boyd,

    She's trying to say Michael Voris =/= the voice of the Catholic Church. In fact, look at premise number 3. Does she not appeal to the Vatican? Did Voris not condemn a document the Vatican approved? It would then appear Voris is not consistent with Church teaching. Mrs. Selmys is.

    Further more, what do you say about the appeals to NARTH? If the psychological causes are unknown, then appealing to NARTH would seem not to be acceptable.

    Voris says, "What I say is the voice of the Church and the Church is right."
    Mrs. Selmys says, "What you say is not the voice of the Church and the Church is right."

    As a Same-Sex attracted male, I side with Mrs. Selmys.

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  11. Dr. Jay,

    The Church's teaching cannot be condensed down to CCC 2357-59. I believe that those paragraphs are authoritative and true, I just also believe in the rest of the Catechism, and Scripture, and the documents of the Vatican, and the ordinary teaching authority of my bishops. Michael Voris believes that there is a homomafia conspiracy that has infiltrated that Vatican, and that the USCCB endorsed Always Our Children because they were bowing to social pressure from the gay agenda. Paranoid excuses like this are stock in trade for arch-conservatives who want to be able to dismiss any Church document that they dislike on the basis that it is not actual teaching, it's actually the result of the infiltrators wreaking havoc within the Church.
    I also believe that Catholicism demands fidelity to the truth in all areas of human endeavour. This means that even if the truth in psychology or sociology doesn't happen to dove-tail conveniently with Catholic teaching, that my job as a Catholic is to figure out how the teaching is revealed in the truth, not to try to find a different truth by resorting to junk science. A willingness to actually seek the truth with clarity and without bias is essential to charity because it prevents us from creating a kind of insular "truth" that is incapable of changing the world because it is simply inaccessible to the broader public.

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  12. Are we supposed to be willing to die for this belief we have? That human beings are made for gift, that marriage is one of the most beautiful examples of a human being giving him or herself entirely to his wife or her husband? If I am pressed to deny this truth, or lose my life (hyperbolic, but not necessarily out of the realm of possibility), what say me?

    Do I give in, and then abandon resistance to masturbation, contraception, and any other activity closed to life? If I give in here, what is to stop the rest of the house of cards from falling as well?

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  13. Jericho, who said we were giving that belief up?

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  14. It was rhetorical, as I have no intention of giving it up. But I am thinking about what it has meant and what it will mean in the future.

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  15. I stopped reading after you used Richard Sparks as an authority. This is a man who has blasphemed the Blessed Mother talking about St. Joseph wanting to jump on her bones, graphically describes his attraction to women's breasts, is deeply involved in violating Vatican guidelines on teaching explicit sex to children, etc.

    As for Always Our Children, a number of bishops condemned the document and, even with Vatican changes, it is still misleading and was never approved by the U.S. bishops. Its release by a committee caused the bishops to change the way documents are approved by the conference to prevent committees releasing future documents in the bishops' name without their approval.

    As for definition of terms, you do what you accuse Mike Voris of doing. The term "gay" for example, has often been used as a political term identifying homosexual activists. When homosexuals talk about "gay activism" what does that mean other than advancing the lifestyle of acting out?

    Why individuals have a distorted view of their sexuality and feel same-sex attracted is unknown. There's certainly no evidence of a "gay gene." That people are tempted to choose the immoral lifestyle is obvious and obviously sinful. If an opposite attracted person can freely choose chastity, so can a same-sex attracted person. Homosexuals certainly do not deserve special rights because of their particular temptation any more than an Irishman or Russian with a disordered attachment to alcohol.

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    1. Mary-Ann, I've just re-researched the Sparks article. Whatever he may have written elsewhere, in this particular article he is entirely orthodox and fair. This article was given the imprimatur by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, so I assumed that it was legit. Please provide me with a link to the works that you reference, and I will revise my opinion of his work accordingly.

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  16. Mary Ann -- I'm not familiar with Sparks other work, I've only read the article that I referenced here. It's very normal for human beings to be right about some things, and wrong about others. Ultimately, only two human beings ever escaped this problem :) In any case, I don't support the "gay gene" theory. I think that there may be genetic factors that predispose some people towards homosexuality -- the evidence seems to lean in that direction -- but as to the cause of SSA I'm largely agnostic.
    w/r/t redefining the term "gay," there is a difference between offering an equivocal argument, in which two terms with different meanings are substituted for one another by the same author within a single syllogism, and being aware of the ways that language usage has changed within the culture over the last twenty years. Words evolve in the course of being used, they don't have a single fixed meaning unless the language that they appear in is dead.
    w/r/t the Always Our Children debate, it's fairly straightforward: as Catholics we believe that the teaching authority of the Magisterium, including the lower levels of authority, are protected and guided by the Holy Spirit. Even if a particular Pope is a bad egg (like the Borgia popes) or a particular bishop is a heretic, it makes no difference. We don't believe in the infallibility of men, we believe in the guidance of the Holy Spirit working through the weaknesses of men, and often through the baroque intricacies of flawed institutional processes, in order that the truth may shine out according with the will of God. Always Our Children was published, it remains on the USCCB website, and it is a document that I have seen bear good fruit amongst faithful, Catholic, chaste homosexuals that I know, and amongst the Catholic families of homosexuals. The fact that some of the Bishops didn't like it is apropos of nothing. That's their private opinion, it is not binding and there is no reason to suppose that their opinions are inspired -- just like there's no reason to suppose that Cardinal Martini's private opinions on same-sex unions are inspired. The publication of the document, with the relevant changes, was approved by the Vatican. It is a real document. Neither Michael Voris nor the conservative wing of the American Church, has the authority to establish a private magisterium in order to condemn Church documents that they do not like.

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    1. I think "Always Our Children" has been a positive document. I think in general that most Catholics are accepting of their gay children. Many fundamentalist Christian sects view the homosexual orientation as sinful but the Catholic Church does not teach that. Many children of these fundamentalists suffer abuse and some are even kicked out by their parents. This doesn't happen as much with Catholics who tend to be supportive of their gay children. Look up Fortunate Families. Their is love and support for our children. Mark

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  17. Mrs. Selmys,I beg to differ: *Of course* the Church’s teaching can be “condensed” to a few paragraphs in the CCC – especially when that teaching is straightforward and grounded in natural as well as Divine law! You may call Michael Voris “paranoid”, but I submit that your own blinders are firmly in place. Your last sentence in your comment to me (beginning with “A willingness to actually seek the truth”) could apply as easily to you yourself. I submit that you suffer from your own bias that is rooted in human fallibility and susceptibility to emotion – just like the rest of us. That’s why we have Church teaching – because we cannot rely on our own “hearts” or minds. And there are plenty of Church documents that reiterate those same CCC paragraphs on the immorality of homosexual behavior. No amount of rationalization can make acceptance of homosexual behavior “charitable”; the only charitable response is to help a person who engages in disordered behavior to see that behavior for what it is, to come to repentance and contrition, and strive for holiness. Perhaps I will attempt a more detailed rebuttal to your response on my own blog in the coming week. And by the way, you may count me among those who believe there is a very big problem with homosexuality at all levels of the Church hierarchy; there is too much evidence emerging to believe otherwise.

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    1. Dr. Boyd,

      You seem to have misunderstood my use of the word "acceptance." When I said that I acknowledge and believe in the Catechism, I meant I acknowledge and believe in the Catechism -- including its teaching on homosexual behaviour. I've clarified this elsewhere, but I understand that not everyone has read everything I've written, so I'll clarify again: by acceptance I mean a psychological process of coming to terms with a reality which may be disordered or unpleasant, but which is none the less real. I don't mean that we should accept sin as though it were not sinful, but that we should accept that sin is a necessary part of the economy of salvation in a fallen world "O happy fault, O happy sin of Adam that has earned for us such a redeemer" as we say at the Easter Vigil. Coming to that head-space where it's possible to cry out with all sincerity "O happy sin of Adam" doesn't mean that reject Christ, but rather that we accept the existence of sin for the sake of Christ. The alternative is the rejection of Christ on account of sin, as is the case in the atheistic argument from evil -- Dostoyevski, in the Brothers Karamazov, gives a brilliant portrait of that atheism which rejects God because it cannot accept the sinfulness that God permits.
      As for there being a problem with homosexuality in the hierarchy, maybe there is, and maybe there is not, but either way it's not our business. It's a private matter for the hierarchy to deal with within itself. When children fall to speculating about the sins and faults of their parents, it is almost invariably because the parents have instructed the children in a way that the children don't want to accept. The child feels that if they point out the faults and failings of their parent, then they will be exonerated from having to listen to and respect the parents' authority. In any case, it's certainly not appropriate to go about trumpeting the alleged faults of our spiritual fathers on air. Even if it were true, it would be detraction.

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    2. Dr. Boyd,

      If the entire teaching on homosexuality is within the CCC, please point me to the paragraph in which it details exactly what unjust discrimination is and is not please.

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  18. Melinda: You misunderstand the authoritativeness of "Always Our Children." This was a document released by a largely lay committee of the USCCB. It was not voted on or approved by the US Bishops. It bears no stamp of infallibility or even semi-infallibility, nor does it bear the protection of the Holy Spirit the way the papal magisterium does.

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  19. "No episcopal conference, as such, has a teaching mission: its documents have no weight of their own save that of the consent given to them by the individual bishops."--Cdl Ratzinger as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

    Bishop Vasa clarifies the authoritativeness of USCCB documents:

    "[I]t is sometimes easy for the conference [USCC] to revert to stronger patterns of autonomy and even to be perceived as possessing types of authority that it neither claims nor possesses.
    ...
    Individual bishops are free to adopt such statements and reaffirm them in their own names for their dioceses, but no bishop has an obligation to do so; and such documents do not become normative for a particular diocese unless the bishop, either explicitly or implicitly, recommends them. Thus, if the faithful suggest to a bishop that he is acting contrary to a pastoral document issued by the conference, the bishop's legitimate response is that he and the people of his diocese are not bound by conference statements unless he so determines."

    http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=9417

    http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/archive//ldn/2010/sep/10092207

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    1. Yes, you're right. I overstated myself. My apologies.
      I do think, however, that my basic point stands: the authority of bishops and of priests does not have the protection of infallibility, but it is authority and it is an expression of the power of the Holy Spirit working through the Church. It's much the same as the authority of parents: I'm certainly not infallible in relation to my kids, but they have a sincere duty to listen seriously to the things that I tell them and to honour and obey. My objection is that the people who stridently oppose Always Our Children consistently behave as though it was a heretical document, which it's not. Catholics are free to have concerns about it, and to disagree with things that it says -- as Fr. Harvey did -- but we are not free to dismiss it and to encourage others to do the same. To imply that the USCCB has cowered under the pressure of the gay agenda, and that a misleading pro-gay message is being promoted by them in this document, is a violation of the Fourth Commandment. We can honour our Fathers even when we disagree with them, but when we disagree in a way that dishonours them and ascribes to them duplicitous or cowardly motives, that should be a red flag.

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    2. If our diocesan bishop refuses to acknowledge the authoritativeness of "Always Our Children" (or any other USCCB document for that matter), then yes, we as laity are perfectly free to dismiss it.

      The original version of "Always Our Children" was heretical. It was revised to remove the error, but the overall message of the revised version communicates a dilution or softening of the Church's approach to homosexuality, which has led to confusion and misunderstanding.

      No one has any obligation to pay the slightest attention to a USCCB document that was written by lay staffers and never even voted on or approved by the bishops. There is no correlation here between assent to this and obedience to parents.

      If you really think there is no homosexual infiltration of the clergy, then I will attribute your naiveté to well-intentioned ignorance. You are clearly unfamiliar with the abysmal state of many seminaries in the 70s and 80s, which punished orthodox seminarians who refused to accommodate the gay lifestyle of brother priests (indeed, my own spiritual director had experience in this regard, as have many other priests; I suggest Michael Rose's book "Goodbye, Good Men").

      I encourage you to read Fr. Dariusz Oko's recent report, "With the Pope Against the Homoheresy" in which he documents the homosexual stronghold within the clergy itself all over the world, even at the highest levels, and the way orthodox priests are punished or threatened who oppose their lifestyle. There are plenty of other resources on this topic that I could recommend, but I find that too many Catholics would rather turn a blind eye and pretend the Church could not possibly be suffering this much.

      http://tinyurl.com/cp45o6f

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    3. I had the misfortune of reading Dariusz Oko's report. It is frightening in its hatred. Reading it I thought of how people demonized Jews in the past. I have a degree in history and in reading it I thought of the Jews. It is dangerous to take away the humanity of a group of people that one hates. Christ preached a gospel of love, not one of hating and demonizing one's neighbor. Mark

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  20. When I read the initial essay in First Things, I was extremely impressed by its success in finding a charitable approach to the kinds of intellectual laziness and rhetorical tonedeafness we so frequently encounter in Voris and others of his bent. I've frankly found that to be one of the greatest challenges of trying to maintain faithfulness to Catholic sexual teaching in this day and age-- not the details of the position itself, but the attendant necessity of standing in solidarity with people who seem determined to prove themselves the fools and bigots that the World already believes them to be.

    Reading your piece, and considering its call to patience with the blind excesses of genuine spiritual grief, gave me at least three days of really wonderful escape from the cognitive dissonance of believing in traditional Catholic teaching whilst realizing that yes, many would-be defenders of that teaching come off like irrational jerks a lot of the time. I'm sorry that your overture seems to have met with such a poor response from the churchmilitant camp; but I do hope that you were right about them all the same, and that there really is some sort of genuine pain motivating the production of videos like this one, rather than mere greed or opportunism or selfish pride and stupidity. Thanks, in any case, for trying to elevate the tone!

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  21. I wonder, Melinda, if you are familiar with the 2003 document issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith "Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons." (http://tinyurl.com/imqm)

    THIS is a document to which Catholics do indeed owe assent as part of the ordinary Magisterium, and it lays out the Church's position clearly and unambiguously. I think this part in particular should be understood by every faithful Catholic:

    "In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, CLEAR AND EMPHATIC OPPOSITION IS A DUTY. (emphasis added) One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application."

    Elsewhere:

    "Homosexual unions are also totally lacking in the conjugal dimension, which represents the human and ordered form of sexuality. Sexual relations are human when and insofar as they express and promote the mutual assistance of the sexes in marriage and are open to the transmission of new life.

    As experience has shown, the absence of sexual complementarity in these unions creates obstacles in the normal development of children who would be placed in the care of such persons. They would be deprived of the experience of either fatherhood or motherhood. Allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such unions would actually mean doing violence to these children, in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development. This is gravely immoral and in open contradiction to the principle, recognized also in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, that the best interests of the child, as the weaker and more vulnerable party, are to be the paramount consideration in every case.
    ...
    The principles of respect and non-discrimination cannot be invoked to support legal recognition of homosexual unions.... The denial of the social and legal status of marriage to forms of cohabitation that are not and cannot be marital is not opposed to justice; on the contrary, justice requires it. [T]here are good reasons for holding that such unions are harmful to the proper development of human society, especially if their impact on society were to increase.
    ...
    CONCLUSION

    11. The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behaviour, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity. The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself."

    The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, in the Audience of March 28, 2003, approved the present Considerations, adopted in the Ordinary Session of this Congregation, and ordered their publication.

    Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, June 3, 2003, Memorial of Saint Charles Lwanga and his Companions, Martyrs.

    Joseph Card. Ratzinger
    Prefect

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    Replies
    1. Christine,

      You seem to have mistaken me for someone who supports same-sex marriage. I have stated repeatedly that I am faithful to Church teaching. There is no realistic way that I could have spent seven years researching homosexuality without being aware of Church teaching with respect to SSM. I think you may be confused about the difference between the meaning of "acceptance" in psychological parlance, and "acceptance" in political discourse.

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  22. I’d like to address a couple of points that have been made in the comments above, but which should be refuted:

    While the simple act of voting for a pro-gay-marriage politician may not in and of itself be sinful, Dr. Ed Peters, noted canon lawyer, does point out that Catholics who PROMOTE “same-sex marriage” act contrary to Canon 209 § 1 and should not approach for holy Communion per Canon 916. Catholics who support a pro-gay-marriage politician BECAUSE of the support for gay marriage fall into this category (and it would be the same with supporting a pro-abortion candidate because of the pro-abort stance). Also, Church teaching stands squarely against any support of “civil unions” for homosexuals.

    The problem of homosexual behavior within the hierarchy is certainly a concern for the laity! It is not inappropriate to make known our concerns with the gravely immoral behavior of our shepherds; in fact, it is sometimes required. To the extent that the hierarchy promotes or defends homosexual behavior within its own ranks, the Church is very badly injured, and the faithful are scandalized. When the hierarchy intentionally promotes the homosexualist agenda through its selection process in seminaries, and in the way it treats heterosexual priests, those among the laity who have knowledge and evidence of wrongdoing must not remain silent. Would you suggest that the problem of priestly sexual abuse of young people is something about which we should be silent?

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  23. A note on the John Jay Report (David Nichols did not at all deal adequately with it in his comment).

    First, the John Jay report puts the lie to the oft-repeated claim that the priest sex abuse scandal was about pedophilia. That is false. 81% of the victims were post-pubescent males, which means the perpetrators were homosexuals. Ephebophilia is a well-known and common variant of male homosexual behavior. The fact that the Report refused to publicly connect the dots and would rather attribute it to "greater access" to boys is an exercise in political correctness and denial of the obvious.

    It also cannot be denied that a number of gay-friendly bishops, rather than prosecuting such crimes against children, covered for their homosexual brethren and shuffled them from parish to parish. The fall-out has been severe: millions upon millions in legal settlements, destruction of lives, harm to the faith, and damage to the Church's credibility as a moral witness in the public square.

    I recommend Louie Verrecchio's article at Catholic News Agency, " John Jay Study: A $2 million exercise in political correctness," found here:

    http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/column.php?n=1598

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    Replies
    1. Christine, 81% of the victims in the John Jay report were males NOT post-pubescent males. In that report 47% of the victims were under the age of 13. Many of the victims were 10 and 11 years old, they would be children, not post-pubescent. Most people consider men that abuse 10 and 11 year old children to be pedophiles. Many of these men were "fixated pedophiles" which means that they fixated on victims of a certain age. Some of these pedophiles targeted children of both sexes. Mark

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  24. Gay acceptance was going to happen with or without a “militant” gay/secularist movement; still, you can’t deny that movement’s existence and its influence in the media, the courts, and academia. Read the comm box at the HuffPost on any article about Catholicism: A huge number people out there absolutely hate the Church established by Jesus Christ. The tone of vitriol and bigotry is far worse than anything you read on Catholic blogs and messageboards. These people want to snuff out the last remnants of Christendom—if not through direct persecution, than through relentless demonization in the culture and harassment in the courts. I find it refreshing when people like Voris hit back at the militant secularists for being godless, totalitarian hatemongers. When people like you accuse Voris of "paranoia," it makes me wonder: Whose side are you on? If the government tried to force the Catholic Church to marry gays or ordain women, would you start taking the prospect of persecution seriously?

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    Replies
    1. The more often you call them "godless, totalitarian hatemongers," the sooner they actually will be. That's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

      Delete
  25. Melinda,

    First of all, I love the new look of your blog! Your new photo is very nice.

    Secondly, thank you for the clarification on what you said. The constant reminder to speak the truth in love, and when appropriate, is very important to all of us.

    Anamaria

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  26. I just read the article by Fr. Sparks that you mentioned in #3. It was so refreshing and encouraging; he clearly gets it, from both sides of the gay/straight distinction. Thanks for the link.

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  27. Thank you for continuing to speak out. Your voice is needed and very much appreciated

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  28. Melinda,

    I must say I come down on your side on this. I think it comes down to whether or not you can visualize Jesus as a culture warrior. I suppose he was, but not in the way that we think of a culture warrior today. He changed the culture through holiness and love, and ultimately through the cross - through letting the political forces have their way with him so he could demonstrate His way.

    I think that in cultures where there is a prevailing culture that is friendly to Christian values, it is our responsibility to "fight" for the preservation of these values. But I think in "the West" we lost this battle about twenty years ago and what we are seeing now is largely the endgame of the cultural revolution.

    Perhaps there also needs to be a distinction between the way that we participate politically and our personal (psychological, emotional) response to these issues. I think your picture of someone simultaneously trying to work through the grief of their own or a loved one's sexual sins while trying to be "politically active". Most people are going to perceive them as just freaking out, not dialoguing or leading anyone to virtue.

    At the end of the day, it's hard to imagine Jesus watching Voris's video and nodding his head appreciatively, even though he may agree with his assessment of where the homosexual life is going to lead.

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  29. After thinking about this whole debate for a bit, I've come to a conclusion. We are called to be a light to the world, not a nuclear blast that blinds whoever sees us from the trutth we live.

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  30. It appears that you don't like Michael Voris' "in your face" style. However, remember what Revelation says about lukewarmness. The Church needs more people like Michael Voris

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    1. Remember what Revelation says about being our brother's keeper, and the in your face style could cause people to stay away from the Church and endanger their soul.

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    2. The Church is renowned fo her clarity and Michael Voris' style most certainly reflects that. To those who are turned off by it, well, I can only refer to them to many other faith apostolates and networks like EWTN who can present the faith in different manners. But for a culture where ambiguity thrives, the bluntness of Voris can be a blessing and is needed.

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  31. Michael has an opinion. I disagree. His anger is his own. I give it to him. I refuse to treat him in any other way then as a sacred human being. He can make whatever choices he wants in that area. He gets a lot of attention. My guess is he likes that. But ultimately we all are born and live and die and all have our own histories. I wish him well. I do not need his aproval. We are all delusional in one way or another.

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  32. In the definitions section, “homosexual” is referenced as an incorrect term. It is the term used by the Vatican.
    ---------------------------
    In as much as Id like to rebut all the contentions Ms. Selmys, who obviously to me is really playing with so much jargons to evade the most fundamental question---and that is, is homosexual practice evil (in the light of how the church she so proclaims to be a part of sees it), nevertheless just reading her first stipulations made me realize there is no point to advance futher as it is very evident, assuming for the sake of argument that what he claims about Mr. Vorris is true (and that is Mr. Voris is guilty of being blind to what he thinks is only right), Ms. Selmys herself is guilty just the same. I believe no amount of theological and scientific truths can convince Ms. Selmys except her own notion of what she loosely defines as "compasionate" truths that even the definition of vatican (which represents the church she claims to be part of, unless she considers already the US as the new vatican) she seems to undermine. It seems to me that the only point of contention Ms. Selmys can offer, to deny the absolute authority of the catholic Church (defined not in a scientific concept but faith) is to input relativism in her statement making it appear as if there is no such thing as absolute truth, and that if there is any, it can't be the vatican, it cant be anybody, but it can only be those whom she refer as "compassionate". Her usual appeal to emotion makes it the more hard to advance any logical dissection of the matter hence to continue further would just be an act of futility and more likely than not, would just be construed (the usual tactics) by those who so oppose to the catholic teachings as something "bigot" etc etc etc.

    Last but not the least the statement I am a catholic, I follow church teaching yet does not adhere to what the Vatican is saying is not only fallacious but self-contradicting.

    To those who would like to advance further on this topic http://www.mindofmodernity.com/not-sick-the-1973-removal-of-homosexuality-from-the-dsm

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  33. Anonymous,

    Saying that someone is unwilling to engage in logical argument and that it is therefore futile to engage them logically is called "poisoning the well." It is a classical logical fallacy. I assure you that if you attempted a rational engagement, I would not respond as you imagine, because I don't believe what you suppose I believe.

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  34. Michael Voris is not your enemy. He is not the Church's enemy. He is not God's enemy. He is not the enemy of those who suffer from same sex attraction.

    All orthodox Catholics are on the same team: tearing down fellow team members does not help the team.

    Above, Melinda correctly stated: "Yes, you're right. I overstated myself." It seems to me like the overstating was endemic in the attack you launched.

    I also think that too many Catholics are writing too many words too quickly and with too little prayer and reflection. (I think that is a problem that Michael Voris shares too.)

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  35. Melinda,

    In your follow up article at First Things on the meaning of acceptance, I think you got to the heart of one of the basis for this unnecessary conflict:

    "So long as Catholics are still deeply upset...at the widespread social acceptance of homosexuality...there’s no way of effectively preaching the gospel to homosexuals."

    Here's the problem: I don't believe that Michael Voris was attempting to evangelize homosexuals in that particular episode, and I do not believe that those in the Church can view homosexuals as their audience 100% of the time--even when addressing homosexuality. The Church is very deeply concerned for homosexuals, but they are not the only souls who count, and the mission of the Church is not restricted to ministering only to homosexuals.

    His approach does speak to me and my family. There is a deeply disturbing lack of immediacy in the Church's actions. Dissidents who are authorized to speak in the name of the Church are more likely to die a natural death than be silenced. It is as though nobody believes that human souls are at stake.

    We find it comforting that somebody is addressing that problem. It gives us a hope that helps us to pray and pursue holiness more.

    Michael Voris is addressing people like us--who receive something positive from his words--not you who prefer a different approach--which is fine! We vary in the spiritualities, saints, and approaches that speak to us. We are not supposed to be all alike!

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