Understanding mercy

Understanding Mercy

Pope Francis has declared next year (from the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, 2015 through the feast of Christ the King on November 20, 2016) to be an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. The Holy Father said “I am convinced that the whole church – that has much need to receive mercy because we are sinners – will find in this jubilee the joy to rediscover and render fruitful the mercy of God, with which we are all called to give consolation to every man and woman of our time.”

Mercy is absolutely central to who we are as Christians. It is what Jesus merited for us upon the cross. It is also commanded of us. That second sense of mercy is often poorly understood. I will get to that, but first let’s review God’s mercy.

We have all sinned against God and the Body of Christ, the Church.

all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God.

If we say, “We are without sin,” we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

This is gravely serious and in justice, our rebellion deserves eternal separation from God for it.

For the wages of sin is death

It is through God’s superabundant mercy that we live. Through that same mercy, we may remain in His fellowship by repentance. The judgment that we deserve for our sins is set aside if we, with contrite hearts and will to amend our lives, only ask for His forgiveness. That is God’s amazing mercy.

As God shows us mercy through His love for us, we too are called to do likewise with others. It is compassion for others motivated by love. Saint Pope John Paul II wrote in his Dives in Misericordia (Rich in Mercy) encyclical that “Mercy is love’s second name” and is “the greatest attribute of God.”

Such love demands action. Let me offer an example. Imagine that we are on a bridge, near a person preparing to jump over the rail and end his life. What do we do?

We might back away, fearful that we could be accused of pushing him. It might occur to us that he has his reasons and after all, who are we to judge? We don’t want to be intolerant or force our religious views (about suicide) on someone else. Then there is the risk to our own safety should we get too close and get pulled along. If we are able to pull him to safety, he may hate us for our unwelcomed interference. Maybe it is best to “not get involved.”

None of that reflects compassion and true love for this person. If we love him as we are called to, we do get involved as best we are able even if it might not turn out so well for us.

While we may not witness a situation like this, we are called to action in helping those who suffer including the poor, the oppressed, the imprisoned. We are also called to instruct and advise (CCC 2447) those committing spiritual suicide. Those who denounce God, have sex outside marriage (including adultery and all same sex physical relationships), support abortion and all other sinful acts as they are grave, self-inflicted harm.

Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.

If we act out of love to help our brothers and sisters in these circumstances then we are showing them mercy. Such actions may never be self-righteous, preachy or condemning but show the love of Christ through us reflecting only what is best for the other – even when they themselves think otherwise and may condemn us for it.

Sometimes we see people throw our Lord’s commandments “out the window.” They rationalize and refuse to get involved. Worse, they may invent convenient and comfortable theology on the spot (“if there is a truly loving God…”). Often their idea of “mercy” is simply unbridled tolerance. That is no virtue, far from it.

To be clear: “accepting” / “tolerating” sinful action in the name of “mercy” is exactly the opposite of love and actual mercy. Actual mercy leads others to truth, to God and to salvation. It builds the kingdom of heaven, not reinforces the “wisdom” of the world.

Not every situation that presents itself is open to our help. Indeed, sometimes even planting a small mustard seed can not be reasonably achieved. We must use good judgment, wisely choosing where and how to help. If however we find our good judgment always leads to never getting involved, we may wish to reconsider our motivations.

“Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.

But beware of people, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans.

When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”

He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.

The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

At the door

At The Door

A Parable of 3 Men

A man comes to your door. He tells you that he wants to come in and stay with your family.

You do not know him. He is a stranger. Persisting, he explains that he has told everybody about you. Yet, he has not met you personally. Of course, you send him away.

A man comes to your door. He tells you that he wants to come in and stay with your family.

You recognize him as a friend. You want to throw your arms around him and welcome him — but there is a problem. Despite your love for him, he has arrived dirty and unsuitable to enter your spotless home. You have him shower and put on clean clothes. He is now prepared to join the others and you warmly embrace him.

A man comes to your door. He tells you that he wants to come in and stay with your family.

You recognize him as a friend. Unlike the second man, he is fully prepared to join the feast. For him, the door is opened quickly and he is welcomed warmly into the home.

Knocking on Heaven’s Door

So it is with Heaven.

The First Man

The first man does not know the Lord. He may know about our Lord, but does not have a personal relationship with Him. He did not choose to build one. Had he done so, he could have known our Lord and His will. Perhaps he was uninterested or too busy…

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’

Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

The Second Man

The second man knows the Lord! He has been “in regular contact” – praying, listening and obeying, although imperfectly so. When he came before the throne of the Lord, he was not completely ready. As he presented himself, he was not perfect but carried the scars of sin. Yet he came in God’s friendship, free of mortal sin. In God’s mercy he is cleansed by the fire of Purgatory until he too is perfect.

“But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.

but nothing unclean will enter it, nor any[one] who does abominable things or tells lies. Only those will enter whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

But if someone’s work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as through fire.

The Third Man

The third man knows the Lord AND is ready to meet him! His heart is already pure and the beatific vision awaits him.

So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.

His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’

Which one are you?

  1. Do you know the real Christ or have you fashioned a version of Him to your liking?
  2. Do you text, e-mail and call other people more often than you pray?
  3. Are your prayers in charity or are they selfish?
  4. Do you make a sincere effort to seek God’s will and listen for His voice?

Then the LORD said: Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will pass by. There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD – but the LORD was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake – but the LORD was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, fire – but the LORD was not in the fire; after the fire, a light silent sound.

When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. A voice said to him, Why are you here, Elijah?

God’s house

Annunciation Catholic Church, Brazil, IN

Last night before dusk, I was a few minutes early at church. A number of small children were leaving CCD (a/k/a religious education class) and posing for pictures in front of our patron saint’s statue while holding some formal-looking certificate. The children were proud of their accomplishment (whatever it was) and the parents were beaming.

What a happy place! If we think about it, we realize that all of the really important milestones of our lives take place right here at this building. Yet this building is quite different than every other. It is God’s house and He is at home.

This is where we come to unite with Him in His once and for all sacrifice which continues for us to this day. Here we join with Him both spiritually and incarnated in the Blessed Sacrament, the source and summit of the Christian life. It is not just the two of us either, but all the faithful: past, present and future. At this place our Eucharistic liturgy joins with the Heavenly liturgy, in the presence of God, together with all the angels and saints. If ever the word “awesome” could be applied, this is it.

The rhythm of our lives plays-out here. The picture taking I witnessed is just a memorable snapshot of a long series, in the lives of those children and in the lives of their parents. For each of them this journey began at their baptisms where they became the adopted children of God, establishing a familial relationship with Him and the entire Communion of Saints.

As the weeks and years pass, we live our imperfect lives, anchored by faith and our continuous response to the calls of conversion and holiness. In a world searching for the meaning of life, we found it — to know, love and serve the Lord. The truth really does set us free. Seeking to know Him, we serve the poor, connect to the disenfranchised, comfort the suffering, go to Bible studies, classes, men’s and women’s groups, retreats, read scripture and pray…   most especially through our participation in the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It is there that the bridegroom and His bride the Church are most intimately one in their expression of mutual love. It is from there we are sent into the world to serve Him.

The timeline marches on but we are not afraid. Along the way we are continuously strengthened by the sanctifying grace of the sacraments. The young children in the pictures will soon receive first communion. A little later, they will be confirmed, with new graces complimenting their baptisms and further forming their office as priests, prophets and kings. In a few years, many will also enter into a life-long covenant with another through the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. It will be they who are then behind the camera taking pictures of their own children.

Along the way, our fallen nature allows us to choose against what is good, true and holy. We temporarily leave this place for one of false promises. Our rebellion may be brief or many decades. The Father waits patiently for us to return and the angels rejoice when we finally turn back. In the sacrament of Reconciliation, Jesus absolves and forgets our sins, throwing His loving arms around us and welcomes us home.

Eventually, the race will end. We will be gone, temporarily, from our body. Our loved ones will bring us here one last time as the cycle for us is completed. Later that day a new life may be brought into the Church, a couple may become one, or a brother or sister find their way back.

That is what happens here everyday in God’s house, this Catholic church and every Catholic church. We are so blessed.

Friday penance

Friday Penance

The modern Catholic Church in America has changed from customs and teaching of 50 years ago, often to its detriment. Not doctrine, of course, but in some important discipline, practices and traditions. This is not without harm to the Body of Christ. Friday penance is one such example.

What is penance?

Penance is an expression of repentance. It is a means to repair the temporal effects of sin, for us and in behalf of others, reducing the cleansing necessary in purgatory. For non-Catholics who may be reading this, it has nothing to do with forgiveness. Completely forgiven sins leave a trail of damage in their wake and in justice must be addressed (sooner or later).

Friday is set aside as a special day in remembrance of the suffering and death of our Lord. Practicing Friday penance reminds us of this, pleases God, brings us closer to Him and at least partially atones for the effects of sin. It is an act of humility, surrendering what we prefer (not to perform penance) to what God prefers. It is seeking and yielding to His will.

Penance can take several forms such as abstinence from things we like, fasting, prayers, or performing acts of charity. Friday penance has traditionally been abstinence from meat. If you already abstained from meat for some other reason (vegetarian, health, etc.) then some other form would be indicated.

Are we required to abstain from meat on Friday?

Friday penance is the universal norm of the Church.

That said, it saddens me to acknowledge that we Americans do not have to abstain from meat or perform any other act of penance on Friday. Many people therefore do not, give it no thought at all, or assume it was an outdated / unnecessary practice. That is a mistake.

How we got to this sad state of affairs is complicated. Canon law states:

Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless (nisi) they are solemnities; abstinence and fast are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on the Friday of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Canon 1251

That seems clear enough in intent, requiring abstinence from meat unless the conference of bishops prescribe something else — which they presumably would do for good cause. The USCCB did this, but with complex wording, approved by Rome, which has the unfortunate effect of making Friday penance optional. For Americans, it is therefore not technically required and not a sin to ignore it. If you are interested in the legalities of this, Jimmy Akin has a good explanation here and here.

Officially, the USCCB strongly urges us to abstain from meat or perform some other act of penance on Friday. This is for our own good and the good of Holy Mother Church. Unofficially, this is never spoken of. While converting, I never heard a peep about this. Subsequently, I never heard a peep about this in homilies, Diocesan newspapers, or any other official channel. Very few people seem to know of the USCCB’s strong admonition to observe Friday penance. The vast majority of folks seem to believe it was “completely done away with.”

Unfortuante and wrong in my opinion. “Rules” which so many deride, are for the good of the faithful to help the greatest number possible get to heaven. That is the mission of the Church on earth. Making this optional, through what is in effect a legal sleight of hand, is counter-productive.

BTW this is another example of the “spirit” of Vatican II. That is, not in Vatican II at all but done anyway. The 1966 USCCB document says “In summary, let it not be said that by this action, implementing the spirit of renewal coming out of the Council, we have abolished Friday, repudiated the holy traditions of our fathers, or diminished the insistence of the Church on the fact of sin and the need for penance.” Yet, that is EXACTLY what has happened.

Now what?

Follow the universal norm and observe Friday penance by (for most of us) abstaining from meat. Do it for your own good and the good of the Church. Start now. Set an example for your family, friends and other parishioners. Ask them to join you and tell them why.

Pray that the USCCB learns from this giant mistake. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, while president of the USCCB in 2012, wrote: “The work of our Conference during the coming year includes reflections on re-embracing Friday as a particular day of penance, including the possible re-institution of abstinence on all Fridays of the year, not just during Lent.” While the USCCB has yet to do this, the bishops’ conference of England and Wales, who were in the same situation as us, has done so. Friday penance is reinstituted there.

Homosexuality, marriage and chastity

Homosexuality Marriage Chastity

Reports in mainstream media related to the recent Synod on the Family, based partially on an erroneous, misleading, unapproved draft report – have done much to confuse the Catholic faithful and non-Catholics alike. The official, approved, final report is excellent but is likely to be largely ignored by the media.

The purpose of the synod is to focus on a broad array of challenges to the family. That is a family formed by a “traditional,” faithful, permanent union between a man and a woman. Also to be considered is the pastoral needs of those in “re-marriage” situations and forms of homosexual unions. The headlines have unfortunately been only on this subset and have generally been very inaccurate.

Will there be changes in doctrine?

No. None whatsoever. Not on this or any other doctrinal issue, ever.

The Church can not change truth. No meeting of Synod Fathers, the Magisterium, bishops, cardinals (princes of the Church), or the Pope (the Vicar of Christ) can change doctrine. It is simply impossible. In other ecclesial communities (e.g. Protestantism), it is common for meetings to be held and official changes to belief enacted (typically by vote). This is not so in the Church established by Jesus, protected by the Holy Spirit and led by successors to the Apostles.

Marriage and Sex

Valid marriages (formed without impediments) persist until the death of a spouse. No earthly power can set aside a valid marriage. Jesus said “I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.” (Matthew 19:9)

All people are called to chastity. Sexual union within a valid marriage, open to life, is a beautiful and proper response to God’s vocational call. All other sexual relations are non-chaste and gravely sinful. This includes promiscuity, cohabitation, “re-marriage” and any homosexual unions.

Civil authorities do NOT have the power in God’s eyes to set aside a valid marriage. Nor do they have the power to redefine marriage as anything other than the permanent covenantal union between a man and a woman.

Is divorce a sin?

Not necessarily. That may surprise a lot of folks.

The civil act of divorce, as a last resort, is sometimes necessary for the legal protection of a spouse or children. Contrary to what the state says, it can not end the marriage. The “divorced” person remains married and is not free to attempt another marriage. There are many faithful Catholics, in good standing, who are unfortunately separated from their spouse in this way.

Since those in valid marriages who civilly divorce remain married in the eyes of God, marrying another is not possible. Those who do, or more properly put – attempt another marriage, remain married to their “first” spouse and are at the objective level, persisting in an adulterous relationship.

However, it is possible (for many reasons) that a marriage — upon very careful and thorough investigation — may be found to be invalid due to impediments at the time it was entered. For example: a brother marries his sister, a person marries someone who is already married, a person is coerced into marriage, or even if a person enters into marriage without fundamentally understanding its nature. In such circumstances that marriage would not be valid and thus never actually existed. The Church provides a means for such investigations and when invalid marriages are confirmed, can issue a decree of nullity (an “annulment”).

Is attraction to others of the same sex sinful?

No. That also may surprise a lot of folks.

All people have equal human dignity. We all face temptations. We are all sinners, who sometimes yield to temptation and sin – damaging or breaking our communion with God. Thus, all sin is disordered. Through our Lord’s sacrifice, we are not condemned by our sins if (and only if) we are sorry for them and seek forgiveness.

We can not “accidentally” sin. All sin is by our consent and purposeful (mortal sin is also of a grave matter). Temptation, not acted upon but rejected, is NOT sin. People who are attracted to the opposite sex, but do not act sexually on that attraction outside of marriage, commit no sin. This is an important distinction between desire and action. Likewise, people who are attracted to the same sex, but do not act on it sexually also commit no sin. There are many faithful Catholics, in good standing, who suffer from attraction to those of the same sex.

Are homosexual unions sinful?

All non-chaste sexual acts are gravely sinful. Sexual acts between people of the opposite sex who are not validly married are gravely sinful. For example: promiscuity, cohabitation and “re-marriage.” Since it is not possible for two people of the same sex to be validly married, sexual acts between them are always gravely sinful.

What can be done about non-chaste unions?

The world wants to change the Church to accept and even celebrate non-chaste unions (so long as “nobody is hurt,” or something like that). The Church exists not to be changed by the world, but to change the world. To lead people away from the false promises of sin and to Christ, to true happiness and eternal peace.

The solution was offered by Jesus to the woman caught in adultery. Our Lord did not bless her sinful union, but offered forgiveness that she “sin no more.” Where there is no contrition, no repentance, no intention or attempt to stop sinning — the separation from God is chosen and the sin not forgiven.

The Church invites humbly begs all sinners, including those in any form of non-chaste union to return to God. Only in Him can we find the peace that surpasses all understanding.

Is the Church homophobic?

Jesus Christ (God) and His Church (inseparable from Him) is not homophobic. That is absurd. Quite the opposite, people with same sex attraction are loved equally to everyone else. It is in genuine charity for all sinners that the Church speaks in truth. When people you love act in ways contrary to their own good, being truthful with them expresses that love. Remaining silent to avoid unpleasantness, awkwardness, name calling, legal action, physical threats, and so on means avoiding those things are more important to you than expressing real love.

The Church wants only the best for all people who are attracted to those of the same sex and for all people suffering other temptations. The universal call to holiness is to all of us, including rejecting temptation to sin – and seeking forgiveness and amending our lives when we fail. When we are judged, we will be judged in mercy for the sins we repented that we may hear “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.” (Matthew 25:23)

Some regretfully, have treated our brothers and sisters suffering with same sex attraction poorly. In doing so, they have themselves sinned. There is no excuse for that — only the same properly ordered response to all sin (contrition, amendment, reparation). Note that the Catechism says the following:

The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.

Church Teaching on Homosexuality

My comments above are little more than a summary. So much more could be said! Likewise, the content below is but a sampling.

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Always the gold-standard for understanding our faith, the Catechism contains the following excellent text on homosexuality.

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

Included in the text are references to two footnotes, #141 and #142. #141 is 4 scripture references: Genesis 19:1-29 which is the entirety on the Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. This section as properly interpreted by the Church, is on people engaged in homosexual acts. Since it is long, I have not included it here (follow the link to review it). It has sometimes been incorrectly re-interpreted by those not in communion with the Church as being about “hospitality” (really!).

The other three verses are as follows (bold highlights are mine):

Therefore, God handed them over to impurity through the lusts of their hearts for the mutual degradation of their bodies. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. Therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity.

Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.

We know that the law is good, provided that one uses it as law, with the understanding that law is meant not for a righteous person but for the lawless and unruly, the godless and sinful, the unholy and profane, those who kill their fathers or mothers, murderers, the unchaste, sodomites, kidnappers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is opposed to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.

Footnote #142 is from the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith entitled Persona Humana — Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics.

At the present time there are those who, basing themselves on observations in the psychological order, have begun to judge indulgently, and even to excuse completely, homosexual relations between certain people. This they do in opposition to the constant teaching of the Magisterium and to the moral sense of the Christian people.

A distinction is drawn, and it seems with some reason, between homosexuals whose tendency comes from a false education, from a lack of normal sexual development, from habit, from bad example, or from other similar causes, and is transitory or at least not incurable; and homosexuals who are definitively such because of some kind of innate instinct or a pathological constitution judged to be incurable.

In regard to this second category of subjects, some people conclude that their tendency is so natural that it justifies in their case homosexual relations within a sincere communion of life and love analogous to marriage, in so far as such homosexuals feel incapable of enduring a solitary life.

In the pastoral field, these homosexuals must certainly be treated with understanding and sustained in the hope of overcoming their personal difficulties and their inability to fit into society. Their culpability will be judged with prudence. But no pastoral method can be employed which would give moral justification to these acts on the grounds that they would be consonant with the condition of such people. For according to the objective moral order, homosexual relations are acts which lack an essential and indispensable finality. In Sacred Scripture they are condemned as a serious depravity and even presented as the sad consequence of rejecting God. This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and can in no case be approved of.

Some Additional Scriptural Quotations

(Note: all quotations in this piece – above and below – are from the New American Bible and the links are to the USCCB website.)

Likewise, Sodom, Gomorrah, and the surrounding towns, which, in the same manner as they, indulged in sexual promiscuity and practiced unnatural vice, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; such a thing is an abomination.

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, they have committed an abomination; the two of them shall be put to death; their bloodguilt is upon them.

Some Statements from the Early Church Fathers

This is a particularly brief sample from a large number of statements.

“You shall not commit murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not commit pederasty…” [pederasty is sexual relations between a man and a boy]

“Conversation about deeds of wickedness is appropriately termed filthy speaking, as talk about adultery and pederasty and the like.”

Clement of Alexandria (AD 193)

“All other frenzies of the lusts which exceed the laws of nature, and are impious toward both [human] bodies and the sexes, we banish, not only from the threshold but also from all shelter of the Church, for they are not sins so much as monstrosities.”

Tertullian (Modesty 4, AD 220)

“effeminate manners are disapproved.”

Novatian (AD 250)

“He who is guilty of unseemliness with males will be under discipline for the same time as adulterers.”

Saint Basil the Great, Doctor of the Church (AD 367)

Certain men in church “come in gazing about at the beauty of women; others curious about the blooming youth of boys. After this, do you not marvel that bolts are not launched, and all these things are not plucked up from their foundations? For worthy both of thunderbolts and hell are the things that are done; but God, who is long-suffering, and of great mercy, forbears awhile his wrath, calling you to repentance and amendment.”

Saint John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church (AD 391)

“All of these affections…   were vile, but chiefly the mad lust after males.”

Saint John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church (AD 391)

St. John Chrysostom also argued that homosexual acts are worse than murder and so degrading that they constitute a kind of punishment in itself – and that enjoyment of such acts actually makes them worse.

“Those shameful acts against nature, such as were committed in Sodom, ought everywhere and always to be detested and punished. If all nations were to do such things, they would be held guilty of the same crime by the law of God, which has not made men so that they should use one another in this way.”

Saint Augustine, Doctor of the Church (Confessions 3:8:15, AD 400)

Saint Thomas Aquinas (AD 1225 to 1274) considered homosexuality unnatural, since it involves a kind of partner other than the kind to which the purpose of sexuality points. He considered it second only to bestiality as an abuse of sexuality.

Some Statements from Recent Popes

“At stake is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother, and children. At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God. At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts. Let us not be naive: this is not simply a political struggle, but it is an attempt to destroy God’s plan. It is not just a bill (a mere instrument) but a ‘move’ of the father of lies who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”

Pope Francis (as Cardinal Bergoglio speaking on homosexual “marriage”)

“Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is more or less strong tendency ordered to an intrinsic moral evil, and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.”

Pope Benedict XVI

“There is no denying the crisis that threatens it [the family] to its foundations – especially in the Western world. When such commitment is repudiated, the key figures of human existence likewise vanish: father, mother, child – essential elements of the experience of being human are lost.”

Pope Benedict XVI

“People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given to them by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves. The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned.”

Pope Benedict XVI

“It is legitimate and necessary to ask oneself if this is not perhaps part of a new ideology of evil, perhaps more insidious and hidden, which attempts to pit human rights against the family and against man.”

Pope Saint John Paul II (speaking on same-sex “marriage”)

Certainly no pope, but even the “father” of the Protestant revolution minced no words:

“The vice of the Sodomites is an unparalleled enormity. It departs from the natural passion and desire, planted into nature by God, according to which the male has a passionate desire for the female. Sodomy craves what is entirely contrary to nature. Whence comes this perversion? Without a doubt it comes from the devil. After a man has once turned aside from the fear of God, the devil puts such great pressure upon his nature that he extinguishes the fire of natural desire and stirs up another, which is contrary to nature.”

Martin Luther

The Synod on the Family, FINAL Report

In conclusion, I return back to where I started on the Synod of the Family.

“There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.”

Synod on the Family
(approved, final report)