The anti-Catholic New Times.
Same-sex "marriage" editorial
On February 13, 2005 CNT, waded into the same-sex "marriage" debate (SSM from here on) with a rejection of Church teaching on homosexuality. Its editorial--unsigned but claiming to speak for its members' collective--first says that "it seems to us" that the Church's teaching is "out of touch with growing scientific evidence on the nature of homosexuality." Without specifying what this evidence is and where one may find it, the editorial quickly moves to the much firmer position that the new cumulative evidence has created a "new truth": namely, that today "we see [in homosexuals] fellow humans created by God and sustained by God's love."
Then the editorial declares the Church's teaching to be truly horrid. "Gay people then, animated and quickened, as heterosexuals are, by the love of another person, are denied the sexual expression thereof. They are told it is deviant, aberrant ... intrinsically disordered." This Church teaching, the writer continues, is "harsh", "unrealistic", a "denigration of homosexuals", the result of a "hopelessly fixated parts mentality." This "act-centred" theology has long since been trumped by "the overriding Jesus ethic of love" according to which "the sexual expression [of homosexuality] can be holy and may even be sacramental. All of us recognize many such gay relationships."
For the source of its position the editorial refers to a 1977 report commissioned by the Catholic Theological Society of America which held these views, and which "affirmed homosexual acts as moral within a committed framework." The report, it said, was "widely received by mainline theologians while being criticized by Rome. Two years later John Paul II became pope and moral theology came to a standstill."
So much for John Paul II and obedience to Catholic teaching.
Needless to say, dissent is loved by ideological enemies of the Church. One of these, the daily Toronto Star, which does not let any opportunity slip to promote SSM and the homosexual lifestyle, promptly reprinted the CNT editorial in the Religion section of its Saturday February 19 edition: circulation: 700,000. What could be more effective in undermining the bishops of Ontario in their opposition to Paul Martin's SSM legislation than this editorial statement from their own Catholic press, sold in parish churches, that the Church's "teaching is out of touch with growing scientific evidence on the nature of homosexuality"? That such "scientific evidence" does not exist is not generally known. People often do not know what the truth is, especially because all around them the word is out that homosexuals are born that way.
American Theological Society of 1977
CNT used as the basis for its allegations and accusations the 1977 "report" of the Catholic Theological Society of America. It was published as a book entitled Human Sexuality: New Directions in American Catholic Thought, by Anthony Kosnick (chairperson), William Carroll, Agnes Cunningham, Ronald Modras and James Schulte. It was "received" by the Society's Board of Directors who wanted it to be clear, however, that it should not be understood as representing the views of the Society and all its members. One can readily see why.
The following is an evaluation by Msgr. John F. McCarthy, J.C.D., S.T.D., president of the Roman Theological Forum, Rome, Italy, delivered at the 1978 Annual Meeting of the National Federation of Catholic Physicians' Guilds in New Orleans, Louisiana. After discussing the earlier phase of the 'new' morality, the author moves to Part B.
B. The later phase of the new morality
"A big step in the propagandizing of the 'new morality' was marked by the appearance in June, 1977, of the book Human Sexuality, published under the auspices of the Catholic Theological Society of America. This book has the form of a 'report' to the CTSA, but its contents are intended for maximum diffusion among Catholics, as is obvious both from the manner of publication and from the admission in the Foreword to the book that it is aimed 'at a wider public of interested persons'.
"The revolutionary character of this report is obvious from the affirmations it embodies, such as the following:
a) that no physical expression of sexuality is in itself 'morally wrong or perverse' (H.S., p. 110); consequently:
b) that even those sexual practices which people have up to now considered deviant do not clearly produce evil consequences either for the individual or for society (H.S., p. 77);
c) that the use of contraceptives is 'wholesome and moral' whenever it helps couples to build 'a community of love' for one another (H.S., p. 127);
d) that deliberate masturbation (even after unresisted indulgence in erotic imagery) is never a serious sin and can be an act of virtue (H.S., pp. 220, 227);
e) that fornication and adultery are in themselves morally good experiences (H.S., pp. 154-158, 178-179);
f) that 'living together', 'swinging', and communal sex are not morally unacceptable (H.S., pp. 151-152);
g) that Jesus was indeed opposed to the exploitation of women by men, but He did not prohibit self-liberating, other-enriching forms of prostitution, fornication, or adultery, joyously performed, as long as there was genuine concern for possible third parties involved (H.S., pp. 20-22, 30-31, 96);
h) that homosexuals have a moral right to homosexual activity and to homosexual self-expression in the eyes of civil society (H.S., pp. 198, 214);
i) that it is both harmful and unprofessional to 'moralize' with children who have the habit of sexual intercourse with animals (H.S., pp. 229-230);
j) that fetishism and transvestism are a physiological and therefore not a moral problem (H.S., pp. 230-231);
k) that the only presently effective treatment for transsexualism is a sex-change operation coupled with hormone treatments and supportive counselling (H.S., p. 233);
l) that even hard-core pornography is not immoral for adults except to the extent that it may exploit persons by reducing them to objects to be used (H.S., pp. 235-237);
m) that obscene words formerly not used in decent conversation are now just part of the common vocabulary (H.S., p. 235).
Overturning Catholic morality
"Human Sexuality," the Monsignor stated, is "a kind of Kinsey Report for Catholics; its aim is the overturning of traditional Catholic morality. The authors of the Report reduce all human experience to sexual experience, which is seen as the highest goal of human existence. 'It is in the genital union,' says the Report, 'that the intertwining of subjectivities, of human existences, has the potential for fullest realization.... The possibility of shared existence, indeed of intimacy and union, emerges on the horizon of movement toward the other....
"'Procreation is one form of this call to creativity but by no means is it the only reason for sexual expression.... Sexuality is the creator's ingenious way of calling people constantly out of themselves into relationship with others' (H.S., p. 85).
It will come as no surprise that the Church's reaction to Human Sexuality was swift. The American bishops called the attention of priests and faithful to the errors contained in this book, and declared its "pastoral guide lines" for the formation of Christian consciences unacceptable (Nov. 1977).
Because the book was being circulated throughout the English-speaking world--obviously also in Canada as the CNT editorial demonstrates--and because it was being translated into other languages, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued its own evaluation and rejection. It may be found in Austin Flannery's book Vatican Council II, Volume II, pp. 506-309.
What else in the February 13 edition?
What else does the reader find in CNT's February 13 edition? Directly underneath the editorial which occupies the top part of page 4, there is a feature called Frontburner. In it an Edmonton medical doctor, Boyd Tolton, identifying himself as "a gay man", angrily rejects the Church's guideline "love the sinner, but hate the sin". This, he says, is a "homophobic slur".
On page 2 all letters to the editor express anger and astonishment at the bishops' opposition to SSM. The top part of page 12 is devoted to reprinting the United Church's Letter to the Prime Minister, approving and supporting SSM. On page 3 one finds a news report on women's ordination.
On CNT's page 15 the Episcopal (i.e. Anglican) maverick bishop John Shelby Spong holds forth on "Re-imaging God in a post-tsunami world." Dr. Spong, who has given up on God as Creator, speaks of such things as "when human life first emerged into self-consciousness, a creature had finally evolved ..." and "God is the name of the life within us ..." This, he thinks, will all lead "to a coming new spirituality" in which we will replace God as the natural bulwark against floods ..." [Edit.: presumably because we will ourselves be divine.] The God of our past was only the "God of the weak and the poor."
On page 17 there is an attack on Pope John Paul. (See below.) On the last page, the top of page 20, there is a discussion on ecology-spirituality. (See below.) Finally, the bottom part of the page is taken up by Fr. Andrew Greeley, Chicago sociologist and novelist, condemning the war in Iraq.
In summary, the February edition touches upon a number of themes: homosexuality, women's ordination, ecology-spirituality, doctrine, and social justice issues such as war. As ! will try to show, these themes are characteristic of the bi-weekly as is the pseudo-theology which inspires them. But first let me turn to the origins of the paper.
Catholic New Times in 1976
CNT was founded in 1976 as an independent Catholic voice supporting the Church's call for social justice through critical analysis. As an editorial (Jan. 7, 2001) put it twenty-five years later, "they had been moved and energized by developments that followed Vatican II (1962-1965): the new relationship between people and the church, the opening up of healthy debates such as women and the priesthood, the steps toward ecumenism and improved relations with the Jewish people, the liberating changes in the role of religious congregations."
The paper, the editorial went on to say, would write about the homeless, bring the voices of immigrants "whose stories upon reaching Canada are not always pretty," and tell you "about the most marginalized people: those behind bars; the indigenous; people who are not valued because of their gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation ... In the spirit of the Gospel, ours is the constituency of the rejected."
Almost from the start, these ideas seemed to take a peculiar turn, not least because of the paper's two main founders, Sister Mary Jo Leddy of the Sisters of Sion and Father Gregory Baum.
Sister Mary Jo Leddy, with a Ph.D. in philosophy, wrote extensively about why religious congregations of women should be overhauled from top to bottom. She published several books on this theme. Counter to the intentions of Vatican II, by the mid-eighties her plans envisaged--for all practical purposes--the demolition of these congregations. Shortly thereafter she herself left the Sisters of Sion and the life of a religious to continue teaching at Regis College and to venture forth in providing help for refugees. Her immediate heritage, however, was that of having greatly encouraged the spread of radical feminism among nuns.
Gregory Baum previously was Father Gregory Baum, Augustinian priest (O.S.A.). Jewish born, Baum was a convert from agnosticism, who, after doing a doctorate at Fribourg University in ecumenism, became an instant expert for the Second Vatican Council where ecumenism and relations with Jews were new and important issues. While making contributions to his fields of expertise, Father Baum also launched out into areas of which he knew little or nothing. In 1970 he was to admit that he had not been aware that the Church had a long history in the discipline known as moral theology. By that time Father Baum had been the first in North America to proclaim that the contraceptive pill was perfectly acceptable (in the U.S. weekly Commonweal 1964). He also claimed Vatican II had de-emphasized, even down-played, the Church's previous emphasis on the procreative element in marriage in favour of the unitive purpose. In 1968 he forecast that the celibate priesthood would be gone in five years; and when the July 3, 1968 encyclical Humanae vitae said the exact opposite from what he had said about contraception, he helped organize and rally hundreds of priests, theologians and laity both in Canada and the United States to publicly proclaim their opposition to Pope Paul VI and his teaching. By 1970, he was forecasting that within a few years the Church would accept homosexuality as perfectly fine and normal.
It was this last issue that set him at loggerheads with the local Church. When the Vatican published a statement on Sexual Ethics in September 1975, reiterating its opposition to the homosexual lifestyle, Father Baum denounced it. Thereupon Toronto Archbishop Philip Pocock published a statement in the Catholic Register declaring that Father Baum's views on homosexuality were to be given no credence.
By that time Father Baum had already left his religious order, the Augustinians; this meant that he needed to be incardinated into a diocese. The Archdiocese of Winnipeg under Cardinal George Flahiff insisted he should live there if he wanted to be a diocesan priest. Not wanting to surrender his teaching position at St. Michael's College, Father Baum, without requesting laicization, abandoned the priesthood in 1976, and married an already-divorced former Loretto nun in a ceremony witnessed by a priest in a private home. This "attempt" at marriage--as the Church would say--brought him automatic excommunication. (The priest who presided incurred the same.)
Catholic New Times" spirit
With this background of its two principal founders, together with the increasing immoral permissiveness in society and widespread dissent from theologians, priests and laity in the Church, CNT expressed a preference for dissenting views over those of the Church from the beginning. By 1976, thousands of priests and nuns had abandoned their vocations in North America, with the ones in Canada often finding work as teachers in the expanding Catholic school system. Many continued their dissent in the classroom, in the writing of curricula, in religion classes, with some doing so until their retirement. Many of them dedicated themselves to economic and political justice issues as a new mission in life, perhaps subconsciously making up for their lost vocations.
CNT was to have--and still has--extensive influence among teachers. The CNT's themes are their themes; the CNT attitude toward the Church is their attitude toward the Church. Similarly, a number of religious orders of sisters have extended full support to CNT because they share the paper's view on the equality of women, on "creation"-spirituality, on ecology. Academics, too, are supportive; they like the clash of ideas and they don't mind if Rome gets a licking once in a while. After all, the regular media around them--newsprint or TV--have a love-hate relationship with Rome. As always, the question of sexuality and the moral precepts of the Church are sore points with many people. And just as CNT has moved its views further and further away from Rome, so have they.
Was the Feb. 13 editorial an accident, a fluke? Was it an oversight? A temporary derailment? To answer that question, I decided to survey the paper over a period of some 18 months.
CNT and Catholic teaching
The examination of CNT began with its September 21, 2003 edition, shortly after three Ontario judges ruled on June 10, 2003, that the traditional definition of marriage was "unconstitutional." As I read through the various editions of 2004 up to January 30, 2005, I came across many articles dealing with social justice issues at home, in Latin America, and elsewhere. The plight of the Palestinians and the critical analyses of Israeli society were also frequent subjects of discussion. There were a number of biographical sketches, some concerning ecumenical people, others about individuals who had earned the respect of CNT's contributors. Again, there was much about ballistic missile defence and about other political issues. Some of these articles I read with much interest, others less so, but in general I thought the topics were worthwhile and interesting.
Still, my intent was not to survey issues about which Catholics can and may have different views, but rather those subjects on which--over the past four decades--the Magisterium has spoken authoritatively and, in some cases, definitively: sexual-family morality, ordination, priesthood, celibacy, doctrine. As these are intermingled, I will start with celibacy, proceed to women's ordination, bring a note on ecology, move on to abortion, and conclude with homosexuality.
As for priesthood and celibacy, CNT is always "rethinking" it. In the CNT of December 14, 2003, editor Ted Schmidt did the re-thinking along with Father Michael Crosby, the dissenting Franciscan, OFMCap. "Patriarchal authority that has demanded celibacy must be broken by the inclusion of women to full equality, including the priesthood itself," stated Ft. Crosby (p. 3). The editorial on page 4 agreed: "the church is poorly served by strictly male leadership ... and by a male celibate clergy."
The CNT of Jan. 25, 2004, carried a page by Ed Griffin, a former American priest now living in Vancouver but still under the guidance of Melchizedek, or so he believed. The headline-sized call-out within the article shouts, "I'm a long, happy way from preaching the evils of contraception and homosexuality," thereby suggesting that this is the work of goofy priests who continue to serve the Church.
The editorial of Feb. 8, 2004, entitled "Why all the 'young fogeys'?" repeats Chicago priest-sociologist Andrew Greeley's abrasive term for today's young priests (they are too conservative). The same Ed Griffin published a supposedly amusing column on Sept. 26, 2004, "I'm running for Pope" (p. 4), in which his election platform called for "equality of women, abolition of celibacy and of the silly rules on contraception and the outdatedideas on divorce"; he adds thereto choice for abortion and the legalization of same-sex "marriage."
One month later, in the CNT of Oct. 24, 2004, former priest Jack Shea is given the two centre pages for "Models of priesthood." As Shea sees it, following a new sociological study, the "cultic model of priesthood is back and laity and priests are heading in opposite directions." In the cultic model the priest is "set apart," as opposed to the "servant-leader model" where the priest lives in the world among the people. In good old "Spirit of Vatican II" tradition, he sees them as stark opposites and readily predicts disaster. The editorial quickly agrees that "there is a massive conflict coming as laity and priests are heading in different directions." That same edition of October 24 'has another attack on celibacy, courtesy of "Futurechurch" based in Cleveland, and "Call to Action" of Chicago, the last one a twenty-five year old organization of professional/habitual dissenters (p. 13).
Other articles also express the laity vs. clergy theme. For example, Robert Blair Kaiser's "The hierarchy versus the people's church" (Jan. 25, '04); Paul Lakeland's "The Liberation of the Laity: In search of an accountable Church," (Feb. 8, '04, pp. 10-11); and Margaret Lavin's book review on Theology for Ministry, in which she states that "only a de-institutionalized church can work for the good of all God's people" (Sept. 12, 2004). (Lavin is the director of theological field education at the Jesuits' Regis College in Toronto.)
On page 17 Father Ron Trojcak, retired from confusing students at King's College in London, ON, reviews John Cornwell's latest attack on the Papacy, The Pontiff in Winter. Trojcak agrees with Cornwell that Pope John Paul suffers from "creeping infallibilism," as well as "papal impeccability," both factors which help "mystify the papal office". Fortunately for the rest of us, Cornwell has now "demystified" John Paul II, whose greatest fault [crime?] is that he is "intolerant of pluralism", a euphemism for being a dictator who imposes a "stultifying uniformity." "Recall," writes Fr. Trojcak, "John Paul's treatment of a number of prominent theologians: Charles Curran, Leonardo Boff, Jacques Dupuis and Hans Kung, among others." [Editor: Yes, by all means, let us recall that all the Pope did to Kung and Curran was to take away their right to speak as "Catholic theologians," Kung in 1979, Curran in 1986.]
Women's ordination is very important to CNT. It supports, promotes and accepts it. The February 13, 2005, edition elaborated on it as follows.
This coming July "seven North American women are planning to be ordained to the Roman Catholic priesthood," following the international conference on women's ordination at Carleton University in Ottawa. The ordination will take place on the St. Lawrence River, repeating the 2002 ordination of seven women on the Danube. It will be performed by two of the Danube seven who are now bishops. They "went on to be secretly ordained bishops, by an undisclosed number of Roman Catholic bishops in good standing with Rome." The news item notes that the Vatican excommunicated the 'Danube Seven,' calling "their priesthood valid but illicit." [Editor: Please note that the "ordination" could not be a Catholic sacramental ordination and the act, therefore, was not only illicit but invalid; in short, a non-event, a fraud, a hoax. The so-called Catholic bishops who supposedly ordained the women and who are said to be in good standing, would have automatically excommunicated themselves.]
In an earlier report on Dec. 14, 2003, the reader was informed about the support from a community of Dominican Sisters in South Africa for their Sister Trish Fresen's ordination, even though it meant she had to leave that community. The theme of the article is that "the only way of changing an unjust law is by breaking it" (p. 15). Thereafter, the Jan. 4, 2004 CNT brought, under the title "Women Catholic bishops in Europe respond," the text which the two post-Danube female "bishops" forwarded to Sister Fresen's community after her "ordination." It is laid out in the paper as if it were all perfectly normal. Another two weeks later, there is the editorial "Towards the ordination of women." Meanwhile, a news item reports on feminist theologian Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza writing a letter to an imaginary pope Miriam IV. Is this a spoof?. No, no, no, it is all in dead earnest.
On March 21, 2004, CNT gives two full pages to theologian Lisa Sowle Cahill, "On being a Catholic feminist" (10-11). Catholic feminism, the author tells us, rejects "an unjustly hierarchical and authoritarian Church," and promotes the idea that Jesus saves us through "his humanity and not through his maleness". Therefore, leading feminist theologians disagree with Church teaching that maintains that "women cannot represent Christ in the Eucharistic sacrifice" and that "the priest's maleness is essential to his serving as an icon of Christ." For the time being, however, Dr. Cahill states, women work for systemic change rather than emphasizing ordination. Meanwhile, having been excluded from mediating grace in the sacramental system, they have developed a better understanding than men of"the sacredness of every day."
A June 6 news item informs the reader that the 2002 Danube women are now preparing for a second ordination of women to "the diaconate and presbyterate". On another page feminist Marie Bouclin of Sudbury, coordinator of Women's Ordination Worldwide, argues that the Church stands in "need of a redemptive Eucharist" (p. 14). As long as "qualified women" are being turned away as candidates for the priesthood "women will continue to experience fear and frustration," while the Church fails to be redemptive.
CNT of Sept. 12, 2004, brings the news in a full-page article that Canadian woman Michele Birch Conery has been ordained on the Danube (p. 12), and on page 13 Rosemary Ganley, assistant editor, reports that there is "not much development in Rome on women". She writes that its theme continues to be "Women: unique, special and denied." Leonard Swidler of Temple University joins her in pointing out in an open letter to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger that the Vatican's latest letter On the collaboration of Men and Women is full of errors, the greatest being that he, the Cardinal, dares to write about women when he is a male. [Editor: One wonders why Leonard Swidler claims the right to write about women.]
For its Sept. 26 edition, CNT brought in Irish feminist Dr. Mary Condren, director of the Dublin Institute for Feminism and Religion. Purpose: to bash Cardinal Ratzinger some more ("'Not in my Name': the Vatican statement on women," p. 13). Condren rejects resolutely as "fostering homophobia", "the continued assault on lesbian and homosexual relationships." On Oct. 24 Mary Rice in a column entitled "Differential treatment: two cases" (p. 16), posits the case that "women priests are excommunicated, (but) pedophiles are coddled," as if these are comparable. [Editor: Coddling pedophile priests may well have been the case but it has absolutely no relation to the fact that women cannot be priests.]
The CNT articles on ecology and ecology-spirituality seem to be also oriented toward feminists. They touch worship of Mother Earth and nature.
In the Feb. 29, 2004 edition, for example, CNT staff and Sister Sheila Moss of the Sisters of St. Anne on Vancouver Island, discuss the "Glenairley centre for Earth and Spirit". The March 21 edition has a follow-up article by Sister Maureen Wild, S.C. (p. 15), who quotes Thomas Berry: "All human institutions, professions, programs and activities must now be judged primarily by the extent to which they inhibit, ignore or foster a mutually enhancing human-earth relationship", The Jan. 16, 2005 CNT devotes two pages to extracts from the latest book of Ft. Jim Conlon, an original founder of CNT but now director of the Sophia Center at Holy Names University in California ("At the edge of our longing"). Conlon speaks of the "cry for a new creation" and "the new cosmology-Earth literacy."
In the February 3, 2005, edition, on CNT's concluding page 20 we find a paean of praise to one of the favourite themes of CNT, the ecology-spirituality of Thomas Berry. The column is by Cristina Vanin of the Department of Religious Studies at St. Jerome's University, Waterloo, ON. She enthusiastically describes the Maryknoll Center for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation, in the Philippines. Instead of 14 Stations of the Cross they have 14 cosmic stations that celebrate significant moments in the story of the universe--the cosmic journey. Station 4, for example, represents the oceans. Berry believes that the story of the earth gives us "insights into the universe and who we are as human beings." [Editor." Mother Earth ceremonies are popular with certain school teachers.]
Contraception and abortion
CNT has anti-Catholic views on abortion. As on other subjects, dissenters are given ample space to put these views forward. Frances Kissling, the notorious president of "Catholics for a Free Choice" (abortion) attacks Pope John Paul II for opposing the use of condoms and therefore supposedly contributing to AIDS (Jan. 25, 2004, "Reflection on Suffering," p. 13). That CNT would open its pages to Kissling is itself strange because her organization has practically no membership and is exclusively funded by anti-Catholic corporations such as the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations; yet CNT's anti-corporation stand does not seem to apply here.
The Church's teaching against contraception is attacked on April 11, 2004, by Rosanna Pellizzari, M.D., of Toronto, reporting from Costa Rica on "Reproductive health care in Latin America." Pellizzari rejects the Church's opposition to "emergency contraception" (MAP, Morning After Pill, which is an abortifacient).
In the same issue feminist academic Elaine Guillemin devotes a column to recommending the new magazine Conscience, published by "Catholics for a Free Choice." Meanwhile, the cover of the enclosed summer guide, based on Michelangelo's painting "Creation" in the Sistine Chapel, portrays God the Father as a woman.
On May 23, lawyer Kathleen Howes, the second Canadian member of "Catholics for a Free Choice" (the other member is Joanna Manning) is given a full page to wax eloquent about, the pro-abortion March in Washington, and to fulminate against George Bush and the pro-life movement who "would like to roll back the clock on sexual and equality rights."
On May 23, CNT also printed the document on "Political Responsibility" from the CCCB's Social Affairs Commission--which issued it ahead of the June federal election. CNT did so without commentary, but a following edition attacked it under the title "Bishops on election: too much on Sex."
"When the bishops obsess over homosexuality and abortion, exhausting their moral energy," the editorial states, "they diminish us all, while leaving the under 35year-olds unmoved." It then attacks Calgary Bishop Fred Henry for his "fixation" with "same-sex marriage and abortion," denounces American bishops for "threatening to excommunicate Senator John Kerry" on the sole grounds that he is 'pro-choice,' and quotes the Catholic lesbian feminist Mary Hunt as saying that "this tactic" is "demeaning, narrow and myopic." The Pope himself, the editorial continues, "isn't off the hook, with his increasing militancy on sexual topics." The bishops "are hamstrung by obedient stances towards Rome."
CNT of June 6 prints the May 17, 2004 statement from the National Coalition of American Nuns, attacking those American bishops who decided to protect the Eucharist from Catholic politicians who continue to publicly support legal abortion after being warned not to do so: "We call on Catholics who are the church," the statement reads, "to ignore such abusive denunciations from those who have insulated themselves from the Gospel and from life" (p.15).
In the CNT of Sept. 12, Rosana Pellizzari returns for another scientifically invalid defence of "Emergency Contraception." ("The Canadian bishops, she complains, "tragically oppose the move" of the Canadian government to provide it over the counter.) She is now the Medical Officer of Health in Perth County, ON.
In its Sept. 26 edition, CNT joined the Coalition of American Nuns in denouncing the refusal to give Holy Communion to "pro-choice" Catholic politicians [Editorial, "The Eucharist is indeed political," p.4]. "For these bishops," the editorial states, "the Eucharist is a weapon to threaten and punish people for their views and votes." [Editor: one can hardly think of a more deliberate distortion of the bishops' intention than this.]
The CNT of Jan. 30, 2005, brought two more abortion-related articles. In the first one, assistant editor Rosemary Ganley gives a favourable overview of Frances Kissling's latest call for a "progressive, woman-centred, religious feminism which stands for choice and gay rights." The second article records a debate about abortion between a CNT member and a professor of religious studies in Colorado, with the CNT member defending the humanity of the foetus. That last point of view is an exception to the content of the other articles.
This brings us to homosexuality and same-sex "marriage."
Homosexuality and SSM
The reader will have noticed that "equality" for "gays" and SSM are part and parcel of the subjects surveyed already. Measured by volume of articles and references, justification of the homosexual lifestyle forms the single largest preoccupation of CNT. To the question raised earlier whether the February 13, 2005 editorial is perhaps an exception, the answer is: it is not. On the contrary, it is the product of long-held views expressed over many editions.
As mentioned, I began the survey in the fall of 2003, a time when the SSM issue had grown full-blown with Prime Minister Jean Chretien refusing to challenge the judges' June 10, 2003 ruling in court. Shortly thereafter he declared that SSM should be made legal.
CNT's edition of Sept. 21, 2003 gets right into it. On page 3 Barry Blackburn who, the reader is told, frequently writes for CNT on ecological issues, reveals himself as a gay man who rejects Church teaching on homosexuality as "unjust and harmful." I speak "with the voices of my lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered brothers and sisters and declare that our sexuality is not only good but is blessed." He praises the late Father Andre Guindon of St. Paul's University, Ottawa, for confirming him in his views. "My homosexual orientation has been created by God and is sanctified by the Spirit in Christ." In other words, Mr. Blackburn expresses the view that "gays" are born that way, just like other people are born black, brown or white. It is one of the great myths of the "gay" drive for acceptance.
In the same issue, on page 15, former editor Janet Somerville "Speaks out against same-sex marriages" in a letter to her Member of Parliament. It is the first and also the last time that the reader sees this point of view defended in CNT. From here on, CNT moves only in one direction, towards affirmation of the homosexual lifestyle.
The October 19, 2003 edition features Jeremy Bartram, a former editor of the BC Catholic who long ago left Vancouver to champion the homosexual lifestyle and now also SSM. He rejects the bishops' (CCCB) pastoral letter of Sept. 10, 2003, which expressed opposition to SSM. He denounces the Pope's rejection of same-sex spouses adopting children and the Pope's teaching that there are reasons for just discrimination against "gays" (pp.10-11).
Bartram is joined in the same edition by lesbian Sister Sandra Stewart of the Congregation of Our Lady of the Missions in Winnipeg. Under the title "Canadian religious woman calls for acceptance," Stewart trashes the Vatican's July 30, 2003 letter on same-sex spouses and marriage (p. 11). The letters to the editor all criticize Janet Somerville and the Church for rejecting SSM.
In CNT of Jan. 4, 2004, Protestant Scripture scholar Luke Timothy Johnson writes on "Sex, women and the Church." According to him Humanae vitae is a failure: it weakens the Church's prophetic stand. John Paul II's "theology of the body," meant to strengthen Humanae vitae, was really about "keeping women in their place and maintaining the aura of papal authority" (p. 10). Clearly, there is need for prophetic change to end this "systemic sexism," he concluded. The same edition carried a review of John Perito's 2003 book dissecting and dismissing Catholic sexuality (p. 17).
Father James Roberts
On the back page, the ever-dissenting Father James Roberts from Vancouver continued from his previous articles his rejection of Vatican teaching on homosexuality. He blames the Church's flawed understanding of the natural law and the Scriptures. He denies that homosexual sexual acts are unnatural and sinful. He quotes with approval a biomedical scientist who says that "of its nature sexual intercourse serves the enduring committed relationships between partners" and that "the openness to life inheres in the relationship and not in individual sexual acts. These acts nutture, support, even ritualize that relationship and as such are always procreative."
This statement implies that all genital sexual acts are both life-giving and procreative provided two people have a "committed relationship." Clearly, it is all borrowed from the 1977 report Human Sexuality. The relationship is not defined; it could mean that two people merely like one another. Apparently they need not be married to one another or even be of different sexes. And apparently, too, "procreative" does not involve "having an essential relationship to children" but simply "a fostering of mutual commitment to one another," apart from the here and now relation of genital sexual activity to the openness of the begetting of children. The Church's condemnation of these theories obviously does not impress Fr. Roberts.
On Jan. 25, 2004 CNT devoted a page to an "Open letter to the Roman Catholic Church regarding gays and lesbians" from two priests plus 23 others in Chicago. It accused bishops' conferences and the Vatican of having "assumed a tone of such violence and abusiveness towards these sons and daughters of the Church," that "we can no longer be silent." The authors charged the Vatican with "the demonization of these children of God" by using "mean-spirited language," such as 'the spread of the phenomenon,' 'approval of legalization of evil,' 'a serious depravity,' 'grave detriment to the common good,' 'harmful to the proper development of society,' 'intrinsically disordered.' This, the 25 priests declare, is "vile and toxic language."
To counteract this, they recommend "a new atmosphere of openness to dialogue," to recognize the "blessings of countless homosexuals in a variety of relationships," to stop directing statements at them, and "instead begin an earnest dialogue" with them. CNT invited other clergy to add their names to the list.
[Editor: The authors of the letter do not seem to be aware that from the late sixties till the mid-eighties many bishops had bent over backwards to accommodate Catholic homosexuals organized under the title "Dignity." Only when Dignity--around 1986--resolutely rejected Catholic teaching on sexual morality did it become clear that dialogue was fruitless.]
In the Feb. 8, 2004 CNT edition, Bert Monster from St. Catharines challenges the decision of Development and Peace to conform to the Church's position not to fund or promote condoms in the battle against HIV/AIDS (p.14). On page 15 Anglican John Shelby Spong returns to argue that the acceptance of homosexuality must be part of "modern consciousness," which is now rejecting "an old and inadequate definition." The headline within the text reads: "Homosexual orientation is also now generally recognized as consisting of a stable percentage of the population at all times and all places."
On the back page Charlie Angus, writing from Cobalt, ON, has a column "God is a trucker." The column reflects on the closing of a church in the Timmins diocese, and suggests that maybe the church should have rolling chapels in trucks to go from place to place. I only mention this because Charlie Angus is the NDP Member of Parliament for Timmins, and set to vote for the federal same-sex marriage legislation.
The February 29, 2004, edition features lesbian Sister Christina Cathro of New Zealand and Edmonton, Alberta, under the title "Refusing to grant a degree. Aloysius Ambrozic and my doctoral work." Cathro just could not understand why the previous fall the Cardinal had refused to bestow her degree himself and left it to the Chancellor of the University of Toronto to do so. Her Ph.D. dissertation was called Echo: Contributions of Lesbians' Journeys to Spiritual Direction and Theological Reflection. The theme of her CNT essay expressed in the text is "His action is grave misuse of power." The combination of these three elements: the article's appearance in CNT, Cathro's pretended indignation, and the fact that such a dissertation was pursued and awarded by St. Michael's University's Faculty of Theology, all illustrate the pro-homosexual interaction between CNT, religious orders, and the theological academia in Toronto. Cathro, like Sister Sandra Stewart, is a member of Our Lady of the Missions Congregation.
On March 21, 2004, Father Roberts presents another column questioning the Church's teaching on homosexuality ("Sexuality and the New Testament"), this time quoting biblical scholar Raymond F. Collins that "sexual orientation is a notion with which the ancient authors were unfamiliar." Robert takes that to mean that one cannot quote the New Testament against homosexuality because that is a form of "false literalism."
In the April 11 edition, long-term "gay" supporter Fr. Tim Ryan of the Scarborough Foreign Missions presents his views in a full-page article entitled "Same-sex marriage: a dissenting Catholic opinion." Nowhere is there an indication that Toronto's Cardinal Ambrozic had suspended Father Ryan from the priesthood some two months earlier for signing a legal affidavit supporting SSM.
More of the same
There are other tidbits. In the Sept. 12, 2004 CNT Rosemary Ganley writes a sympathetic report about the visit of Casey and Mary Ellen Lopata, from the Rochester (N.Y). Catholic Gay and Lesbian Family Ministry. They had just published the book Fortunate Families: Catholic Families with Lesbian Daughters and Gay Sons. Bishop John Shelby Spong is back in the CNT of October 10 to argue again that homosexuality is something one is born with and that he is depressed about American politics (p.16). Pro-"choice" Gerald Vandezande is given space to promote his ideas of civil unions for homosexuals in the Jan. 16, 2005 CNT. In this same edition, Gregory Baum returns to an old theme of his in an article on page 17; namely, that active homosexuals should remain in the Catholic Church while dissenting from the Church's teaching. The excessive language ("intrinsically disordered" etc.) makes the claims of the Church "incredible, therefore untruthful," he says.
Finally, in the issue before February 13, 2005, the one with which we began, the top part of the editorial page is given to "Cardinal Ambrozic's letter to PM" opposing SSM while in the bottom half Barry Blackburn defends Canada's judicial system for promoting it ("Appreciating Supreme Court opinion on same-sex marriage, Jan. 30, 2005).
The evidence is clear. This is no longer a Catholic paper. CNT rejects the Church's marital-sexual-moral teaching across the board. It also defies the solemnly-defined (May 19951) ordination of men only, and ridicules the 1900-year-old discipline of celibacy. It mocks Pope, bishops, priests and the faithful.
Is it any wonder that Catholics across the country are wondering--or perhaps despairing--why, first, this newspaper continues to carry the title "Catholic," and second, why it continues to be promoted in Catholic churches and parishes?
Financially, CNT is doing well. The Feb. 13, 2005 edition carries a brief financial report: subscriptions brought in $130,000; advertising $68,000; and donations $82,000, enough to ,-over costs and leave something left over.
Intellectually and morally, CNT is spreading confusion and false teaching among Catholics. But does the local bishop know this? Does he ever read this newspaper? If so, why does he continue to allow it in the churches? If not, should parishioners not draw his attention to it?
P.S. Please, see also Letters to the Editor, pages, 4 and 5. It is permitted to photocopy this article or reprint it for wider distribution.
Father Alphonse de Valk, C.S.B. is a priest of the Congregation of St. Basil and the editor of Catholic Insight magazine.
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Title Annotation:||Feature Article|
|Author:||de Valk, Alphonse|
|Date:||Apr 1, 2005|
|Previous Article:||The "morning after" pill and the abortion rate.|
|Next Article:||Same-Sex Attraction A Parents' Guide.|