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This blog is maintained by the Ruth Institute. It provides a place for our Circle of Experts to express themselves. This is where the scholars, experts, students and followers of the Ruth Institute engage in constructive dialogue about the issues surrounding the Sexual Revolution. We discuss public policy, social practices, legal doctrines and much more.
Posted on: Monday, July 30, 2018
I was always taught to respect the clergy. But what do we do when the clergy harm each other?
By Jennifer Roback Morse
This article was first published on July 20, 2018, at The Stream.
I was always taught to respect the clergy. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Should criticism be necessary, let it be as gentle as possible. But what do we do when the clergy harm each other? Cardinal Kevin Farrell’s recent comments about priests lacking credibility for preparing couples for marriage amounts to an attack on every priest in Christendom. He makes an unnecessary criticism, in a harsh manner. Worst, his comments bring disrespect to the priestly office itself. A bit of thought, plus a brief look into the Cardinal’s background, may help explain his comments, wrongheaded though they are.
Let’s review the Cardinal’s comments:
During an interview … Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, said that ‘priests are not the best people to train others for marriage.’
They have no credibility; they have never lived the experience; they may know moral theology, dogmatic theology in theory, but to go from there to putting it into practice every day … they don’t have the experience.
Sweeping statement. No benefit of the doubt. Harsh. One cannot doubt the Cardinal’s meaning, because he made similar comments last September.
If he is trying to say that laity should be involved with marriage prep, I can get behind that. (I educate the public about Church teaching.) Farrell could easily have invited more lay involvement without taking a swing at his fellow priests. He could have simply said, “We’re overworked. Help!!” No one would have batted an eye.
Cardinal Farrell seems to be joining the non-Catholic critics of the celibate clergy. But these critics focus on the wrong thing. The scandal is not unmarried celibate clergy. After all, many of Jesus’ apostles were celibate. Today’s biggest scandal is the lack of clerical celibacy.
Which brings me to a curious detail in Farrell’s background, as reported by the Catholic News Agency:
In 2002, he became an auxiliary bishop of Washington, serving as moderator of the curia and vicar general, a chief advisory role, to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, with whom Farrell lived in a renovated parish building in Washington’s Kalorama neighborhood.
McCarrick is having his “MeToo” moment. Major media outlets have revealed decades of McCarrick’s sexual harassment of seminary students. Some have gone so far as to say that “everybody knew” about McCarrick’s conduct.
Perhaps this explains Farrell’s doubt about his brother priests’ competence to prepare couples for marriage. Maybe some priests Farrell knows really do “have no credibility” for preparing couples for marriage, including some formed under Bishop McCarrick. We could say that some of them were “deformed” or “malformed.”
For example, Priest A’s story was reported in two separate sources. He was the object of McCarrick’s attentions. He went on to have sexual acting-out problems himself, and eventually left the priesthood. Being formed under someone like McCarrick could leave scars that affect a man’s priesthood.
Not all priests have disgraced themselves. Nor have all priests had their formation twisted by their superiors. For every story of scandal we read about, there are many more stories of holiness and grace that never make the headlines.
In any case, truly celibate clergy have tremendous credibility. They have a lot to offer young couples preparing for marriage: their experience of a lifetime of self-giving, self-sacrificing love. Young couples need this preparation for marriage, every bit as much as communication skills and budgeting tips. Cardinal Farrell’s comments swept all priests into the same basket. His comments most harm the truly celibate, self-sacrificing priests.
I have no doubt which side I support in this clash between a cardinal making unfounded claims and the rest of the clergy. All I can say is, “Speak for yourself, Cardinal Farrell.”
Posted on: Tuesday, July 10, 2018
by Doug Mainwaring
This article was first published June 22, 2018, at Life Site News.
'Gay Straight Catholic Alliance' members hold signs suggesting God supports homosexuality.
ROME, Italy, June 22, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – For the first time in history, Vatican officials have seemingly embraced the notion that some people are born gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender via the inclusion of the term “LGBT” in the preparatory document for the Holy See’s upcoming Youth Synod.
Pro-LGBT Catholic organizations have cheered this as an important milestone. Fr. James Martin, SJ, the priest who stands at the forefront of promoting the normalization of homosexuality and transgenderism within the Church, accurately observed that for orthodox Catholics “It will be harder to object now,” to the infiltration of gay ideology.
Rome’s inclusion of the term was met with immediate, forceful pushback.
“This is a big problem. We do not use the political language of the gay rights and associated movement when analyzing the nature of man and the nature of sin,” said Fr. Gerald Murray, speaking on EWTN’s The World Over. “The Catholic Church does not accept that there is a category of human beings created by God meant to commit homosexual activity.”
“We don’t believe that bisexual people exist in the sense of saying ‘God made certain people who he wants to have sex with both men and women,’” Fr. Murray continued. “We do not believe in transgenderism. The Catholic Church does not teach that God made some people women but gave them a male body, and therefore they have to discover that they’re women by overcoming their male bodies. We don’t believe in any of that.”
LGBT “is a political propaganda term,” he added. “Using that in this document signals an agreement that all of those categories exist as natural and God-given categories of people. Big mistake.”
Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, explained in a press conference that the acronym LGBT had been taken from the pre-synodal document compiled by young people at their meeting with the Pope and Synod organizers on March 19-24. Synod organizers were “very diligent in taking into account the work done by the bishops’ conferences, but especially the results of this meeting with youth, of which they were the protagonists.”
The veracity of his statement has been vociferously challenged.
“Just for the record, the document from the Synod did not use the ‘LBGT’ acronym,” noted Jennifer Roback Morse, PhD., founder and president The Ruth Institute, which strives to help “survivors” of the worldwide sexual revolution.
“So, no Cardinal Baldisseri, no fair blaming the young people,” Morse told LifeSiteNews. “The ‘LGBT’ acronym is in the working document because some adult put it there for reasons of their own. If the Cardinal and others mean to say that they think adopting a ‘gay’ identity is a good and helpful step for a young person to take, let them say so plainly.”
Faith and Reason Institute president Robert Royal agreed that “LGBT” did not appear in the source materials submitted to the Vatican but that it was later added to the working document, the Instrumentum Laboris, by someone working at the Vatican.
“Just as with the Synod on the Family, a lot of us looked at the preparatory documents for that as well and there’s this sort of B- sociology that goes on,” Royal said, “where you start with the terminology and the understanding that’s out there in culture, and of course it’s very difficult when you start on the other guy’s field to score on Catholicism. You know, you’re playing their game. It’s an away game that you’re playing.”
“So I detect the same sort of thing going on here,” continued Royal. “Perhaps people mean well by including this (LGBT). This is something that has to be confronted … But to start using the language of the culture does not bode well for what the consequences will be.”
“If the Vatican document is using the ugly acronym LGBT for ‘people with same-sex attractions,’ unintentionally, that would be unintelligent, foolish and irresponsible,” said Dr. Gerard van den Aardweg in a statement to LifeSiteNews. “Considering the apparent attempts within the Church to sell the falsehoods of the gay ideology, however, it may well be that this is an intentional move. In that case, it is sneaky and immoral.”
Van den Aardweg is a Dutch psychologist and psychoanalyst who has been sounding the alarm about the normalization of homosexuality for much of his distinguished 50-year career.
In both cases, the document silently but efficiently deceives ignorant and naïve young people, actually suggesting (1) that people “just are” homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, or transsexual by nature, as natural variants of sexuality, and (2) that they must be “accepted” as such, in the sense given to this word in secular society.
Whether or not intentionally, the adoption of the gay propaganda term LGBT reinforces the already existing, alarmingly growing acceptance of the gay ideology by the younger Catholic generation. Exceptions excepted, they have not been educated more than superficially in the basic Catholic doctrinal and moral truths, so are very vulnerable to the seductions of nice-sounding ideologies. The heavier the irresponsibility within the Vatican.
Youngsters with same-sex problems are given the green light to give themselves over to the self-degrading gay lifestyle, which is the way to their emotional and moral undoing; and youngsters without these problems are taught to see sexual morality as relative. Your feelings may decide what is right and wrong. Gay normalization inevitably hollows out the sexual morality of the vast heterosexual majority.
Dr. van den Aardweg added:
I want to point to another implication of this naively-foolish or malicious use of the gay LGBT word. 40% of men with homosexual desires are more or less directed to adolescents, have “pederast” tendencies. In the media, they are called “pedophiles” when it is about molestation of juveniles. And the homosexual pedophiles who are attracted to pre-pubertal boys, perhaps 5% of same-sex attracted men, may occasionally contact adolescent boys as well. So, if “the Vatican” is out to normalize LGBT, it also normalizes pederasts and pedophiles, namely, a large portion of same-sex people that is now hided away in the letters G and B. If the Vatican wants to use the gay letters, let it then add two P’s: the P of Pederasts, and the P of Pedophiles. Let it be LGBTPP.
“Have the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church given in to the reductionist zeitgeist of our age, i.e., that human beings are nothing more than the sum of our sexual preferences?” asked Thomas Berryman in a statement to LifeSiteNews.
“The Church has always refrained from using such language, seeing the human person, as (Courage Apostolate founder) Father John Harvey put it, as ‘a creature made in the likeness and image of God, with intelligence and free will, destined for eternal life, and when baptized, a brother or sister of Christ,’” said Berryman. “Using the term LGBT represents another step, intentional or otherwise, in the ongoing, rapidly-accelerating process of normalizing that which is not normal, i.e., homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderism.”
I do not know whether this devolution comes from accepting a degraded view of the human condition or a craven desire to win the approval of the world. Personally, I do not see myself as an adjective. I am not gay. I am a child of God who suffers from same-sex attraction. I view it as a cross to bear, an exercise in "redemptive suffering," linking myself to the slightest hint of the suffering our Lord experienced.
The Instrumentum laboris for the upcoming Youth Synod, like the working documents for the two meetings of the Synods on the Family, is an example of the leaders of the Church enabling the mores of the sexual revolution. To say that I am disappointed is a massive understatement. It's hard enough standing up for the Church's teachings against the world. It is even harder standing up for the Church's teachings against some of the Church's most prominent leaders.
“‘LGBT youth’ is a label within a label,” observed Paul Darrow, one of three chaste same-sex-attracted Catholics featured in the movie, Desire of the Everlasting Hills, produced by the Courage Apostolate. “Such labels are like a photographer’s air brush. In the wrong hands, they can retouch away the beautiful essence of the creator's original image.”
“When we embrace labels that describe our sexual interests, we allow our true identity to be distorted,” continued Darrow. “The Catholic Church teaches us that man's identity is found in Christ and not in our worldly desires. Memorializing the ‘LGBT youth’ label in a Vatican document seems dangerously counterproductive. It makes atheists and gay activists giddy with delight, undermines the teachings of the Church and discourages those of us who strive to move beyond our homosexual identity to a more complete one in Christ.”
“Listening respectfully to others does not mean we suspend our own judgment and substitute theirs,” Roback Morse said. “The Catholic Church has always insisted that every single person, regardless of their sexual inclinations or behavior, finds their ultimate identity as a beloved son or daughter of God, redeemed by Jesus Christ.”
“Nothing new happened at the Synod on Youth to change that reality, or the philosophy, metaphysics or theology that lies behind it and interprets it,”
she added. “I have encountered two young men in the past few weeks who are looking for clarity from the Church, not cultural capitulation.”
Posted on: Monday, July 09, 2018
by Curtis Schube
This article was first published June 29, 2018, at Life Site News.
NIFLA v. Becerra is better than anyone could have expected. The Supreme Court's ruling last Tuesday overturned California's onerous speech restriction on pregnancy care centers. Great news, to be sure. It gets better. NIFLA also overturned speech restrictions on therapists who assist people with unwanted same sex attraction.
Pregnancy centers encourage women to choose options other than abortion. The Court found that requiring such centers to post notices advertising abortion violates their First Amendment Free Speech rights. This is a very good result. However, few commentators have mentioned that the NIFLA ruling impacts attempts to ban so-called "conversion therapy."
Laws which ban sexual orientation change efforts ("SOCE" for short) have increasingly entered the national conversation, most recently in California. Before California's recent attempts to ban all forms of SOCE at any age, California already had such a law in place for minors. The law considered it "unprofessional conduct" to "seek to change sexual orientation" for a minor. Any counselor who violated the law faced professional discipline.
California's more recent SOCE laws take an even more extreme position. These laws ban all therapy that aims to change, or even reduce, sexual attraction to the same sex. Therefore, a patient who wants SOCE therapy cannot receive that service without risk to the professional counselor.
In Pickup v. Brown, same sex attracted minors and their parents, as well as counselors who wished to provide their services, claimed that this law violates their First Amendment rights to free speech and free expression. The Ninth Circuit, in 2013, determined that counseling is not speech, but rather professional "conduct." The "First Amendment does not prevent a state from regulating treatment," the Ninth Circuit concluded.
The Third Circuit upheld a similar law in New Jersey using the same logic in the 2014 case, King v. Governors of New Jersey. In relying partly upon Pickup, the Third Circuit concluded that counseling is speech (rather than conduct) but classifies that speech as professional speech. The Third Circuit states that a "professional's services stems largely from her ability to apply…specialized knowledge to a client's individual circumstances… Thus, we conclude that a licensed professional does not enjoy the full protection of the First Amendment."
In the NIFLA case, the Ninth Circuit had justified the requirement for pregnancy centers to advertise for abortion as "professional speech," just like the Ninth and Third Circuits had done for SOCE laws. The Supreme Court opinion overturning the Ninth Circuit's NIFLA opinion, specifically identified Pickup and King as examples of "professional speech" protected by the First Amendment. Writing for the majority, Justice Thomas (pictured above) stated: "Some Courts of Appeals have recognized 'professional speech' as a separate category of speech that is subject to different rules." However, "speech is not unprotected merely because it is uttered by 'professionals.'"
This is a paradigm shift in the existing precedents for SOCE bans.
Thomas seized the opportunity to provide protections to many other professions as well. "Professionals might have a host of good-faith disagreements, both with each other and with the government, on many topics in their respective fields." He identifies doctors and nurses who disagree on the prevailing opinions on assisted suicide or medical marijuana as examples of good faith disagreements. So too are lawyers and marriage counselors who disagree on prenuptial agreements and divorces, and bankers and accountants who disagree on how to commit money to savings or tax reform. One would have to conclude that Justice Thomas' intent is to protect all professionals from being regulated on matters of good faith disagreement.
This is a significant victory for free speech, and not only for pregnancy care centers. The "social justice" movement threatens many professionals in the exercise of their judgement and expertise. This Supreme Court ruling has created broad protections for a significant number of Americans who hold professional licenses. In doing so, the Court also reopened the seemingly settled question as to whether SOCE bans are constitutional. This is a welcome surprise from a case originally thought to be limited only to pregnancy centers.
Posted on: Saturday, July 07, 2018
The author of Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay says evangelizing the LGBT community starts the same way all evangelization starts: with building relationships.
by Leslie Fain
This article was first published July 5, 2018, at The Catholic World Report.
Daniel Mattson, author of Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay, recently served as the keynote speaker and received the “Public Witness Award” at the Ruth Institute Awards Banquet, June 15, at the Brick House in Lake Charles, La.
Mattson, whose story was featured in the documentary Desire of the Everlasting Hills, told the audience that as a man who is attracted to the same sex and is celibate, he is not supposed to exist. “I’m supposed to be celebrating at a parade, not here,” he said, referring to June being Gay Pride Month. The journey to what he now calls the “happiest time of his life” was difficult and tumultuous, he said.
Mattson, after years of struggling with same-sex attraction, became involved with the Courage apostolate, and witnessed the joy in the lives of many members, men and women. He eventually returned to the Catholic Church because of Courage, and was followed by his entire family, with one of his brothers becoming a Catholic priest.
Following the awards dinner, Mattson sat down with Catholic World Report and answered a few questions.
CWR: One criticism that has been leveled against Courage from some Catholics who have same-sex attraction is that it uses techniques based on Freudian psychology that the Church condemned long ago. As a longtime Courage member, what are your thoughts on that?
Daniel Mattson: Courage is based on the perennial teachings of the Catholic Church on chastity, and our God-given sexual identity, not Freud.
Since the beginning of the Courage apostolate, there was criticism leveled at it from all sorts of people, for a variety of reasons we don’t always understand.
The people who are in Courage have found it to be one of the greatest gifts of the Church to them. What’s driving that criticism is painful and mysterious to those of us who have found freedom and healing from the ministry.
CWR: How do we keep kids from being influenced by our permissive culture?
Mattson: You have to be very careful what you allow in your home, you have to monitor your computer. Computers should always be in a public place, not private. You should never allow cell phones in bed. Let’s be honest—[Satan] goes around the world like a prowling lion, seeking souls, and his easiest access is the cell phone.
Don’t give in to the pressure. You have to discern with each child whether he or she is wise enough to handle [a cell phone]. I’d recommend delaying it as much as possible.
There are good parental controls—parents need to educate themselves on that.
CWR: Is our culture suffering from too much sentimentality right now when it comes to love?
Mattson: We are suffering from sentimentality. Slogans like “love is love” are really meaningless, ultimately. People don’t even seem to know what love means anymore. That creates our opportunity in the Church to present a much more attractive alternative.
CWR: How do we reach Millennials and other young people with the Gospel?
Mattson: We have to use [the] communication tools that young people use. Using social media today is essential to evangelization. We have to be winsome and confident that we have the truth, because we really have what people are looking for—let’s tell them about it!
CWR: As far as the culture goes, do you think things will get better, stay the same, or worsen?
Mattson: I personally think we are on a downward trajectory, which means we have to be more serious about the mission that we are on, and to think back to how Christianity exploded in the first few centuries of the Church. Instead of being pessimistic, let’s be optimistic and bold about what God wants us to do to turn this culture around.
CWR: What is the best way to witness to our gay neighbors?
Mattson: First of all, let’s not view our neighbors as gay, or any letter of the LGBT alphabet. Instead, we need to view them as God sees them: as beloved sons and daughters of God. The key to evangelization is the same as it is with anyone else: building relationships with them and loving them and investing in their lives, because evangelism always follows from relationships. The key is the example of the woman at the well. They started with a drink of water together, and then evangelism came after that.
I wouldn’t bring up homosexuality to them. I’d let them bring it up first, and then focus first of all on the love that God the Father has for them. All evangelism must begin with that fundamental truth.
Posted on: Monday, July 02, 2018
On June 15, 2018, the Ruth Institute held its First Annual Awards Dinner in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Among the 250 guests was His Excellency, the Most Reverend Bishop Glen John Provost, Roman Catholic Bishop of Lake Charles, who gave the invocation.
Recipients of awards included authors, scholars and activists.
Dr. Mark Regnerus (left) received the Institute’s award for Scholarship. Prof. Regnerus teaches sociology at the University of Texas at Austin and is a senior fellow at the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture. He is perhaps best known as the researcher who challenged the belief that the children of same-sex couples do as well as those from heterosexual families.
Regnerus was specifically honored for his latest book, Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage and Monogamy, where he describes the brave new world of the Pill, pornography, delayed marriage and the hook-up culture.
Mrs. Caryl Ayala (pictured right with Dr. Morse) received the Institute’s award as Activist and Ruth Institute Book Club Leader of the Year. Mrs. Ayala is co-founder of Concerned Parents of Austin, a grassroots organization of educators and parents who inform and equip families against the dangers of Comprehensive Sex Education. She is also the Family Ministry Coordinator at Oak Meadow Baptist Church and promotes programs that address biblical purity and sexuality. As such, she organized a Ruth Institute Book Club on 101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person.
Mr. Daniel Mattson (left) received the Institute’s award for Public Witness and was the evening’s keynote speaker. Mr. Mattson is a professional musician and author of the book Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay. He spoke of his journey from living as a gay man to finding peace, joy and fulfillment by entering the Catholic Church. This transformation is also recounted in the award-winning documentary, “Desire of the Everlasting Hills.” Mattson’s book was praised by Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (2012-2017).
Distinguished guests included Fr. Paul Sullins, Ph.D. Recently retired from the Catholic University of America’s Sociology Department, Fr. Sullins has
done groundbreaking work on the psychological impact of abortion on women, and the impact of same-sex parenting on children, work he will continue
to do for the Ruth Institute. [Below left: Seminarians from the Diocese of Lake Charles. Below right: Nee de Tradition.]
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse Ph.D., Founder and President of the Ruth Institute, said the organization’s mission is to “equip Christians to know and explain why they believe what they believe about marriage and family.” Morse elaborated: “We believe that children need their parents; that every child deserves a relationship with their natural mother and father, unless an unavoidable tragedy prevents it; that every person, without exception, deserves to know their cultural heritage and identity.
“These rights of children place constraints on adult behavior around marriage and sex. Traditional Christian sexual ethics protect the rights of children and educate adults about their responsibilities. Each of our award winners has made significant contributions to building a society that defends these rights of children.”
Following dinner, awards and the keynote presentation, guests enjoyed visiting with pro-family exhibitors and dancing to the music of local Cajun band, Nee de Tradition.
Dr. Morse summed up the Ruth Institute’s First Annual Awards Dinner as “inspiring, informative and fun. Our guests had a wonderful and memorable evening. We look forward to next year.”
See more pictures from the dinner on our Facebook page.