I have been discussing this article with a few folks today and the responses have been interesting. However, one response made me stop in my tracks. The individual with whom I was corresponding said it fairly succinctly. “On the other hand, even at my age and having gone to Mass my whole life, I cannot remember when I heard a homily in a Catholic Church telling people that the ‘sexual’ sins were sinful. I guess it is usually taken for granted that having sex outside of marriage and certainly homosexual sex was serious sin. But it is also much less awkward for the priest and the congregation. Once in a while the abortion word is mentioned but not often, only when those hateful anniversaries roll around. So, sadly, I don't think there is much chance that any Catholic priest will be found ‘guilty’ of this hate-speech crime. It would mean that they actually were fulfilling their vocation as shepherds of their flock. Very few are guilty of that.”
Although I am a deacon and not a priest, this comment made me reflect upon my own role in teaching and preaching the faith in its fullness. Have the “culture wars” scared me off from being faithful? Do I have the ability to address the difficult and sensitive issues in a way that does not water down the truth but also extends the grace and mercy of our God? I will admit that this is getting to be a difficult balance to achieve as society continues to grow in its acceptance of aberrant behaviors.
Those in Church leadership have moral obligations and responsibilities to teach the faith in its fullness. Yes, this means talking about sin and even the consequences of sin. Dare we mention the word “hell” in our homily? Explaining these realities will not win an individual pastor or clergy person any popularity contest in today’s society, but I think each one of us would benefit from truly asking ourselves a simple question. Do I seek popularity or do I seek holiness for myself and my parishioners?