Wednesday, March 17, 2010

More On The Boulder Situation And A Few Thoughts On Cardinal Newman

Given his own situation, I seriously doubt Cardinal Newman would have made the same decision about the relationship between the two mothers in Boulder, Colorado.

Boulder pastor says Jesus turned some away
By Thomas C. Fox - NCR - 3/17/10

Fr. William Breslin, pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus parish, seemed like a tired warrior March 13 as he sat on a chair in front of the church greeting parishioners as they left the five o'clock Saturday Mass.

For more than a week, since word became public that he had forbidden two young girls, five and three, to further their education in the parish elementary school because their mothers are a lesbian couple, the parish -- and Breslin, in particular -- has been at the center of a firestorm of controversy.

"Let's pray that we find ways to come together, that we find the means for reconciliation," he said before his parishioners during the Mass only minutes earlier. (The problem here is that Fr. Breslin is not seeking reconciliation. He is seeking capitulation. The use of the term reconciliation is very PC.)

Reconciliation is needed in Sacred Heart Parish. Parishioners are deeply divided in the aftermath of Breslin's decision. Some have already left the parish; others are threatening to pull their children form the parish school.

Meanwhile, the issue of how the Sacred Heart Parish is to deal with the children of lesbian parents rests within other social, religious and cultural divisions in the broader society. But in few places are these divides more pesonal and emotional than within Sacred Heart Parish.

In this progressive community on the eastern edge of the Rockies, where people pride themselves on being open and welcoming to virtually all lifestyles, holding the line on traditional values is not easy or popular. Yet Breslin feels that this is precisely what his church is calling him to do and it has led him to make a decision that appears unique or nearly so throughout the Catholic church in the United States.

As parishioners left Mass Saturday a number stopped to offer supportive words to the man they call "Fr. Bill." One elderly couple, standing next to him, said: "Fr. Bill, keep the faith. We're praying for you. Stay strong."

"Do pray for me," he replied.

Asked by this reporter what moved him to ban the girls from entering the parish elementary school, he responded: "Let me tell you clearly. This whole matter is about having the freedom to uphold the teachings of our faith. It's about preserving that freedom when a secular society doesn't want us to have it." (Thank you for your honesty. It has nothing to do with Jesus Christ or His teachings and everything to do with maintaining power in secular society. What you call freedom is really the power to exclude.)

When Breslin looks out at the world he sees an increasingly secular society, one that has lost its moral compass, and, as it grows even more secular, it is increasingly willing to attacking traditional moral values and more specifically the teachngs of the Catholic church.

Breslin wants to show that someone is not going to take it anymore. (Fr Breslin, is very much a victim of his own making and like most self made victims refuses to actually see whats in the mirror.)

The priest writes a blog on the parish Web site and he has gone to some lengths to explain his seemingly quite unpopular decision.

On his blog -- for awhile he had allowed comments but eventually removed them -- a number of people wrote contrasting Breslin's action with the actions of a compassionate Jesus.

Breslin disagreed, writing the following: "The complaint goes more or less this way: Jesus would never have turned anyone away, no matter where they came from or who they were."

"Now let us set things right: (Who is us?)

"Actually Jesus did turn people away. In Mark 5 Jesus healed the demoniac, and after the healing the man wanted to become a disciple. Jesus said, No, go back to your own people and tell them all that the Lord in His mercy has done for you. And when the rich young man wanted to follow Jesus, He told him, Go first and sell what you have and give it to the poor and then come follow me. And in John 6, Jesus taught a very hard message so that most of those following Him turned away and would no longer walk in His company. He did not soften His message so as to win them back. (In neither of these examples does Jesus make a hard and fast decision to turn anyone away. The demoniac is given a mission, the rich young man makes his own choice, as did all those who chose to leave in the third example. They chose to leave, in this Boulder situation, the choice was the opposite.)

So the post-modern thought that Jesus was warm and fuzzy and making no demands on anyone is just not true and avoids the very hard teachings that eventually led to His crucifixion."

Breslin feels his church is threatened and cannot give in to new thinking on marriage and family.
Breslin wrote: "The core issue for us Catholics on this question is our freedom and our obligation to teach about marriage and family life as our faith teaches. If parents see the cultural interpretation of what tolerance has become as more important than the teachings of Jesus, then we become unfaithful to the Lord and we lose the meaning of the beatitude, "Blessed are you when they insult you for My sake, for the Kingdom of Heaven is yours." Many of Jesus' teachings were not popular. In fact, He was crucified for His teachings."
(Again the issue is keeping control, not living a Christian message of love.)

"The issue, he went on, "is not about our not accepting 'sinners.' It is not about punishing the child for the sins of his or her parents. It is simply that the lesbian couple is saying that their relationship is a good one that should be accepted by everyone; and the church cannot agree to that."

Many who had criticized the decision did so for its inconsistency. Why gays and lesbians? Why not those who are divorced and remarried without the blessing of the church?

Responds Breslin: "People who are divorced do not say divorce is good. There are no pro-divorce parades. Divorce is a tragedy for everybody. So there's no comparing other issues to the issue of gay marriage. Actually, by this decision we really want to protect the child and his or her parents from the necessary conflict that their relationship would bring to a clear-seeing and committed Catholic community. (The real issue here is to protect the parishoners from seeing the deceit in the Church's position that gay relationships are always bad. That they can in fact be good and loving and raise healthy competent children.)

"The policy of the Catholic school system is also to protect the teachers from being forced -- in our own schools -- to face huge conflicts within the classroom, so they can teach clearly, and also support the family life of the children they are teaching." (Avoiding these kind of conflicts must only apply to Boulder, because inner city Catholic schools face these conflicts all the time.)

One supportive comment moved Breslin to share it with his readers.

He wrote: "One of you readers sent me a quote from George Orwell that says it all: 'During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. Well, welcome to the revolution! And the revolution is to think differently about love.' (Send this quote to the Vatican. Universal deceit seems to have really taken hold and telling the truth is truly a revolutionary act.)

"If love were defined as doing or saying things that make people feel good, then such 'love' would have been a choice often in conflict with Christ's actions and teachings – He readily challenged and confronted sin and those who participated in it. But if, instead, we adopt a more mature definition of love, as wanting what is truly best for another (e.g., a properly formed conscience, knowing right from wrong, correct relationship with God, and awakening into eternal salvation) and doing our part to help accomplish that, then there is no conflict between telling the truth and being loving."

Responding to the negative comments posted on his blog, Breslin wrote: "Many of the negative comments I have received have inferred that the only acceptable path of love means never speaking the truth about anything that would upset another. 'Live and let live' would be the motto for this manner of loving.

"Would it not be far more loving to confront a loved one than to be silent about his or her pursuing, for instance, a destructive addiction, even though alcohol or drugs may make him or her 'feel good'? In the case of drugs or alcohol, as with inappropriate sexual behavior, the parties involved could say that they derive some sense of 'happiness' from their choices. Nonetheless, the wisdom of the church tells us that wrong sources of this supposed 'happiness' are ultimately harmful and only seek to fill a void -- a void which, according to the church Fathers, can only be filled by a right relationship with God." (The problem with this analogy is that there is a whole host of empirical research which backs up the destructive nature of abuse of drugs and alcohol. There is no such research which backs up the destructive nature of mature loving gay relationships. In point of fact, in the real world, addiction has done more to destroy the traditional family than gay marriage or proponents of the 'gay agenda' could ever ever hope to accomplish.)


I really did want to hear how Fr. Breslin was going to justify this decision without making it obvious that the decision was all about the 'gay' and had nothing to do with the care or concern for the children. Oh yea, and it was about the poor teachers too.

I had to shake my head while reading the final paragraph because I sat through more than one class where the description of a happy Catholic marriage and family was a torture for the children whose daddy came home in a drunken stupor and beat the shit out of mommy and them. These children constantly prayed for the 'good' of divorce, feeling it was better to be safe with one parent than terrified with two.
Why have correct sexual acts become the central facet around which Catholicism and lay Catholics are supposed to center their lives? What ever happened to the Eucharist? What ever happened to Jesus? Everything seems to come down to correct sexual acts. Marriage isn't about relationship, it's about correct sexual acts. Ability at parenting is somehow a magical by product of correct sexual acts. In fact, healthy relationships can't exist outside of correct sexual acts. These acts are so important they now transcend the baptismal rights of innocent children. (I did note that Fr. Breslin is offering CCD as an alternative, which says what about CCD? It's for second class Catholics because it's taught by less pure laity?)

Here's my real conundrum. Why aren't correct sexual acts this determinative for our clergy? You know the people for whom there are no correct sexual acts? The very clergy whose incorrect sexual acts have blown the credibility of the Church to smithereens and brought on all these attacks from 'secular relativists'--(also known as Faithful Catholic laity). Father Breslin is not a lone voice crying in the wilderness of secular relativism. He's a scared man attempting to reassert clerical authority in a sewer of clerical betrayal, and has undoubtedly caved into that other Catholic culture warrior who is his immediate boss. I am overawed by the heroic courage of these two men in cleansing their turf of two quiet self effacing mothers and their two children.

This situation is hugely symbolic of what is wrong with the Church. It's not the secular relativism and incorrect sexual practices of the laity. It's the sexual relativism of the clergy and the pathetic defense mechanisms now in play to distract the laity from this truth. And always it centers around children and other innocents and the abuse of spiritual power.

I'm going to make a prediction. If the ugly currents now swirling around the Vatican and the Papacy keep snow balling, Benedict will cancel his trip to Britain. He will be too sick or have some other conflict. For him to beatify Cardinal Newman in this climate would take more chutz pa than I think the man actually has. I doubt very seriously that Cardinal Newman would ever have taken the stand of Fr. Breslin. Cardinal Newman would have given the two women the benefit of the doubt. Especially in view of his own situation.

In the end beatifying Cardinal Newman may not be exactly what Benedict wants to do in this particular climate. Cardinal Newman is a boat full of hopeful symbolism for gays, for the rights of laity, and for checks and balances on papal power. If Benedict does go through with it, it won't be the devil that made him do it. It will be another, more positive influence.


  1. Now that these horrible people cannot send their children to Catholic school, will they also be denied the right to send them to CCD (Sunday school)? Will their children be denied the right to the sacraments of Penance, Eucharist, and Confirmation? Isn't the logical conclusion of the pastor's position that gays have no place in the Church, and that even the children of gays have no place in the Church? For how many generations will the shunning be necessary?

    I cry for my Church. It is being run by the lunatic fringe.

  2. The "Christian" Taliban has arrived on the world's stage. May it snowball back to hell.

  3. Colleen, your analysis has helped me see something I had missed in news coverage of these events previously.

    You say (and your bold-face makes the point leap out for me), that when he was asked why he took the step of excluding these girls from his school, Breslin said, "Let me tell you clearly. This whole matter is about having the freedom to uphold the teachings of our faith. It's about preserving that freedom when a secular society doesn't want us to have it."

    That's a mind-boggling statement. WHO was infringing on Breslin's freedom when the girls were enrolled in the school?

    Breslin's language is all about aggression, as if he and the church are innocent victims of some attacker. Yet the only attacker is HIM. And his view of the church.

    I now understand much better what's going on in this situation. Initially, there were reports, circulating in right-wing Catholic circles, that these were two aggressive anti-Catholic lesbians trying to beat up on the parish.

    Turned out those were wildly wrong. The story is precisely the opposite. The aggression is all on the side of Breslin, who used this family to prove a point.

    On the side of Breslin and Chaput, because read what Chaput writes about, and it's the very same crap: embattled church, having its freedom to stand up for the truth taken away.

    This is a bellicose church itching to find someone to beat up to prove a point. Is is any wonder Breslin's choices have backfired and people are running as fast as they can to distance themselves from such a church?

  4. On what grounds do you say that Newman would not have taken the stand that Fr Breslin did?

    Do you know anything about Newman's life at all?

  5. For a terrific rebuttal of Breslin's (mis-)use of scripture, read "Jesus in Boulder" (and the sequel), from the America scripture blog.

    It was written by John W. Martens, who himself accepts "the Church’s teaching regarding sexuality," but it's still worth reading.

  6. EW, Newman would not have made the fundamental errors in scriptural exegesis that Fr. Breslin did in order to justify an act which completely contradicts a number of Jesus's teachings.

    It may be wishful thinking on my part but I have a tough time believing that someone as astute as Newman wouldn't have seen this as an unwarranted power play.

  7. In another time, the child of a single mother would be called a 'bastard' by both cleric & gleeful lay fanatics. Said innocent child would be banned from Holy Orders - and from schooling in some cases. And would be the subject of ridicule & humiliation.

    For many centuries, the Church 'in her loving wisdom' has done & encouraged the same in re gay ppl.

    The fact that such is overtly contrary to the Gospel seems not to phase the Pharisee......

    Children adopted by (or of..) a gay couple are as all children are: innocent. I find it macabre that children of ANNULLMENT or civil divorce are not denied enrollment in Catholic schools. Even though in some if not many cases, the parents have very clearly violated Christ's clear teachings!

    Jesus Christ, the 2nd Person of the Trinity, who is God....who authored the Commandments....neither condemned nor even mentioned homosexuality. In the Commandments or in his earthly ministry. Yet He had much to say about marital infidelity & divorce......

    Children are innocent of the misdeeds of their parents. AND for two same sex ppl to live together in a committed relationship neither violates the law of God, nor of itself denies them the Kingdom of Heaven.

  8. Anon, soon I am going to write a post about John Paul I and his crusade for the 'bastards' of Italy. Italy was one of those countries in which bastard children were treated like stray dogs with the whole hearted approval of the Church. It's a sad sad story.

  9. Anonymous, I am getting very tired and annoyed of hearing this type of comment that will defend gays but will not come to the defense of heterosexuals with failed marriages and who seem to ignore the entire system of abuse of the Church's Annulment process, judge others and seem willing to make others into outcast.

    You said: "I find it macabre that children of ANNULLMENT or civil divorce are not denied enrollment in Catholic schools. Even though in some if not many cases, the parents have very clearly violated Christ's clear teachings!"

    I don't believe any child under any circumstance should be denied a Catholic education and made into political pawns. Whether the parents are divorced, annulled or not, or gay, a single parent, really is irrelevant when the commandment is "love your neighbor as yourself."

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