SAN DIEGO, February 19, 2015 — Ash Wednesday turned out to be more than a religious observance in San Francisco this year. Students and parents visiting Saint Mary’s Cathedral chose this day to protest the Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco which oversees several Catholic Schools in the area. The controversy revolves around a “morality clause” recently proposed for teacher’s contracts, including an injunction to stand by the church’s position on homosexuality.
At the heart of the Archdioceses’ stance is Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone a canon law expert. No stranger to this hot potato issue, Cordileone served as an auxiliary bishop in San Diego where he publicly backed Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot initiative to change the California constitution, adding an amendment that banned same-sex marriage. A court later overturned this law, stating that this part of the California Constitution was “unconstitutional.”
Corleone also served as an Oakland bishop until three years ago when Pope Benedict XVI selected him for the San Francisco Archdiocese. Presently, he is chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Defense of Marriage.
Explaining his standard in a letter to the schools, Cordileone claimed he was responding to “tremendous pressure the contemporary culture places on everyone to conform to a certain agenda at variance with, and often aggressively so, our Christian understanding of the human person and God’s purpose in creation.”
He also said, “When people in Catholic institutions endorse such views, it creates a toxic confusion about our fundamental values among both students and others in society at large.”
Fr. John Piderit of the Archdiocese expressed support for Cordileone outside the cathedral walls.
“The archbishop is reiterating standard Catholic doctrine. And the complaint raised by different politicians and some parents and teachers is that this is discriminatory. In fact, our approach is the same for young men and women, for heterosexuals and gays.”
Protesters are being inconsistent, not only with their own Catholic faith, but with the common reasoning behind most same-sex advocacy arguments; separation between church and state.
Regarding the Catholic faith itself, those who reject the morality clause chose Lent as their time to express resistance because Lent represents 40 days of reflection.
Reflection always sounds like a good practice for Christians but evidently an honest reading of Scripture will not be part of the “reflection” this time.
While the Bible does not describe a God who hates homosexuals (as is falsely portrayed these days in the media) the Apostle Paul does address the practice quite clearly in his letter to the Romans. The primary theme of Romans is Christ’s forgiveness of sin, but Paul first takes some time to discuss sin. Homosexuality is not singled out but neither is it ignored.
“Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion” (Romans 1:26-27).
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Nobody in our country is obligated to believe in these words or any other portion of the Bible. But many who grow up in the church are not good at admitting that they no longer believe in the church they grew up with.
Instead, attempts have been made to “explain the true meaning of Paul’s words,” since the unpopular alternative is to admit that they actually say what they mean.
In any event, challengers to traditional doctrine tend to talk more about Jesus than Paul while discussing the Bible.
In that vein, Sacred Heart students such as Mairead Ahlbach, see no conflict with the Christian faith or its founder:
“We’re here because if Jesus were alive today, he’d be standing right next to us.”
No he wouldn’t. Maybe Jesus never spoke about homosexuality in so many words, but this does not mean we are left clueless as to where he stood.
While not addressing same-sex relationships directly, Jesus did confirm the divine inspiration of the Jewish Holy Scriptures (referred to in those days as The Law and The Prophets) and insisted that the Israelites continue to honor God’s Law. In fact, he taught this devotion to the Law in his very first sermon, the Sermon on the Mount.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:17-20).
Since Jesus was authenticating the entire law, that authentication included the specific law about homosexuality:
“Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable” (Lev 18:22).
And so, since Jesus accepted the complete Law of Moses, including Leviticus, and since the Apostle Paul’s teaching is in line with this same standard, there is really no difference between Jesus and Paul on the subject.
Some still like to dismiss Paul because he was not one of Jesus’ original disciples. That is true, but according to the book of Acts he encountered the resurrected Christ later.
The original disciples were given special authority by Jesus (John 20:22-23). One of these authoritative disciples, Peter, later authenticated the words of Paul, even to the point of equating Paul’s letters with scripture!
“Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 1He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:15-16).
Catholics view St. Peter as their first official pope. To be consistent, they must also accept Peter’s endorsement of Paul. No surprises in this logic. Paul penned about half the books of the New Testament and Catholic doctrine officially accepts the entire New Testament as the Word of God.
Still, students like Ahlbach see no conflict:
“The only thing we’re doing here tonight is preaching Catholic values.”
Another student at the protest was not so quick to jump to that same conclusion. When asked if the archbishop’s proposal is backed by Catholic doctrine, the student said, “Yes it does fall in line with Catholic doctrine, but we feel like if this goes through that a lot of our teachers might leave…
We don’t want our teachers to leave and maybe even leave the faith. We just think that maybe the Catholic Church should become as progressive as the Episcopal Church.”
Translation: This may be true Catholic doctrine but it’s time for the doctrine to be changed.
In what way are people claiming to obey God if God Himself is subject to reinterpretation based upon changing times and political correctness?
The contradiction is glaring but not the only inconsistency. Those who embrace “progressive morality” also love to talk about separation between church and state. In their minds, the church has no place in our public institutions. Now, evidently, the church has no place in its own institutions either, not unless it’s a church salted by the world instead of BEING THE SALT OF THE WORLD.
This is no longer about public schools. Now private schools are expected to lockstep.
That may be the popular thing to do. That may be the easy thing to do. But for courageous men such as Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, the matter is not so simple. A man of conscience and faith, Cordileone seems more interested in answering to God than to a crowd of protesters.
This is Bob Siegel, making the obvious, obvious.
Bob Siegel is a weekend radio talk show host on KCBQ and columnist. Details of his show can be found at www.bobsiegel.net.
The L.A. Times, and KPIX News contributed to the hard new portions of this article.
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE
New International Version NIV
Copyright 1973, 1979, 1984 by International Bible Society
Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.
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