Weird thing I heard during a very recent homily

In response to the Gospel passage about the woman caught in adultery. The central points of the homily were good, and scripturally sound, but the priest went too far in implying that because Jesus restored the woman’s dignity to her, it additionally allows us to assume that “sexual sins are forgiven by our partaking of the Eucharist; we just come to Mass, go to communion, and are sexual sins are washed away.”

Clearly the implication by the priest is that sexual sins in general are venial (minor), which is not the conclusion to be drawn from that passage. I know exactly how to interpret that passage, and his interpretation is not one that follows hermeneutically at all. I’m wondering if anybody else heard similar incorrect interpretations last week.

(This is the same parish noted for frequent lay, non-diaconate preaching.) This is also the same priest that declares that “God made some people gay, and wants them to be that way.”

Yeah, that sounds completely heretical and false. [edited]

This is also the same priest that declares that “God made some people gay, and wants them to be that way.”

This is the only part I can agree with. Not that if God creates someone gay he wants them to have gay sex, obviously, just that he wanted them to be gay. God doesn’t screw up in his creation, and if he makes someone gay (or blind, autistic, or with any other intrinsic disorder) he intended something by it.

That is a terrible thing to say. I don’t know how often the sacrament of Confession is received by people at that parish, but I bet the frequency plummets now… and then (more?) people will be receiving our Lord in the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin.

First, seek (in a non-confrontational and charitable manner) a clarification from the priest. Say that you didn’t understand what he meant.

Second, if he persists, talk to the pastor.

Third, if the pastor does not seem concerned (or if he IS the pastor), go to the Bishop.

Let’s hope we don’t need “fourth”.

The frequency is almost nil as it is. Rarely offered. No confession lines. Like 3 people there. (Haha, before this homily.)

I will not hijack my own thread :smiley: by starting a conversation with Mark on the gay issue. I’ll just say that there’s a spectrum of masculine/feminine traits & orientations that one is born with, but after all my extensive reading on SSA, combined with life experience and testimonials from those who have identified at one time or another as “gay,” I think the whole hard-wired-identity-inevitable-attraction thing is overblown. There are a variety of biological and environmental circumstances which ultimately urge particular individuals to pursue or not an SSA behavior, but the factors are multiple. God creates, yes, a spectrum of sensitivities, orientations, mixtures, etc. Doesn’t mean that for those who lie outside the norm of convention, they are “gay,” etc. as some permanent identity necessarily.

I brought up the “gay” quote from the pastor to illustrate his divergent thinking, to say the least.

From your last sentence is sounds like to me that the priest is bending over backwards to not “offend” practicing homosexuals in the parish?

In any case, it sounds like it definitely have come across as you stated. He is not telling the whole story according to authentic Catholic teaching. The bishop may need to hear about this.

(Paragraph One): Or, he is bending over backwards not to offend the young couples not living chastely. (The Mass at which he officiates is a young Mass.)

Thanks for your insight, Dorothy.

Yes, that too! And, sadly, there are many who make no conscience of it. Thankfully, we had a deacon (now deceased) who was in charge of marriage preparation that always asked the couples that question. If they were not willing to live chastely from then on before their marriage he told them to come back when they were ready to prepare for sacramental marriage in the Catholic Church.

^ Awesome.

Well, you might just ask the priest: was he was really saying that, where our sexuality is concerned, it is impossible to commit for a person mortal sin? Maybe he did not quite intend to go so far as that. Teachers who have given their listeners exactly the opposite message that they wanted to are legion.

There are two common errors I have heard, even if understandable: One is an overreaction to the improper concentration on sexual sins as the absolute worse sins, when of course there is not a vice that does not have a mortally-evil expression. The overreaction is to downplay sexual sins: Jesus didn’t condemn sexual sinners, that kind of argument. This is hard to reconcile with his statement that lust deserves the same punishment as literal adultery, which is to say: Gehenna. The other is the opinion that people have so little self-control when it comes to their sexuality that it is impossible for sexual sins to rise to the level of a grave sin, because people are too enslaved to their sexuality to be expected to do otherwise. Our Lord said “Go, and sin no more”, not “Go and don’t worry about it, because everyone but me is obviously a sinner, so we can hardly expect better of you.”

Also, you might encourage this priest to encourage people to confess even venial sins, particularly if the sins are stubborn. Most priests, even the most progressive, do realize that confession helps people. Encourage your priest to sell confession as a positive thing that we do to increase our love of God, not as something we do primarily out of fear.

Do this in a way, though, that will not make him dread seeing you coming with feedback. With adults as much as with children, the “praise sandwich” is sugar to make the medicine go down. That is: think of a positive thing to say, make your suggestion for improvement, then think of another positive thing to say. Suggestions go much further when the listener does not feel defensive by the way they are made. Since it sounds as if this priest does has some genuine good points, that shouldn’t be too hard.

Great post, EJ. Great feedback. All of it I really appreciate. Very thoughtful. Thank you.

(and yes, I do feel that there should be no repercusssion to simply asking for clarification.)

Can’t agree with you more that it’s important neither to over-emphasize sexual sin nor to dismiss its tenacity as trivial. All sin is, as they say in medicine, “co-morbid.” One leads to another. Not to mention habitual venial sin becoming fertile ground for potential mortal. And sin mortally in one area, and you will find yourself tempted mortally in other areas, in the flash of an eye.

It should be noted that the Eucharist does help us rid ourselves of temptation to commit sexual sin, but it should not replace Confession for washing away any actual sin.

^ Yes. I think the thing I need greatest clarification on is the priest’s statement that it’s Eucharist that washes away [mortal] sin, rather than his saying (correctly) that it’s Penance that does so. That was my point: that stating that Eucharist cleanses us of sexual sin does tend to define sexual sins as venial.

You put a section there in quotes. Are those the specific words of the priest or your interpretation? You already know that sexual sins are not venial for anyone raised in a Catholic environment. Did you speak to the priest after this homily to clarify his teaching? If he is truly teaching that sexual sin by Catholic youth is always venial, than you should definately speak to those up the chain of command–the pastor, dean,bishop. I will be praying for the youth of your parish as I pray for those of mine.

Thank you for your response, MrsSally. Yes, the quotes are extremely close to what he said. IOW, he didn’t say that ‘God made them that way so that they could practice homosexual behavior,’ but he did say that God created them “to be gay.” First of all (and again, LOL, I won’t hijack my own thread), that’s a pretty unscientific remark to make on his part. There’s much fluidity, both in utero and post utero, not to mention the whole complex development of sexuality in a person’s life (influencing factors + timeline), which intersects with the inborn biology of the situation, whatever that may be. All those variables together – physiological and environmental – combined with the subject’s response to those variables – will determine whether the person feels he/she does have SSA to some degree or to a great degree, and secondly will feel supposedly compelled to act on that attraction.

Second, my heart wants to break, reading the OP’s story in the thread about “why people at my church hate homosexuals,” or something close to that title. His story is an example of why priests shouldn’t utter such supposedly definitive nonsense from the pulpit.

Thank you for your prayers for this and other parishes. I have a broader concern, I guess, and that is for the increasingly polarized and political nature of the laity’s views (never mind the clergy, for a minute), which appear to be more and more infected with secular rhetoric. I’m stunned when I see the disunity in the Church regarding basic moral theology and regarding liturgy, both. Just reading some Left Catholic rags, and the comments on stories therein, and it’s really an eye-opener. I believe in being intellectually open, and reading a lot, both religiously and in the secular arena. But one has to have a rudder, and I really think that the left side of the Church has no rudder except what’s guiding them in the secular, amoral arena.

Clarifying further (on the paraphrase), the priest indicated that God couldn’t possibly dislike them being gay, as he “created them that way.” Again, one needs to define terms. No, clearly God would not “dislike” an effeminate man or a “masculine”-feeling/behaving woman. We all have our contributions to make to this world. The variety in nature includes the variety in the human species as well, and those all, in the aggregate, reflect the God who holds all together, lovingly, within his own reflection/image.

There are effeminate feelings/affects/aspects; there is, separately SSA (which does not always correspond to gender-role variations, either); there is, separately, homosexual behavior, which sometimes does not accompany SSA, but rather is a chosen or default behavior in captivity (sometimes animals in certain situations, heterosexual prisoners, etc.).

Modern psychology and modern political leanings have succeeded in coalescing all the above into “gay identity.” For some, it’s merely an excuse to justfy behavior.

Marcus Grodi, of EWTN fame, had in his *Deep in Scripture *program a man by the name of Michael Glatze who spoke very intelligently and authentically on the reality that there is no “gay identity.” He has departed from that lifestyle, recognizing its shallowness and the inappropriate co-opting of the term “identity.” My point being that the priest I refer to should not join in the false politics of sexual identity, which is not authentically Catholic; he should know better. Like Michael Glatze, the priest should have re-framed the issue of identity as that of God’s children, all. We are sons and daughters of God. First and foremost, that is every Catholic’s essential identity. Not a “straight” identity. Not a “gay” identity. This is also basic Catholic philosophy (ontology), and a trained, educated priest should know better and not pander to contemporary rhetoric, no matter who is listening in his congregation.

I was actually focused more on the first part of your statement which I assumed was releated to all types of sexual sin and not just homosexual actions.

That being said, you should still clarify what the priest is teaching and let him know that his presentation can be confusing if he not trying to say what you wrote here. And then unfortunately, you’ll need to report it if he is indeed saying that sexual sin of any kind is always venial.

I think we do need to clarify first and challenge second. There are many possibilities that this comment could have been miscommunicated or misunderstood. There is a dwindling number of vocations and if run to complain without clarifying then aren’t we creating our own scandals within our own walls much sooner than the evil outside will do that for us?

Well, yes and no. The Eucharist actually does wipe away venial sin, without sacramental confession. As for mortal sin, to receive Holy Communion with an unconfessed mortal sin only compounds the offense. But no, that does not mean that the Eucharist is meant to replace sacramental confession in terms of being a source of grace and a help in the formation and tone of our consciences, even when we have not committed a mortal sin:

From the Catechism:

1393 Holy Communion separates us from sin. The body of Christ we receive in Holy Communion is “given up for us,” and the blood we drink “shed for the many for the forgiveness of sins.” For this reason the Eucharist cannot unite us to Christ without at the same time cleansing us from past sins and preserving us from future sins:

For as often as we eat this bread and drink the cup, we proclaim the death of the Lord. If we proclaim the Lord’s death, we proclaim the forgiveness of sins. If, as often as his blood is poured out, it is poured for the forgiveness of sins, I should always receive it, so that it may always forgive my sins. Because I always sin, I should always have a remedy.230

1395 By the same charity that it enkindles in us, the Eucharist preserves us from future mortal sins. The more we share the life of Christ and progress in his friendship, the more difficult it is to break away from him by mortal sin. The Eucharist is not ordered to the forgiveness of mortal sins - that is proper to the sacrament of Reconciliation. The Eucharist is properly the sacrament of those who are in full communion with the Church.

But:
1496 The spiritual effects of the sacrament of Penance are:

  • reconciliation with God by which the penitent recovers grace;
  • reconciliation with the Church;
  • remission of the eternal punishment incurred by mortal sins;
  • remission, at least in part, of temporal punishments resulting from sin;
  • peace and serenity of conscience, and spiritual consolation;
  • an increase of spiritual strength for the Christian battle.

In document after document on the subject, the Church teaches that the Sacrament of Penance works hand-in-glove with the Holy Eucharist, although both wipe away venial sin. Confession helps us particularly both to have peace of conscience and to avoid sin in the future. We are not meant to depend entirely on the Eucharist for this, you are right, but to take our venial sins to confession in order to obtain grace from both sacraments, towards that end.

So for instance, if we do not confess a venial sin that has been wiped away by reception of the Eucharist, the sin is still gone. We have missed an opportunity to do better in battling the sin in the future, though, and also have given in to what can become the very bad habit of not mentioning a sin simply because we aren’t required to confess it. If a sin smites our conscience, we should still confess it in sacramental confession, even if the Holy Eucharist will have wiped it away, because we will benefit so much by having admitted it and renounced it out loud within the sacrament of healing.

Right. But just as God allows any of us to come into this world with objective faults or to lack abilities that others normally have, or to have whatever other crosses or talents we have, He means for us to use every part of ourselves to become the saint He intends us to be for eternity.

It is no sin to be homosexual, any more than it is a sin to be color blind. A homosexual person or a color blind person might even have a take on the world that other people don’t, because he sees in a unique manner, and that can be a unique gift to everyone. We need to acknowledge that this is true,

That does not imply that there isn’t any difference between heterosexual sex and homosexual sex, any more than it implies that God doesn’t want the human race to notice the difference between red and green. That is where the idea of our differences all being gifts can run off of the rails.

Warnings (above) noted. No, I surely won’t report anyone from whom I have insufficient clarification. That would not be charitable or just.

I assent to EJ’s follow-ups on the stand-alone values of the sacrament of Confession for its own sake.

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