I'm a Catholic boy - says so right under the name on the blog. I understand that there are people who are Catholics in name only, or in a cultural sense. There are plenty of "EC" Catholics - the ones who show up for Mass on Easter and Christmas only. They are usually easy to spot, because they are dressed to the nines and look nervous upon entering. We live in a secular society and I prefer it that way. No one other than my kids has to answer to me for how they live their lives. If someone wants to be an EC Catholic, that's fine.
I have more of a problem with "Cafeteria Catholics," however. A Cafeteria Catholic is someone who picks and chooses which parts of Church doctrine he chooses to believe and ignores the others. I wrote a tongue-in-cheek piece the other day about Nick Coleman, the annoying Star Tribune columnist who fanices himself an expert on all things. I don't know if Coleman is actually Catholic or not, but he decided to take the incoming Archbishop, John Nienstedt, to task for having the effrontery to actually offer Church teaching on homosexuality. The Archbishop responded to Coleman's column in Friday's Star Tribune and his response speaks for itself. Today, of course, the responses to the response came in. And that's what I'm going to write about today.
The Star Tribune letters section is usually a Greek chorus of leftist magpies - often the complaints aired there are Daily Kos boilerplate or variations on the emanations that issue from college campuses these days. Although it's usually not said explicitly, the primary purpose of these pronouncements is to ensure that those who are not in favor on the Left are punished for their sins. Because the Church has stood foursquare on the wrong side of the abortion debate, and has not endorsed whatever lifestyle a liberal might want to live at any given time, any churchman will automatically face suspicion. And a fellow like Archbishop Nienstedt, who came of age under John Paul II and who has evidently taken what JPII's teachings to heart, is an enemy to be confronted.
Typical is this letter, written by a gentleman in Minnesota Lake, who thinks he's found a hole in the Archbishop's armor:
Did any other reader notice that in Archbishop Nienstedt's response to Nick Coleman's Nov. 28 column regarding the church's and archbishop's lack of compassion toward gays, none of Nienstedt's biblical references included a direct statement by Jesus?
Oddly enough, Jesus never addressed racism or envirnomental degradation either. So are we to assume that it's okay to be racist, or to trash the planet? After all, Jesus never addressed the matter, so it must be okay, right? But the writer goes on.
There of course is a reason for that, [which is what?-Ed] leaving open the question: What would Jesus say? Many of us Christians faithfully believe that Jesus would be open, and, yes, compassionate and accepting toward his homosexual brethren.
Jesus did address the subject of adultery, of course. He told the rock-toting Pharisees, "whoever among you is without sin may cast the first stone." But he also told the woman who was to be stoned this: "Go and sin no more."
Is homosexuality a sin? That's a subject for debate in the overall secular society, as it should be. But within the Church, it's a matter of doctrine. And the Archbishop's primary charge is to teach and, when necessary, enforce Church doctrine. One can be compassionate and even accepting of homosexuals and homosexuality, while still decrying homosexual behavior. That's been the Church's stance for many, many years now. But that's not what this letter writer, and the Rainbow Sash people, and Nick Coleman want. They want an endorsement of homosexual behavior from the Church. Harry Flynn has been finessing the matter, tolerating the antics of places like St. Joan of Arc (Minneapolis's finest pagan Catholic church) but banning the Rainbow Sash people at the Cathedral. Nienstedt won't play that game. So the game is on.