We got us a good bishop here in Seattle

Published October 28, 2020

Archbishop Paul Etienne (pronounced “HN”) writes about Pope Francis’ recent remarks on civil unions:

Due to an unprecedented amount of press coverage of comments attributed to Pope Francis in a recently released documentary entitled Francesco, I have been encouraged by both the priests and our Archdiocesan Pastoral Council to provide some context. Their request was further strengthened by a number of parishioners after Masses this weekend.

While I have not yet seen exactly what our Holy Father said, he is reported to have made comments in support of civil unions and the legal protections they provide for LGBTQ couples. I do know from prior statements and writings that Pope Francis has expressed his care and concern for people who have same-sex attraction. Here are important facts to keep in mind:

When the Holy Father speaks and or teaches, he is almost always speaking to the Universal Church. The United States already recognizes civil unions of same-sex couples, who are able to marry and receive all the legal protections which that guarantees. However, in many other parts of the world, people with same-sex attraction face considerable oppression, including in some countries, death.

Similarly, and this is very important, Pope Francis continues to strongly support the teaching of the Church that marriage is between a man and a woman and is a permanent union. He has no problem making the necessary distinction between the two realities of civil unions and marriage. His focus on civil unions is more about public policy than church teaching.

The Holy Father is calling us as Church, as he has on numerous other occasions, to begin with the human person. Catechesis is important, but not the starting point. Building relationships comes first, then instruction, conversion, and integrating the faith ever more deeply into one’s life. In a real way he is challenging the Church to expand the tent. The Holy Father has from the beginning of his pontificate encouraged the Church to welcome all people as children of God who are deserving of love and respect. Indeed, this is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches.

Finally, this is very much in keeping with Pope Francis’ encouragement to be a Church that accompanies one another. Our Holy Father envisions a compassionate Church, one with a maternal heart, willing to overcome insecurity, fear, and a willingness to reject others. Rather, we are called to be a Church that attracts and welcomes others with the love of Christ.

18 Responses

  1. Well, i will give him that he is trying.

    WORDS MATTER!

    I am not a person with same sex attractions, unless Mark Shea is a person with opposite sex attraction. Is he?

    No, i don’t have a “civil union”, except in the sense that every LEGALLY MARRIED couple has a civil union.i have a MARRIAGE, a LEGAL MARRIAGE. It was performed by an ordained UCC minister. Were we church members, we could have had that marriage in the UCC church, and been recorded as a religious marriage. I have friends that were married by buddhist priests, hindu priests, christian ministers, and a couple who were married BY A CATHOLIC PRIEST, but not in the church in any sense.

    But he is trying.

      1. @ artevelde

        Glad to see you back. No, it is not a bad thing.

        The issue is with the words that are used, how they are used, and what they are intended, intentionally or not, to convey. Notice your own words. “I am attracted to the opposite sex.“ Not “I am a person with opposite sex attractions.” Your orientation is essential to your identity as a human being, it is not something that has been loaded onto you after the fact, a burden, something that could be discarded or ignored or “fixed”.

        We are not accorded the same dignity or respect.

      2. @taco It occurs often enough to feature in my confessions, though it is not rare enough as to make me feel un-Franch culturally.

  2. A civil union was an alternative to civil marriage. It was a marriage without using the term. The US Supreme Court didn’t legalize civil unions it ordered that states marry people of the same sex, which is contrary to church teaching. JP2 and Abp Ratzinger said a government couldn’t adopt civil unions so what the US Supreme Court ordered in Obergeffel was in the eyes of the church sinful.

    1. @jose

      Divorce is also sinful in the eyes of the church. marriage after divorce is also sinful. Adultery is sinful.

      Civil law should not care about purely theological concerns. “Sinful”is a purely theological concern.

      1. My point is that the bishop is supporting something the Magesterium says is contrary to the faith. A catholic USA oppose same sex marriage and civil unions

  3. @ Ben, Please don’t take this as me schooling you on Catholic marriage. I’ve found that even the most obnoxiously traddy Catholics don’t get it either: the priest only confers a *blessing* NOT the actual marriage. *Only* the couple confers the sacrament in a Catholic marriage!

    I’ve seen a couple of Mexican weddings where the woman and man are CHAINED together with a rosary for the vows. It doesn’t work that way either.

    I had to explain it to my *own* kid a few nights ago –that there is no waving of a wand by a priest for a Catholic marriage to take place. That chapped his hide a little bit. Everyone was having a small freak out about the Pope because they are dying for him to be scandalous to the Catholic faith, when he was only stating the obvious about a society where there is separation of Church and state.

    I also explained to my kid that tons of Catholics have invalid marriages even if their union is registered at the Church and Gram Gram cried her eyes out at the ceremony. It’s none of my business other than the fact that loyal citizens make society better, and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that gay citizens can be among the most loyal. Like everything else, I’m content to let God sort out who and what is good and genuine. The Trads care way more about sniffing out evil than finding good outside of their ivory towers. They are always looking for evil. It’s their favorite topic. They wonder why they see it everywhere.

    1. @taco

      Oh, I didn’t take it that way at all. 😘😘😘😘😘😘😘😘😘😘

      As always, your sense and compassion shines through what you have to say.

      “ The Trads care way more about sniffing out evil than finding good outside of their ivory towers. They are always looking for evil. It’s their favorite topic. They wonder why they see it everywhere.” I have a Lot of thoughts about that. There’s plenty of evil in the world. It’s not necessary to go looking for it. We’re always looking forward calls you were great deal about them. For myself, I think it’s all about religious megalomania: being just like God, being gods best friend, being powerful. They see it everywhere precisely because it is their favorite topic. I am amazed when I get accused of, including sex with goats. now that would be baaaaaad. But the bigger question, sex with goats is inside of their heads, not inside of mine. I probably wouldn’t think that unless I found one of them behaving baaaaaaadly with a goat.

      1. Ben,
        Thank you.
        You are right about their lurid imaginations–I remember. I had to ask them to just stop it when they wanted to wallow in their endless scandals, because even if an iota of it was true, why would I want to hear about it? I can’t even bear grisly crime stories on TV. They are bored and in constant need of something to feed the rage machine. Poor them. That’s a terrible way to live.

        On a lighter, brighter note, I had the great pleasure of having coffee today with a young woman brought up in a fundamentalist cult. She has since walked away from that sect, and sees ALL of it for what it was: mind control, people control, lies, and fear. We both agreed that when were subject to those things, the greatest emotion we felt was not pride, but a profound fear of *everything*, and that this simply can NEVER be from God. I was astounded by her clarity of thought, conscience, compassion and love of all humanity. She isn’t even 21. Most of her teen years her mother fought a losing battle to cancer. I think this must have something to do with why she is not frivolous like many people her age. I felt so much hope for the future when I was walking back to my car. The fundamentalists are fighting a losing battle. I just hugged her and told her how filled with light she is.

  4. @Artevelde,

    A few random thoughts on the matter, not in order of importance:

    I notice beautiful women just as quickly as my husband does. I have no problem saying, “Oh my God, look how beautiful she is.”

    Before the age of 30, hormonal insanity is a thing. (Even though most people manage to hide it).

    Younger people mostly ogle their cellphones.

    My young friend from Chile tells me that office affairs are the national sport. The “married” ones are the worst.

    There used to be a bumper sticker that was popular here that boldly stated: “Kindness is everything.” I used to dismiss this message as insipid and simplistic. The older I get, the more I believe in that simple truth. I would put one on my own car if I could find one. It would hold me to a high standard, especially when I drive.

    1. @taco

      Some random thoughts on my part.

      Most women I know notice beautiful women as soon as I notice them. My wife especially, seems to spot them almost at the same as I do.

      Jesus set the bar pretty high when he declared thinking of adultery the equal of committng adultery. Bummer.

      I’m Belgian, which means that I’m French in a broad cultural sense. We may not be as hot-blooded as our mediterranean friends, but we’re not protestant puritans either.

      Biden 2020.

  5. “Jesus set the bar pretty high when he declared thinking of adultery the equal of committng adultery.”

    Yeah. My mother is British, Scottish and French. She utterly scared the hell out of me. I married as a teen because I thought that would make things more simple. It didn’t, but we bumbled our way into such a good thing eventually, that I can’t bring myself to regret it. I can’t even imagine if my significant other was not the warm blooded type. We cure each other of our manias. Adultery has never tempted me in the least. Maybe there is something wrong with me. It’s not that I’m not capable of feeling a crush coming on. I will fall back upon, “never boast of something that hasn’t tempted you.”

    Peter Kreeft says that it is quite possible that we will all be wildly promiscuous in heaven. lol

    Biden (sigh) 2020

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