I've been hearing from a lot of folks via Facebook and email on my recent posts on Cardinal Dolan and the St. Patrick's Day Parade issue. Let me clarify a few things ...
- I think it's well within the cardinal's prerogative to decide if he should or should not serve as Grand Master of a parade that includes GAY PRIDE banners and groups. It's a matter of prudence, not doctrine. Indeed, I think a very good case could be made for him to stick with leading the parade. These reasons include the fact that he doesn't decide who's in and who's out, the fact that his presence can stir up debate (as it has), the fact that there are plenty of other sinners marching in the parade who don't have their own banners devoted to their particular sins, etc. But the reason Cardinal Dolan gave, that to parade one's inclination to sin is not to endorse that sin, is either disingenuous or stupid. As I pointed out, if I were to march under the banner IRISH ADULTERERS, I would be advocating not only my predilection toward that particular sin, but also my pride in it and my flaunting of it. To march under a GAY PRIDE banner (in a public square, in front of God and children and everybody) is to endorse gay sex. Period. Everybody but a bishop is able to see that.
- Gays can certainly be loving people - perhaps far more loving than I am, and far more loving than most of my friends. But they are loving in spite of their sins, not because of them. Anal intercourse (for instance - whether between heterosexuals or homosexuals) can never, by its nature, be a proper or true expression of love, for love is always self-sacrificing and creative, making new life. Buggery, by contrast, is self-indulgent and sterile. The Church teaches that any sexual activity outside of the marital act (sex between a married man and woman) which is not open to emotional union and to the creation of new life (babies and families) is sinful and selfish. This is a hard teaching. But it's the teaching of Christ. If it's not, then the Catholic Church is not what she claims to be. And it's the Law of Love. And we know in our hearts that it's true.
- Some of my younger friends tell me that being "gay" does not necessarily mean being sexually active with others of your own gender; it is just a disposition, an orientation, a general inclination, and that it's part of a bigger picture. I frankly admit this. Indeed, a disposition toward homosexual behavior might be part of a general sensitivity or might often be aligned with a specific talent or two - this is something psychologists can study. But we all deal with this: our dispositions are mixed blessings, and everything we're disposed to needs to be either mortified or perfected by God's grace. And if it's true that "gay" men are prone to artistic sensitivity (to use a stereotype), this does not mean that it's therefore a good thing to turn your "sexual identity" into a banner to march under, simply because your disordered sexual disposition happens to include aspects of your personality that dispose you toward other things that are not disordered. But these things do, indeed, seem to come in clusters. I know many men who are disposed toward adultery (you might say that's their "sexual identity"), and who also happen to be very effective at sales. It's part of the same package - great salesman, wandering eye. Since their disordered appetite toward sex is part of a larger disposition that includes valuable talents and abilities in other directions, does that mean they should be proud of the fact that they don't want to keep their penises in their pants? Our characters are gifts from God, and they are all mixed bags. "Gays" have nothing on "straights" in that regard.
- "Gays" should not be persecuted or discriminated against, any more than any other sinners. Some of them deal with grave and burdensome struggles to be chaste, or even to be happy. This is why Dolan's flippant, folksy, casual and condescending attitude toward this really rankles me; he is being particularly dismissive of men and women who struggle with same sex attraction and who make great sacrifices day in and day out to be virtuous.
- "Why are you Catholics so focused on gay sex? Let it go!" I've been hearing. Glad to. But we're not the ones with an agenda here. This is the first time the St. Patrick's Day Parade has been hijacked by this issue, as far as I know, and it's not because of the obsessive compulsive Catholic Church.