Thursday, March 31, 2005

The way to avoid misunderstanding it to teach clearly
Encourage your priests

Dom Bettinelli commented Tuesday on the decision of Portland, Maine Bishop Richard Malone to avoid opposing a state bill which he thinks, if passed, might lead to greater support for same sex marriage [sic]. In remarks to a local paper, Bishop Malone said,
    I think I read in your paper that 38 percent of all hate crimes were committed against homosexual people. That is just outrageous. That goes against everything that our faith stands for as well. I was afraid that in that climate, my decision here could give the wrong message.
Dom comments,
    Rather than surrender, the bishop could have instead made sure to articulate the message that while we don’t condone immorality, we also don’t condone violence against those we say are living immoral lifestyles. By capitulating, the bishop has as much put the stamp of admission on the claims of the author of the op-ed that those who oppose gay rights bills are slack-jawed, rednecks; backward, unsophisticated hatemongers.
I completely agree. There are definitely times when a doctrine is likely to be misunderstood, but the solution to the problem is not to avoid proclaiming it, but to go the extra mile to proclaim it clearly and indicate what it is and is not. I definitely agree with Bishop Malone's desire to avoid fostering hate, but I disagree that that desire is best served by not taking a public stand on a controversial issue.

I bring this up because I've seen it happen all too often... out of an understandable concern for pushing people out of or away from the Church, priests (and sometimes, bishops) avoid the hard issues. What's the solution? Well, primarily I think we need to let them know that we support them when they do teach and preach the truth, even (and most especially) when that truth is countercultural. This doesn't require getting in your priest's face... it just requires, well, first, actually getting to know the guy (invite him over for dinner!) so that you can establish a relationship, and then letting him know that you and other parishioners support him when he teaches hard truths. Many of them need to hear that, guys. Don't just complain when you don't like something... encourage and thank when you do like something.

No comments: