A Little Confusing

dotCommonweal, linked the NYT feature on turmoil at Seattle’s Eastside Catholic. It’s like a chain of dominos: a married gay teacher, a chairman of the board, and this week, the president. The same president who supposedly offered divorce as a way out of the conundrum. What’s up with the president, supported by the archbishop, resigning? Have the protests really hit all the way up to the top floor of the academic ivory tower? Who will be left standing by the start of the next academic year?

The standard doesn’t apply to the merely engaged-to-be-married. Or to artists, it seems. Stephanie Morrow, gay and planning to marry a woman friend, got a contract to choreograph “Guys and Dolls” this month.

It’s great that they’re keeping me, but it’s a little confusing.

Either the arts don’t matter as much to impressionable kids or conservative Catholics, or the position isn’t deemed to be as vital as that of a coach and administrator. Or maybe one national-news protest is enough. Or offer your own snide theory about homosexuals and theater.

Bill DeHaas noted in the dotC commentariat:

In terms of (Archbishop Peter) Sartain – the usual:

Sartain has not spoken to the Eastside Catholic students or their supporters, despite advice by some clergy that he engage in dialogue.

That also seems a little confusing. Is this a teaching moment or is it not. And while I’m aware other bishops have pledged to do prison time, it seems curious that prison is a better alternative than a meeting with high school students.

I can’t see the school reincorporating, renaming, and/or rehiring Mark Zmuda. I see schools continuing to hire gay people, then fire them when they come out of the closet in some way, either legally or otherwise. I see gay people continue to apply for jobs at Catholics schools. Clearly because of the joy of teaching students and not the thrill of obeying a bishop. I see stories like this will pop up in the future and teenagers will learn a lesson. I wonder what that lesson might be.

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Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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7 Responses to A Little Confusing

  1. John McGrath says:

    The heart of the issue is simple: unconsciously or consciously, the students – and many of the parents – see the primary purpose of marriage to be companionable love, with the other important purposes of marriage subordinated to that primary purpose. This primary purpose would allow for gay marriage. The church is not going to be able to insist that the purpose of human sex is the same s the purpose of animal sex, that is, procreation. Humans are by nature capable of going beyond that purpose to something more deeply psychological, or spiritual,.

    • Jim McCrea says:

      Church teaching is opposed to divorce – and it differs from teaching on homosexuality in that we have this teaching directly from Jesus Christ. And yet, when one applies for an annulment, Church law REQUIRES that one first obtain a civil divorce. “Oh, that’s just a civil requirement, we don’t really believe the civil divorce is actually a divorce.” Yet when it comes to civil marriage of same-sex couples, it is suddenly the end of civilization: that civil marriage is a dire threat, while civil divorces are a mere technicality. This is a double standard no matter how you slice it.

      Church teaching also provides two entirely separate theologies of sexuality for gay and straight people. For straight people, sexuality is a gift from a good God rooted in the goodness of Creation. For gays and lesbians, sexuality is a burden from an indifferent God to test us, rooted in the experience of the Cross. There is no other instance of two contradictory theologies set up for separate groups on such a fundamental aspect of life. How long can such a house of cards stand? This contradiction is not just a hole in the seamless garment, it is two entirely different garments.

      I will believe the hierarchy is not prejudiced when I see them giving the exact same amount of time, effort and financial resources to laws outlawing civil divorce. Until then their claims of tolerance and merely upholding Church teaching do not ring true.

  2. Todd says:

    Maybe. Students, I could forgive a bit of tunnel vision. I suspect that most of the parents have reflected on their marriages, intentionally or not, and found something a bit more than companionable love. Qualities I’ve seen in committed gay relationships: loyalty, self-sacrifice, and even a deeply spiritual sense of going beyond one’s own skin to live with and for another human being.

    I don’t see the Church insisting on procreation as a primary purpose of marriage. Theologically, it’s a dead end.

    The main goal of marriage is to make saints. Generativity, and not only in the birthing and raising of children contributes to that aim. But the main goal is the same as the Eucharist, the same as any sacrament: the glorification of God and the openness to God’s sanctifying grace.

  3. FrMichael says:

    “I don’t see the Church insisting on procreation as a primary purpose of marriage. Theologically, it’s a dead end.”

    On the contrary, I fully expect the Church to defend divine revelation and fearlessly proclaim that procreation is a primary end of marriage. LGBT activists, progressive Catholics, and unevangelized and undercatechized rich teenagers pale in comparison to the omnipotent and omniscient Creator Who considers homosexual activity to be a sin crying out to Heaven for vengeance.

    • Jim McCrea says:

      Are you trying out for a guest spot on Saturday Night Live?

    • Todd says:

      There are two kinds of marriages we’re talking about here. The civil arrangement, about which the Church has about zero sway and say, has always been about the legal protection of people, especially adults.

      The sacrament has a higher purpose, like all sacraments: union with Christ.

      Focusing on the outward aspects will get the Church nowhere. Insisting that marriage is about procreation is probably worse than insisting that the Eucharist is primarily about the meal, and the nourishment.

      Theology of marriage is woefully underdeveloped.

  4. Jim McCrea says:

    Maybe this school has been more successful in teaching the students than the hierarchy would like. The kids have learned this: Morality is doing what is right, no matter what you are told. Micromanaged “religion” is doing what you are told, no matter what is right.

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