I was listening to Al Kresta on Catholic radio on my way home today, and he was summarizing Cardinal Dolan's explanation of his decision to serve as Grand Marshal in New York's St. Patrick's Day Parade next March.
Kresta went down through the document, which is posted on the website of the Archdiocese of New York. He read from the following paragraph, which indicates the likely reason the Cardinal felt he had to offer some sort of explanation:
While a handful have been less than charitable in their reactions [probably an allusion to the blistering criticism by Michael Voris], I must admit that many of you have rather thoughtful reasons for criticizing the committee’s decision [to let self-identified "gays" and "lesbians" march under their own banners]: you observe that the former policy was fair; you worry that this is but another example of a capitulation to an “aggressive Gay agenda,” which still will not appease their demands; and you wonder if this could make people think the Church no longer has a clear teaching on the nature of human sexuality. [Deal W. Hudson's cautions about "blurring boundaries" come to mind here.]But then Kresta came to what he said was considered by the Cardinal to be the critically important issue on which his decision turned:
Thank you for letting me know of such concerns. I share some of them.
... the most important question I had to ask myself was this: does the new policy violate Catholic faith or morals? If it does, then the Committee has compromised the integrity of the Parade, and I must object and refuse to participate or support it.While this distinction between identity and behavior is widely parroted in some Catholic circles, it is clearly the lamest of lame pretext commonly embraced for doing nothing and simply going along to get along. The pretext is sometimes couched in terms of a distinction between same-sex acts (which are condemned as immoral) and same-sex dispositions (for which a person presumably cannot be culpable). What is almost never mentioned, however, is that same-sex dispositions themselves are also described by the Catechism as "intrinsically disordered" (CCC 2357-2359).
From my review, it does not. Catholic teaching is clear: “being Gay” is not a sin, nor contrary to God’s revealed morals. Homosexual actions are—as are any sexual relations outside of the lifelong, faithful, loving, lifegiving bond of a man and woman in marriage—a moral teaching grounded in the Bible, reflected in nature, and faithfully taught by the Church.
So, while actions are immoral, identity is not! In fact, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, people with same-sex attraction are God’s children, deserving dignity and respect, never to be treated with discrimination or injustice.
To the point: the committee’s decision allows a group to publicize its identity, not promote actions contrary to the values of the Church that are such an essential part of Irish culture. I have been assured that the new group marching is not promoting an agenda contrary to Church teaching, but simply identifying themselves as “Gay people of Irish ancestry.”
Further, Catholics who have thought long and hard about this issue have insisted that there is no ontological or anthropological basis for any supposed "personal identity" as "gay" or "lesbian." Individuals with same-sex attraction are just human beings like anyone else, called to chastity like anyone else, and the notion that they would wish (or be permitted to) celebrate their putative "identity" as "gays" and "lesbians" is no less bizarre than allowing incorrigible Irish alcoholics celebrate their "identity" as "tipplers," "boozers," and "drunks."
What person in his right mind is going to believe for a nanosecond that a bevy of prancing self-identified "gays" and "lesbians" are not promoting actions contrary to the Catholic teaching? If those who are saddled with (or who have helped to saddled themselves with) same-sex attraction are called to chastity, as the Church teaches, then they should be walking in a spirit of penance in sack cloth and ashes and asking for the Church's prayers. Catholic compassion, in this instance, should not consist in condoning the celebration of disordered dispositions stemming from our fallen nature, but in letting such individuals know that they are not alone, that all of us suffer from a fallen nature and have our spiritual battles against temptations that we must fight together. On this issue, nobody strikes the proper balance more clearly that Michael Voris in "Catholic & Homosexual" (Vortex, 2010).
The Cardinal Archbishop of New York has made his "prudential judgment" and offered his explanation for his decision to serve as the Grand Marshal of the St. Patrick's Day parade. Al Kresta, Deal Hudson, Michael Voris, and many others have voiced their concerns and criticisms of his decision, asking whether it was so "prudent" after all. I share many of their concerns.
Those suffering from the disorders of same-sex attraction deserve the genuine compassion of spiritual works of mercy in the form of respectful clarity about their condition and the hope the Church offers through the mercy and grace of God -- a hope to which all of us should look for our fallen and sinful condition.