Nota bene: please give me the benefit of the doubt and read this message in its entirety.
Cardinal Burke did not say that gay “people” are intrinsically evil as is being spouted all over the media. He said, along with every other bishop, cardinal, pope, priest, and lay person who knows what the Church teaches and is faithful to that teaching, that homosexual “acts” are intrinsically evil; the same stance, of course, of Pope Francis and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. (Scroll to paragraph 2357-9)
The trouble is that our society has equated people with their actions. People say “I am gay” when really that’s not true. Your sexuality is not your identity; your sexuality (and all that entails, which is more than orientation) is a part of your identity, but our society wants to reduce the person to his or her sexual orientation. The Church has always spoken against this reduction because it is a reduction of your human dignity. To identify ourselves as people with what we do is a degradation of us as persons. It is as if I were to say “I am financial strain.” This is why the Church describes homosexuality as “same sex attraction”; “I am attracted to the same-sex”; “I experience same-sex attraction”; “This person experiences homosexual tendencies.” When someone says an act, an idea, a proposal, etc is evil, is wrong, is false, they are not talking about YOU. You are more than your ideas. You are more than your actions. You are more. You are made for greatness.
Do you have same sex attraction? Cool. In the eyes of the Church, you’re a human being. In the eyes of God, you’re a beloved son or daughter. In the eyes of any faithful Catholic who knows what the Church teaches, you’re a beautiful human being who is broken by sin, just like the rest of us. Original sin and the brokenness of humanity might look different on the outside from one person to the next, but we are all sinners bogged down by sin. That’s all there is to it. The Church teaches what she does because she wants you to be led to Jesus and to experience his healing love for you; not so that you “won’t be gay anymore” or so that you’ll be “fixed” and “all better”; BUT SO YOU CAN TURN AWAY FROM SIN! So that you can live and love and laugh and cry and jump and run and be fully alive! Sin is darkness; sin is death; sin is pain; sin is shame; sin is weakness; sin is debilitating; sin is crippling. Christ, and his Church, and me, and all the members of the body of Christ want you to be the beautiful person you are created to be, meant to be, without the heavy weight of sin and darkness and shame. Christ, and, in turn, the Church, wants to set you FREE! “I have come that they might have life, and have it to the FULL.” (John 10:10)
Look at the face of the other. Discover that he has a soul, a history, and a life, that he is a person and that God loves this person. –Pope Benedict XVI
If you don’t believe in what the Church believes, also cool; my goal here is not conversion but comprehension. The Church isn’t asking you to believe what it teaches; but if you’re outside the Church and have no idea what the Church is saying or what she means when she says it, well, then, to use the words of Pope Francis, “Who [are you] to judge?” When the Church makes a judgment about homosexuality, or any other issue for that matter, she is not judging you; she is judging an action. Hate the sin but love the sinner. The Catholic Church to which I belong and for which I am preparing to lay down my life as a priest is not a museum of saints, but a hospital for sinners. We are all in this together, but it takes a radical laying down of one’s life, and a picking up of one’s cross, and a committed following of the Lord. Even Peter took his eyes off Christ and began to sink (Matthew 14:22-33); no one is expected to turn to Christ and never sin again. But the faithful follower of Christ is expected to no longer be content with turning away and falling into sin but, like St. Peter, must be prepared to give up his very life for the glory of the God, the Messiah, who saved him.
“…They feel like the Church has condemned them. But the Church does not want to do this…Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free.” –Pope Francis
That is the context from which the Church is operating. This is not an issue of social justice, but an issue of the dignity and nature of who man (humankind) is, was, and is created to be.
Please let me say this with utmost sincerity:
To anyone who has been hurt by someone in the Church because of their words or rejection, please accept my apology to you on behalf of them. Let us learn from Pope Francis the message of God’s MERCY and unconditional LOVE, regardless of sexual orientation or any other factor. But we are called not just to accept this love and keep on living the way we lived before; we are called to LOVE GOD IN RETURN and give ourselves over to him, even to the deepest fiber of our very being, even our sexuality.
I love you. God loves you. Pope Francis loves you. Yes, even Cardinal Burke loves you.