by Fr Richard Heilman | June 15, 2016 10:26 PM
Fr. James Martin, the editor-at-large of America, recently posted a video on Facebook about the Orlando massacre. Fr. Martin objects to the bishops not making an explicit reference to the LGBT community, as they expressed their condolences. Fr. Martin’s view of faith and the role of the Catholic Church is not only flawed … it is dangerous. Here’s why …
For me, our Catholic faith is best understood by the story of the Prodigal Son. The son chooses (free will) to leave the love, protection and tranquility of being home with the father, in order to indulge in his sensual pleasures. This is the same choice, for example, a person makes when they click on a porn site and engage in masterbation. They are, quite literally, choosing to exchange being home in a state of grace – divine friendship – for that moment of self-gratification. It is not God’s choice to be separated, it is theirs.
However, if you look closely at the story of the Prodigal Son, you’ll notice, first, the father neither goes off to find the son and drag him home, nor does the father tell the son he is free to bring the prostitutes home with him. To love God or not is a choice. Without free will, we are only robots controlled by another.
Instead, we see the “unprotected” and “empty” son come to his senses and realize home is where he needs to be. But, his distorted understanding of love, that he projects onto his father, believes he is forever doomed to be an “outsider,” unworthy to ever be called his son again.
The most powerful part of the story is when the father catches sight of the son from far off, and runs out to the son, embraces him and kisses him. It is easy to see that the father was watching the horizon every moment of every day, hoping THIS day, THIS hour would be the moment the son “decided” (free will) to return home. AND, we’ll have no talk of ANY diminished dignity. NO!! Get the robe and the ring and the sandals – all signs of being the prince of the king – Then the party begins!! The father wondered if his son, whom he loves SO MUCH, was lost forever … now he has him home, safe and sound.
THIS is my Catholic Church!! This is what REAL mercy is all about. My Church has its loving arms WIDE OPEN at ALL TIMES, always ready to welcome those who want to be home. But, like the father, we are not saying, “Bring the prostitutes home with you.”
This is where Fr. Martin’s skewed understanding of faith is so dangerous. You see, by justifying, rationalizing or even ignoring the sinful acts of homosexuality, we are, in essence, saying, “Come home and bring the prostitutes with you.” What are you saying, Fr. Martin? In opposition with very clear biblical and Church teachings that homosexual acts are gravely sinful, are you saying that is no longer true? Or, are you saying, “Come home and bring the prostitutes with you?” Maybe the whole idea of being separated from God when we engage in mortal sin is a “hateful concept” for you?
All of these are what is called “false mercy.” Instead of offering a Church with perpetual, loving open arms for the “repentant” sinner … a way out of their prison of sinfulness, Fr. Martin is offering a false notion of mercy that says, “Go ahead and remain in your dark and destructive sinful life … God is perfectly okay with that. Just come home, and bring the prostitutes with you.” He is offering a home that is actually a prison.
Our Church is truly a Field Hospital. It is a place to be healed and restored to health. It is not a place for people to come and bleed to death while we withhold the only real healing medicine – a state of grace.
All are truly welcomed home to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church to be healed and set free, but leave the prostitutes behind.
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