Emmitsburg Council of Churches

Culture Wars-Part II
Christ the King?

Father John J. Lombardi

Is Christ King-Royal Leader and center of our culture? Of our world?-of our country? It sometimes seems not. The Lord, Religion and moral life are gradually being displaced in our country today. It's as simple and assaultive as the removal of prayer from our schools; displacing the Ten Commandments from public discourse and courtrooms; possibly removing God's Name from the Pledge of Allegiance. And now, the assault on marriage and biblical morality thru approving and advancing sexual aberrations.

Step by step, morals and the Mystical Body of Christ are being exchanged for Mammon and the mystification of moral relativism. There are plenty of issues-moral, spiritual, doctrinal we Catholics need to face in today's world. We need to wake up: It's the twenty-first century. The German philosopher Nietzsche prophesied that humanity would descend into nothingness, trying to take hold of its own destiny without God. True? . "Sleeper, awake, rise from the dead. " (Eph 5:14).

Years ago I went to seminary to learn about priesthood. I took a moral theology class with an excellent teacher and fine gentleman-priest. Trouble was, he was a dissenter from Catholic teaching. He was for, in some cases, extra-marital-sexuality and homosexual relations in "loving situations and with good intentions;" he also questioned the Church's position on contraception. This is called consequentialism and situation ethics. Further trouble was: this seminarian was influenced (with free choice) by the teacher. When Rome invited the professor to recant his positions or remove himself from being an authentic Catholic moral theology teacher, the seminarian and others supported him, dissenting from the Church. The professor was eventually removed from the University and the seminarian eventually converted. Converted to what?- "Veritas Splendor"-the splendor of Catholic truth. It took a while, but.

Those relativist ideas planted by the moral theology professor are sprouting. I read the headlines screaming in this past Wednesday's New York Times lead story, loud and laced with bias: a high court in Massachusetts struck down a law which banned homosexual marriages or unions. This is a watershed event. So are two earlier ones this year: a Texas court struck down sodomy laws in that state, and a month ago, an Anglican priest-divorced and openly practicing a homosexual lifestyle-was "ordained" a bishop of that community. Three decisive events in one year. Marriage, the Catholic and Christian Faith, the family and United States culture are in for challenging times-Culture Wars Continued. Christians have been too naVve and un-prophetic in these last decades. Why? Because of over-comfortability with the culture; lack of moral realism (naiveté) and prophetic, counter-cultural sense---false peace (saying "Peace when there is no peace"- Jer 6:14). Upshot: Christians have accommodated too much.

Regarding the Massachusetts decision there are many interweaving issues which are disturbing and challenging to Catholics and others. First,

Homosexuality. Basically, homosexualism (distinguishing a movement from individuals who may be trying to lead chaste lives) is being "engineered" into our culture-as an acceptable lifestyle and alternative to traditional marriage. It is steamrolling along. Some Christian churches, too, are accommodating-by fiat or silence. Further, some progressivists and moral anarchists pose a seeming moral illusion to Catholics and Christians-"You can't have it both ways. You can't say homosexuality is wrong, (an aberration, as the Church teaches) and be compassionate to individual persons with this condition." Cultural engineers are preaching that you are prejudiced, rigid and homophobic if you merely question any of their agenda. You are labeled--that's it. Response: You can both challenge immoral legislation and "group-think," and be compassionate towards persons who are homosexual. Just as God loves a homosexual person so should we give respect analogously---while questioning homosexualism's wrongful aspects. Native Marylander and black writer, Frederick Douglas, both challenged slavery and also had compassion toward white people. You've heard the saying: "All evil needs to exist and continue" is for good people to do nothing"... For legitimate information regarding homosexuality, contact Courage, a Catholic healing ministry : St. John the Baptist Church, 210 E. 32st Street, New York, NY 10001, email: Nycourage@aol.com, internet: www.couragerc.net, phone: 1-212-268-1010.

Exodus International groups can offer genuine, Christ-centered alternatives to current cultural coagulation...PO Box 540119, Orlando, FL 32854, phone: 1-888-264-0877, internet:  www.exodus-international.org

"Judicial activism"--This clunky phrase means that judges and courts are acting like legislators-making laws from their courtrooms by their "active-aggressive" rulings, instead of interpreting existent laws, thus changing the culture by not-so-subtle fiat. Don't think so? Think of the Dred Scott Decision-in 1857 which legitimized slavery; think of Roe v. Wade which sanctioned abortion in 1973. Culture was radically changed because of these so-called laws Also: the Boy Scouts as a private organization were almost required by courts to deny God (which is part of their honor code), and accept openly homosexual and atheistic persons. Some American courts are now not above the times, prejudice, bias and impartiality as they are called to be. Immoral laws are being passed, enacted or created, and Christians should be aware of this. Read Vatican II: "At all times the Church carries the responsibility of reading the signs of the times and of interpreting them in light of the Gospel." The culture is getting more hostile.

Response: We need more St Thomas Mores to help. He was a lawyer, chancellor of sixteenth century England, a daily Mass communicant who stood up to King Henry when he asked for illegitimate legislation (a divorce). His Courage and Love shows us how to defend the Faith, Pray for legislators, lawyers and government officials; write to them, impel them to defend traditional morality and principles of family, and cultural life.

Recently I read an article this summer and it caught my attention: "When deviant behavior gets respectable." It detailed the new book, "The Politics of Deviance," by Ann Hendershott, who documents that issues such as improper sexuality, drug abuse and pedophilia were being legitimized by scholars in past decades. She also profiles how the American Psychological Association revised its diagnostic manual so that neither child molestation nor pedophilia would be termed psychologically bad. Point: deviant behavior is being legitimized-by smart, powerful, pushy people.

Truth: The Chief Justice of Massachusetts said in this week's ruling: "Our obligation is to define the liberty of all, not to mandate our moral code." And yet that is what is happening-they are evangelizing a new ethic. Judges today are mandating morality-thru a ruse, thru subtlety--just as in slavery thru Dred Scott and abortion Roe v Wade. The Supreme court ruled this in Pennsylvania v. Casey years ago when it said everyone could define happiness as they wanted, and thereby continued Roe and the abortion culture. This was, again, judicial activism-runaway courts.

The Chief Justice also said that this new sanction for "homosexuality unions" would not threaten marriage. We are being told that immorality is not wrong, that opposite models of morality (as in marriage) will not hurt traditional models. We've heard this before--like the "Pro Family, pro- child, pro-choice" bumper sticker morality, and studies now showing that TV. violence does negatively affect children. Here's a saint's response to an analogous ruse of reasoning--on abortion: Mother Teresa said: You can't kill children thru abortion and pray for peace at the same time. Ergo: You can't promote homosexual unions and be a biblical believer or family preservationist at the same time. P.S.: not all homosexual persons are for this and some are as upset as the rest of us, showing us we can challenge wrongs (homosexualism) and still be compassionate towards individuals. (cf. David Kyle Foster: www.gospelcom.net)

Tom Perkins, of the Family Research Council said in the New York Times: "It is inexcusable for this (Mass.) court to force the state legislature to fix its state constitution to make it comport with the pro-homosexual agenda of the court justices." President Bush has said emphatically that he will defend the sanctity of marriage-which he defines and defends as between a man a woman. Response: "Truth can turn" today. In January, a Bishop in California challenged the pro-abortionist-Catholic, past-Governor, Gray Davis, to re-think his position and refrain from Holy Communion. Senator Tom Daschle was challenged to remove Catholic references to his self-promotion since he is pro-abortion.

Regarding homosexuality, review these important distinctions for Catholics. Notice-they are not mutually exclusive points:

Homosexuals are loved by God and should be respected by all of us (Catechism of the Catholic Church- # 2358). Homosexual persons can move toward perfection and chastity (#2359). Homosexuality is "objectively disordered" (#2358). Catholics should be wary of lawmakers who introduce legislation toward the approval or legitimacy of homosexuality as normal, equivalent to marriage-legislators have the serious moral obligation to oppose it (Vatican Document).

Our country is so paradoxical: at the World Series "America the Beautiful" is sung and cheered to; meanwhile, abortions are procured. Most Americans go to Church on Sunday and yet prime time TV mocks purity and prudence. Is Christianity transforming the culture or is the culture transforming Christianity?

When in that moral theology class years ago, this priest read a famous book, by R. Neibhur, called: "Christ and Culture." It presented models of how to evangelize our world. Which one do you think best to make Christ the King today? Christ against culture ("Do you think I came to establish peace. No, rather division"- Jn. 12:51-this Sunday's Gospel). Christ over culture ("My Kingdom is not of this world"-Jn 18:36, Christ with culture ("Render unto Caesar. ."). Christ transforming culture ("Be not conformed to the world, but be renewed by the transformation of your mind" Rm 12:2). There are advantages and disadvantages to each model, but one point is clear- Christ must be part of the equation!

How to Respond:

Know, Love and Defend your faith-study your Religion-Bible and Catechism; be able to give answers and reasons for your hope (I Pt. 3:15). Defend and Love Your Family-a building block of the civilization of love and a "domestic church"-nothing can replace this. Make Christ King and center of your heart and world.

Briefly Noted

Abortion-Last week we got a call from an irate Catholic (thank God!). She said there was an airbrushing story of a Catholic politician who is pro abortion. What's new, you ask? Well, the Catholic paper gave him a full-spread two pages, glowing pictures and three paragraphs to explain his side of legitimizing the killing of children (in MD. many abortions are repeats). The story closed with a warm picture of him thinking of heaven and all the good he had done. One person said she was devastated when she read it. Our Lady, Mother of God: Pray for US!

Remember: every abortion can be forgiven and healed (Call Project Rachel: phone 1-800-286-4224 or 1-410-354-6900.)

Thanks giving-what are you thankful for? Everyday count three blessings God gave you during your day. A spiritual alphabet:

Altars for sacrifice. Body and soul. Catholicism. Divine Office/Liturgy of the Hours-Psalms to meditate upon. Eucharist-Jesus Himself!...Faith. Gospels of Jesus Christ. Holy People. Images and Icons. Jesus Christ. Kingdom of God ("within us"-Lk 17:2) . Liberation from sin. Mystical, inspiring saints like Catherine of Siena, . Nativity of Jesus/Christmas. Oratio=prayer. Paradise-a hope to long for. Queen of Heaven-Virgin Mary. Reconciliation. Silence. Twelve apostles who answered The Call. Unity of God in Three Divine Persons. Viaticum-"food for the way". Worship. Francis Xavier-great preacher. Zion-Holy Beacon.

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi