Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Accompanying Those With Same Sex Attraction and Simon the Cyrene

      Father James Martin SJ.  recently spoke in our diocese on the subject of supporting and accompanying those in our parish and family who have same-sex-attraction. This event was problematic because his approach to accompanying those with homosexual inclinations does not encourage chastity. Father Martin does not support the teachings of the Catholic Church on SSA and has been on record as saying that he hopes that homosexual partners will someday be able to kiss one another in Mass. He teaches that chastity for homosexuals is not official Church teaching because the teaching has not been "received by the faithful," and therefore, they are not bound in their conscience to obey.
    I circulated a petition in my diocese asking our bishop to rescind Father Martin's permission to speak in the diocese. In all fairness to our bishop, the invitation was made by a Jesuit retreat center and was not initiated by our diocese. However, our bishop ultimately gave his permission, which was unfortunate, to say the least. He had the authority to prevent Father Martin from speaking but declined to use it.
    Upon hearing of the petition, the bishop invited me to meet with him to discuss my and the many signatories objections to Fr. Martin's visit. I respectfully explained to our bishop that Simon the Cyrene accompanied Jesus and assisted him as he carried his cross to Calvary. (Admittedly he was constrained by the Roman guards and didn't volunteer.) Now as Simon and our Lord painfully trudged towards the crucifixion, Simon could have pointed out a back alley or secret path that they could have escaped to. In the crush of the crowds and confusion, perhaps, Simon could have held the cross and told the Lord to run for it, avoiding the ignominious death on that cross. But, he did not do that and continued to assist Jesus to bear that cross which ultimately led to his death and our salvation. I suggested to our bishop that Father Martin's approach is akin to being a "bad" Simon the Cyrene and encourage the cross-bearer to look for an easy way out.  The "easy way" in this instance is to subtly give permission for those with SSA to continue in unchastity.
     True accompaniment is not helping the person to take the easy way out to avoid the weight and pain of the cross on their backs. To truly help someone is to recognize their burden and with God's grace support them and help them to get to heaven. I imagine Simon the Cyrene may have encouraged Jesus, "Just a little further Lord, hang in there, we'll get there soon, you can do this etc."  In contrast, Father Martin's idea of accompaniment is to tell the individual with same-sex-attraction that they are not bound to chastity and can continue to live in a fashion contrary to Truth.
   May God give us the sensitivity to understand the burden of living with same-sex-attraction and to not judge those who struggle with it . They did not choose this cross for themselves. May we do all we can to support, pray, encourage and love them. Let us be a good Simon the Cyrene for all of our brothers and sisters who have SSA.


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