Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Sr. Pat on Sexual Ethics (part 5)

July 16th, 2010, Promulgated by b a


WARNING: Don’t listen to this if you’re about to go to bed or drive a motorized vehicle. Make sure you leave yourself some time for an activity to get your mind off of the nunsense you’re about to hear.

And now onto Sr. Pat on interpreting scripture. Remember, folks, this isn’t just some random lady off the street. This is the president of St. Bernard’s – the person responsible for training many of our parish leaders – your CMA dollars hard at work. If you’re reading this and you think I’m being too much of a stickler please let me know. As I’ve said many time, my theological viewpoint is simply catholic. If I am saying anything out of line with Church teaching, I’d like to know.

If your interpretation of scripture is, this is absolutely and directly to me God’s word I don’t think there’s any question beyond that … There are those interpreters of scripture though that say the Hebrew Bible is a collection of books as is the new testament a collection of books with certain agenda in mind, and so the interpretation of those 6 passages has become one of the points of discussion in this conversation

quoting Casey Lopata, “Had the knowledge been available to the writers (of the Bible)….we didn’t choose a sexual orientation….we just are….” “if they had known what contemporary theology and contemporary psychology would have known…”

update: Casey Lopata is a key member of Fortunate Families. On the face of it, this seems like it could be a truly commendable ministry. People who either have SSA themselves or who have a close family member with SSA should certainly have a place to turn. However, from looking through the Fortunate Families website, it seems they take it a step further and condone the homosexual lifestyle. This is a free country and people are free to do that. Once you start doing that, you must be honest and realize that you’d have to repudiate your Catholic faith. Catholicism and the homosexual lifestyle are mutually exclusive. As with all people, we Catholics believe that our sexuality is so ingrained into who we are and that it is so beautiful that it can only be truly expressed in marriage. The close relationship between the diocese and organizations like this is very suspect.

I do not hold that God wrote the books of the Bible Bible.

BDA is getting a little fired up, “That’s a fundamental denial of the Catholic faith”
Before we get too crazy with this quote (as BDA did), let’s admit that in a certain sense we agree. We don’t believe that God dropped the books of scripture out of the sky and I think that’s what she’s getting at here. However, given the context of the rest of her statements, I do get the sense that she means this in a more literal way than would be acceptable for a Catholic

BDA still fired up and perhaps reaching a little when he says, “that’s not Catholic”.  Perhaps her literal words would be considered acceptable Church teaching – I don’t have time to grapple with that.  But there are things that she seems to be implying that aren’t inline with Catholicism:

  • she seems to be implying that she doesn’t believe in Biblical inerrancy
  • she seems to be implying that Paul did not write the epistles traditionally ascribed to him
  • she seems to be implying that individuals are free to interpret scripture apart from Magisterial teaching authority

I’ll comment more on these points as we go.

Next we really slide into biblical relativism

another commenter, “I feel bad for Lot’s wife”

and the typical “head coverings” text often quoted by non-Christians to prove that we’re not consistent with Scripture.  Of course, there are answers to all of these questions.

Someone in the crowd mentions Dei Verbum.  The church doesn’t provide interpretations of everything in the Bible.   “That’s not a Catholic way of viewing Scripture.”

They’re starting to attack a straw man here because that’s not really what I was saying.  Let me be clear that quoting Dei Verbum is a good thing.  However, Dei Verbum does not say that we can interpret scriptures however we want.  The Catholic Church teaches biblical inerrancy. This doesn’t mean we take a literalist view of scripture, but we do believe that we must hold to a literal interpretation. We hold that the original intent of the author is the infallible word of God. Sometimes this “original intent” is disputed. For example, perhaps the authors of Jonah and/or Job originally meant it to be a fictional tale. The creation story also may have been  meant to be taken figuratively. This doesn’t mean, though, that the Bible contains mistakes, it simply means that we have to take into account many factors when reading scripture. We need to understand the context and the author’s original intent.  When an epistle of the New Testament starts off with “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus,” it’s pretty clear that the author is claiming to be Paul (not a community of believers).  When Paul says something like “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body”, it’s pretty clear what he means. So, if Paul did not write the epistles attributed to him and he put certain restrictions on sexuality that are no longer valid, I don’t know how you can square that with Church teaching. Even if you were free to step out of bounds of Church teaching and say that Paul didn’t write the epistles, most liberal scholars admit to at least 7 of the Pauline Epistles as being authentic.

A good and honest question from Christopher, “I’m just confused how do “we interpret the Bible”, I just thought the Church was there to help us interpret the Bible because the Bible says that the Church is the “pillar and foundation of Truth” and the protestants hold a different viewpoint on that…..?

Don’t take up James Hanigan’s book (previously he was a good standing Catholic)… Don’t even look at the scripture, just keep on looking at the teachings…

I’ve heard this take on “turn the other cheek before” and I would agree that is is very enlightening. However, that applies to one particular quote of Jesus. You can’t jump to the conclusion that because one quote of Jesus is often misinterpreted that I can now interpret any other passage of scripture however I want.

Some people say the Bible is still being interpreted by the people of God… ya’ll have a different.. and that’s fine

I appreciate the inclusivity she offers. However, we are Catholics. We have boundaries on what we’re allowed to hold to (and especially teach to others). Sr. Pat has overstepped those bounds and more importantly presented official church teaching incompletely and in a very negative light.

let’s keep looking at scripture and uncovering what’s there

I’d agree in the sense that we should continually delve into scripture so as to drill deeper and deeper and make it a part of our everyday lives. But that’s a significantly different thing than saying we should stare at scripture until our vision blurs and we can make the words say whatever we want them to.

Some other random articles I found while researching this topic:

For the youngins trying to rationalize having sex:

For those trying to present the case that you can be both Catholic and supportive of the homosexual lifestyle:

Doctrine vs Discipline
The Slippery Slope of Sexual Sin
What Is Biblical Criticism—and Should We Trust It?

Biblical Criticism

Tags: , ,


7 Responses to “Sr. Pat on Sexual Ethics (part 5)”

  1. Mike says:

    The correct spelling is “Casey Lopata.” See here, or Google for lots more.

    BTW, until his recent retirement Lopata was DOR’s liaison to about half of the PPNM Planning Groups.

  2. Choirloft says:

    Ben – It’s Casey Lopata that you’re looking for.

  3. benanderson says:

    thanks, guys. I’ve updated the post. Mike, what is PPNM?

  4. Mike says:

    PPNM = “Pastoral Planning for the New Millennium”

    See here.

    Also, this excerpt from a 2004 report I and another parishioner prepared for OLM’s Parish Council might be helpful.

    Background and History

    Pastoral Planning for the New Millennium (PPNM) is the name given to a planning process instituted by the Diocese of Rochester in the late 1990s. Faced with a declining number of priests and confronted by projections that this trend would continue well into the future, the diocese decided that each of its 200 parishes and other faith communities should be actively involved in planning for how the entire diocese would cope with this situation.

    The diocese was split into a total of 36 planning groups with each planning group consisting of anywhere from 3 to 10 faith communities. Although other factors were involved, assignment of a particular faith community to a planning group was made largely on geographic concerns. The actual planning work began with something of a staggered start. One-third of the planning groups began their work in 1997, another third began a year later, and the remainder in 1999.

    Our particular group is called the Eastern Greece/Charlotte Planning Group and consists of Holy Cross, Holy Name of Jesus, Our Lady of Mercy, Our Mother of Sorrows, St. Charles Borromeo and St. John the Evangelist parishes. It is composed of 4 people from each parish: the pastor (or pastoral administrator), another staff member, a parish council representative, and a parishioner at large. We are in the second tier of planning groups mentioned above and began our first planning process in 1998.

    This first round of planning began with each parish making a comprehensive assessment of its strengths and weaknesses, as well as its concerns and visions for the future. Then the 6 parishes began meeting together and identified several areas of common interest and concern. These areas included (1) outreach to age groups 20-45, (2) outreach to single, divorced, separated, bereaved, single parents, older adults and youth, (3) evangelization of the unchurched and alienated, (4) increasing the number of volunteers, (5) developing programs to help parishes increase income via wills and bequests, and (6) developing a communications process to share the planning group’s work with all its parishioners.

    Three of these areas saw significant collaborative efforts in the past 5 years. There is an active group of young adult Catholics planning educational and other activities for their peers. There is an active Evangelization Focus Group helping to coordinate and publicize area-wide liturgical services. Finally there is an active communications team getting out the word on what our planning group has been doing.

    During this first 5 years we have seen our number of assigned priests drop from 11 to 9.5. Holy Name of Jesus and Our Lady of Mercy have each cut their weekend Mass schedules from 4 to 3, due to a lack of priests.

    Current Activities

    Our second round of planning, called PPNM2, started last September. It began with a meeting of all 6 parishes’ staff people and parish council members with diocesan representatives Karen Rinefierd and William Pickett. At that meeting we were given a battery of demographic data dealing with parish registrations, Mass attendance, baptisms, weddings and funerals. We were also told that we could expect to see our total number of assigned priests drop from 9.5 to 8 sometime in the next five years, and then from 8 to 7 in the five years after that. We were also given a list of concerns that the bishop would like us to address in our planning for these next 5 years (see the attached letter).

    Since this information session our planning group has met twice, the most recent time being last Saturday. Working groups have been established to explore potential priest assignments as we see our numbers of priests drop, to began looking at our combined number of Masses and their scheduling throughout the weekend, and to communicate our efforts to parish councils and our parishioners. Also, our evangelization and outreach to 20-45 focus groups have been tasked with suggesting ways in which they might respond to the bishop’s concerns. These working groups are to report back to the planning group at its April 17th meeting.

    It is possible that specific proposals affecting some or all of our parishes may come out of the planning group as early as this April 17th meeting. These proposals will then be forwarded to each parish’s entire staff and parish councils for their consideration. This would most likely be something of an iterative process, with comments and suggestions going back and forth between the parishes and the planning group, but it would need to be a short one. Our goal is to have a plan approved by all our parishes and our planning group, ready to present to the bishop by the end of the year.

  5. Nerina says:

    Regarding biblical interpretation, one can refer to the Catechism, para 115-119. In these paragraphs, the Church talks about the “senses” of Scripture.

    One direct quote from Sr. Schoelles: “I don’t believe God wrote the bible. The Bible doesn’t result from any direct act of God.” As you note Ben, of course it didn’t drop from the sky all perfectly bound or anything. Actually, it took THE CHURCH to figure it all out (and yes, Christopher is right to note that the CHURCH is the bulwark and pillar of Truth). She is clearly making the case that Scripture can be interpreted to meet just about any agenda. She says, basically, “If the ancient writers had knowledge of current psychology they would have written differently” about behaviors like homosexuality. That’s when she introduces this whole idea that we are all on a continuum of sexuality and that some of us “just are” gay.

    I also noticed how she was careful to point out that “Jesus never said anything about homosexuality.” Hmmmm. Maybe because he knew that his listeners were well aware of the OT condemnations? And she just can’t resist saying, “the Hebrew Bible and the NT writings are a collection of books written by communities WITH AGENDAS.” Oh, like, saving souls? She is consistent and persistent, I’ll give her that.

  6. Richard says:

    How interesting that Bishop Clark forbids the group COURAGE to come into the diocese. Courage is a support group for homosexuals that encourages them to remain chaste until they marry.

    Whatever happened to welcoming people with ALL opinions. It’s all smoke and mirrors. Is the bishop going to man up and admit he is really only friendly to those groups that support his adgenda.

  7. RochChaCha says:

    Ben – Not sure what to say other than that I had to pick my jaw up off the floor a couple of times. I really could not believe what I was hearing. It is comforting to know that there were folks present at this TOT that could challenge the presenter, albeit in a charitable way, and to be a counterbalance to the information that was being presented. I noticed that Sr. Pat almost went down the road of ‘unjust war’ and that Jesus said to turn a cheek when someone then suggested that there would be an opportunity to discuss this topic at a future TOT. Who was the woman at the event that was supporting Sr. Pat’s views and talking about Vatican II? It was very difficult to hear her. Do you know what point she was trying to make? On a final note, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that God is the author of Sacred Scripture. Paragraphs 105-108 of the Catechism could not be clearer.

    105 God is the author of Sacred Scripture. “The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.”69

Leave a Reply

Log in | Register

You must be logged in to post a comment.

-Return to main page-