Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Does “sexual orientation” have a place in your parish’s mission statement?

December 28th, 2011, Promulgated by b a

Does “sexual orientation” have a place in your parish’s mission statement? Fr. Joseph Marcoux of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Ithaca seems to think so:

We are so pleased that you chose to celebrate with us this weekend. We warmly invite you to active participation in our liturgical celebration. Please feel free to approach one of our Ministers of Hospitality if you are in need of any assistance. No matter what your present status in the Catholic Church, your current family or marital situation, your past or present religious affiliation; no matter what your personal history, age, background, sexual orientation, gender, race or color; no matter what your self-image or self-esteem: YOU are invited, welcomed, accepted, loved and respected at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Ithaca, New York.

Another curiosity I’ve had is, “why do parish’s have mission statements?” Aren’t we all Catholic? As Bishop Hubbard recently lamented:

There is also a growing congregationalism, wherein parishioners fail to appreciate the relationship of their parish to the diocese and to the Church universal.

A few years back, before I left my geographic parish because the priest removed himself from full communion with the Catholic Church by endorsing the ordination of women, I remember he made a big deal out of a huge weekend event in which the parish would define its mission statement. I didn’t have time to devote a whole Saturday (and I believe Friday) to such a silly ordeal, but if I would have had my say it would have gone something like this:

O my God, I firmly believe that you are one God in three divine persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I believe that your divine Son became man and died for our sins, and that he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the holy catholic Church teaches, because in revealing them you can neither deceive nor be deceived.

And if you think Fr. Marcoux is happy to warp the truth only in his own parish in order to tailor to the LGBT community in, you’d be mistaken. See his bulletin article here on the diocesan wide push.  In fact, in hind sight, I would bet that my previously mentioned priest was pushing behind the scenes to get such wording into my previous parish’s mission statement.

And here is the bulletin article articulating the change to the mission statement:

Fr. Marcoux was also one of the three co-authors of the Rochester priest protest against the Church’s language toward homosexuals and also an alleged butt-baptizer.

DISCLAIMER: There are ways to interpret Fr. Marcoux’s words to be inline with Catholic teaching. Certainly we should be welcoming to all people and meet them where they are and gently invite them on a path towards full communion with the Church.  Those who struggle with SSA who are in full communion should be treated just like anyone else.  However, in our confused society and pro-gay agenda diocese, when one speaks of inviting homosexuals to full/active participation in the liturgy without clearly stating that practicing homosexuals should refrain from receiving communion, it’s highly suggestive that you are actually supportive of their lifestyle and their agenda.


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35 Responses to “Does “sexual orientation” have a place in your parish’s mission statement?”

  1. Raymond F. Rice says:

    Father Marcoux:

    What a warm and compassionate way of inviting people into the life of the Church. Hopefully, many people reading it will start dealing with their personal and social issues so that they can eventually see the Christ inspired message of love behind it.

  2. Ben Anderson says:

    As I said, there are ways to interpret his words positively. However, given our society I see red flags all over it. It’s kind of like how many early Church Fathers condemned art because it was so closely connected with idolatry at the time (am I right, Bernie or am I making that up?). It’s not that they were necessarily wrong in doing so, but since idolatry was such a lure, it may have been the right thing to do. We must be very, very careful given the preconceived notions of our society when we speak of accepting homosexuals to point out what we mean. When one speaks of embracing the LGBT lifestyle in our society, you can bet that they mean they are OK with the whole agenda – SSM, encouraging reception of communion while not being in a state of grace (which is most certainly not love), contraception, women-priests, fallible scriptures, etc. And before we get into intentions, I’d like to squelch that debate. Let’s just all assume the best of intentions on Fr. Marcoux’s part. In cases such as this, though, well intentions aren’t good enough. Bigger things are at stake. Souls! thousands upon thousands of misguided souls at risk of losing their salvation because of misguided pastoral advice.

  3. brother of penance says:

    Ben’s repetition of the “Act of Faith” is not a mission statement per se.
    It is a statement of faith.

    Perhaps a mission statement, in light of the faith statement, could articulate that “this parish believes (the Act of Faith) and welcomes everyone to celebrate that faith with us. We as a parish exist to build each other in that faith and to invite everyone to investigate it, celebrate it and commit to it. We exist as a parish to encourage everyone to believe and live that belief.”

    Father Joe’s mission statement unnecessarily lists who is welcome.
    Everyone is welcome. Everyone means everyone.
    But to what are they welcome, Father Joe?

    Christ’s love welcomes everyone to faith, hope and love. Christ’s love welcomes everyone to conversion and repentance. Christ’s love welcomes everyone to experience and herald the life transforming grace of God which transforms sinners into saints.

    Come on, Father Joe, proclaim the Gospel as handed on and received. Sure the Good News is relevant to each generation which has that which is particular to it. But the fallen human nature is in need of the same Good News of Salvation through the grace of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. Include some of that eternal truth in your parish’s mission statement.

    See, believe it and proclaim these truths and you and your parish, Father Joe, will be most welcoming.

    May Jesus Christ be praised as we welcome everyone to Him, the Only Savior of the world!

  4. Thinkling says:

    I liked this from bop: “Father Joe’s mission statement unnecessarily lists who is welcome. Everyone is welcome. Everyone means everyone.

    The biggest red flag here is that 500 pound acronym GLBT. Now each letter does represent part of “everyone”. The difficulty is that the particular acronym has become practically synonymous with a particular misguided ideology, so that by using it the good Father is at best drastically confusing anyone who is familiar with the acronym, and at worst gravely gravely scandalizing his flock, and perhaps others.

    Frankly the acronym should be deep sixed anyway — the pastoral needs of these four so-called groups are actually quite different so the use of the acronym reveals ideological advocacy, not pastoral sensitivity.

    I am glad to see the likes of Ron Belgau, Melinda Selmys, Steve Gershom et al getting more visibility lately. While the spiritual journeys of all of these folks are clearly still works in progress, it is nice to see people blazing faithful trails, even if not stumble-free, for those with SSA and other crosses.

  5. Raymond F. Rice says:

    I think the priest is trying to balance out against articles like the one from the priest in El Paso who used fairly acid and inappropriate remarks.

    El Paso Priest: Calling Gays “Putrid” Constitutes “True Pastoral Care for Homosexuals”
    Full story:

  6. Abaccio says:

    Parish mission statement:

    Our mission is to work ceaselessly towards the salvation of souls through frequent participation in the Sacraments, communal and individual prayer, and works of mercy. In addition, we aim to grow in holiness through fellowship and study, as we fulfill our vocations as Saints.

  7. annonymouse says:

    I’m pretty sure that Our Blessed Lord would be just as open and welcoming to all sinners as Father Joe is attempting to be. Kudo’s for that. The problem, as Ben intimates, is whether we are going to call a sin a sin. But that’s not limited to homosexual behavior. When was the last time you heard a homily about sin of any kind? Do our priests and deacons (and those who give reflections) speak of the sin of abortion? Occasionally perhaps. How about the sin of contraception? Pretty much never. The sin of lust and the sin or pornography? Never heard of them from the pulpit. The sin of greed and the sin of envy, the sin of not attending to the needy and disenfranchised? More often we hear of these, I suppose.

    My point is this – by all means, let’s be an open and welcoming Church, inviting all of us sinners to come in. But please do not forget that there must be a clear and strong call to all of us sinners to reject sin and engage in a lifelong conversion of heart.

    The question to ask Father Joe is this – do you believe, and are you ready to proclaim, that homosexual behavior is disordered and sinful? Should these folks be called to repentence and conversion?

    Jesus told the woman He saved from stoning “If no one else condemns you, neither do I.” But we too frequently leave off his admonishment “Now go and sin no more.”

  8. Bernie says:

    “Does ‘sexual orientation’ have a place in your parish’s mission statement?”

    No, it doesn’t. (I don’t happen to like ‘mission statements, either. It’s one of those goofy ideas that persist.)

    By singling out homosexuals in such a way we suggest that the behavior is as acceptable as well as the person. It may not be the intention, of course, but everyone -homosexual and not- tends to interpret such invitations that way.

    Just hang a sign on the church door that says: ‘Open Only to Sinners Who Want to be Saints.’ That should be welcoming enough.

  9. Richard Thomas says:

    I believe this priest just wants homosexuals to be welcome in the parish. He will NEVER utter a single word concerning homosexual acts and chastity, and by his actions, he implies homosexual acts are OK.

    This is the cancer prevalent throughout the diocese, but if any individual or group of any standing in the diocese promotes the Majesterial teachings concerning homosexuality, they will be persecuted and suppressed if possible. So much for an “open, loving , warm and compassionate” church.

    Only heretetical views are welcome!

  10. Raymond F. Rice says:

    One of the big problems for other people from outside the mainstream is that they don’t want to be caught at the well (church). The elders accused her but it was Jesus who forgave her. Let’s work with them to get “caught” in Peter’s net!!!

  11. Richard Thomas says:

    Morals have plumeted since Vatican 2. There are so many single parents and unwed mothers. Sexual promiscuity is rampant. Pornography can be viewed on the internet, most towns and in most hotels. Abortion, it’s still strong. 50 % of married couples divorce.

    I blame the Catholic Church for much of the demise of society. Our Church was the glue that held society together. But after Vatican 2, She stopped preaching about sexual ethics and as a result people do almost anything they want to do.

    We are bombarded 24/7 by a media that represents the culture of death. We see advertisements for birth control on national television. But Catholics never hear homilies, as stated by annonymous. When are our priests, bishops and deacons going to start preaching about this?

  12. Raymond F. Rice says:

    Richard Thomas:

    “I blame the Catholic Church for much of the demise of society. Our Church was the glue that held society together.”

    A more accurate statement would blame the clergy! They are forming (or not) the laity into what they want and then you condemn the laity for their positions!!!!!!!!!

  13. A Catholic says:

    I find it problematic to include “sexual orientation” alongside such things as age and race in a parish mission statement. Same-sex attraction may be a result of a developmental disorder: a male or female has a need for fulfilment and finds that in the other- usually someone of the opposite sex. However, someone who never is able, for whatever reason, to establish securely their own identity as male or female may be drawn to seek fulfilment in someone of the same sex. Without passing judgement on those who struggle with this, it can be said that this is a disordered drive. Thus those who self-identify as gay or lesbian are accepting this as who they are rather than seeing it more truthfully as a broken part of their personhood. I would be concerned that those who self-identify in this way would be looking for the Church to “change” and allow them the sexual expression that they mistakenly believe would fulfil them. If they weren’t looking for this, then why would they self-identify as gay or lesbian rather than look upon themselves as simply a man or woman of God struggling with a sinful area of their lives as everyone does? No judgement upon Father Maroux, but I think that he has allowed himself to be caught up in a worldly way of looking at this issue rather than sticking with the timeless wisdom of the Church. A warm welcome to everyone should be sufficient- the wording of the drafted mission statement may lead to the mistaken idea that St. Catherine of Siena parish doesn’t accept the healing truth of the Catholic Church’s teaching on this area of human sexuality. That may not be the intent of those on the St. Catherine of Siena pastoral council, but that is what would be conveyed by such a statement as currently drafted.

  14. annonymouse says:

    A Catholic – excellent, truly excellent post. Thank you.

  15. Bruce says:

    Christ said to “go and sin no more.” That applies to homosexuals too – no more sodomy or sexual activity outside of marriage, and marriage is only between one man and one woman. If you fail in that pursuit, go to Confession, and try again. That, and pray hard. That is what it means to be Catholic. Homosexuals, like the rest of us, are to be chaste and reserve sexual activity for marriage (one man + one woman), and if one cannot, one must go to Confession and try again. If one WILL not, then he or she is not following Christ nor is Catholic.

    If that is what Father Joe meant, then by all means he is correct.

    If he meant something else, then by all means he is incorrect.

  16. Susan of Corning says:

    Abaccio, that was a great mission statement: “Our mission is to work ceaselessly towards the salvation of souls through frequent participation in the Sacraments, communal and individual prayer, and works of mercy. In addition, we aim to grow in holiness through fellowship and study, as we fulfill our vocations as Saints.”

    My parish says something vague about joyfully building up the kingdom. Salvation of souls? I never see nor hear that mentioned in any Catholic parish.

  17. snowshoes says:

    Ben, Abaccio, Susan, et al, I couldn’t agree more. “The truth will set you free!” While I also think parish mission statements are goofy, esp as seen in the one cited, if one must have one, it should be brief, for crying out loud.

    I would start with the doxology, and I would invoke the BVM and the parish patron saint, or at least St. Michael the Archangel, or just “all the Angels and Saints” as from the Confiteor. AND most importantly, I would say that the parish is led by the Priest-Pastor! Because of course, there is NO Catholic Parish if it is not canonically headed by a priest or bishop (who’s YOUR priest-pastor?). Such a statement would be high heresy in certain (non-Catholic) places and would mark out that parish as a solid Catholic parish for all to see and either accept or reject… God bless and Happy New Year.

  18. Nerina says:

    Here’s the mission statement from my church:

    The mission of St. Patrick’s parish is to make visible the
    presence of the Risen Lord in our Catholic faith
    community through liturgies, programs and activities for
    the spiritual nourishment of its members; to encourage
    and enable all to share what God has given them in a
    loving and caring way through full participation in the
    spiritual, social and sacred aspects of parish life; to enrich
    the relationship between each individual and our God,
    and to reach out with other faith communities to the poor,
    the hungry, the homeless, the downtrodden, the
    unchurched and others in need.

    When I sat on parish council I suggested that a rewrite was in order. I mean, what does the above really say? It seems to be a bunch of spiritual gobbledygook. Abaccio’s suggestion is perfect. Or better yet, “Go and make disciples baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

    Regarding Fr. Marcoux and the bigger question of welcoming LGBT parishioners (and I agree that the acronym needs to be eliminated from the Church’s vocabulary), Ben and others are right in that we need to be clear – sinners are welcome – the Church is a “hospital,” afterall. That doesn’t mean, however, that we don’t treat the illness wrought by living a sinful lifestyle. It is not at all clear that Fr. Marcoux supports Church teaching regarding homosexuality and that’s the problem. His language can be interpreted in any number of ways.

  19. Thinkling says:

    I saw somewhere a piece expounding on the hospital for sinners analogy. The author said they “wanted to get better” so they cooperate with their treatment…prayer, sacraments etc. The author then said some patients reject their treatment and instead try to become the doctors. Brilliant analogy.

  20. Richard Thomas says:

    True, Thinking but there are some physicians (priests and bishops), who are enabling, teaching and encouraging their patients to self trear and self diagnose, with disasterous consequences.

  21. Scott W. says:

    I’ll give Fr. Joseph a pass on his mission statement if there is an indication anywhere by him or the parish that homosexual acts are always and everywhere wrong. Otherwise this is the complicity of silence or yet another cowardly capitulation to the cultural winds.

  22. Richard Thomas says:

    With all the hub-bub concerning the homosexual agenda and all the statements from various groups officially connected with the DOR, any statement reaffirming the evil of homosexual actions would be in direct contradiction of the policy of the bishop and such priest would sugger immensely. I can only think this is another rubber stamp for advocating the homosexual agenda.

  23. Raymond F. Rice says:

    Would a lot of the diversity of opinion on these issues be clarified if the sinful acts were to be condemned rather than being critical of or condemning the sexual orientation of the perpetrators?? Just a thought I had because my research indicates that both heterosexuals and homosexuals are morally disordered when they engage in anal and/or oral intercourse with their partners. Maybe we need a universal condemnation of the heterosexual as well as homosexual sodomites rather then singling out one group. Just a thought.

  24. Ben Anderson says:

    sounds good to me. I often heard young Catholics say certain acts aren’t mortal if you don’t go all the way. In the context of the mission statement then, would you suggest adding heterosexuals who are inclined toward those things?

  25. Raymond F. Rice says:


    I don’t think I would be that explicit in a mission statement!! (LOL). I would suggest that some clarification be put on it saying we support the repentance and the renewal of all sinners of all kinds, who are in good faith and who wish to love and serve God more.

  26. Scott W. says:

    Well, yes. Chastity is a universal virtue and ought to be promoted as such. The problem is there are no Adultery Pride parades, there are no Masturbator’s Safe Zones on most college campuses across the nation. Catholics are not being squeezed out of adoption work because of their stance heterosexual pornography. Homosexualism is the clear and present cultural juggernaut currently rolling over all opposition and the Church needs to be clear and specific rather than vague and evasive.

  27. brother of penance says:

    Brothers and Sisters, it has become evident that Diocesan efforts to minister pastorally to
    LGBT folks and their families are rooted in that particular perspective of contemporary moral theology which looks less to nature and that natural end to which body parts where designed and looks more to the social justice perspective that views LGBT folks and their families as marginalized, discriminated minority groups.

    We will not read nor hear from this Diocese strong language regarding homosexuality; language which harmonizes with the Universal Church. It is fair to assess Father Joe’s mission statement and statements which include LGBT friendly language as reflective of acceptance and promotion of the social justice view.

    By God’s grace and mercy, the Cleansing Fire DOR community knows and accepts the Catholic Church’s official teachings on homosexual acts. Let us seek the help of the Holy Spirit to live and speak these truths in a way that leads all people to Christ Jesus. Ultimately all of our faith and all of our mission is all about the Son of God, the only savior of the world.

    So, are we helping people to know, love and serve God through Jesus Christ or are we not?

  28. Rich Leonardi says:

    FWIW, Marcoux was Bishop Clark’s poster child for vocations — literally:

  29. Jim says:

    Scott W. I really don’t understand what you are trying to say in the middle of your post! I know what you are saying in the first and last sentence, but you lost me in the middle.

  30. Richard Thomas says:

    Boy, Having this priest as a poster child for vocations speaks volumes about where this bishop is coming from and what he is advocating.

  31. brother of penance says:

    “Poster child for vocations” Ugh!

    I am reminded of those inane attempts to draw men to the Catholic priesthood by making the priesthood look attractive. You have seen those articles either in the D & C or the CATHOLIC COURIER wherein there is a picture of a few men sitting around a kitchen table or in a living room looking like suburban yuppies.
    How cool. Hey, maybe I will try that.


    Want to invite men to the priesthood? Then invite them to identify with Christ crucified.
    Invite them to sacrifice and suffering. Invite them to death. Promise them the joy of selfless service for the salvation of souls. Promise them the hope of one day hearing: WELL DONE YOU GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT, ENTER INTO THE JOY OF YOUR LORD.

    Archbishop Fulton Sheen used to say that there are those who want the cross without Christ. And there are those who want Christ without the cross. Is our Diocese proclaiming the cross of Christ and inviting believers to pick up the cross and follow Christ to calvary?

    A Poster child for vocations? Not now, not ever.

  32. Raymond F. Rice says:

    Brother of Penance:

    Perhaps a more effective method of recruiting young men to be priests might be to ask the young priests of today what caught their attention and encouraged them to pursue the priesthood.

    With the environment in the Church today, even a smile can be a real attention getter!!

  33. Bruce says:

    “Father” Marcoux – the man who is fascinated with stripping babies and dipping their butts into warm water, is hardly a pastor. He seems like a heretic in pastor clothing.

    Homosexual acts can never be condoned. It is not loving to suggest otherwise.

  34. Raymond F. Rice says:

    Bruce: I don’t get the connection between your first statement and second. Please explain.

  35. Hopefull says:

    Belatedly weighing in on the gender/mission statement question to say, emphatically, that gender has no place in the mission statement, and that the Creed is good enough for me as a mission statement. But I’d also like to call attention to the point that a Mission Statement and a Welcoming Statement are two different things. If someone finds the need to add more, it should be related to an element particular to that parish, such as supporting a Catholic School, or a soup kitchen; i.e. a ministry which characterizes the parish and how it is carrying out being Christ to the world.

    It is also a very bad idea to try to enumerate all the people who are welcome, because inevitably someone will be left out and feel slighted. And where sinfulness is mentioned, or implied (as in dangling the impression that somehow THIS parish will condone “gay marriage” or homosexual relationships, at least the word “repentant” should be required in front of the laundry list of sexual sins.

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