Advice for two Friends

Advice for two Friends

By John Mallon

For Phil's Forum

Catholic World News

Two back-to-back emails I received this morning brought home to me the kind of struggles faithful Catholics will be facing in their daily lives as we proceed into the new millennium. The first was from a man I knew in grad school who, in a lifetime of struggle, chose Christ and His Church over his same-sex attractions. He is a member of Courage, the support group for persons with same-sex attractions who choose to live the teachings of the Church.

He wanted my thoughts on what credentials to present in confronting a theologian scheduled to speak at a local parish presenting dissident views on homosexuality. He had already contacted a local bishop about this theologian, and the bishop reassured him the theologian would not be speaking there again. Yet, here he was—again.

I told my friend that he had been baptized and confirmed—that those were his credentials. Beyond that, the only credentials he needed were his personal witness and holiness of life, which in my view were heroic. 

I also said that many dissenters tend to stereotype orthodox people as prissy, goody-goody types lacking life experience and cowering in fear of any kind of freedom of thought. They can't comprehend that orthodox people may have gone through very rugged life experience with immorality and sin and have come full circle around to the truth; convinced by their own suffering. While dissenters and their followers may dip their toes in the water of immorality and think it "brave," many orthodox people have been caught in the undertow of sin and by the grace of Christ landed back on the shore to warn others that this is serious business. In fact, those very experiences convinced them of the truth of the Church.

I also told him that while some present may try to hoot him down, there will be those present to whom his words have the ring of truth, and he may be giving them all they need to say "no" to temptation rather than the "permission" to say yes that is so implicit in dissent.

I said that people often go to these talks to hear their own position bolstered, or because they could go either way and want to learn, and that his may be the voice of salvation to someone there. I said it was likely there would be people wishing to speak to him and find out more.

The second email was from a Catholic woman in San Francisco asking friends for prayers because of an email sent to her and her co-workers by a manager containing a photo from the San Francisco Chronicle of her manager and another man exchanging rings in a ceremony at City Hall. Clearly, the expectation was that the employees share in the joy of the event.

My friend was emailing a response to an administrator that she didn't want to receive this type of mailing. She said she is surrounded by this sort of thing in the workplace and feels she must file a grievance or look for another job. One wonders what would happen if she set up a small Nativity scene on her desk.

I don't know what to say to her. No one wants to be the "wet blanket" amid workplace bonhomie, but one does not wish to give tacit approval to immorality either.

These situations are becoming more and more unavoidable. The Last Temptation of Christ ignores the Gospel and is hailed as brilliant and its critics rebuffed for speaking out without having seen it. Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, is faithful to the Gospel, and is accused of inciting hatred before anyone has seen it. A crucifix in a jar of urine, or the Blessed Mother smeared in elephant dung is "art" and "free speech" while a gentle crèche scene in public at Christmas is deemed "offensive." Chastity education for the young is deemed "unrealistic" while putting condoms on bananas and cucumbers in class is not. The double standards go on and on. 

I'm starting to run out of things to say to people like my two friends here, except to ask if they could lend me some of their courage.


Mallon writes from Oklahoma City.