The recent (January 30) statements by the Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles, Robert Barron, that he will not fight for the abolition of the same-sex “marriage” ruling has scandalized even his admirers. He contends that revoking that decision “would probably cause much more problems and dissension and difficulty if we keep pressing it.” He doubles down: “I wouldn’t want to get on a crusader’s tank and try to reverse that.”1
Is Homosexual Tendency Intrinsically Disordered?
This statement by a bishop known for his writings, videos, homilies and cultural comments is even more serious because he made them to David Rubin, a homosexual journalist living in a same-sex “marriage.”2
For Bishop Barron, “if the only thing a gay person hears from the Catholic Church is, ‘you’re intrinsically disordered,’ we’ve got a very serious problem, if that’s what the message has become.”
Contrary to the above statement, the Church has never taught that a person with same-sex attraction is “intrinsically disordered,” but rather his homosexual tendency. To say that someone is “intrinsically” disordered, that is, in their very nature, would mean that God created a disordered nature, which is absurd.
In What Sense Is a Sinner a Child of God?
The Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles added, “The first thing a gay person, like any person, should hear is ‘You’re a beloved child of God.”
In the context in which this statement was made—that is, on a pro-homosexual program—it takes on a dangerous ambiguity. For it does not make clear whether the bishop is referring to a person with a disorderly tendency who resists and does not sin, or to one who actually practices the act against nature.
There is no doubt that all men are children of God. But the sinner is a son in revolt against his Creator, whom he offends by despising His Law. In this state of revolt, he loses divine friendship, sanctifying grace, and is on his way to Hell should he die in such a state.3
A True “Son of God” Is One Who Keeps the Commandments
The words of the Savior are clear and unequivocal: to love Him as a son loves his father, one must keep His words—that is Faith—and His commandments:
“If you love me, keep my commandments.”
“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them; he it is that loveth me.”
“If any one love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and will make our abode with him. He that loveth me not, keepeth not my words” (John 14:15, 21, 23–24).
Does Concern With Morals Hinder Evangelization?
Bishop Barron, apparently angered by the protests caused by his statements, posted a response on his blog titled “Dave Rubin, the Pelvic Issues, and Larry David.”
Referring to Catholic sexual morality in a derogatory fashion as “the pelvic issues” is really shocking. In his view, people who care about moral issues hurt evangelization.
He says, “[T]his preoccupation with ‘the pelvic issues’ has served to undermine the work of evangelization.”
With the qualification that he does not scorn morality, he adds, “But I fear that for so many people in the secular world today, religion is reduced to the policing of sexual behavior, and this is massively unfortunate.”
As far as he is concerned, the Sacred Scriptures are not concerned with sexual morality:
“When you read the great evangelizing texts of the New Testament—the Gospels, the Epistles of Paul, the book of Revelation, etc.—you don’t get the impression that what their authors wanted you primarily to understand is sexual morality.”
Now, in his Epistle to the Corinthians, Saint Paul makes it clear that he is talking sexual morality:
“Do not err: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers. Nor the effeminate, nor liers with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor railers, nor extortioners, shall possess the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10).
Silence on Morality, a Triumph of the Sexual Revolution
Has the silence of the clergy on sexual morals (save for well-deserving exceptions) favored evangelization? On the contrary, one should consider the empty churches and the closure of convents and seminaries for lack of vocations.
This silence has only favored the Sexual Revolution, which keeps advancing and destroying the very foundations and remnants of morality, modesty, and human dignity.
Sexual pleasure is more and more idolized, with ominous consequences: destruction of marriage and the family, exaltation of free love, normalization of all forms of sexual aberration; sexual frenzy no longer respects barriers of age, sex and even species, with an increase in zoophilia.
Modesty—that flower of chastity that at the same time embellishes and protects it—has become virtually unknown. The human body is exposed and exploited by all means through fashion, movies, pictures, in an erotic exhibitionism opposed not only to morality but even to human dignity.
Is Christian Perfection Impossible?
Even more surprisingly, Bishop Barron declares that the Bible is ironical and skeptical in relation to “any claim to human perfectibility.” If that were the case, every effort man makes to sanctify himself with the help of grace would be useless. Nor would it make any sense for the Church to have canonized the saints for having practiced virtue to a heroic degree.
Sympathy for an Advocate of Same-Sex “Marriage”
Bishop Barron is entirely at ease with, and praises a journalist who advocates same-sex “marriage”:
“Dave is a stand-up comedian, political satirist” he says, though recognizing that “He is also an advocate of gay marriage.” He adds that “I am very grateful to Dave Rubin for the interview and the opportunity to explore a number of issues related to faith and society.”
The bishop again refers in a derogatory fashion to those concerned with sexual morality:
“I just hope that his viewers can appreciate that there is a lot more to Christianity than the ‘pelvic issues.’”
Hell Is Supposedly Empty…
It is scandalous for a bishop to employ the crude and unworthy “pelvic issues” formula to refer to the divine and natural moral laws that condemn all sexual practice outside marriage, and especially those contrary to nature.
But Bishop Barron’s moral stance is related to his optimistic theory about Hell. Although he is obliged to reject Origen’s theory, condemned by the Church, that at the end of time the reprobates and even demons will be forgiven,4 he adopts its veiled form, espoused by Hans Urs von Balthasar:
“My own conviction is that Balthasar has this more or less right. Catholic doctrine is that Hell exists, but yet the Church has never claimed to know if any human being is actually in Hell.”
For Bishop Barron, “Hell” or “Gehenna” are “spatial metaphors.” He concludes with a formula very close to Origen’s heresy:
“The divine love, freely rejected, results in suffering. And yet, we may, indeed we should, hope that God’s grace will, in the end, wear down even the most recalcitrant sinner.”
Now, if Hell is purely metaphorical and “in the end” all sinners will be saved by grace no matter what state they die in, why worry about what he contemptuously calls “pelvic issues”?
Morality loses all its meaning, as does the notion of sin and offense to God.
Unfortunately, with his statements, the popular apologist has discouraged those opposed to same-sex “marriage” and created confusion about the very foundations of morality.
Updated February 9, 2017.
- Cf. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYWBNMOCrlo, at 13.9 minutes and sequence. All emphasis added.
- He made this statement at the interview with Bishop Barron. Cf. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYWBNMOCrlo, at 12 minutes and sequence.
- “A mortal sin is one which deprives the soul of sanctifying grace and makes it deserving of hell.” Msgr. Giuseppe Graneris, Sin (Actual), in Roberti-Palazzini, Dictionary of Moral Theology, p. 1134.
- Council of Constantinople II, 553, Canon 9. “If anyone says or holds that the punishment of the demons and of impious men is temporary, and that it will have an end at some time, that is to say, there will be a complete restoration of the demons or of impious men, let him be anathema.” (Denzinger, 211).