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By Fr. Stephen Imbarrato, The Protest Priest, Courageous Priest, Jan. 2018
There is a trend going on in the pro-life collective that I find quite concerning and even dangerous. There is growing criticism of certain aspects (tactics) of the collective that others from within are referencing as unloving and lacking compassion. There are more so those inside the collective who believe that some people or groups in the collective are anti gay and anti transgender, haters and intolerant. Such criticisms or accusations within the collective have been growing the last couple of years. And the pattern I see is that if there is any defense or push back against these accusations (which I believe are largely false and made up) whether the accusations originate in some instances from perception minded corporate ministries or worse from people who are either clearly anti marriage and anti family, then those who stand up for the truth and for what is right and just morally are being chastised and even marginalized.
This is a microcosm actually of what we are seeing in the culture. The forces that are undermining life, marriage, and family, label those who believe in moral absolutes and traditional long held values as haters, bigots, anti women, and of course, now anti gay and anti transgender. Some of these attacks are quite serious and blatant and in almost all instances, false and made up. Yet when some of the moral traditionalists stand up for the truth in the face of these attacks, they are chastised within their own ranks for whatever reason.
This is evident within the Church. Good priests standing up for the faith being chastised and punished because they speak out when they see pastoral abuses when, in the name of being loving and tolerant, many ignore or tolerate behaviors that are against the truth, detrimental to souls, and offensive to God.
I can remember a time before I entered the seminary that by broadening our pro-life focus beyond anti abortion to a broader chastity message, we were able to get into venues such as public high schools that previously would not be inviting toward us st all. Within the chastity message, we would also talk about the abortion issue. It was an effective strategy.
I see a similar pattern happening in the pro-life collective but somewhat in reverse. Anti marriage and anti family influences who have taken up the pro-life position have gained acceptance and a platform for their broader agenda. They are now using the same rhetoric that others within the collective had already deployed for much longer…that certain aspects of the movement are not loving and compassionate; that they are harsh and judgmental. Accusations fly at will often in the form of implications that some groups (tactics) are loving, caring, compassionate, and embracing of women; the implication always being that other groups or tactics are not as such. Yet when those attacked stand up for the truth, whether it be continuing what they do in good conscience, push back in defending themselves, or even expose a particular agenda especially in the case of the anti family, anti marriage influences, these traditionalists (for lack of a better word) are often chastised and called out as being divisive or again not loving or embracing.
As I have pointed out, this reality has become a common occurrence on many levels and I think it needs to be confronted on the broader scale and particularly within the pro-life collective. Standing up for the truth is never unloving. Almost without exception those who do so act in good conscience according to the Holy Spirit. Yes sometimes it gets messy because it is getting harder and harder today to speak the truth, show the truth, and in some cases act in truth, but it is never unloving and those who do this messy, hard stuff within the collective should never be the ones who are felt marginalized because others want some false and illusory version of inclusion and unity or are concerned about perception or image.
We Christians should not be surprised by any of this. Christ spoke about such divisions within families and He also warned us that for His sake, we would be persecuted, insulted, and spoken falsely about. However He also encourages us! “Rejoice and be glad! Your reward will be great in heaven.” I encourage everyone who stands on the moral absolutes of life, family, and marriage to continue to do so regardless of the cultural attacks rendered and especially to stand courageously when those attacks come from within our own organizational or institutionalized families.