Sometimes I wonder what my life would look like if I just blocked out all traditionalist Catholic pages on the Internet from my social media: it would certainly have less episodes of high blood pressure, but it would also prevent me from reaching much needed inspiration for things to talk about in my mission to remind people that being traditional doesn’t equate being traditionalist, and that being traditionalist is basically the modern-day equivalent of a tendency seen times and again in the Bible, and so on and so forth. So I keep following them, because actually some times they post really good things (a broken clock strikes the right hour every so often etcetera). Today was one of those days, as I stumbled upon an article that began by addressing the support for a false ecumenism (how timely that ecumenism was the topic of my latest blog post!) and the need for Catholics to do Catholic things in the public sphere (like the successful rosary on the coast, or my beloved Corpus Christi processions) as a witness to the faith instead of reinventing the wheel trying to find clever modern ways to stop keeping the faith as a separate thing that we do in private on a Sunday out of anyone’s sight. All was well until I read this comment underneath: “Blah blah. We need to do away with the NO and the New Evangelisation. Blah Blah”.
The ignorance behind this is so staggering it is almost at the level of the person who once said Pride Month fell on the month of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus on purpose so that these depraved people could pierce said Most Sacred Heart even further with their mockery, and as much as there is plenty of anti-Catholicism in the LGBT+ Community (to an extent entirely justified), the whole thing was just so conspiracy theory I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. And, in my opinion, the two issues aren’t that far apart: traditionalists seem to live in a world of their own making. The New Evangelisation, contrary to popular belief that thinks it’s about social media, is simply a call to renew the mission of the Church for a secular age where the countries that desperately need the Gospel are those who were once Christian. In the age before Vatican II the church had missiology, but just because you change its name it doesn’t make it a different thing. If they truly want to turn back the clock to before Vatican II then they shouldn’t ignore that the Church before Vatican II was a mission Church. The only change in the Nicene Creed in 2011 was the word consubstantial: the belief in the holy, catholic and apostolic Church was already there. In fact, prior to Vatican II, the emphasis on conversion was even stronger, so it follows logically the emphasis on mission was such too. This commenter and the bunch that liked the comment should be at the forefront of the New Evangelisation.
What’s behind the word new isn’t the methods we use, although the Internet has given us great avenues for reaching people who would otherwise be harder to reach, but the circumstances we face. Which is what brings me back to the LGBT+ community as an example of the new challenges we face as a Church (there could be others, but it is Pride Month after all, and one of the marks of the New Evangelisation is to meet people where they’re at). Prior to Vatican II, homosexuality was kept in the dark as in most countries it was illegal. The secular world came to terms with the fact some people were still engaging in it despite the punishment they would face, and decided to accept it, to the point that now it is entirely normalised and instead of the acts of depravity that St Paul (whose feast day is today) talked about, we have long term loving partnerships that are rather socially conservative in nature (many LGBT+ people were opposed to the state allowing same-sex marriages because of the conservatism of the institution). You can take the Bible literally and just say problem solved, or you can acknowledge that we are facing a challenge that is particular to our time. A recent episode of the Blessed is She podcast “The Gathering Place” has for guests the ladies behind “The Eden Invitation”, and they talk about how the Church had been poor in telling LGBT+ Catholics how to live an abundant life, as so much emphasis is put on what not to do. And they are faithful Catholics seeking to live by the Church teachings. How do you think people who haven’t got that close relationship with God feel about being part of a group that calls something they have no control over “intrinsically disordered” and can only tell them what not to do?
We are stacked against plenty of secular and non-Catholic organisations that call the Church homophobic for applying the same rules to same-sex attracted people as everyone else: if I married in a civil ceremony, something the church considers invalid, the priest would have a right to refuse me communion if he knew, but a priest in Italy is now attacked by the LGBT+ press for being homophobic for denying communion to a woman who married her same-sex partner. Add into the mix that the voices shouting the loudest are not those of LGBT+ Catholics who feel welcome in the Church, but on the one hand those of traddies eager to shout “demonic” at literally everything that goes against their view of the world, and ex-Catholics who left because the world outside of the Church promised them acceptance as they came to terms with being different from what the Church’s ideal is, and it is no surprise that there is so much anti-Catholicism brewing in the community. A number of people have tried to find ways to build bridges, but maybe one start is not to make LGBT+ Catholics afraid to come out, and be at the forefront of the New Evangelisation in their community. I agree with the article I saw today that Catholics should be Catholics, and not be in hiding, because at the end of the day the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus is about Jesus’ love for humanity. He loves us so much he became the unblemished lamb sacrificed for our sins so that we could be washed white as snow and enter into His presence in Heaven. This is the Good News that we are called to share, and the faithful should want to take this good news to everyone. The Good Shepherd left the flock of 99 sheep to find the one which had been lost, so really we should be more out there because if we don’t find the sheep, chances are the big bad wolf will snatch it. So yes, we should be Catholics doing Catholic things in public. Maybe next year we can bring the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus to the Pride parades across the world.