And to kick off the series they have chosen to feature ex-NSW Premier Kristina Keneally's explanation of how she came to dissent from the Church's teaching on homosexuality, together with an altogether offensive 'poem' on the subject (I was tempted to do a parody but in reality it already is one).
Personally I would have put it in the 'worst of'' category.
But it the choice of items is certainly an interesting gesture to start the year with.
First because it positively begs the bishops to bring Eureka Street and other dissenting official and semi-official websites (yes that is you Cath News) under control.
Secondly because the article itself nicely explains just how seemingly well-educated catholics can go so far astray.
And thirdly to pose the question of why it is that in Australia a catholic politician living in Cardinal Pell's own diocese can continue to defy the Church in her public actions apparently without sanction.
Church websites must uphold Church teaching!
So let me get an early start on 2012 by pointing to the newly approved Australian Bishops Conference Social Networking Protocols which require Church websites to uphold the teaching of the Church.
It is pretty clear that the guidelines do apply here: though Eureka Street carefully avoids using the actual term Catholic as a descriptor (presumably because that is regulated by the church in order to restrict its use to things that are actually catholic!), it describes its focus as consistent with the mission of the Australian Jesuits, and talks about writing from the catholic perspective. More importantly, it is published by Jesuit Communications Australia. Its employees and contractors are thus clearly 'church workers'; its writers who are religious an/or priests are explicitly covered by the guidelines.
And of course Eureka Street is an example of social networking - it is essentially a group blog.
Here is what the newly approved guidelines say:
"Those who engage in social networking as part of their Church ministry should do so in the name of evangelisation; to build appropriate relationships that can encourage and foster growth in faith. This engagement should facilitate a growing in relationship with Christ.
The sharing of information on sites should be of appropriate materials for faith formation or catechesis. Social-Networking sites can be ideal for promotion of Church events or activities and for sharing worship resources in a wide range of formats, be it video, text or sound.
The teachings of the Catholic Church should be consistently upheld in these social networking activities..."
Hard to see how an article that argues against the Church's teaching on homosexuality and same sex marriage could ever meet these criteria!
The path to dissent
The article itself is kind of illuminating, in a sorry sort of way, about just what went wrong in Ms Keneally's formation as a catholic and perhaps important as we look to the efforts over the next year or so to refocus our catechetical efforts.
It is the story firstly of a sheltered life that meant she'd never even heard of homosexuality before she got to University (!) and thus was apparently ignorant of church teaching on it. And one gathers, utterly oblivious to the nature of the homosexual culture she then encountered, seduced by sob stories:
"The first people I knew who acknowledged their homosexuality were fellow Catholics at university, living away from home for the first time, struggling with a very real question of who they were and how they should live.[Fair enough, University does tend to be a time when some are confused].
My lack of knowledge about homosexuality meant I had very few presuppositions to confront. I came to the questions of how to respond to homosexual people armed not with Vatican teachings [Yep! Scripture ad Tradition are reduced to 'Vatican teachings' and 'cultural assumptions'] and cultural assumptions, but simply with the Gospel message of 'love one another as I have loved you'.[Why do liberals always somehow forget the 'go and sin no more' message of the Gospel!]
What I witnessed were people who suffered greatly because of the judgement of their family and community; friends who were more acquainted with loneliness than with romantic relationships [the 'gay' scene isn't actually that big on romance in the main from what I saw of it in the shape of friends I knew at University and after - more on the mindless pleasure, which is in reality the cause of their loneliness]; devout Catholics, some with a true call to vocation, grieving because their own church had no place for them [a vocation isn't a 'true vocation' unless the Church accepts it as such]. I realised no one would choose an orientation that brought such misery [And yet humans choose misery, choose hell all the time...].
Ms Keneally's lack of preparation and misguided instincts were compounded though by false teaching on conscience and catholicism, courtesy of the infamous Richard McBrien's tome Catholicism. It is a book that has been heavily criticised by both the Australian and US bishops. Here's why, in Ms Keneally's words:
"In time I came to ask what the Church taught on homosexuality, and why. Richard P. McBrien's seminal tome, Catholicism, explained the Vatican teachings acknowledging the validity of homosexual orientation while condemning homosexual activity.
McBrien also outlined other theological points of view [that are in reality condemned errors, not arguable positions for a catholic to take!], including the argument that homosexual acts are morally neutral, because the morality of a sexual act depends on the quality of the relationship of the people involved; or that homosexual acts are preferable to living a life where one can never give expression to one's sexuality."
She then goes on to articulate the incorrect view of Catholic conscience, suitably taken apart by the then Cardinal Ratzinger on a number of occasions, including this useful presentation.
She also makes the extraordinary claim "that the Church has never explicitly claimed infallibility on a moral teaching".
Really? Is she truly suggesting that none of the Church's moral teachings are 'de fide', and can readily be changed?! I'd suggest a through read of the Catechism, Ms Keneally.
I won't go through the rest, the arguments are so specious as to laughable.
But the republication of this nonsense does raise the question once again of why it is that politicians who vote in parliament in ways contrary to the teachings of the faith remain uncensored and able to receive communion. Indeed, Xt3 highlighted a link to an 'ask a priest' question on this very topic today...
Cardinal Pell has given repeated public warnings on the subject, covered world-wide. But are warnings enough when the scandal continues?