September 21, 2015 3:57 pm
The Detroit Free Press today published an article “Vigneron softens his tone on Communion for Catholic gay supporters”. I come off as being kind of mean. Drat.
Below is the full interview.
1) Please address why this conference takes on added significance since it comes so shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down states’ bans against same-sex marriage? Does the decision change, in any way, how you deliver the church’s teachings?
Until quite recently there has been near unanimous agreement within our culture and other cultures as well that it is wrong for men to have sex with men and women to have sex with women. Our cultures and others have never questioned that the only true form of marriage is of a man to a woman. We are now a culture (and not all other cultures join us) that is more and more accepting of sex between men and sex between women and also of a man marrying a man and a female marrying a female, the ground has shifted radically. Not so long ago—within 25 years or so, the prospect of approving of males who have sex with males and females who have sex with females and of legalizing marriages between two men or two women would have served as an excellent example of something unthinkable.
The conference “Accompanying and Welcoming Our Brothers and Sisters with Same-Sex Attraction,” jointly sponsored by the Archdiocese of Detroit and Courage International, with generous funding from the Our Sunday Visitor, featured 30 speakers. It would be a shame if the unease of some with a few speakers derailed the reception of the whole of the conference. I am very eager to have the talks available online so that those unable to come to the conference will be able to see the scope of the conference and learn from the talks. A significant number of those talks, in fuller form — along with some additional excellent essays — are available in the book Living the Truth in Love: Pastoral Approaches to Same Sex Issues,published by Ignatius Press. That volume includes some excellent essays by authors who were not able to be at the conference, such as “Restoring Wholeness in Christ” by Bob Schuchts. “Finding the Water in the Desert: The Conversational Use of Natural Law in the Context of Same-Sex Attraction” by J. Budziszewski, “Homosexual Inclination as an “objective’” by Msgr. Livio Melina, and “Do No Harm: Considerations in Supporting Youth with Same-Sex Attraction” by Janelle Hallman. We expect the remaining talks delivered at the conference to appear in another volume within the year.
Fr. Meconi: It is an honor to be with you. Your reflections on the beauty of Humanae Vitae, and the Church’s incessant teaching on the divine will for married love, have helped many come to see what Christian marriage really means. Recently, it was announced that you are involved in sponsoring a conference “Welcoming and Accompanying: Pastoral Approaches to Same Sex Issues.” When is this event and who can be a part of it?
Dr. Smith: Yes, it will happen on August 10-12 at the St. John Inn in Plymouth, MI. It is being co-sponsored by the Archdiocese of Detroit, and Courage International, with the help of a very generous grant from the Our Sunday Visitor. The Catholic Medical Association is also a sponsor. We have over thirty speakers, some very well-known, and others who should be well-known, and soon will be. Cardinal Collins from Toronto, Archbishop Vigneron from Detroit, and Bishop Byrnes, auxiliary from Detroit, will be celebrants and homilists at the Masses. Among the speakers are: Ralph Martin, Mary Healy, Peter Herbeck, Teresa Tomeo, Jennifer Roback Morse, Fr. John Riccardo, Bob Schuchts, Dr. Tim Flanigan, Dan Mattson, and many more who have prepared very thoughtful and timely talks. We are providing as comprehensive a treatment as we can; we have talks laying out a strong Christian anthropology; we have philosophical approaches both from a natural law and a personalist perspective. We will hear the inspiring and touching testimonies of some who have been active in same sex sexual relationships, but now are devotedly seeking holiness. We will hear from spiritual and psychological counselors who help persons living with SSA deal with some of the wounds connected to their attractions. We will learn about the strategies used by those who have been promoting acceptance of same-sex sexual behavior, and about strategies which dioceses can use to educate the faithful.
April 19, 2012 12:00 pm
There is little question that promulgation of the Universal Catechism is one of the greatest events of this century — and perhaps for several centuries. It is a great privilege and honor to be here to comment on the moral vision of the catechism and to be in such distinguished company. I hardly feel myself worthy of the great honor of sharing the podium with such distinguished Churchmen and scholars, but as a philosopher I am accustomed to being the handmaiden of theology and am pleased to render what humble service I can.
An important feature of the moral vision of the catechism is revealed initially by its title: it is titled “Life in Christ.” Indeed, all of Christian morality can be summed up in those words for the moral life for the Christian is quite simply to “imitate Christ.” So what more needs to be said? Why did the authors of the Catechism create so much work for themselves — and so much reading for us — by devoting the longest portion of the Catechism or nearly 300 pages in the English edition to the subject of morality?
Reality is complicated and rich and although Christ Himself is the fullness of revelation, we, not being angels, need to work our way step by step through the many layers of meaning in life. No truth is revealed whole and simple to the human mind. Morality is a very complicated portion of reality because it is involves not only eternal truths but also the individual particular; it involves human character and choice and the daily mess of life. Thus it is appropriate that the human person have more help in the living of the good life than the true statement “imitate Christ.” The human person needs many aids, needs many sources of moral truth. The Catechism identifies the major sources of moral truth; it speaks of the guidance of the Holy Spirit, of grace, of the beatitudes, of natural law, of human and Christian virtues, and of the Church itself. It teaches extensively about the commandments. These are all traditional themes in the Church’s moral vision. The presentation of them in the Catechism, however, reflects not only the role of these themes in the tradition but also reflects developments in the Catholic moral vision.
April 16, 2012 6:32 pm
The Family: A Communion of Persons
Among the thematic concerns of Pope John Paul II’s pontificate have been the restoration of Christian Unity and the fall of Communism, and increasingly a plea to the West to abandon its materialistic ways. He has been working actively to advance these goals. Indeed, he played a major role in the fall of Communism, progress has been made in various ecumenical endeavors and arguably World Youth Days have begun to direct the youth of the world away from consumerism to supernatural realities.
A concern of seemingly equal importance for John Paul II has been the promotion of the Christian understanding of the family. He has expressed repeatedly that “at [this] moment in history, …the family is the object of numerous forces that seek to destroy it or in some way to deform it” (Familiaris Consortio 3). Thus, he seeks to fortify the family to withstand these attacks so that it can perform its vital role for the good of the individual, society, and the Church. John Paul II’s numerous and profound writings on sexuality, marriage, and the family are shaped by theological, philosophical, and political perspectives. From his pre-pontifical years, we have the philosophical, incomparable Love and Responsibility, and from the early years of his pontificate we have his elaborate theology of the body set out in a series of Wednesday audiences. The family is comprehensively treated in Familiaris Consortio and his Letter to Families; these are complemented by lengthy passages in his writings on women and also his writings on the laity and social justice. There are few portions of his thought that are not touched by concern for the family.
April 4, 2012 6:57 pm
Priests often ask me what they can do at the parish level to promote Humanae Vitae and Natural Family Planning. What must first be established is the importance of this task. I firmly believe that if priests inspired their parishioners to do just two things, most everything else they want to do with them and for them would be significantly easier. These two things are:
- promoting Eucharistic Adoration and
- promoting fidelity to the Church’s teaching on sexuality.
Catholics who do both are generally receptive to all the teachings of the Church and much inclined to be generous with their time, talents, and money in various apostolic activities. They are likely to have happier marriages as well, and that brings an abundant number of blessings on the family, the Church and society. If pastors only knew how the Faith and happiness of their flock would increase by engaging in Eucharistic Adoration and in avoiding fornication, contraception, sterilization, adultery, and immoral reproductive technologies, they would work hard to find the best ways to promote Church teaching in these areas. A tremendous resource for priests who wish to serve their parishioners by preaching the truth about sexual morality is the set of tapes entitled “NFP Talks for Clergy”  Father Randy Moreau speaks of how he preaches NFP in his parish and the remarkable consequences of that preaching, couples tell of their experience with NFP, and Dr. Philip Fleming explains why contraception is bad medicine and NFP is healthy.
Priests should never underestimate the influence they can have. A physician friend of mine told me of a conference of Catholic physicians who at one time did abortions and prescribed contraceptives where each individual spoke of what had led to his or her conversion. She said over 99% said a priest had confronted them about the incompatibility of what they were doing with their Catholic faith, and that this conversation had led to them to stop doing abortions and prescribing contraceptives. She said the Catholic physicians whom she knows who continue to prescribe contraceptives have been told by a priest that it is morally permissible for them to do so. Priests make all the difference! If priests speak to the Catholic physicians in their parishes,  they have the opportunity to convert his or her soul, to have an enormous influence on his or her fellow doctors and patients and a powerful effect on the parish. If the Catholic physicians in the parish are known not to prescribe contraceptives, that news gets out and is a great witness to the other parishioners.