Thursday, July 22, 2010

Damned if you do

I'm sure many of you have already read about the professor at the University of Illinois who was fired for teaching what the Catholic church teaches in a course titled "Introduction to Catholicism". I won't comment on the irony of this (though I really really want to). I would encourage you to read the email that got him fired. I can't find "hate speech" in it. In fact, not only does he start off by explaining:
In short, to judge an action wrong is not to condemn a person. A person and his/her acts can be distinguished for the purposes of morality.
but the whole point of the email is not bashing any person, but explaining the Catholic position on homosexual acts by in terms of the difference between utilitarianism and natural moral theory as criteria for judging the morality of an act:
If two men consent to engage in sexual acts, according to utilitarianism, such an act would be morally okay.
...Natural Moral Theory says that if we are to have healthy sexual lives, we must return to a connection between procreation and sex.
Go ahead, now, and read the email. Really, go. Read the whole thing. I'll wait right here. Please do come back, though - don't leave me hanging here.

Thanks for coming back.

One excuse many people use to attack the Catholic Church is to say that she hates gay people. That could not be further from the truth. As Catholics we are called to love all people. We are not called to approve of all actions, though. And so while we welcome someone with same sex attraction, we don't condone living "the gay lifestyle" (meaning engaging in homosexual acts). If gays want to feel "singled out" they are not. We also welcome heterosexuals, but do not condone premarital sex, adultery, abortion, missing mass on Sunday, or any other mortal sin. Do we say the Church hates Tiger Woods because it preaches against adultery?

If we actually hated gay people we would have to hate people who did all those other things, and that would include, well, pretty much all of us. The catechism of the Catholic church says:
I can't find the reference to it, but I heard or read somewhere that one of the reasons for this obligation is because it is very unlikely that anyone can completely avoid serious sin for a whole year. Sad, but true. We all sin. What we don't do is go around telling people that these things are good, not sinful, even though we do them. And we certainly don't call it "hate speech" to be told a sin is a sin.
If it's hate speech to point out that homosexual acts are immoral, it's also hate speech to say that virginity is valuable. It is hate speech to say that married couples should be faithful to each other. It is hate speech to say that Catholics are obligated to go to mass on Sundays.


The latest I heard was that he should have been fired/let go/released/not recontracted because that email was terribly written and not well argued. Seriously.

Well, he was hired to teach Catholicism. I'd find it hard to write any better explanation of Catholic teaching than that email. I hope his situation is resolved justly.

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