KY Bishop Responds to Church Militant, Justifies Talk at Pro-Gay Symposium

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by Christine Niles, M.St. (Oxon.), J.D.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  December 21, 2016   

Bishop John Stowe of Lexington compares critics to "the pharisees and the scribes"

A Kentucky bishop is justifying his invitation to speak at a pro-gay symposium by dismissing critics as "pharisees" — including Church Militant.
 
On December 5, Church Militant reported that Bp. John Stowe of Lexington would be participating in a conference sponsored by New Ways Ministry, a group that publicly promotes same-sex "marriage," refuses to teach chastity, instead claiming gay sex is a gift, and promotes transgender ideology.
 
New Ways Ministry has a long history of defiance toward the Church:
 
  • Cdl. James Hickey of Washington, D.C. kicked out the organization from his archdiocese in 1984 for refusing to comply with Church teaching
  • The Vatican's Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life ordered founders Sr. Jeanine Gramick and Fr. Robert Nugent to "separate themselves totally and completely from New Ways Ministry," forbidding them from exercising "any apostolate without faithfully presenting the Church's teaching regarding the intrinsic evil of homosexual acts" — an order Gramick and Nugent defied
  • In 1988, the Holy See established a commission under Detroit's Cdl. Adam Maida to investigate New Ways Ministry, which recommended disciplinary measures for Gramick and Nugent for their defiance of Church teaching
  • The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith took over the investigation in 1995, issuing a declaration that the teachings presented by New Ways Ministry were "erroneous and dangerous"
  • The CDF issued a formal declaration in 1999, approved by Pope St. John Paul II, that the founders' positions on homosexuality "are doctrinally unacceptable because they do not faithfully convey the clear and constant teaching of the Catholic Church in this area"
  • The CDF concluded: "For these reasons, Sister Jeannine Gramick, SSND, and Father Robert Nugent, SDS, are permanently prohibited from any pastoral work involving homosexual persons and are ineligible, for an undetermined period, for any office in their respective religious institutes"
This censure has never been lifted, and both Gramick and Nugent continued in their defiance.
 
In spite of knowing this history, Bp. Stowe accepted the invitation to speak at New Ways Ministry's symposium, titled, "Justice and Mercy Shall Kiss: LGBT Catholics in the Age of Pope Francis," being held April 28–30, 2017 in Chicago.
 
Stowe used a recent episode of the Mike Allen Radio Show to respond specifically to Church Militant's report, justifying his scandalous participation in the symposium as an act of "mercy" while denouncing faithful Catholics troubled by his actions as "self-appointed watchdogs of orthodoxy" akin to "the pharisees and the scribes that Jesus is frequently arguing with in the gospel who are quick to point their fingers at others and quick to lay burdens on them without themselves offering a finger to lift their load." 
 

He explicitly acknowledged the dissident history of New Ways, admitting it's a "controversial ministry," but rationalized his public association by holding up Pope Francis' more "pastoral" example. 

"[It] would be irresponsible not to accept an invitation," Stowe claimed.

"I think Pope Francis has signaled that we need to take another look at those things," he averred — in spite of the fact that the Holy Father has flatly rejected the possibility of same-sex "marriage."

"There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family," Pope Francis wrote in his apostolic exhortation "Amoris Laetitia" — a passage often ignored by liberal bishops wishing to promote a different agenda under the cover of "mercy" and "accompaniment."

Stunningly, Stowe refused to answer the question posed by the radio host whether the Church might one day declare gay sex morally licit. 

"I don't want to go that far," he said. "I don't know if that would ever be the outcome of it."

The bishop used the opportunity to criticize the language of the Church in describing homosexual acts as "intrinsically disordered." 

"I think it's fair to say that the language is not helpful," he said. "We live in an age of sound bites, and to hear just that phrase is tantamount to hearing an outright rejection."

"That can't be the message of the gospel," he insisted. "That was not Jesus' approach."

He put forth the possibility that Church doctrine could change with regard to homosexuality, bringing up the example of Her evolving teaching on usury and slavery. 

"Change does come over a long period of time in the way that the Church approaches a number of issues," he said. "We cannot hide ourselves by excluding ourselves from scientific research and from the development of human knowledge."

"I think the area where we can grow in understanding," he continued later, "is the area of ... whether homosexuality is a question of nature or nurture."

Bishop Stowe would do well to recall the admonition of the CDF in its "Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons": 

Nevertheless, increasing numbers of people today, even within the Church, are bringing enormous pressure to bear on the Church to accept the homosexual condition as though it were not disordered and to condone homosexual activity. Those within the Church who argue in this fashion often have close ties with those with similar views outside it. These latter groups are guided by a vision opposed to the truth about the human person, which is fully disclosed in the mystery of Christ.

The Church's ministers must ensure that homosexual persons in their care will not be misled by this point of view, so profoundly opposed to the teaching of the Church. But the risk is great and there are many who seek to create confusion regarding the Church's position, and then to use that confusion to their own advantage. (emphasis added)

Bishop Stowe's public association with New Ways Ministry presents precisely this danger: misleading souls on this clear point of Catholic teaching. Unless Bp. Stowe is willing to offer Church teaching with the clarity of a true pastor of souls — one as concerned for his flock's eternal welfare as for their temporal welfare — then there is nothing truly "pastoral" or "merciful" about his approach, which has the danger of confirming homosexuals in their sin, not turning them away from it.

The same document from the CDF continues:

It is only in the marital relationship that the use of the sexual faculty can be morally good. A person engaging in homosexual behavior therefore acts immorally. ... As in every moral disorder, homosexual activity prevents one's own fulfillment and happiness by acting contrary to the creative wisdom of God. 

"The Church, in rejecting erroneous opinions regarding homosexuality, does not limit but rather defends personal freedom and dignity realistically and authentically understood," it adds.

To date, the only official Church-approved ministry to those struggling with same-sex attraction is Courage, which teaches — in line with the Catechism — that same-sex acts are gravely sinful and that same-sex orientiation is disordered, and that the path to true freedom and dignity is the path of chastity, in accord with the teachings of Christ.

Contact Bp. John Stowe here.

 

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Christine Niles, M.St. (Oxon.), J.D.

Christine Niles is executive producer and editor-in-chief at ChurchMilitant.com.

Follow Christine on Twitter: @ChristineNiles1