Friday, July 29, 2011
I had to visit one of my parishioners who lives on the edge "pink" Brighton. It was a mistake to go on a warm summer's evening, I did my best not to look at what was happening in a couple of door ways on my way there but it is a little difficult to close one's ears. I don't get shocked when I see same sex couples holding hands, I look at the pavement if they are kissing. On my way home just a few doors away from where she lives I had to go past the entrance of one of Brighton's more notorious clubs, I had heard its name, because it was a bit of a scandal a few years ago when it was revealed it was owned by an Anglican clergyman but as it it is just outside my parish I didn't know where it was. Some of the men outside were barely dressed, others were dressed in such a way that they were obviously displaying their particular fetish. I was shocked to see amongst the small throng someone I knew.
I have always thought it was a priestly virtue to be naive, shortsighted and hard of hearing, always to presume goodness, moral virtue and the love of God in others. But what when people I am called to love and be a pastor to are plainly damaging themselves and are a scandal to others within our community I am in a moral quandary.
As far as sexual morality is concerned, we clergy, me, are rather afraid to say anything. None of us want to confront from the pulpit a situation where a great number of leading parishioners are living lives out of communion with Christ nor does anyone want be known as Fr X who always speaks about sex. And perhaps at Mass with a mixed congregation it perhaps not the easiest situation to speak about sex, adultery, prostitution, fornication, masturbation, homosexuality, sexual fantasies, sexual fetishes or even contraception. Maybe it might be more easily dealt with by a bishop in a carefully crafted pastoral letter.
The problem is this not an issue bishops concern themselves with, indeed as we have seen with the Warwick Street Mass not only does the Archbishop of Westminster seem to be telling people to keep their noses out of the matter "and their tongues still" but we are told Cardinal Levada and therefore the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has given such celebrations his blessing, with the implication that not just tolerance of such lifestyles and sexual activity, but even support, is expected from other clergy. The same Archbishop when asked about the Church and gay marriage said that we don't know what was in the future! Indeeed one bishop even wrote a Pastoral Letter suggested people go to see a film about two homosexual lovers. I have no problem with brotherly love, or even sisterly love, for some that is all they will ever have. I do have a problem with those things which are directly contrary to the Church's teaching. I must say I also have a problem with people who use prayer as protest outside churches, they are almost as bad as those who do it inside them.
Confusion in teaching is not helpful! I seem to spend a lot of time with people who seem to have pornographic fantasies going through their minds most of the time. I don't know if Brighton is an exception, maybe the loneliness of many who live here make it so, but I seem to spend a great deal of time dealing with people who are addicted to sex, who seem to prefer the world in their heads or on the internet to reality. The big problem is it evolves and the addiction deepens and take on their own perversities. There are lots of casualties, the individuals, certainly but also marriages and friendship and the whole attitude to Life. Someone whose sexuality is narcisistic and is merely about personal satifaction tends to become almost incapable of responding to anyone elses needs as they age.
One of the problems many of our young people have is that parents are often openly watching the things St Paul says, "should not even be spoken of amongst you". Is this sexual abuse? Yes, but it seems to happen in many of our "families", especially where the father is semi-detached. Where a child has been sexualised from a very early age a great deal of damage is done, it tends to stunt, without Christ, it seems almost impossible to grow to maturity. Now the first generation of children from the age of downloadably porn are coming to adulthood, often seriously hurting, because their sexuality sees others as being objects to be used rather people to be loved.
What we seem incapable of doing is teaching people to control their sexuality, for so many is sexuality which controls them leaving them trapped in prison of their own -or others- making.
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