22 February, 2010

Freyr helps open an investigation of that place within us where the negotiation between acceptance/approval, orthodoxy and compassion

Freyr, a regular in the comments of this blog, offers an insightful posting that was inspired by the discussion re: the appropriateness of posting controversial material such as the Reker Study report from Catholic Online.

Your thoughts would be appreciated, for I believe that he shines a light on an essential process; essential that is if one holds to the positions of Catholic Christian orthodoxy in these post modern times - especially in its moral teachings.

He gives us a language that we can use to discuss how we must negotiate societal norms in that place where beliefs are tested by the pastoral/personal reality and belief of others.

Thanks to Freyr for this thoughtful contribution.

Fr. Tim

Freyr said...

"They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided." Sec 2358, Catechism

There is a fallacy present in our culture that says acceptance must include approval. This is not the case. Unfortunately acceptance without a blanket approval is both difficult and painful for all concerned.

In my own case it means I have had to face this with people I care a great deal about. It is far easier to shut the door, close off the emotions and distance yourself... it hurts less that way. Love does cost something... it means feeling that pain in the full knowledge that to cut off the pain would mean cutting yourself off from the person.

I believe we are called to be there, to listen, to be engaged with people and involved in the world around us. I have seen Catholics isolate themselves so that the only people they ever talk to are other Catholics, a siege mentality if you will. I am told that the reason for this is because they need the support. But I wonder...

You cannot accept someone if you never look upon their face, if you never walk with them a while, if you never listen. If you are honest with yourself this will leave you conflicted.

If you do not feel the need to give both acceptance and approval then you are lacking in compassion. If you approve of something you believe is wrong then you risk losing yourself. If you retreat from facing this dilemma, then you are lacking in faith.

It's Lent and we are walking towards Golgotha once again...


  1. Northern Exposure22 February, 2010

    If acceptance of a person necessitates approval of behaviour, then we are faced with a needless bifurcation: of either approving of everything in order to accept everyone (in which case working for justice goes out the window), or of living in a Manichean world populated by “good people” and “bad people”. There has got to be a better and less simplistic way.

  2. Northern Reflection: True enough. My point in this is that there must be a freedom to bring any topic into the light for discussion and debate, whether some people approve of it or not. I find that most (but certainly not all) people demand acceptance of their actions/beliefs as a precondition to debate, but they will not offer the same for others.

    For example, some folks object to some of what I post because it brings to the floor some topics that engender comments in opposition to Catholic teaching, while others are just as obstinate in demanding that what is posted is sympatico with their beliefs.

    This debate does make it clear that prudential judgment must be practiced in both cases when it comes to proffering something for discussion ... IF... what is proposed is used to harm others. What I question is whether there are topics that must by their nature be out of bounds.

    Consider the case of the holocaust deniers. I vehemently disagree with their position, but I'm not sure that they should be subjected to "hate speech" charges if they share their opinion on the subject. They should be countered, opposed with fact and even subject to ridicule, but being labeled as criminal for expressing what they believe... I'm not so sure.

    So, does traditional Christian positions in the area of sexual morality fall under the same criteria of being hateful and thus unacceptable?

    I think the answer is clearly "NO", but I am interested in the views of others.

    Fr. Tim

  3. I remember in the 1970s, most everybody under 30 smoked marijuana and most everybody over thirty didn't. It was a huge rift in the family, the workplace and the Church.

    Finally, everybody just gave up arguing about whether it was right or not and just went on with life. Maybe we need to do the same thing with things like abortions and sexual orientation. Maybe we've argued enough about it. Maybe we need to just shut up and let people live their lives in whatever ways satisfy them.

    You are not my keeper. You are not responsible for my sins. It's not your fault that I don't hear the same messages from the same God that you do and you can never make it so that I do. Maybe we will never make peace together. Let us at least each make a separate peace.


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