The pastor of St. Catherine of Siena parish in Norwood, MA, Msgr. Paul Garrity, published a letter in his bulletin last weekend that puts the Holy Family at parity with families that have two mothers and two fathers. Incidentally, Cardinal O’Malley had commended this same pastor months earlier for his focus on promoting Catholic education. This is yet another example of the ongoing problem of Cardinal O’Malley and his senior staff coddling pastors who promote homosexuality.
So much is wrong here that we hardly know where to start, but we will focus on these topics:
- Heresy by the pastor and insult to the Blessed Virgin Mary and Holy Family by his message
- Other moral shortcomings of his message
- The pastor’s refusal to respond to complaints made by parishioners that have been escalated to Aux. Bishop Walter Edyvean, and
- Negligent episcopal leadership by Cardinal O’Malley in this situation
Heresy by the pastor and insult to the Blessed Virgin Mary and Holy Family
The letter from Msgr. Garrity opens by talking about how he felt that early TV shows such as “Leave It To Beaver” and “The Ozzie and Harriet Show depicted family life in an unrealistically idyllic way. Then he talks about how difficult and different family life must have been for Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Here is where he goes off the rails:
It is very easy to forget that Mary would have been an unwed mother were it not for Joseph. It is also easy to forget that Joseph was not the natural father of Jesus but became his foster father and protector, along with his new bride Mary. And the circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus should fill us all with a deep respect and empathy for the poor and unwed mothers of our day. Taken all together, the first family of Christianity reminds us that there is no such thing as normal. Every family is different and this means that we need to broaden our understanding of family life beyond TV sitcoms and applaud the virtues of family living wherever we find them: two parent families, single parent families, blended families, families with two mommies or two daddies and adoptive families. What is most important is that we continually hold up the family as the instrument that God has chosen to communicate God’s unconditional love to the youngest and most vulnerable members of our society.
To say that we need to applaud the virtues of families with two gay parents is heresy on its own. To say the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Joseph and Jesus is reason for us to applaud families with two gay parents is beyond heresy–it is an insult to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Holy Family, it has no basis in Catholic theology, and it is so out there that the Boston Archdiocese needs to take action to put this pastor out to pasture.
As a counter to this heresy, read this excerpt from St. Louis De Montfort’s beautiful “True Devotion to Mary“:
5. Mary is the supreme masterpiece of Almighty God and he has reserved the knowledge and possession of her for himself. She is the glorious Mother of God the Son who chose to humble and conceal her during her lifetime in order to foster her humility. He called her “Woman” as if she were a stranger, although in his heart he esteemed and loved her above all men and angels. Mary is the sealed fountain and the faithful spouse of the Holy Spirit where only he may enter. She is the sanctuary and resting-place of the Blessed Trinity where God dwells in greater and more divine splendour than anywhere else in the universe, not excluding his dwelling above the cherubim and seraphim. No creature, however pure, may enter there without being specially privileged.
6. I declare with the saints: Mary is the earthly paradise of Jesus Christ the new Adam, where he became man by the power of the Holy Spirit, in order to accomplish in her wonders beyond our understanding. She is the vast and divine world of God where unutterable marvels and beauties are to be found. She is the magnificence of the Almighty where he hid his only Son, as in his own bosom, and with him everything that is most excellent and precious. What great and hidden things the all-powerful God has done for this wonderful creature, as she herself had to confess in spite of her great humility, “The Almighty has done great things for me.” The world does not know these things because it is incapable and unworthy of knowing them.
How can anyone try to tell us that the Blessed Virgin Mary and her family serves as a reminder that we need to applaud situations where two men or two women are having sex with each other? It is scandalous for a pastor to teach this and communicate it anywhere–let alone in a parish bulletin read by families and children.
Other moral shortcomings of his message
Msgr. Garrity fails to communicate anything of what the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us about homosexuality:
2357 Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity.
Msgr. Garrity communicates nothing from the Vatican’s “CONSIDERATIONS REGARDING PROPOSALS TO GIVE LEGAL RECOGNITION TO UNIONS BETWEEN HOMOSEXUAL PERSONS” such as:
4. 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. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law. Homosexual acts “close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved”.(
Sacred Scripture condemns homosexual acts “as a serious depravity… (cf. Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor6:10; 1 Tim 1:10). This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered” (5) This same moral judgment is found in many Christian writers of the first centuries and is unanimously accepted by Catholic Tradition.
From the biological and anthropological order
7. Homosexual unions are totally lacking in the biological and anthropological elements of marriage and family which would be the basis, on the level of reason, for granting them legal recognition. Such unions are not able to contribute in a proper way to the procreation and survival of the human race. The possibility of using recently discovered methods of artificial reproduction, beyond involv- ing a grave lack of respect for human dignity,(15) does nothing to alter this inadequacy.
Homosexual unions are also totally lacking in the conjugal dimension, which represents the human and ordered form of sexuality. Sexual relations are human when and insofar as they express and promote the mutual assistance of the sexes in marriage and are open to the transmission of new life.
As experience has shown, the absence of sexual complementarity in these unions creates obstacles in the normal development of children who would be placed in the care of such persons. They would be deprived of the experience of either fatherhood or motherhood. Allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such unions would actually mean doing violence to these children, in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development. This is gravely immoral and in open contradiction to the principle, recognized also in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, that the best interests of the child, as the weaker and more vulnerable party, are to be the paramount consideration in every case.
Back November 23, 2005, Cardinal O’Malley published a Letter from Cardinal Sean O’Malley on Homosexuality, where he said:
In the Gospel when the self-righteous Pharisees bring the adulteress to be stoned, Jesus says let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Then to make sure they got the point Jesus wrote their sins on the ground. The stones fell from their hands and they fled. Jesus said: “Neither do I condemn you”, but He added, “Go and sin no more.”
If we tell people that sex outside of marriage is not a sin, we are deceiving people. If they believe this untruth, a life of virtue becomes all but impossible. Jesus teaches that discipleship implies taking up the cross each day and following Him with love and courage.
It is never easy to deliver a message that calls people to make sacrifices or to do difficult things. Sometimes people want to punish the messenger. For this reason we priests at times find it difficult to articulate the Church’s teaching on sexual morality. It is important to express the moral teachings of the Church with clarity and fidelity. We must teach the truths of the Gospel in season and out of season. These recent times seem to us like it is “out of season”, but for that very reason it is even more urgent to teach the hard words of the Gospel today.
We know that friends and relatives of homosexual Catholics sometimes feel torn between their allegiance to Christ and their concern for their loved ones. I assure them that these goals are not incompatible. Calling people to embrace the cross of discipleship, to live the commandments and at the same time assuring them that we love them as brothers and sisters can be difficult. Sometimes we are told: “If you do not accept my behavior, you do not love me.” In reality we must communicate the exact opposite: “Because we love you, we cannot accept your behavior.”
In none of his parish bulletins has Msgr. Garrity communicated the above messages. The Vatican says there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family, yet Msgr. Garrity has created his own grounds.
Pastor’s refusal to respond to complaints made by parishioners
Parishioners have been complaining about Msgr. Garrity since shortly after he arrived to replace the previous pastor, the orthodox Msgr. Cornelius McRae. Garrity unilaterally changed the parish mission statement–to include that all are welcome, regardless of sexual orientation–and he routinely changes words in the Mass to suit his fancy. BCI is told that despite complaints by parishioners, when Bishop Edyvean called him on it, he essentially thumbed his nose and continued on. Bishop Edyvean has spoken to Msgr. Garrity about the complaints and has acknowledged the problems Msgr. Garrity regularly presents. Msgr. Garrity responded in writing to Bishop Edyvean, and copied all the families who complained, basically telling his Bishop, “Tough Luck” nothing will change. It is obvious to all involved that nothing will likely change in terms of Msgr’s future at St Catherine’s, in large part because of his tight relationship with Cardinal Sean O’Malley.
Negligent episcopal leadership by Cardinal O’Malley
Little recourse is expected from Cardinal O’Malley in this situation. It is common knowledge that the normal process to replace Msgr. McRae as pastor was bypassed when he left for Rome. Msgr. Garrity had announced he was leaving St. Mary’s in Lynn after 18 years to take a “sabbatical” and help care for his elderly sister. Then Garrity heard the pastor job at St. Catherine’s was open, he lobbied Cardinal O’Malley, and the Cardinal gave it to him, ending the normal process to find a replacement that would have considered other candidates. This was discussed in comments in this June 2011 BCI blog post, including comments by Msgr. Garrity himself and others familiar with the situation. Most recently, Cardinal O’Malley commended Msgr. Garrity in May of 2013, saying he did an extraordinary job at St. Mary’s in Lynn, and “is very focused on promoting Catholic education in Norwood.“
News of the Norwood situation came to us just days before we learned that Cardinal O’Malley’s office told a faithful Catholic that they feel PFLAG, an organization that advocates for same-sex sexual activity and that spoke at St. Cecilia’s in Boston, is “in accord with the teaching and practice of the Roman Catholic Church.“
We need to pray for the conversion of Msgr. Garrity, but meanwhile, until such time as acknowledges his own errors, corrects them, and apologizes, he needs to be removed from his role as pastor lest he continue to lead souls towards sin and away from salvation. Forward this message to:
Vicar General Bishop Deeley: firstname.lastname@example.org
U.S. Papal Nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò: email@example.com
and ask them to intervene to address this scandalous situation.