Leonardo"s Notebook by Mattheus Mei

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Letter to the Vermont Legislators

The HRC has a web page where, if you're a Vermont resident, you can e-mail the members of the Vermont legislature in support of overturning the impending veto by the Governor of their marriage equality legislation. The letter application has a space for a personal message. Even though I don't live in Vermont this is what I wrote:

On a special note to Rep. Sunny Audette and my fellow Catholic legislators. Rep Audette I understand that you are a devout Roman Catholic who worries about the reaction of such a vote from the Church. I read with sadness that, though you wished you could support the measure and congratulated all those pushing for the legislation and its passage that, because of the church's current stance on Gay marriage you were impeded on voting in favour of the marriage.

I too am a devout Catholic, and on Friday I prayed the Stations of the Cross especially with you in mind. It was while praying the stations that I recalled in my mind something that our Holy Father recently said in a letter to the Bishops, and I rather lengthily quote:

"At times one gets the impression that our society needs to have at least one group to which no tolerance may be shown; which one can easily attack and hate. And should someone dare to approach them – in this case the Pope – he too loses any right to tolerance; he too can be treated hatefully, without misgiving or restraint."

"Dear Brothers, during the days when I first had the idea of writing this letter, by chance, during a visit to the Roman Seminary, I had to interpret and comment on Galatians 5:13-15. I was surprised at the directness with which that passage speaks to us about the present moment: "Do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’. But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you are not consumed by one another." I am always tempted to see these words as another of the rhetorical excesses which we occasionally find in Saint Paul. To some extent that may also be the case. But sad to say, this "biting and devouring" also exists in the Church today, as expression of a poorly understood freedom. Should we be surprised that we too are no better than the Galatians? That at the very least we are threatened by the same temptations? That we must always learn anew the proper use of freedom? And that we must always learn anew the supreme priority, which is love? The day I spoke about this at the Major Seminary, the feast of Our Lady of Trust was being celebrated in Rome. And so it is: Mary teaches us trust. She leads us to her Son, in whom all of us can put our trust. He will be our guide – even in turbulent times."


Even though this letter was in response to the SSPX controversy of earlier this year, how true is it in this situation? It's so easy to read St. Paul, like the Pope says, as rhetorical excess. To overlook or oversimplify what it means to "use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh." As the Pope intimates flesh here and the act of mutual consumption is an occasion of the sin of fear, misunderstanding, self righteousness, exclusion and hatred.

You see these occasions of sin infecting the church - not only in the realm of theological differences, but even down to the issue of our Gay and Lesbian brothers and sisters. How the Church, indeed the world, should single out so small a group of people - should ridicule, exclude and hate... "Should we be surprised that we too are no better than the Galatians?"

Dear sir you have an opportunity, if you believe in your heart what you said, take a bold step and reject the flesh and follow the simple command from the Lips of Christ himself of showing love to your neighbor as you do for yourself.

God bless you in this Holy Week and approaching Easter-tide, may you and your fellow legislators have firm resolution to support love in the face of those who would oppose it in favour of fear and exclusion.

Sphere: Related Content

No comments: