Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Love thy neighbour? Perish the thought!

Just another short comment on the Irish gay marriage referendum.  The day afterwards a radio discussion programme dwelt on the number of older people, and presumably older Catholics, who voted Yes. A studio guest told that when she arrived at the polling station several people were leaving, some wearing stern expressions (and she assumed these to be the no voters) and others chatting and laughing (these she assumed to be the yes voters).  Two ladies in their sixties were chuckling that “they had done their good deed”.

Which brings to me the letters page of The Irish Catholic.  Columnists and readers of this paper continue to agonise over the gay marriage vote, and in the current edition, the letter of the week, printed under the heading "Many Catholics are out of touch with Church teaching" makes interesting reading.

Dr Janina Lyons of Dublin 15 mourns the result of the same-sex marriage referendum and observes that of those who voted Yes, surely a number were older Mass-going Catholics. So why did they vote yes? Dr Lyons believes that many did so because they thought it was a kind and loving thing to do for their gay family members and friends, and they were persuaded by the slogan “Equality and Love”.

This tells us, she goes on, that there is great confusion in the Catholic Church about Christ’s teaching.  Many Catholics no longer know that same-sex relations are wrong. However much we love our child, sister, friend we cannot change God’s truth to accommodate our feelings and sympathy.

We need a new catechesis of all members of our Church, she says, meaning that the Church needs to make a better job of teaching Catholics what they should believe.

Filing it where it belongs

Being a sad man, I haven't been able to resist writing to the editor of The Irish Catholic expressing the hope this new catechesis will give due weight to Mark 12:29. This is where Jesus, asked to name the greatest commandment, replied first to love God, and second to love your neighbour as yourself. “There is no commandment greater than these.”

Perhaps the Mass-going Catholics who voted yes in the referendum did so in conformity with this teaching, my letter wittily concludes. Will it be printed?  I fear not.  Up till a couple of years ago the editor used to print my letters, but he's wise to me now and recently has filed them where they belong.