30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 27, 2019
Homily by Fr. John De Celles
St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church
I assume most of you have heard by now, that a week or so ago
the pastor of St. Andrew’s parish was removed from his ministry
after confessing to having sexual contact with a minor 25 years ago.
It was a sad day for the diocese,
especially for many of us who know that pastor well.
But the Bishop did the right thing, following the protocol strictly.
Even though the abuse happened only one time, and was so long ago,
we need to take this very seriously,
not only to see justice done for the past,
but to strive to assure that all of our children are always protected.
We must protect our children.
It’s strange, though.
I have been, and will continue to be, an outspoken advocate
not only for strictly punishing priests found guilty of abusing children,
but also punishing Bishops who have covered up for those priests.
But now a friend of mine has confessed.
I never would have dreamt it,
having always known him to be such a good man and priest.
Yet he confessed it.
So, I will pray for him, and may God have mercy on him,
but get him out of ministry and let justice be meted out to him as he deserves.
A hard thing.
Because we must protect our children, especially from this kind of corruption.
After all, does not the First reading tell us today that the Lord,
“hears the cry of the oppressed….
The Lord is not deaf to the wail of the orphan…
The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds…”
And doesn’t Jesus Himself tell us elsewhere,
“It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck
and he were cast into the sea
than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.”
We must protect our children.
But as I thought about all this over the last few days,
(and the severe but necessary response),
it came to me:
“if that is the case, and it is, why don’t we protect our children
from others in authority who seek to harm them.”
We generally do this, but there are some glaring and incomprehensible examples
of where we don’t.
Where we not only let, but even enable, and empower,
people to abuse our children, and brag about it.
I want you to think about this with me.
What greater abuse is there than killing a child, especially a very young child?
And yet, how many Americans, how many Catholics, how many of us,
have willingly voted for men and women who tell us
they think it’s a good thing to kill the youngest most innocent of children
—babies, before they’re born.
Some say, but it’s the mother’s choice, and it’s not our baby.
But would we say the same thing about a priest abusing a child?
Even if he or she was a teenager and “consented” in some way
—it doesn’t matter, we still throw the book at the adult predator.
Because they use their own power over the victim,
whom we deem to vulnerable and not completely capable
of making an informed choice.
What is the difference between that and a doctor or even a mother
exercising the power they have over the unborn child,
who is also vulnerable and clearly unable to make a choice in the matter?
How is that not abuse of children!?
And another example.
For the last 3 or 4 years we’ve been struggling with folks who
instead of helping a boy or girl get over any confusion about their gender,
(instead they ) say that it’s good to promote that transgender confusion,
and even to go so far as to give them drugs
that will cause permanent damage,
or even to mutilate their bodies with surgery
that will only change a few outward appearances,
but not the fundamental biological life-long reality
that boys are boys and girls are girls.
And when another child objects, or is traumatized by even the thought
that they have to share a restroom or locker room
with a member of the opposite sex,
they are told that the they are intolerant, and they need to change,
that there is something wrong with their thinking,
not the thinking of the transgender students.
How is all this not abuse of children!?
And when you say, but wait a minute, how about the mother
when she objects to any of this, what about her choice about her child?
No, now they say the mother, and father, has no role here
—school officials know better.
And yet, how many Virginians, how many residents of Fairfax County,
how many Catholics, how many of us,
have willingly voted for men and women who
support, embrace and promote the confusion and mutilation of children?
And another example.
What about officials who say parents can’t be trusted to pass on moral values,
even how a family should live, not to mention how society should function.
And so they develop their own “family life education” that teaches the kids
“family values” that run directly contrary
to what their own family actually does value.
Hey, teens are gonna have pre-marital sex, nothing wrong with that.
And here’s how you contracept.
And there’s nothing wrong with same-sex acts, maybe you out to think about it.
And let’s study history and literature so we can point out all the bigots in the past
who thought that homosexuality was a bad
—you know, bigots, like your ancestors, even you grandparents,
even…. your mom and dad.
How is this not also a form of child abuse?
Different and more subtle that some other forms, but nevertheless, abuse.
Our children, our vulnerable, impressionable, innocent children.
And yet, we vote for them.
Now, some may object to me comparing pro-abortion and pro-LGBTQ politicians
to people who sexually abuse children.
And, honestly, I hesitate to do so.
Because there is way too much rancor in public discourse today,
way too much over the top language thrown around.
I know—I’ve been called a bigot more times than I can count.
But, in this case, I don’t know what else to say.
What is worse, the sexual abuse of a teen, or the killing of an unborn baby?
The inappropriate touching of a young body, or the mutilation of a young body?
The psychological damage done to a child by a sexual predator,
or the psychological damage done to a child by a LGBTQ activist?
And as with all abuse of children, I can not be silent.
And I must protect my children from it.
Because if I don’t, how can I stand before God, the Just Judge,
and say in the words of St. Paul today,
“I have competed well; I have finished the race;
I have kept the faith.
Now, I will give these politicians the benefit of the doubt.
I will assume that they are confused,
and that they genuinely think they are doing the right thing.
We cannot not judge their hearts,
but we have to protect children from their actions.
Because the thing is, even if politicians don’t realize what they’re doing is wrong,
it IS STILL WRONG.
And like a bishop who covers up for an abusive priest,
or moves him around from parish to parish,
voters are the ones who are enabling these politicians
to continue their abuse.
So when I say that there is almost no way a Catholic can vote for a candidate
who is pro-abortion, or pro-transgender, or pro-gay marriage,
I’m not denying that these candidates might be
otherwise well-meaning or talented people with a lot of good ideas.
And I’m not condemning them to hell.
I’m just saying, like I say about abusive priests
who might otherwise be very kind and well respected:
FIRST, PROTECT OUR CHILDREN.
Nine days from now Virginias go to the polls to elect state and local officials,
especially our own local state delegates
and 4 members of the Fairfax County School Board.
I can’t tell you the names of people to vote for.
And when you get into the voting booth
not only will the ballot not tell you
“this candidate for delegate is pro-abortion”
or “this candidate for School Board is pro-transgender theory,”
in many cases the ballot won’t even tell you what party they belong to.
So you have to find out before you go into the booth.
There are many voter guides out there—check them out.
Or ask you friends—ask someone here after Mass.
But find out.
And don’t assume anything.
For example, after the last election a member of our immigrant community
came to me in tears telling me all her friends and family
voted for another member of their ethnic group,
assuming they had the same values.
But when it came time for them to govern, their values were radically different,
as the elected official promoted a radical pro-abortion agenda.
Do not assume—find out.
In today’s gospel Jesus tells the story of the prideful Pharisee
who stood in the front of the temple and prayed,
“O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity.”
I confess, that when I hear of a priest committing child abuse,
I do sometimes think something similar:
“thank God I don’t commit that sin.”
But believe me, I know that I am a sinner in my own ways,
and pray every day, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’
Today, do not be prideful like the Pharisee,
but rather humble yourself like the tax collector.
Do not judge the hearts of others, but do consider their actions.
And consider your own sins.
Especially sins committed by not voting at all, or by voting badly.
And resolve with me today
to protect our children from all who would abuse them.