Fifth Sunday of Easter

May 4, 2015 Column Father De Celles

Things are Getting Very Strange. This last week the Supreme Court heard arguments to decide whether or not there is a constitutional right to “same sex marriage” (“SSM”). Stranger still, the swing vote on the Court will be cast by a Catholic Justice who is torn between 1) a desire to defend states’ rights to define marriage, 2) a desire to “ennoble” same sex relationships, and 3) the power of a “definition [that] has been with us for millennia.” At least he humbly admitted, “it’s very difficult for the court to say, ‘Oh, well, we know better’” than all the people for the last few millennia.

Exactly. All of our ancestors, going back as far as history can take us, never recognized such a thing as SSM (okay, find me one exception and I’ll find you 10,000 “nevers”). In fact, when two Justices asked the lawyers to respond to their understanding that “until the end of the 20th century, there never was a nation or a culture that recognized marriage between two people of the same sex?” and whether all those nations and cultures “were all operating …solely on irrational stereotypes and prejudice?” none of the lawyers defending SSM were able to give a pertinent response. How could they? Marriage has always been what it is: between a male and a female. It’s our nature: the two halves of humanity, male and female, complement each other (Their bodies and minds are made to complete each other, to “fit” together.), coming together to become one, and the fruit of their sexual union is children—other human beings. This is marriage. Pretty simple stuff. Or at least everyone who lived before about 50 years ago thought it was.

Combine this with the cases of the florist in Washington State and the bakery in Oregon that were fined for refusing to participate in a same sex marriage on religious grounds. When the bakery sought help in paying their $150,000 fine through, the website closed down their collection under pressure from “gay” activists.

So, SSM advocates not only want the right to marry and to overturn the democratic process and “millennia” old legal opinion, they also want the right to force others to support these marriages. How far will this go? Justice Scalia pointed out that if there is a constitutional right to SSM, clergy might be forced to perform such ceremonies against their religious beliefs. And when Justice Alito pointed out that religious organizations would be forced to cooperate with SSM or risk losing their tax exempt status, the U.S. Solicitor General replied: “I don’t deny that…. it is going to be an issue.”


Strangeness Continues. Two weeks ago I wrote about the Fairfax County Public School Board’s proposal to add “gender identity” to their non-discrimination policy, so that, among other things, little Suzy will be forced to change in a locker room next to little Johnny wearing a dress. The policy change will impact all students Preschool – 12th grade, parents, and all school employees, but the FCPS Board has made no effort to engage parents or advise the public what this means for student or employee safety, respect of privacy, parental rights or the right to a distraction-free, education-centered environment.

The FCPS Board will meet to vote on this on May 7, this Thursday, at 7PM at Luther Jackson Middle School, 3020 Gallows Road, Falls Church. Before then I encourage all of you to contact the Fairfax County School Board at and tell them to “vote no” on Policy 1450 on May 7.  And I encourage all of you, especially parents, to attend the School Board Meeting and voice your rejection of this ridiculous change in policy.


Religious Freedom. Besides all this being an insult to common sense and a threat to societal peace, it is also a direct threat to our religious freedom (see the discussion above). In response to these threats for the last 3 years we have observed a “Fortnight for Religious Freedom” from the feast of St. Thomas More on June 21 through Independence Day on July 4th. Mark your calendars now, because we’ll be doing so again this summer.

But there is some good news. Recall that the Fortnight for Freedom was started by the American Bishops as an immediate response to Obamacare regulations (the “HHS contraception mandate”) which force  Christian organizations (e.g., Catholic colleges, the Little Sisters of the Poor) and Catholic employers to provide contraception insurance for their employees, even though it is contrary to their religion. But, as you know, some folks haven’t just been praying—they’ve gone to court. And they’re actually winning.

Last Monday, April 27, for the sixth time in a row, the Supreme Court ruled to protect another religious objector from the contraceptive mandate, ordering a lower court to reconsider its ruling forcing a group of Catholic ministries in Michigan to comply with the mandate.  Let this be a lesson to us: the battle is not lost, so continue to fight and pray.


Loving the Sinner. With all these strange things going on, many good Catholics come to me concerned about being branded bigots or haters because of their opposition to all these changes. Some are very directly affected by it: e.g., some have sons or daughters who are in same sex “marriages.” What should they do? Above all, they ask, how do we treat people who suffer from things like same-sex attraction or gender identity confusion?

I hope to address this more in the coming weeks, but let me say this now: first, we love them. We may hate the sin, but we love the sinner. Your “gay” son is still your son. However, if we love someone, it means we want the best for them, which is not always the thing that makes them feel good right now. Sadly, all these strange aberrations we’re dealing with are very bad for us. First of all, they run contrary to our nature, so they will lead to certain unhappiness even in this world. But most of all, we have to be concerned for their souls. Most of the things we’re talking about are grave/mortal sins, and will lead our loved ones to hell, if they don’t try to overcome them. So even as we are kind and respectful to them, we also have to help them by not condoning their behavior, telling them the truth, praying for them, and leading them to Christ.

This can be very difficult for us. But, Jesus tells us “the truth shall set you free.” Remember, he told the woman caught in adultery, “go and sin no more,” and the woman at the well, “the man you are living with now is not your husband.” And He reminds us, He must come first in our lives, or we will risk our own damnation: “He who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.…” (Mt. 10:37b-38). Love, and pick up your Cross and follow Jesus.

More on this to come….


Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles