Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Times: The Church and modern society
Tuesday, 21st April 2009 by Fr Joseph Mizzi, Director of the Cana Movement.

What is the role of the Church today? Should it remain confined to the sacristy and the sacred space? Should it be concerned solely with liturgical service? This is good and should be done properly but the vision of our bishops, Mgr Paul Cremona and Mgr Mario Grech, as outlined for us, in the light of the teachings of Vatican Council II, is much broader. It is a vision full of hope and trust in the Risen Lord, open to dialogue and active involvement in improving this world and not despising it. Of course, this does not come without a cost but the Church cannot refrain from doing it, cannot remain silent if she wants to be faithful to her Lord and Master.

Some people have recently aired their views and asked why should the Church be present on most of the television and radio discussion programmes? Why should the Church always have something to say regarding most issues? Why should the Church interfere in all matters that are being discussed on the social agenda of the country?

I think these are valid questions that merit an answer. Needless to say, if we are to engage in an honest and sincere dialogue, the Church has first to listen to the people of today and then find the proper context and language to proclaim its message.

The Catholic Church speaks not only because in a democratic society everyone has a right to speak but, above all, the Church speaks because it has a special duty towards humanity. Pope Paul VI once referred to the Church as an "expert of humanity" precisely through its knowledge of Jesus Christ.

The Church, backed by 2,000 years of experience, is in duty bound to speak with the purpose of enlightening consciences and to protect the dignity of the person. The Church converses not only with those who share our faith and those who do not but with all people of goodwill.

I think all of us should be grateful to the Church because very few institutions are speaking in an illuminative way in favour of the inviolable rights of the human person. Hence, all this shows that religion is not something that can be relegated to the private and subjective domain but it is something that influences all spheres of life. Religion is like a light that shows the way towards the fulfilment in Christ.

The Church must continue, especially nowadays, to enlighten consciences on certain issues, which are becoming more and more challenging. These include, for instance, the protection of life in all its stages because life is a gift from God; the defence of the natural structure of the family, based on heterosexual marriage, for it is the best place for every individual to grow and develop as a person; and the promotion of the beauty of sexuality, which enables one to enter into communion with another person of the opposite sex and, in so doing, shares in the mystery of Creation.

It seems we are living in an age and time where, to scorn the Catholic teaching on love and sexuality, means to earn the approval of modern society. However, the basic teaching of the Church is education in love and responsibility. Even if temporarily this teaching might sound difficult, sooner or later people will realise that this is for their own real good.

All this shows that the Church has a vital role to play in society. It has to keep on listening and to keep on passing the message of the Gospel with charity. The world wants to listen to the "good news", provided it is presented in a positive light. And why not? Above all, as Pope Benedict XVI said, "Catholicism is not a collection of prohibitions but a positive option".

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments.]

A Selection of interesting Comments is pasted here:

1. Steve C Port
Please stop telling gay people that their sexuality is wrong. I have had enough. Can't you see you are making people - especially young people who are at the mercy of your brainwashing - suffer unnecessarily? Why do you have to tell someone who falls in love with a member of his own sex that this is wrong? Who are you to judge? You have no idea what harm you are causing; maybe one day we will know the number of suicides that are a direct cause of your insensitive and stupid teaching. How can I appreciate the beauty of sexuality by entering into a communion with a member of the opposite sex, if the opposite sex does not interest me? Can't you see that you have no idea about what you are talking about?

2. Martin Spitier
[replying to the author] Fr Joe Mizzi, while I agree to many points which are valid and show human dignity, I will remind you that the church must abolish its stand on human sexuality and start seeing the diversity of the human being. The natural world has provided life with everything it needs , yet the church continiously refuses to acknowledge that humanity is not stereo typed. There is a huge humanity yet the church still harps alone against homosexuality, and clings to its fundamentalistic ideas to justify itself. It is a shame on us that in 2009 we are hearing our bishops harp about these problems and trying to justify them

3. lgalea
[replying to] Steve C Port, Martin Spitier
Male and female were created as such to perpetuate the human race.
Nature itself made life as male and female with a few exceptions to perpetuate the different species. It does not mean that some mistakes are not made in the process of nature, but they are exceptions not the rule. So those who do not conform with nature cannot expect not to be told that they are the exception and not to have the same rights as those who do. How can homosexuals expect the Church and a society that wants to protect its values recognize their unions as marriage when marriage is an institution between a male and a female? If you do not conform to the rules then sorry you cannot be considered as the institution governed by those rules.
What the Church is doing is not only continuing what God, for those who believe made, but also what nature itself has made and developed throughout the life of our planet.

4. Gabi Calleja
While in complete agreement with Fr Joe Mizzi that the Church needs to listen, this dialogue serves no purpose if the Church remains entrenched in its position and continues to assume upon itself the role of harbinger of truth and enlightener of consciences without considering the possibility that it could actually be stating an untruth.
Waun, (1999) states that 'Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons are no longer able to integrate in their lives Christian tradition, which condemns non-heterosexual behavior, because the truth of their own experience has proved more reasonable and compatible with Scriptures that proclaim love, inclusion, and the beauty of God’s creation in all its variety'.
For sexual minorities who are often defined by their erotic desires, the integration of sexuality and spirituality can be a major hurdle. While religions appear to hate the body, queers are often forced to come to terms with it and value it as an expression of their difference as their relationships exercise healing and integrating forces in their lives. Perhaps if the Church and its representatives were truly willing to listen, they might actually stop viewing homosexuality as a threat and more as a manifestation of God’s creativity.

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