The Catholic Response to “Pride Month”

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Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School— the Jesuit-run high school which famously disobeyed the Archdiocese of Indianapolis over its refusal to fire a teacher in a same-sex union— continues to pride itself in its LGBT inclusivity. The school, which is named after a Jesuit martyr tortured and killed for preaching the Faith to the Iroquois (something that today would be considered a colonialist “microaggression”), is hosting a “Pride Week”, encouraging its other homosexual teachers to be open about their “identity”, its counseling department pointing its students towards “LGBTQ+ friendly Catholic colleges”.

Meanwhile, several Catholic school boards in Canada announced that they will require the LGBT rainbow flag to be flown outside all of their schools, the vast majority of them being elementary schools. The Toronto Catholic District School Board—which boasts a population of over 91,000 students—has publicly clashed with Cardinal Collins, who requested that the Catechism section on homosexuality be read at the school board meeting. Unsurprisingly, the school board refused. Eastward, in Montreal, at the beautiful Church of St. Peter the Apostle, one finds the LGBT colors draped from the heights of the church to the sanctuary lamp chandelier. Lest one think this is merely a North American conundrum, the same colored flag hung from churches in Austria and Germany following the recent CDF ruling on the impossibility of blessing same-sex unions.

While Catholic schools and churches in the Rhineland obstinately rejecting Church teaching is nothing new, this is simply the latest installment in what seems to be a never-ending saga to squeeze “inclusivity,” “progress,” and “acceptance” into Catholic spaces. Readers need not to be reminded of Fr. James Martin, S.J.’s near-obsession with pushing the LGBT agenda in the Church. Unlike the Toronto Catholic school district, however, Fr. Martin (selectively) quotes the Catechism, especially the part calling for “respect, compassion, and sensitivity” to persons with same-sex attraction (#2358). 

Even in countries typically lauded for their conservative Christianity (Poland, Hungary, Romania), each year finds more and more people participating in pro-gay activities and demonstrations. And every year, especially with the beginning of June, we are subjected to relentless liberal Catholic arguments in support of “Pride Month.” Even when a bishop warns the faithful to avoid Pride Month activities, he receives a slew of angry comments, predictable and yet ironic from the community of “inclusiveness” and “toleration.”

For those who celebrate “Pride Month,” it is not enough that same-sex unions must receive the title of legal “marriage,” or that persons with same-sex attractions are treated with “respect, compassion, and sensitivity.” After all, so-called same-sex “marriage” is legal in the United States; and unlike the original 1970’s “Pride” marches of protest, contemporary demonstrations are not responses to perceived insults and injustices, but rather “festive” occasions of pomp and ceremony. 

Corporations and institutions push their rainbow-colored products, whether clothing or food, and employees who refuse to wear Pride apparel are in danger of termination. From targeting children in the “drag queen story hour” at public libraries to forcing high school students to confess their families’ possible biases against homosexuality, the LGBT agenda shows no sign of slowing its propagandizing and missionary activity. All people worship something, and for those who offer sacrifices at the rainbow altar, the sight of those who do not is reprehensible. Those who refuse to participate, celebrate, and applaud homosexual behavior are thus heretics and should be burned, “cancelled,” and “dragged,” both in the virtual and in-person realms.

What is the Catholic response to “Pride Month,” then? Certainly, it is not found in Ontario’s Catholic schools, nor is it found in Fr. Martin’s celebration and promotion of how “Pride Month” is congenial to Catholicism. Nor can a Catholic in good conscience march in “Pride Month’s” scantily-clad parades and tolerate the LGBT community’s attempts to redefine the family, love, and compassion. 

Aggressive protest measures, such as burning the rainbow flag, will only result in fifteen years of imprisonment. But as the oft-quoted motto goes, “silence is violence”; and to remain silent in the wake of a growing LGBT movement is to show one’s apathy and complicity in it. An appropriate and prudent response is required, one that will be consistent with traditional Catholic moral teaching and living. Three responses come to mind: prayer, penance, and proselytization.

It goes without saying that prayer is essential to the life of any Catholic. Prayer, in itself, may take many forms—our prayer may be mental, vocal, imaginative, devotional, liturgical, communal. Each of us have our own preferred methods and established habits. 

What I suggest for June, then, is not merely to pray (I take that as a given), but to focus and add to our spiritual lives by praying for those who experience same-sex attractions and those involved in the homosexual lifestyle. This should not be interpreted in a condescending way (“I’ll pray for you, sinner!”), but rather in a truly loving way. Whether in our recitation of the rosary, Eucharistic adoration, or morning and nighttime prayers, let us make a conscious effort to bring same-sex attracted men and women—perhaps our friends, maybe our enemies—to the Lord by our intercession.

If June is a month of “pride” for the LGBT community, Catholics should counter the celebrated vice of pride with the oft-scorned virtue of humility. There is no better way to grow in this virtue than to remember in our minds and hearts those involved in certain lifestyles and carrying particular crosses. 

Moreover, the month of June offers several liturgical feasts and saint commemorations to dedicate ourselves in prayer—from Corpus Christi to the Sacred Heart, to St. Ephrem and St. Aloysius Gonzaga (a patron of purity), and closing the month with the Nativity of St. John the Baptist and the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. While those under the spell of the “prince of this world” (John 14:30) participate in an ersatz “holiday,” Catholics whose hearts are aligned to our Eucharistic King and who enjoy the company of His saints will keep these true holy days.

Penance is often understood as a “making up” for one’s own wrongdoings. However, a true definition of penance avoids individualism. While we are solely to confess our own sins in the Sacrament of Penance, we are encouraged by the tradition to not only do penance for ourselves but for the whole world. Even if we ourselves are not involved in homosexual activity, we still are connected to those who are by virtue of our common humanity and, in many cases, our shared baptism.

We need not to be guilty of a specific wrongdoing to perform penance in satisfaction for the sins of others, especially for those sins which cry out to heaven for vengeance. After all, if Christ—who is sinless—suffered out of love for all humanity—how much more is it appropriate for we—who are sinners—to perform acts of voluntary penance on behalf of our fellow sinners? Admittedly, this is not a popular concept today. But it nonetheless remains true. 

If we are not embracing a form of voluntary penance, let us begin; if we already have fasting and penitential activity as part of our routine, perhaps it would be appropriate to direct it toward the conversion of others in addition to ourselves. The denial of licit pleasures during the month of June can be offered to the Lord in reparation of those who engage in illicit behaviors, further distancing themselves from friendship with Him. The LGBT movement is powerful and influential, insidiously infecting all ranks in the Church. Some demons can only be expelled by “prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:28-29), so let us not avoid any aspect of spiritual combat in our fight against those who celebrate and promote homosexual activity.

The final suggestion I have is that of proselytization. This is often considered a dirty word, especially in the post-conciliar epoch. Pope Francis has repeatedly warned against proselytization, preferring the more neutral term “evangelization” and “witness.” However, by proselytization, I am referring to its literal, etymological definition—coming from the Greek word prosêlutos meaning “to come over/towards.” In ancient times, it was understood to refer to someone who leaves one community for another, such as a Gentile convert to Judaism. Despite numerous attempts to suggest the contrary, one cannot simultaneously celebrate homosexual activity and remain committed to the teachings of Christ’s Church. 

Whatever the fruits of the “New Evangelization,” it cannot include in them the conversion of society—if not all bishops and clergy in the Church—to the truth of human sexuality as illuminated by Christian identity. In fact, I would go as far to suggest that attempts by some Catholics to weaken Church teaching on homosexuality in the name of “accompaniment” and “dialogue” are more worthy of damnation than anything one might witness at any given “Pride” parade. 

There are legitimate ministries and apostolates which minister to those with same-sex attraction, including Courage International, and these efforts should be lauded and supported. Throughout our lives—and especially during the month of June—Catholics are called to witness to the love and truth of Christ. Just as in the example of St. Boniface (June 5), this witness can only bear fruit when it is done wholeheartedly and without concession to error. The Church must proselytize, providing the reasons and means of “coming over” from lifestyles rooted in sin, ignorance, and error to the life of graced virtue in Christ.

This June, let us turn to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the precious abode of mercy and compassion. During a month where “love” is radically redefined to include its opposite, Catholics must turn to the Sacred Heart, where love is manifested in its fullness. Those persons with same-sex inclinations are to be loved; they are indeed our brothers and sisters. It is out of Christian charity that we find renewed purpose in our prayer, penance, and proselytization. During this month of “pride,” Catholics must make June a month of humility, so that we—and God-willing, all of His children—may pray, “Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine.”

[Photo Credit: @satribesman on Twitter]

By

John A. Monaco is a doctoral student in theology at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA, and a Visiting Scholar with the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

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