Church teaching can be trashed one of two ways: 1)directly, and unabashedly like Roy Bourgeois;  or 2) though plain ambiguity. Now, with the former you usually can assign venial motives, however, with the latter it is usually too difficult to tell one way or the other. Regardless, the outcome is the same: 1) either Church teachings are interpreted by the faithful as being “nuanced” and therefore open to interpretation or as being left to one’s “personal conscience” to decide, or that the church teaching doesn’t even have an opinion on whatever issue it is that is being discussed. The faithful are left confused, and the salvation of souls takes another hit…which is why ambiguity should be avoided at all times when teaching the Faith.

With that in mind check out the following sermon from Fr. Satish Joseph, associate pastor at Immaculate Conception Church Dayton, Ohio, on the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2013:

Last December we had a very special parish council meeting. We invited three people who left the Catholic Church and three people who joined the Catholic Church to share their experience. We wanted to know why people make the decisions they make about belonging to a particular faith tradition. I soon realized that discussion like these are complex as well. I received two letters apart from the people who were present at the meeting; one from a young lesbian who feels unwelcomed in a Catholic environment and the other from a young mother who recently became Catholic but then could not reconcile her conscience with the church’s teaching on contraception. Those who were present at the meeting also shared their stories. Later when the parish council reflected on all their stories there were common strands we could identify. For one, we realized that those who had left the Catholic Church and those who joined her, were all very sincere people. Their choice was made out of a genuine conviction. But then, there is one trend that I found directly related to the three scripture readings today – a powerful experience of God. The Catholics who left the church did so because the Church could not give them what they were searching for – a God who was close and real. They found the church too rigid and ritualistic…

I would argue they didn’t find the church too rigid and ritualistic, they found the teachings of Christ too rigid and ritualistic.

Read the rest there. (Hey at least they get bonus points for using Latin in their web address!)

You’ll remember Immaculate Conception as the parish-of-choice for the Cincinnati archdiocese to host RCIA and ordination events in the Dayton area. It is also the parish that recently installed a digital, flashing neon marquee that flashes (and not too effectively I might add… the blue on black layout is only legible from the street roughly 50% of the time during daylight hours) in big letters advertising Mass…err, “Eucharistic Celebrations”: 11AM TRADITIONAL (…and by traditional they don’t mean the Mass of All Ages/TLM, they mean the one mass during the day without a guitar or drum solo.) SAT 4:30PM FOLK MASS, SUN 6PM ROCK MASS (… ah yes, the splendid liturgical diversity of the Latin Church…the Ambrosian rite, the Cathusian rite, the Dominican rite, the Mozoarabic rite…. and the Folk and Rock rites. Ugh! Is it 1993 or 2013? At least if “Folk” and “Rock” masses are still going on, do they have to advertise it to the whole world on Smithville Road?), and the propensity to utilize projector screens and Powerpoint slides in sacred worship space as well as the most up-to-date jargon/buzzwords for describing the latest parish initiatives. 

Now who knows where Fr. Joseph was going with this homily. I can tell you the liberal parishioners most certainly took it as a sly repudiation of Church teaching and walked away self-assured.  I’m not expecting fire and brim stone when it comes to issues such as homosexual acts, and the use of contraception, in fact, please no fire and brim stone, but at least explain something from the chapters of the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s Section 2. Also, no mention of the Church’s ongoing struggles against the tyrannous HHS Mandate or against gay so-called marriage.  I can’t assign any ill-motive to Fr. Joseph, however this whole thing is a cautionary tale for those entrusted with teaching the Faith, particularly as it pertains to sensitive and contemporary social/political issues.

For clarity, Fr. Satish Joseph is below with the ponytail.

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