Thus Jarlath Burns, the principal of St Pauls, Bessbrook, the school which proudly sent pupils to the Gay Pride march in Newry. He also tweeted:
'So proud of these pupils who attended @prideinnewry parade today. @stpaulsbbrook
The school had announced its intention on Twitter (and Facebook), too:
We are inviting Year 13/14 students to represent our school at the Pride In NewryMarch on Saturday. We are proud to be a school that embraces diversity and promotes inclusivity, further demonstrating commitment to our Catholic ethos. Those interested should PM for further details. The Rainbow flag will be flown at the school to mark our support for equality for all.
Thanks to the Faith in our Families site, I was able to find out a little more. They linked to an article about Jarlath Burns which quoted him more extensively. The headline was ‘I would die for Catholic education’ which is a good sentiment, and Mr Burns, who is apparently better known as a sportsman than a pedagogue, said several quite sensible things. However, he also said (talking about homosexuality):
“This is one area of Church teaching where I part company completely with the Church.”
“Why should we say to gay people that it is not a sin to be gay but it is a sin to have a partner and to practise homosexuality? That is a very prescriptive thing to say about people who can offer so much to us and to society.”
There is much that is wrong here, when one considers the role with which he is entrusted, and the event which he encouraged his pupils to attend: the scandal given; the corruption of the young with a false ideology and so on.
However, what I want to focus on is the ignorance of him as a principal. The paucity of the logic of his comment about 'a very prescriptive thing to say about people who can offer so much to us and to society,' is self-evident, and demonstrates a mind governed by political mantra rather than anything approaching thought.
But it is his previous comment which I find particularly revealing: “This is one area of Church teaching where I part company completely with the Church.” That is clearly a nonsense, but it is a very prevalent one. One cannot 'part company' with the Church on one issue like this. For it is taught in the Catechism. So one is then saying that the Catechism is wrong. But the authority of the Catechism rests on the teaching office of the Pope and the Bishops in communion with them. So one is saying that one does not accept their authoritative teaching authority. And so on. Reject part, and you reject far more, undermining the very basis on which belief is founded.
Yet so many people seem to think that they can 'in good conscience' 'part company' with the Church on a particular teaching which they find difficult (most often, on examination, because they have not really understood it).
This, it seems to me, is one of the major problems faced by the Church today: the rejection of authority and its replacement by one's personal opinions (based, all too often, on the values of the world...)
Autonomy is so highly-regarded in our culture that to question this is seen as almost medieval. People appeal to the Christ of the Bible who was, apparently, all about inclusiveness of all regardless of belief or behaviour. A Christ who, it seems, 'is light on dogma and heavy on compassion and celebration of diversity.'
The trouble is, I don't find that Christ when I read the Bible. I find a Christ who is about obedience - his own to the Father, and ours to Him and to His Father. I find a Christ who is about making judgements between good and evil and telling us the consequences in no uncertain terms. A Christ whose compassion compels Him to talk repeatedly about the reality of Hell and the risk we face of eternal damnation if we do not obey; for we shall be judged by our actions, as today's Gospel reminded us. A Christ who says:
Go, and sin no more!