The Cost of Doing Nothing, Part 2: The Heresies of Fr. William Long

[This is the second installment of a series. For part 1, click here.]

Apostasy is spreading like a California wildfire these days. Just take a look at these advertisements for the “World Meeting of Families,” a Catholic conference happening in Ireland next year. If you click on the link below you will discover that the inclusion of gay “married” couples at this Catholic conference enjoys the blessing of the bishop of Limerick.  We are witnessing what appears to be a deliberate attempt to normalize homosexuality in the Church, and as the brochure below indicates, it’s not just Fr. James Martin.  In fact, Fr. Martin is quick to point out that he has the support of many bishops and cardinals (see below).  The utter massiveness of this mass apostasy hit my own home

parish quite hard this past summer. As I stated in part 1, my new pastor is preaching LGBT propaganda in our church.  Many people in the parish have confronted him and have written letters to the diocese. But Fr. Long now denies that he has said anything heterodox and is challenging us to produce evidence to the contrary.  So I offer the recording below.

First, some background about the recording. It is a recording of Fr. William Long, the newly appointed administrator of our parish, slated to become the new pastor.  It comes from what was advertised to be a question and answer session where parishioners would get a chance to ask Fr. Long about all the changes he was implementing and to ask about some of the ideas he was expressing in his homilies.  In the first nine minutes, however, Fr. Long delivers an opening presentation that is important.  For in that introduction, he attempts a justification of his heretical views:  Advances in science have increased our understanding of the world, of nature—and most importantly, of human nature.  This scientific progress invalidates many church teachings because those teachings are based on a faulty understanding of the world and of human nature—so argues Fr. Long.

Now, as the hour session is coming to a close, Fr. Long addresses a question on artificial contraception, which conveniently steers the conversation to human sexuality.  He never answers the question on artificial contraception, but, instead, turns to the issue of homosexuality.  But no one asked him a question on homosexuality!  Fr. Long chose, on his own, to raise the issue at the end of the meeting.  And it is in these concluding statements that we come to understand the significance of his introduction.  For it is church teaching on sexuality—and especially homosexuality—that is invalidated by science according to Fr. Long.

Fr. Long is not the only clergyman to hold this view, it turns out.  Fr. James Martin says exactly the same thing here (about 1:50–1:58):

 

Let’s be clear about the implications of their argument.  If true, then virtually everything that we understand about traditional Christianity cannot be true.  Certainly the doctrine of infallibility is lost.  And if the Church is not infallible, how, then, can she legitimately claim to have an infallible Source?  Thus the divinity of Christ is also lost. Nor can the Bible be the word of God, which, you will recall, was supposed to outlast even Heaven and Earth, as Jesus—apparently mistakenly—informed us in Mt. 24:35; Lk. 21:33; Mk. 13:31.

Let us also be clear about the power of their argument.  Bishop Barron has stated multiple times, in videos, articles, and lectures, that the Church’s response to the heresy of modernism has been anemic.  People are leaving the Church in droves—six people leave the Church for every one who enters, according to Barron—and the reason they give is the so-called incompatibility of science and religion.  Obviously, more needs to be done to effectively communicate the perennial truths of our faith and to counter the plausible heresies of modernism.

The question, of course, is how to do that effectively.  It won’t do, for example, simply to point out that the Catechism contradicts them.  They already know that, and their response is well summarized by the tweets below: “THE CATECHISM NEEDS TO CHANGE!”  And it will not do to say that the Bible contradicts them either. For they have an answer for that as well:

“The Bible was written a long time ago by people who were ignorant and superstitious. We know better now.  To follow the Bible in the 21st century is to be a fundamentalist, creationist bigot. And we will not tolerate your bigotry! RELIGION POISONS EVERYTHING!! Grow up and get more scientific, will ya?!”

Fr. James Martin & Co. are fully aware that what they are saying does not agree with Church teaching, so they say things to discredit the authority of the Bible, and they campaign to change the language of the Catechism.  They know exactly what they are doing. They are attempting to change what St. Paul told us cannot be changed.  They are attempting to change the teachings of divine revelation—especially the teachings on homosexuality:

One way to be sensitive is to consider the language we use. Some bishops have already called for the church to set aside the phrase “objectively disordered” when it comes to describing the homosexual inclination (as it is in the Catechism, No. 2358). The phrase relates to the orientation, not the person, but it is still needlessly hurtful. Saying that one of the deepest parts of a person— the part that gives and receives love— is “disordered” in itself is needlessly cruel. Setting aside such language was discussed at the Synod on the Family, according to several news outlets (p. 46, Building a Bridge).

Perhaps what is most mind-boggling about the present clerical apostasy is that priests and bishops are borrowing from the arguments of the New Atheists, of all people, to inaugurate a new and radical reformation. Thus, the new Luther is not really Fr. James Martin.  It is actually Sam Harris who is the brains behind this revolution.  He’s the one who argued that morality can and should be determined by science rather than religion.  (Shouldn’t reason, after all, be the guide of our actions rather than superstition?)

What we are facing is an unprecedented crisis of authority in the Church, made possible, in part, by the persuasiveness of the New Atheists. (Let’s face it. The priest scandal also played a huge role in discrediting the Church.) Every appeal to council or catechism, Bible, bishop, or pope is ultimately an appeal to authority.  But the authority of the Church is dead because, in the eyes of many, it is an authority built on ignorance and superstition.

What is needed most desperately, therefore, is a defense—not of the Church’s authority—but of its truth.  And there is simply no way to accomplish this if science has already proven us wrong.

Which brings me to the reason I wrote my book.   In The Immoral Landscape of the New Atheism, I argued that  science has not invalidated Church teaching one bit.  There I showed that at least one prominent Catholic, in particular, was quite confident that science posed no threat to Christianity.  You may have heard of him—Pope St. John Paul II.  In  The Theology of the Body, John Paul predicted that, ultimately, science would come to vindicate the teachings of the Church, especially with regard to sexuality.  And as I demonstrated in my book, his prediction is already coming true.  In an upcoming installment of this series, I will show how science is already confirming the Church’s moral psychology and how this validates the Church’s manifold teachings on sexuality.  But that is for later. For now, I leave you with the recording of Fr. Long’s meeting.  I have also included an abridged and annotated transcript.

But before I go, I share with you the words of St. Paul from Gal. 1:6–9:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel—not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.  But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.

 

Let the Diocese of Raleigh know what you think! http://dioceseofraleigh.org/content/contact-us-1

 

 

fr.long-8-16-17-q&a-highlights-web-2 [PDF of the transcript]

 

Fr. Long, St. Andrew’s Q&A Session, Wednesday, 8-16-17

I. Fr. Long’s Opening Presentation (9 minutes)

  1. 1:39“If you don’t understand creation correctly, you can’t understand God correctly.”
  2. 1:47 “Grace works on nature. Grace builds on nature.”
  3. 2:19 “What if our idea of creation [nature] is incorrect? Then our idea of God [and grace] changes.”

a. [Comment: By the end of the Q & A session, Fr. Long will connect this idea to homosexuality to argue that developments in science invalidate Church and Bible teaching on homosexuality. (See # 25, below.) This is a theme that he carried over into the second Q & A session of 8-23-17.]

4.     3:23 “Can anyone here explain to me quantum physics? . . . If I don’t understand [quantum physics], maybe I really don’t understand God like I thought I did—like quantum physics.”

5.  4:16 “We need to look at creation, to look at our new cosmology. And if you don’t understand our new cosmology, you can’t understand new understandings, uh, ways of looking at God, today and in the future.”

6. 5:28 “Ironically, this week’s gospel is Jesus and the Canaanite woman.” [Fr. Long proceeds to read Mt.15:21–28.]

7.  7:13 “We know from scriptures that Jesus grew in ‘wisdom, age, and grace.’ We know from our studies of scriptures that the divinity of Jesus has been so overemphasized in our tradition that sometimes we forget about the humanity of Jesus. Did he [Jesus] know everything? No. ‘He grew in wisdom, age, and grace.’”

[Comment: Actually, Jesus knew everything, CCC 267, 316, 472, 473, 474, 482. Any quality that the Father possesses, the Son and Holy Spirit also possess.]

 

8.   8:43 “Jesus is the Christ, but the Christ is not limited to Jesus.” “Having said that—that’s my presentation.”

a. Comment on Fr. Long’s opening presentation.

He started off by telling us that a change in our scientific understanding of nature would require a change in our understanding of God. Then he tells us that, with the development of quantum physics, our understanding of nature has in fact changed. Thus, he is saying that our concept of God must change too. His final statements about Jesus, therefore, must be understood logically as a change in our understanding of God. Consequently, when he says that Jesus did not know everything and that “the Christ is not limited to Jesus,” he is essentially saying that Jesus Christ is not God. This fits with other statements that he makes about the Eucharist and about the presence of God in Christians. (See points # 9, #20, and #24, below.) He seems to think that there is an equality between the divine presence in Jesus, the Eucharist, and us. He is dangerously close to asserting that the divine in Jesus is no different from the divine in other people. But we need not speculate on the implications of Fr. Long’s presentation. For his statement explicitly contradicts Church doctrine on two counts: First is the statement that “the Christ is not limited to Jesus.” This plainly contradicts Church doctrine: For his statement asserts that his concept of Christ is greater than Jesus. But since Jesus is God—the creator of heaven and earth—there can be nothing greater than Jesus (CCC 267, 316–318). Hence to assert that something is greater than Jesus is to deny that he is God. In sum, the first error of Fr. Long’s opening statement is the denial of Jesus Christ’s divinity. The second error is this: Our knowledge of God does not depend on scientific knowledge or discovery. Our understanding of the Trinity and the Incarnation, for example, comes from Divine Revelation, not science. And no future scientific discovery can threaten the truths of Divine Revelation (CCC 66– 67, 73).

II. The Q & A Session Highlights

9.  16:47 “Now I noticed everyone stands until the tabernacle is closed here [during Communion]. However, I don’t understand that because I don’t know the difference between the real presence in the tabernacle and the real presence we just received.”

a. [Comment: The difference is explained at CCC 1374: the Eucharist is “a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present.” Thus God—the Creator of the universe—is fully present in the Eucharist. This is why we worship the Eucharist (CCC 1378). We do not worship people who progress in holiness only gradually, if at all : CCC 1394–1395. Obviously, one would never replace a monstrance with a person during Eucharistic adoration. We receive God in Holy Communion, but we do not become God—the Creator of the universe.]

10.  17:51 “Does Hell exist? How the hell do I know?”

11.  17:58 “How could anyone say that someone is in a mortal sin?  I don’t even know what a mortal sin is, to be honest with you.”

12. 18:45 “Mortal sin is a deadly sin. A mortal sin cuts somebody off from the life of God, technically. How do I know someone is cut off from the life of God?”

13. 19:37 “How can anyone, including the Church, define what a mortal sin is?”

14. 21:51 “If the Church says that missing Mass is a mortal sin, is that because we want to make people submissive and obedient? We want to make people co-dependent on us? Do we want to have a parent-figure that watches over us?”

15. 22:24 “Do I believe in the doctrine of mortal sin? A doctrine is simply a portal into the mystery of God. I believe in serious sin. I don’t believe missing Mass is a sin. I’ve done it myself . . . .”

16. 23:16 “The other sin—People think that masturbation is a mortal sin. Do you really want to put that guilt [on people]?”

17. 31:41 “What does ‘lowly’ mean? Mary is the ‘lowly’ one, right? What does ‘lowly’ mean in the teaching of the Church? It means ‘submissiveness.’ It means you’re going to be a good Catholic. . . . You’re obedient, and you’re submissive. And that’s what men would like all women to be.”

18. 41:14 “In 2,000 years, have we learned a lot? . . . Have we understood the scriptures better? Have we understood what the historical Christ is? Historical consciousness is? History? Sure. Would the gospel writers write in the same way if they were alive today? No, right? . . . Because of different ways of thinking. . . . Remember, the Old Testament, the Hebrew scriptures—it’s all mythic—mythology—because that’s how they understood life. . . .” [Fr. Long gives example of Noah’s Ark.]

19. 46:49 “Are you a child of God? Saying ‘child’ makes you dependent. Are you becoming submissive and dependent? I don’t know. It’s certainly possible. Maybe . . . the Church wants us to be a little more co-dependent, submissive.”

20. 47:09 “So how does God look at you today? Does he look at your true self, your divine self?”

21. 47:34 “How can it not be a sin to miss Mass? Well, I’d have to say that—how many Catholics are in the world? One billion. Of that, 70% miss Mass on Sunday. Am I better than them?”

22. 48:38 “So why is missing Mass a sin? Because it goes against the clerical, hierarchical Church rules. We wouldn’t want to break that, would we? But don’t ask me to answer the question. Ask yourself. Ask yourself who God is. When you’re on vacation this week, when you go on to the beach—and you miss Mass—God is probably smiling at you saying, ‘I hope you enjoyed your vacation.’”

23. 49:13 “I used to tell the college students . . . ‘Don’t believe anything your teachers say. Don’t believe anything your parents say. Don’t believe anything I say. And certainly don’t believe anything any other priest tells you. Listen. And then make it your own. Then decide. Okay, a priest up there told me missing Mass is a sin. The other priest told me missing Mass isn’t a sin. . . . Come up with your own answer. If you think it’s a sin, you better get to Mass. If you don’t think it’s a sin feel free——that, if you’re in the hospital, you can’t get to church, you don’t have to go to confession.”

24. 50:45 “I know deep down that I am the son of God. And, do I make mistakes? Absolutely.”

25. 53:12 “The Church is homophobic. That’s a sin. The teaching of the Church, the teaching of the Bible on homosexuality is not about homosexuality. It’s about heterosexuality. I mean what they called ‘deviant behavior.’ So, if I am a heterosexual, and I’m practicing something that’s against my nature, then, according to the Bible, that’s against God’s law. They didn’t know what homosexuality was. They didn’t know what sexual orientation was. Now, we have an idea. So, if [I’m] a homosexual, and you’re trying to make me a heterosexual, you’re in the wrong. . . .”

a. “Which I’ve known twenty people sending their children to these camps trying to . . . reprogram them.”

26. 54:12 [Man in audience] “You mean the way you’re trying to reprogram us tonight? Is there any Catholics here at all? And that understand what this man is preaching here? It’s emancipation. . . . We have a Catechism!!!”

END OF TRANSCRIPT FOR 8-16-17

Sorry, NY Times, Opposition to LGBT Is Not Bigotry

This is my second posting on the most recent culture war breakout here in North Carolina. You can find my first post here. For those of you who don’t know, the present kerfuffle in my state is over two separate pieces of legislation, SB2 and HB2. I talked about SB2 in the previous post. HB2, however, is the one getting most of the attention. This is the law that requires all people to use the bathroom that corresponds to the gender of their birth. In other words, it mandates that bathrooms be used as they have universally been used since forever. There is much that needs to be said about these issues, so it’s going to take time and multiple posts to say it all. In this post, I want to focus on the common complaint of liberals that basic Christian teachings are tantamount to bigotry. The New York Times just recently leveled this criticism at North Carolina regarding the HB2 legislation. In upcoming posts, the response I will lay out is that the view of The New York Times depends on a rigid, dogmatic, and unscientific view of transgenderism. But in this post, I look at the allegation of “bigotry” from a logical perspective. The following is an excerpt from my book, The Immoral Landscape (of the New Atheism). In it, I am speaking of homosexual issues generally, but transgenderism can certainly be understood to be included. That is, after all, what the T in LGBT, implies, right?

It is important to respond to some common criticisms of Christians on the subject of homosexuality. Some have compared the Christian disapproval of homosexuality to racism. Certainly we can all agree that there is no room in civilized society for intolerance of persons. Intolerance of persons on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, or gender, etc. is bigotry, plain and simple. The Christian critique of homosexuality, however, does not condemn persons; on the contrary, it is a condemnation of certain behaviors.

At this point, it is imperative that I make the following observation, namely, that the tendency to judge human behavior is universal in the human race. Everyone does it. In fact, we are compelled to do it by our circumstances. Because we have free will, it is up to us to decide how we will behave. It becomes necessary to choose our behavior, and the choices we make depend very much on our judgments about potential courses of action. Is an action moral? . . . How will it impact my future? My happiness and well-being? Are there any risks or dangers associated with a certain behavior? Considerations like these affect our personal choices, but logically, they must also affect our judgments about the behavior of others. If, for example, I have decided not to steal because I have concluded that stealing is unjust, I have arrived at a judgment, not only about my personal actions, but also about stealing as a category. This judgment about stealing can serve as a guide for my own actions, but equally and inevitably, it will serve as a legitimate basis for judging the behavior of others: if I discover that someone has stolen, I will conclude that they behaved unjustly because I had previously judged that stealing is unjust. It is inevitable, therefore— because we are constrained by logic—that all people will judge the behavior of others by necessity: Thus liberals will negatively judge the behavior of conservatives, and vice versa. The same is true with feminists and traditionalists, with environmentalists and industrialists. If the judgment of human behavior is bigotry, then we are—all of us—bigots by nature and necessity. And how can we condemn what we all must do, if we are going to direct our lives by the choices and judgments we make? What on earth would the alternative look like? Have secular elites hit on an impossible definition of bigotry, which, if taken seriously, demands the suspension of all judgment? What of morality then? What will direct our free will— randomness? Is the suspension of all judgment about human behavior really the morally superior alternative to traditional Christianity?

The answer to these questions points logically to the need for a careful re-examination of our concept of bigotry. One must tread lightly, it seems to me, when one condemns as bigotry judgments about behavior.[i]

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Read a review!

As we all know by now, behavior has a dramatic impact on our health and well-being. We know for certain that, where health and happiness are concerned, not all lifestyle choices are created equal. A high fat diet combined with a sedentary lifestyle, for example, will certainly compromise one’s physical health. And neuroscientists today are discovering that our mental health is affected just as much as our physical by the behavioral lifestyle choices we make. Hence it is necessary to our well-being and survival that we make judgments about behavior. A commitment to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” necessitates that people have access to the best information about the impact of human behavior on physical and mental health and human flourishing in general. For these reasons, we need vigorously to protect free speech and conscience rights in this country, especially as they pertain to our beliefs about behavior. Throwing around the epithet “bigot” just shuts down the debate, and the cost is high if we are denied access to the full range of thought and research about the impact of behavior on happiness and flourishing. What we have seen here, in the pages of this book, is that some ideas, however unpopular, have been vindicated by science. Yes, science is discovering the truth of Christianity, and those who ignore these truths will suffer the consequences, in terms of their own loss of happiness and mental well-being.[ii] (The Immoral Landscape of the New Atheism, pp 108–110)

Notes

[i] Some will say that, because homosexual behavior is motivated by an “immutable,” “innate” orientation, it is therefore unfair to judge homosexual behavior as we would judge other behaviors. In fact, they would even say that it is because of the “innate and immutable” character of homosexuality that we should think of sexual orientation precisely as we think of race—as a permanent category of one’s personhood. This line of thought attempts to equate the moral status of sexual orientation with that of race so that a negative judgment against homosexuality is made tantamount to bigotry. Clearly, however, sexual orientation is not as immutable, nor as innate, as a person’s race. It goes without saying that many more people have changed their sexual orientation than have changed their race. It’s one of those stubborn facts about homosexuality that won’t go away: it is primarily a freely chosen behavior. True, it is motivated by deep-seated inclinations, but so are many other behaviors. And we judge these behaviors all the time. [eg. Adultery, gluttony, substance abuse, laziness, greed, hate . . .] I see no reason, therefore, why homosexuality should be set aside as some unique category—as the one behavior that cannot be judged.

 

[ii] Because there is so much progress being made in the scientific understanding of happiness and human nature, and because so much of what science is learning accords with traditional Christian teachings, it seems that we ought to slow down the apparent secular enthusiasm of some who would like to use the courts to stamp out traditional, Biblical Christianity. Some of the New Atheists, Daniel Dennett in particular, have called for the scientific study of Christianity, but how can you study something if it becomes extinct? If the New Atheists are sincerely interested in the scientific study of Christianity and other religions, then they must share a commitment to preserve them. Scientists who study an endangered species are always committed to its preservation, not its extinction. Actually I think a scientific mindset is preferable to the narrow-mindedness that has become so popular, especially among media and academic elites. We ought to embrace ideological diversity by allowing free competition in a market place of ideas. This I think is an essential component of any society that hopes to advance the cause of human well-being. It is a central tenet of what I call at the end of this book a new transcendentalism—a new transcendentalism that rises above partisanship in the interest of goodness, truth, peace, and justice. It is a transcendentalism that begins with humility—the humility to recognize that none of us is omniscient, that it is possible to learn something new and important from those with whom we disagree.