Wednesday, January 1, 2014

"A person who is [BLANK]"

If you only have time to read one blog post right now, don't read this one here: Read this one over at BadCatholic. This one down below is only for if you time to read two blog posts.

 I remember when Anna told me that in the medical field, you don't say "disabled people" anymore. You don't say "a lame person" or "a paralyzed person." You say "a person who is disabled."

Do you see the difference? One makes the disability the primary attribute of the person: In fact, it reduces the person to the disability.

The other expression, though, establishes the person as a person, then describes the disability as one attribute of that person. Because a person who is disabled is far, far more than their disability, and they should be treated as such (and spoken about as such).

Which brings me to my actual topic:

Pope Francis is now infamous for this quote:

"A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: When God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person.”

Liberals love it because they think it demonstrates that the Pope is "tolerant" (by which they mean, that he is on his way to openly approving of homosexuality). And many conservatives hate it, or at the very least are troubled by it. What's he really saying here? Why didn't he just answer the question clearly? What is he hiding???

Did the Pope "dodge the question"? Maybe. But it seems to me that he was doing something far more genuine. Instead of answering the question at hand--the answer to which has been the same for roughly 2,000 years--he answered a far more important question: 

"Do you believe that homosexuals are less than people?"

Because that's the question that the man was really asking. When you ask the freaking Pope of the freaking Catholic Church a question about basic Catholic teaching, you already know what the answer to that question is. What matters is how that question is answered, and what other questions are answered along the way.

And those other questions--the questions left unasked--are important, because very few other sins have such potential to dehumanize people. Hence the pope's insistence that "we must always consider the person." He wasn't changing Catholic doctrine, or "hinting" at changing it, or gearing up to change it...he was affirming it (and affirming what should be non-Catholic doctrine as well). Check this out:

"The human person, made in the image and likeness of God, can hardly be adequately described by a reductionist reference to his or her sexual orientation. Every one living on the face of the earth has personal problems and difficulties, but challenges to growth, strengths, talents and gifts as well. Today, the Church provides a badly needed context for the care of the human person when she refuses to consider the person as a "heterosexual" or a "homosexual" and insists that every person has a fundamental Identity: the creature of God, and by grace, his child and heir to eternal life."

That's the doctrine that Pope Francis was affirming, and that's the doctrine we need to be affirming more today as a Church. People are people, and we sin in reducing them (consciously or unconsciously) to something less.

And for all you Duck Dynasty fans out there, we also sin by speaking thoughtlessly and by refusing to season our words with grace.

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