There were two items that came to my attention this week concerning some more serious issues of sacramental and moral theology at St. Cronan’s.
These issues have come to light in relation to a person who was a parishioner at the parish, and who has recently died. I would ask that everyone pray for her eternal repose, and I do not intend to disrespect her or her family or friends by pointing out some practices at the parish that are at the very least questionable in light of the sacramental theology of the Church. In other words, this isn’t about her, or any individual person, it is about the sacramental practices of a Church that lays claim to being a Catholic parish.
First, an article from a local “alternative” magazine, The Vital Voice, from 2006 shows that the dissent from the natural moral law and Church teaching regarding the disordered nature of homosexual acts, and the nature, sanctity an indissolubility of marriage, goes further back than the recent flap from this winter. The article focuses on several same-sex couples and their Catholic experiences or upbringing. It focuses on one particular couple at St. Cronan’s:
By this time, the couple had become members of St. Cronan’s parish in South City, which has a reputation for welcoming out GLBT worshippers. Everyone agreed, though, that holding the ceremony there might draw the wrong kind of attention from the archdiocese. After a wedding at the Metropolitan Community Church, a GLBT congregation in the Central West End, the two women stood before the congregation at St. Cronan’s, as a couple, and received the blessing of their parish.
Of course, granting community approbation in any respect of an intrinsically gravely disordered relationship is a serious concern. In this case, if the article is relating the facts accurately, it means the St. Cronan’s allowed a blessing of a sham marriage in violation of natural law and crystal clear Catholic theology. It creates confusion among the faithful of the nature of marriage and gives scandal in that it leads their parishioners to believe there is nothing wrong with such a putative marriage.
One of these persons recently passed away. This week’s bulletin thanks parishioners for their support for the decedent and her friend.  It stated that Members of
Saint Cronan …anointed them, brought them communion…
did healing touch with them…
The emphasis is mine. What is unclear at best about the above is whether non-priests are attempting to administer the sacrament of extreme unction, or anointing of the sick. I certainly hope this person had access to a priest for confession, extreme unction and viaticum. But it is not clear from the above, and perhaps even counter-indicated.
Again what I want to emphasize here is that I do NOT want to comment negatively on the efforts of parishioners to provide comfort and support to their friends in this person’s last illness. I will take it as a given that the actions above were done in good faith and with the person’s best interests at heart. This is not to denigrate her life, and I make absolutely no judgment on the state of her soul. I would not presume to do so.
While realizing that potential for being misunderstood exists, I think it is so important–especially if people in good faith aren’t aware of the requirements for, and benefits of, the Church’s sacraments for the sick and dying– that the parishioners of a Catholic parish have free and unfettered access to the sacraments. That the rights of Catholics are respected and ensured to have access to them in need.
This is what is at stake for the Church, and why what appears to be a local “obedience” issue has practical spiritual ramifications. Christ came to save us, and gave us the Church and the
Sacraments as aids to salvation. It is serious business to create and maintain falsehoods in the name of compassion that place access to these salvific aids at risk. Every Catholic deserves the truth that sets us free.
I pray that the people of St. Cronan’s, and of every Catholic parish, will be given pastors who guard their flocks zealously according to the mind of Christ and His Church.