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A Priest Challenges Pride Month

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A Catholic priest challenges Pride Month – next, on Catholic Answers Focus.

Cy Kellett:
Hello and welcome to Catholic Answers Focus, the podcast designed to help you explain and defend the Catholic faith. I’m Cy Kellett, your host.

This priest in Louisiana aroused kind of a Facebook army of complainers against himself when he suggested that the New Orleans Saints should not be supporting Pride Month. The story was predictable as clockwork probably, with hundreds of people chiming in using words like hateful and homophobic, and you know how the whole that story goes. His point was that Pride Month promotes immoral behavior and is bad for children, and that an NFL team shouldn’t be supporting it.

We thought we’d consider his points to see if they hold up to scrutiny. Of course, we got Karlo Broussard to come in and talk about it. He’s a philosopher and author, but most importantly he’s also a Louisianan, so he’s eminently qualified to comment. He’s an apologist here at Catholic Answers. He’s written two very fine books Prepare the Way: Overcoming Obstacles to God, the Gospel, and the Church and Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Belief.

Karlo, you’ve got this On Catholic Answers magazine online about a priest who it turns out that you know, Father Andre Metrejean. I hope I’m getting it right.

Karlo Broussard:
Good job there, Cy. You got it, buddy.

CK:
Oh, thanks. Your New Orleans Saints have a big Superdome down there and they lit it up for Pride, for Pride Month probably.

KB:
Yeah.

CK:
Father posts this on Facebook and he got quite a reaction to it. He wrote, “Come on, NOLA Saints. We want to support you, but this kind of stunt hurts society and souls. Don’t bow down to these pressure groups. Kids have rights. Children deserve to have a dad and mom. Please don’t support immorality. Cancel the PC culture.” Father got more than 500 comments you said on Facebook in reply, many of them accusing him of hatred.

KB:
Right.

CK:
You wrote this article about it, and it seems like a perfect thing for us to do a little Focus conversation on.

KB:
Sure.

CK:
What I wanted to ask you about was, so you see this post and he says, “This kind of stunt hurts society and souls.”

KB:
Yeah.

CK:
From your perspective, is that true, and what is that referring to? How is it hurting society? How is it hurting souls for the NOLA Saints to celebrate Pride Month?

KB:
Right. Well, there are many ways in which you can answer that question as to how it hurts society and souls. But for me, I like to sort of get down to the root bottom of things at the very foundation. You could talk about statistics and negative consequences and effects that the celebration of same sex sexual activity and the so-called same sex marriages has on individuals and on the children that they adopt. You could go that route, but for me, Cy, it all boils down to the fundamental bedrock foundation of what’s going on here of how it hurts society is because it’s promoting something that is what, as Father Metrejean says, is immoral. In as much as a behavior or a lifestyle is immoral, that is contrary to our good. It’s harmful for us. It might not be harmful for us physically, whether immediately or even longterm, but it’s harmful for our character. It’s harmful to our souls in as much as it is immoral.

For a society to embrace such an immoral lifestyle, to promote it and to celebrate it, right, well that’s promoting something that’s contrary to our human good. That’s promoting something that is not going to lead us to authentic human happiness. The bottom line is that it’s promoting something that’s not true. In as much as something … Because it’s promoting this behavior as a good when in fact it is not a good for us as human beings.

That’s harmful to us as human beings, because we were made to know the truth, right? In as much as we’re made to know the truth, we’re also made to live the truth, or as some philosophers like to say, to do the truth. Because our mind, our intellect is not only ordered to know the truth of propositions, like the cat is on the mat or two plus two equals four, but also the intellect is designed, Cy, our minds are made to know the intelligibility of behaviors and actions, right? To see the truth of inaction and then to direct our will in order to live in accord with that truth, right? We come to know reality and then we direct ourselves to live in accord with that reality.

For a society to go around promoting an activity or a behavior and a lifestyle that’s contrary to reality, contrary to what’s good for us as human beings, that’s leading people into what is in essence insanity, right? Because it’s encouraging people to live contrary to what is real. That ultimately is hurtful to us as human beings, because we’re made to know the truth and we’re made to live in accord with that truth.

I think that’s sort of the backbone, right, at what’s driving this assertion that Father is making in his posts, and which I affirm and I would assert as well, that promoting such behavior, namely same-sex sexual activity and the lifestyle involved with that, is hurting society and it’s hurting souls because it’s promoting something that is contrary to our human good.

CK:
It seems though that his appeal to society and souls, and fully accepting what you just said, his appeal to society and souls is an appeal to two things that people are dubious about. One, I think modern people would say, well, belief in souls is a private belief anyways, and society is not my concern. I have my individual rights, and it’s my individual rights that matter.

KB:
Yeah. Well, we are individuals, but we are individuals who live in a community. I mean, you have to take a step back here and say, okay, well, wait a minute. If you’re going to be concerned about morality in the case of Father Metrejean’s comments and the harm that he is doing to other people by calling his comments as hateful and bigoted, if we’re going to be concerned about morality there and hit the implications of his actions and his views for other people, well then that’s fair game for us to consider and analyze human behavior and the implications it’s going to have on other people outside of the privacy of your own home or your own individualistic views, right?

CK:
Yeah. You can’t have it both ways. Exactly.

KB:
Yeah, so that would be a double standard saying, well, Father Metrejean’s views and your views, Karlo, are having … can have implications for other people. Then at the same time say, well, my views don’t have to have implications for other people because I could just have my own individual view. Right? It’s a double standard there.

CK:
Got it, yeah. What do you think he’s talking about when he says kids have rights? That kind of stands out in this.

KB:
I think the answer follows that statement where he says children deserve to have a dad and a mom. What he’s appealing to there, I would assume, and knowing Father Metrejean and his formation, he’s appealing to the fact that children, God has designed children to be the effect of the causality of the conjugal act, right? That’s the order. That’s the design. That’s the plan. In the divine wisdom, God wills that children come about, come into existence as a result of the conjugal act between a man and a woman within the confines of marriage.

If that’s God’s design and plan, well, then it belongs to his plan that children come forth from the conjugal act. Children have a right to come about from that conjugal act, and thus, consequently, they have a natural right, not an extrinsic right given to a child by society or by the government, but a right that’s flowing from the very nature of humanity, what it is to be a human being, right? To come forth from the conjugal act of a man and a woman within marriage and to have a mother and a father to rear the child in the formation of the intellect and the will, right? In the taking care of the needs of the soul, that’s knowledge and love, and the needs of the body, and that is of course providing food and shelter and bodily comfort, et cetera.

These, I would argue these are the rights that he’s referring to, right? These are rights that are natural. You know, the common term that’s used, inalienable, right? These are rights that in here within the individual, in so far as that individual is a human being. You have a human being, and with being human comes certain things, right? This is what he’s referring to as rights.

To deny a child of coming forth from the conjugal act of a mother and a father within the confines of marriage is in various ways a violation of their dignity as a human being, and ultimately a violation of the creator’s wisdom, right? It’s a strike against God, because it’s saying God’s design and plan is not good enough.

CK:
Now you, as you said, you like to get to the root of the thing, and I have to agree with you completely. I think you start there at the root, but then empirical science and investigation-

KB:
Oh, sure.

CK:
Adds to our conviction that we got that right, because we do see that children who are raised in a home with a mother and father have outcomes that are better.

KB:
That’s right.

CK:
Yeah. That may not be the primary argument that, hey, we have all this empirical data, but it is certainly a supporting argument to say, come on. I mean, social science is backing us up on this in every which way.

KB:
Right, indeed. I would affirm that, that social science does compliment and confirm that which we know by reason alone to be what is good, and what is right, and what is true, and what is beautiful.

But it’s always important, I always want to come back to what is most fundamental because, Cy, it’s just say just even if the social science would not compliment or cohere with what we know by reason alone, and let’s say within short term, let’s say social studies were being conducted where they were having results that in short term, not being able to see what the longterm effects are going to be, even in short term let’s say there were positive results that just so happened to have been discovered, right? It would still be a violation of the dignity of, the humanity of these children to deprive them of coming forth from the conjugal act of the mother and the father within the confines of marriage and having a mother and a father, right? To deprive them of that. It’s always important. We have a both-and approach, but one is more fundamental than the other.

CK:
Okay. Often then, I think the part of the strategy is to not say your argument is wrong, but to say that there’s something fundamentally wrong with you as a person, and that’s where the word homophobia comes in. As you point out in your article, Father Metrejean gets accused of homophobia. Your defense in your article kind of says, well, what Father is expressing is solid Catholic teaching. By extension then, could the claim of homophobia be leveled against the church?

KB:
Well, it depends on what you mean by the label homophobia, right?

CK:
Yeah, okay.

KB:
Because the majority of the time, I mean, if you just mean like, well, you’re afraid of people who engage in homosexual lifestyle, right, you have some kind of phobia with that, well then that’s not the case because it’s not like we’re afraid of the, right? We have some kind of phobia in that sense. If you mean by homophobia you’re just bigoted, hateful, mean-spirited, right, and that seems to be what the culture intends by the use of that label, well, if that’s what you mean, well then we have to ask, well, what are you criticizing and identifying as mean-spirited?

This is what I pointed out in my article. What Father Metrejean, what is the object of the criticism from those who were offended by his statements is simply his assertion that same sex sexual activity and the lifestyle involved with that is immoral, right? What I mean by the lifestyle with that is living publicly as and pretending that you are indeed married, right? I’m not talking about the emotional satisfaction that you get in friendship with a member of the same sex and having healthy same sex attractions, okay. I’m not talking about that as constituting the lifestyle. What I’m saying, the same sex sexual activity itself and living as if one is quote, unquote “married”, the two people are married, right?

Father Metrejean is simply saying that is immoral, right? That’s simply echoing the Catholic Church’s teaching. If an individual, if somebody is going to label that, if that is the target of and the object of the criticism as being mean-spirited, right, well then we’ve got a problem, because all you’re doing is saying their negative, Father Metrejean and the Catholic Church’s negative evaluation of the morality of these sorts of behaviors, that’s mean-spirited.

Well, wait a minute. If it’s mean-spirited to make a moral evaluation of a behavior, of that behavior, well then it’s going to be mean-spirited to make a negative moral evaluation of any behavior, right? But I don’t think that’s where these folks want to go. Because if that’s the case, well then, as I point out in the article, that undermines their own negative moral evaluation of Father Metrejean’s view and judgment about same sex sexual activity, as well as the Catholic Church’s view.

CK:
Right, so if it’s mean-spirited for him … Yeah. In other words, if it’s mean-spirited to make a judgment about someone else’s behavior, then you’re engaging in mean-spiritedness when you judge Father Metrejean’s behavior in essence.

KB:
Exactly. That’s right.

CK:
Okay.

KB:
It’s sort of an undermining argument, right? To put the label of mean-spirited on them, they’re necessarily going to have to apply the label to themselves, because they’re doing the very thing that they’re saying Father Metrejean’s doing, right? Excuse me. Making a negative moral evaluation.

But I think we can press it further and say, well, gosh, if we can’t make any negative moral judgements about behaviors at all, well then we can’t criticize people who abuse children physically and emotionally. We can’t criticize people who commit adultery. We can’t criticize people who take the life of innocent human beings. Right? We can’t criticize racism. I mean, if we can’t make any negative moral judgements whatsoever, well then all this criticism of racism, right … Rightfully so, we want to reject racism. That would be null and void. That would be a moot point if we can’t make any negative moral judgements whatsoever.

Notice this double standard, Cy. We can make negative moral judgements about the behavior of racism, but we can’t make negative moral judgments about same sex sexual activity, right? There’s a-

CK:
No.

KB:
That’s what the culture is saying, right? These people who are offended by Father Metrejean’s statements, this is the double standard, right? We can make negative judgments about some behaviors, but not other behaviors. Well, wait a minute. Where’s that line? How do you make that distinction?

CK:
Well, that’s a consequence. I mean, it really does seem that that’s been the strategy of the entire sexual revolution is that there’s a special moral set of rules that apply in anything that has to do with sex. Abortion for example, the killing of the child and abortion is a completely different moral considerations say than the killing of an innocent person in war, because it had … Any connection to our sexuality, because of the sexual revolution, gets a special status and you’re not allowed to go there with the same kinds of intelligent moral conversation you would have about other things. You’re kind of forbidden from that.

KB:
That’s right, and that’s an arbitrary line that is being draw, right?

CK:
Sure. Yeah, right.

KB:
But I think we can actually break down that arbitrary wall to some degree for folks in the culture by pointing out, well, wait a minute, sexual activity is not totally off limits when it comes to making judgments about the morality of such behavior, because the whole-

CK:
Yeah. Harvey Weinstein just found that out.

KB:
That’s right. The whole Me Too movement, rightfully so, is rejecting sexual coercion and saying that is bad, that is immoral, that is wrong. That’s a negative moral evaluation about the sort of sexual activity that coerces people, right? Coercing people into sexual activity, that’s wrong.

But notice, Cy, one of the things we can tease out of that is that there’s an intuition that we ought to engage in a sexual act in a way that’s in harmony and consistent with what it’s ordered to, right?

CK:
Right, yes.

KB:
At least in this case, people still intuitively recognize that sexual activity is ordered to an expression of love, which by necessity is free, right? Free of coercion. Whenever you engage in sexual activity and direct it in a way that eliminates freedom, right, you recognize something disordered there, right? Because you’re engaging in a sexual act that’s by nature ordered to free expression of love, but it’s not a free expression of love, so it’s an anti-love love act, right? It’s a performative self contradiction.

CK:
Gotcha.

KB:
But we can use that same principle and say, well, wait a minute, and this is where we have to argue that the sexual act is not only ordered and designed for a free expression of love between the two people engaging in the activity, but that sexual act, because it’s employing and using our sexual faculties, is also ordered to its natural end of procreation. To engage in such activity and direct it away from what it’s naturally designed for, namely procreation, and involuntarily and intentionally directed away from that natural end, then it becomes an anti-procreative procreative act. It’s procreative in as much as that’s what the act is for, but it becomes anti-procreative in as much as you voluntarily direct the action away from what it’s designed for, namely procreation.

CK:
That would, if I could-

KB:
Just real quick. The principle-

CK:
Yeah, go ahead.

KB:
The principle upon which we make the negative judgment that sexual coercion is immoral, and wrong, and contrary to the dignity of the human being, right? The principle that’s driving that moral evaluation is the same principle that drives the Catholic Church’s negative moral evaluation of same sex sexual activity, as well as contraception, and of course other sexual behaviors that take place outside of the actual conjugal act.

CK:
The thing that strikes me about that is that means that the very acts that we might say, no, that’s not morally acceptable for a same sex couple, you could say that about those same acts performed within the context of marriage. That you being married-

KB:
Indeed.

CK:
Okay, so this is something we have to make clear, that it’s not as if, well, you have a different standard for homosexual acts than you have for heterosexual. It’s not the homosexuality or heterosexuality necessarily. It’s the act itself that there’s certain things you shouldn’t do to another person for example. There’s certain ways you should not engage in sex because they’re contrary to the nature of your sexuality, of your nature as a human being.

KB:
Yeah. Well, the evaluation of same sex sexual activity does take on a nuanced evaluation because the sexual faculty is ordered to a member of the human race that has the complimentary sexual faculties, right?

CK:
I see.

KB:
For the sake of procreation.

CK:
It’s a double thing.

KB:
That’s right, so it’s both-and. It is a perversion in that you’re directing the sexual powers to a member of the same sex, but it also involves other ways of perverting the sexual faculty and sexual activity and what these sexual faculties are designed for. Right? It’s thwarting you might say multiple purposes of the sexual faculty. They’re related.

CK:
Sorry. I realize you’ve already answered this in the context of what we’ve discussed, but I want to ask it straight out one more time in a very clear way, because this is mostly an issue I think that the discussion of it involves the use of a lot of emotional terminology-

KB:
Yes.

CK:
And because it has a lot of emotion with it. I want to make something clear, because I know that many people will be stuck on this. Who are you to decide, Karlo, that this act between these two people is morally good or bad? Isn’t it up to them as consenting adults to make that decision for themselves?

KB:
Well, that’s just moral relativism in its essence, right? That’s just we individually decide what is morally right or wrong. The response to that is to just simply refute the idea of moral relativism and saying, well, wait a minute, we have to take a step back and say, is there such a thing as right and wrong in so far as we’re human beings, right? Is there something as a moral human act versus an immoral human act, and what is the standard, the objective standard that we’re going to measure human action against, right?

If you acknowledge that, yeah, there are some things that are right and wrong, we should pursue what is good for us and we should avoid what is evil for us, well, then the question becomes, okay, well, why is this particular action? Because notice, Cy, the underlying assumption of that question or that challenge to me is that there is no objective moral right or wrong for us as human beings, because the standard for that challenge was the couple decides what is right and wrong. Notice how that excludes that there’s any sort of objective standard that we all must adhere to, right?

Okay, so that’s why we have to take that step back and say, well, is there such an objective standard of right and wrong that is accessible to all of us as human beings in order to come to know? I would argue that’s our human nature. That’s the order or the design of the powers that we have and what they’re ordered to. The things that they’re actually designed to perform and do constitutes what’s good for us as human beings. It contributes to our perfection. To voluntarily engage in activities and direct them away to what they’re naturally designed for is to will disorder, right? Is to willfully reject what’s good for us as human beings, which constitutes moral disorder, constitutes sin. Okay. That’s what we call sin.

If there is this objective standard, and we acknowledge that, yeah, there are some things that are objectively right and objectively wrong, well, then the question becomes, what about this particular behavior? That’s where the discussion is going to have to go as to why this type of behavior is immoral. But that presupposes that there’s a way in which we can judge what is moral and immoral, right? You see the distinction between the more basic question, can we make judgements about morality, whether something is right or wrong, and then the less basic question of how do we judge this behavior to be right or wrong.

CK:
Got it. Very good. Very clear. Karlo, thank you. You know Father Metrejean. You’ve met him before.

KB:
Yes. Actually, there was a time when I was doing a mission in Louisiana and he heard that I was in town. They were doing a celebration of their parish in Erath there, in the Erath, Louisiana, and they had some jambalaya and some live music. My dad and I went and played a little music. I played the accordion. He played the guitar. We had some good jambalaya and had some good Cajun fun.

CK:
Aw, man, you make it sound so good. Well, thanks, Karlo. I really appreciate you. I appreciated the article because, well for one thing, it’s nice to hear about a priest who is in his … Even it’s a Facebook post, but he’s leading his flock I think in a way that we often just want to stay out of these things like, “Ah, that’s big corporate decision making, the New Orleans Saints. They’re not going to listen to me,” and all that, but it is important that we register our disapproval when they’re, just for whatever commercial purposes I suppose, they’re just flouting the moral law. I was glad to read the article. I was glad you kind of pointed out the good work that this priest is doing.

KB:
Amen to that. Well, thank you, Cy. I appreciate that.

CK:
Well, I appreciate you taking the time with us. Thank you.

KB:
You’re welcome. Thank you.

CK:
One thing I always take away from a conversation with Karlo is that the best way to combat the kind of accusations from people who call us haters, or homophobes, or whatever mean thing they can think of the type into the comment box is similar to just reason things out at root. We can’t go to battle quip for quip with people. That’s going to get us nowhere. But we can explain and defend our positions kind of with patience and persistence. Karlo has what seems to me like an endless reserve of patience and persistence. It might not get through to everyone, but at least it gives the truth a chance.

Thank you so much for joining us. We hope you’ll continue to do so right here on Catholic Answers Focus. I’m Cy Kellett, your host. If you enjoyed what you heard, maybe you could subscribe, give us that five star review. Helps to grow the podcast. Maybe share with your friends what you’re hearing here.

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