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(RNS) When All Saints Church sought to signal its hospitality to gays and lesbians, the Catholic parish in Syracuse, N.Y., turned to a well-known image from the 9/11 attacks: five firefighters carrying a body from the wreckage of the World Trade Center. The body belonged to the Rev. Mychal Judge, a Franciscan fire chaplain who […]

2 Comments

  1. It should be obvious that, while heroic deeds may indicate a man’s character, they say nothing about the morality of other deeds he may have been tempted to commit. To adapt an example from popular culture, in the Oscar-winning film “Crash”, Matt Dillon’s character risks his life to rescue Thandie Newton’s character from her crashed and overturned car, which is about to explode. This is in stark contrast to an earlier scene, in which “Dillon”, a policeman, finger-rapes “Newton” during a supposed stop and search. Although the crash rescue is heroic, and is naturally appreciated by “Newton”, it most certainly does not legitimise the earlier evil deed. (And that deed would have remained objectively evil even if “Dillon” had only imagined doing it, without actually giving in to the temptation.)

    The real underlying question here is: Is it evil to give in to a temptation to commit sodomy? (I believe that it is.) To attempt to win this debate by inducing in the reader the positive feelings inspired by actions commonly recognised as heroic is a psychological technique known as associative conditioning.

  2. Kevin, to be tempted to sin and to sin are different things in Catholicism, even when that sin is sodomy. Are you, perhaps, a fundamentalist Protestant who believes it is sufficient to think about sin in order to commit it? If so, hold your tongue — you’re free to think about commenting, of course — and keep your toxic theology to yourself.

    By all accounts, Fr. Judge led an exemplary life as a celibate man. That is all the Church supposedly asks of a man committed to the priesthood: celibacy. On the other hand, your conflation of just being gay with finger-raping a victim does seem more in keeping with how the Church actually views gay priests and gay people in general.

    If Judge hadn’t been known to be gay, he would be a poster-boy for the priesthood and the Vatican would sing his praises. Instead, they ignore his existence.