A great organization that is trying to bring Catholics back to church is CatholicsComeHome.com. Using very nice television campaigns, they invite people to re-engage with Catholicism. They are not afraid of the secular media and proudly provide links to recent news and talk shows. However, I must admit to being very disappointed in the interview with Scott Quinn, a prominent radio talk show host, which you can listen to in the link below.
In it, the representative from CatholicsComeHome.com continually states that all are welcome back to Mass and the Eucharist. Of course, this is true. However, Scott Quinn is incredulous and tries to give examples of groups of people whom he believes are not welcome in Mass. He states that there are “rules of inclusion. You can’t be gay, you can’t have sex outside of marriage, you can’t use birth control, we’re not going to have women priests, we’re not going to let our priests to marry, you can’t get a divorce.” Instead of providing a clear explanation of Catholic teaching on these points, the well-meaning representative states that all those people are indeed welcome to come to Communion. No! No! No!
Now, I understand the person from this organization believes that it is important to invite people back SO that it opens doors for dialog. However, we need to be careful that we don’t put their souls in jeopardy. This is what I believe the representative from CatholicsComeHome.com should have said. “Yes, you can be gay but you cannot be engaging in gay sex. If you do, however, go for a sincere Confession, and then you will be welcome at the Lord’s table. If you feel this is discrimatory against gays, the Church has exactly the same requirement for heterosexuals engaging in pornography, masturbation or extra-marital affairs. As for birth control, the ban on artificial contraception has been a constant teaching of Christianity since the start. The Church believes that you cannot separate the procreative aspect of sex from the unitive aspect. Does this mean Catholics just have to become baby-makers? No, there is natural family planning where a husband and wife TOGETHER, with some short periods of sacrifice and abstinence, are still able to space out their family. Most artificial contraception has the woman dumping chemicals into her body that have been documented to create health compromises. As to women priests, priesthood is about being a servant, not about power. The Pope is called the Servant of the Servants. What about married priests? Well, the Eastern Rite Catholics do have married priests. However, those who are celibate religious (ie priests and nuns) should be envied. As Christians, we all believe that our final destination is to be joined in Heaven to Christ as His Bride. Those who are celibate share in this divine destination in an intimate way that the rest of his are not able. Finally, divorce is not allowed because marriage is a spiritual union that cannot be separated. Annulment is not a Catholic divorce but recognizes that a true marriage did not exist from the very start. However, a divorcee is allowed up for Communion. They are simply not allowed to remarry. If they stay in a state of grace, they are always welcome to share in the Eucharist.
I hate to criticize such a worthy organization. However, we need to use every opportunity to invite back strayed Catholics but without increasing the misconceptions that were the cause of their leaving in the first place!