The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

The Hallmark Jesus

I don’t know what’s more astonishing: to find this kind of clarion sentiment expressed today, or to find it expressed in the mainstream media:

It was a controversy tailor-made for the TV cameras: A lesbian couple in the liberal bastion of Boulder, Colo., had enrolled their children in a Catholic parish school, only to see those children denied re-enrollment once the parish priest learned of their home situation. When the story leaked last week, Boulder’s vociferous gay-rights activists mobilized to protest the priest, the parish and the Archdiocese of Denver, brandishing signs outside the church that plaintively asked: “What would Jesus do?”


For the reporters breathlessly covering the story and many Catholics, the answer was obvious. Jesus would allow the children to stay in the school. He would tell the teachers not to worry about the conflict between their duty to teach Catholic doctrine on marriage and their desire to protect the feelings of students being raised by a couple that flouted that doctrine in a particularly obvious way. The solution, he would say, is simple: Drop the doctrine and focus on feelings.

At least, that’s what the Jesus of our contemporary imagination would say. He has a habit of endorsing what we wanted to do anyway, especially when it comes to sex. And unlike that intense and unsettling figure in the Bible — the one who talked about marriage as the union of a man and a woman for life — this Jesus never talks about tough choices or objective truth. He’s all about hugs, rainbows and doing what feels right — a sort of human Hallmark card in Birkenstocks.


Appealing as this Jesus may be, his do-your-own-thing dogma has its drawbacks in the context of Catholic education. For starters, it’s difficult for Catholic schools to justify their existence when their organizing principle is fidelity to a milquetoast figure with such malleable teachings. And it’s difficult for students at Catholic schools to understand why they should be willing to suffer ridicule for defending their faith when so many of their pastors, parents and teachers are not.

Read the rest. It’s a bracing wake-up call.

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posted March 11, 2010 at 7:40 am

THe problem with this story is, that Christ accepts all his children, but doesnt condone what all his children do. Im sure he would keep those children in school, but would tell their parents to go and sin no more.

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posted March 11, 2010 at 9:41 am

(2) quotes I’ve heard recently that I agree wholeheartedly with…
“Being Catholic is NOT for the faint of heart.” – and –
“Jesus is NOT Barney.”
Both come from my pastor.
Peace to all.

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Your Name

posted March 11, 2010 at 10:13 am

Gosh….. the fact of the matter is that Jesus is the son of God. In the time of Jesus — he sacrificed his life for mankind. It’s sad that his message and God’s message is still not understood and people choose to live their life in sin and then they even use their evilness to confuse a child. In the Bible, Jesus warned people that one of the worst sins is to force evilness into a childs life and those adults (with the evil lifestyle) will pay the price when God passes his judgement on their confused and sinnful soul.

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Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

posted March 11, 2010 at 10:19 am

I continue to be amazed and disgusted by the way that this story has unfolded. I am not proposing some tickle-me-Jesus cuddle toy but I am still at a loss why the children are denied enrollment at the school.
When we take such unbridled joy in pushing others from the very big church we do so at some risk. I understand the corollary to that and am not suggesting that the church sanction gay marriage. I am saying suffer the children.
Bracing wake up call? I would call it many things, but not that.

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Holly Hansen

posted March 11, 2010 at 10:50 am

I totally agree with Fran. This was an OPINION piece. It was condescending and cruel. As for as “Catholic Identity” goes, “Identity Movements” in this country have a less than positive connotation usually associated with supremacist groups.

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posted March 11, 2010 at 12:23 pm

My concern is for the kids…I am not so sure that their best interest is served in sending them to this school under these circumstances. I really hope that they are not being used as pawns to make a political statement. The results of that can be devastating to these innocent little ones.

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posted March 11, 2010 at 1:02 pm

I respectfully observe, as a nonbeliever, that Jesus really is not for the faint of heart, especially the stuff about Do Unto Others and Let Him Who Is Without Sin Among You.
This article is indeed bracing; but bracing is what you do when you’re getting ready to cast a stone.

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Your Name

posted March 11, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Catholicism doesn’t tell one to go with their “feelings” like so many liberal religions and organizations do. I’m certain that Jesus didn’t “feel” good about his crucifixion. He even asked if the cup could pass from him, but asserted that it was the Father’s will that he would do. We need to be true to the Catholic faith, which includes obedience to the bishop, our shepherd. Looking the other way when evil is done only encourages its spread. Committing a sin and living in sin are two different things. The women chose to self identify as lesbian. If they were two celebate women living as roommates, it would have been a different story. They created the conflict with their chosen lifestyle. Lastly, I don’t see any “unbridled joy” here as Fran suggested. As true believers, we must hate the sin and love the sinner. I hope that this controversy may cause the two women to rethink their lifestyle and especially how it affects the child. Admonishing the sinner is a work of mercy.

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posted March 11, 2010 at 1:21 pm

Sorry… Last post “Admonishing the sinner is a work of mercy.” was mine.

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Your Name

posted March 12, 2010 at 2:35 pm

At its heart, the story is all about deciding what one believes, and that decision is a meaningful one.
It is entirely disintegrated thinking for lesbians to at once decide that a homosexual lifestyle and Catholicism are legitimate; those are mutually exclusive propositions that they are effectively foistering upon their vicitim children.
The school has a sacred obligation here to protect its mission, which it has done.
The blame here rests 100% on the shoulders of these truly whacky women.

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