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Are Catholics bigots, or, are our lives unexamined?

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The cause of homosexual rights is apparently a winning one. When so much of the world can be more upset of the idea that Vladimir Putin is against them rather than the fact that he is a corrupt leader of a populous and far more dangerous nation on too many other fronts, then we see that the writing is on the wall. When the words of Pope Francis are misconstrued by the media to indicate that the Catholic Church is softening its stance on the moral imperatives behind the question, we are further left to concede the overall point a practical reality. But will it stop at that?

It has become routine to call those against homosexual rights 'bigots'. While we will not pretend to speak for the likes of Mr. Putin we will deign to speak for Catholics. We will ask the question, 'Are Catholics bigots?'

We will now answer it: no. Catholic theology is quite clear on this matter, as it is on all other moral questions: hate the sin but love the sinner. What this should translate into (we readily recognize, human error being at work, that this will not often enough be the case) is that a serious Catholic should pray for a change within such persons and, with Christian charity, try to explain to them why they ought not do what they do. On a more decidedly political front, it means actively opposing homosexual marriage. Can these things make Catholics bigots?

Well, is it bigotry to attempt to see your deepest values put into law, should they be of a nature that a law in necessary? After all, the idea that theft is wrong surely transcends individual religious sentiment to the point of the numinous, the point where any thinking person must see that it is wrong at a far higher level than simple human opinion? On a similarly grand scale, is it bigotry to want the very best for your peers even should they not themselves believe you are right? Can wanting the very best for everyone for the very best reasons be bigotry?

The most important objection which can be raised here is the question of where and when (if ever) can we attempt to force beliefs on others? Of course, we can make such attempts under the right circumstances. Even though, free will being present, some folks will nonetheless steal, we in fact outlaw theft. Yet we suspect the retort to this with regard to homosexual rights would be that they aren't hurting anyone. This is only true, however, if we accept that persons cannot hurt themselves by their actions.

Yet they can. If we have any sense of the numinous it surely occurs to us that there is no question of morality, personal or societal, which is entirely up to us. Perhaps that old pagan Socrates might help here: the unexamined life is not worth living. That indicates, from a somewhat irreligious source, that we ought to question even our own motives and desires when we wish to do whatever it is we wish to do.

That's what Catholicism wants us to do: examine our lives, examine ourselves, and ask the really difficult questions, the ones which are beyond any given action we might take. We must ask ourselves, of anything, is it right to do this?

If that is bigotry, the simple and straightforward reminder that we must look inward and question our motives, even those motives we may be born with, then call it bigotry if you like. But do us one favor, please. Ask yourself if it is bigotry to favor the self over the numinous.

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