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Pastoral means causing both smiles and tears

Fr. Robert Araujo offers a cogent critique of Marquette University's decision to offer "domestic partner benefits" for its homosexual employees who are in legal domestic partnerships registered with the clerk of their county. This policy only applies to homosexual couples. It does not include heterosexual couples in registered domestic partnerships. The University's president explains this move:

"If we are truly pastoral in our application of the Jesuit principle of cura personalis, I asked myself if I could reconcile that with denying health benefits to a couple who have legally registered their commitment to each other.”

My granddaughter just learned to giggle. This may sound like a non sequitur and the ramblings of a proud Gramma. I will give you the latter but stay with me here. Do you remember when your baby first giggled? You would do absolutely anything to elicit that chuckle. You made funny faces, played peek-a-boo, and otherwise thoroughly humiliated yourself. Nothing made you happier than making your baby happy. However, as your precious little one grew, bringing a smile gave way to teaching important lessons. Giving in to every demand for sweets and toys would certainly bring smiles but a good parent knows there comes a time to say "no". There may be a tantrum. You steel yourself against the tears. The first few times you may even cry a little too. But you know the value of these lessons is worth the tears. The smiles will come again and in greater number because you are saying "no" now.

The president of Marquette University claims he is being "pastoral" with his support of homosexual relationships. Unfortunately, this is often the claim of those who condone behaviors that are contrary to Church teaching. To them, being pastoral means always eliciting giggles and never causing tears. Yet as every parent knows, such a strategy is a pathway to raising a spoiled brat. What should a Jesuit university do? Fr. Araujo suggests they look to the guiding principles of the Jesuits:

Whoever desires to serve as a soldier of God beneath the banner of the cross in our Society, which we desire to be designated by the name of Jesus, and to serve the Lord alone and the Church, His spouse, under the Roman pontiff, the vicar of Christ on earth, should, after a solemn vow of perpetual chastity, poverty, and obedience, keep what follows in mind. He is a member of a Society founded chiefly for this purpose: to strive especially for the defense and propagation of the faith and for the progress of souls in Christian life and doctrine, by means of public preaching, lectures, and any other ministration whatsoever of the word of God, and further by means of the Spiritual Exercises, the education of children and unlettered persons in Christianity, and the spiritual consolation of Christ’s faithful through hearing confessions and administering the other sacraments. Moreover, this Society should show itself no less useful in reconciling the estranged, in holily assisting and serving those who are found in prisons or hospitals, and indeed in performing any other works of charity, according to what will seem expedient for the glory of God and the common good.

In other words, you do not bend or break the teachings of the Church because you want to keep everyone smiling. Being a good pastor or a good parent means you are going to make some people cry.


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