The Church is a community of sinners

by Bishop Patrick Dunn

AUCKLAND–In a recent interview with the world’s media when he was on a flight back to Rome from Brazil last July, Pope Francis answered a question about homosexuality by saying: “”If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?” Only God knows the secrets of each human heart. It is not for us to make judgments about others. Scripture tells us, “Judge not, lest you yourselves be judged”.
There is an article in today’s Sunday Star Times about an American Catholic documentary on homosexuality and Catholicism called The Third Way. The Sunday Star Times article carries the headline “Catholics tell gays to ditch sex”. It is most unfortunate that the article could give the impression, despite what Pope Francis says , that God judges every situation to be sinful, with the implied corollary that sin and Catholicism are somehow irreconcilable.

The Third Way from Blackstone Films on Vimeo.

The truth is that the Church is a community of sinners of varying degrees. We are all sinners, and our journey through life is to follow the call of Jesus towards wholeness and integrity in all of our activities and relationships. This journey is one of many failures and successes, of stops and starts.
Jesus holds up for us the ideal of a faithful, loving relationship between a man and a woman in marriage. Sexual activity be it heterosexual or homosexual that is not within this marriage relationship falls far short of this ideal.
The great truth of Christianity is that God’s love, mercy and compassion are boundless. God gives us freedom of choice and countless opportunities to evaluate our lives when we fall short of the ideals and values presented to us in the gospel – the chance to begin all over, again and again.
Who among us is without sin? That was the question Jesus asked when confronting a group of people who were about to stone a woman who was caught in adultery. “Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone,” he said. And one by one they departed.
God offers love, support and respect to every person without discrimination. The Church dare not do less. There is no such person as a second-class Catholic. I believe the film The Third Way is thought-provoking for all of us and I suggest that those who are interested view it and make their own decision about it.

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