New Jersey Cardinal Welcomes Gay Activists to His Cathedral
One of the more forgettable comedies of 2011 was Cameron Diaz’s farce, Bad Teacher. It wasn’t actually funny. Its efforts at wild irreverence seemed desperate and strained. The sequence that led me to hit Stop and eject the DVD was this one: Diaz was working against her will as a teacher in a high school. Hung over and apathetic, she over and over again blew off giving a lecture. Instead, she popped in a movie of dubious relevance and left the kids to watch it as she napped.
That didn’t make me chuckle. It made me livid. I’ve had some amazing teachers, and a few really bad ones. I know how important the devoted ones can be. They can change your life. And the rotten ones do grave harm. A highly educated person who’s being paid to pass on his learning to you sends a message. If he takes the material seriously, he teaches you it’s important. If he shrugs and waves it off, young impressionable people get that message too: This topic is so bogus, not even the teacher cares about it.
I still remember with bitterness a cynical high school religion teacher. His blasé, sarcastic attitude toward core Christian doctrines made my teenage blood boil. I learned he later went off to peddle suburban homes. I hope he took them more seriously.
Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark: Bad Teacher
Which brings us to the Catholic Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, Joseph Tobin. Recently boosted by Pope Francis to cardinal, Tobin will be one of the tiny group voting on who the next pope will be. He leads a flock of millions, in the New York metro area, with a major Catholic university, Seton Hall right in his city. In fact, Seton Hall is one of the small group of Catholic schools which have seen a resurgence of Catholic identity. That depends in large part on Tobin’s good will. Which is really a shame for Seton Hall. Because like Cameron Diaz’s character in the movie, Tobin is a bad teacher.
The role of a bishop is first and foremost as a teacher. His authority in his diocese is similar to the pope’s over the whole church. He’s considered an heir of the apostles. He is meant to do for (let’s say) Newark what St. James did for Jerusalem: serve as the primary evangelist of the faith of Jesus.
On crucial moral issues, Tobin is snoozing through the class. In this he is like far too many bishops around the world. Worst is that that faction of bishops which Pope Francis seems to favor and promote: social justice activists, who go way beyond the church’s actual teaching on political issues in fashion with the left. But on topics that might bother Caesar, or anger elites, they shrug and go back to sleep. Or worse, with a wink and a nod they give aid and comfort to the enemies of our faith.
Gay Activists at the Cathedral
The man who called Tobin’s abuses to our attention is Joseph Sciambra. Once sunk so deep in the homosexual lifestyle that he acted in pornographic films, Sciambra was granted the grace to escape. Now he bares his soul and braves the scorn of angry activists, defending the Gospel’s teaching on chastity and repentance. If I had to name one person alive today whom I expect someday to be canonized a saint, Sciambra would be that man. On his blog, Sciambra reports that Cardinal Tobin is sponsoring the following event:
An LGBT Pilgrimage and Mass to the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, New Jersey. According to a flyer for the event, the Pilgrimage and Mass are taking place: “With the blessings and best wishes of His Eminence Joseph Cardinal Tobin, C.Ss.R., Archbishop of Newark …”
Mass will be offered by Rev. Francis Gargani, C.Ss.R. Gargani frequently offers retreats to LGBT Catholics, one of which was advertised by the gay-affirmative Open Hearts GLBT Ministry located at St. Patrick – St. Anthony Church in Hartford, Connecticut. The Open Hearts group recently read a book which celebrated the “Queer Christ.” According to a description for the retreat:
Through ritual prayer, reflective input sessions, shared discussion, personal time for prayer and quiet, and social gatherings, this retreat offers a special opportunity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons to celebrate their identity and deepen their experience of community in the living God.
Not a word about chastity or repentance. Sciambra dug deeper and learned about the organizers of the event. They work closely with pro-gay activists who reject Christian moral teaching outright. And Tobin is hosting them at his own cathedral.
Why invite gay activists to a Catholic cathedral? Why silence a pro-life priest?
Silencing Faithful Priests
But don’t let it be said that Tobin is always asleep at the switch. When it comes to enforcing conformity with liberal politics, his diocese swings into action. As LifeSiteNews reported:
The Archdiocese of Newark says it will crack down on an outspoken pro-life priest after a hit piece on a local news site against him.
On Wednesday, NJ.com published a scathing article about posts made by Father Peter West on his Facebook page.
The article says West “has repeatedly railed against Muslims,” voiced “strong support for the president’s travel ban” and “assailed millennials as ‘snowflakes’,” among other accusations.
The article suggested the priest has violated the Johnson Amendment by being so political on Facebook and worried that West’s “withering attacks … run counter to the statements and philosophies of his own leader, Newark Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, and his ultimate boss, Pope Francis.”
James Goodness, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Newark, told NJ.com that the archdiocese is “concerned about Father West’s comments and actions, and will be addressing them according to the protocols of the Church.”
West is … vocally supportive of Catholic moral teaching on his social media. He has 8,494 Facebook followers. More than 200 people have signed a recently-launched petition asking the Archdiocese to condemn the “false, inaccurate” hit piece on him.
West said his posts about radical Islam were made “on what you might say are feminist grounds.”
He said he was troubled by “the fact that they don’t treat women as equals, that one man can have up to four [wives], that a woman is treated as an article of property, that in many of these Muslim countries, they practice female genital mutilation.”
“Eat My Sheep”
Why were gay activists invited to Newark’s cathedral? Why was a faithful New Jersey priest silenced for taking sane stances on social media? Is Tobin catering to social justice leftists while kicking moral conservatives to the curb?
That’s what you call a bad teacher.
This article has been updated to correct an error conflating Cardinal Tobin of Newark with Bishop Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island.