Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Republican Bishop Thomas Tobin, On Pope Francis, "Gay" Marriage

In 2013, this blogger reported on the political earthquake of Bishop Thomas Tobin, the prefect of Providence, Rhode Island, switching political affiliation and joining the Republican Party.

He soon explained the reasons for  his party-switch:
"The a-ha moment for me was the 2012 Democratic National Convention. It was just awful,"
 "I just said I can't be associated structurally with that group, in terms of abortion and NARAL [Pro-Choice America] and Planned Parenthood and [the] same-sex marriage agenda and cultural destruction I saw going on," Tobin said. "I just couldn't do it anymore."

Now he is taking on criticisms to the Holy See. CNS reports:

Thomas J. Tobin, the Catholic bishop for the Diocese of Providence, R.I., commented on the recent Synod of Bishops on the Family held at the Vatican as “being rather Protestant” in having bishops vote on “doctrinal applications,” and added that in terms of Pope Francis’s fondness for a “creating a mess,” you can say, “mission accomplished.”

Indeed, truth and doctrine are not a matter of debate and discussion, but fact and revelation, independent of popular opinion. Cultural norms are falling apart in large part because moral behavior and ethical conduct are becoming a matter of opinion instead of verity.

The Bible is clear on a number of instructions, including the integrity of the family and the definition of marriage:

"3The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? 4And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? 6Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. 7They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? 8He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. 9And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery." (Matthew 19: 3-9)

Jesus never undermined, but rather affirmed God's design for marriage: one man and one woman, and divorce limited to fornication (sexual immorality).

Archbishop Thomas Tobin
(Providence, RI)

The Bible, respected as revelation, is not open for diverse or man-centered interpretation. Either one takes it as God's Word, or one rejects the Bible as having no authority whatsoever.

Tobin's remarks on his blog page resonated beyond the temporal culture wars, too:

— It’s an enormous challenge to maintain pristine doctrinal purity while at the same time respond to the experiential, personal, and difficult needs of married couples and families. Behind every arcane discussion of gradualism and natural law there are parents and children awaiting God’s grace.

It is a challenge, but no one should quit fighting for what is true and right.

Pope Francis' decision to remove a clear adherent to clear truth and doctrine also raised some concern:

Cardinal Burke, an American, is a top expert on Canon Law, the law of the Catholic Church, and has been a staunch defender of the Church’s teaching, particularly on moral issues. He has explained in detail that the Church does not have the authority to change its teaching on such hot button topics as abortion, homosexuality, contraception, marriage and divorce.

Interesting: the cardinal refuted the notion that the Church, or the assembly of believers, cannot change doctrine. That is also a "Protestant idea", yet in fact it remains a central tenet of believing and receiving the Bible as a timely tested and true authority.

Rev. Tobin's final remarks remind readers not to worry:

— Relax. God’s still in charge.

Exactly, and precisely because of His testimony and authority, the rugged debate on issues, and misshapen attempts to reduce or transform truth to fit into the mold of the times, cannot have any lasting effect on revelation and doctrine.

Tobin had some strong words about the Supreme Court's redefinition of marriage, too:

A thousand courts may rule otherwise, but the very notion of “same-sex marriage” is morally wrong and a blatant rejection of God’s plan for the human family. As Pope Francis taught while serving as Archbishop in Argentina: “Same-sex marriage is not simply a political struggle, but it is an attempt to destroy God’s plan. It is a move of the ‘father of lies’ who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”

Despite the current trends of our society, or perhaps because of them, the Church must redouble its commitment to proclaim and defend authentic concepts of marriage and family as we have received them from God. We will always do so, however, in a respectful, charitable and constructive manner.

"Respectful, charitable, and constructive" do not describe the Gay Left, one of whose spokesman, George Takei, resorted to defaming a dissenting Associate Justice as "a clown in blackface". Bishop Tobin's integrity on the matter, including his recognition of legal and popular opinion's weakness on redefining marriage, are encouraging words for people of fact and faith outraged by SCOTUS' redefinition of marriage and the US Constitution.

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