I am a catechist in an adult RCIA journey and some of the lessons on morality see full attendance by catechumens. Invariably this question is asked: If a person is engaging in actions contrary to church teaching can he still go to church? What follows is always a lively discussion, especially when the subject concerns homosexuality and premarital sex.
Many of us have Catholic friends or know of people and acquaintances who have a homosexual orientation and engage in homosexual acts. But how many of us have walked with such individuals as they struggle in the hope of finding some acceptance in their immediate social and religious groups? I have, and I feel their pain. They just want to be accepted as they are and carry on to contribute meaningfully with their gifts and talents to society.
In our daily activities, secular and religious, we Catholics cannot ignore and dissociate ourselves from "dysfunctional" individuals in our society. Before we start condemning the Mary Magdalenes among us let us recall the greatest commandment in John 15:12, "This is my commandment, love one another as I have loved you."
The "lowly" of our society must be lifted up by us, the stronger and enlightened ones, and let us sit together at the table of the Lord of Life.
It is very easy to remain in our comfort zones, intellectualizing and moralizing on church teachings. Knowing so much and just remaining there is one thing, putting it into practice is a very different ball game! I am sure it was not Father Renckens' intention to contradict church teaching in his article and neither is it mine. I am sure too that he will not refuse the Sacrament of Reconciliation to people expressing remorse and looking forward to rejoining the community again.