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All Are Welcome - What Exactly is Universal Hospitality? | KFP Articles
All Are Welcome - What Exactly is Universal Hospitality? PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 10 May 2013 19:40

Cardinal Dolan recently welcomed into his office Joseph Amodeo, a writer for the Huffington Post and apparent homosexual activist.  Amodeo left his meeting with Cardinal Dolan feeling good about what transpired.  Cardinal Dolan was very welcoming and promised to write a post communicating the "all are welcome" message to Catholics, especially Catholics with homosexual orientation.  The result was a post on Cardinal Dolan's blog All Are Welcome.  Cardinal Dolan started with a story about his childhood friend Freddie who was allowed to eat dinner at his home:

“Freddie, glad you’re here,” dad remarked, “but . . . looks like you and Tim better go wash your hands before you eat.”

Simple enough . . . common sense . . . you are a most welcome and respected member now of our table, our household, dad was saying, but, there are a few very natural expectations this family has.  Like, wash your hands!…

So it is with the supernatural family we call the Church:all are welcome!

But, welcome to what?  To a community that will love and respect you, but which has rather clear expectations defining it, revealed by God in the Bible, through His Son, Jesus, instilled in the human heart, and taught by His Church.

The Church is Catholic . . . that means all are welcome;

The Church is one . . . that means we have a Person — Jesus — and His moral teaching that unite us;

The Church is apostolic . . . that means that His teaching was entrusted to His apostles, and carefully handed-on by His Church.  The sacred duty of the Church is to invite people, challenge people, to live the message and teachings of Jesus.

This balance can cause some tensions.  Freddie and I were loved and welcomed at our family table, but the clear expectation was, no dirty hands!

The message here is simple, before you enter God's house and partake of the heavenly feast that is the Eucharist, you must come with a clean heart and soul.  This is not controversial as far as Catholic theology goes and I am sure that Joseph Amodeo is aware of that.  His contention is clearly that homosexuals unions should not be declared a sin and should be viewed as equal to marriage, which is by its nature a union between man and woman.  Joseph Amodeo is clearly imposing on this dialogue a blunt notion of equality.  What did Amodeo do in response to Cardinal Dolan's blog post?  What else, he protested or so he claims but doesn't claim:

We gathered for a simple purpose, to dirty our hands as we prepared to attend Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral. We were soiling our hands as a silent response to Cardinal Dolan's column last week in which he suggested that LGBT people were welcome in the church so long as they washed their hands. As we began to rub our hands together with pieces of ash, our hands took on the look and feel of the effort that has defined our work to receive an equal seat at the table of Christ in the Catholic Church. Those participating were not only LGBT Catholics, but also allies and, perhaps most importantly, parents of LGBT children. We gathered not in protest, but as a silent witness.

A silent response to Cardinal Dolan's blog sounds like a form of silent protest to me.  What exactly were they witnessing to?  The right to present themselves to Christ in the Eucharist unclean.  Knowing that they came in protest, the Cathedral required Joseph and his friends to wash their hands before entering the Cathedral and they refused to do so and thus were refused entrance.  So now he is a victim.  This has publicity stunt written all over it.  I can only hope it was not but perhaps Amodeo's worldview is the culprit here.  His idea of hospitality appears to be trapped in a political worldview not a religious one.

Universal hospitality was something revered in the first centuries of the Church; it made one noble.  But did this include the freedom of guests to do as they please?  I think not; one would have respected to the culture and rules of the host.  University hospitality is a beautiful thing when hospitality is understood as involving a generosity with that which is good.   To accept the hospitality of the Church at the Eucharist is to accept Christ.

Interesting note: the photo above was taken from a photo gallery attached to Amodeo's Huffington Post article that was titled "Dirty Hands Protest".


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