All in all, the year just past wasn’t a bad one for commonsense conservatism. Two crucial national elections, here and in Great Britain, showed that voters still refuse to be told what to do by the elitist ideologues who think they know so much better. At a local level too, many readers will know of some lesser victory, when a principled individual has made a stand in an area in which the Left has become hegemonic. One such, scarcely reported, deserves to be recorded before 2019 slips too far behind us.
We know that in the Wehrmacht of the Left, the gay, lesbian etc. movement supplies some of the most dedicated social warriors, a kind of Waffen-SS, whose victories in the fields of marriage, adoption, gender crackpottery, indoctrination of children and in promoting a spurious “diversity” have changed the face of our society. Anyone who challenges them risks public vilification and the loss of livelihood, as we saw when the Left and its allies, who have monopolised the bureaucracy, media and education in this country and are making daily increasing inroads into commerce and business, came down like a ton of bricks on Israel Folau and Margaret Court. This same leftist hegemony applies throughout the Western word, and especially in the United States where it is probably at its most sinister and maniacal. Considerable courage must therefore have been required for a young American Roman Catholic priest to take on this awesome array of forces and oppose gay “marriage” in his parish.
Father Scott Nolan (right) is the parish priest of St Stephen’s in the Michigan community of East Grand Rapids. He is 33 and therefore not the cranky old bigot the Left likes to pretend its opponents all are. Soon after a district court in 2014 foisted gay wedlock onto the citizens of Michigan, a state formerly opposed to same-sex unions, one of Father Nolan’s parishioners, a local judge called Sara Smolenski (left), got herself “married” to another woman. Clearly Judge Smolenski saw no conflict between this and her Catholic beliefs, as she continued to be an active and indeed generous churchgoer, even to the extent of donating $7500 to the church building fund.
But Catholic doctrine is clear that there is only one sort of marriage, and it’s between a man and a woman, something everyone, Catholic or not, used to believe until the gay and lesbian movement got into its shrill stride – until, as someone said, Oscar Wilde’s love that dare not speak its name became a social force that didn’t know when to shut up. The Roman Catholic Church believes gay “marriage” is sinful not so much because it’s seen as a charade of real marriage but because all sex outside marriage is considered sinful. Catholic doctrine is further clear that if you are leading a sinful life, ie. you are not in what the Church calls a state of grace, you ought not to receive Holy Communion. Judge Smolenski simply ignored this. One Sunday she turned up wearing a “gay pride” pin, a provocative act, and one that fractures the fraternal charity of the Christian vision of mankind with the noxious divisiveness of identity politics. Did it not occur to her, by the way, that it was hardly reassuring for the citizens of Michigan to see a judge who’s supposed to be dedicated to impartiality act in such a partisan way (though as we know in Australia, judges do take sides)?
Father Nolan didn’t make a scene, he didn’t denounce her from the pulpit. He spoke to Judge Smolenski privately to ask her not to present herself for Communion. In doing so, as the American commentator Rod Dreher put it, he did “his duty by a parishioner’s soul”. The parishioner herself displayed no such circumspection and was instantly telling all through the megaphone of the media, which naturally fell over itself in sympathy with her plight. “This is a church that is a part of who I am,” she emoted (though demonstrably she doesn’t regard its marriage rules as being part of who she is).
As for the priest, because he had dared to oppose the “rights” of a lesbian, the machinery of leftist outrage went into overdrive. He was a “homophobe”, “insensitive”, he’d committed a hate crime, he’d even, as one pro-Smolenski parishioner put it, “eliminated” – as though he worked for SMERSH – gay teachers from the parish school. He should be driven from the parish!
This could so easily have been chalked up as another leftist victory had the bishop of the diocese not taken the priest’s side (something, sad to say, that cannot be taken for granted in the wishy-washy era of Pope Francis, when traditional Catholic teaching tends to get overlooked in the zeal to suck up to the zeitgeist of leftist modishness, as has happened with climate panic and Amazonian paganism). But Bishop David Walkowiak stood firm. “No community of faith,” he wrote to his flock, “can sustain the public contradiction of its beliefs by its own members.” Exactly the same point was made not long ago by Anglican Archbishop Glenn Davies of Sydney speaking of gay-marriage enthusiasts in his own church.
Bishop Walkowiak’s support confirmed what is certainly the first public victory for supporters of traditional marriage since the whole same-sex marriage circus got under way. It is unlikely to be a turning of the tide in the culture wars, but it does show that with courage and resolution individual skirmishes can be won. The continued advance of the Left’s notions of “progress” need not be accepted as inevitable, even in key areas such as the struggle to retain freedom of speech or to stop such abuses as the exploitation of children by gender cranks and their physical maiming at the hands of the solipsistic obsessives of the trans industry. The events at East Grand Rapids are perhaps best seen as a guerrilla action in the culture wars with the strategy of slowing the leftist tide and encouraging opposition to it among the ordinary citizens who sooner or later are invariably its victims.
Father Nolan’s action has a lesson for the Roman Catholic Church in Australia. Rather than allowing the disease of child abuse to blight its future as well as its past, the Church should rise from its sickbed and reassume its role as opponent of leftist secularism. There are worse things than gay marriage to be opposed, abortion and virtual infanticide in particular. If it could find the courage, the Church has the means to fight them by the judicious use of its sacramental discipline, which could include the excommunication of politicians who claim to be Catholics (one especially springs to mind) yet facilitate laws that Christians and everyone humane must abhor.