My dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
“June is Pride Month.” That is the message proclaimed on banners hung from lamp posts in downtown Springfield. The rainbow flag is flying above the State Capitol on the flagpole beneath the United States flag and the State of Illinois flag. Rainbow flags are festooned across the front of the Governor’s Mansion as directed by its current occupant, Governor J. B. Pritzker. Pride and rainbows: a slogan and a symbol co-opted by the LGBTQ+ movement to promote lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues.
Businesses and sports teams have bought into the hype. Major League Baseball teams are hosting “pride nights” this month. The Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team has taken its disgraceful promotional event a step further by hosting a night that will honor the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence,” whom Bishop Robert Barron has described as “an anti-Catholic hate group” whose members dress up in religious garb and describe themselves as “queer and trans nuns.”
Bishops, baseball players, and others have criticized the Dodgers for their religious bigotry. As the statement of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles says, “The decision to honor a group that clearly mocks the Catholic faith and makes light of the sincere and holy vocations of our women religious who are an integral part of our Church is what has caused disappointment, concern, anger, and dismay from our Catholic community.”
Our government is also promoting the LGBTQ+ movement, not only here in the United States, but around the world. President Joe Biden recently scolded the President of Uganda for signing legislation that imposes criminal penalties for homosexual acts. President Biden also threatened to withdraw American financial assistance from the East African country unless Uganda repeals the law.
Such threats are quite ironic coming from the man who has called white supremacy the “most dangerous threat to our homeland security.” Apparently President Biden does not see that it is inherently racist and arrogant for the white leader of the United States to lecture an African nation on what laws are right for the country.
The people of Uganda have their own history in dealing with the sin of homosexual actions. The Catholic Church celebrated the feast day of St. Charles Lwanga and Companions on June 3. The biographical information given about these martyrs in the Liturgy of the Hours uses very polite language in saying that they “were put to death, some by sword, others by burning, because they would not accede to the king’s unreasonable demands.” Just what were “the king’s unreasonable demands”?
King Mwanga was a corrupt man and a pedophile who ritually abused the younger boys who served as pages in the royal court. Charles Lwanga became the chief page at the age of 25 and was dedicated to the Christian instruction of the younger boys, whom he tried to protect from the lustful advances of the king. Many faithful Christians were killed in Uganda by King Mwanga during the years 1885–87. St. Charles Lwanga and his companions were beatified in 1920 and canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1964. Their martyrdom helped spread the Christian faith. According to the most recent census, conducted in 2014, 82 percent of the population of Uganda is Christian. The largest Christian group is Roman Catholic, with 39 percent. So it is understandable that Ugandans rightly see homosexual actions as sinful.
The Catholic Church teaches that pride is the deadliest of the deadly sins, so it is something to be avoided, along with lust, not celebrated.
The rainbow was first used as a symbol in the Bible, when God told Noah following the flood that the rainbow “is the sign of the covenant that I am making between me and you and every living creature with you for all ages to come” (Genesis 9:12). This rainbow was not a symbol for a license to sin nor was the covenant a one-sided promise on God’s part, since the Lord said that he would “demand an accounting” for the actions of every creature on earth (Genesis 9:5).
Humility and chastity: These would be more fitting themes to promote during this month of June.
May God give us this grace. Amen.
This essay was originally published in Catholic Times, the magazine of the diocese of Springfield, Illinois.
Thomas J. Paprocki is bishop of Springfield, Illinois, and chairman-elect of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance.
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