All Are Welcome

I turn over the blog this issue to Timothy Cardinal Dolan, a wise and loving man and a great teacher.  Some months ago he wrote: 

It was a lesson I began to learn when I was seven or eight . . .

Mom called me for supper.

“Can Freddie stay and eat supper with us?”  I asked.

I was so proud and happy.  Freddie was welcome in our house, at our table.  We both rushed in and sat down.

“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, and taught by His Church.

The Church is  Catholic . . . all are welcome;

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

The Church is  apostolic . . . His teaching was entrusted to His apostles, and carefully handed on by His Church. 

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!
John Paul II used to say that the best way to love someone was to tell them the truth:  To teach the truth with love. 
We love and respect everyone . . . but that doesn’t necessarily mean we love and respect their  actions.

We can never judge a person . . . but, we can judge a person’s actions.

Jesus did it best. Hate the sin; love the sinner . . .

The Church loves, welcomes, and respects the alcoholic . . . but would not condone his binge;

The Church loves, welcomes, and respects a prominent business leader…but would not condone her failure to pay a just wage;

The Church loves, welcomes, and respects a young couple in love . . . but would challenge their decision to “live together” before marriage;

The Church loves, welcomes, and respects a woman who has had an abortion, and the man who fathered the child and encouraged the abortion . . . but would be united with them in mourning and regretting that deadly choice;

The Church loves, welcomes, and respects wealthy people, while prophetically teaching the at-times-uncomfortable virtue of justice and charity towards the poor.
We are part of a Church where, yes,  all are welcome, but, no, not a Church of  anything goes.