What is the purpose of the Church? Is it a social organization? A charity organization? Or is it the Body of Christ, given the mission of bringing Jesus Christ to the whole world (Matthew 28:18-20) and teaching with His authority (See John 20:21)? Anyone paying attention would know this. If you’re a member of the Church, properly informed, you know that the Church is the body of Christ, teaching with His authority where what is bound on Earth will be bound in Heaven (See Matthew 16:19). To deny this authority is to reject Christ who sent His Church (Luke 10:16).
So when I came across the article, "Fired Gay Catholic School Teacher Says He Is Quitting "Bigoted" Church - BuzzFeed News,” it filled me with sadness. Here is a man who is so out of sync with the Catholic faith that he would rather leave the Church which is warning Him that his actions are gravely sinful than to consider whether he is following a road to ruin. The fact is, the Church does not teach as she does on homosexuality and homosexual acts out of malice or bigotry. She teaches to warn people of things that are a danger to the soul. To hate the Church for her teaching is as irrational as hating a sign warning of a hazard ahead. (Once again, people should actually READ Pope Francis’ words “Who am I to judge” in context before acting on a soundbite taken out of context. He certainly did not mean them as Mr. Billard interpreted them).
Yes, Mr. Billard and his partner are free to walk away from the Church and attend an Episcopalian church, if that is what they want to do. The Catholic Church won’t use force to compel them to remain, though she will no doubt ask them to reconsider. Yet, if they walk away from the Church, and the Church is what she teaches that she is, then quite simply these two men are walking away from God.
This is the question that any person considering leaving the Church must consider. Is she what she claims to be? If she is, then one is being reckless to reject her teachings. If she is not, there’s no point in worrying about what she teaches. But in making that decision, one should remember what Vatican II said—the real Vatican II, not the phony “Spirit of Vatican II” that so many wrongly invoked—in Lumen Gentium #14:
Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation. In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism124 and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church. Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved.
This is not a decision to be made in a flash of anger.
We need to pray for Mr. Lonnie Billard and his partner. We also need to pray for the people at the school and parish who are supporting them over the teaching of the Church. We need to pray that they return to the Church and recognize that her teaching is not intended to restrict us, but to show us how we must live if we would be faithful to Christ.