The Tragic Folly of Avoidance

In an interview with The Pillar last week, Archbishop Timothy Broglio, the current president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), was asked to comment on whether a planned demonstration was an appropriate public response to the decision by the Los Angeles Dodgers to honor the anti-Catholic drag group Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. His response, I think, was very unfortunate: “What is more effective? Do you give more attention to the event by protesting it, or do you do better by ignoring it? I would land more towards ignoring it.” He cited “the danger of violence,” for which, he thought, there was “a lot of risk.”

To be fair, the archbishop’s remarks were given in what the article describes as a “brief hallway conversation,” and so they are perhaps nothing more than off the cuff. All the same, he did say this to an important Catholic media outlet, and his remarks are perhaps more revealing than if they had been scripted. Though what he recommends may mark the prudential course on many issues, we can rightly ask: but on this issue?

So, beyond prayer and verbal condemnation, which the archbishop in his role as president of the USCCB did offer, do we sit back and ignore, at least in terms of public protest, the effort to use anti-Catholic mockery to turn Dodger Stadium into Sodom and Gomorrah? And what possible evidence was there that the protest would be anything other than peaceful? It turned out to consist mostly of a very large crowd praying the Litany of the Sacred Heart and the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Revolutionary stuff, that, in its way, but non-violent.

Indeed, what especially strikes me about the archbishop’s remark is how it echoes a larger mindset that has plagued the American episcopacy – individual exceptions notwithstanding – during the entire Humanae Vitae fallout of the past fifty-five years. It’s the reluctance to confront head-on the culture’s descent into moral degeneracy by defending and boldly professing the virtues of the sixth commandment. This reluctance has hardly proved “effective.” Rather, it’s spelled utter disaster, both for the Church and for the culture.

And just so we’re clear, in “ignoring it,” the “it” signifies the LGBTQ+ Pride being shoved down the throats of every self-respecting man, woman, and child, especially Catholics, in the most egregious and blasphemous manner possible. Honoring drag queens who engage in exhibitionist, homoerotic pole dancing on crosses, for goodness sake!  

More generally, though, the “it” signifies the determination of the gender ideologues and sexual revolutionaries – and they are legion – to stop at nothing less than the complete repudiation of traditional morality, a morality grounded in the biblical witness and the natural law. This demands no soft-pedaled, muffled response – something along the lines of “ignoring it,” so as to be “more effective.” Rather, it calls for the resolute, unambiguous, full-throttled articulation of the truth and meaning of human sexuality, with our shepherds playing the leading role.

Further, need we point out that the soft-pedaled response to the sexual perversion of America’s pastime comes at the very moment when evidence abounds that all-out resistance to the Pride onslaught can yield real dividends?


Conscientious and civil-minded Americans of all stripes have decided – finally – that they’ve had enough, and the massive financial losses that, say, Bud Light and Target have incurred as a result have corporate America seriously reevaluating the wisdom of promoting Pride.

Before this season even started, Major League Baseball, for instance, quietly asked its teams (pace the Dodgers’ decision) to forgo Pride jerseys. And Starbucks managers in multiple stores told their workers not to decorate for Pride month. Starbucks, mind you.

Would this have happened if Americans had simply ignored Bud Light’s decision to use transgender poster boy Dylan Mulvaney as a front-man, or Target’s decision to offer “tuck-friendly” female swimwear for men who identify as women? Will drag queen story hours in grade schools just go away if we continue to soft-pedal our opposition to ever more aggressive Pride assaults?

More importantly, though, the main issue in the reluctance to address head-on what Pope Benedict XVI once termed today’s “new philosophy of sexuality” is that it fails to lay hold of a teaching moment, nay, of an evangelizing moment.

What I mean is the Church acting not merely on the defensive, but turning the tables and acting on the offensive. Make no mistake: the Church’s vision of human sexuality presents a golden opportunity to advance the truth and meaning of human happiness in that area of human life that undeniably displays the wreckage of sin.

After all, it’s not as if it takes much effort to point out how the sexual revolution is an utterly failed project, what with unprecedented numbers of broken marriages, broken families, broken relationships, broken lives, and the accompanying human misery.

For many years now, I’ve been teaching a course at my undergraduate institution on marriage – really, on the meaning and purpose of human sexuality. Most of my students arrive totally on board with the culture on sex and marriage. Yet, by semester’s end, they’re struck by the intellectual coherence, the moral clarity, and the beauty – yes, beauty – of the Church’s vision of human sexuality (even if they hesitate to commit to it).

And how often I’ve had a student, a Catholic student, ask me, “Why haven’t I ever heard this before?” I shake my head internally, repeating the question. By avoiding “the sixth commandment,” sometimes like the plague, priests and bishops only succeed in telegraphing the message that the Church, lacking a viable response, has surrendered this aspect of human life to the culture.

What a tragedy. The Church possesses the truth, and the truth shall set them free.


*Image: The Binding of the Inhabitants of Sodom by Charles-André van Loo, mid-18th century [private collection]

Fr. Gerald E. Murray’s Ten Commandments: No Exceptions

John M. Grondelski’s & Leila Marie Lawler’s Two Commentaries on the McElroy Controversies

Paul Gondreau is Professor of Theology at Providence College in Providence, RI. He has published widely in the areas of Christology, human sexuality, and disability.