Thursday, December 2, 2010

Anne Hathaway Tells NPR Why Her Family Left the Catholic Church - My Response

Anne Hathaway had a discussion on her role in films, homosexuality, and other subjects with NPR host Terry Gross. The host brings up the Catholic Church, in the context of talking about Hathaway's role in Brokeback Mountain, and here is what is said:
GROSS: I should mention, this is maybe a good place to talk about it, that your brother is gay, and he got married in Canada. And I read that your family left the Catholic Church when your brother came out because the Catholic Church is so, like, anti-homosexual.

So was it a hard decision or just like a no-brainer to leave the church when your brother came out?

Ms. HATHAWAY: Well, it wasn't really like we had a family discussion about it. We didn't sit around the dinner table and say, okay, this is the decisive action we're going to take now. It was more something we realized we'd all done as individuals, and then it became something that we'd done as a family.

And gosh, was it difficult? You know, when it's family and someone is excluding your family, and someone is not accepting of your family, it does become a bit of a no-brainer, doesnt it?

GROSS: So was it hard for you to leave the church? Was the church important to you before?

Ms. HATHAWAY: Faith is important to me. You know, being raised with one faith and having to go out into the unknown and try to cobble together another, that was hard. But I wasn't really leaving something because I realized I couldn't have faith in this religion that would exclude anyone, particularly my brother, for the way he's born and for loving someone. I mean, how do you exclude someone for love? That seems to be the antithesis of what religion's about.

And by the way, you know, I mean to Catholic Church-bash. I do understand that for a lot of people, the religion provides a lot of peace and direction. But I don't know, if they could be accepting of women and of gays, I think that the religion gets a lot of things right.

But for me, I couldn't lose myself in it. I couldn't look to it for guidance because it's like I said, I don't believe in this aspect.
I feel sorry for Hathaway and her family. It is quite obvious that she has no clue what the Catholic Church teaches about same-sex attraction and therefore hasn't given the Catholic Church a fair shake. She hasn't so much left the Catholic Church as left a false impression of the Catholic Church.

Also, notice that she admits she will have to "cobble" something together - in other words, she will be making up her own religion. But, this is what she was already doing by not allowing herself to be formed by what the Catholic Church really teaches. This is not to say we should uncritically believe whatever the Church tells us. Rather, we need to examine it (in humility and truth) and do ourselves the service of finding what she really teaches.

These kind of interviews make me sad. To see so many poorly-formed Catholics who reject what they think the Catholic Church teaches makes me want to scream to the nations - "THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IS NOT WHAT YOU THINK IT IS!!!"

First of all, the Church does not define the dignity of a person, as Hathaway and so many other do, by a person's actions. Rather, it comes from our shared humanity - being made in the image and likeness of God. Therefore, the Catholic Church does not reject people because it calls a particular act sinful. But, this false understanding of the Church is ingrained in the way modern people think. We identify each other by actions, not by who we truly are in too many ways.

Second, all of us are sinners. If we rejected people because of what they do, then none of us is worthy of being members of the Catholic Church.

Third, if we believe something is spiritually dangerous, then we MUST call it out for what it is - or we fail to love another person.

So, what can we do about it? We can change our lives and proclaim the truth as best we can. Don't pass up opportunities to correct lies about the Church. Don't let someone who is ignorant live in their ignorance. Instruct, invite, witness to the truth, and most importantly - live it out.

Here is a great passage from Light of the World, the new book-length interview of Benedict XVI, where the Pope explains the Catholic position on same-sex attraction:
It is one thing to say that they are human beings with their problems and their joys, that as human beings they deserve respect, even though they have this inclination, and must not be discriminated against because of it. Respect for man is absolutely fundamental and decisive.

At the same time, though, sexuality has an intrinsic meaning and direction, which is not homosexual. We could say, if we wanted to put it like this, that evolution has brought forth sexuality for the purpose of reproducing the species. The same thing is true from a theological point of view as well. The meaning and direction of sexuality is to bring about the union of man and woman and, in this way, to give humanity posterity, children, a future. This is the determination internal to the essence of sexuality. Everything else is against sexuality's intrinsic meaning and direction. This is a point we need to hold firm, even if it is not pleasing to our age.

The issue at stake here is the intrinsic truth of sexuality's significance in the constitution of man's being. If someone has a deep-seated homosexual inclinations - and it is still an open question whether these inclinations are really innate or whether they arise in early childhood - if, in any case, they have power over him, this is a great trial for him, just as other trials can afflict other people as well. But this does not mean that homosexuality thereby becomes morally right. Rather, it remains contrary to the essence of what God originally willed.
Pray for fallen-away Catholics.
Evangelize them as well.


Sarah said...

I appreciate you pointing out the misconceptions Anne Hathaway may have about the RCC, but I believe you may have overlooked (what I see as) her point. Her brother, participating in a homosexual relationship, and marrying his partner, would not have been sanctioned by the Catholic Church. At the most basic level of Hathaway's complaint, I think, is that the RCC would not have recognized (and certainly not have blessed) her brother's gay marriage. We all know that. I think that is more her point. She recognizes, and very kindly admits, that the RCC is not over-all bad or mean, just that it would not "accept" her brother (she said "reject"), and it would/did. The RCC does not accept (it "rejects") gay marriage because it sees it as sinful. I think that is more what Hathaway means.

Marcel said...

Sarah - I don't think that is the crux of her problem with the Church. The point is that the Church doesn't reject her brother. It rejects his sinful acts, as it does for all of us.

The problem is that she, and her family, fail to distinguish her brother from what he does. Thus, they are the ones doing the rejecting (of the Church).

Jonathan said...

And to take it a step further, the Church accepts people for who they are. People who are homosexual are accepted, loved, and even given extra consideration because of their unique situation. What Ms. Hathaway objects to is not then that the Church rejects her brother, but that it disagrees with her brother on what is moral. That church telling me I cannot have sex outside of marriage is not a rejection on me, but of my behavior. The Church loves and accepts me, even if I were to be a person struggling with the desire for pre-marital sex.

On the other hand, very often well meaning Catholics and even priests have not been faithful to the teaching of love and care for homosexuals. This is a possible source of antagonism in the Hathaway story, but not necessarily.

Sarah said...

But if we try to understand homosexuality the way her brother does, the way she and her family do, and the way lots of people and scientist do (which not even the Pope, as you showed, can dispute), then we might understand that what her brother DOES (his homosexual acts, his gay marriage), is because of who he IS; how he was born or effected.

If we can understand that some people just ARE homosexual, it is not a choice or a mistake, then all that we are faulting them for, all that we are calling sinful is their actions. And that's what I'm talking about and what I think Hathaway is talking about. She knows and understands the RCC's teachings on homosexuality, and she accepts it. She just does not want to be a part of something that says that her brother's choices, influenced from his heart and who he is, are wrong.

I do not think that she had to leave the RCC, but the Church would not have allowed her brother to stay, and her brother would not have done anything other than what he did. He is gay--he is in love with a man and attracted to the male sex. Who are we if we cannot look at what we do? Can we really even describe ourselves without saying what we do, what we like? Who we are is a life-long composition of what we do.

You can say that Hathaway's brother is homosexual, but that he should not act on it, and I understand that is what the RCC says, but I do not fault the Hathaways for leaving the Church in support of her brother; I can understand it.

Marcel said...

Sarah - if I commit adultery, because I have a tendency to desire it, should I define myself as an adulterer?

Our identity is not found in an inclination toward something that isn't healthy for us.

Also, no person that commits sex with another person is loving them as they should. They might have an affection for them and feelings for them, but that isn't the deepest and best kind of love. True love is choosing what is best for the other no matter what it costs us. Homosexual sex is never a loving act - because it isn't good for the other person in any way - physically, mentally, spiritually, etc.

Just because someone has an inclination, toward whatever, does not define us. Her brother is a man. Her brother is a son of God. Her brother is made to be with God forever. THAT is what defines him. Not his inclinations or actions.

To say we need to define him as a homosexual is to lower the bar of his humanity.

Sarah said...

Do you think I am defining him solely as a homosexual? Do you think I would define you solely as an adulterer? But if living homosexually for him or living adulterously for you was a big part of you life, it would influence it. One thing does not define us. But if I smoke, I am a smoker; if I kill, I am a murder; if I am attracted to the same sex, then I am gay. It is part of who I am. My choices would be influenced by that. I can make wrong choices, yes, but who defines "wrong"? If the RCC calls me wrong, then ok, maybe I disagree with the RCC.

I am frustrated because I think you are missing my point.

I think her brother would say that he is homosexual. If he wants to marry another man and live as a homosexual then that is his choice. If his family supports him in his wrong choice then that is their choice. But it makes sense, then, that they would leave the RCC. Don't you think?

They may completely know what they are doing and understand everything. They want to be supportive of his choices, the RCC is not, so they do not want to be part of the RCC. The RCC may say the Hathaways are wrong for this, but that is something they knowingly accept.

Marcel said...

I disagree - nobody is "gay". They have an inclination to the same-sex, but they are not gay. They are PERSONS who have an inclination. Their identity is as a human being. This is important, because if we define a person by their actions, we rob them of the root of their dignity - their humanity.

Who defines what is "wrong"? Jesus tells us that He is "the way, the truth, and the life" - John 14:6 and that he is the fullness of the truth the Father wanted to reveal to us. Therefore, as Christians, we believe all we need to know about our salvation, our final destiny, and our spiritual lives is found in the person of Jesus Christ. This message of truth was handed on to the apostles to guard - through the Catholic Church. To reject the Catholic Church is to reject Christ. To reject Christ is to reject The definition of Truth itself.

Of course it is their choice. I have never said it wasn't. I am merely arguing that their choice is built upon a faulty premise that the Church is something other than what it truly is and in rejecting a lie about the Church, they are doing themselves a disservice - this makes me sad.

By her statements, it is crystal clear they do not know what the Church is and what they have done. I hope this is actually the case, because I pray their culpability is thus reduced.

Sarah said...

My goodness! You are frustrating me. Why do you think that they do not understand the RCC? Anne Hathaway and her family want to support her brother. The RCC does not like his choices to live homosexually. They then did not feel good being a part of the RCC. They left the RCC. Done.

Why do you keep saying that they must have been ignorant or wrong?

Marcel said...

It certainly isn't my intent to frustrate you. I just don't agree with your take on the situation.

Sarah said...

And I do not agree with yours.

Michael said...

God bless you both. You are talking past each other.
I believe Marcel's point about adultery is that the same case could be made. Perhaps more relevant if we use the term "open marriage" or "polyamory" (which are becoming socially acceptable). If I have a strong desire to have a sexual relationship with others besides my wife, that's a choice I'm's my's where I feel my happiness is...and let's assume for argument that everyone knows and is okay with it. I could stand on a rooftop and proudly declare that I am a Polyamorist, that I don't want to feel constrained by social conventions or limited to loving just one person.
Well, the Church would not "accept" me or my lifestyle...nor would it accept multiple marriages even if they were made legal.
So is the Church being intolerant?
The parallel is almost perfect with homosexuality. The only thing different is that open marriages and polygamy don't (yet) enjoy the same social acceptability that homosexuality does. Give it a few decades.
Hope this is a useful perspective.
God bless.

Stephen said...

I'm with Sarah on this one.

It is incredibly condescending to say that the only reason for the Hathaways' choice to leave the Church could be their ignorance. It's pretty clear that their choice was a rational action in response to precisely what the Church teaches. One can disagree with that choice, but most people can clearly see the logic that led to it.

The fundamental disagreement here is that Marcel believes that you can't be "gay", you can only have "inclinations". I happen to think all the preponderance of the science points to that being simply wrong now, but I'm confident that this line of thinking will be seen as ridiculous 50 years from now.

This is a good example, though, as I can understand how if one starts from that point, it is logical and rational for them to arrive at the conclusions that Marcel does. That is all Sarah was trying to say, wholly separate from whether or not she agrees with the Church's teachings on the subject.

Marcel said...

I am not being condescending at all. From her own words she proves she knows nothing about what the Catholic Church teaches. The Church does not reject women and gays. The Church does not reject her brother.

As with every unmarried person - they are called to live a chaste/celibate life. This goes for those with any inclination.

"There are not a hundred people in America who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions of people who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church — which is, of course, quite a different thing." - Fulton Sheen

Sarah said...

First of all, I am not trying to debate homosexuality here! All I am saying is that the Hathaways left the RCC to support Anne's brother, and that makes sense given that the RCC does not support his marriage. I'm just saying that I understand that and I don't condemn them for ignorance or wrong understanding of the Church teachings.

I think Marcel misunderstands what Anne Hathaway means. Let's keep in mind that this was a radio interview, not her carefully worded thoughts on the subject of the Catholic Church. It was spontaneous conversation.

I do not believe she thinks that the RCC reject's women and gays, like Marcel keeps saying. I believe what she is referencing is the RCC barring women from serving in the clergy and gay marriage. Those things are just facts of the teachings of the Church. That is what Hathaway is talking about as far as that goes.

I really wish you (Marcel)would stop saying that she is ignorant just based on this snippet of a conversation. I'm sure you misspeak now and then and wouldn't want someone to insult you so much over it. I just think that you are being really quick to judge her and really rude.

And the RCC's teaching on homosexuality can seem harsh, as it is very rigid, but people like you who come off very mean-spirited when they try to defend it really mar any chances of reconciliation with the larger population. I think some of the things you say are what leads people to hate Catholics and the Catholic church. Marcel, when challenged you are very inflammatory and don't seem very willing to actually help guide people who may disagree with or misunderstand Church teaching.

Marcel said...

Sarah - You might want to read the following in regards to "judgment".
It isn't what you might think it is.

Saying someone is ignorant is saying she lacks knowledge about something - in this case, the Catholic Church.

That is not offensive, in this context, because it is true. Hathaway has shown an clear lack of knowledge about what the Church teaches. I am not throwing her under the bus in saying this. It is quite the shame - for the Church as a whole - that she thinks this, because the message of truth isn't getting out there.