Not surprising that a column titled "Gay marriage not a moral issue" starts off with:
A long time ago while a student in a theology class at a Catholic college, I learned something that stuck with me.
The professor related to the class an old Hindu proverb. The gist of it was that there were many paths leading to the top of the mountain. If you spent all your time trying to get others to abandon their paths and follow yours, you’d never reach the mountaintop.
It’s a statement of religious tolerance and a suggestion that focusing on one’s own spiritual beliefs is more productive than focusing on the spiritual beliefs of others.
The old joke goes that there is nothing guaranteed in life but death and taxes. Another guarantee is that an article that starts of with "raised Catholic" or "while at a Catholic college" are sure to end badly and this one is no exception and drones on about plurality and tolerance.
Well this mountain metaphor is often used to defend this notion, so I will explore it a little further. While there might be many paths that lead up to the mountain, there are also many that lead down from the mountain. Some paths will circumnavigate the mountains and will get nowhere. Syncretism is the belief where any path is just as fine as another. While God’s mercy does not preclude a crooked and meandering path from ending up with him in eternity, this does not mean that we should take such a path and hope for the best. A mountain climber will carefully study a mountain well in advance. There might be multiple paths, but there will only we be one that is both the surest and the safest. Our lifelong search for truth requires that we abandon some paths that did not lead where we expected them to. Our ascent has to be revised based on what we learn to be true. Sometimes we have been on one path for so long that even though we have come to disbelieve in its getting us to our destination, we also have become comfortable in following it. The idea of jumping to another path unnerves us.
One of the things I love about the Catholic faith is that there are serious answers to serious questions. The question of who will be saved is of paramount importance. Especially the question of will I myself be saved? I am not too concerned with the population statistics of hell, only that I myself might not be filling out a census form there on some later date. Some have distorted the doctrine of no salvation outside of the Church into a rigorist perspective of only those who are physical members of the Catholic Church can be saved. That a membership form is more necessary then mercy by this idea. The Church has always taught that there are those who are invincibly ignorant of the true faith and yet guided by their lights as best they know them may one day participate within the beatific vision. We also must remember that for who much is given, much is expected. The message of going out into the whole world to proclaim the Gospel is so that fewer and fewer would be invincibly ignorant.
While again many may end up at the top of a mountain without having the benefit of climbing boots, rope, pick axes, piton, and other equipment – it is much better to attempt the climb with them. This is what God’s grace and the sacraments are to our faith. The very tools that will make a difficult climb both surer and safer. We should never brag that we have some tools that other climbers might not have, but only pray that they may receive them also. We must also remember that even an experienced climber with the latest tools may fall before reaching the top, while another climber without the same benefits will safely reach the apex. It is always good to remember that we can fall at any time and that only through cooperating in grace will our pilgrimage end at the top. Sin is also never a private affair. We are climbing to the top with our family and friends attached to us by rope. Our fall can also pull them down with us. This should not provide discouragement but only to remind us to seek God’s will in everything and not to trust to our own devices or mountain climbing techniques.