Thursday, November 5, 2009

Removing Rights From Gays Castrates Catholicism's Voice For Immigrants

First comes insistence on the closets, next comes insistence on the borders. It's easy for Bishop Malone to legislate closed closets in Maine, but not so easy for bishops in the South West to legislate closed borders.

Only being human, I always get a charge when my thinking is supported by other 'real' news outlets. Last night on MSNBC the third story dealt with the Maine vote on Prop 1 and focused on the blatant lies and manipulation of Catholic doctrine by one Marc Mutty. MSNBC noted how the same advertisements, lies, and distortions employed by Mutty's group in Maine to defeat gay marriage were being used in Washington to attempt to defeat gay civil partnerships. Mutty stated in a televised debate that the Church could support gay partnerships at the same time the Church was spending serious money in Washington to defeat gay partnerships.

In the recent past I have also written that gay clergy who present these Church teachings need to come out of their closets because staying in them does incredible damage to them and they in turn foster incredible damage to gay Catholics, gay families, and the parents of gay children. That's a lot of damage. This lack of integrity also does a great deal of damage to the soul of the priesthood, and because too many people still equate the priesthood with the fullness of the Church, these priests do incredible damage to the soul of the Church. It isn't a question of gayness. It's a question of personal integrity.

Today Andrew Sullivan voices the same call, and follows his post with a letter which is making the rounds of Catholic blogs:

04 Nov 2009 02:04 pm, Andrew Sullivan--The Daily Dish
A Gay Catholic Now?

After Maine, where the Catholic church actually organized a second collection to raise money to prevent gay people from having civil rights, the situation shifts again. Using a tax-exempt church to raise money to defeat the civil rights of fellow citizens is not too shocking in the age of Benedict. It is shocking if one believes in a separation of politics and religion, and if one believes that the church of Jesus should stand in solidarity with the marginalized, rather than seeking to marginalize and demonize them still further.
(I don't see how there is any getting around the fact the Church used it's own Masses to conduct collections for a political campaign.)

It is time to acknowledge that the Catholic church hierarchy can no longer pretend that it isn't the active enemy of gay people and our families. That this church hierarchy - especially in its more conservative wing - is disproportionately gay itself and waging war against their fellow gays through the cowardly veil of the closet, is not new. But it is, as we flinch with the sting of defeat, harder to take than ever. (I've called this hypocrisy, but Andrew is probably more correct, it's cowardice. In either case it's certainly lacks in personal integrity.)

It is time to demand that gay priests who are actively fighting against the dignity of gay people own their enmeshment in this injustice, stigmatization and cruelty. It is time to reveal them in this respect as the enemies of the Gospels, not the champions. Here is a letter many people - straight and gay - will soon be writing to their parish priests. It rings with the heart-ache that gay Catholics and gay people in many other faith traditions still feel. And it is, in a deep way, simply true:

Dear Father Andrew:

We have shared the celebration of Mass of universal inclusion for 18 years. Homeless, doctors, addicts, plumbers, prostitutes, trash collectors, gang members, elderly, boomers, young adults, teens, babies of all colors, races, genders gathered in common purpose -- to give thanks for blessings and rejoice in the goodness that can come from humanity. You provided a unique sanctuary for us all -- rich or poor, educated or not, gay or straight. No one had any fear; none were rejected.

It is with the deepest sorrow that I must write you that I no longer can join you at Mass. After 59 years, I am no longer a Catholic.
You will be distressed at my decision, but not surprised. We have spoken about this possibility for some time now. In fact, I suspect you would join me if you did not have such a valuable mission in this vibrant community. I will still volunteer for the children's programs, and remain involved in activism, but I can no longer participate in the one rite that binds me to the Catholic Church. I cannot swallow the bile another day. I cannot look up at the altar when you read the gospel, give a homily that is so beautiful, it makes me weep, raise the chalice we believe is to be shared by everyone. I cannot bear the thought of you being driven from your ministry when the bishop discovers you are gay. (I still feel such sorrow for what happened to Fr. Geof Farrow when he stood in the FULL integrity of his personal priesthood.)

Hatred fueled by the resources of hundreds of thousands of parishes will be the central reason why the Church will eventually wither and die. I can no longer bear the stench of the rotting body and hierarchical ignorance. I can no longer embrace what has become a menace and money machine to support evil. We are all tainted by what happened in Maine. We are all lesser citizens because our brothers and sisters are lesser citizens. (I understand where this man is coming from because I reached this point over condoms for HIV marriages.)

We remain joined in friendship and common cause, my dear friend. I will need your counsel in this dark time because I feel hatred bubbling in my thoughts. I do not want to be them. (How beautiful this statement is in it's brutal honesty.)

Bless you, dear Andrew.
With great affection,


It's sometime very hard to take a defeat. Especially a defeat like the one in Maine where the very Church which nurtured your spirituality is involved in such a despicable venture--that of taking away civil rights from a minority.

The Church is acting more and more crazy in their campaigns against gay marriage and abortion. Bishop Malone was out of line conducting special collections to specifically wage a political campaign. This really does threaten the separation of Church and State, at least the Church's tax exempt status in Maine. This wasn't a private campaign request sent through the mail under the guise of some PAC, this was an official diocesan in your face request on two separate Sundays during a Mass. Does this mean that Islamic churches can now use their services and churches to solicit funds to wage a political campaign to reverse divorce rights or change the legal status of women? This idea of using religious services as collection plates for political causes could be endless. Are immigration laws next for the collection plate?

In any event, people who attend religious services are captive audiences in which their freedom to choose to not participate is severely impacted. This attacks a critical piece in the whole democratic process which necessitates freedom from coercion in which to make decisions.

Sometimes it takes a defeat in order to finally win. Ultimately gay marriage is only peripherally about the morality or lack there of for gay partnership rights. It's about the meaning of a free democracy in a pluralistic society. Today's gay issue is tomorrows immigration issue because shutting the doors to full participation in American rights for one group opens other doors to discriminate against other groups. Immigrants are next. It's already happening in health care. That's too bad, because the one voice which has always defended the rights of immigrants has been the American Catholic church. All a smart anti immigration politician has to do to show how bankrupt the church's voice is, is to point to the campaign the church has waged to TAKE AWAY civil rights from gays. One Church's gay person is another church's brown, black, or yellow immigrant.

In the meantime more and more gays and their families will leave Catholicism and it's truly beautiful notions of Eucharistic community. The energy surrounding this beauty is just too ugly and too hard for them to push through. As the above writer implies in his last sentence, it can become an occasion of sin. Ironically, an obedient Catholic is required to remove themselves from occasions of personal sin. Maybe it's sadly, not ironically.

Historically, the Church seems to have needed an enemy culture with in itself against which to define itself. Heretics do have their uses. I've always thought this fascinating given Jesus's commands about treating enemies. Gays might just be the final doctrinally defined enemy. A real clerical Trojan Horse whose resolution will call for the complete rethinking of sex, gender, and clericalism. That would be the very best outcome from this whole gay crusade--not just for gays, but for everyone.


  1. Thanks, Colleen--beautifully expressed and resoundingly true.

  2. I truly believe Bill, that the American Catholic Church has truly compromised their voice on any immigration debate.

    What are the small minority of gays compared to the browning of America? All the Church is doing is throwing faggots on the bon fire of elitist hetero white male supremacists. I can't believe Chaput doesn't see this. His fellow indigenous certainly do.

  3. It would be so easy and freeing to write that letter -----

    I spent years outside of the RCC and, guess what --- no lightening bolts!

    Jim McCrea

  4. Thanks Colleen. Ditto to Bill's comment.

  5. I agree that I we should be speaking up or writing in strong terms to our local priests,but I would not be doing it in terms of withdrawing.

    Instead, I would prefer to spell out that we continue to be catholic, but not Roman; and to do so in what used to be called confession, and is now euphemistically known as the sacrament of reconciliation. Reconciliation is a two way process: we should enter this in a spirit that goes beyond the euphemisms. Instead of simply parroting out our supposed sins, we should be talking about the pain that the church has given us, and of the joy we find in our relationships.

  6. Terence,

    I whole heartedly agree! Several years ago I realized that I would always be Catholic but never again could I be influenced much by the Roman hierarchy. There is too much hypocrisy and to many out right lies.

    R. Dennis Porch, MD

  7. Great post Terence. Everything you say is right on. Reconcilliation is a two way street, not a one way conversation.

  8. I find that daily masses are easier to take than Sunday masses. Rarely is there a judgmental homily in a daily mass. Rarely is there a judgmental parishioner pursuing adversaries at or after a daily mass. It's my little protest!

    Before the 2004 election, I was to be a poll watcher - which turned out to be almost a spiritual experience as I watched these people in a very mixed neighborhood (black, Hispanic, and Polish - the original ethnic minority there) and I felt love for all these people so eager to exercise their right to vote.

    But the previous Sunday morning I had gone to walk around that neighborhood, to get a feel for the people, to pray for them. There was a Catholic church across from a park - and the polling place was in the park. I wanted to go into the church and pray. But as I approached it, on a drizzling morning, in my rain slicker - a lady was coming down the steps after Mass. She took one look at my Kerry sticker (on my slicker) and started shouting at me, poking her finger at my sticker, poking me in the chest as she did so. She was screaming by then: "He wants to kill babies!" She may have said some nasty things about me too. (If so, I tuned them out.)

    Fortunately, her ride pulled up. She was still berating me as she got into the passenger seat - of a Cadillac!

    Needless to say, I was both shaken and horrified! And I never did go into that church and pray. But the transcendent experience I later had - all day long - as a poll watcher was a true spiritual experience.

    Daily masses. Not Sunday masses.

    I know I've strayed from the point of the post. But we all suffer in a church which has become politicized. Where sexual politics trump love, kindness, compassion. Something is very, very wrong!

    I too identify as Catholic, but ignore the hierarchy. (I have done since my last year of college - and that was in 1967.)

  9. The letter writer “M” is gchaucer2 on Daily Kos and a prolific diarist. M is also a woman and if I recall a former nun.

  10. Thanks for the info wild hair. I sometimes think people tend to over focus on the gay male and forget the lesbian end of the equation. Why is that not surprising?

  11. Personally, I use "gay" to include both.

    I said above: "all suffer in a church which has become politicized"

    Here's a blog in two places:

    (political blog)

    (my other, spiritual blog)

    Same thing. But the political one may attract trolls. So you might prefer the quiet one.

  12. Just found your blog via Fr. Geoff. Wow! Too much to take in at one reading. My concern is that people like me leave the church in droves - we just can't put up with it anymore. And that leaves it in the hands of those who are left...and it is scary. The many who remain in the pews in a stupor have never felt marginalized, so they can go through the motions, baptize their children, make first communion, get married, be buried, without any internal conflict or anxiety. But it is as a gay man that my very identity meets condemnation, not merely my sins. Why don't they see this?
    With our country divided and the Church divided I wonder whether the Spirit is also divided. I wonder if there is a Spirit.

  13. Frank, there is a Spirit. To some extent I think progressives have kind of fallen for thinking that says we can't find that Spirit in the Church, or it won't work for us because it seems to be working for those who want to take the Church back to the middle ages.

    I'm beginning to think it's a matter of focus. The right is really focused and they are in a very real way creating the Catholic reality for the rest of us.

    Two can play that game.

  14. The Spirit brought you here, Frank! Must be for a reason....

    Peace be with you.

  15. tTheraP,

    I think your idea of mass on the weekdays is a good one. I find myself able to be at peace at those times. My concern is for the next generation.

    One of my daughters in the SF Bay area has found her group of cradle catholics in a "wonderful Methodist" church." I really think that this generation of seekers, all Catholic educated is leaving and will leave. In the long run it will be the faithfulness to Christ and the willingness to listen to the Holy Spirit that will make a difference even if one leaves the Roman Catholic Denomination of Christ's Church.

  16. rdp46:

    It seems clear that smaller faith communities (in other Christian denominations) do a much better job of addressing the concerns of young people. In the end some of these young people may find they need more of a liturgical focus. But that wouldn't usually happen till later years.

    The RC Church has failed so many people. There are simply too few priests. And the lay participation is pretty much confined to "attending" Mass.

    In the long run all the baptized are ONE. There is no getting around this! And the Spirit's goal is to bring all things into UNION with Christ. So I am at peace.

    Personally I have utmost respect for anyone who sincerely seeks to follow God and whose faith practices do no harm to other persons. In the long run, God is good and merciful. And can find ways to work within people and churches - and other faiths.

    To me it is indisputable that God calls people within all traditions. And what we view as "differences" may not appear to be such in the eyes of God.

    It is a blessing that your daughter has found a place where God speaks to her.

    And a blessing that you and I can find God's Presence in daily masses.

    God speaks in so many ways! I cannot but wonder and be thankful!

  17. TheraP,

    You are correct. It so saddens me that the RCC does not stay faithful to Vatican II. It seems to me that those that wish to grow and develop within the Church are not welcome if they let their ideas be known. I worked with Catholic Education for many years not in a formal way but as the adviser to one of the late Bishops of my diocese from my position at a State University.

    When that Bishop dies and we got a JPII appointee, I was not wanted. I later served for a year on an Episcopal Church School Board and have recently been asked for my ideas about a brand new Lutheran HS in my area. It seems that I have now become a persona non grata for the powers that be in my own diocese.

    It all seems such a shame!

    I enjoy very much your comments on this board. dennis

  18. When you come down to it, it seems the Vatican is the one whose tossed out the baby in favor of the dirty bath water.

    When I was attending Mass, before I got too angy, I had this rule--Never On Sunday.