Installation of Bishop Cantu as Auxiliary Bishop of San Antonio, making him the youngest bishop in the US--in more ways than one.
San Antonio Archdiocese Says No More Gays at Mass
October 23, 2010
For 15 years, LGBT Catholics and allies were able to worship at St. Ann Catholic Church in San Antonio. On a weekly basis these folks would filter into the pews, and honor that age-old commandment to keep holy the Sabbath. Priests and other Catholics interested in building a better relationship between the Church and the LGBT community would attend, setting aside whatever divisions might exist the other six days of the week, and focus on reconciliation, forgiveness, and a little love between neighbors.
But in a memo released by their acting head bishop, the Archdiocese of San Antonio has said goodbye to reconciliation, forgiveness, and the whole 'love thy neighbor' mission, and instead are telling LGBT people in San Antonio that they're no longer welcome in Church. Well, that is, unless they want to change their sexual orientation.
Auxiliary Bishop Oscar Cantú, the interim head of the San Antonio archdiocese, said that creating a safe space for LGBT Catholics (and their friends and families) to worship was contradictory to the tenets of Catholicism, and that simply allowing LGBT Catholics to worship as a group made Jesus weep, and could simply not be tolerated. His suggestion? That LGBT Catholics pledge celibacy if they really want to worship.
The sad part is that for 15 years this has been a non-issue, as leaders within the Archdiocese felt it more important to welcome all folks to the table, rather than exclude a heaping portion of the population. But as with many Catholic dioceses around the country, the politicization of the issue of homosexuality has taken center stage. Gone are the days where many churches can be counted on to focus on poverty, homelessness, hunger, education, and health care as their top social priorities. In are the days where church leaders want to denounce gay people, even if most folks in the pews have friends and family who identify as LGBT. (My heart goes out to the parents of gay kids. They are faced with two brutal choices, condemning their kids or being more or less condemned by their Church. It was very easy for me to see why Anne Rice finally took a hike.)
The actions of the Archdiocese, however, aren't going to keep LGBT Catholics from speaking out. Fred Anthony Garza, the President of a local chapter of Dignity, said that the definition of Church isn't a building, but rather a community of people. If the San Antonio Archdiocese won't let the LGBT community inside its doors without pre-conditions, then LGBT Catholics will just find another place to meet.
(As more Catholics come to this insight, more Catholics are going to find real and meaningful Catholic spirituality.)
Bishop Cantu really needs to take a look at his orthodoxy. It's too luke warm. Why is it that only a Mass dedicated for gays and their supporters is contrary to Catholic tenets and makes Jesus weep? I think this notion of the good Bishop needs to be taken much much further. I would hope Cantu would also see a similar need to stop special Masses dedicated for those people who like Latin, or special Masses for the KofC, or any other 'special' group, like convents or monasteries, whose need for 'special' treatment must also make Jesus weep. Seriously, San Antonio should prohibit all special Masses for special groups. Jesus had no special people who needed special rituals or attention. period.
Secondly if gay Catholics must be celibate and silent to step foot in a church to receive their baptismal rights, then all single heterosexuals should also pledge celibacy and all married people should pledge to be monogamous and free of birth control, and no one should step one foot inside a Catholic church if they can't make a pledge refraining from masturbation. If Cantu is going to enforce Catholic sexual morality for gays, it seems to me that Jesus must also be weeping over this special treatment. I can easily imagine Jesus makes no distinctions when it comes to Catholic sexual sins. Kick all the unpledged sinners out. period. Especially clerics.
Granted this won't leave many Catholics in the pews, but the sacrifice would be worth it if it stopped Jesus's weeping. Well, at least weeping in church. He might weep a river of tears over all the people outside the church but it might be that following that river led all those people to found a new Catholic community. A community in which they discovered that sexual sins aren't that important beside the great commandment to love one another. It might be in this kind of community that they would be brought to understand that one of the greatest of sins is not about sex at all, but about denying any believer access to the gifts of His love that Jesus gave to all who profess faith in Him. That's a big one and Cantu is guilty of committing it, and to make it even worse, he's blaming it on Jesus. That won't cut it. period.