|How can this message have any credibility when our infantile Bishops maintain God will wipe us out over gay marriage?
I read the civil union views of Rhode Island's Bishop Tobin over the weekend. I was sorely tempted to post on it, but thought I would wait for Bill Lyndsey's thoughts. Good thing I did. Bill can be very much on target with out my tendency to go all sarcastic:
"Responding to Rhode Island's new law permitting civil unions for same-sex couples, Bishop Thomas Tobin forbids Catholics to support or participate in any way in these unions. "To do so is a very grave violation of the moral law and, thus, seriously sinful," Tobin maintains.
Not only that: Tobin brings out the big religious-right rhetorical guns and says that civil unions for same-sex couples will bring God's wrath down on Rhode Island:
Can there be any doubt that Almighty God will, in his own time and way, pass judgment upon our state, its leaders and citizens, for abandoning his commands and embracing public immorality?
So think about it for a moment: Catholics (and Catholic bishops) have long since tacitly accepted the reality of divorce for Western societies in general, and even for Catholics themselves. The bishops do not try to shame and frighten their flocks with threats of divine wrath if Catholics love, support, assist someone who divorces.
Nor do they spend lavish sums trying to outlaw either divorce or artificial contraception as they do with gay marriage or gay unions, though a far larger percentage of lay Catholics practice contraception than the percentage of Catholics we can expect to contract same-sex civil unions. But nary peep about God blasting the earth with fire due to Catholic collusion with contraception.
This kind of ugly rhetoric is reserved solely and exclusively for the gays. And it shows to what a shameful extent the U.S. Catholic bishops have sold their souls to the puppet-masters of the religious and political right. This is the kind of mean, uneducated, spiteful, bible-thumping rhetoric we expect to fall out of the mouth of a Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, or Fred Phelps. (OK, maybe Bill got a little sarcastic at the end of this paragraph.)
Bishop Thomas Tobin should not be confused with Archbishop Joseph Tobin who is the secretary for the Vatican's Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. Archbishop Tobin would never be quoted as advocating for a God who punishes an entire State because he's irritated with it's legislature. But then Archbishop Tobin is fully aware that he is not dealing with a pack of naive pouting twelve year old children reacting to some 'ick' factor. He is dealing with well educated and dedicated religious congregations who are well beyond the magical thinking and emotional 'ick' factor of pre pubescent children. Someone should tell the other Tobin that Rhode Island citizens do not share his same emotional and spiritual maturity level. Neither do most Catholics.
The sad thing for me about American bishops in the mold of Rhode Islands' Tobin is they undercut the arguments of other Catholic leaders who are addressing other far more serious moral questions. This would include Archbishop Francis Assisi Chullikatt, Apostolic Nuncio to the United Nations who made a speech in the Kansas City-St Joseph Diocese intelligently asking for a phase out of all nuclear weapons. Chullikatt was not talking about God wiping us out because God was going to act like a cosmic bully. He was talking about an immature human capacity to act like bullies and doing such a thing to ourselves.
That this speech took place in the Diocese of Robert Finn, did not go unnoticed by me. Finn, for all his other questionable stances, has been consistent about the immorality of the upgraded nuclear weapons facility in his diocese. Unfortunately for him, some of his other infantile decisions have not done much to further this particular moral cause. Finn comes across as not having enough 'gravitas' to be taken seriously in some quarters, and as too much of a hypocrite in other quarters, a situation pretty much true for the entire USCCB.
Which brings me back to the other Tobin--the Rhode Island one.
I'm sorry, but it is beyond me to think for a nano second that gay marriage represents a bigger threat to civilization than the nuclear weapons plant in Kansas City. The only way they become equivalent 'grave moral dangers' is if I concede that blowing up millions of people is the same as my gay friends getting married and living their lives exactly as they always have which hasn't effected me one little bit. In my professional endeavors we would see that type of belief structure as indicative of an immature if not down right delusional, pattern of thinking. Adult thinking does not equate personal sexual choices with the capacity to wipe out life on the planet. Operative words in the preceding sentence is 'adult thinking'.
The Rhode Island Tobin is not the kind of religious leader whose thinking encourages the development of healthy adult believers. It does foster the kind of thinking engaged in by psychologically unhealthy people. These are the kind who catastrophize the small event in to a grand scale event. This is the kind of mental universe that needs a cosmic bully kind of God equally capable of the same kind of over reaction. Obviously this kind of thing does not describe the God of Love as Jesus taught in the gospels. That God lets the sun shine and the rain fall on the just and unjust, not because God didn't care, but because God respected free will and gave everyone equal dignity as His sons and daughters. The Cosmic Bully God has no sons and daughters, just victims and victims of victims----which come to think of it, kind of describes the operative philosophy of too many American bishops.