If the Mormons, Why Not the Catholics.

A Mormon, gay detente?

The California marriage wars have produced a bitter feud between gay rights activists and the LDS church, which underwrote much of the campaign against same-sex marriage there.

But the Salt Lake City ABC affiliate reports on an unusual meeting:

ABC 4 News has learned that the Church invited several prominent gay leaders to its Christmas concert this weekend, including Oscar winner Dustin Lance Black.

Black, a screenwriter, won an Oscar for the movie, “Milk.”

Saturday, at the LDS Church’s Christmas concert, he and a handful of Utah gay activists were VIP guests. …

In a lengthy phone conversation, Black told ABC 4 that it was “a honor” to see the concert and an, “extraordinary act of goodwill.”

He also told us a conversation has been started between the gay community and the church and that, “both sides are trying to find common ground.”

Politico

When Will the Catholic Church Repeal Its Own DADT?

My colleague Bart and I clearly think along the same lines. This was his response to my post on the repeal of DADT:

When is the Catholic Church going to follow suit? The way the Church leadership is dealing with the issue of the gay clergy within its ranks is similar in many ways to the DADT story in the American military. When will the Church enter the 21st century?

As his comment came through, I was halfway done with preparing a full post on precisely this theme. It was this observation by Rep Tammy Baldwin that initially set me thinking:

Integrity is a hallmark of military service. Yet, for 17 years, we have had a statutory policy that requires some in our military to conceal, deceive, and lie.  This is an inexcusable affront to all who wear the uniform.

Change a word or two, and precisely the same thing could be said about gays and lesbians in the Catholic Church. If it is true (and it is) that integrity is a hallmark of military service, so it should be even more so in the Church. DADT in the Catholic church most directly affects our gay priests, presenting them with a major challenge in any attempt to live honest lives of integrity. This is the continuing theme of Bart’s own excellent series on gay priests and his personal struggles with coming out, so I leave the discussion of DADT and priests entirely to him (the next instalment will appear tomorrow morning).

However, Catholic DADT also affects all gay and lesbian lay people, and it this aspect that I address here.

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Bishops “Protecting Marriage” and the ‘had it’ Catholics

As some Catholic bishops persist in attempts to impose their disordered ideas on sexual ethics and civil marriage on the rest of the population, they would do well to read and ponder deeply a post by Tom Roberts at NCR on the extent of disaffected Catholics, whom he calls the “had it” Catholics “who are leaving the church and either dropping out of organized religion altogether or finding refuge in other denominations.”

The phenomenon of declining numbers in all the major denominations is well-known, but Roberts refers to a Pew research report that show the Catholic church is especially hard hit.

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Irish Demand for Democracy – in Church.

The Irish Catholic Church, compared with other countries, has been notable for its belated response to the problem of clerical abuse.  Like other countries, for decades the bishops responded by cover-ups and denial.  Once finally forced out from cover, though, they have done more than any other country to finally deal appropriately with the problem.  the Ryan report, in its comprehensiveness and brutal honesty began the process.  That prompted a response from government, which launched a follow-up into the cover-ups by the bishops.  Teh public outcry, coupled with the firm resolve and frank apologies from the present Archbishop of Dublin, has led to more hand-wringing from Pope Benedict, who has promised a “pastoral letter” (as if that would help).  More usefully, four of the five bishops implicated in the Murphy report have been forced to resign, in what is for the church, a remarkable demonstration of accountability.(The fifth bishop insists he will not resign.  We shall see how long he can last, against the determination of archbishop Martin to scrub the barrel clean)

Equally impressive has been the response of the Irish public, who are finally beginning to ask the questions, and demand the responses, which really get to the real heart of the problem;  the fundamental causes.  Fr Timothy Radcliffe, in a recent address in Dublin, raised one issue:  that of the culture in the church obsessive control.  ow an opinon piece in the Irish Independent raises another, and proposes a remedy:  the church needs to introduce internal democracy.

Of course it should – as should church structures all around the world. (Not in the same form as parliamentary democracy,  not with equal votes for all:  but some form of democracy and shared decision taking is of crucial importance – just as it was for the early church at the very beginning.

Here is an extract from the piece in the Irish Independent, following the funeral of the former Primate of all-Ireland, Cardinal Daly.

Scandals must kickstart new era for Church

Observing the procession of aged men in their ceremonial robes, chatting among themselves as if at a clerical old boys’ reunion, I had an acute sense that the Catholic laity, be they of pious disposition or a la carte-minded, must mobilise to take control away from the ordained ministers who betrayed them and chart a new reform path for their Church.

The People of God, as the Church was defined by the Second Vatican Council, need to dismantle the clericalist pyramid of command structures that have dominated the mind-set since the First Vatican Council in 1870. That council lumbered the centralised system from Rome with the unverifiable dogma of papal infallibility and embedded a culture of unquestioning loyalty by a docile laity to a command system from the top down of Pope, cardinals, archbishops and bishops, not forgetting the Irish tradition of the infallibility of the parish priest.

The laity in Ireland must speak out now and demand a more democratic rather than medievalist church. Otherwise they will be expected to follow the paternalistic route which Pope Benedict plans to announce in his pre-Lenten pastoral letter to the Irish that will be interpreted as the mandate for church governance that is to be implemented by the two principal leaders of the Irish Church, Cardinal Brady and the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin.

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The Catholic Church’s Judas Kiss.

“What’s a Gay Catholic to Do?” is the heading to a sad but honest reflection by Fr James Martin SJ at the America blog. Fr Martin notes the dilemma that we face, listing just five things that the church tells us we may not do, that are not a problem for those who are not lesbian, gay or transsexual. These will be familiar to my queer readers, so there is no need to elaborate at any length:  I present here just a summary:

    1. Enjoy Romantic Love
    2. Marry
    3. Adopt a child
    4. Enter a seminary
    5. Work for the church and be open

Asking his readers to “imagine” that they are gay no difficulty in that, here), he observes that this presents a real pastoral problem for the church – one which he does not attempt to answer.  He is content just to raise the question, a useful enough exercise in itself.

This picture, of the Judas kiss, rather symbolises to me what the institutional church is doing to us.  They repeatedly tell us we are welcome and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity – but then insist that we are “disordered” and must be deprived of the full participation in the church we should reasonably expect. Worse, by providing a spurious religious justification for discrimination, they give tacit support to popular prejudice, leading not only to the denial of civic rights, but also to active homophobia, childhood bullying, violence, and even death.

Judas Kiss (Giotto fresco, Padua)

Judas Kiss (Giotto fresco, Padua)

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