11/29/12

50 Reasons to Boycott the Catholic Church

The Church uses its resources to oppose social progress and positive change all over the world.

By Adam Lee

Last month in Ireland, Savita Halappanavar died, and she shouldn’t have. Savita was a 31-year-old married woman, four months pregnant, who went to the hospital with a miscarriage in progress that developed into a blood infection. She could easily have been saved if the already doomed fetus was aborted. Instead, her doctors did nothing, explaining that “this is a Catholic country,” and left her to suffer in agony for days, only intervening once it was too late.

Savita’s death is just the latest in a long line of tragedies directly attributable to the doctrines and beliefs of the Roman Catholic church. I acknowledge that there are many good, progressive Catholics, but the problem is that the church isn’t a democracy, and those progressives have no voice or vote in its governance. The church is a petrified oligarchy, a dictatorship like the medieval monarchies it once existed alongside, and it’s run by a small circle of conservative, rigidly ideological old men who make all the decisions and choose their own successors.

This means that, whatever individual Catholics may do, the resources of the church as an institution are bent toward opposing social progress and positive change all over the world. Every dollar you put into the church collection plate, every Sunday service you attend, every hour of time and effort you put into volunteering or working for church organizations, is inevitably a show of support for the institutional church and its abhorrent mission. When you have no voice, there’s only one thing left to do: boycott. Stop supporting the church with your money and your time. For lifelong Catholics, it’s a drastic step, but it’s more than justified by the wealth of reasons showing that the church as an institution is beyond reform, and the only meaningful response is to part ways with it. Here are just a few of those reasons:

1. Throughout the world, Catholic bishops have engaged in a systematic, organized effort going back decades to cover up for priests who molest children, pressuring the victims to sign confidentiality agreements and quietly assigning the predators to new parishes where they could go on molesting. Tens of thousands of children have been raped and tortured as a result of this conspiracy of silence.

2. Strike one: “What did the pope know and when did he know it?” The current pope, when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was personally implicated in a case from the 1970s in which at least three sets of parents reported that a priest in his diocese had sexually abused their children. In response, Ratzinger assigned the priest to therapy, without notifying law enforcement, and washed his hands of the matter. That priest was back on duty in just a few short days and went on to molest more children.

3. Strike two: In 1981, again when the current pope was Cardinal Ratzinger, he got a letter from the diocese of Oakland asking him to defrock a priest who had acknowledged molesting two children. Ratzinger ignored this letter, and several followup letters, for four years. Finally, in 1985, he wrote back saying that more time was needed, and that they had to proceed very slowly to safeguard “the good of the Universal Church” in light of “the young age of the petitioner” — by which he meant not the victimized children, but the pedophile priest. (By contrast, when a rogue archbishop ordained married men as priests, he was laicized six days later.)

4. Strike three: In 2001, Cardinal Ratzinger wrote a letter, De Delictis Gravioribus, to all Catholic bishops advising them how to handle accusations of sex crimes by priests. There was no recommendation to contact the police, but rather an instruction for them to report such cases only to the Vatican and tell no one else: “Cases of this kind are subject to the pontifical secret.

5. Some church officials, like the American friar Benedict Groeschel, have blamed the epidemic of child molestation on sexually wanton boys who tempt priests into assaulting them.

6. They threaten to cut off funding for immigrants’ rights advocates because they sometimes work with gay-rights advocates. Preventing immigrants from getting legal and medical aid is less important than ensuring the church isn’t contaminated by even indirect contact with anyone who helps gay people.

7. In a sign of how ridiculously disproportionate and unhinged the church’s martyrdom complex is, the current pope has compared expanding the rights of women and gay people to the murderous anticlerical violence of the 1930s Spanish civil war.

8. They’ve used their official UN observer status to team up with Islamic theocracies like Iran and Libya to oppose calls for family-planning services to be made available in the world’s poorest nations.

9. They’ve gone to desperately poor, AIDS-ravaged regions of Africa to spread the life-destroying lie that condoms don’t prevent transmission of HIV.

10. In the mid-20th century, they appointed a special papal commission to study whether Catholicism should permit the use of birth control. When the commission almost unanimously recommended that they should, they ignored that recommendation and doubled down on their absolute ban on contraception.

11. They excommunicated the doctors who performed an abortion on a pregnant 9-year-old who’d been raped by her stepfather.

12. They did not excommunicate the stepfather.

13. Savita Halappanavar wasn’t the first: Catholic-run hospitals are willing to let women die rather than get lifesaving abortions, even when a miscarriage is already in progress and no possible procedure could save the fetus.

14. They refused to provide contraception or abortion to women who were abducted and forced to work as prostitutes, and then filed a lawsuit complaining it was violating their religious freedom when the government took away their contract.

15. In Poland, they ordered politicians to vote for a law banning IVF and threatened to excommunicate any who didn’t comply.

16. They were a major source of the pressure on the Komen Foundation that led to its disastrous decision to cut ties with Planned Parenthood.

17. They’ve announced an inquisition into the Girl Scouts to get to the bottom of its association with morally suspect groups like Doctors Without Borders and Oxfam.

18. They’ve been one of the major forces attacking Obamacare, filing lawsuits arguing that non-church Catholic employers should be able to decide whether or not employee health insurance plans will cover contraception. This is effectively an argument that a woman’s employer should be allowed to force her to pay more for medical coverage, or even place it out of her reach altogether, based on his religious beliefs.

19. In Australia, they allegedly derailed a police investigation of an accused pedophile, putting pressure on higher-ups to get an investigating officer removed from the case.

20. They demanded that Sunday school teachers sign a loyalty oath agreeing to submit “will and intellect” to the proclamations of church leaders.

21. Some top church officials, including the current pope, have advocateddenying communion to politicians who support progressive and pro-choice political ideas. Notably, although the church also opposes preemptive war and the death penalty, no conservative politician has ever been denied communion on this basis.

22. They’ve cracked down on American nuns for doing too much to help the poor and not enough to oppose gay marriage, condemning them for displaying a seditious “feminist spirit.”

23. In Germany, where parishioners pay an officially assessed tax rate to the church, they’ve tried to blackmail people who don’t want to pay the church tax, threatening to fire them from jobs in church institutions. In some cases, if the person opts out but later loses the paperwork, they demand on-the-spot repayment of decades of back taxes.

24. In America, bishops have compared Democratic officeholders, including President Obama, to Hitler and Stalin and have said that it jeopardizes a person’s eternal salvation if they don’t vote as the bishops instruct them to.

25. They fight against equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. It’s not enough for the Catholic church hierarchy that they refuse to perform church weddings for gay and lesbian couples; they want to write that prohibition into the civil law and deny marriage equality to everyone who doesn’t fit their religious criteria, and have invested vast amounts of money and effort into doing so. In the 2012 election cycle alone, the church spent almost $2 million in an unsuccessful fight to defeat marriage-equality initiatives in four states.

26. They’ve compared gay sex to pedophilia and incest and called for it to be forbidden by law, saying that “states can and must regulate behaviors, including various sexual behaviors.”

27. They’ve shut down adoption clinics rather than consider gay people as prospective parents. The church’s official position, apparently, is that it’s better for children to remain orphans or in foster care than to be placed in a loving, committed same-sex household.

28. They barred an anti-LGBT bullying group, anti-teen-suicide foundation from a Catholic school ceremony, explaining that the group’s mission is “contrary to the teachings of the Catholic church.”

29. They told a teenager he wouldn’t be allowed to go through confirmationbecause he posted a pro-gay-rights status message on Facebook, and theyexpelled a preschooler from a private Catholic school because his parents were lesbians.

30. They have a history of dumping known pedophile priests in isolated, poor, rural communities, where they apparently assumed that local people wouldn’t dare to complain or that no one would listen if they did.

31. They’ve given huge payouts — as much as $20,000 in some cases — to pedophile priests, to buy their silence and quietly ease them out of the priesthood, after specifically denying in public that they were doing this.

32. When the Connecticut legislature proposed extending statute-of-limitations laws to allow older child-abuse cases to be tried, the bishops ordered a letter to be read during Mass instructing parishioners to contact their representatives and lobby against it.

33. To fight back against and intimidate abuse-survivor groups like SNAP, the church’s lawyers have filed absurdly broad subpoenas demanding the disclosure of decades’ worth of documents.

34. In the Netherlands, some boys were apparently castrated in church-run hospitals after complaining to the police about sexual abuse by priests.

35. When a Catholic official from Philadelphia, William Lynn, was charged with knowingly returning predator priests to duty, his defense was to blame those decisions on his superior, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, thus acknowledging that the corruption reaches to the highest levels of the church.

36. When confronted with hundreds of complaints about child-raping priests spanning decades, a Dutch cardinal used the same “we knew nothing” excuse once given by Nazi soldiers. Several months later, it was reported that this same cardinal had personally arranged to move a pedophile priest to a different parish to shield him from accusations.

37. In one case, Mother Teresa successfully persuaded the church to return a suspected pedophile priest to duty because he was a friend of hers. Eight additional complaints of child abuse were later lodged against him.

38. In yet another case, they appointed a priest with a history of child molestation to a board that advises the church on what to do when they get reports of priests molesting children.

39. And after all this, they’ve had the audacity to plead for money and ask parishioners to pick up the tab for legal costs and settlements.

40. They abducted tens of thousands of babies from unwed mothers who gave birth in Catholic-run hospitals all over the world throughout the 20th century, forcing drugged or helpless women to give their newborn children up for adoption against their will.

41. They tried to have the Indian skeptic Sanal Edamuruku charged with blasphemy and imprisoned for debunking a claim of a miraculous weeping statue.

42. They publicly supported the Russian Orthodox church’s decision to have the punk band Pussy Riot charged and imprisoned for blasphemy.

43. Their finances are a disorganized mess, lacking strong accounting controls and clear internal separations, which means parishioners who give to the church can have no assurance of what the money will be used for. According to an investigation by the Economist, funds meant for hospitals, cemeteries and priests’ pensions have been raided to pay legal fees and settlements in several diocesan bankruptcies.

44. They’ve said in public that the sexist prohibition on women priests is an infallible part of Catholic dogma, and hence can never be changed.

45. They’ve silenced priests who call for the ordination of women and other desperately needed reforms, exhorting them to instead show “the radicalism of obedience.”

46. They’ve excommunicated at least one priest for advocating the ordination of women.

47. They lifted the excommunication of an anti-Semitic, Holocaust-denying bishop who also thinks women shouldn’t attend college or wear pants.

48. When it comes to the question of who’s financially responsible for compensating the victims of sex abuse, they argue that priests aren’t employees and therefore the church bears no responsibility for anything they do.

49. They canonized Mother Teresa for doing little more than offering a squalid place for people to die. Outside observers who visited her “Home for the Dying” reported that medical care was substandard and dangerous, limited to aspirin and unsterilized needles rinsed in tap water, administered by untrained volunteers. The millions of dollars collected by Mother Teresa and her order, enough to build many advanced clinics and hospitals, remain unaccounted for.

50. They announced that voluntary end-of-life measures, such as terminal patients’ directives for when they wish to have a feeding tube removed, won’t be respected at Catholic hospitals.

Complete Article HERE!

11/29/12

Vatican disciplines Austrian dissident priest

File under … “Oh Snap!”
Apparently someone’s got his white cassock in a twist. The pettiness of these “holy” men is absolutely astounding.

By Philip Pullella

The Vatican has cracked down on a prominent Austrian Roman Catholic priest who has been leading a disobedience campaign to openly challenge Roman Catholic teachings on celibacy and women priests.

The Vatican said on Thursday it had stripped Father Helmut Schueller of the right to use title monsignor and said he also was no longer a “Chaplain of His Holiness”. Schueller remains a priest.

Schueller, a former deputy to Vienna’s archbishop, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, had been given the honorary title in his capacity as head of the Austrian branch of the Catholic charity group Caritas.

Schueller is head of the group “Call to Disobedience”, which has broad public backing in opinion polls and says it represents about 10 percent of the Austrian clergy.

Nearly 150,000 Austrians left the Church in 2011-2012, many in reaction to sexual abuse scandals.

The group wants Church rules changed so that priests can marry and women can become priests. It has said it will break Church rules by giving communion to Protestants and divorced Catholics who remarry.

Schueller told Austrian media that the Vatican decision had not shaken his principles.

Reformist Austrian Catholics have for decades challenged the conservative policies of Benedict and his predecessor John Paul, creating protest movements and advocating changes the Vatican refuses to make.

Schueller has met like-minded clergy in Austria and abroad since launching the “Call to Disobedience” group. Catholic reform groups in Germany, Ireland and the United States have made similar demands from the Church.

The Catholic Church does not allow priests to marry and teaches that it has no authority to allow women to become priests because Jesus willingly chose only men as his apostles when he instituted the priesthood at the Last Supper.

Proponents of a female priesthood say Jesus was only adhering to the social norms of his times.

Last week, the Vatican disciplined another priest who advocated women’s ordination.

Father Ray Bourgeois, an American of the Maryknoll religious order, was kicked out of the priesthood and the order by the Vatican’s doctrinal department, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Last year, Bourgeois, who had been a priest for 40 years, was among a group of Roman Catholic activists detained by Italian police after they tried to deliver a petition to the Vatican in favor of a female priesthood.

Benedict, who for decades before his 2005 election as pope was the Vatican’s chief doctrinal enforcer, directly denounced disobedient priests last April, saying it was not the right path to renewal in the Church.

Complete Article HERE!

11/28/12

Vilification of abusers won’t contribute to solution

Review by — John C. Seitz

If we want to understand sexual violence, we have to get to know its perpetrators and the worlds in which they were formed. In the particular context in which Marie Keenan is interested — clerical sexual abuse and its cover-up in the U.S. and Ireland since the middle of the 20th century — such an adage goes from truism to nonstarter. Pressure not to get to know clerical abusers and the institutional, educational and social worlds of their formation comes from many angles of varying validity.

A posture of attentiveness to abusers may strike some abuse victims and their advocates as excusing the abuse and losing sight of the harm it may have inflicted. For their part, media outlets have helped uncover abuse, but they have also contributed to the vilification of clerical offenders, fixating on the category of pedophilia (at the expense of other abusive scenarios), and fomenting moral panic.

Church officials, on the other hand, want to isolate abusers and officials complicit in cover-up. They would have us pay attention to abusers only as aberrant pathological individuals. The theological or institutional context for their production as clergy is more or less off-limits.

Keenan, a researcher and lecturer in applied social science at University College Dublin and a registered psychotherapist, plunges into these taboo waters, taking her readers into the theological, moral and institutional contexts for abuse and cover-up. Working with the ever-present caution that to “understand all is never to forgive it all,” Keenan makes this journey in part through analysis of extensive conversations with nine Catholic men — all retired or laicized Irish priests and brothers — who admitted to having sexually abused minors in the past.

The premise for such a move is simple: Vilification of abusers prohibits thick understandings of their lives. Content to turn “them” into monsters, we avoid their (and our) implication in wider contexts that helped produce the abuse. Humanizing abusers offers significant new angles on the problem. Listening to these men’s stories allows Keenan to see that they “were not in themselves ‘bad’ men, rather, they were trying to be ‘perfect’ priests.” Description of what it meant to be “perfect” — to practice the priesthood in the officially celebrated manner — goes a long way toward explaining how these men could “rationalize” their behavior and the secrecy that surrounded it.

Keenan does not rush into a presentation of the perpetrators’ stories, as if they alone were enough. Instead, the first half of the book includes a review of the existing literature on clerical sexual abuse, the culture of seminaries, and psychologies of abusive behavior. This first half of the book also includes an insightful reading of the complexities of “power” as theorized by contemporary scholars of gender. She interprets these sources clearly and cautiously. These chapters alone make Keenan’s work immensely useful. But the book’s real contribution comes from its exploration of the stories of nine abusive clergymen in Ireland.

This latter section of the book develops several themes relevant to the rise of abuse in Roman Catholic settings. Her focus is on seminary culture and education (in the period before the 1990s) and the kind of living it enabled and disabled. In these spaces priests learned to fear sexuality, disavow their bodies and emotions, bury non-priestly components of themselves, and adapt to emotionally isolated and lonely lives.

Two additional themes enhance her critique of clerical formation. The first is a paradox of clerical life, a condition she describes as simultaneously powerful and powerless. Valorized as special beings with unique ritual powers and heightened virtue, priests and brothers were also demeaned and devalued by expectations of humility and deference to their clerical superiors. Often unsupported and unsupervised and yet conditioned toward obedience to those above, many clerics experienced frustration in a church that demanded so much of them.

These conditions, along with sexual immaturity fostered by lifelong silence surrounding sexuality, helped produce priests who had an “emotional congruence” with children. Keenan sees perpetrators of abuse tragically seeking to navigate their emotional tempests in the presence and with the bodies of young people, whom abusers saw as equal, if easily silenced, partners.

The other most compelling theme concerns moral education. The church, Keenan argues, has offered poor tools for making judgments. Instead of judging out of a context of relationships with particular others and dynamic processes of introspection and empathy, seminarians were instructed in the technical and intellectual application of fixed, universal and external rules. Impersonal and abstract, this moral theology enabled abusers to treat their behavior as a matter of sin against God and purity and not as a matter of harm for others. Moreover, the confessional, with its seal of secrecy, further enabled the abuse by providing a context for expiation of this sin. Regular confession helped convince the priests that they were at least trying to meet God’s standards. All of the nine priests confessed their abuse in confession — according to their reports, only once did a confessor alert the abuser to the criminal nature of the offense. The system advanced a purity ethic at the expense of a relational ethic.

If all or most priests and brothers were trained amid these conditions until very recently, why did some abuse while others did not? Keenan argues that abusers were more likely to be those inclined to be rule followers rather than rule breakers. Many clergy had the ability or cunning to know which rules they needed to bend or break in order to make seminary and clerical life humane. Others, those aspiring to the most strict and idealized version of the priesthood (what Keenan calls “Perfect Celibate Clerical Masculinity”) were essentially harmed by the church in the process. Buying into the impossible standards of this idealized clerical identity stifled opportunity for these men to openly explore their humanity and sexuality, develop intimate and satisfying adult relationships, account morally for their impact on others, and see themselves outside their duties to powerful superiors.

The stunning conclusion of this work is that for those who embraced the idealized model of perfect celibate clerical masculinity, seminary and priestly life were in themselves abusive contexts. Overly credulous or unsavvy, they accepted standards that led to “soul death.” Eventually, children were the “sacrificial lambs” on the altar of this image of clerical perfection. Until recently, victims’ silence allowed Catholics to ignore their complicity in the institutional secrecy and hypocrisy that helped these sacrifices continue.

For Keenan, it remains a question whether these voices speaking up will result in real change. Vilification or dismissal of abusers won’t contribute to the solution. Apologies, shame and even strict “zero tolerance” policies will not constitute the kind of structural reform that will begin to solve the problem in the Roman Catholic church. Only a “new model of the church” will do. Keenan’s hard-nosed and sophisticated book is a step in that direction.

Complete Article HERE!

11/28/12

Is the Salvation Army anti–LGBT? Yes

By David Zimmerman

For many years those within the lgbt community have read stories in lgbt press regarding the Salvation Army. Most of these stories revolved around the fact that the nation’s largest charity is decidedly anti-gay.

Now, with the explosion of social media, the noise regarding the Salvation Army’s policies is getting louder. Recently America Blog began urging people to print out vouchers (see below) and to place the voucher in the red donation bucket in lieu of cash.

Significant anti-lgbt moments in the Salvation Army’s past include:

In 2002 the charity made waves when it announced a policy that would have offered health insurance for a “legally domiciled adult” living with an employee. Essentially granting health benefits for same-sex partners of employees. This policy was reversed after only 2 weeks

In 2003 the Washington Post reported that the Bush administration was working with the Salvation Army in an effort to issue a regulation making it easier for government-funded religious groups to discriminate against gay people in hiring. According to an internal Salvation Army report the Bush White House gave the charity a “firm commitment” to work to protect them from state and city laws that prevent discrimination against gays in hiring and domestic-partner benefits.

At the time the Salvation Army spent approximately $100,000 to lobby in favor of President Bush’s faith based initiative. (The Bush administration wound up not working with the Salvation Army on the regulation)

In 2004 the charity threatened to leave New York City if Mayor Michael Bloomberg enforces a new ordinance requiring all groups with city contracts to offer benefits to the same-sex partners of employees. Bloomberg was against the ordinance and did not enforce it.

In June of this year the following passage appeared on the official website of the Australian Salvation Army:

“[Homosexual activity is] as rebellion against God’s plan for the created order… Homosexual practice, however, is, in the light of Scripture, clearly unacceptable. Such activity is chosen behaviour and is thus a matter of the will. It is therefore able to be directed or restrained in the same way heterosexual urges are controlled. Homosexual practice would render any person ineligible for full membership (soldiership) in the [Salvation] Army.”

Complete Article HERE!

11/27/12

For Gay Catholics, an Alternative to the Collection Plate

By donating gift cards to local priests, churchgoers can support their parishes without accidentally funding political causes.

Salvatore Cordileone is the archbishop of San Francisco. Although — or, perhaps, because — he lives in the American city most identified with same-sex relationships, he is also the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage. During a press conference last Tuesday, a reporter asked Cordileone to comment on the string of successes for same-sex marriage during this month’s elections. The archbishop responded, “This is not a time to give up, but rather a time to redouble our efforts.”

The Catholic bishops may be holding firm, but their flock is drifting away from them. According to a recent poll by Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, the number of religiously unaffiliated Americans has risen over the last five years. The poll’s authors attributed this decline in part to public cynicism about religious leaders who tap revenue streams from their congregations to advance their own political goals.

For gay Catholics our straight Catholic allies, this question became especially relevant during the recent elections. We saw the highly-coordinated efforts by some bishops to stanch the growing marriage equality movement – and the Catholic church resources that helped fuel their effort – and wondered, “Is it really possible to support marriage equality while still being a church-going Catholic who tithes?”

Take Minnesota, one of the four states where voters faced referenda on gay and lesbian couples. Using resources from churchgoers, the Minnesota Catholic Conference was able to give $600,000 to “Minnesota for Marriage,” an anti-marriage equality group. In Washington state, some Catholic bishops were so aggressive in their fundraising that the Public Disclosure Commission, the state’s campaign finance agency, had to warn the Washington Catholic Conference that they were not permitted to collect donations at Mass. (To comply with the law, volunteers were required to collect donations in separate envelopes.) In Baltimore, Archbishop William Lori headlined a pre-election fundraiser for Maryland’s anti-marriage equality group.

According to the Human Rights Campaign’s report Catholic Church: Top Funder of Discrimination, the Church and affiliated organizations – the Knights of Columbus and the National Organization for Marriage – were responsible for a whopping 60 percent of all funding for anti-marriage equality campaigns in the four states where the issue appeared on the 2012 ballot.

Yet according to a 2011 Public Religion Research Institute poll, nearly three-quarters of the American Catholic laity support state recognition of same-sex marriage or civil unions. According to that same poll, when same-sex marriage is explicitly defined as civil marriage – having no involvement with the church – support for it jumps from 43 percent to 71 percent.

Still, the reality is this: Every time Catholics tithe at a local parish, they are not only helping to keep the lights on for Mass and to make sure the priest has enough food in his stomach, they are contributing to diocesan coffers, which are often tapped for anti-equality ballot initiatives. So far, the IRS has not seemed especially interested in investigating allegations that the Catholic Church has violated its tax-exempt status by conducting political activity. And as Melissa Rogers, a legal scholar at Wake Forest Divinity School, told the Religion News Service, “When there’s an impression that the IRS is not enforcing the restriction – that seems to embolden some to cross the line.”

Given such circumstances, what are gay Catholics and our straight Catholic allies to do? Should we leave the Catholic church, as increasing numbers of Americans are doing? Or should we stay in the church and keep our hands at our sides, offering nothing more than a poker face when the collection basket comes around?

Fortunately, there is an alternative. Gift cards for priests — to local grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations — are a clear way to support the real work of the Catholic Church without undermining our own rights or those of our friends. We can ask our priests each week what their upcoming material needs will be and then following through with the appropriate gift cards — to local grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations. Catholic finance councils could even make arrangements with utility companies, allowing parishioners to make direct online donations toward a parish’s monthly utility bills. That would allow Catholics to help keep the lights on for Mass without unwittingly putting money in the hands of bishops like John Myers of Newark, who has publicly intimated that Catholics who support marriage equality are unworthy to receive communion.

Indeed, gift cards, which cannot be redeemed for cash, allow us to reaffirm our commitment to the clergy. Over the past several years, Catholic priests have had their image sullied in the public square, largely because of misguided bishops who chose to protect the church’s reputation instead of removing child abusers from the ranks. The entire profession suffered as a result. (A 40-something priest in the archdiocese of Washington once told me that at the height of the scandal, mothers at the supermarket would see him wearing his Roman collar and nervously pull their small children close to them.) Those of us who respect and admire our local clergy know that the vast majority of priests, far from being pedophiles, are good leaders who truly want the best for their congregations. Gift cards give us a way to empower them, making sure our funds go toward their immediate needs.

This non-cash tithing could result in an economic revival for Catholic parishes all over the country. It need not preclude cash gifts for specific Catholic charities and causes, like the St. Vincent de Paul Society or foreign missions. It would simply keep the anti-marriage equality movement from using faithful congregants as a major source of revenue. In this way, mainstream Catholics -the majority of whom support marriage equality for same-sex couples – can send an unmistakable message to Catholic bishops: We support our congregations and the clergy who serve them, but we also believe that love, happiness, and equal rights for everyone are part of God’s plan.

Complete Article HERE!