Rainbow Sash Movement Takes On Bishop William Lori’s Homophobia

That the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy is on the warpath over LGBT rights, and are even going so far as to claim that any rights given to LGBT people limit the rights of Catholics is not even sitting well now with the Catholic laity. The Rainbow Sash Movement is opposed to the way that the Catholic hierarchy portrays the LGBT Community and they are now speaking out agaisnt the ad hoc committees that the US Council of Catholic Bishops is putting into place. Here is their press release:

All Saints” aka Halloween, is a Holy Day of Obligation in the Roman Catholic Church. The Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, (also known by its opening words Homosexualitatis problema or, disparagingly, as “the Halloween Letter”) is a letter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Roman Catholic Church written in 1985 and delivered in Rome on 1 October 1986 by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger ( Pope Benedict XVI) and Archbishop Alberto Bovone. The letter gave instructions on how the Clergy should deal with and respond to lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. Pope John Paul II approved the letter and ordered its publication.

What does this letter have in common with the recent testimony of Bishop William Lori, head of the newly created ad hoc committee on religious liberty at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), who recently testified before Congress? According to Bishop Lori the Catholic vision of Religious Freedom should be paramount and associated with the Vatican’s perceived threats to religious liberty. Further that action in support of any legislation that promotes equality for Lesbian/Gay People would be an attack a Catholics right to practice his/hers religion. The Rainbow Sash Movement response to such a view is that it is totally unreasonable, un-democratic and homophobic.

Like the 1986 Halloween Letter Bishop Lori promotes the idea that propagation of religious belief as a justification for discrimination against Gay people should be lawful. Both continue to promote the Catholic Church’s condemnation of homosexuality under the guise “Religious Freedom”. This will only result in the corresponding denial of “Religious Freedom” to Gay people as is exampled by the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The Halloween letter did not remove violence against gay people if they try to legalize our rights.

The US Council of Catholic Bishops imperial religious behavior in respect to Gay Marriage has only sought to deny equality and fairness by promoting individual attacks on the rights of gay people generally, on Gay Catholics and their allies specifically. The Bishops seek to promote through the prism of “Religious Freedom” an atmosphere where promoting individual rights of conscience and equal rights for Gay People are somehow at odds with “Religious Freedom” which is a total fabrication of reasonable thought.

Both the Halloween Letter anniversary and Bishop Lori testimony only show how out of touch the bishops are when it comes to the lives of real people. Clearly the Bishops can no longer speak for the Catholic voter on these issues as poll after poll has shown.

Complete Article HERE!

U.S. Catholics charting own path, poll says

American Roman Catholics are a curious mix of rebelliousness and loyalty, according to a new study.

When it comes to moral issues such as abortion, homosexuality and sex outside marriage, American Catholics are more likely to listen to their own consciences than to the pope, bishops and other church leaders.

Fewer than one-third attend Mass weekly, but 88 percent think parish priests do good work.

Only half of Catholics know that the church teaches that the bread and wine of Holy Communion actually transform into the physical body and blood of Christ, but of those who know, the vast majority believe it.

They say that Jesus’ Resurrection, helping the poor and the Virgin Mary are the most-important aspects of their faith; Vatican authority and a celibate, all-male clergy rank at the bottom.

Most American Catholics have what researcher William D’Antonio called “medium-level” commitment.

D’Antonio, a sociologist at Catholic University of America in Washington, wrote the report with other academics. It was published yesterday by the National Catholic Reporter newspaper.

“They like being Catholic, but they do it on their own terms,” he said.

D’Antonio has seen this trend grow since he started polling Catholics in 1987.

In that year, for example, 34 percent of respondents said church leaders should have the final say on the morality of sex outside marriage, 42 percent said it should be up to individuals and 21 percent said “both.” The rest didn’t answer.

Today, 16 percent of Catholics say that church leaders are the final authority on nonmarital sex. Fifty-three percent said it is up to the individual, and 30 percent said that both sources should be consulted.

The 2011 survey polled 1,442 adult Catholics nationwide.

“Many Catholics have figured out that one of the most-important teachings of Vatican II is that you should ultimately look to your own conscience,” D’Antonio said.

The sex-abuse scandal didn’t help the bishops’ authority, said Tom Roberts, editor-at-large of the National Catholic Reporter.

Many Catholics “see the sex-abuse crisis as having a corrosive effect on the bishops’ ability to speak with moral authority in the wider culture,” he said. More than 8 of 10 respondents said the crisis hurt church leaders’ credibility.

Still, people tend to like their own bishop, Roberts said.

Deacon Tom Berg Jr., vice chancellor for the Diocese of Columbus and spokesman for Bishop Frederick F. Campbell, declined to comment because he had not seen the study. Campbell’s predecessor, Bishop James A. Griffin, also declined comment.

The disillusionment with the institutional church might be because people have seen the church as more of a business than a spiritual institution, said the Rev. Jeff Coning, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in New Philadelphia. They can become disheartened when a church goes bankrupt or pays a sex-abuse settlement, he said.

He said the lack of deference to bishops is “alarming, because the bishops represent the apostles, who represent Jesus.”

Sister Barbara Kolesar, of Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in Clintonville, said some people ignore what’s right to do what’s easy.

“I think we call those people ‘cafeteria Catholics,’ ” she said. “They pick and choose what they want as it suits them.”

D’Antonio said one of the most telling findings about the attitude of American Catholics can be seen when they are asked about politics.

The survey found that 57 percent leaned Democratic and 40 percent Republican. But 85 percent of both groups said you can disagree with church teachings and still be a loyal Catholic.

Complete Article HERE!

Catholic Bishops Endanger Church Tax Exempt Status

COMMENTARY

New York Archbishop and United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) president Timothy Dolan recently wrote to Barak Obama asking the president to sign the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA): “We cannot be silent, however, when federal steps harmful to marriage, the laws defending it, and religious freedom continue apace.”

Can the marriages of some really “harm” those of others? Does Dolan not recognize how much support there is among active, practicing Roman Catholics for same-sex marriage? Does he really not know that scores of LGBT Catholics on the Communion lines at his own masses at St. Patrick’s Cathedral are married? That many work in Catholic ministry? That some are raising their children in the church? Dolan’s diocesan schools are filled with families in which there are only one or two children? Can he be naïve enough to imagine that this is accomplished through Natural Family Planning (NFP) alone? (NFP is the method of birth control the Vatican recommends and which its parishes often teach.)

Like much of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, Timothy Dolan is out of touch with who we American Catholics actually are.

He has every right not to remain silent, but the bishops’ presumption (fantasy?) that a majority of active U.S. Catholics will lend support to Vatican efforts to restrict the reproductive and marriage rights of non-Catholics is alarming — especially since so many active Catholics exercise those very freedoms. Furthermore, although the pope and his bishops may truly believe a zygote is a “preborn child,” the truth is that a great number of active Catholics do not, and they vote, in great numbers, accordingly.

There’s a reason the Vatican appointed the cigar-smoking, baseball-loving, borderline-charming Dolan to serve as shepherd of the Sodom and Gomorrah that is New York City. The passing of same-sex marriage rights legislation in his state and the reproductive health aspects of the new health care mandate present New York’s top priest with fresh opportunity to make his mark as the defender of the faith in the U.S. On Sept. 30, Timothy Dolan, in his capacity of USCCB president, announced the formation of a sub-committee whose task will be to respond to the “erosion of freedom of religion in America”: “…the new subcommittee would be one of several initiatives designed to strengthen the conference’s response and bring together a broad cross-section of churches and legal scholars to oppose attacks on the First Amendment.”

Dolan is fronting this crusade, and the degree of difficulty involved makes going out on a limb with a shaky “First Amendment” argument worth the gamble. He has appointed a Connecticut Bishop, William Lori, to head up the new committee. Unfortunately the first association many Catholics have with the “Diocese of Bridgeport” is its notorious status as a locus of sexual abuse. (In 2001, the Diocese of Bridgeport settled in 23 civil sex abuse cases, and there, according to Bishop Accountability.org, Timothy Dolan’s predecessor is alleged to have allowed priests facing multiple accusations to continue in ministry.)

The USCCB is now lobbying hard to make same-sex civil marriage illegal in the U.S. and to deny (Catholic and not) employees in agencies run by the church medical coverage for contraception and sterilization. And they want Catholics in the pews to help. The bishops can count on the holy-father-knows-best Roman Catholic fringe to serve as hoplites in what the hierarchy-friendly Catholic News Service calls the “culture wars”. They’d follow the Borgia pope into hell. However, the bishops will lack critical Roman Catholic mass in these “culture wars,” and their strongest support for DOMA may come from “bring-your-gun-to-church” and “God hates fags” so-called “Christian” churches. Progressive Roman Catholics, who tend support LGBT marriage and view family planning as a moral responsibility and not a sin, are likely to think the First Amendment angle disingenuous and inane. Moderate Catholics, who might not long ago have had the USCCB’s back in a such controversies as DOMA or the health care mandate, are alienated and sickened by the pedophilia crisis. They can no longer be counted on to fall in line behind the bishops.

Were so much not at stake, I’d find Dolan’s recent foray into First Amendment advocacy amusing. Has he read the First Amendment? For he appears to miss the point. The First Amendment does not guarantee one religion the right to obtain religious liberty by stripping others of theirs.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

Many religions recognized and sanctified same-sex marriages long before same-sex marriage was legal in any state in the U.S. What (legal or moral) right has Timothy Dolan to tear lawful marriages asunder? Or to nullify covenants consecrated by Reform Jewish or Christian rites? Dolan’s campaign to (in effect) annul same-sex marriages reflects neither the spirit of ecumenism nor that of secular law as it pertains to marriage.

Same-sex couples in states in which equal-marriage legislation has passed are family now.

Furthermore, many atheists hold marriage equality (for lack of a better word, I say) “sacred.” Under the First Amendment, atheist LGBT and straight Americans enjoy the right not to be subject to religious law. DOMA wold impose religious law on everyone. This is an affront to all who take seriously the principle of separation between church and state. Though same-sex marriages are legal in the state of New York, no law compels Timothy Dolan to recognize them, and the First Amendment protects his right to refuse to marry LGBT Catholics in his church.

The consternation of the conflicted “believer” working at the marriage license bureau who finds processing marriage licenses for LGBT couples distasteful is nothing new. Many a court clerk during the Civil Rights Era no doubt endured a similar kind of anguish when required to process marriage licenses for heterosexual interracial couples. People allow moral discernment to shape their decisions about employment all the time. Marriage Bureau employees who find gay marriage distasteful must either suck it up or seek employment that better accommodates their prejudice.

Dolan is quoted in the National Catholic Register as having said the following: “If the label of “bigot” sticks to us — especially in court — because of our teaching on marriage, we’ll have church-state conflicts for years to come as a result.”

The archbishop is right to worry. The “label of bigot” will stick. The best way to defend against being called a bigot is to not be one.

Dolan is not nearly so interested in the First Amendment protections as he is in holding the Vatican’s doctrinal/political ground. The Roman Catholic hierarchy is under attack from within and without. Dolan is taking his shot. He’s hoping that cloaking bigotry the finery of constitutional protections might make him and his hierarchy appear more freedom-forward and perhaps a tad less medieval. But blurring, perforating, crossing and erasing the line of demarcation between church and state won’t win the archbishop any points with most American Catholics. And outside the church, Dolan’s First Amendment-based power play is likely to come off as the Captain Queeg-like snit of a “religious leader” who knows his ship is going down.

Dolan is playing the “good cop” role now, but “bad cops” surround him. On the matter of the health care mandate, Daniel N. DiNardo, chairman of the U.S. bishop’s pro-life committee was quick to whip out the shiv. He said this on Sept. 26, about a month after the USCCB announced its dissatsifaction with the terms of the the federal health care mandate:

“Under the new rule our institutions would be free to act in accord with Catholic teaching on life and procreation only if they were to stop hiring and serving non-Catholics. … Although this new rule gives the agency the discretion to authorize a ‘religious’ exemption, it is so narrow as to exclude most Catholic social service agencies and healthcare providers.”
The ultra hierarchy-friendly Catholic News Agency’s choice of the word “warned” says a lot. It’s code for “Give us what we want or we’ll stop healing, clothing, feeding, sheltering and offering hospice to non-Catholics.”

Another bishop, Bishop David A. Zubik of Pittsburg, weighed in with a similar kind of warning in a Sept. 15 letter to Human Health Services (HHS) secretary Kathleen Sibelius;
…Catholic Charities in his diocese alone has served over 80,000 people last year 
”without regard to the religious belief” of those they ministered to.

But “under this [health care] mandate, Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh would either be forced to cease to exist or restrict its employees and its wide ranging social services to practicing Catholics alone.”
Essentially, Bishops Zubik and DiNardo are floating ultimata. They don’t come right out and say so, but the implication in Zubik’s case is that the bishops might have little choice but to add to the suffering and hardship of 80,000 people currently under the care of Catholic Charities. Not much Christ in that.

Thank God this vicious game of chicken won’t work. The public relations fallout would be disastrous if the bishops were to make good on such threats. Even the most conservative of Catholics would be ambivalent about such tactics because even daily-mass-attending, novena-praying rosary ladies who oppose abortion know that sacrificing sick, hungry, homeless “born” children to the supposed greater good of preserving the lives of zygotes and embryos would constitute a sin as grave as any.

That any bishop thinks it acceptable to use works of mercy as leverage is troubling and indicates just how estranged from Christian ideals many of the Catholic bishops are. From a public relations standpoint, the utter lack of diplomacy in such expressions as Zubik’s reveals how out of touch the Catholic hierarchy is with what the worlds sees when it beholds the church.

Much of the world now views the Roman Catholic Church as a corrupt organization led by a there-but-for-the grace-of-extradition-agreements-go-I pontiff. Were Ratzinger not head of a sovereign state, the world might well have witnessed his perp walk by now. The damning Cloyne Report turned the most pious Catholic nation in Europe against the hierarchy. The Vatican is on Amnesty International’s list of torturers for its human rights violations/crimes against children. The Center for Constitutional Rights and SNAP (Survivors Network of Persons Abused by Priests) are filing suit against the Vatican in the International Criminal Courts. Yet, even as it faces the possibility of a trial at the Hague, the Vatican continues to show poor faith in addressing the hundreds of thousands of brutal crimes against its own children.

Catholics in the pews are repulsed by this, and have grown weary of pro forma expressions of contrition for the anguish pedophile priests inflicted and which bishops facilitated. These apologies are never more tainted than when topped off with not-so-gentle reminders that justice (i.e. damages) for each and every victim would bankrupt the church.

The Vatican may be rich, but the church has money problems.

In the Brooklyn (N.Y.) diocese, where I worship, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio has used his weekly column to urge Catholics in Brooklyn and Queens to vote against the Child Victim’s Act in the New York State Assembly. Payouts, we have been told, would bankrupt the diocese. DiMarzio has publicly threatened to close parishes whose members fail to vote his way. He recorded robocalls for a local politician. His politicking is, at least, risky behavior, and, at worst, possibly a violation of tax law. The aforementioned attempts at clerical blackmail, though unseemly, may be blessings in disguise, however, because they show the world who these “religious leaders” really are and where they stand on the church/state divide.

I take great pride in the work my church does on behalf of the aged, infirm, indigent and marginalized in the city where I live. My own experience working in social justice ministry has offered me opportunity to see closely how fervently devoted we (Catholics) are in it, yet I believe the world outside the church would indeed pick up the slack were the bishops to take their ball and go home.

Bishops play a dangerous game when they threaten to use the leverage they think they have to bring secular law in line with canon law. The church receives much financial support from the government in the form of tax exemptions. I don’t want to see my diocese or any other lose its tax exempt status, but the bishops are pushing their luck — which could soon run out, along with the money. The bishops would do well to bear in mind that they are called to be teachers and priests, not emperors. They play fast and loose with their tax-exempt status at their own peril and their recklessness in this puts needy people of all faiths — and no faith — at risk. Political power can be expensive. The religious freedom argument cuts both ways.

Full Article HERE!

Gay theologian speaks out

Fr. James Alison, one of only a “handful” of gay Catholic theologians, spoke Monday about the prevailing sense of homophobia in the Catholic church and how the issue can be combated today, in an event sponsored by Campus Ministry, the Triangle Club and OMA.

“Fr. Alison was able to speak across our isolated areas of life and is an example of what we hope for students,” said Nicholas Coffman, chapel coordinator and campus minister. “The purpose of the event was to build community and welcome students.”

The British-born Alison, a member of the clergy since age 18, began by addressing the history of homosexuality in Europe and how it was viewed in the church, then moved into a discussion of contemporary debate on the issue. He noted that, before the 16th century, many groups in Europe were divided along gendered lines, with the two groups barely interacting with one another.

“When the idea of heterosexuality began emerging, this was mega-weird in the West,” said Alison.

He continues that it wasn’t until the beginning of the 16th century that homosexuality began to be viewed as “odd,” a type of “othering” that would continue to grow into the 19th century.

He cites Evelyn Hooker’s 1957 study “The Adjustment of the Male Overt Homosexual” as one of the turning points in this type of thinking. Her study demonstrated that, according to Alison, “there is no link between screwed-up-ness and sexuality and that we are all as screwed up as each other.”

This type of post-World War II trend has continued, establishing the belief that homosexuality is not a social problem that can be solved, but simply a “non-pathological variant within the human condition, like left-handedness.”

Alison made clear distinctions between the views of the laity and the views of the Catholic hierarchy post-World War II, and points to the fact that while issues like gay marriage have been openly adopted in heavily Catholic countries, church officials have been slow to bring about open dialogues in addressing the issue.
“It puts the church in the rather difficult position of living 50 years out of date,” Alison said. “In the last 50 to 60 years we’ve had a collapse of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy in lay society, but not the church hierarchy.”

To help combat this prevailing sense of homophobia in Catholic hierarchy, Alison is quick to point out the church’s own teachings which can be utilized to help fight this attitude. He looks to the Catholic idea that “Grace Perfects Nature,” or the idea that followers of the faith can flourish where they are in life. However, for this to happen, church authorities must go beyond a negative view of homosexuality to accept the idea that homosexuality is not a defect in social behavior before “flourishing” can happen.

Alison points to the fact that many lay Catholics today have already embraced this idea, shown in the legalizing of gay marriage in places like Brazil, Mexico and even New York.
“They understand the idea that ‘If that’s what they are, they must be the best of what they are,’ and can see the reality of what that means,” Alison said.
Alison also challenges future generations to better understand what same-sex marriage means in a Catholic setting, and what the “shape of God’s blessing,” means in that setting.

While Alison acknowledges that change will only come about at a slow pace to the hierarchy, he notes the “marked change of the past 15 years” and hopes that the conversation is able to develop in creative ways.”

Coffman echoes Alison’s sentiments, hoping that people, especially in the United States, will continue to engage in a discussion that recognizes the openness of the Catholic faith, and that it emphasizes a gospel of love.

“It’s a matter of time before the church recognizes that we have a responsibility to be in partnership with our homosexual brothers and sisters and be bound up in their own flourishing, because their flourishing is bound up in ours. We are no longer the us and them, we are now we.”

Due to time constraints, representatives of Campus Ministry could not be reached for comment.

Full Article HERE!