By Brian Roewe
Cleveland Bishop Richard Lennon has issued a decree formally excommunicating Fr. Robert Marrone, the pastor who followed his parishioners from St. Peter Church to the independent worship community that formed in the wake of their parish’s closing.
“It is with sadness I recognize that the Reverend Robert J. Marrone, a priest of the Diocese of Cleveland, has broken communion with the Catholic Church,” Lennon’s decree, issued Monday, reads. “He is found to have withdrawn submission to the pastors of the Church and from communion with the members of the Church subject to them.
“I hereby declare that by doing so freely and with knowledge, the Reverend Robert J. Marrone has incurred ipso facto the automatic penalty (latae sententiae) of excommunication as stated in canon 1364, [paragraph 1] of the Code of Canon Law,” he said.
The decree accuses the priest of schism and forbids him from participation in celebrations of the sacraments or in public worship. Marrone can neither receive sacraments nor hold a position in any ecclesiastical office. Canon law allows him 10 days from his excommunication’s publishing to appeal the decree — in this case, until March 14.
Marrone addressed his status in a brief statement to members of the Community of St. Peter, stating the action “reflects the continuous pattern [in the diocese] which has marked the process of clustering, consolidation, closing, suppressions and reopening of parishes. I must, as I have stated repeatedly in the past, follow my conscience in this matter.”
Marrone expressed his gratitude to the community while reaffirming his commitment as their pastor-administrator.
“I will continue to serve the Community of Saint Peter as long as they call me to do so and as long as I am able to fulfill the responsibilities of the work entrusted to me,” he said.
The community scheduled a meeting for registered members only March 11 to discuss their pastor’s current status and future.
At posting time, Marrone had not responded to NCR’s request for comment.
In a statement accompanying his official decree, Lennon said, “The desired effect of excommunication is not to ban someone from the Church permanently. Rather it is a temporary status meant to be medicinal and to encourage the person to reconcile with the Church.”
He added that though excommunicated, Marrone remains a member of the church but has harmed his relationship with it and God through his actions, specifically holding a leadership position with the breakaway St. Peter community.
In March 2009, Lennon announced the closing of St. Peter Parish as part of a wave of closures across the diocese. In all, he shuttered 50-plus parishes and churches, primarily in response to decreasing membership and increasing costs.
Several parishioner groups appealed their cases to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy, and in March 2012, it ruled in favor of 11 parishes, saying Lennon improperly shuttered them and ordering their immediate reopening.
Among those was St. Peter, which, given its unique circumstances, presented a more difficult process than the others. Unwilling to disband as a community upon learning of their church’s closure, a large contingent of St. Peter parishioners chose instead to incorporate themselves in October 2009 as a group outside the diocese’s authority.
A year later in August, they gathered for the first time at their new worship site, a renovated warehouse on Euclid Street. Marrone celebrated the Mass despite his prohibition to publicly celebrate sacraments under the terms of his requested one-year leave from priestly ministry.
Lennon in his statement said he met with Marrone a month before that celebration but said the priest refused to talk. Further attempts to meet also proved futile.
In January 2011, Lennon took a first step toward action against Marrone, giving him a formal canonical warning that he must resign from leadership with the Community of St. Peter. Marrone declined.
In May, Lennon issued a “Declaration of Loss of Canonical Office,” which removed Marrone as pastor of St. Peter Parish and requested he reconcile with the diocese by leaving the Community of St. Peter or face suspension from ministry.
“I will not comply with your decree to leave the community of Saint Peter because I must, before all else, follow what my conscience dictates,” Marrone responded in a letter to Lennon.
A month after St. Peter Parish officially reopened, Lennon in October began the administrative penal process outlined by canon law, with a formal canonical warning sent to Marrone in late October.
Addressing the diocese, Lennon urged parishioners to pray for Marrone and pray that the incident could bring the diocese together.
“I pray that this action may be perceived by the faithful as an initiative to bring unity and peace to the Body of Christ,” he said.
Complete Article HERE!
A study on Germany’s Catholic community reveals the discontent of faithful with the ecclesiastical institution. But proposals for solutions are lacking
By ALESSANDRO ALVIANI
The Pope’s ecclesiastical policies are “backward-looking” and suspected of trying to take the Church back to the pre-Second Vatican Council period. As for the Church’s leaders, they are “cut off from reality, reactionary and obstructionist.”
This is the opinion German faithful have of Benedict XVI and the Catholic Church according to a study by Sinus Institute and consulting agency MDG (which the German Church controls). In-depth interviews were conducted with 100 Catholics from different social backgrounds. According to the study, which picks up on a similar one carried out in 2005, German faithful are convinced that today’s Church finds itself in a “desolate situation” and the most obvious manifestation of this is the sex abuse scandal.
The authors of the study wrote that the scandal seriously damaged the image of the Church, even in the eyes of the most fervent Catholics, whose faith was deeply shaken. The scandal was seen as confirmation of the Church’s “modernization deficit”. The Church lost a great deal of credibility not just as a result of the accusations of paedophilia made against it but also because many believe it dealt with the abuse issue inadequately.
Internal dogma and rules that had been tacitly accepted until about a year ago are now openly criticised by faithful. Criticisms range from complaints about “discrimination against women” and celibacy, to the condemnation of homosexuality, contraception and sex outside wedlock, to the marginalisation of lay people involved in Church life.
Another factor that is creating animosity, is the organisational restructuring that is taking place in Germany, with a number of parishes being merged because of the shortage in parish priests, for example.
The study also shows the Church’s detachment from the weakest sections of society: it would make no difference to the lower social classes if the Church ceased to exist.
Despite their criticisms, however, faithful still look to the Church for “spiritual guidance” and “meaning”. The majority of them do not want to lose their Catholic identity and few consider leaving the Church.
So what do German faithful expect from the Church? They want lay people involved in the Church to play a greater role; they want more women in leadership roles; the possibility for women to be ordained priests; the elimination of celibacy; a different attitude towards sexuality and contraception; the sacraments to be administrated to all Christians, regardless of their denomination or sexual identity; less ostentation and less abuse of power and a greater focus on God’s love and love for one’s neighbour.
Complete Article HERE!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Complete Article HERE!
Election results all across the country couldn’t have been worse for our boys in the fuschia beanies. All their bigotry, all their hate, all their efforts to manipulate the election in favor of the Republicans have come to nought. All their money was wasted on an indefensible campaign. And I think it is safe to say that the election results shows, that once again, they are on the wrong side of history.
These insulated, monolithic, callous, tone deaf and power-hungry crusty old men have been given the drubbing they so richly deserve. Now we must take the lead. Let’s redouble our effort to take back the church! Hurray for all the courageous Catholics who voted for justice, goodness and Gospel values.
A word to my brother clergy of whatever rank in the Church — you have an important teaching role in our faith community. We’re fine with that. We look to you for guidance. We hope you will continue to share your faith with us in as passionate a way as you see fit. However, your position in the Church does not give you license to shame, humiliate. denigrate or in any other way bully anyone else of conscience for their faith commitment. Let your teaching and leadership be by example, not by harassment.
You must know that you are dangerously close to being completely irrelevant for the vast majority of the people you have been ordained to serve. Let this election be a wake up call to you. Show us some humility and a modicum of humanness and we may once again embrace you as our leaders. But remember, you will have to earn our trust. Because as it stand now; you are morally bankrupt.
Kate Kenna, a lifelong Catholic, career social worker and political progressive in Grand Forks, has mounted a reaction to news of a North Dakota bishop’s call to the faithful concerning voting.
Kenna bought a “City Briefs” ad in the Herald with a short message: “The bishop is bringing politics to church. Please wear a political button to Mass on Sunday to support the candidate of your choice.”
It began running Thursday online.
Kenna also called Joel Heitkamp at KFGO radio in Fargo, who talked about it Thursday on the air.
And Kenna has organized a sort of demonstration Sunday at her own parish, Holy Family. She and others, including her friend Thomasine Heitkamp, will be standing with others outside the church to show their disagreement with the bishop. The Heitkamps are siblings of Democratic Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp.
Kagan was appointed bishop in Bismarck in November and named apostolic administrator of the Fargo diocese this summer until a replacement bishop is announced.
It came to light the past week that Kagan sent a letter to all priests in the state to be read Sunday.
The bishop declined to release the letter pending its being read Sunday in churches. But he announced Thursday he will discuss the letter at 9 a.m. Tuesday on Real Presence Radio at 1370 AM in Grand Forks and 1280 AM in Fargo.
State Sen. Tim Mathern, D-Fargo, released the text of the letter and criticized it in a Forum Communications story Wednesday, saying it went over the line in directing Catholics how to vote.
Although Kagan’s letter does not mention parties or candidates by name, Mathern said it clearly was pointed at Democrats because of the party’s known support for the issues Kagan mentioned.
Plus, Mathern said the phrase used by Kagan telling Catholics not to vote for “the most likable” candidate appears to echo Republican ads referring to Heidi Heitkamp.
Friend of Heitkamps
Kenna said that’s how she sees it, too, especially as a longtime close friend of Thomasine and Heidi Heitkamp.
Catholics are taught to follow their own conscience, she said.
“I think I have a perfectly formed conscience,” said Kenna, who credits growing up going to St. Michael’s Elementary School and St. James High School in Grand Forks. That’s led her to devote her life to social work and to support the Democratic party because she sees it as caring for people.
“We can’t just look at being pro-life as just being pro-delivery,” Kenna said. “Being pro-life means all of life and that means people who are here, also.”
The church is a place where people of all political persuasions should feel welcome and be united in faith, not in politics, she said.
Christopher Dodson, executive director of the North Dakota Catholic Conference, a public policy and lobbying effort of the two dioceses in the state, agrees that partisan politics doesn’t belong in church. Nor does Bishop Kagan, who does not refer to any individuals or parties in his letter, Dodson said.
“There’s nothing new in the letter, it’s all Catholic teaching on how to form one’s conscience,” Dodson. His office has been sending similar messages to parishes in the state regularly since about Labor Day, he said.
The bishop’s reference to not voting for someone because they are “likable” reflects long-held Catholic teaching that the faithful should look at deeper issues than either pocketbook issues or a person’s personality, Dodson said. It’s not about Heitkamp or anyone in particular, he said.
“It’s not about influencing elections, it’s about the care of souls,” Dodson said. That’s why the bishop has been reluctant to discuss his letter before parishioners hear it themselves in church, not in a partisan debate on radio or television, Dodson said.
“People who are really involved in partisan politics get hyper-partisan around election time and everything they see gets interpreted through those partisan lenses,” he said. “I think parishioners will be pleasantly surprised when they finally hear the letter and see that it doesn’t deal with partisan politics.”
Faith and politics
Kenna long has taken her faith and her politics seriously.
In the fall of 1968 at the height of the Vietnam War, a woman regularly stood across the street from St. James High School, holding a sign protesting the war, Kenna remembers. “She wasn’t allowed to come on the school grounds.”
A junior, Kenna invited the woman to speak to her current events class.
“I got suspended for three days,” she said with a laugh.
Now she feels she must react to the message from the bishop that she might be voting the wrong way.
“I think the bishop of Bismarck has brought this to a new level where he is bringing politics into church and as a responsible voter I have to say that’s wrong, and how do I respond that?” she said.
“I could stand up and walk out of church (while the letter is read) but I think that would be disrespectful to our priest,” she said.
Instead, she and others plan to stand outside Holy Family during Masses on Sunday.
Although she will wear a Heitkamp button, it’s not about campaigning, she said, adding she hopes many wear buttons of all sorts.
“I don’t think it’s a protest; I think it’s just an awareness-building exercise,” she said. “I just want people to examine their consciences and then vote the way they feel is consistent with their beliefs. I don’t want to be told that in church.”
Complete Article HERE!
An elderly widow claims in court that a Catholic priest defrauded her of $284,000 after her husband died.
Michalena Jones, 79, sued The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles and Father Peter Valdez, in Superior Court.
That done, she says, “Valdez wrongfully placed his name [on] various checking accounts in which Jones had funds” and paid his mortgage out of those joint accounts until 2010.
The complaint continues: “Additionally, Valdez at various times would place his name on, and take his name off, the title of the property. This was done for purposes of re-financing the property at which time Valdez would secret, appropriate and retain the money from the re-finance. Defendant Valdez was given additional sums [of] money over the course of years from 2003 to 2010, in an amount in excess of $284,000.00.”
Jones says she met Valdez after her husband died, when she volunteered to work at her church, St. Mary’s in Palmdale. “Valdez, in his capacity as Jones’ Catholic priest, and in his official capacity as Catholic priest and under color of authority, made certain representations to plaintiff and enticed her to give money to Valdez in part for the purchase of a home for Valdez,” in Downey.
Jones says he handed over $160,000 to Valdez for the house, in the form of two cashier’s checks.
Jones describes herself in the complaint as a “devout Catholic,” who “developed a great admiration, trust, reverence, respect and obedience to, Roman Catholic clergy, who occupied positions of great influence and persuasion as holy men and authority figures. Plaintiff therefore was encouraged to trust, respect and obey Catholic priests, including defendant Valdez.”
Jones claims that the “defendant Archdiocese was aware of Valdez’s activity and condoned and otherwise approved of Valdez’s activity. Defendant Archdiocese was at all times aware of defendant Valdez’s activity and was specifically made aware of these activities by another Catholic priest who complained to the office of the Clergy in Los Angeles. Defendant Archdiocese, knowing that these events took place from 2003 through 2010 acted recklessly in failing to stop such wrongful activities and in failing to warn plaintiff and her family.” Jones seeks compensatory and punitive damages for elder financial abuse, fraud, conversion and negligent hiring, supervision and retention.
Complete Article HERE!
Nice goin’ (Archbishop) Sal; piss of the drag queens first thing out the gate.
A local gay recovery group will not be holding its annual fall fundraiser in the social hall of the Castro neighborhood’s Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church after officials said that no drag queens would be allowed.
As a statement issued by the country club’s board of directors explained, the new no-drag-queen policy at the church is simply unacceptable.
“The Castro Country Club had planned to hold our third annual Harvest Feast on October 20, 2012, at Most Holy Redeemer Church, where we have held this and other events in the past,” the directors said in a statement.
But that changed when the club was notified by the church last week that they would not be able to hold the dinner if any drag queens were part of the program, the board said.
“In previous years, we have had Ivy Drip and Heklina, both well-known entertainers and community fundraisers, serve as emcees of the event, and we felt we could not in good conscience abide by the church’s new policy,” the board said.
“It is our organization’s policy to be inclusive and welcoming to all. Drag queens are no exception. We are currently seeking an alternative venue for the Harvest Feast, which provides an important source of revenue for our annual budget,” the board added.
Individual members of the country club declined to comment and referred to the board’s statement.
Most Holy Redeemer’s new pastor, the Reverend Brian Costello, confirmed over telephone on Monday, August 6, that drag queen performers and emcees are no longer permitted to participate in events at the church.
Costello said that during a telephone conversation with a Castro Country Club representative, when the topic of drag queens came up, he told the person, “That is not going to work under the present circumstances.”
“I said work with me. You can still have the dinner. You can have a regular emcee, but not drag queens on church property,” Costello said.
It seems the directive is the result of several factors.
“I am the new pastor,” Costello added. “There is a new archbishop. The archdiocese told me straight out, ‘No drag queens.’”
The change of policy at Most Holy Redeemer was greeted with charges of discrimination, homophobia, and calls for compromise, even reconciliation.
“It’s really ridiculous and discriminatory,” said Zachary Davenport in a phone interview. “I mean it’s like, who’s next?”
Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in the Castro has banned drag queens, forcing the Castro Country Club to find a new venue for its fall fundraiser.
(Photo: Rick Gerharter)
The drag queen ban is personal for Davenport, who, in drag as Laybelline has served as emcee for a variety of sobriety-related nonprofit events held at Most Holy Redeemer.
“What constitutes drag?” he said. “If we want to get funny, let’s talk about the priests. Hello.”
Davenport also pointed to a nuanced landscape of gender identity and expression, which the new policy at Most Holy Redeemer seemingly blocks. “There are members of our community who express their gender all the time, and are not necessarily performing, but would say, ‘Yes, I am in drag,’” he said.
“Yes, I realize [Most Holy Redeemer] is a church. But it is in the Castro,” said Davenport. If, “the new archbishop is wanting to do away with drag queens and the gays,” then “look where you are. [The neighborhood] has a history of 30 to 40 years of being a safe place.”
A California native from Watsonville, Davenport, 28, who is not Catholic, added, “I know gay people who go to Most Holy Redeemer and love the church.”
Dignity San Francisco offered its take on the new policy at Most Holy Redeemer.
“This is an unfortunate development between Most Holy Redeemer and the Castro County Club,” said Ernest L. Camisa, treasurer of the Dignity/SF chapter, speaking for the organization by e-mail and over the telephone.
“It looks like the Archdiocese of San Francisco wants to protect its image by not condoning cross-dressers. By doing so they show that they care more for their image than they do for gay people trying to overcome alcohol addiction. Here the church looks like it values its own image more than it does human life. This is not Christian, but callous,” Camisa said.
A couple of Most Holy Redeemer parishioners declined to comment. No one from Castro Country Club was willing to speak on the record.
Reached by phone, George Wesolek, department head for communications and public policy for the archdiocese, said he was not in the policy conversation “loop.” Nonetheless, Wesolek acknowledged, the situation is “difficult pastorally,” particularly in “very divided and fractious church.”
Others weigh in
Meanwhile, across the country, the new no-drag queen policy has struck a chord among gay Catholic activists and those in ministry.
“I think this is a very difficult and complex time for not only the pastor and the people of Holy Redeemer parish, but also for members of the drag community. All three groups are an example of ordinary people being called to do some extraordinary things for their neighbors. The pastor and parish of Most Holy Redeemer have to be very careful not to throw out the baby with the water in the name of homophobia. Jesus, not homophobia, should guide us in this matter,” said Joe Murray, a founder of the Chicago-based the pro-LGBT Catholic Rainbow Sash Movement.
The Rainbow Sash Movement, stateside and abroad, advocates reception of Eucharist by visibly gay persons during Mass. The movement is best known for donning rainbow sashes on Pentecost and approaching the altar for communion during Mass that day.
At the same time, New Ways Ministry Executive Director Francis De Bernardo offered his assessment via e-mail correspondence.
“Drag is a historically-based, time-honored entertainment tradition that has existed, at least, since classical times,” he said.
“Canceling this program without any explanation or substantial reason is simply caving into fear of reprisals from higher authorities. If the [Most Holy Redeemer] community has supported this event for years, there has obviously been a relationship that has developed between the sponsoring organization and the parish, and it would be great if the two groups could work together to find some resolution. Reconciliation is what any and every parish should be about. If the parish does not offer a substantial intervening reason, we can only assume that other forces have had influence,” said DeBernardo.
Located just outside Washington, D.C., New Ways is a pro-gay Catholic ministry of education, healing, and reconciliation for LGBT Catholics, their families, friends, and the wider church.
For his part, Costello said the Castro Country Club event would have been in its third year at Most Holy Redeemer.
“It’s not a 20- to 25-year relationship,” he said.
Nonetheless, Costello lamented the course of events.
“I am big on compromising,” he said. But “[Castro Country Club] would not work with me. It was all or nothing. And they got nothing.”
Costello also said that with respect to drag queens, “We have had bad experiences, not only in church, but also the [social] hall.”
Still, “I feel bad because [Castro Country Club] do[es] good work in the community,” he said.
While Costello did not elaborate on any social hall “bad experience,” one church incident nearly five years ago caused a media stir.
During Sunday Mass on Sunday, October 7, 2007, Archbishop George Niederauer gave communion to two members of the activist group and drag troupe Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, an indecent that angered, hurt, and even horrified some conservative Catholics, as well as it grabbed local and national headlines.
Called to task locally by the California Catholic Daily and a “90 years young” priest, the Reverend John Malloy, on A Shepherd’s Voice blog, Niederauer apologized for giving communion to gays dressed as nuns.
Attempts to reach the Sisters for comment on the recent change of policy at Most Holy Redeemer were unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, as recent as April 29, in a Shepherd’s Voice post Malloy blasted the “gay parish” for hosting an April 14 “drag show” to benefit the Castro Country Club, “a substance abuse treatment organization.”
“Hosting a drag show at [Most Holy Redeemer] is the equivalent of sending a case of wine to Castro Country Club,” wrote Malloy. “It is beyond irresponsible for the Archdiocese of San Francisco to allow it.”
And while local conservative bloggers and orthodox Catholic activists may well exacerbate tensions at Most Holy Redeemer, Rainbow Sash Movement’s Murray noted, “The appointment of Archbishop-elect [Salvatore] Cordileone has brought this matter to a head.”
And yet, said Murray, “Let’s be very clear homophobia in the church existed prior to this event.”
He went on to fault the teaching of the Catholic Church, the Catechism, “for saying on the one hand that homosexuals are to be welcomed and every form of unjust discrimination is to be condemned, while saying at the same time saying we are morally disordered for our love.”
“Either gay and lesbian people are welcome at Most Holy Redeemer or they are not. It’s that simple. If the tradition of Most Holy Redeemer is to allow for drag queens to raise money for charity, then to fault those who are raising the money in the name of homophobia, I think, speaks volumes to what type of ministry is going on at Most Holy Redeemer; and that deeply disturbs me. If that is the case, I like the parishioners of Most Holy Redeemer have been misled,” said Murray.
Complete Article HERE!
Today’s Washington Post reports on a highly troubling story (Arlington Diocese parishioners question need for fidelity oath) about a rising trend in Catholic dioceses to require workers — including volunteers who teach religious education — to affirm some sort of “fidelity oath” in order to continue their work or ministry. The story ends with this:
The Rev. Ronald Nuzzi, who heads the leadership program for Catholic educators at the University of Notre Dame, said many bishops “are in a pickle.” They want Catholic institutions to be staffed by people who not only teach what the church teaches but whose “whole life will bear witness.”
Nuzzi said he keeps a photo on his desk from the 1940s that shows all the German bishops in their garb, doing the Nazi salute.
“I keep it there to remind people who say to do everything the Church says, that their wisdom has limitations, too.”
Anyone who fully understands and values the breadth and depth of Catholic Christianity must be appalled by this trend, especially when such oaths appear to be written in ways that clearly are contrary to Catholic teaching. What is more troubling, however, is the perspective expressed by some — both clergy and laity — who see no problem with such a practice.
Complete Article HERE!
I ALWAYS liked that the name of my religion was also an adjective meaning all-embracing.
So it makes me sad to see the Catholic Church grow so uncatholic, intent on loyalty testing, mind control and heresy hunting. Rather than all-embracing, the church hierarchy has become all-constricting.
It was tough to top the bizarre inquisition of self-sacrificing American nuns pushed by the disgraced Cardinal Bernard Law. Law, the former head of the Boston archdiocese, fled to a plush refuge in Rome in 2002 after it came out that he protected priests who molested thousands of children.
But the craziness continued when an American priest, renowned for his TV commentary from Rome on popes and personal morality, admitted last week that he had fathered a child with a mistress.
The Rev. Thomas Williams belongs to the Legionaires of Christ, the order founded by the notorious Mexican priest Marcial Maciel Degollado, a pal of Pope John Paul II who died peppered with accusations that he sexually abused seminarians and fathered several children and abused some of them.
The latest kooky kerfuffle was sparked by the invitation to Kathleen Sebelius, the health and human services secretary, to speak at a graduation ceremony at Georgetown University on Friday. The silver-haired former Kansas governor is a practicing Catholic with a husband and son who graduated from Georgetown. But because she fought to get a federal mandate for health insurance coverage of contraceptives and morning-after pills, including at Catholic schools and hospitals, Sebelius is on the hit list of a conservative Catholic group in Virginia, the Cardinal Newman Society, which militates to bar speakers at Catholic schools who support gay rights or abortion rights.
The Society for Truth and Justice, a fringe Christian anti-abortion group, compared Sebelius to Himmler, and protesters showed up on campus to yell at her for being, as one screamed, “a murderer.”
“Remember, Georgetown has no neo-Nazi clubs or skinhead clubs on campus, nor should they,” Bill Donohue, the Catholic League president, said on Fox News. “But they have two — two! — pro-abortion clubs at Georgetown University. Now they’re bringing in Kathleen Sebelius. They wouldn’t bring in an anti-Semite, nor should they. They wouldn’t bring in a racist, nor should they. But they’re bringing in a pro-abortion champion, and they shouldn’t.”
Washington’s Cardinal Donald Wuerl called the invitation “shocking” and upbraided the Georgetown president, John DeGioia. But DeGioia, who so elegantly defended the Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke against Rush Limbaugh’s nasty epithets, stood fast against dogmatic censorship.
Speaking to the graduates, Sebelius evoked J.F.K.’s speech asserting that religious bodies should not seek to impose their will through politics. She said that contentious debate is a strength of this country, adding that in some other places, “a leader delivers an edict and it goes into effect. There’s no debate, no criticism, no second-guessing.”
Just like the Vatican.
Twenty-eight years ago, weighing a run for president, Mario Cuomo gave a speech at Notre Dame in which he deftly tried to explain how officials could remain good Catholics while going against church dictums in shaping public policy.
“The American people need no course in philosophy or political science or church history to know that God should not be made into a celestial party chairman,” he said.
I called Cuomo to see if, as his son Andrew weighs running for president, he felt the church had grown less tolerant.
“If the church were my religion, I would have given it up a long time ago,” he said. “All the mad and crazy popes we’ve had through history, decapitating the husbands of women they’d taken. All the terrible things the church has done. Christ is my religion, the church is not.
“If they make the mistake of saying that a politician has to put the church before the Constitution on abortion or other issues, there will be no senators or presidents or any other Catholics in government. The church would be wiser to take the path laid out for us by Kennedy than the path laid out for us by Santorum.”
Absolute intolerance is always a sign of uncertainty and panic. Why do you have to hunt down everyone unless you’re weak? The church doesn’t seem to care if its members’ beliefs are based on faith or fear, conviction or coercion. But what is the quality of a belief that exists simply because it’s enforced?
“To be narrowing the discussion and instilling fear in people seems to be exactly the opposite of what’s called for these days,” says the noted religion writer Kenneth Briggs. “All this foot-stomping just diminishes the church’s credibility even more.”
This is America. We don’t hunt heresies here. We welcome them.
Complete Article HERE!