Anti-gay Charlotte Catholic High lecturer sparks controversy

Gay student and peers, parents and alumni want apology for lecturer who said gay parents abuse children, masturbation turns boys gay

by Matt Comer
Students and parents at Charlotte Catholic High School are speaking out after they say a campus lecturer forcefully condemned homosexuality with outdated statistics, prejudiced stereotypes and other extremist claims.

Sister-Jane-Dominic-LaurelAs of Friday morning, more than 2,100 people had signed onto a petition asking the school and its chaplain, Father Matthew Kauth, to apologize for the lecture led last Friday by Sister Jane Dominic Laurel, a professor at Nashville’s Aquinas College, whose other lectures and presentations posted online also contain wildly inaccurate accusations about gay people and sexuality.

In a separate action, 64 students and 86 alumni signed onto a letter with similar requests and sent directly to school officials.

EXTRA: Read the full alumni and student letter to the school

The letter and petition allege that Laurel said a variety of prejudiced comments about gay and lesbian people during her lecture on masculinity and femininity, including that masturbation or an absent father may make a boy more likely to be gay — two claims soundly rejected by all mainstream medical professionals and associations.

“Then she started talking about how gays [sic] people are gay because they have an absent father figure, and therefore they have not received the masculinity they should have from their father,” reads one student’s account of the message. “Also a guy could be gay if he masterbates [sic] and so he thinks he is being turned on by other guys. And then she gave an example of one of her gay ‘friends’ who said he used to go to a shed with his friends and watch porn and thats why he was gay. … Then she talked about the statistic where gay men have had either over 500 or 1000 sexual partners and after that I got up and went to the bathroom because I should not have had to been subject to that extremely offensive talk.”

A gay Charlotte Catholic student, who did not want to be publicly named because he is not fully out at school or home, said he was upset by the assembly, which was mandatory for all students to attend. He wants the school to apologize, too.

“I would like them to issue a formal apology to the students and to the parents and alumni,” the student told qnotes. “I want them to know how upset everyone is and for them to acknowledge that.”

The gay student corroborated the petition’s several claims about Laurel’s lecture.

“She brought up an abusive Australian couple that was gay and they abused their child, portraying to us that gay people are unfit parents,” he said. “She also said that gay people can become gay because of masturbation or pornography or because they don’t spend enough time with their father because their parents are divorced.”

David Hains, a spokesperson for the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte, told qnotes a parent meeting is scheduled for next Wednesday. It will be held at 7 p.m. in the school’s gym.

qnotes asked Hains what the school or diocese would do to ensure that voices like that of the closeted gay student are considered at the meeting. He said he was certain the issues would be discussed at length.

“The parents of students who are gay and lesbian are obviously going to be welcomed at the meeting,” he said. “There are many of our families at Charlotte Catholic who have students, relatives or friends who are homosexual and that point of view, I’m certain, is going to be represented among the parents at the meeting.”

Hains also confirmed it wasn’t official church teaching that masturbation makes people gay. He said school officials, not the diocese, would have been in charge of approving Laurel’s lecture. Laurel, he said, has a doctorate’s degree in sacred theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, and she will be invited back to speak at a diocesan youth conference in May.

“She talks on a broad range of subjects, so I don’t know that the content of the talk at Charlotte Catholic will be the subject of what she will be talking about in May,” said Hains.

Hains also reiterated official church doctrine on homosexuality and LGBT people.

“The Catholic Church believes people who are homosexual or have a same-sex attraction, whatever you want to call it, are people who deserve lives of peace and dignity and, at the same time, the Catholic Church teaches that sex outside of marriage is wrong,” he said.

Hains said LGBT people and others sometimes have a “misunderstanding on the church’s stand on marriage and its welcoming of homosexual people into Catholic churches.”

Laurel, the Charlotte Catholic High lecturer, has a history of extremist, anti-gay views. She has partnered with the Ruth Institute to present lectures and conferences opposing same-sex marriage. The Ruth Institute was formerly funded by the National Organization for Marriage, a group which has pushed anti-LGBT constitutional amendments nationwide and whose founder has compared gays to pedophiles.

In one lecture posted online, Laurel claims that more young women are engaging in oral sex and says, “This is not a normal sexual act. It’s something that’s imported from the homosexual culture. It’s not part of the natural love between man and woman.”

In another lecture, Laurel speaks at length about the Folsom Street Fair, a San Francisco fetish event. In another video, she says that androgyny is a tool of Satan and that “devil-worshipers” have three goals: to continue abortions, to destroy traditional marriage and destroy the distinction between male and female.

Students and alumni have described the lecture as “teachings of hate and intolerance.”

“Last week’s presentation represents a betrayal of trust,” the student and alumni letter to school officials reads. “Your responsibility to provide nurturing and informative education to the students of Charlotte Catholic was shrugged off. Your mission to truthfully convey the teachings of the Church—the teachings of love, compassion, and humility—was replaced by teachings of hate and intolerance.”

A second petition, with nearly 500 signatures, asks students to “stand up for Catholic beliefs.” It also argues Laurel did not say masturbation makes boys gay, but, rather, describes her remarks as “partaking in masturbation will lessen your masculinity and that through the absence of a parent in the home will also make a greater risk for homosexuality.”

Complete Article HERE!

Unfit for purpose and in denial: a church that has lost all authority

As a matter of urgency, the new pope must extend the gift of marriage to all priesthood candidates. Failure to do that will mean, in less than a generation, a priesthood comprised solely of social misfits and emotionally damaged refugees from reality.

By Kevin McKenna

Of all the theories advanced explaining why the Catholic priesthood attracts so many young gay men, this is the most valid: it is a direct consequence of the church’s official attitude to homosexuality and the way that this has insinuated itself into the fabric of what we might call a traditional Catholic family with its roots in Ireland.

recruitmentIn such an upbringing homosexuality is still treated as the sum of all sins. Catholic families long ago found a way of dealing with abortion, extramarital sex and divorce, the other three horsemen of the Catholic apocalypse, whenever they occurred close to home, but not homosexuality.

The others could all be processed and interpreted as very human failings stemming from the powerful instinct of physical desire and our need for affection and love. The Christian virtues of understanding, compassion and forgiveness are built to outlast initial shock and hurt in these “acceptable” moral failings. Not so homosexuality.

For how many Catholic parents have secretly prayed that their son “does not turn out gay” or obsess about their response if the eldest boy shows no interest in football and insists on taking a shower every day and buying all his own clothes? The church’s pastoral care and guidance for its own gay community is nonexistent. Catholic gays are non-people in my church; they are “los desaparecidos” and one day many of us will be called to account for how we have treated them.

The church has nothing to say to a child reared in these circumstances and who is beginning to encounter issues with his sexual identity. And so, by a perverse irony, the Catholic priesthood becomes a viable option for him. For what better way to submerge your “problem sexuality” than by committing yourself to a life of celibacy and a lifetime of reflection on the burden that God has deemed you must bear for your redemption and his glory?

Neither of these, though, explains why a church which has become a haven for homosexual men has become so obsessive about warning the rest of us about the dangers of gay sex.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Britain’s most senior Catholic cleric, has been accused of “inappropriate behaviour” towards four priests, stretching back 30-odd years. Thus far he has refused to “deny” the claims, merely to “contest” them. The press office for the Catholic church in Scotland, by way of explanation, lamely insists that the cardinal does not know the identity of his accusers, nor the details of which he is being accused.

Has such behaviour occurred so many times that the cardinal simply has trouble recalling specific instances? Or might he genuinely think that what the priests describe as “inappropriate behaviour” was merely a misunderstanding arising from an encounter with an over-affectionate and tactile boss?

The sullen “no comments” and “I can’t help you” are curious, too. This is an organisation that has become the church’s de facto witchfinder-generals, ever vigilant for examples of anti-Catholicism and never missing an opportunity to portray this country as bigoted and backward.

Like the entire hierarchy of the global Catholic church, they are in complete denial about a culture of sexual dysfunction that has been operating at its core for several decades. Hardly a year passes without an example of grotesque sexual behaviour, both homosexual and heterosexual, by a priest or bishop in the church.

The damage to the church is incalculable. In response to last week’s Observer story, the historian Tom Devine, a Catholic, described it as the church’s biggest crisis since the Reformation. It means that the Scottish Catholic church has lost all authority to speak on matters of human relationships until it at least recognises the root of the problem. Quite simply, the Catholic hierarchy in Scotland is no longer fit for purpose. It hasn’t been for a long time now: its default position is denial and concealment before accusing its critics of being motivated by bigotry.

The Vatican says it will investigate the complaints of the cardinal’s accusers. I have very little faith that an inquiry conducted in another country and of indeterminate legal structure and under the authority of another old man in Rome – identity, as yet, unknown – will deliver anything resembling a just outcome.

Nothing less than a full-scale investigation into the structure and leadership of the Scottish Catholic church will suffice to begin the task of recovering its lost authority. The commission to oversee this must be headed by an overseas cardinal of impeccable character and must comprise clergy and lay people in equal measure.

As a matter of urgency, the new pope must extend the gift of marriage to all priesthood candidates. Failure to do that will mean, in less than a generation, a priesthood comprised solely of social misfits and emotionally damaged refugees from reality. Ordinary Catholics have been incessantly grossly betrayed by the Catholic hierarchy. It is time we ignored the weekly collection plate until we receive some answers.

Complete Article HERE!

Tom Rastrelli: Priests who lie; the dilemma of sexual orientation and the priesthood

People don’t expect their priests and bishops to lie, but as Michelangelo Signorile’s recent post illustrated, clerics do lie. Some even make a virtue of it. I know this from experience, for I was ordained a Catholic priest on a lie.

In spring 2002 I walked with my spiritual director along the blacktop road encircling the seminary. He’d been my confessor and guide for two years, helping me discern God’s presence in all aspects of my life, intimate and mundane. Over our heads, a canopy of newborn leaves rustled in a sunny breeze, a welcome relief from the bitter fog that had engulfed the church and my vocational surety.

For the previous two months an unprecedented number of bishops and priests, starting with Cardinal Law of Boston, had fallen from grace for participation in the sexual abuse of children and the ensuing cover-up. Their duplicity was palpable in my knotted back and abdomen. In a few months I’d be ordained a priest. I didn’t want to do so on a lie.

“I’m coming out of the closet,” I said.

My spiritual director loosened his clerical collar and lit a cigarette. “Where’s this coming from?” he asked. A couple of chattering wrens whooshed past.

I backtracked through six years of seminary formation. At events I had hobnobbed with supposedly holy men, some of whom had been harboring pedophiles. A few had done the deed themselves. By shaking their hands, mine were dirty. I knew the ecclesiology, how the bishops’ authority stemmed from a direct line to Jesus, but they were still criminals. Who were they to declare homosexuals “intrinsically depraved”?

When I’d applied for seminary, the director of seminarians — the priest who’d recruited me — explained that orientation didn’t matter, only celibacy. But on my intake interviews he’d told me to answer “yes” when the archdiocesan psychologist asked if I was attracted to women, and “no” when he asked if I was attracted to men. It was for the greater good, he said. Frightened of being cast out and ashamed of my true nature, I had lied as instructed.

In light of the sexual abuse scandal, lying about my orientation was no longer acceptable. I thought of what a gay friend who’d left seminary had said. His words became my own: “I don’t know if I can separate my private and public selves. Isn’t integration the goal of spiritual direction?”

“Of course it is,” my spiritual director said, more gravelly than usual. He stopped and turned to me. A tree cast a web of shadows over his face. His strawberry nose grew flushed, as he gestured with his hands. “Here’s the thing, Rastrelli. You have to ask yourself: Am I going to be a gay priest, or a priest” — he rolled his fingers and cigarette through the air like a barrel — “who happens to be gay?”

“What’s the difference?” I turned my head to inhale, trying to avoid his secondhand smoke. “Either way I’m gay. It’s a part of me.”

“But are you gay first, and then a priest? Or a priest first, and then gay?” He smiled, satisfied with the distinction.

“Both/and.” I’d hit him with what he’d taught me in class. “Both/and” was the paradoxical answer for every ultimate question in Catholic theology: Scripture or tradition? Faith or works? Is Jesus divine or human? Are we sinful or good? is faith a solo or communal experience?

“Touché,” he said. We walked. He sucked his cigarette. “You’re a smart guy, Rastrelli. Give it some thought.”

I kicked a pebble onto the grass. “I have. I don’t want to lie about my sexuality.”

“It’s not lying if those asking don’t have a right to the information.”

He hadn’t even flinched. I wanted to shake the nicotine from his bones, to scream, “It was that kind of thinking that landed the bishops in the papers!” Still, part of me wanted him to be right. Silence was simpler, easier, and maybe my need to come out was just pride at work. My promise of obedience demanded that I surrender my ego. My vocation was about God, not my orientation. But couldn’t we priests be honest with one another? I had to try.

“Gay Catholics don’t have positive role models,” I said. “I don’t know of a single gay priest that’s healthy. Do you?” I stopped. He kept walking. This was as close as I’d ever come to asking him if he was gay. I suspected he was. He’d lived with another priest for decades. They vacationed and picked out carpeting together. They spoke about their cat as if she were their child. Even if he and his housemate weren’t having sex, they were a couple. I stepped in stride with him. “How am I supposed to be an integrated gay priest when I have no one to look up to? How does celibacy actually work?” I stopped again. “I’m asking you.”

He turned to me. His face became whiter than a funeral pall. “I’m sorry, Rastrelli, but that’s not a conversation I’m comfortable having with a student.”

He resumed his pace. I followed silently.

The breeze picked up. The undulating trees sounded like the ocean breaking on the shore. I choked back the urge to ask, “Are you gay?” I felt like a sinking ship in a fleet that had wandered into a minefield. After laying the mines himself, the fleet commander had ordered radio silence.

I didn’t want to drown alone. I didn’t want to hear him lie. I wanted the truth, but the truth was dangerous. Were I to come out amid sexual-abuse headlines, homophobic Catholics wrongly blaming gay priests for the scandal would demand my dismissal.

My spiritual director was right. Who were they to judge, to put my orientation before my vocation? They had no right to that knowledge. It was safer to be a priest who happened to be gay. Perhaps it was God’s will. The fear accompanying us back to the seminary told me so.

That day, I learned the unspoken rule passed down through generations of priests: the doctrine of justification for lying by clergy. I went on to be ordained a priest. I preached that “the truth will set you free” while living in silence and shame. After a long journey and much pain, I came out. I left the priesthood, finally refusing to live the lies that I’d been taught to venerate.

Complete Article HERE!

Slovenian archbishop fathered two children, reports say

The Slovenian mystery has been solved. Archbishop Uran has been punished by the Vatican not for his involvement in a financial flop but for his infraction of the celibacy rule

The Slovenian mystery has been solved. Archbishop Uran has been punished by the Vatican not for his involvement in a financial flop but for his infraction of the celibacy rule.

Now the prelate-father will move to the northern Italian city of Trieste. The Vatican has ordered Mgr. Alojz Uran, Archbishop of Ljubljana, from 2004 to 2009 to leave Slovenia because of all the rumours going round about him breaking his celibacy vows and fathering two children, now adults, neither of whom he recognises as his. “This is a temporary measure to calm public opinion until the question is resolved,” stated Andrej Saje, spokesman for Slovenia’s bishops, on Ljubljana’s public television.

“The problem is his alleged paternity, which the former archbishop has always denied, but I think there have been some misunderstandings between him and the Holy See. Once these are cleared up, Uran will be able to return to his country,” Saje added, denying the theory that the sanctions decided by the Congregation for Bishops are linked to the financial scandal which brought the Diocese of Maribor to the brink of bankruptcy two years ago. Uran retired unexpectedly in 2009 (he is not 67) for health reasons after a heart operation, but soon rumours began to spread about him allegedly fathering two children, a fact he apparently kept secret from his Vatican superiors.

Maribor daily newspaper Vecer wrote that “despite the former archbishop categorically denying these accusations, Rome continues to suspect he did not tell the truth, also because he was said to have refused a DNA test.” Saje confirmed that three years ago the Nuncio to Ljubljana launched a procedure to “ascertain whether the rumours were true.” Now Uran is being asked to withdraw from Slovenian public life and “move to Trieste.” Saje added that Uran accepted the decision and once the issue is cleared up “he will probably be able to return home.”

“This is a preventive measure and it is not true that he was forbidden to celebrate solemn masses,” the spokesman added. No one escapes Holy See justice it appears. While the former Archbishop of Ljubljana Alojz Uran and the Archbishop of Maribor Franc Kramberger got red cards when the Vatican issued its second warning, Mgr. Uran has received an exile decree as well. He will have to leave Slovenia. And the reason? His alleged fatherhood. He will only be able to return to the country when the scandal surrounding his person has calmed down.

The former archbishop will be welcomed in one of Trieste’s ecclesiastical institutions. The Slovenian press reported that the Vatican has ordered the prelate to leave his country as soon as possible, at the latest by the end of the year, but it is unclear which part of the Canon Code exactly he has broken. Newspapers are speculating that he is involved in a financial scandal but they do not exclude a child kept secret or an internal clash between Slovenian prelates as the reason. The news has sparked the interest of the media partly because the Holy See rarely decides to take such drastic punitive measures against its bishops, but especially because the underlying reasons for the decision remain unclear. The retired prelate was apparently informed of the decision by the Congregation for Bishops.

The news was revealed by the parish priest of Šentjakob ob Savi, Vlado Bizant, a relative of Uran’s who headed the Archdiocese of Ljubljana from 2004 to 2009. Bizant said that last May the Vatican apparently forbid the former archbishop from celebrating solemn masses, ordering him to leave Slovenia. He added that Uran sees the decision as “unfair” but intends to respect it. The Apostolic Nunciature in Ljubljana and Archbishop Anton Stres neither confirmed nor denied the news, saying they had not seen the content of the correspondence between Uran and the Vatican.According to the newspapers, the prelate’s punishment is imminent and he will be moving to Trieste or to Pula in Istria in the next few months.

However, the reasons behind the Holy See’s decision to punish the archbishop are unknown. Two newspapers, Delo and Dnevnik say it is highly likely that Uran is held co-responsible for Diocese of Maribor’s financial flop. Two years ago, the Italian press revealed that the Diocese of Maribor had made a series of high risk investments in some funds, even going as far as to mortgage a number of churches and using money collected from faithful. After the collapse of the stock exchanges resulting from the economic crisis and the bankruptcy of funds linked to the Catholic Church in Maribor, hundreds of millions of Euros apparently went up in smoke, along with “part of the Slovenian Church’s reputation.”

Others claim that the Vatican did not like the fact that Uran kept quiet about having a child, though this has never actually been proven. Delo newspaper has speculated that the reason for this drastic punishment is the “tense personal relations among the Slovenian clergy.” The newspaper wrote it is unlikely that Uran’s destiny was decided without the current archbishop, Anton Stres and Uran’s predecessor, Cardinal Franc Rode – an illustrious member of the Vatican Curia and a member of the Congregation for Bishops – knowing about it.

Complete Article HERE!

Catholic Church Historical Reversal: Backed Civil Unions In New Hampshire

For the first time ever, the Roman Catholic church is endorsing civil unions, announcing its second historic reversal in only two weeks.

The Roman Catholic church of New Hampshire suddenly endorsed civil unions on March 19, just 48 hours before a state legislature vote that has been pending for two years. In an equally surprising move, on March 4, the Roman Catholic church of Maine ceased all external opposition to this year’s full marriage equality ballot campaign in Maine.

Historically, Roman Catholic officials have opposed virtually every regulation, policy, and law proposed to protect LGBT people nationwide, including all proposals for civil unions. However, faced with the choice of either retaining New Hampshire’s full marriage law which was signed on 3 June 2009, or else repealing it and replacing it with civil unions instead, church officials decided – for the first time ever – to endorse civil unions for LGBT people.

In a statement issued on March 19, church officials claimed that they are endorsing civil unions only in an attempt to repeal full marriage for same-gender couples. They called the replacement of full marriage with the inferior civil unions an “incremental improvement.”

In lockstep, the National Organization for Marriage, a Roman Catholic church affiliate, also issued a companion surprise announcement the same day, also endorsing civil unions in New Hampshire for similar reasons. NOM was founded by Catholics, is staffed by Catholics, and appears to be mostly funded by Catholic laity and church officials. NOM’s membership rolls and finances are secret, some of its government filings are incomplete or contradictory, and it violates campaign finance disclosure regulations in every state where it opposes marriage equality.

Monday’s reversal in New Hampshire is just as profound as the decision by church officials two weeks ago to withdraw from this year’s public marriage battle in Maine. Neither decision was made independently, and both had to be coordinated with higher church officials. The Manchester Diocese, which is what the Roman Catholic church in New Hampshire calls itself, is a corporation sole and is subordinate to the Ecclesiastical Province of Boston, Massachusetts, which oversees Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

Among New Hampshire’s 1,315,809 residents, only 24% (309,987) are Catholic. Consequently, this sudden, last-minute switch by religious leaders only hours before the deadline may not have much impact upon the legislative votes being taken tomorrow. Four recent polls indicate that about 63% of all New Hampshire voters favor retaining the current full marriage law.

In addition to local impacts in Maine and New Hampshire, both of the Catholic church’s recent historic reversals may also help this year’s marriage equality efforts in 18 other states, especially New Jersey, North Carolina, and Minnesota. In New Jersey, advocates need just 15 more votes from the 120-member legislature to override the governor’s recent veto of a law which could upgrade civil unions to full marriage. In Minnesota and North Carolina, the church has been lobbying to ban marriage for all same-gender couples by amending those states’ constitutions so that marriage equality laws can’t even be considered. New Hampshire Bishop Peter Libasci gave no indication of when, whether, or how his church’s endorsement of civil unions in New Hampshire will affect church campaigns in other states.

Within its own religious ranks, Roman Catholic officials are continuing to reinforce Pope Benedict XVI’s formal view of bisexual, lesbian, and gay sexuality as “an intrinsic moral evil,” “intrinsically disordered,” and “inherently evil.” Moreover, the church still promotes the widely discredited “ex-gay” reparative therapy, which they claim cures patients of the sexual orientation that they are born with using a mixture of firm hope, additional prayer, new apparel, and/or life-long celibacy. Such reparative therapies have been discredited and denounced by every major mental/medical health professional organization as ineffective, painful, and dangerous to patients because of higher death rates from suicide.

Complete Article HERE!