Pride, prejudice, and the Pope

Irish American Michael O’Loughlin understands how far gay Catholics have come, and how far we all still have to go before something like real progress is made.

June is widely known as Pride Month, an effort to acknowledge the obstacles that gays, lesbians, and many others have had to overcome in America.

By

To a group that calls itself CatholicVote, well, that’s precisely the problem. They seem to believe that shame is so much better. This despite all the evidence to the contrary painfully provided by many — though not all — within the church this group claims to follow.

“A controversial conservative Catholic organization is urging parents to ‘Hide the Pride’ during Pride Month — by checking out any LBGTQ-related books they see at their local libraries so that no children will see them,” TheHill.com reported last week, adding that CatholicVote cites “recent polls” which show “American moms and dads do not want their children exposed to sexual and ‘trans’ content as part of their education.”

I don’t know whether to howl with rage or yawn at the sheer boredom of all this.

Well, to paraphrase George Carlin, if there are still any books left after certain folks have burned the ones that really bother them, you should check out the one Michael O’Loughlin recently wrote.

O’Loughlin, after all, understands how far gay Catholics — yes, you read that right, Catholic voters — have come. And how far we all still have to go before something like real progress is made.

“In many ways,” O’Loughlin told the Irish Voice, sister publication to IrishCentral, recently, “knowing all this history makes it easier to weather the current onslaught of bigotry. Because I have a better sense now of how others endured it, fought it, and overcame it.”

O’Loughlin’s book “Hidden Mercy: AIDS, Catholics, and the Untold Stories of Compassion in the Face of Fear,” begins with a central conflict in not just his own life, but in that of so many other Irish Catholics, on both sides of the Atlantic.

“I am gay and I am Catholic,” O’Loughlin writes. “And I struggle continuously to reconcile those two parts of my identity.”

Such a noble yet rare thing to do these days. To work to try and bring something together, even as so many others are shouting and ranting and raging. Or just walking away and bitterly giving up.

The folks at CatholicVote may not be impressed. But a fellow in the Vatican sure was.

Late last year, O’Loughlin wrote an op-ed essay in The New York Times, explaining that his extensive talks with people trying to reconcile their faith and sexuality — “the fellowship, gratitude and moments of revelation we exchanged…had a profound effect on my own faith.”

In fact, O’Loughlin, whose grandfather came to the US from Tuam, Co Galway, decided to write a letter to Pope Francis.

“To my surprise, he wrote back,” O’Loughlin writes.

Pope Francis responded, in part, “Thank you for shining a light on the lives and bearing witness to the many priests, religious sisters and lay people, who opted to accompany, support and help their brothers and sisters who were sick from HIV and AIDS at great risk to their profession and reputation.”

O’Loughlin had to admit that the Pope’s “words offer me encouragement that dialogue is possible between LGBT Catholics and church leaders, even at the highest levels.”

So, along the same lines, on June 24 and 25, Outreach 2022 will take place at Fordham University in New York City.

While the CatholicVote folks are content to divide in the hopes of conquering well, something, folks like Father James Martin, and Sister Jeannine Gramick, will gather to discuss what Catholics and the LGBTQ community have in common. They will work to make the world a better, not more hostile, place.

This should not be shocking.

Sadly, this is still kind of a big deal.

Either way, all involved should be very proud.

Complete Article HERE!

School flying BLM, LGBTQ flags can’t call itself Catholic, bishop says

FILE UNDER: Insulated, monolithic, callous, tone deaf church power structure

An LGBTQ pride flag and a Black Lives Matter flag fly alongside the American flag above Nativity School of Worcester in Worcester, Mass.

By

The stark, dual-colored letters of the Black Lives Matter flag and the bright rainbow stripes of the Pride flag had flown above the Massachusetts Catholic school for more than a year before the local bishop registered his opposition.

The Black Lives Matter flag, Bishop Robert McManus said in April, has been “co-opted by some factions which also instill broad-brush distrust of police.” And the LGBTQ flag could be used to contrast church teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman, he added.

When Nativity School of Worcester didn’t budge, McManus issued a severe ruling. The tuition-free middle school, which serves boys facing economic hardship, can no longer identify itself as Catholic because the flags are “inconsistent with Catholic teaching,” he declared Thursday.

“The flying of these flags in front of a Catholic school sends a mixed, confusing and scandalous message to the public about the Church’s stance on these important moral and social issues,” McManus wrote. “Despite my insistence that the school administration remove these flags because of the confusion and the properly theological scandal that they do and can promote, they refuse to do so.”

That defiance, McManus said, left him no other choice but to strip the Jesuit-run school of its Catholic affiliation. The school also can no longer celebrate Mass or the sacraments or use diocesan institutions to raise funds. It was not included Thursday in the diocese’s list of Catholic schools in its region.

The decision, which comes during Pride Month, appears to be a rare instance of a Catholic organization’s affiliation with the phrase “Black Lives Matter” becoming a flash point with its diocese. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has taken a nuanced approach to the phrase, endorsing the concept of racial justice but not necessarily the organizations that attach themselves to that message. The Black Lives Matter movement describes itself as aimed at eradicating White supremacy and interrupting violence against Black communities.

Nativity School said its use of the Black Lives Matter and Pride flags was a response to a call from its students, most of whom are people of color, to make their community more inclusive. The flags symbolize that all are welcome at Nativity, the school’s president said Thursday.

“Both flags are now widely understood to celebrate the human dignity of our relatives, friends and neighbors who have faced, and continue to face hate and discrimination,” Thomas McKenney wrote. “Though any symbol or flag can be co-opted by political groups or organizations, flying our flags is not an endorsement of any organization or ideology, they fly in support of marginalized people.”

The bishop disagrees. The Pride flag represents support for same-sex marriage and “a LGBTQ+ lifestyle,” he said. And while the church teaches that all lives are sacred, McManus said the Black Lives Matter movement has used that phrase to contradict Catholic teaching on the importance of the nuclear family. (Black Lives Matter previously said on its website that it aims to “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families.” The page was later taken offline.)

Bishop McManus

Nativity said it will appeal the bishop’s decision — but it has no plans to remove the flags, which it said show its commitment to solidarity with its students and families. McKenney said the administrators’ decision was informed by the Gospel, Catholic social teaching and the school’s Jesuit heritage.

The outcome follows months of dialogue between the school and the Diocese of Worcester. Around the same time that McManus took issue with the flags in March, a person tore down both flags, the school said. Two months later, the bishop warned the school that it would lose its Catholic label if it did not remove the displays.

Nativity School isn’t the only educational institution to be stripped of its “Catholic” label. In 2019, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis told Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School that it could no longer identify itself as Catholic after it refused to fire a teacher who was in a same-sex marriage. The Midwest Province of Jesuits said it would appeal the decision through a church process.

To Guillermo Creamer Jr., an openly gay alumnus of Nativity School, the flags symbolize that Nativity is inclusive of Black lives — a message he said is crucial at a school with primarily Black and Latino students.

“For these young men who are witnessing what’s happening around the country and seeing the Black Lives Matter flag fly, it’s a very big deal,” he said.

Creamer, 27, said he expects the bishop’s decision to prompt other Catholic schools that align themselves with Black Lives Matter or pro-LGBTQ messages in some way to question whether that’s acceptable. But he said that may not be entirely bad if it encourages Catholics to talk honestly about whether and how these causes fit into their faith.

In his letter to the community, McKenney reminded parents that Nativity School is funded by individuals and groups — not by the diocese — and that it would continue to operate as usual.

Outside the school building, he noted, the flags still fly.

Complete Article HERE!

Pope says traditionalist Catholics “gag” church reforms

Pope Francis delivers his blessing as he recites the Regina Coeli noon prayer from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter’s Square, at the Vatican, Sunday June 12, 2022.

By Associated Press

Pope Francis has complained that traditionalist Catholics, particularly in the United States, are “gagging” the church’s modernizing reforms and insisted that there was no turning back.

Francis told a gathering of Jesuit editors in comments published Tuesday that he was convinced that some Catholics simply have never accepted the Second Vatican Council, the meetings of the 1960s that led to Mass being celebrated in the vernacular rather than Latin and revolutionized the church’s relations with people of other faiths, among other things.

“The number of groups of ‘restorers’ – for example, in the United States there are many – is significant,” Francis told the editors, according to excerpts published by the Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica.

“Restorationism has come to gag the council,” he said, adding that he knew some priests for whom the 16th century Council of Trent was more memorable than the 20th century Vatican II.

Traditionalists have become some of Francis’ fiercest critics, accusing him of heresy for his opening to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, outreach to gay Catholics and other reforms. Francis has taken an increasingly hard line against them, re-imposing restrictions on celebrating the old Latin Mass and taking specific action in dioceses and religious orders where traditionalists have resisted his reforms.

Just last week, in a meeting with Sicilian clergy, Francis told the priests that it wasn’t always appropriate to use “grandma’s lace” in their vestments and to update their liturgical garb to be in touch with current times and follow in the spirit of Vatican II.

“It is also true that it takes a century for a council to take root. We still have forty years to make it take root, then!” he told the editors.

Speaking about the church in Germany, Francis also warned that he still had an offer of resignation in hand for the archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, who faced strong criticism for his handling of the church’s sexual abuse scandal.

Francis gave Woelki a “time out” of several months last September, but still hasn’t definitively ruled on his future. That has kept the situation in Cologne uncertain and frustrated the head of the German bishops’ conference, who has pressed for a decision one way or the other.

“When the situation was very turbulent, I asked the archbishop to go away for six months, so that things would calm down and I could see clearly,” Francis said. “When he came back, I asked him to write a resignation letter. He did and gave it to me. And he wrote an apology letter to the diocese. I left him in his place to see what would happen, but I have his resignation in hand.”

Spanish Church to mull optional celibacy and women priests

Spanish Catholics want Rome to consider talks on the future of the priesthood including optional celibacy, the ordination of women, and also of married men.

Spanish priests celebrate a mass at the Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona.

Spanish Catholics want Rome to consider talks on the future of the priesthood including optional celibacy, the ordination of women and also of married men, a key document showed Saturday.

The document, a copy of which was seen by AFP, was unveiled by the CEE Episcopal Conference that groups Spain’s leading bishops at a 600-strong gathering in Madrid.

It was drawn up after months of consultation with more than 215,000 people, mostly lay people but also priests and bishops, with the proposals to be condensed into a final document that will be presented to next year’s Bishops in Synod assembly at the Vatican.

In it, they stress “the need to discern in greater depth about the question of optional celibacy for priests and the ordination of married people; to a lesser extent, the issue of the ordination of women has also arisen,” it said, while noting such issues were raised only in certain dioceses.

“There is a clear request that, as a Church, we hold dialogue about these issues… to be able to offer a more holistic approach to our society,” it said. It also stressed the need to “rethink the role of women in the Church” to
give them “greater leadership and responsibility” notably in places “where decisions are made”.

There was also “a need for greater care” for those who have been divorced or remarried or with an alternative sexual orientation. “We feel that, as a Church… we must welcome and accompany each person in their specific situation,” it said.

The document was unveiled just months after lawmakers approved Spain’s first official probe into child sex abuse within the Catholic Church through an expert independent committee.

The Church itself also took its first steps earlier this year towards addressing alleged abuse by clergy by engaging lawyers to conduct a year-long investigation that will take cues from similar probes in France and Germany.

Complete Article HERE!