Monday, October 15, 2012

Keeping the Unwelcome Mat Firmly in Place: Michael Sean Winters and Grant Gallicho Issue Reminders

So I already can't keep my mouth shut (and, yes, I am reading some recent news stories, despite my best intentions to focus on more ponderous matters this week): 

At National Catholic Reporter, Michael Sean Winters slams the presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Bishop Herbert Chilstrom, for daring to challenge Archbishop John Nienstedt of Minneapolis-St. Paul, as Nienstedt tries to snatch civil rights from his gay brothers and sisters via a marriage amendment.  Winters writes,

. . . [A]ll legislation imposes views on people, that is what legislation does, and I am willing to bet any amount of money that Bishop Chilstrom thinks the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a good thing.

And so a movement that sought to provide rights to a minority community from whom civil rights had historically been snatched away by the mainstream community is equivalent to one whose primary goal is removing rights from a vulnerable minority community in the name of God?!

I don't think so!  And it's with ill grace that Michael Sean Winters advances this argument.  He should be ashamed of himself for doing so.

And on the day before Winters administers this little nasty little poison pill to his brother and sister Catholics who happen to be gay (and to their parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, friends and co-workers), Grant Gallicho reminds us at Commonweal precisely where that other centrist Catholic publication stands on the civil right of marriage for gay citizens of the U.S.:

To be sure, there’s nothing strange about a Catholic objecting to the president’s views on abortion, gay marriage, and contraception coverage — Commonweal has published critiques of all those policies. 

Nice, isn't it?  Lest we gay Catholics (and our parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, friends and co-workers) happen to forget it, the unwelcome mat remains firmly in place for us at Catholic churches.  And the "moderate" center, which can't get enough of talking about the sanctity of Catholic social teaching and Catholic teaching about justice, is there to remind us of this, lest we forget.

Though we hardly need reminders, since that mat remains distinct and obvious to many of us--and a growing number of parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, friends and co-workers of those who are gay see it, too, and know that they are equally unwelcome in the Catholic church if they love and affirm their gay family members and friends.

There will come a day, and I suspect it may not be too far down the road, when people will shake their heads at the mean-spirited need of some Catholics at this point in history to inform some fellow Catholics that they are not welcome in the Catholic community insofar as they claim their civil rights as gay persons.  There will come a day in which many people will ask how on earth defenders of Catholic social teaching and Catholic teachings on justice once imagined that they could sustain those teachings while seeking to exclude a targeted minority from civil rights.

There will also come a day in which many members of the Catholic community will ask how the centrist defenders of the Catholic party line in the early 21st century imagined that they were defending the notion of catholicity--which is all about being a welcoming, loving, and affirming community--as they put out the unwelcome mat for a stigmatized minority community and all those who loved the human beings belonging to that community.

The Catholic church is, quite simply, sick unto death right now due to the anti-gay attitudes and behavior of its top leaders and of the centrist commentariat who collude in those attitudes and behaviors.  It is sick to target a despised minority in the name of Christ.

And it is even more sick to keep reminding that minority community, over and over, how unwelcome it  is among "real" Catholics.

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