As the week begins, a selection of recent articles on LGBT issues and the churches--in particular, the Catholic church:
Last week, I took note of Timothy Kincaid's observation that evangelicals appear to be increasingly quiet about marriage equality, while, if one googles the terms "Catholic" and "gay marriage," one retrieves a treasure trove of hits pointing to recent articles. Through its top leaders, the Catholic church is now out in front leading the battle against the human rights of a marginalized minority group.
Shortly after posting his preceding observations, Kincaid noted that the National Organization for Marriage recently pointed to a letter issued by faith communities in Illinois opposing marriage equality in that state to show the "wide spectrum" of faith-based opposition to marriage equality. Yet as Kincaid points out, the letter itself appears with the logos of only five faith communities emblazoned across the top. These are the Catholic Conference of Illinois, the Anglican Church of North America, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Council of Islamic Organizations of Chicago, and the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Hardy a "wide spectrum" of the rich religious diversity of Illinois and the U.S. in general . . . .
As Kincaid concludes, "It can no longer be said that the battle over civil marriage is between the gay community and people of faith." And leading the pack: the Catholic church, through its top pastoral leaders (while in the U.S. and western Europe, lay Catholics decisively oppose magisterial teaching about human sexuality including homosexuality).
And in an article at National Catholic Reporter today, Tom Fox identifies clearly the problems the anti-gay stance of the current top leaders of the Catholic church creates for rank-and-file Catholics. As he notes, in his World Day of Peace remarks, Pope Benedict couldn't resist adding to his critique of unbridled capitalism a slam against his gay brothers and sisters. Citing no evidence to back his unsubstantiated claims, Benedict stated that same-sex marriage "destabilizes" traditional marriage and contravenes the "natural structure" of marriage.
Sadly our church’s official teachings on human sexuality are based on an understanding of nature based on biological notions that do not match human experience. They disregard insights, which come from those who experience human intimacy – and are a direct attack against a large portion of the human family, the gays and lesbians among us.
The pope's singular fixation on attacking the gays and his determination to shred pastoral structures supporting and including LGBT Catholics are strongly evident in the actions now taking place in the English Catholic church. As Richard Palmer notes at the Gay Priests' Hear Our Voices blog, the recent suppression of the Soho Masses has been engineered by the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Gerhard Ludwig Müller, whom Benedict appointed to that position last year.
Palmer points out that the support of some English bishops including Archbishop Nichols for the Soho Masses has been a thorn in Benedict's side, as has been the lukewarm reception the English bishops have given to Benedict's new Anglican ordinariate, with its welcome of disaffected Anglicans fleeing their communion's increasing acceptance of ordained women and LGBT members. And so the 2 January announcement handing over the parish formerly sponsoring the Soho Masses to that same ordinariate demonstrates Benedict's adamantine determination to assert his control over all those who dissent re: the issue of homosexuality.
And in news not at all unrelated to these three articles: at Talk To Action today, Fred Clarkson reports that Rev. Scott Lively, who has done perhaps more than any other figure of the American religious right to engineer homophobic attitudes among Ugandans, and who played a key role in orchestrating the Kill the Gays legislation in that nation, will appear in court in Massachusetts to defend himself. Lively is facing a federal suit filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights under the Alien Tort Statute, which victims of crimes outside the U.S. access to American courts.
As I say, this news is not at all unrelated to news shared by the previous three commentators, since Pope Benedict granted Ugandan parliament speaker Rebecca Kadaga a private audience just before Christmas, and gave her his public blessing, after she had promised to see the Kill the Gays bill passed as a Christmas present for the Ugandan people.
The graphic: Pope Benedict as he addresses his Curia cabinet shortly before Christmas, 2012; the image is from Getty Images.