Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Catholics Responding to Gay Rights: "We're Still Working on Love"

Earlier today, I wrote,

If nothing else, my Facebook feed keeps me hooked. For two days now, it's been full of links provided by FB friends, many of them Catholics who are also straight allies of us who are gay, and who overwhelm me with their shows of strong support for me and my community at a time when some Catholic blog sites are full of toxic nonsense attacking gay folks and gay relationships (see, e.g., the Catholic Memes page on Facebook, or these comments from Tom McBride and Purgatrix Ineptiae at NCR threads).

And here's Patrick Gothman at the CatholicConvo site:

Yesterday the Supreme Court heard arguments surrounding California’s Prop 8 ban on same-sex marriage.  Today they’ll hear arguments surrounding the Defense of Marriage Act.  All over social media, everyone has been quick to take a side.  I can only speak for my tribe, and I have to say, Catholics, it hasn’t been pretty.   In the rush to stand for morality, it became clear there is an us, and a them.  Like if you’re with us.  Want to comment that you disagree?  You must be for incest and beastiality too!  Huzzah!  We have logic! 
We’re still working on love.

Catholics, it hasn’t been pretty.   In the rush to stand for morality, it became clear there is an us, and a them . . . . We’re still working on love.

I'll say! Not much love at all being dished out to gay folks on many Catholic blog sites in these two days in which many other folks are noting, along with Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon, that their Facebook pages are a sea of red in support of marriage equality. 

I've said it before--a number of times, in fact: when it comes to human rights breakthroughs affecting LGBT human beings, it's as if a certain subset of American Catholics, led by our bishops, are determined to miss the big party that the majority of their co-religionists (Mary Elizabeth Williams is a case in point) are throwing to celebrate these breakthroughs. All around them, the embattled Catholics who represent the fortress model of church that arose out of the defensive moment of the Counter-Reformation, are hunkered down, lamenting their defeat in a nasty culture war that has tarnished the Catholic brand in the area of human rights, while most of their brothers and sisters are partying away with other human rights advocates around the nation.

While a majority of their fellow Catholics are celebrating what the Catholic church was once proudly to be known for in the American public square: its robust defense of human rights and concern for those on the margins.

If this report that Tom Fox at NCR has heard about the election of Pope Francis is correct, during the recent papal conclave Cardinal Bergoglio 

was reported to have called for the Vatican to emerge from self-absorption and what he called "theological narcissism." He urged the church hierarchy to refocus its energy outside of the institution, on the "peripheries," not only geographical but also existential: sin, suffering, injustice and ignorance. In other words, focus on life in the world among the people, matters causing trouble and pain, while keeping the human family from the healing and liberating work of the church.

Somehow, Catholics of the ilk of NOM, Archbishop Cordileone, the Knights of Columbus, and the many nasty bloggers logging in at Catholic blog sites the past two days to let their gay brothers and sisters know in no uncertain terms that we're not welcome in their smaller and purer church seem not to have gotten the message that the era of "theological narcissism" and attacks on those on the "peripheries" may be waning under a new pope.

More's the pity, it seems to me, that their ears appear stopped to what's, after all, at the very heart of the gospel message. If it's not about love and concern for the least among us, what on earth is it about?

The Mike Luckovich cartoon is by way of Truthdig this morning.

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