Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pew Finding That 8 in 10 LGBT Americans See Catholic Church As Unfriendly: Where's the Media Coverage?!

Meanwhile (and this relates to the two pieces I've just posted about LGBT folks and Catholic, Inc., and about how Pope Francis is being perceived), isn't it interesting how very little notice the finding of that recent Pew study that most gay Americans see the Catholic church as conspicuously unfriendly to us is getting in the media? It has been more or less ignored by both the secular and the Catholic media. Why is that the case, I wonder?

Some thoughts:

∙For liberals (and centrists) both in the mainstream media and the Catholic media (and academy), it's altogether too easy to keep pointing to data showing that a majority of lay Catholics in the U.S. support gay rights and to conclude that there's really not a gay problem in the U.S. Catholic church. 
∙This lets these liberals (and centrists) off the hook. It allows them to forget the extent to which Catholic institutions and Catholic leaders influence the debates about gay rights in the U.S.--and affect the lives of LGBT Americans in deleterious ways.  
∙ It allows them to pretend, in other words. 
∙It allows them to pretend that the Catholic church in the U.S. is mostly benign in its effects on those who are gay. 
∙ It allows them to pretend that the gays are, after all, part of the problem as they kick and scream and imagine that the Catholic church treats them, through its leaders and institutions, as the enemy. 
∙It allows liberal or centrist journalists and many liberal or centrist Catholics to pretend that they themselves don't collude with the Catholic hierarchy in othering those who are gay and in suggesting that those who are gay elicit and bring down on their heads the misery inflicted on them by the hierarchy and Catholic institutions. 
∙It allows liberal or centrist journalists and many liberal or centrist Catholics to keep pretending that the issue of how the Catholic church, at an official level, treats gay folks is not absolutely central to what is wrong about the church today, and absolutely central to the inability of the church to convince increasingly numbers of people that it's about proclaiming the good news of the gospel. 
∙It allows liberal or centrist journalists and many liberal or centrist Catholics to pretend that the issue of gay rights and of how LGBT human beings are treated is a side-issue not worthy of serious notice as human rights and issues of marginalization are discussed. 
∙It allows liberal or centrist journalists and many liberal or centrist Catholics to go on talking about how sad it is that gay folks suffer in the world and sometimes in the Catholic church, without ever examining their own unmerited, unearned power and privilege as heterosexuals.

Frank Bruni did mention the Pew findings in his valuable op-ed statement this past Sunday, but he didn't discuss the finding that a large percentage of LGBT citizens of the U.S. find the Catholic church remarkably unfriendly to us. Marianne Duddy-Burke's statement at Huffington Post, to which the first link above points (and the phrase "Catholic, Inc." is her find phrase) does so explicitly, and in a gay voice.

Meanwhile, with Catholics like this one holding forth today at the thread following Michael Sean Winters's reference to the Pew study at NCR today (which points to Mark Silk's commentary), how on earth is it possible to pretend that the effects of the Catholic church on gay lives in the U.S. today are largely benign? And that the millions of dollars spent by Catholic officials in political crusades to make gay lives miserable aren't worth notice as we discuss how gay Americans see the Catholic church?

And that liberal commentators, many of whom enjoy all the power and privilege heterosexuals earn in this society and this church without lifting a finger, aren't part of the problem, if they don't examine that unearned power and privilege? And that those who are liberal and privileged due to their comfortable coziness inside heterosexist structures they take for granted have no obligation to push back very hard against the Cestus Deis of the Catholic church, who are legion, and who are empowered by the Catholic bishops and the Vatican?

Frankly, I'll believe that liberal and centrist Catholics and their institutions are really on the side of us LGBT folks in our struggle for justice when powerful centrist Catholic media outlets begin to ask at least one openly gay or lesbian Catholic to comment on Pope Francis's first 100 days in office--and not merely the usual heterosexually privileged voices of the center who have long dominated the conversation about Catholic identity in the media and seem unwilling even to notice gay and lesbian people and gay and lesbian issues as they talk about the challenges facing the church today.

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