Monday, July 1, 2013

Another Jesuit Perspective on DOMA Decision: Catholics and Uncomfortable Silence

And another Jesuit perspective on the issues that Jesuit theologian Paul Crowley addresses in his comments to which I have just linked--the following is from the Jesuit Post blog site:

This week, as the Supreme Court decisions about DOMA and California’s Proposition 8 were handed down, we watched two very different reactions develop, in face-to-face conversations, official statements, and especially over social media. 
Among many of our friends — gay and straight, active Catholics and “raised Catholics,” religious and non-religious — there was a sense of celebration. Many claimed that equality had won the day, and even more importantly, they felt that their own relationships or those of their gay friends had been recognized as having dignity and being worthy of protection. A sense of threat (a very real threat, backed by the power of the federal government) against those relationships was removed, and rejoicing followed. 
At the same time, our bishops issued a statement declaring yesterday “a tragic day for marriage and our nation.” And we noticed — in all honesty, we felt ourselves — an uncomfortable silence among voices that often speak about matters involving religion and public life.

The problem as I see it is that the leaders of the Catholic church haven't been uncomfortably silent at all for a long time, when it comes to demeaning their LGBT brothers and sisters. The DOMA decision comes in the middle of a national campaign in which the U.S. Catholic bishops' conference has asked every Catholic parish in the nation to pray for DOMA to be upheld, and in which the Fortnight for Freedom bashes have been continued another summer with the express purpose of lobbying for laws to prevent marriage equality in the U.S.

Due to such initiatives, Catholic parishes throughout the U.S. are increasingly perceived--and rightly so, I'd maintain--as conspicuously unwelcoming spaces for LGBT human beings. Though I am deeply grateful for the support many lay Catholics give to those who are gay, I'm also critically aware that the leaders of the Catholic church have worked exceptionally hard to earn for my church the reputation of being one of the most anti-gay religious institutions in the nation.

And as all this has happened, as the bishops have hardly maintained silence about where LGBT people stand in the scheme of things and how much dignity they deserve, far too many lay leaders of the Catholic church in the U.S., those whose voices count for most in the public square, have been totally silent. They have colluded with the oppression.

They've gone right along with it, and they're now therefore caught between the repressive regime whose ideology they've endorsed as their price of affiliation, and the jubilant celebrations on behalf of a human rights breakthrough that they can't attend because of that affiliation. They've seriously undermined their claim to stand for human rights in any arena at all.

What they continue not to do, too, is to listen seriously, carefully to the very voices they've marginalized--those of gay Catholics. The intellectual leaders of the American Catholic church have done next to nothing to create welcoming spaces within their church for LGBT voices and to invite into those spaces those who can give first-hand testimony about their experiences as gay Catholics.

The intellectual leaders of the Catholic church in the U.S. have, via their silence as oppression has been enacted against those who are gay, actively colluded with the bishops in placing their church on entirely the wrong side of the moral arc of history. It's going to take a lot more than tut-tutting about the place of uncomfortable silence in which they now find themselves, to reverse the well-earned current branding of the Catholic church as among the most anti-gay religious institutions in the U.S--an institution with no good news at all for those who are gay.

And it's going to take a lot more than tut-tutiting to retrieve the generation of younger Catholics who are walking away because they're disgusted with the outright ugliness of Catholic leaders' attack on gay folks, and the moral vacuity of the tut-tutting by too many Catholic lay leaders, academics, and journalists.

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