It is now time to listen and learn from those the church has long silenced or ignored. Who knows, those being listened to might even return the compliment.
And there's also this:
Will severing the connection marriage has historically forged between sex, procreation, and family formation further undermine the expectations and value our culture places on the institution?
As his remarks on the plane imply, an opening towards honesty in Catholic attitudes to homosexuality and gay people must form a part of what Francis was elected by the cardinals to do: reform the Vatican. It is a huge task.
[T]he church is now run by men who have solemnly and deliberately affirmed a position that makes it impossible to think honestly or clearly about homosexuality.
Honesty. The well-nigh impossible task of honest conversation in the Catholic church about issues of sexual morality, because the Catholic hierarchy has thwarted that kind of honest conversation ever since Humanae Vitae shut the conversation about contraception down--though, if we were honest, we'd admit frankly that a majority of Catholics use contraceptives and approve of their use.
And the huge challenge of talking honestly about the issue of homosexuality in a church whose leaders have shut down honest conversation about issues of sexual morality in general, in which a large percentage of lay Catholics use contraceptives, but won't talk honestly and openly about this issue even as they want to claim the right to talk obsessively about their brothers and sisters who happen to be gay.
To talk obsessively about their brothers and sisters who are gay, and who are accused of having severed "the connection marriage has historically forged between sex, procreation, and family formation" even when a majority of the very same lay Catholics following the bishops' lead in making that strange statement themselves use contraceptives. And have done so for years now. But collude with the bishops in refusing to talk about that matter . . .
As they simultaneously accuse their gay brothers and sisters, insofar as they seek the very same human rights they themselves enjoy as heterosexual human beings, of severing the connection between sex, procreation, and family formation!
Something's seriously awry in this picture, isn't it? And the fact that leading Catholic intellectuals of the Commonweal sort, who have exceptional power in the Catholic media as well as the mainstream media, and in the Catholic academy, won't talk honestly about this serious disconnect--won't begin to engage their unmerited power and privilege qua heterosexuals--does absolutely nothing to address the cognitive disconnect, though those same Catholic intellectuals profess to be all about bridging the gaps between Catholic faith and the culture at large by employing tools of reason and respectful, wide listening.
The huge disconnect, which radically undermines everything that those leading Catholic intellectuals who continue to assist the bishops in their gay-bashing say about issues of human rights and social justice, will continue to undermine the Catholic project for justice and human rights in the public square until those powerful Catholic intellectuals begin to do what Andrew Brown, Kate Connolly, and Liz Davies say is necessary if the reform agenda of Pope Francis is to be successful:
Help to create "an opening towards honesty in Catholic attitudes to homosexuality and gay people."
The metaphor that Brown, Connolly, and Davies are using is a spatial one. When applied to the kind of conversation that the editors of Commonweal and other leading liberal Catholic journals in the U.S. have hosted for a long time now about gay and lesbian people, it means the following:
Until those editors choose to create a real space for honest conversation that includes the voices of real-life gay and lesbian persons--real-life gay and lesbian Catholics among them--we're not going to get down the road of meaningful reform in the Catholic church. Or of justice. Or of catholicity.
Meanwhile, it takes an astonishing amount of chutzpah--and of deafness--to keep accusing gay and lesbian people of severing the bond between sex and procreation in marriage, when heterosexual folks have long since done precisely that, but find the severing problematic only when homosexual people demand the right to marry. It takes an astonishing amount of chutzpah and deafness and downright cruelty to predict dire social disarray only when those marrying without procreation in the forefront of their intent to marry happen to be people of the same gender.
Unlike us who just happen to be the definition by which the normalcy of everything and everyone else is measured. Who can do the very same things that gay folks do without being accused of causing society to tumble to the ground.
It's hard to avoid the uncomfortable conclusion that people who think and talk like this while claiming to be standard-bearers of justice and human rights simply don't quite see the extent to which their raw prejudice is showing through even as they maintain the highest of ideals about justice and human rights. And how their lack of self-knowledge is shining through in embarrassing ways--particularly, their astonishing lack of awareness of how unmerited their claim to represent normalcy is, how thin their claim to the power and privilege they enjoy simply by being born heterosexual is.
But this is what happens when people don't open their conversation circles to include those who are different, isn't it? And don't listen respectfully to those they've tagged as other, and to those in whose marginalization they've colluded while claiming to value justice, love, and inclusion? It seems to happen in particular when those managing these tightly-controlled and self-laudatory conversation circles make large, grandiose claims to represent everyone even as they madly exclude someone.