Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Another Day, Another Firing of Gay Teachers in Catholic Institution in U.S.: Today It's Affton, Missouri

This is, unfortunately, not really news, is it? The protagonists change, the place shifts, the circumstances vary slightly from story to story. But the tired old story remains essentially the same, no matter who it's happening to now or where it's happening. 

In this latest iteration, as Jessica Bock reports for St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Olivia Reichert and Christina Gambaro, teachers at Cor Jesu high school (Merciful heart of Jesus, enfold us in your love!) in Affton, Missouri, made the mistake of applying for a mortgage this summer. Together: they signed the mortgage contract together, and a copy ended up in the hands of Cor Jesu (Merciful heart of Jesus, enfold us in your love!) administrators.

Who then forced Reichert and Gambaro to resign (Merciful heart of Jesus!), noting that the couple had married in New York over the course of the summer . . . .

As I say, not really news, is it? Another day in American Catholicism, another purge of gay teachers/musicians/communion ministers/you name it. Even though, we're reminded over and over, Pope Francis has famously asked, Who am I to judge? And that magical formula is somehow supposed to have translated — it has translated, in the mind of the media — into a kinder and gentler church.

A church nowhere in evidence in how real-life gay people are treated in real-life American Catholicism today. 

If anyone had tried to convince me, when Francis was elected pope, that we'd end up a little more than a year down the road with empty, cozening media memes masking the draconian reality of more suffering for some Catholics who had already been shoved as far to the margins as possible under the previous two papacies, I'd have strenuously objected. I'd have invited anyone predicting this cynical image-management débacle to have a bit of hope.

But here we are. Here Olivia Reichert and Christina Gambara are, along with a whole string of gay Catholic teachers/musicians/communion ministers/you name it who have been slapped in the face by Catholic institutions after Pope Francis made that famous observation. 

Here we are as "liberal" Catholic media outlets in the U.S. tighten their restrictions for discussing the gap between rhetoric and reality, as they outlaw "aggressive" discussion of said gap, as they contribute to the marginalization experienced by many American Catholics even under a new reform-minded (or so we're told) pope who's supposed to be returning the church to its mission of mercy, of being a field hospital for the wounded. Here we are, as influential "liberal" Catholic media outlets in the U.S. actively assist the hierarchy in sending us who are gay and Catholic the message that our lives mean nothing at all, deserve no respect all.

That there is no place for us within the Catholic community, and certainly not for our sassy "aggressive" gay voices. Since the censorship message that NCR sends to Jerry Slevin, who has spoken up vocally for the human rights of gay Catholics as a Catholic grandfather, is also obviously a message to us who happen to be gay and Catholic . . . . 

Here we are. Merciful heart of Jesus.

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