Friday, March 13, 2015

News Catch-Up: Philadelphia Gay-Bashing Story, Bondage Illustration for Vatican Gathering on Women, and Band of Brothers Dominating Vatican News Coverage

This is one of those end-of-week posts in which I try to catch you up on stories about which I've blogged in the past, which have a sequel:

1. Just two days ago, I reminded you of the gay-bashing incident that took place in Philadelphia last September, in which a group leaving a party of graduates of Archbishop Wood Catholic High School in Warminster, Pennsylvania, accosted and beat a gay couple. Three members of that group — all graduates of Archbishop Wood Catholic High School — were then arrested and charged with assault and reckless endangerment of a person. 

Update: the three defendants, Kevin Harrigan, Kathryn Knott, and Philip Williams, appeared in the Philadelphia Criminal Justice Center yesterday for a pre-trial hearing. As David Badash reports, all three pled innocent. If you click the label "Philadelphia" below, you'll find previous postings here about this story.

2. Last month, we had a lively discussion (and here) about the statue of a headless, bound, naked woman by artist Man Ray that the Vatican's Pontifical Council on Culture chose to head its online advertisement of the Council's 4 February meeting to discuss women in the church. (The meeting included only cardinals and bishops — i.e., only men).

Update: as National Catholic Reporter notes two days ago, after many people expressed widespread consternation regarding the choice of art work to illustrate the program for the meeting on women, the Pontifical Council on Culture has ditched the Man Ray bondage illustration "Venus Restored," and substituted in its place a Flemish Madonna from the 15th century. 

3. I have repeatedly vented on this blog (e.g., here) about the fact that the group of Catholic journalists covering the Vatican and reporting on Pope Francis's purported agenda of reform (i.e., on "the new") for the Catholic church are all part of a band of brothers that is all white, all male, all publicly heterosexual. I've suggested that it's difficult to speak convincingly of the new and the here-comes-everybody impulse that is the very essence of Catholicism when those doing the speaking represent a tiny, predictable slice of the human community and the church which is eminently old — as in, entrenched, long ensconced within the power structures of the Catholic journalistic community,  protected by white male heterosexual privilege, etc.

Update: in late February, journalist Robert Mickens commented (and here) on the reception given to a group of LGBT Catholic pilgrims to Rome sponsored by New Ways Ministry. Many media outlets touted the reception of the pilgrims as a breakthrough (of sorts) for LGBT Catholics. 

Mickens is less sanguine about what took place when the pilgrims attended a papal audience on Ash Wednesday. In his view, the way in which church officials including Pope Francis received the group continues an unpromising "don't ask, don't tell" approach to LGBT Catholics on the part of church leaders.

But the really noteworthy point of Mickens analysis: he states forthrightly that he is commenting here "[a]s a gay Catholic (I think the only openly one among Rome’s Vaticanisti) . . . ." 

This is a real breakthrough (but, unfortunately, it will be difficult for many readers to appreciate its significance, since both of the articles to which I've just linked — in Global Pulse and Commonweal — are behind paywalls). I applaud Robert Mickens's candor and courtesy in making this statement. 

It makes a difference. A big one . . . . 

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