Friday, April 8, 2016

Amoris Laetitia: No Good News for LGBTQ People or Women — The Commentary Begins

Good news! The definition of mercy remains securely in the hands of heterosexual (and heterosexual-posturing) men this morning. God's in His heaven and all is right with the world!

That's how I, as a queer Catholic now decisively alienated by the church I once chose for my adult life, read the commentary about the pope's much-ballyhooed new "exhortation" on the joy of love. I have not read Amoris Laetitia yet, may not get around to doing so, since it's clear that the document contains no good news for people like me — since the straight (or straight-posturing men) who run things in this world and above all in the Roman Catholic church have little good news for folks like me, and it's with that slice of the human race that Pope Francis continues to identify his church (and himself).

Mercy will be mercy as they define and dispense it. It will comprise their "right" to tag me as inferior, deny me an income and healthcare coverage, deny me job security in the institutions they control, deny me basic human rights — even as they tell the world that their behavior exemplifies mercy and attests to their commitment to human rights. Some mercy! Some commitment to human rights!

You can find the spin articles from those comfortable inside the circles of power established by heterosexual males at places like National Catholic Reporter. I won't bother to direct you to those. I'll point you, instead, to Francis DeBernardo's statement at Bondings 2.0, which I suspect is far nearer the mark than the spin articles I've just perused (and intend quickly to forget) at NCR — by heterosexual men or heterosexual-posturing men and/or clerics, all of them, who shamefully allow the pope to get away with pretending that the important discussion of gender issues and women's roles (and the roles of queer folks) that has been underway for years now outside the church is about denying that there are biological differences between males and females!

Some honesty!

Here are Francis DeBernardo's opening paragraphs, which sum up the assessment of this "exhortation" that will, I suspect, be widely shared by LGBTQ people:

Pope Francis' latest document, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), does not inspire joy in LGBT Catholics and their supporters.  As far as sexual orientation and gender identity issues are concerned, the pope's latest apostolic exhortation reiterates church formulas which show that the Vatican has yet to learn from the experiences and faith lives of so many LGBT Church members or their supporters. 
Though the pope calls for church leaders and ministers to be less judgmental and to respect individuals' consciences, he has not provided a new pastoral approach to LGBT issues or people.

The absurd claim that the renegotiation of gender roles that has been going on in the world at large for some time now, but which is more or less adamantly repudiated by the heterosexual-posturing and heterosxual males who claim ownership of the Catholic institution, is about denying the biological facticity of gender is a cynical defensive tactic of a hidebound all-male institution intent on sacralizing male power and privilege at all costs. It's an attempt to pretend that biology determines the roles men and women can play in the world in a way which subordinates women to men.

There's no mercy at all — not a scrap of it — in this approach to gender issues.

The absurd claim that an institution can credibly preach mercy and proclaim human rights while arrogating to itself the "right" to fire LGBTQ people at will — it's "religious freedom"! — and with impunity is all about establishing a rhetorical smokescreen to disguise the fundamental unmerciful and unjust ways in which the institution chooses to deal with queer human beings.

There's no mercy or justice at all — not a scrap of either — in this approach to queer people.

Behind the smokescreen of "mercy," in fact, there's the very same approach to LGBTQ human beings that we encounter today in the U.S. in places like the Mississippi and North Carolina state legislatures. This approach is brought to us by heterosexual (or heterosexual-posturing) males.

It represents no good news at all for queer human beings or for women.

And it's where the pastoral leaders of the Roman Catholic church stand — squarely with the men running the state governments of Mississippi and North Carolina — when the smokescreen of talk about mercy is waved away.

Queer human beings (and women) seeking to hear good news proclaimed to them by the Christian churches would be well advised to look elsewhere than to the all-male, male-entitled, straight-posturing (and straight) men who claim exclusive ownership of the Catholic institution and its rhetoric of mercy and justice.

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