Friday, April 15, 2016

U.S. Bishops Fire Tony Spence of Catholic News Service for Tweeting Criticism of Hate Legislation in North Carolina and Georgia Targeting Queer Community: Twitter Reacts

Yesterday, Dennis Coday reported the following at National Catholic Reporter:

Tony Spence, director and editor-in-chief of Catholic News Service since 2004, unexpectedly resigned from that position Wednesday at the request of a U.S. bishops' conference official. 
In recent days Spence had been attacked by conservative Catholic blogs for tweets he had posted about controversial religious freedom bills in North Carolina and Georgia. These sites accused Spence of "promoting the LGBT agenda." 
"The far right blogsphere and their troops started coming after me again and it was too much for the USCCB," Spence told NCR in an interview Thursday.

Coday also reported that Spence feels "shattered" due to the abrupt firing. See Amy Sullivan's tweet below indicating that Spence was escorted from the building after being informed he was being fired, and not allowed to speak to his staff.

At America Magazine, Kevin Clarke reports

The web-based publications, which in the past have frequently targeted Catholic Relief Services and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, began a drumbeat for Spence’s removal after he posted a series of tweets commenting on impending laws related to bathroom access and other rights for lesbian, gay and transgender people. The Lepanto Institute accused Spence of issuing "public statements decrying proposed legislation in several states that would protect religious freedom and deny men pretending to be women the 'right' to enter women’s bathrooms." 
Spence said that the web campaign provoked hate mail to his e-mail account, with messages urging his excommunication and calling him a traitor to the faith. Spence said he did not believe his Twitter comments would provoke such a backlash—“obviously”—but that he had been to his mind merely commenting on developing news on a subject frequently covered by CNS staff.

Here are some tweets commenting on Spence's firing and its significance for the U.S. Catholic church in this period of Franciscan "mercy":

What Andrea Contini said. Because this story is all about the U.S. bishops and the bitterly hateful and bitterly anti-LGBTQ Catholic right in the U.S. asserting yet again their prerogative to beat up on LGBTQ human beings in the name of Christ. Lest you had any doubt at all about who owns the U.S. Catholic church prior to this story, you may now lay that doubt to rest.

Pope Francis can talk until he's blue in the face about "mercy," and, when it comes to interacting with LGBTQ human beings, we'll see absolutely zero shift in how the owners of the U.S. Catholic church (the USCCB and the hard Catholic right, with the backing of wealthy conservative donors) choose to do business with this portion of the human community. It is supremely important to these folks to demonstrate contempt and loathing — not welcome and mercy — to members of the queer community.

And nothing Pope Francis says in Amoris Laetitia will check this tendency. To the contrary . . . .

Some mercy.

No comments: