Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Catholic-Themed News: Nienstedt at Napa, Chaput and Amoris Laetitia, Joe Paterno and What He Knew, Violence of Catholic Teaching about LGBTQ People

Brother Body can be a real ass sometimes, can't he? I'm dealing with some health things right now, and finding it hard to concentrate on blogging. Please forgive the "lightness" of this posting, which is more or less a list of Catholic-themed news items or commentary I'd like to report to you, as I work on encouraging Brother Body to stop being so much of a donkey to me.

1. As many of you who have followed this blog for any length of time will know, I've posted repeatedly here about the former archbishop of St. Paul-Minneapolis, John Nienstedt, who resigned in June 2015. Click his name in the labels below, and you'll find my previous postings about him.

I've also blogged about the big right-wing Catholic shindig that occurs each year out in California, the Napa Institute, at which right-wing Catholics pretend they're being persecuted and celebrate Latin-rite Masses in pretend catacombs (otherwise known as wine cellars), before convening for lavish banquets at which expensive wine flows, where they listen to lectures about how persecuted "real" Catholics are in America today. One of my Napa Institute postings notes that in 2013, Nienstedt told the Napa crowd that the gay rights movement is linked to the devil.

Guess whom Napa Institute just invited back to officiate at several Napa sessions? Here's Tim Lennon of SNAP on Nienstedt's attendance at this year's Napa Institute:

Archbishop John Nienstedt, the former head of the St. Paul/Minneapolis archdiocese, is at the Napa Institute for the next few days. Several sources have told us he works there permanently now. He’s accused of sexually exploiting and/or propositioning between five and ten young seminarians. In civil litigation and repeated media exposes (especially by Minnesota Public Radio), he’s been shown to have ignored or concealed child sex crimes by priests. And the archdiocese he ran for years faces pending criminal charges for refusing to report suspected abuse by clerics. 
Neinstedt has no business being given any role or honor at any Catholic event. We believe he should be defrocked. . . . 
His presence is problematic in two ways. First, it rubs salt into the wounds of hundreds of victims and thousands of Catholics in Minnesota who are in pain or feel betrayed by his horrific record on clergy sex crimes and cover-ups. Second, it sends precisely the wrong signal to other church officials: "No matter how egregious your wrongdoing may be, we'll always find a place of honor for you in the Catholic hierarchy."
Attendees include New York's Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Los Angeles Bishop Robert Barron, Portland OR Archbishop Alexander Sample, Oakland Bishop Michael Barber, Madison Bishop Robert Morlino, Cheyenne Bishop Paul Etienne and Santa Rosa Bishop Robert Vasa. Apparently, Rev. Rick Warren, a high profile mega-church leader, is also at the conference.

And here's Jennifer Haselberger, former Chancellor for Canonical Affairs under Nienstedt in St. Paul-Minneapolis, who resigned that position after blowing the whistle on his cover-up of clerical sexual abuse, on Nienstedt's appearance at Napa Institute:

Nienstedt's involvement with the Napa Institute is just the latest instance of his continued involvement in Church leadership since his resignation. As has already been mentioned, Nienstedt remains the Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Pontifical North American College, and also continues on the Board of Trustees for the Catholic University of America.  
Somehow, this does not seem consistent with a Church committed to holding bishops accountable.

2.  Francis DeBernardo points to a reflection of Jesuit Father Russell Pollitt regarding the Pulse massacre  in Orlando, and asks whether church teaching is often used as an assault weapon against LGBTQ people. Politt writes, 

Bad religion, which includes bad religious language, is an assault rifle – and it is used often. Some pulpits are assault rifles. We need an urgent discussion in our church about the way we speak about and treat gay people. We need a conversion of mind, heart and language.

Father Pollitt is in South Africa, where Cardinal Wilfrid Napier responded to Pope Francis's recent comment stating that the church should apologize to gay people for abusing them by tweeting

God help us! Next we’ll have to apologize for teaching that adultery is a sin! Political Correctness (PC) is today’s major heresy!

3.  Noting the silence of many top Catholic pastoral leaders about the LGBTQ identity of those massacred recently at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Sister Jeannine Gramick writes

One kind of violence not often recognized is the violence of silence. After the Orlando massacre, some in our church were guilty of this kind of violence. Headlines the world over noted that the shooting took place in a gay club, but statements released by the Vatican press office, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Orlando's bishop conspicuously passed over references that the people targeted were lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Some bishops issued no statement at all. 
Silence is violence when, as in this instance, it denies the existence of a whole category of people, people who have been targeted with physical violence because of who they are. If I don't acknowledge your existence, I do not need to recognize your rights; I do not see that you need added protections. Furthermore, I am unable to know you or to relate to you in a meaningful way.

4. Roy Bourgeois, the former Maryknoll priest who was defrocked for supporting women's ordination, notes the parallel between how the Catholic church in Louisiana in which he grew up dealt with the issue of rights for African Americans, and how the Catholic church today deals with the issue of rights for LGBTQ people:

Throughout history, the Bible and "tradition" have been used to justify discrimination. The Bible was used to support slavery, as it was used to oppose the right of women to vote. 
Growing up in Louisiana, we used our "tradition" and the Bible to justify our segregated schools and worshiped in a Catholic Church that reserve d the last five pews for blacks. And today, once again, we are using the Bible and tradition to discriminate against gay people. . . . 
When we are born, we do not choose our race, gender, or sexual orientation. No matter how hard we may try to justify discrimination against others, including using the Bible and tradition, in the end, it is not the way of a loving God who created everyone of equal worth and dignity. There are no exceptions. 
It is time for the Catholic Church and other churches to change the oppressive teachings on homosexuality.

5.  In response to Philadelphia archbishop Charles Chaput's recently released guidelines barring same-sex couples from communion and ministry, and barring also divorced and remarried people from communion unless they are living as brother and sister, Barbie Latza Nadeau writes

In yet another example showing just how out of touch celibate prelates can be when it comes to the realities of modern sexuality, a conservative Catholic bishop in the United States has come up with what amounts to a handbook about how not to have sex. . . . 
Chaput's take on Francis's document on love [i.e., Amoris Laetitia] comes as a disappointment to many who had read the document as one of greater flexibility on the various versions of marital love. That's especially troubling since Chaput has been named by the U.S. Conference on Bishops to actually lead American clergy in the implementation of the papal exhortation.

6. Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney, a Catholic, responds to Chaput's guidelines:

7. Michael Boyle's smart review of Michael Coren's book Epiphany: A Christian's Change of Heart and Mind Over Same-Sex Marriage very much makes me want to read the book. (I've asked our local library to order it, and am waiting for the library copy to arrive.) One thing in Michael's report leaps out for me. He says that when right-wing Catholics who had previously been Coren's allies as he rejected gay marriage thought Coren was going soft on gay issues, they began viciously to harass him and his family, making scurillous accusations against Coren. By contrast, Coren states that even those in the LGBTQ community with whom he had publicly tangled were kind to him when he announced that he had changed his mind about gay marriage. And so he began to think that his epiphany about same-sex marriage had been all the more justified when he compared the ugly way the Catholic right treated him with how the LGBTQ community — whom the Catholic right loves to characterize as "angry" and "vicious" — treated him. 

All of this eventually led him to transition from the Catholic to the Anglican church.

8. Will Hobson and Cindy Boren report that the unsealed documents in the Penn State case involving Jerry Sandusky's sexual abuse of minors indicate that Penn State athletic director Joe Paterno knew of Sandusky's abuse of minors as early as 1976 — and ignored complaints of a 14-year-old boy that Sandusky had sexually assaulted him.

Unless I am mistaken, the Catholic Center at Penn State continues to be named The Paterno Catholic Center, after Joe Paterno and his wife.

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