Monday, August 22, 2016

On a Disappearing Lecture by a Bishop Challenging Injustice Towards Gay Folks: Churches Hostile to Gays Might Consider Just Shutting Up about a Loving God

Last Friday, the publication Catholic Outlook, a publication of the Catholic diocese of Parramatta in Australia, uploaded to its website the text of a lecture given by the diocesan bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen the preceding day as the annual Ann D. Clark lecture in Penrith, Australia. When I saw links to Bishop Long's lecture on Twitter over the weekend, I shared a link to the Catholic Outlook text of the entire lecture. That link is here.*

I shared this link on Facebook and Twitter, with an excerpt I'll provide for you below. Curiously, when I thought to share this lecture with you Bilgrimage readers here today and clicked again on the link above, I find it now leads to an error page, and the text of Bishop Long's Ann D. Clark lecture is nowhere to be found online — at least, nowhere I myself can find it by googling.

As you perhaps know, however, Google does have a cache feature, and the text is still to be found in Google cache — if you click here. As you'll see when you click that link, Google informs you that this is a text uploaded by Catholic Outlook to Google on 19 August. (See the screenshot at the head of the posting.)

Why it's no longer on the Catholic Outlook website, I can't explain, nor does Google provide an explanation. Since it can still be read in cached form on Google, I'm going to give you an excerpt from it now, and direct you to the lecture itself to read in its entirety — as long as it remains available via Google's cache feature.

Here's an excerpt that struck me as significant when I read it: Bishop Long states, 

We cannot talk about the integrity of creation, the universal and inclusive love of God, while at the same time colluding with the forces of oppression in the ill-treatment of racial minorities, women and homosexual persons. It won't wash with young people especially when we purport to treat gay people with love and compassion and yet define their sexuality as "intrinsically disordered". 

So there's that.

And now there's this, today, at the Bondings 2.0 website: as Bob Shine reports, Kate Drumgoole, a teacher at Paramus Catholic high school in New Jersey, loved Jaclyn Vanore. The two decided to commit themselves to each other by marrying — as is their legal right. Because they knew that publicizing their marriage could make waves with Drumgoole working in a Catholic institution, they kept quiet about the marriage.

In retaliation against her sister for marrying another woman, Vanore's sister sent photos of the couple to school administrators and Drumgoole was fired. When Catholic institutions single out gay couples in this way, they say they have to do so because they're upholding Catholic teaching about sex and marriage and protecting those served by the Catholic institution from corruption.

Bob Shine writes, 

Drumgoole claims she was discriminated against in part because other employees have not been fired for failing to abide by church teaching in their private lives. She noted there are Paramus Catholic employees who "are divorced, at least one has a child out of wedlock, various employees cohabit with members of the opposite sex, at least one other teacher is gay, and nude photographs of another teacher have been circulated online."

The gays, you see, are the sinners who are violating Catholic teaching about sexual morality while teaching in Catholic institutions. It's the gays from whom the Catholic community and those it serves need protection, lest they be corrupted.

As I say, I have no insider information about why Catholic Outlook has chosen to take Bishop Long's Ann D. Clark lecture offline after it intially published that lecture and people began sharing it online. I have no choice except to conclude that Catholic Outlook itself did remove the lecture from its website, since I cannot think of any other way the lecture would have disappeared from that site — and the cached version of Google confirms that it was at that site, and was uploaded there on 19 August.

Perhaps it's wrong (and even uncharitable) to speculate about why this lecture with its clear statement encouraging the Catholic community to treat gay people justly — and to stop using the phrase "intrinsically disordered" to attack gay people — has now disappeared from the website of the diocesan publication of the diocese over which the bishop presides. At the risk of being uncharitable (and reaching erroneous conclusions on the basis of too little evidence), I'm going to raise a "what if" question here.

What if pressure was applied to Bishop Long and his diocesan publication after people began circulating links to this lecture online and recommending the lecture to others? What if that pressure (assuming it was there) was applied quite specifically because of what Bishop Long has to say about treating gay people with justice and mercy?

If this is anywhere near an accurate and plausible explanation of why this lecture has now disappeared from the sole website on which it has been published, then we have a very convincing demonstration of the validity of Bishop Long's clear statement that the Catholic institution deals with gay people abusively, unjustly, and unmercifully right before our eyes, in the disappearing of the statement itself, immediately after it was published.

Don't we?

And if we need any further evidence that Bishop Long is right when he makes this statement, we have only to turn to the story of Kate Drumgoole and Jaclyn Vanore.

Don't we?

My own personal conclusion as I think about Bishop Long's lecture, its vanishing (or is "banishment" the correct word?) in the twinkling of an eye soon after it appeared online and began to be discussed, and the story of Kate Drumgoole and Jaclyn Vanore: Christians really should simply shut up talking about a God who loves universally and inclusively, if the Christian churches cannot model such behavior towards racial minorities, women, and LGBTQ people.

Simply shut up. Simply stop talking about an all-loving, all-welcoming, all-merciful God if you, the Christian community, refuse to live a message you find it altogether too easy to talk about while you do not live the words that fall out of your mouths.

* 24 August, 10:27 A.M., CST (USA): as this footnote to the preceding posting notes, and as Mark William points out in a comment in the thread below, the link has now been restored. 28 August 7:38 A.M., CST (USA): and now the text has disappeared from the Catholic Outlook website yet again — see my commentary about this on 28 August.

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