Sunday, August 28, 2016

Text of Bishop Vincent Long's Lecture Calling for Reassessment of Catholic Cruelty to Gay People Has Disappeared Again

The text of Bishop Vincent Long's recent Ann D. Clark lecture in Penrith, Australia, about which I blogged recently, has once again disappeared from the website of his diocesan newspaper Catholic Outlook. As I noted in the posting I've just linked, Catholic Outlook published the text on 19 August, the day after Bishop Long presented the lecture, and within a day, after the lecture began circulating and being commented about online, it vanished from the Catholic Outlook site. It then popped back up briefly, only to be removed from the website again.

Here's the link to the Catholic Outlook text of the lecture. As you'll see when you click on it, you'll receive an error message when you do so. It appears the cached version of this lecture has also now disappeared from Google, though you can find a copy by using the Wayback Machine search engine pointing to web archive links. The Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland has also helpfully provided a link to a pdf copy of the lecture at its website, and has published the text of the lecture in a posting.

It appears to me that someone does not want this lecture by Bishop Long to be easily available online, or to appear to have any approbation at all by such official venues as the website of Bishop Long's own diocesan newspaper. Though we're often told by the media and cheerleaders for the current pope that the Catholic church has moved into a new era in which it's seeking to heal its broken pastoral relationship with gay* people, it appears that for a bishop to say the following remains unthinkable, even in this purported new era of "Who am I to judge?":

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’.

And so by its ruthless suppression of the very text of a lecture noting that gay people are treated abusively within the Catholic community, those who have succeeded in banishing the text of this lecture from Bishop Long's diocesan website are underscoring the point he is making. This kind of banishment is what gay Catholics have experienced since Cardinal Ratzinger published his infamous "pastoral letter" in 1986 defining gay human beings as intrinsically disordered and calling for the expulsion from Catholic premises of ministry groups seeking to form positive, affirming relationships with the gay community.

Following Cardinal Ratzinger's letter, groups such as Dignity were expelled from Catholic parishes and other Catholic premises, and many gay Catholics who had previously believed they were welcome in the Catholic church began to walk away from the church, having been given a ruthless signal of unwelcome. It seems very clear to me that whoever has leaned on Bishop Long's diocesan publication to have its copy of his Ann D. Clark lecture banished from that publication's website wants to continue giving gay Catholics this ruthless signal of unwelcome.

And what was I saying only yesterday about the discussion of where all the Christian intellectuals have gone? After (to speak of the Catholic context) Saint John Paul and his right-wing orthodoxy watchdog Cardinal Ratzinger instituted a purge of Catholic theologians, silencing highly regarded theologians left and right, in the same period in which they ran off gay Catholics . . . .

There cannot be any real healing of the relationship of the Catholic church to the gay community unless we talk honestly about all of these matters, and about our own history. Too many organizations working from the side of the gay community to keep alive a connection to the Catholic church refuse to do that, and collude in the shutting down of open discourse by marginalizing those who insist on reminding us of our history — or who insist on noting how the actual behavior of Catholic institutions (as with what has happened to Bishop Long's lecture on his diocesan website) belies the pretty words about not judging and about healing.

This head-in-the-sand approach reinforces the idea that the Catholic community is a parochial club in which only some kinds of folks count and are welcome. In the final analysis, it does not serve very well at all the attempt to build a healthier, more inclusive, more intellectually honest church that actually merits the designation catholic.

(Thanks to Bob Shine at Bondings for providing the link to the Wayback Machine web archive copy of Bishop Long's lecture.)

Addendum, 8:15 A.M., CST: As Bose points out in a comment below, it's the whole Catholic Outlook site that is down. Go to the Parramatta diocese webpage and click on the link for Catholic Outlook columns, and you get a curious message stating, "It appears whatever you were looking for is no longer here or perhaps wasn't here to begin with. You might want to try starting over from the homepage to see if you can find what you're after from there."

That message and the fact that it appears on the diocesan website suggests to me that this publication has been taken down by the diocese itself — perhaps temporarily? In other words, that message suggests to me that the reason the diocesan paper is now offline does not have to do with some technical problem, but has to do with a deliberate decision at the level of the diocese — or why else would there be any kind of announcement on the diocesan website that this diocesan publication is not available online right now?

Later, 9:02 P.M., CST: And now the Catholic Outlook website appears to be functioning again, and the text of the lecture is again on the website, something I discovered because the diocese of Parramatta has linked to me on Twitter today, and its Twitter feed has links to Bishop Long's Ann D. Clark lecture. When I clicked on them an hour or so ago, the site was still offline. It's now functioning again and clicking the link to Bishop Clark's lecture brings it back up.


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