Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Francis Effect for Gay* Folks? Still Elusive, As Bishops Around Globe Throw His Harsh Words in Faces of Gay* People

Yesterday, I drew your attention to a just-published essay by Patricia Miller which suggests that the U.S. Catholic bishops have done less saber-rattling this election cycle than in previous election cycles, in part, "due to the influence of Pope Francis, who has let it be known that such blatant politicking is no longer welcome." And so, Patti Miller proposes, there's a discernible trend of church-going John-Paul-II-type white Catholics away from the GOP ticket this election cycle, since the bishops are behaving differently in a church now led by Pope Francis.

Today, I'd like to suggest that you complement this perspective on the church being led by Pope Francis with a reading of Bob Shine's article at Bondings 2.0 about how Pope Francis' negative rhetoric about gay* people is now being echoed around the globe — by Catholic bishops and bishops' conferences. Shine is commenting on an article about this published at Crux by Crux editor John Allen's protégé Inés San Martin. In line with Allen's own stance on these issues and with the editorial stance of Crux itself, San Martin's approach to Francis and his treatment of these issues is, I'd say, largely positive. She's tacitly celebrating the dissemination of Francis' anti-gay* rhetoric around the globe.

Bob Shine's take:

It is definitely disturbing that bishops are echoing the pope's negative language on these topics. More disturbing, though, is the fact that the pope's and these bishops' words reveal an immense lack of information on gender and transgender people. For instance, the Crux article quotes Pope Francis as saying "gender theory is an error of the human mind that leads to so much confusion,"  and that this view of gender is one reason why "the family is under attack." 
If the pope and bishops would listen to LGBT people's experience, they could understand that what they claim is "theory" and "ideology" is actually a very human and holy phenomenon. They would also realize that LGBT advocates are not attacking anything, but just trying to help people live whole and full lives. Far from attacking the family, the experience of families with LGBT members shows that acceptance of these realities can promote family harmony, unity, and strength. LGBT people are not enemies of the church, but faithful members who can help it grow. Since LGBT people's experiences are lived realities, it seems that the only people promoting "theory" and "ideology" in these discussions are the those who insist that gender binaries are set in stone.

Perhaps it's getting better in some ways under Pope Francis, if the right-wing U.S. Catholic bishops have ceased their culture-war saber rattling this election cycle (well, Chaput clearly has not done so, has he?). But to say that it's getting better under Pope Francis without noting that it is not getting better for gay* folks is to collude in the invisibilizing and demeaning of gay* human beings by the church's pastoral leaders. We continue paying the price for any "better" that is taking place for non-gay Catholics, don't we? 

We continue to pay the price by being treated as beneath notice, as just not there, even when we're massacred in an act of mass murder at a gay nightclub. The kind of listening Bob Shine proposes here (and I myself have long proposed it) is not going to take place, because we do not even exist for those leading the Catholic church. 

We do not count. We do not have voices. We do not have human lives. We do not have humanity.

In Club Catholic, some people's lives and humanity count. In Club Catholic, some people's lives and humanity do not count. Club Catholic is completely unapologetic about pretending that those who lost their lives at Pulse nightclub were not gay*, and about pretending that naming their humanity for what it was even as they were murdered for being gay* is a matter of no importance at all. 

We'd be well-advised simply to walk away from a club that is set up to accord unmerited power and privilege to heterosexual human beings, above all those with penises, a club that continues to defend its club rules in Pope Francis' statements about women and gay* folks. It's not getting better under Pope Francis — not for gay* folks. I've been watching people at bitterly anti-gay* Catholic blog sites for some time now throwing his ugly words about gay* people in the faces of gay* Catholics and gay*-affirming Catholics.

This trend will continue. The Crux article is intended quite precisely to have just that effect.

*Gay = LGBTQ.

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