I'd like to draw your attention today to some noteworthy (and time-sensitive) resources that may interest many Bilgrimage readers. First, the New Ways Ministry blog Bondings 2.0 has announced this morning that it will be live-streaming Father James Martin's major address about gay* rights and gay people in the Catholic church as he receives New Ways' Bridge Building award today.
The address will be live-streamed at 2 P.M. EST. The Bondings announcement to which I've just pointed you has a link embedded for you to click at that time to hear the address. If the link does not work, Bondings instructs you to go to the New Ways Ministry's Facebook page — here — which is hosting the live-streaming of the address.
Second, at the Bondings site today as well, Francis DeBernardo has posted a very good reprise of the infamous "Hallowe'en Letter" of Cardinal Ratzinger on the Catholic "problem" of dealing with "homosexual" people. Today is the 30th anniversary of the public issuance of that letter.
As Francis notes, this document has had a baleful influence on how gay people have been received and treated in the Catholic church and in Catholic institutions from the time it was published. In speaking of the "intrinsic disorder" of the "homosexual condition," it established a stigmatizing, demonizing language about gay human beings that has now entered magisterial rhetoric at the high level of the universal catechism.
Though reactionary defenders of the term will often maintain that the language of intrinsic disorder has been applied to other categories of sinners in the Catholic tradition, this is simply not the case. The use of this term to categorize a whole set of human beings — in their very personhood and "condition" — is a departure from traditional Catholic moral thinking. As is the use of this term to single out and target a group of human beings — heterosexual persons have never been spoken of as "intrinsically disordered" in their very personhood because they are capable of doing sexual acts (including having intercourse while using contraceptives) that the magisterium chooses to see as disordered.
I think Francis DeBernardo's optic on this fright-show of a "pastoral" document is precisely right: he sees it as an attempt to shut down open, honest, respectful, welcoming discussion of and approaches to gay people within the Catholic tradition. That the document was designed to have such an effect and did have such an effect from the time it was promulgated was perfectly evident to all those involved in movements like Dignity after the Hallowe'en letter came down, as their meetings were expelled from Catholic institutions — and as, in many case, their members then chose to walk away from the church itself, having received an overt signal that they would not be welcome on Catholic premises.
It's interesting, isn't it, that Father Martin will be speaking on the same day this baleful document came out publicly in 1986?
Finally, one more Hallowe'en-themed (and Catholic-oriented) announcement today: as Daniel Schultz notes, it appears that PRRI will be rolling out yet more data on "the" Catholic vote tomorrow, on Hallowe'en itself, in a press conference at Catholic University. If you're interested in this event and any information PRRI may release, I'd suggest tuning in to PRRI's Twitter feed for the latest updates.
*Gay is shorthand for all the categories comprised in the acronym LGBTQI.
The graphic: a Hallowe'en "trunk-or-treat" at St. John Lutheran Church & Early Learning Center in Darien, Illinois (in 2011?), uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by Jan Hardy.