Thursday, October 22, 2020

"Nobody Should Be Thrown Out": Francis's Latest Shock Wave (in Some Circles) re: Same-Sex Civil Unions

James Alison, "Pope Francis backing same sex unions isn't a surprise. But it's still a big deal"

As Jamie Manson tweets today, the usual Vatican shuffle is now taking place regarding what Pope Francis is said to have said (or is now said not to have said) regarding same-sex unions. You know that shuffle: it's a two step; one step forward, then walk the forward step back two steps, until no one knows who has said what (or not said what) or what was meant. As Jamie Manson also says in the tweet I have just linked, LGBTQ people deserve much, much better than this.

So all that I'm going to say now may be beside the point, if Francis did not say what it has been reported he said, or if he did not mean what it has been reported that he meant. Let's pretend for now that this is a real discussion resting on a real and meaningful foundation, and that the carpet won't be yanked from under us (a mixed metaphor after I talked about dancing earlier, but, even so, one that makes sense to me) as we talk. Let's pretend….

The following was my hot take on this story yesterday, which I shared in tweets:

"Nobody should be thrown out," Pope Francis says as he talks about the need to recognize and support same-sex unions and families.  

In response, Catholic Twitter explodes with comments by bishops, priests, the tired and predictable white male homophobes. And the usual array of Catholic journalists, heavily male, almost none of them out gay/lesbian people ....

Wouldn’t it be refreshing, for a change, if all these folks finally asked LGBT people what WE think about having been thrown out by the Catholic field hospital for wounded humanity? 

We are treated over and over as if it's Catholics on one side and LGBT people on the other. We are the problem to be solved, the Other that can't quite be fitted into the Catholic equation. The conversation is set up to render us voiceless even when it's about "including" us.

The weaponized Jesus crafted by some religious leaders is so unfortunate in a world that would welcome hearing about the actual Jesus of the gospels, whose message was not in the least centered on heterosexual marriage, but on love, justice, and mercy. 

None of which are to be found anywhere in the venomous and downright hateful statements a number of U.S. Catholic bishops rushed to put out immediately after this story broke.

And here's James Alison implicitly (and elegantly) refuting the claim of those right-wing Catholic commentators that some major revision of Catholic doctrine is taking place:

There are no major points of doctrine at stake, nothing in the creeds, putting at risk the shape of our salvation. And there are no real scruples about the apparently hostile biblical texts, since fundamentalist readings are, in any case, officially disapproved by church authority.

The presenting issue is one of anthropology, and is fairly simple: either it is true that being gay or lesbian is a vicious or pathological form of a humanity which is only authentically heterosexual; or it is true that being gay or lesbian is simply something that is a non-pathological minority variant in the human condition. If the former, then "giving in" to being gay or lesbian is to follow the path of your objective disorder, and ultimately to exclude yourself from grace. If the latter, then becoming who you are starts from who you find yourself to be, including your sexual orientation, and the appropriate humanisation of your sexual desire will be worked out in appropriate relationships over time.

Listen to the perfervid (and, it has to be said, exceedingly nasty) response to what Francis is alleged to have said among right-wing U.S. Catholics and their bishops, and you'd think a proposal to recognize the right of same-sex couples to legal unions radically shifts Catholic doctrine.

It doesn't, since this is not a doctrinal discussion. Moral teachings are not doctrinal teachings. The whole Christian edifice is not built on moral teachings at all, which develop and shift as our understanding of issues develops. These people want to accord a central role to moral teachings about human sexuality that those teachings simply do not occupy in either scripture or Christian tradition.

By the way, Southern Baptist disaster  leader Albert Mohler tweeted today that "[t]his Pope is a disaster for the Roman Catholic church and is weakening "Christian witness" to teachings about marriage, sexuality, and gender. Since Mohler is on the record stating that the Catholic church is a "false church" and that the papacy is illegitimate, one wonders why he imagines that the "Christian witness" of the papacy counts for anything at all.

Yes, this is the same Albert Mohler who has given a glowing recommendation of of Amy Coyne Barrett for the Supreme bench, since she is "committed not to a regime of rights nowhere found in our nation's governing documents, but only those rights explicitly enumerated in the Constitution."

Here are some findings from the latest American Values Survey released by PRRI this week 

The vast majority of Americans (70%) favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally, compared to 28% of Americans who oppose it. Majorities of Democrats (80%) and independents (76%), as well as half of Republicans (50%), support same-sex marriage.

White evangelical Protestants stand out as the only major religious group in which a majority opposes allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry (34% favor, 63% oppose). Majorities in every other major religious group support marriage equality, including 90% of religiously unaffiliated Americans, 79% of white mainline Protestants, 78% of Hispanic Catholics, 72% of members of non-Christian religious groups, 68% of Hispanic Protestants, 67% of white Catholics, 57% of Black Protestants, and 56% of members of other Christian religious groups (emphasis added).

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