Thursday, July 3, 2008

And Speaking of Discrimination . . .

And speaking of discrimination: in so many ways, this shoddy little piece of special pleading doesn’t deserve notice.

But it affects people. It affects voters. It’s designed to affect voters. And for that reason, I want to take note of the article.

It also happens to be a story from a diocese in which I have lived and continue to own a house—in an area in which homophobia has made my life and that of my partner miserable, and in which gay citizens are frequently subjected to harassment extending to physical violence.

It’s an op-ed piece by Orlando diocese Catholic bishop Thomas Wenski from last Sunday’s Ocala Banner (see In the article, the good bishop argues—without a hint of apology—that the culture wars need to continue.

Yes, the enervating culture wars of the 1990s, which got us precisely nowhere. Those culture wars. The ones that have consumed millions of dollars in resources that might better have been spent in meeting human needs, while we battled over issues like abortion and gay rights and same-sex marriage.

The culture wars that have led to such ideological fragmentation in our nation that we cannot begin to work together, because we are so busy shouting at each other across our ideological party lines. The culture wars that have led to precisely no cashing in of promises by “pro-life” politicians to end abortion—because these politicians never intended to end abortion. What they wanted and needed was for good bishops like Wenski to whip up a frenzy of anger and fear among their flock, so that they would go to the voting booths and vote “right.”

The culture wars that have demonized gay folks in the name of protecting “traditional” marriage, which have brought us that diaper-clad friend of prostitutes David Vitter and wide-stance Larry Craig as sponsors of the latest attempt to amend the constitution in favor of “traditional” marriage.

Yes. Those culture wars. These are the ones that Bishop Wenski wants to continue. In the name of God, you understand.

Bishop Wenski argues that we have to do all in our power to protect poor, embattled “traditional” marriage (which appears to be embattled due to those nasty gays wanting to marry, and not because of folks like Vitter and Craig) because children “seem to be” “hardwired” to be raised by a father and a mother married to each other.

The good bishop also argues, without a whisper of irony or any apparent concern regarding the glass palace he occupies, that, “Of course, in America, we value our privacy and that of others, and so today most agree that one's sexual orientation shouldn't necessarily be anyone else's business.”

Really? Try telling that to the many LGBT employees who have found themselves suddenly without a job in Catholic institutions, when the institutions made it their business to focus on the sexual orientation of the employee they fired.

I’m frankly appalled at articles like this—at the waste of time and energy, the naked politicking on behalf of politicians and programs that don’t deserve church support, at the mendacity and the refusal to see the beam in the episcopal eye. I'm appalled at the continuing attempt of some Catholic bishops to drive their flocks to the polls so that they will vote Republican, when the current administration, whom they clamored for the faithful to elect, has done such a conspicuously horrible job of exhibiting values consonant with those the Catholic church claims to defend.

As to the beam in the episcopal eye, do bishops not have enough business of their own to mind these days, given what we now know about the widespread abuse of children by Catholic clergy? And what we are learning about the filching of parish and diocesan funds by priests all over the nation, including in Florida?

Along those lines, get a gander at the faces of two Florida priests (from the diocese just south of Wenski’s) against whom grand-theft charges have just been refiled in Florida. These two gentlemen (whose pictures are at the head of this posting) were pastors in Palm Beach. They are alleged to have stolen some $6.6 million in parish funds over the years.

With clerical problems like this, Bishop Wenski, do you and your brother bishops really need to be attacking the gays? Really?

Please, sir, get your own (glass) house in order first. Then I might listen to you.

But not as long as you continue participating in discriminatory actions against gay employees of institutions sponsored by your church and other churches.

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