Sunday, March 15, 2009

Effects of Lori's and Chaput's Gay Bashing: Outpouring of Hatred

As a companion piece to my open letter to the U.S. Catholic bishops, I’d like to post a sampling—and this is just a sampling of what’s out there—of some of the commentary following on Bishop Lori’s and Archbishop Chaput’s choice to use gay human beings and gay human lives as cannon fodder for their political battle with the Connecticut legislature. It’s stomach-churning.

And it can be traced directly back to two Catholic bishops.

Who have chosen to commemorate Lent in this year of our Lord 2008 by mounting an ugly attack on their brothers and sisters who happen to be gay, and happen to be useful in political games these bishops want to play, which have little to do with the gay lives and gay human beings they are using in those games.

First, I want to note two commentaries that confirm my interpretation that the gay bashing proceeding from what Lori and Chaput have done must be laid at their feet. On Friday, Ken Dixon of the Connecticut Post published an eyewitness account of the crowds who flocked to the legislature to protest this bill after Lori and Chaput stoked the fires (here). Dixon writes:

Looking out over the crowd of believers standing there on the state Capitol's north side, I guessed I believe that good things can happen to good people. That was around the time that the throng's anger seemed to rise there, in the gray pre-spring.

The frequency of their voices changed toward dislike and worse, when Lori mentioned the names of two lawmakers, Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, and Rep. Mike Lawlor, D-East Haven, the co-chairmen of the Judiciary Committee, whose sin was to schedule a public hearing on a proposal to add more lay members of Roman Catholic parish boards . . . .

At the moment the crowd's anger was peaking against Lawlor and McDonald, I felt as if we were a couple burning stakes away from a witch roast.

What was everyone angry at? An alleged assault on their faith? It couldn't have been that, since faith is an intangible. . . .

Years of pent-up disgust seemed to be on display and I couldn't help but think that some of it was anti-homosexual bias against Lawlor and McDonald, two gay lawmakers who led the legislative way on same-sex civil unions, which were approved by the Assembly and signed into law my Gov. M. Jodi Rell (my emphasis).

Aloysius James, a blogger responding on March 11th to the article two days prior in Chaput’s Catholic News Agency newspaper, also affirms the role Chaput and Lori have played in stirring animosity against gay human beings in the Connecticut debacle (here):

As I commented earlier, Archbishop Chaput has become the premier spokesman of the paranoid Catholic right. He said all Catholics were "threatened" by the CT bill. We were not. He (and bishop Lori) said the CT bill was part of a militant homosexual agenda to persecute the Church. Again, not true. The bill was introduced by two Catholic legislators as a favor to some Catholics seeking to end further embezzlemnt by priests of parish funds (two sacandalous cases recently in CT) (my emphasis).

James’s insight that Lori and Chaput have stirred hostility against gay brothers and sisters by their insinuation of a “militant homosexual agenda to persecute the Church” is proven true by the following comment in the same thread. This is by one Myles Keogh:

This is outrageous and so unconstitutional but typical of these militant homosexuals and their methods. More attacks and persecution are coming. Homosexuals want to suppress anyone individual or group that stands up to them (my emphasis).

The depths of homophobia Lori and Chaput have managed to elicit in their battle to keep parish finances under bishops’ control is also evident in an article by “Benedict” at the Southern Appeal website founded by Steve Dillard (a Catholic) of Nashville, Tennessee, entitled “Gay Brownshirts vs. Catholics in Connecticut” (here). The article’s original title was “Queers vs. Catholics in Connecticut” (see here).

The title was changed when a respondent, Jay, noted

I guess what actually bothered me more about the title is not the word in itself, but rather grouping all “queers” together, as if the actions of two random state legislators represent everyone who is possibly subsumed by that term. It would obviously be silly to write something like “Blacks v. Gunowners” if two black state legislators proposed some gun control legislation (my emphasis).

Despite such observations, “Benedict’s” intent to trade on ugly homophobia is fully evident, however, in his decision to switch to the equally ugly brownshirt metaphor when challenged about his stigmatizing use of the term “queer,” and in the opening of his article:

In a stunning bit of realpolitik, two openly homosexual Connecticut state politicians have introduced legislation seeking to punish the Catholic Church in Connecticut for daring to exercise its First Amendment rights and advocate for traditional marriage (my emphasis).

Note that “Benedict” is merely repeating what Lori said with this claim that the legislation for lay oversight of parish finances is an attempt to punish the church for its resistance to gay marriage.

And stir homophobia “Benedict’s” posting does, as is proven by the following comment by Isabelle: “men who have anal sex together are queer. I would also add savage, barbaric and base” (my emphasis).

And so it goes, with one A.A. Cunningham posting at the Free Republic website yesterday a picture of Representative Lawlor, with the tag, “Homosexual State Representative Mike Lawlor” (my emphasis) (here).

And so it continues to go, in this year of our Lord 2008, in the holy season of Lent: two American Catholic bishops, shepherds of the flock entrusted to them by Christ, charged to heal and tend to the flock and not savage and wound it, stirring the vilest, basest kind of social hatred. To pursue goals that have little to do with the human beings and human lives they are using in this vile and base way.


Surely, if Lori and Chaput believe that excluding the laity from supervision of parish funds (though the laity provide those funds) is essential to what it means to be Catholic—and I do not believe that, nor do millions of other Catholics—there is a way to prove their point without attacking their brothers and sisters in Christ who happen to be gay.

If the American Catholic bishops stand by in silence as this goes on, they can expect to see their shrinking moral authority diminish even more, at a time when one would think they’d be concerned about reclaiming that authority and not contributing to its total disappearance.