Friday, March 20, 2009

An Open Letter to the Catholic Bishops of the U.S.: Stop Immoral Political Use of Gay Human Beings

For an update to this post noting the arrest of a Connecticut man who allegedly emailed death threats to the two openly gay legislators targeted by Bishop Lori and Archbishop Chaput, see below.*

On March 13, I described in detail how two American Catholic bishops, William Lori of Bridgeport, CT, and Charles Chaput of Denver, CO, recently made immoral political use of gay human beings and gay lives in their battle against legislation in CT that had nothing to do with gay issues (here).

Though Chaput is not in Connecticut and has no ecclesiastical jurisdiction there, he helped organize a nation-wide letter-writing and phone-in campaign to combat the proposed legislation in Connecticut.

In this posting, I am proposing a similar campaign to call on the U.S. Catholic bishops to exercise fraternal correction when any of their brother bishops fan the flames of homophobia and attack gay human beings as these two bishops have recently done.

Please feel free to send the letter below, or your own letter, to Bishop Lori, Archbishop Chaput, and Cardinal Francis George, President of the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Conference. I have provided contact information beneath the letter. I will be grateful to readers who help circulate this posting, too.

An Open Letter to the Catholic Bishops of the United States

Re: Immoral Use of Gay Human Beings in Catholic Political Initiatives

Dear Bishops:

I am sending this letter to express my dismay at how some bishops have recently used gay human beings to further those bishops’ political ends.

I am referring specifically to Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, CT, and Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, CO. When a bill to place Catholic parish finances under lay supervision was brought to the Connecticut legislative judiciary committee recently, both bishops deliberately fanned the flames of anti-gay prejudice in order to stir discontent with the proposed legislation.

Please see my detailed account of how Bishop Lori and Archbishop Charles Chaput used gay human beings as objects in their battle against the proposed legislation in Connecticut (here).

This use of human beings as objects in political games is deeply immoral, particularly when one considers that those being used in this way are already subject to social scorn and marginalization. No follower of Jesus has any business behaving as Bishop Lori and Archbishop Chaput have done in recent days, as they resorted to gay-baiting to further political causes that have little to do with the gay persons targeted by these bishops.

Such immoral use of people subject to stigmatization elicits further prejudice and often results in violence of various kinds, ranging from outright assault to increased social scorn, against those identified as despised objects by political or religious authorities.*

I am writing to appeal to you to exercise fraternal correction and to call on your brother bishops to stop stirring prejudice against and hatred of those who are gay or lesbian. I also respectfully ask you as bishops to own your responsibility for the widespread misappropriation of parish and diocesan funds that are entirely under your control as bishops, and the abuse of minors by clerics.

These occurrences are not the responsibility of gay and lesbian persons. They are your responsibility. They originate in a system that unjustly places all ecclesial power in the hands of clerics. And they have been tragically compounded by your refusal to be transparent and accountable about these issues as you have dealt with them for many years now.

The abandonment of pastoral responsibility that leads to these lamentable departures from Christian ethics belongs to you: it is your abandonment of responsibility, and your continued defense of clericalism in the church of Vatican II, which are causing these wounds to fester in the body of Christ.

Gay human beings are not responsible for these wounds in the body of Christ. Nor are we responsible for your lapses in pastoral leadership. It is deeply unjust and deeply anti-Christian for you to seek to use gay human beings to cover over your pastoral shortcomings, as objects in political games that have little to do with gay human beings.

Thank you for considering this appeal to exercise fraternal correction when any of your brother bishops attack gay persons in the ugly way in which Bishop Lori and Archbishop Chaput have done recently. This behavior has no place in the body of Christ, and will not restore people’s waning confidence in the moral authority and ethical commitment of the pastors of the church.



Contact Information:

Bishop William E. Lori
Diocese of Bridgeport
238 Jewett Ave
Bridgeport, CT 06606

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput
Archdiocese of Denver
1300 South Steele Street
Denver, CO 80210

Cardinal Francis George
Archdiocese of Chicago
835 N. Rush St., Chicago, IL 60611-2030

*Such violence is already in evidence as a result of Bishop Lori and Archbishop Chaput's recent words and actions. See
here. On March 19, Connecticut police arrested Timothy Kane, son of Catholic deacon Joseph Kane, for alleged death threats emailed to McDonald and Lawlor, following Bishop Lori's and Archbishop Chaput's use of anti-gay rhetoric and tactics in the Connecticut legislative battle (see here).