Monday, November 1, 2010

San Antonio Archdiocese: No More Gays at Weekly Mass

Right in the middle of intense concern about the exodus of Catholics from the church in the U.S.--one in three adults raised Catholic leaving the church, one in ten American adults now former Catholics--this story breaks: "San Antonio Archdiocese Says No More Gays at Weekly Mass."

After more than 15 years in which a Catholic parish in San Antonio offered a weekly liturgy hospitable to members of the gay community, pastoral officials of the archdiocese are shutting this Mass down.  And showing their gay brothers and sisters the door.

And those brothers and sisters hear the message loud and clear.  Fred Antonio Garza, president of the local Dignity chapter, says that members of the gay community who have been attending this weekly Mass will look for "a more welcoming environment" elsewhere.

As I've reported on this blog in the past (e.g., here and here), the purge of openly gay and lesbian folks from Catholic parishes in the U.S. began with the current pope's 1986 "Halloween letter" issued when, as Cardinal Ratzinger, he headed the Vatican office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  This "pastoral" letter took the fateful step of defining gay and lesbian people as disordered, something the Catholic tradition had not done prior to Ratzinger's Halloween letter.

The letter sparked a purge in which Dignity chapters, which had been meeting on Catholic premises across the U.S., were informed that they were no longer welcome in any Catholic setting.  As I've also noted, in my own city, the entire Dignity chapter responded to its expulsion from Catholic premises by converting to Episcopalianism, since our local Episcopal church is far more welcoming of openly gay folks than the Catholic church is.

From the 1986 Halloween letter forward, the message of the Catholic hierarchy to gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in Christ has been unambiguous: you are not welcome.  Not as you are.  Return to the closet if you expect us to welcome you.

And to Catholic priests and nuns seeking to build pastoral bridges to their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, the message has also been clear: stop what you are doing.  You will be punished if you engage in this pastoral outreach.

The result has been a massive silent exodus of gay and lesbian persons and of those who love and stand in solidarity with gay and lesbian persons from Catholic churches since 1986, an exodus that research now indicates (as sources I've cited in recent postings demonstrate) is now extending to younger Catholics in general.  The primary reason younger folks are now walking away from churches in general is that they cannot any longer accept the cruel message of unwelcome the churches are giving to those who are gay and lesbian.

One in three American adults raised Catholic has now left.  One in ten American adults is a former Catholic.

And one of the last Masses in the U.S. welcoming openly gay Catholics affiliated with Dignity has now been shut down, as the San Antonio archdiocese informs Catholics attending that Mass that they are no longer welcome in the Catholic church. 

While we talk, throughout the American Catholic church, about how to deal with the shocking attrition.

Does not make sense, does it?

No comments: