Friday, January 21, 2011

More Responses to 1997 Vatican Letter to Irish Bishops, and a Response to Catholic Diocese of Colorado Springs' Ex-Gay Program

Andrew Sullivan's take on the 1997 Vatican letter instructing the Catholic bishops of Ireland to handle abuse cases entirely within canonical structures, evading the police as they did so: Sullivan wonders about the wisdom of the current Vatican rush to canonize John Paul II immediately, as one revelation after another about the sordid way the church did business during his papacy, vis-a-vis those reporting childhood sexual abuse by priests, comes along:

And let us be clear who was presiding over this disgraceful and disgusting negligence of a core moral value: the protection of children from abuse and rape. The Pope ultimately responsible, John Paul II, is on an absurdly fast track for beatification. How will history look on a church that made a saint out of a Pope who ignored, suppressed, and had underlings covering up the rape of countless vulnerable children? In Ireland, the abuse was so severe, so long-running, so protected by a vile collusion between church and state that the attempt to hush it up is damning. It seems to me a stretch to argue that the Church under John Paul II returned to a very papal hierarchical structure and simultaneously say the Pope has no responsibility for the mass rape and abuse of children he so blithely presided over.

Sullivan generously concludes that, despite his pastorally dubious handling of the abuse situation and of the case of serial abuser of minors, rapist of his own children, and drug addict Fr. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, John Paul II was a "deeply holy man."  In my view, John Paul's sanctity is seriously compromised by his handling of the abuse situation and protection of Maciel.

And Voice of the Faithful's response to the disclosure of the 1997 Vatican letter to the Irish bishops (this is the lead article in the latest In the Vineyard newsletter, 21 Jan. 2011): 

In a New York Times story following the letter’s publication, Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said this letter is “not new” and that, “They’ve known about it in Ireland for some time.” Colm Gorman, a victim of abuse in Ireland, contradicted Lombardi, saying the “letter was not known until its disclosure on Monday (Jan. 17) by RTE.”

VOTF maintains that the Church’s credibility will remain severely damaged unless the Vatican admits to what has been done in the past. The clergy sexual abuse scandal arose and was abetted not just by many thousands of individual priests, religious and others working for the Church who committed heinous crimes, but also by a Church hierarchy that has sought to protect its public image by enforcing a de facto policy of secrecy under the guise of adhering to canonical procedures.

Despite the misleading claim of papal press secretary Fr. Lombardi, the public and Catholics in general now know of the existence of this 1997 letter only because an unnamed Irish bishop leaked it to the media recently.  As the Vatican rushes to canonize John Paul II in a bread-and-circuses diversionary move designed to distract us from the anti-pastoral response of top church leaders to the abuse crisis, I wonder how many other documents like this are floating around, which may come to light as John Paul is canonized--to the embarrassment of Rome and those buying the precipitous canonization of John Paul.

And, on a different topic: here's the response of the new Catholic group Equally Blessed to the 12-step gay-reparative program of the Colorado Springs Catholic diocese about which I blogged earlier today:

“We are all sinners, but in this instance, the sin lies not in gay and lesbian Catholics, but in those who describe children of God in such demeaning language,” said Frank DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, an Equally Blessed partner.

“The notion that homosexuality is an illness similar to alcoholism or addiction to narcotics finds no support in psychological literature,” DeBernardo added. “But you don’t need an advanced degree to understand that the fruits of lifelong, committed, monogamous relationships are quite different than the damage and heartache done by chemical dependencies.”

As I noted in my posting about this earlier today, under the guise of charitable pastoral outreach to the gay and lesbian community, some Catholics--with magisterial approval--continue to characterize gay and lesbian human beings as sick and disordered simply because these human beings are made gay and lesbian by God.  Hence programs designed to "cure" the "illness" of homosexuality--and all the attendant claims of right-wing supporters of such programs that gays stand in unique need of cure, because they are uniquely susceptible to all kinds of illnesses simply because they are gay.

This is hatred disguised as love, which singles out a vulnerable minority group and demands the right to continue stigmatizing and marginalizing that group by tagging it as diseased--in the name of God.  This kind of hatred disguised as love, which claims divine warrant, does grievous harm not merely to those it targets, but to the churches that continue to wallow in it, and to society at large.  It's time for this nonsense to stop.

No comments: