Thursday, March 10, 2011

USCCB President Timothy Dolan on Cuomo Concubinage Controversy: Tempest in Teapot

A day ago, Brian made a comment at my recent posting about the remarks of the president of the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Conference, Timothy Dolan, re: the Obama administration's decision not to defend DOMA.  Brian's comment--which notes (rightly) that there's an inbuilt dialogic space exclusively for the powerful in the American Catholic church--points to a New York Times article on Tuesday, in which Nicholas Confessore discusses the response of Dolan to calls to exclude New York governor Andrew Cuomo from the eucharist.  Since, you know, he lives with a live-in girlfriend, Food Network talk maven Sandra Lee.  Without benefit of holy matrimony.

The push to exclude Cuomo from communion began with Edward Peters, a professor at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit and a consultant to the Vatican's Apostolic Signatura (headed by none other than Cardinal Ray Burke, the "de facto pope of the Republican Catholic church" who called for U.S. Catholic bishops to ban "grievously anti-life"--read: Democratic--politicians from communion in the 2008 elections).  Peters denounced Cuomo's reception of communion as "objectively sacrilegious."  Because of, you know, Sandra.  And the live-in thing.  Which is concubinage.

And we all know what the Catholic church thinks about concubinage.  Especially for high-profile Democrats.  Who happen to support same-sex marriage.

And, of course, as the USCCB president and a high-profile Catholic bishop in the same state in which Cuomo lives, Timothy Dolan had no choice except to jump into the fray.  Dolan and several other bishops had lunch with Gov. Cuomo Tuesday, and here's the USCCB president's take on the Cuomo-concubinage-communion controversy following the lunch: asked whether the concubinage came up during lunch, and the question of communion, Dolan states,

Thank God it didn’t, because it was a bit of a tempest in a teapot.  We were just happy to be there, and he obviously was, too.  We got lunch out of it.

And isn't that nice of Archbishop Dolan.  And pastoral and all.

But here's the thing: as his recent remarks about the Obama administration and the defense of marriage act indicate, it's not a tempest in a teapot for the USCCB president when two committed gay people seek the right of civil marriage.  To, you know, solemnize and even consecrate (if a church or synagogue agrees) their union--to move it beyond mere concubinage.

Remember what Dolan just said about the Obama administration's judgment that DOMA--with its legalized discrimination prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying civilly--can't be defended constitutionally?  For Dolan, that decision to stop defending indefensible discrimination is an "alarming and grave injustice."

And remember what that hoary neo-culture war document seeking desperately to gin up new attacks on gay and lesbian Americans, the Manhattan Declaration--which Dolan signed and whose planning meetings he helped organize and host--says about marriage?:

We confess with sadness that Christians and our institutions have too often scandalously failed to uphold the institution of marriage and to model for the world the true meaning of marriage. Insofar as we have too easily embraced the culture of divorce and remained silent about social practices that undermine the dignity of marriage we repent, and call upon all Christians to do the same.

But as the Manhattan Declaration goes on to argue, the real threat to the sanctity of marriage in our society today is not heterosexual couples living in concubinage, or divorcing and remarrying à la the Newt.  It's the gays.

It's the gays and their--get this--their desire to marry!  To live in stable, committed, blessed relationships.

That's what's undermining traditional marriage.

And that's why the gays and their desire to marry are definitely not a tempest in a teapot, but a real tempest, such that it is an "alarming and grave injustice" to question discriminatory laws that do not permit same-sex couples the rights and benefits of marriage.

But when a high-profile heterosexual Catholic lives in an extra-marital relationship and people ask whether his "concubinage" gives scandal and should cause him to be barred from communion, that's a tempest in a teapot.

Something seems not quite right about this picture, doesn't it?

Because remember that while the USCCB president finds the push to deny communion to Gov. Cuomo on the ground that his lifestyle gives public scandal and his reception of communion is "objectively sacrilegious" a bit of a tempest in a teapot, Catholic bishops in the U.S. keep denying communion to people who even dare to wear a rainbow sash or pin, simply to show solidarity with their LGBT brothers and sisters.  The most recent highly publicized case of that action involved Bishop Nienstedt in Minnesota last fall.

And remember that in Colorado last spring, the children of a lesbian couple who belong to a Catholic parish and are practicing Catholics were turned away from a Catholic school, with the blessing of Archbishop Chaput of Denver.  And remember that a Catholic college in Pennsylvania has just fired a faculty member, stating publicly that his being openly gay and partnered puts him at odds with Catholic teaching.   And remember that the U.S. Catholic bishops joined with other religious rights groups to send a letter to Congress last August asking for their continued "right" to engage in such discrimination in workplaces and institutions owned by faith-based groups.

As I say, a bit of a tempest in a teapot when people call for excluding Gov. Cuomo from communion because he lives in "concubinage," per the president of the USCCB.  But decidedly not a tempest in a teapot when it comes to discriminating against gay folks. 

Something's not quite right with this picture, is it?

Oh, and about the now-Catholic Mr. Gingrich?  And his three wives and the affairs and all of that?  It turns out they were all about his excessive love of his country.  Love of country made him philander.  And swap wife for wife.  And treat the discarded wives with shocking disdain.

I kid you not.

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