Saturday, April 9, 2011

Faith in America on Archbishop Charles Chaput: "Anti-Gay Catholic Leader Lying--And He Knows It"

This is significant: I can't remember when I've seen this forceful of a response by a group of interfaith leaders to the belligerent public homophobia of a Catholic church official in the U.S.  The group Faith in America calls the archbishop of Denver, Charles Chaput, on the carpet today for his repeated efforts to block and remove human rights of gay and lesbian citizens of the U.S.

And Faith in America also calls Chaput a liar.  A liar who tries to twist his crusade against the human rights of a vulnerable minority community into a noble crusade on behalf of human rights.  A liar who wants us to imagine that, in some bizarre alternative universe whose rules make sense only to those of the religious and political right, fighting against human rights for a marginalized minority group somehow constitutes fighting for human rights and human dignity.

Faith in America's response to Chaput re: these issues concludes,

What you and others are espousing is religion-based bigotry – and it is one of the most vile forms of bigotry because of the religious and moral stamp of rejection and condemnation it places on the lives of LGBT people, especially LGBT youth and their families.

Religion-based bigotry has been used by the church and so-called religious organizations against other minorities many times in our past. Charles, do you recall the apology the Catholic Church issued to Native Americans for using misguided religious teaching to justify treating them as morally inferior? Do you recall the Catholic Church apology in 2000 to women for using misguided religious teaching to promote the attitude that they are inferior to men?

And let’s not forget, Charles, your now cozy anti-gay friends on the Religious Right and how the Southern Baptist Convention apologized for using misguided religious teaching to justify bigotry toward African Americans and interracial couples.

Do you really expect the American public to believe that you actually believe it was those fighting the oppression of those minorities who were the ones expressing bigotry.

Chaput stands out among the American bishops for his exceptional belligerence in attacking gay and lesbian citizens and gay and lesbian fellow Catholics.  In contrast to the archdiocese of Boston, which has made a public statement accepting the enrollment of children of gay couples in Catholic schools, Chaput's Denver archdiocese belligerently refused to admit the children of a lesbian couple in a Catholic school, in a highly publicized incident a year ago.

Chaput's Catholic News Agency does all it can, day after day, to spread the Catholic anti-gay gospel, identifying homophobia with authentic Catholic teaching and attacking fellow Catholics who do not toe Chaput's homophobic line.  CNA is working hard right now to stir up the American political and Catholic right to create trouble for Mexican bishop Raul Vera Lopez and his ministry of pastoral outreach to gay Catholics in the Saltillo diocese.

Because of the prominence of the Denver archdiocese in the American Southwest, with its large Latino population, Chaput and CNA have a particular concern to keep Latino Catholics in line, to assure that the growing Hispanic population of their area--a key constituency for whose votes Democrats and Republicans are competing--remains "authentically" Catholic.  Catholic, as in opposed to gay rights.  Catholic, as in Republican-trending.

In the past two days, Chaput's CNA has published two articles in addition to the one to which I link above (and here) attacking Bishop Vera Lopez's ministry to gay Catholics and comparing this ministry unfavorably to the Catholic organization Courage, which promotes the bogus notion that one can be "converted" from homosexuality.  It is no accident that CNA is playing Courage, with its anti-gay, bogus conversion-therapy messages, against ministries that seek to include gays and lesbians in the Catholic church.  As Timothy Kincaid noted at Box Turtle Bulletin in January, the head of the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Conference, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, has appointed Oakland bishop Salvatore Cordileone chair of the USCCB's new Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage.

As Kincaid also notes, both Dolan and Cordileone sit on Courage's "Body of Members," which provides oversight for the organization.  By making this appointment, Dolan is giving Courage--with its anti-gay bogus conversion-therapy message--quasi-official status as "the" U.S. Catholic organization presenting the "authentic" message of the Catholic church on gay issues. 

And when one recalls the active role that Cordileone played in removing the right of civil marriage from the gay citizens of California, one sees clearly the political stakes involved in this promotion of Courage and in attacks like CNA's recent attacks on gay-inclusive and gay-affirming ministries within the Catholic church.  Since his appointment to "defend" marriage on behalf of American Catholics, Cordileone has been busy lambasting President Obama and his administration for refusing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, and has claimed that this refusal to defend a law that the administration regards as unconstitutional and discriminatory is an attack on democracy and an act of discrimination in and of itself (!)--discrimination against minority groups that oppose same-sex marriage.  Cordileone has boasted about the significant role he played in helping remove the civil right of marriage from gay citizens of California, and has told the media that the movement to accord rights to gay persons is inspired by the devil.

Make no mistake about it: what Chaput and the bishops with whom he is allied have been doing and continue doing in attacking the rights of gay citizens of the U.S. is overtly political.  It is more political by far than it is religious.  It is all about trying to secure Catholic votes for the single political party with whom these bishops imagine their church should be affiliated.

And it's about doing the bidding of powerful, wealthy Republican business leaders with whom Chaput is allied, and whose word counts predominantly for him as he pursues his episcopal ministry.  Faith in America is right on target to call Chaput out for his malicious lies about his brothers and sisters who happen to be gay, and to expose those lies as all about anti-Christian biogtry.

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