Monday, September 12, 2011

More Mychal Judge Commemorative Pieces: Kittredge Cherry and Lisa Fullam

More on Mychal Judge, the Franciscan saint of 9/11, this weekend at Kittredge Cherry's Jesus in Love blog: Kittredge offers an excerpt reflecting on Judge's life from Salvatore Sapienza's book Mychal's Prayer: Praying with Father Mychal Judge.  Sapienza is a fellow Franciscan who worked with Mychal Judge to form St. Francis AIDS ministry in New York.  And then she follows the excerpt with reflections of her own about why Mychal Judge deserves to be remembered as a specifically gay saint.

And as a counterpoint to Kittredge's analysis, there's Lisa Fullam's thoughtful analysis at Commonweal of the heroic role played by gay athlete Mark Bingham in the response to 9/11, alongside the role played by Mychal Judge, an openly gay Franciscan priest.  The responses to Lisa Fullam's piece are eye-opening, as an indicator of where many Catholics of the right and center remain, via-a-vis the role and place of gay and lesbian human beings in the human community and in the Catholic church. 

Though a large percentage of Catholics in the U.S. have long since walked down the road of open acceptance and full inclusion of their LGBT brothers and sisters, the conversation at the center remains deadlocked between Catholics of the right who display blatant toxic prejudice towards those who are gay, and who adamantly do not want open acceptance and full inclusion for their gay brothers and sisters, and Catholics of the intellectual center who continue to regard these toxic views as authentically Catholic and intellectually respectable, and continue to treat their gay brothers and sisters as outsiders to these conversations about authentic Catholic practice.

We still have a long, long way to go in American Catholicism.  May St. Mychal Judge pray for us as we continue our journey towards love in the footsteps of Jesus and Francis.

(And, of course, there are some praiseworthy responses the overt prejudice of some posters in the Commonweal thread.  The point I want to keep emphasizing, however, is that the dialogic space of the American Catholic intellectual center continues to be structured in such a way that voices of outright hatred still have open welcome, and are still permitted to posture as authentically Catholic voices, while voices of LGBT Catholics are not made similarly welcome.  Our voices are the problem to be solved in  "objective" and "orthodox" Catholic discussion spaces.  And this is the case in large part because centrist Catholics remain aloof from solidarity with their LGBT brothers and sisters, while they will not name the voices of their Catholic brothers and sisters of the homophobic right for what they are: voices fomenting hatred. 

For me, the problem has long since become not to legitimate the voices of openly gay Catholics, but to explain how those voices of open prejudice and hatred have any right to represent themselves as authentically Catholic.  And so the problem for me is also the problem of understanding how Catholic intellectuals who must understand these dynamics continue not to take sides in social battles in which real human beings are being harmed in really destructive ways by hatred mouthed in the name of religious belief.)

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