Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Good Catholic Institutions ≠ Pro-Gay: Commonweal Decrees Again

Apropos what I've just posted about the effects of the U.S. Catholic bishops' anti-gay rhetoric (and apropos what I said yesterday about the "othering" language that many right-wing Catholics love to use about their gay brothers and sisters): I find Margaret O'Brien Steinfels' statement in this thread discussing the Health and Human Services brouhaha fascinating.

Steinfels writes, 

Good institutions doing good work are being squeezed out of the public square because they are caught between the bishops and their ideology and the pro-choice and pro-gay world and their ideology.

Note the rhetorical opposition that this statement sets up between the terms "good institutions doing good work" and the "pro-gay world."  As if "good institutions doing good work" can't be pro-gay.

Since Steinfels is writing to defend good Catholic institutions, rhetorically she is promoting a division between being a good Catholic or a good Catholic institution and being pro-gay.  As if those who are gay or pro-gay somehow do not exist within or for good Catholic communities and good Catholic institutions.

As if those who are gay or pro-gay are "other" for good Catholic communities and good Catholic institutions.  As if they do not exist in the world of Commonweal and of its centrist Catholicism that predictably aligns itself far more readily with the positions taken by the Catholic right than by progressive Catholics.

This is a rhetorically revealing statement which says everything about the constant "othering" stance vis-a-vis gay human beings that this centrist Catholic publication insists on continuing to take under its current editorial leadership.

Wouldn't it be interesting, for a change, to read a statement from the American Catholic intellectual center that equated being pro-gay with being a good Catholic?  Particularly when some real-life gay human beings happen to be being slashed with broken beer bottles, set on fire, and beaten to a pulp as Catholic intellectuals of the center slice and dice terms like "good" to make those terms point to Catholicism.

But not to any real-life gay human being in the world around them.

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