Friday, December 9, 2011

Lutheran Bishop Invites Catholic Bishops of Minnesota to Be Good Shepherds

And as news of the suicide of another gay teen following years of school bullying breaks (building here on what I just posted), and while the U.S. Catholic bishops continue to keep their mouths decisively shut about this national disgrace, I take heart in a challenge that the former presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Herbert Chilstrom, has just issued to the Catholic bishops of Minnesota, as the latter group of gentlemen fight tooth and nail to enshrine anti-gay prejudice in their state's constitution.

Bishop Chilstrom's proposal to the Catholic bishops of Minnesota is novel: why not try welcoming instead of attacking, he suggests.  How about listening?  How about sitting down with some real-life gay Catholics and hearing their stories?

Instead of, you know, attacking, alienating, wounding, driving away.  In the name of Christ.  And wasting huge sums of money given by faithful Catholics for far worthier causes as you attack, alienate, wound, and drive away.

Chilstrom writes: 

Instead, why not welcome them into our communities of faith where they can work side by side with us as equal partners?
Let me put out a challenge to each of you brothers. Invite 15 gay and lesbian persons from your respective areas, one at a time, to spend two hours with you. 
Thirty hours are a pittance compared to the time you are investing to promote adoption of the marriage amendment. Use the time, not for confession, but to listen to them describe what it is like to live in our culture in Minnesota. 
Hear as they tell you what it means be a child of God and a faithful member of your church, persons who happen to be gay or lesbian through no choice of their own. I can promise you, based on my experience, that your heart will be deeply moved by what you hear.
When you have finished your time with these sisters and brothers in Christ, spend a quiet hour reflecting on a single question: "As I understand the heart of my Savior Jesus, how would he treat these sons and daughters of my church?"

Open your doors.  Meet.  Sit down with.  Listen.  Learn about and learn to understand.  

And welcome.  What a splendid and unusual proposal for pastors who claim Jesus as their standard as they lead their flocks.

And what a damning indictment of the Catholic bishops of Minnesota and, in general, of the Catholic bishops throughout the U.S., that this is not their fundamental impulse or tactic when it comes to dealing with their brothers and sisters who are gay.  And with the families of those brothers and sisters.

The pain that results from the Catholic bishops' betrayal of pastoral leadership (and of Jesus): Steve and I experience it at a personal level, as I've shared on this blog.  And so we know that what the Catholic bishops of Minnesota are choosing to do now has real, perceptible effects on living gay people and their real-life families.  Because his family lives in Minnesota and because they are devoutly Catholic, and because not a few of his siblings choose to understand being Catholic as being anti-gay, we know the exclusion and unwelcome that issues from the bishops first-hand.

And it hurts.

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