Thursday, January 5, 2012

Angry Anglicans Swim Tiber to Rome: Maureen Fiedler and Lisa Fullam Examine Their Motives

At National Catholic Reporter and Commonweal, Maureen Fiedler and Lisa Fullam take a careful look at the implications of the Vatican decision to create a new "ordinariate" for  disaffected Anglicans/Episcopalians.  Both note that a primary motive of those Anglicans crossing the Tiber to Rome is their resistance to women's ordination and their refusal to accept the ordination of openly gay clergy.  

Fiedler asks what statement we Catholics are making about ourselves when we welcome with open arms those opposed to gender equality and to the acceptance of gay and lesbian persons on an equal basis with those who are straight.  She concludes, 

And so I must ask: When we welcome people because they seek a place where their belief in inequality is accepted, are we not perpetuating and even blessing attitudes of injustice? 
Maybe it's no worse than current Catholic teaching and practice, but this seems to underline the injustice of it all.

Fullam echoes Fiedler's concerns about what the decision to create the new ordinariate for angry Anglicans says about us Catholics.  She writes, 

My dismay is that once again the Catholic Church is defined by negation–"Don’t like the idea of women in ecclesial leadership? Come join us! Don’t like gay people? We’re the Church for you!" Along with the US magisterium’s attack on Obamacare because it might involve paying for contraception–"We’re Catholic! That means we’re against the Pill!"–Catholicism is seen as summed up in negative positions. 

Both commentators are absolutely correct, it seems to me.  As I've often noted, in its period of restoration ("reform of the reform") under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, the Catholic church  seems intent on rebranding itself as a lean, mean anti-gay (and anti-woman) machine.  It is openly and proudly advertising itself as a country club for privileged heterosexual males.  It is openly and defiantly branding itself to the public as unwelcoming to those who believe that women are equal to men, and who believe in the equality of gay and lesbian persons with straight ones.

And, as a result, it quite naturally attracts the ilk of Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Hudson, Mr. Prince--some of the worst and most unprincipled players on the American religio-political scene at present.  And the more it attracts men of this ilk and rebrands itself as a club for privileged men in which women and gay folks are welcome only as second-class citizens, the more it will continue to drive away many Catholics of conscience who want no part of such discrimination and of such blatant disdain for the human rights all persons should enjoy, without regard for gender, sexual orientation, if the concept of universal human rights is to have any meaning at all.

The Catholic church can mount all the "Welcome home, Catholics!" campaigns it wants to mount as it tries to stem the tide of Catholics leaving the church--a tide far larger than that of the small number of angry Episcopalians swimming back to the sanctuary for privileged heterosexual men.  But no amount of spin-doctoring and slick image-managment advertising is going to disabuse many people of good will and conscience of the growing recognition that the Catholic church is not a welcoming community for those who are LGBT or for women.

Nor will the spin-doctoring and image management disabuse many people of the recognition that, by transforming itself into an elite club for privileged heterosexual males, it radically undercuts every message it wants to give the world at large about human rights.  And it actively repulses large numbers of people around the world concerned to safeguard and promote the human rights of all people, notably of those on the margins of social structures.

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