Thursday, January 5, 2012

More Analysis of Cardinal George + Ku Klux Klan

And for those continuing to follow the controversy His Eminence Cardinal Francis George, the past president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, recently ignited when he compared his gay and lesbian brothers and sisters to the Ku Klux Klan, there's the following:

As always, Jamie Manson provides incisive, theologically perceptive analysis at National Catholic Reporter.  Her thesis (and this dovetails with what I've just posted about the movement of angry Anglicans back across the Tiber): in rebranding itself to appeal to the right-wing fringes, the Catholic church is, at present, negating its mission to those on the margins.  

Manson's conclusion: 

Our church was founded on Jesus' call to honor everyone's dignity as beloved children of God and to be one with the poor, the suffering and the outcast. 
Today, we are watching our churches devolve into institutions that seek unity with those who share in certain unjust beliefs and solidarity with those who practice certain forms of discrimination. 
A church that was founded to reach out to those on the margins is increasingly choosing to welcome only the fringe.

And at Commonweal, Grant Gallicho concludes that George's appearance at a Fox news outlet in Chicago before Christmas, and his less than fortunate remarks about his gay brothers and sisters, involved His Eminence eating his own foot.  As always, the responses to such postings at this and other centrist Catholic sites is mind-boggling to read for those who care about human rights issues and can stomach the commentary (and I have to admit, I'm in one of my unable-to-stomach periods with much that's happening right now in the Catholic world.

Too old, too tired, too health-challenged, and too busy with more important matters than to spend much of the precious time I have left trying to make sense of the sick, hateful nonsense spewed in the name of Jesus by some of my Catholic brothers and sisters--sick, hateful nonsense met at these centrist sites by inexplicable, mealymouthed silence among Catholic intellectuals who claim to know better, but who refuse to open their mouths and call the toxic hate what it is.  Because their centrism is really in cahoots with those on the fringe right against their Catholic brothers and sisters with progressive viewpoints . . . .)

For anyone who remains in doubt whether large numbers of the American public are deceived about what the U.S. Catholic bishops represent, with their anti-gay, right-wing, pro-Republican politicking, I recommend Simon Brown's article at Alternet this morning.  Brown surveys ten ways that the religious right intends to try to force its beliefs and values on all American citizens in 2012.  Brown (rightly) includes the Catholic bishops, with their crusade for "religious liberty," in his list of religious-right groups mounting "an all-out war to shape the U.S. government into a body that will do its bidding."

Brown notes, 

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has launched a formidable new lobbying unit known as the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty. The committee claims to be defending religious liberty, but critics say it actually seeks to preserve taxpayer funding for church-affiliated agencies while maintaining overly broad exemptions from various laws.  . . .  
The Pew Research Center found that Catholic lobbying organizations are the most powerful among Washington religious lobbies as they comprise 19 percent of all faith lobbying. As a result, the Ad Hoc Committee will certainly be one to watch in 2012.

And as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes with an editorial statement today, even as the USCCB lobbies against what it claims is a war to diminish Catholic freedom in the U.S., the Catholic bishops have just mounted another conspicuously ugly attack against survivors of clerical sexual abuse by targeting SNAP leaders David Clohessy and Barbara Dorris.  The bishops' lawyers are playing hardball games with SNAP, trying to force it to reveal privileged communications with victims of clerical sexual abuse--though the bishops themselves have never revealed a single scrap of their own files about abuse cases except under serious court and legal duress.

Catholics who support the bishops and who have not ever intended to make room in their hearts and in the Catholic community for survivors of abuse are gleeful that David Clohessy and SNAP are refusing to adhere to a court order to open files that contain confidential information about abuse victims.  What must not be lost sight of in the midst of these legal games is that they're designed to smear SNAP, to damage its credibility, and to make any and all victims of clerical sexual abuse anywhere in the U.S. afraid to come forward with claims.

It's about, in other words, protecting the church's assets and tamping down lawsuits by survivors.  It's about using the church's huge bank accounts and overweening power to threaten and intimidate groups who advocate for survivors of sexual abuse.  

What it is conspicuously not about is loving, welcoming, and healing survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

The graphic is David Andrews's illustration of the Luke 4:18-19 text, citing Isaiah 61:1-2, re: what the Judaeo-Christian tradition is really about, in its core significance: binding up wounds, comforting the broken-hearted, breaking the chains of oppression, and announcing a year of the Lord's favor.

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