Thursday, April 26, 2012

LCWR Discussion Continues: Right, Left, Center

Lessons I keep having to learn over again.  Lessons I'm having to relearn again as Catholics from all sides of the political and theological universe now hash over the Vatican mandate that the Leadership Conference of Women Religious must be reformed: 

1. People who imagine they occupy the center, and who talk about the right and the left as if neither enjoys the perfection, the objectivity, and the insider knowledge of the center, won't ever learn.  They won't learn because they're in such comfortable places, ensconced in power and privilege, that they don't have to learn.

2. They won't learn that their pretense of objectivity is arrogant and blinding, because they're not objective.

3. And because they're self-blinded.  They're blinded by the illusion that they enjoy a privileged vantage point from which to look down on a fray in which others--the left and the right, with their ideological excesses--are involved, getting their hands dirty, while those like themselves who stand in the pristine, objective, non-ideological center have clean hands.

4. And they've blinded themselves to the illusion that they don't ultimately stand on the side of power--on the side of any power, wherever it manifests itself.  They stand with power wherever power seems to flow and to move and to exert its baleful influence.

5. These same powerfully placed Catholic commentators who are now speaking of how neither the left nor the right understands what's going on with the LCWR reform process were only a few weeks ago informing us that the U.S. Catholic bishops are essentially good guys who have the good of the church at heart as they wheel and deal and play politics.

6. These powerfully placed Catholic commentators who are blinded by the power afforded to them in the church, academy, and media have no lived understanding of or sympathy for those against whom the edge of Vatican and episcopal power is turned--and so they cannot see the maleficent effects of the operations of church power, as those operations are turned against some fellow Catholics who have no choice except to understand that the bishops are not good guys.

7. For instance: they write and talk about their fellow Catholics who happen to be gay as if those poor gay folks deserve sympathy and consideration.  But when push comes to shove, they never intend to make that sympathy and consideration a lived experience in their own lives, since doing that would call on them to stand with their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters and against the bishops and Rome.

8. Who are ceaselessly attacking those gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in one place after another, as they resist laws diminishing anti-gay discrimination or affording rights to LGBT citizens.  Who are spending huge sums of money to block laws that would call for teaching children in schools that gay persons exist and have histories, that would prevent discrimination in housing and employment, that would afford gay couples the rights and privileges of marriage afforded to heterosexual couples.  And who are absolutely silent about the epidemic of suicide of gay teens as they mount these evil attacks on the human rights of gay persons.

9. It remains easier for those who imagine they're above the fray, objective, pure, occupying the blessed neutral ground of the center that affords a superior vantage point, to imagine that their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters bring on themselves the wrath of church officials--by being uppity, sassy, ideological, non-obedient.  By refusing to adhere to church laws and teachings that good Catholics who stand in the center obey.

10. It remains easier, then, for those who imagine they occupy the center and who have unique and important things to say about what it means to be Catholic in the 21st century to talk about the definition of Catholicism as if their lives have no connection at all to their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, who have placed themselves outside the center by being gay.  As if their brothers and sisters who happen to be gay and who are so invisible and distant from the powerful, objective center just aren't there, don't exist, don't count, have nothing to say.

And so I have to conclude: it remains easier for those who imagine they have a privileged and non-ideological vantage point at the center to talk about nothing at all.  Nothing of significance.  Nothing that moves the conversation forward.

Because you're talking about nothing at all when you imagine you're defining Catholicism in some privileged way but you don't have the first clue about how to practice catholicity by including and listening respectfully to an entire segment of the human population whom the bishops you defend are intent on making enemies.

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