Thursday, January 31, 2013

Trailer for "Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God" Documentary

International Spotlight on Abuse in Catholic Church: More on Philadelphia, HBO Documentary about Wisconsin, Jerry Slevin's Petition to President Obama

Important news in the ongoing (and now international) battle to hold the leaders of the Catholic church accountable for covering up child sexual abuse by priests: yesterday, a jury in Philadelphia found Father Charles Engelhardt and Bernard Shero guilty on multiple charges in a case involving the sexual assault of a 10-year-old altar boy.  Joseph A. Slobdozian summarizes the story at the website (and see also Jon Hurdle at the New York Times). The victim, "Billy Doe," reports that he was serially raped by Engelhardt, his parish priest, and Shero, principal of his Catholic school, when he was in fifth and sixth grade.

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: From Boy Scouts to Gay Marriage, U.S. Catholic Bishops Defend Discrimination

In 1999, in its amicus brief in the case of Boy Scouts v. Dale, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops argued the following:

Announcing: My Forthcoming Book Now Listed in Univ. of AR Press Spring Catalogue

Announcing: my book Fiat Flux: The Writings of Wilson R. Bachelor, Nineteenth-Century Country Doctor and Philosopher, is now listed in the spring catalogue of University of Arkansas Press:

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Fading Palin and Boehner and the GOP: Number 1 or Number 2?

Two new cartoons featured today at the Truthdig site remind of that frustrating vision test the ophthalmologist always gives. Remember it? She shifts from lens 1 to lens 2 and then asks, as she holds up a little cue card, "Which is better, number 1 or number 2?"

Julia Moskin on New Orleans's Love Affair with Sugar: Don't Forget Bread Pudding!

I think Julia Moskin is probably right when she characterizes New Orleans as a city drenched in sugar, and when she attributes the city's love affair with sweet things to the sugar-plantation economy that brought it such wealth in the first half of the 19th century. My alma mater, Loyola University, came into being due to the riches the Jesuits gathered from operating their sugarcane plantations with slave labor. The money they brought to their coffers through those plantations also enabled them to buy prime real estate in the center of New Orleans that is now fabulously valuable.

Headlines I Never Expected: "Congrats to Jim Nabors and His Husband!"

This is a headline I don't think I ever expected to live long enough to see:

Footnote to Discussion of Clerical Self-Bondage Story: Time to Retire Poor-Father Mantra

Know what I'm tired of? The poor Father parables:

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

More on Story of Illinois Priest Found in Handcuffs: Bishop Paprocki Tells Public This Was Case of Self-Bondage (and My Questions)

So, okay: let's assume that Bishop Thomas Paprocki is correct when he says that Fr. Thomas Donovan, who placed a 911 call last month when he couldn't get out of handcuffs, was engaging in "self-bondage." I mentioned this story some weeks back, and as careful readers may have noted, I didn't publicize the name of the priest in question in that posting, though I knew the name from many articles online. As I said in my previous posting and as I repeat now: far be it from me to pass judgment on this priest whom I certainly don't know.

In Memoriam: Beverly Wildung Harrison and Tissa Balasuriya

 Two very important Christian theologians have died in recent weeks, and I'd like to take note of both of them and their contributions. In mid-December, ground-breaking feminist ethicist Beverly Wildung Harrison died. At Religion Dispatches, Mark Hulsether offers a fine eulogy of Harrison, noting that she was integral to the move of Union Seminary in New York in the direction of liberation theology in the latter decades of the 20th century--a move decried, as Hulsether notes, by neoconservatives and centrists alike. But one consonant, as he also points out, with the heritage of the institution, which has been home to such illustrious political theologians and social ethicists as Reinhold Niebuhr, John Coleman Bennett, Paul Tillich, and Robert McAfee Brown, followed by James Cone, Dorothee Sölle, Larry Rasmussen, Gary Dorrien, and Cornel West.

"Don't Say Gay," Cordileone Tells His Flock, and I Think Hannah Arendt and George Orwell

When I read this--San Francisco's archbishop Salvatore Cordileone decreeing that Catholics are not to say "gay marriage"--I think of this:

Monday, January 28, 2013

Father Tony Flannery Speaks Out about Vatican Action Against Him

In what I just posted, I noted the current Vatican disciplining of Irish Redemptorist priest Tony Flannery. A week ago, Fr. Flannery published a statement about the Vatican's action against him in the Irish Times. It's entitled "Vatican's Demand for Silence is Too High a Price."

Frank Bruni Talks Hubris and Cosseted Clerical Castes, Michael Sean Winters Talks Tortellini

In a pull-no-punches statement yesterday entitled "Catholicism's Curse," New York Times columnist Frank Bruni brings the devastating critique of Catholic clericalism that has been growing by leaps and bounds since the abuse crisis broke wide open a decade ago into the mainstream of American public discourse. And National Catholic Reporter columnist Michael Sean Winters is furious as a result: he's furious about what Bruni may well accomplish via his mainstreaming of the intra-Catholic critique of clericalism.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

French Catholic Bishops' Statement on Extending Civil Marriage to Same-Sex Couples: A Translation

Both Terry Weldon (and here) at his Queering the Church site and Colleen Baker at her Enlightened Catholicism site have posted valuable commentary about the statement that the Committee for Family and Society of the French Catholic bishops' conference recently published. The document is online at the website of the conference.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Quotes for Day: Evangelical Men and Lying about Women's Health, Gays and Speaking Truth That Is in Us

Two eye-catching quotes for today, one long and one short:

New PRRI Poll: Large Split Between Catholics and White Evangelicals on Gun Control

Catholic Hospitals in Germany Refuse Rape Victim: Theocracy as Taking the Queen's Shilling While Flouting the Queen's Rules

I find it interesting to read Betty Clermont's essay on the Vatican and Africa, about which I've just posted, alongside the article on church and state by Frank Hornig, Barbara Schmid, Fidelius Schmid, and Peter Wensierski published yesterday in Der Spiegel. The article reports on a national controversy that has developed in Germany after St. Vincent Hospital in Cologne, run by the Cellitine Sisters, refused to treat a rape victim in mid-December.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Latest Revelations from Los Angeles: Archbishop Roger Mahony Actively Orchestrated Abuse Cover-Up

At the Commonweal blog, Paul Moses puts his finger on what is, for me, the dark heart of the story emerging from documents newly released in the archdiocese of Los Angeles, about priest abuse cases in that archdiocese:

Poet Richard Blanco on His Formation as a Poet: "Making a Man Out of Me"

Earlier today, I wrote that through his talent as a poet, and through his history and culture, gay Latino poet Richard Blanco gives voice to those who haven't previously occupied the national stage of American history--to people of color, Latinos and Latinas, gay and lesbian folks, etc. Here's Blanco's essay "Making a Man Out of Me," which points out that, far more than Whitman or Bishop or Wilde, his personal history, his experiences growing up in a Cuban-American family, are responsible for his poetry:

Richard Blanco's Inaugural Poem "One Today": Voices Previously Unheard on the Inaugural Stage

Monday, January 21, 2013

President Obama's Inaugural Address on Stonewall and Gay Equality: Historic Affirmations

Ezra Klein has published a transcript of President Obama's second inaugural address in Washington Post. Two statements leap out at me:

Quote for Day: Gun Control and the March for Life

President Obama's Re-Inauguration on Martin Luther King Day: Commentary on the Synchronicity

Very interesting commentary today on the synchronicity that brings together the second inauguration of President Obama and the Martin Luther King holiday: 

The Vatican Hurls Down Answers, Catholic Women Keep Asking Questions: Give Me the Questions

The Vatican can tell powerful Catholic women theologians and spiritual thinkers (e.g., Margaret Farley and Elizabeth Johnson)* to shut up, listen, and obey. But you can't stop powerful Catholic women theologians and spiritual thinkers from asking important unsettling questions:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Quote of the Day: "The Eucharist Meal Was Not Intended to Be an Event Mainly to Be Monopolized and Controlled by a 'Mystical' Celibate Male Priesthood"

A powerfully insightful observation by Jerry Slevin at his Christian Catholicism blog site:

Good News as Week Ends: Leading U.K. Evangelical Pastor Endorses Marriage Equality

As the week turns, I don't want to forget to draw readers' attention to some very good news from the past week. As Candace Chellew-Hodge and Fred Clark note, Steve Chalke, a Baptist pastor in London and evangelical leader in the U.K., came out in favor of marriage equality this past week. To quote Fred Clark, "This is a big deal."

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Note of Profound Thanks for Your Emails

As the work week ends, a note of profound thanks to those of you who sent many very welcome emails to me in response to my posting Tuesday. I'm in Houston visiting my uncle and have fallen a bit behind with email. And I don't want those who sent me messages to think I'm ungrateful or ignoring you. I will be catching up with email very soon.

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: Closed Systems and Catholic Teaching about Disordered Gays

One of the good droppings: Swiss Benedictine abbot Peter von Sury maintains that the Catholic church today is suffering serious malaise because it has become a "closed system" in which only like-minded insiders rise to the top levels of ecclesial governance and those with alternative perspectives are ruthlessly excluded. And so,

A Reader Writes: "I Am Sympathetic to the . . . Choice of Giglio Based on His Work on Human Trafficking"

In response to my posting about the Louis Giglio controversy (and Bill Donohue's comments re: it), Wild Hair makes a valuable observation:

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Michael O'Loughlin on Catholic Tribalism, and Dave Zirin on Bizarre Manti Te'O Story (and Moral Cesspool of Notre Dame Football Program)

At America's "In All Things" blog, Michael O'Loughlin notes the fragmentation of contemporary Catholicism into tribal units--though he understands the term "tribalism" somewhat differently than I do.  My understanding of Catholic tribalism and its corrosive consequences in the church's communal and spiritual life is reflected more precisely in Dave Zirin's concluding comments at The Nation today about Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick's response to the revelation that the recently deceased girlfriend of Fighting Irish star football player Manti Te'O never existed.

George Takei on Jodie Foster's Coming Out Statement: It Still Matters to Talk About These Issues

George Takei and Husband Brad Altman

At the Allegiance blog site, actor George Takei offers his own take on Jodie Foster's recent did-she-or-didn't-she coming out statement. Takei notes the continuing importance of positive role models for young gay folks, some of whom feel so overwhelmed by the question of affirming their gay identities that they take their own lives.

From the Blogs: Women in the Church, Internet and Spiritual Connectivity, and Roots of Spiritual Mediocrity in Catholic Church Today

At a Seat at the Table, Claire Bangasser offers a poignant and very valuable reflection on one Catholic woman's experience of being called to study theology, and then being informed by a parish priest that she perhaps had a vocation to sweep the parish church or cook for the parish priests. Claire writes:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bill Donohue of Catholic League Grabs National Spotlight with Giglio Controversy: Catholics and the Bible

Who'd have thought that Catholic League president and unofficial mouthpiece of the U.S. Catholic bishops in the public square Bill Donohue would be leaping into the fray over the invitation of Rev. Louis Giglio to deliver the benediction at President Obama's inauguration ceremony? Well, I'd have thought it, because, as Fred Clark notes recently at Slacktivist, the Giglio controversy provides yet another opportunity for the religious right to trot out its now-threadbare arguments about religious freedom--about how their religious freedom is being trampled on by, well, everyone else in a pluralistic secular democracy, and so religious freedom has been sharply curtailed in the U.S. 

James Carroll's An American Requiem: "The Repressive, Deceit-Ridden Culture of Celibate Clericalism"

Francis Cardinal Spellman

I've just finished reading James Carroll's memoir of his relationship to his father, and his own painful journey through and out of the priesthood in the turbulent years of Vatican II, the Civil Rights movement, and the Vietnam War. The book is called An American Requiem: God, My Father, and the War That Came Between Us (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1996).

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Gay and Christian: Continuing Struggle to Find Home in Unwelcoming Churches

Poet-philosopher Wendell Berry, by way of Fred Clark at Slacktivist

If I were one of a homosexual couple — the same as I am one of a heterosexual couple — I would place my faith and hope in the mercy of Christ, not in the judgment of Christians. When I consider the hostility of political churches to homosexuality and homosexual marriage, I do so remembering the history of Christian war, torture, terror, slavery and annihilation against Jews, Muslims, black Africans, American Indians and others.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Abby Zimet on Irony of Boehner's Swearing In of Married Gay Representatives

Not to miss commentary today: Abby Zimet at Common Dreams on House speaker Boehner's swearing in of New York representative Sean Maloney, as Maloney's husband Randy Florke and two of their three children stood beside Maloney. Earlier in the day Boehner had sworn in Wisconsin representative Mark Pocan, beside whom his spouse Philip Frank stood as Pocan was sworn in.

Tribalism as Illuminating Category for Discussing American Catholicism and Evangelicalism: Carrying on the Conversation in 2013

As 2012 ended, I began compiling a list of religion-politics-culture discussions from the year that seemed worth continuing in 2013. Then I thought better of posting it, though, because much of what I had to say by way of commentary as I put the list together seemed to be a downer. (Yes, believe it or not, I do sometimes curb my tongue and suppress postings I've drafted if they seem excessively negative or doleful.)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Quote for the Day: "People of Conscience Should Boycott Bigotry"

A stirring and powerful statement by TheraP today at her Heresy & Humor blog, calling on lay Catholics who continue affiliating with the Catholic church in public ways to think seriously about the implications of that affiliation as the church's top leaders now take a leading global role in the attack on gay and lesbian persons:

News: Increasing High-Profile Role of Top Catholic Leaders in Anti-Gay Battles and Rev. Scott Lively on Trial

As the week begins, a selection of recent articles on LGBT issues and the churches--in particular, the Catholic church:

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Friday, January 4, 2013

New Year's Advice to Young People Struggling with Questions about Sexual Orientation: You Are Not the Problem and You Count

Christmas came, and the year has turned, and something is on my heart to share. As I noted on Christmas day, the holiday times--the church-and-family-oriented holiday times--can be rough for gay and lesbian family members (and, certainly, for others living alone or demeaned by family). Holiday times can be times of turmoil and pain for younger LGBTQ people, and when the turmoil and pain attached to family gatherings are reinforced by homophobic religious pontificating, as they were this year in the Catholic context, the assault on the psyches of young gay or gender-questioning people struggling to find their way in the world can be acute.

William Rivers Pitt's Requiem for 112th Congress and David Sirota on Congressional Kabuki Theater

William Rivers Pitt's requiem for the 112th Congress minces no words:

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Catholic Leaders Step Up Attacks on Gays: Reports from the Battlefronts

I doubt it will be any secret to readers of this blog, but the leaders of the Catholic church are stepping up their battle against the human rights of LGBT persons in recent weeks. In particular, they're assaulting the right of gay people to civil marriage in a rather spectacular way in the past several weeks.

House Lets Violence Against Women Act Die (But Is Poised to Renew Funds to Defend DOMA)

Also in not-to-be-missed U.S. political news: as Laura Bassett and Jennifer Bendery report at Huffington Post, the Republican-led House of Representatives has just refused to advance the Senate's reauthorization of the Violence Against Women act, which has been in force since 1994. Before its term ended, the House let the bill die without a vote.

More Recent Commentary on "Fiscal Cliff" Deal: A Selection of Reactions

A wealth of recent good commentary on the "fiscal cliff" deal the Obama administration has just cut with the Republicans, much of it continuing to focus on the president's performance in the deal-cutting and what this may portend for future negotiations with the GOP hostage-takers:

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "These People Do Not Mean Humankind Well"

In response to a comment so egregiously, so personally, nasty (it was a personal attack on Sr. Maureen Fiedler) that it has now been deleted from this National Catholic Reporter thread, mountain dweller writes,

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My Christmas Eve News: Book Contract

A tidbit of personal good news that I thought I'd share here as the new year begins:

Benedict Builds Alliance with World Religions to Combat LGBT Rights and Shore Up Patriarchy

In linking this article to his Facebook feed, my friend and fellow theologian Michael J. Iafrate observes,