Monday, March 11, 2013

Andrew Sullivan on Bishops' Opposition to Violence Against Women Act: "Looking for Bigger Rocks"

As last week ended, I noted the vocal opposition of a group of key U.S. Catholic bishops to the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act--because that act affords protection to lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women, who are, it appears, worthy of assault in the minds of some pastoral leaders of the Catholic church. How else to construe these bishops' opposition to an act that seems, to many of us as we read the gospels and think about Catholic moral teaching at its best, a no-brainer?

Here's Andrew Sullivan on the bishops' statement opposing reauthorization of the VAWA: 

You might have thought that a church that bars women from any institutional equality might be a little leery of actively opposing the VAWA. You would be wrong. Why on earth would Catholics oppose measures to protect women from domestic and other forms of violence? Because some of them might be gay . . . . 

And then he offers an excerpt from the article to which the link points, and he concludes, 

So protecting lesbians and transgender and bisexual women from violence is now something Christians should oppose? The most vulnerable are somehow the least defensible? Do these bishops have even basic comprehension of the Gospels they read out loud every Sunday? 
Instead of preventing the stoning of an adulteress, as Jesus did, they would have gone looking for bigger rocks.

In the discussion thread following my posting about this topic last week, bosicO asks a good implied question: what on earth could cause these bishops to oppose reauthorizing VAWA on these astonishing grounds? To my mind, there are a number of factors at work here:

1. Note the names in the list of signatories to this statement: they include Lori of Baltimore, who is head general in the U.S. bishops' bogus "religious freedom" war vs. the Obama administration, and Cordileone of San Francisco, who has boasted about leading the successful battle to strip gay citizens of California of the right of civil marriage, and who seems intent on making it his business to slap LGBT folks at every turn (and who has risen precipitously in the Catholic hierarchy because of his willingness to do precisely that). 

2. And to say the preceding is to say that this statement is an intently political statement aimed at keeping alive--among right-leaning Catholics and right-leaning Americans at large--the false meme that the Obama administration is attacking the religious freedom of U.S. citizens. This is a political initiative that is designed to attack and undermine the Obama administration.

3. This political initiative shows the extent to which some U.S. Catholic bishops--the majority of them, in my view (all the bishops signing this protest against VAWA chair USCCB committees or subcommittees, after all)--now take their talking points from the Republican party and its super-rich handlers and not the gospels. And not the long, rich tradition of Catholic moral teaching at its best. The bishops are captive to an economic elite that calls the shots for them, and that has no understanding of or sympathy for Catholic moral teaching grounded in the gospels.

4. As my posting linked at the start of this posting also notes, the Vatican itself has refused to endorse a U.N. resolution combating discrimination against and violence towards LGBT human beings, on the ground that there are no LGBT human beings. As a 2011 statement of Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican representative on the U.N. Human Rights Council, that I discuss in the posting linked above indicates, the Vatican refuses to endorse the U.N. resolution because it would acknowledge the existence of LGBT human beings as a distinct subset of the human population. The Vatican prefers to pretend that LGBT human beings simply don't exist, properly speaking, and that attempts to identify a class of human beings who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender are ideological attempts to move matters of personal choice into the area of divinely ordained nature. They're, in other words, attempts to legitimate the notion of sexual orientation as crafted into the human nature of some persons by divine will.

5. Since a large percentage of the bishops protesting the reauthorization of VAWA because it includes LGBT women are California bishops, I also read their protest as an attempt to tip a card to the Supreme Court as that body deliberates about proposition 8 in California. The bishops are, in summary, willing to use the human lives of women subject to violence, and the human lives of LGBT persons, as bargaining chips in political games they're playing for political reasons at this point in American history.

The graphic: the "religious freedom" hearings in D.C. last year. Bishop William Lori, who heads the USCCB initiative in this area, is at left.

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