Saturday, April 27, 2013

Cardinal Dolan's Easter Statement About Catholic Love for Gays: Adjusting Rhetoric to Reality

The Catholic church is just not doing well at communicating that love thing about which His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan spoke on Easter Sunday, is it? Remember the conversation on t.v. with George Stephanapoulos? Sure you do!

Speaking as head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, His Eminence said to the gays,

I love you.

And then he went on to say, 

We gotta be – we gotta do better to see that our defense of marriage is not reduced to an attack on gay people. And I admit, we haven’t been too good at that.

So that was Easter Sunday, March 31.

And then less than two weeks after His Eminence told us gay Catholics that he surely does love us, news came along that Nicholas Coppola had been removed from the several ministries in which he was involved in  St. Anthony's parish in Oceanside, NY, because he was a homosexual who refused to be silent and hide and had civilly married another man.

Sort of undercutting that we-Catholics-love-you-gays thing. Just a little bit.

Then about a week after that news breaks that Bishop Watterson High School in Columbus, Ohio, had fired Carla Hale after she mentioned her spouse in her mother's obituary.

Undercutting that we-Catholics-just-love-the-gays thing a little bit more.

And then France goes through a tortured public debate about gay marriage and gay adoption, in which Catholic leaders give cover to (and actually collaborate in) violence, some of it directly targeting gay folks in France.

Really undercutting the claim of French Catholics that they just adore the gays.

And all the while, any time a Catholic publication in the U.S. dares to break news about any story having to do with the gay community, teams of good, holy, loving Catholics working in tandem log in to tell their gay brothers and sisters that they're the vilest and filthiest of sinners, who have no place at all in the Catholic community, and who are diseased and a threat to children.

But we love you, don't forget!

When I first blogged about Carla Hale's story, I provided a list of stories about unjust actions taken by Catholic institutions against gay employees or non-gay employees supporting gay rights in the past several years. I included in that list also the denial of the sacraments to Barbara Johnson, a lesbian, and to Lennon Cihak (and his family). Cihak is a young teen who is not gay, but a supporter of marriage equality.

I asked readers if they could call to mind other similar stories from the past several years that I might be forgetting. Kathy Hughes reminded me of the story of Mike Moroski in Cincinnati. I also recently thought of the stories of Jodi O'Brien at Marquette University and of Jim St. George at Chestnut Hill College in Pennsylvania. As my posting enumerating all of the stories I could remember notes, both Zack Ford of Think Progress and Ross Murray of GLAAD say that the stories that have come to light in the last few years are only the tip of the iceberg since many similar stories don't ever make the news (links to Ford and Murray are in the posting to which the preceding link points).

Here's my updated list now, adding to my previous list the story of Mike Moroski about which Kathy Hughes has reminded me, and those of Jodi O'Brien and Jim St. George. I had also forgotten to add Nicholas Coppola's story to my previous list:

1. Nicholas Coppola was removed from ministries in St. Anthony's parish, Oceanside, New York (it's not clear to me if the removal occurred in April or at an earlier point, and was simply publicized in April). (See link above.)
2. In February 2013, Mike Moroski, dean of students at Purcell-Marion High School in Cincinnati, was fired for writing statements supporting gay marriage on Facebook and at his blog site.
3. Carla Hale was fired by Bishop Watterson High School in Columbus, Ohio, in April 2013 after the obituary of her mother mentioned Hale's partner. (See link above.) 
4. In November 2012, Lennon Cihak was denied confirmation by the Crookston, Minnesota, diocese when he supported marriage equality; there were reports his whole family was denied communion.  
5. In July 2012, Trish Cameron was fired by a Catholic school in Moorhead, Minnesota, also in the Crookston, Minnesota, diocese for supporting marriage equality.  
6. As Zack Ford notes, there was the firing of Al Fischer in Normandy, Missouri, in February 2012 when the diocese learned of his plans to marry his partner. 
7. As Ford also points out, there was the firing of Steav Bates-Congdon by St. Gabriel parish in Charlotte, North Carolina, when church officials learned he'd married his partner of 23 years. 
8. In the same month last year in which the preceding two events occurred, Barbara Johnson was denied communion at her mother's funeral in Maryland because the pastor celebrating the funeral, Father Guarnizo, objected to her lesbianism and the presence of her partner at the funeral.*
9. In February 2011, Chestnut Hill College in Pennsylvania, fired Jim St. George, a religion teacher at Chestnut Hill College, after an email to Cardinal Rigali accused him of being a "heretic" creating scandal because he was openly gay; St. George was gay and had a partner, and the college issued a statement that permitting those in same-sex partnerships to teach on Catholic campuses is "contrary to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church." **
10. In spring 2010, news broke that Marquette University rescinded a job offer to Jodi O'Brien, an out lesbian, apparently after concerns about her scholarship in the area of gay and lesbian issues became a problem to diocesan and school authorities. This event provoked a national discussion of the treatment of gay and lesbian employees of Catholic colleges and universities, and resulted in a rather damning report about how Marquette handed this situation and about how it deals with LGBT employees.
11. In March 2010, a Catholic school in Boulder, Colorado, denied admission to the children of two parishioners who were a lesbian couple.

Perhaps I'm missing some similar stories that have been publicized in the news in the past several years.  If you readers can think of any others, I'll add them to the list and update it.

Call me crazy, but I find that this litany problematizes the claim of His Eminence and others who represent the Catholic church that Catholics just love us gay folks--unless the word "love" means something entirely different to these Catholics than it means to me. As it has to mean something different to a bishop who refuses to meet face to face with a faithful, church-going Catholic removed from ministries because he is a homosexual who refuses to hide and be silent, and who responds to a petition of 18,500+ folks supporting that faithful Catholic with an arrogant one-sentence non-response that has absolutely nothing to do with any love that has ever made sense to any sane human being on the planet . . . .

* The archdiocese apologized to Johnson and Guarnizo was removed from the parish assignment.

** It was later reported that St. George and Chestnut Hill reached an amicable settlement; in the interim period, it was alleged that St. George had been convicted of fraud some years previous to his hiring at Chestnut Hill. St. George is no longer at Chestnut Hill, as far as I know.

No comments: