Monday, April 1, 2013

U.S. Catholic Bishops' President: Gays Entitled to Friendship, But . . . .

Aw, isn't this nice? As news sites are reporting all over the place this morning, yesterday the leader of the U.S. Catholic bishops, His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, announced that the gays are entitled to friendship. But . . . .

Here's Igor Volsky at Think Progress on what His Eminence told George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week on Sunday" program on Easter Sunday--Stephanopoulos asks His Eminence what he, as a minister of the good news of Jesus Christ, would tell a gay couple who came to him and told him that they love each other as well as God and the church: 

Well, the first thing I’d say to them is, “I love you, too. And God loves you. And you are made in God’s image and likeness. And – and we – we want your happiness. But – and you’re entitled to friendship." But we also know that God has told us that the way to happiness, that – especially when it comes to sexual love – that is intended only for a man and woman in marriage, where children can come about naturally. 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.

Dolan's "pastoral" advice to a loving and committed gay Catholic couple:

I love you, but . . . . 
We want your happiness, but . . . . 
We know that God has told us that the only way to happiness is heterosexual.

I'm interested in that "we" which so continuously and predictably holds forth when a certain set of Catholics issue pronouncements about their brothers and sisters who happen to have been made gay by God. Those same folks--we love you, but; we know that God has told us that the way to happiness is heterosexual--were out in full force on that recent Commonweal thread to which I linked on Good Friday.

There's us. And then there's them. 
There's we. And there's you. 
And it's very clear who speaks on behalf of God and the church. It goes without saying that the speakers are we. The listeners are you. 
Those who decree? That's us. Those who accept decrees as they're handed down? You've got it! It's you. 
The normal? Us, of course. The subnormal? That would be you. 
We're fully human. We'd like to affirm your full humanity, too. But . . . . 
We own the grab-bag full of rights and privileges, and we'll dole them out judiciously, when the time is right. Please wait patiently, you. Given who you are, you have no right to issue demands, do you? 
You are entitled to friendship. But nothing more. Because we say so. 
And when we say so, God says so.

It's as simple as that, and as clear as that. It's as gross as that.

And I continue to point out and won't stop pointing out that this behavior makes mincemeat of the Catholic tradition and its claims at the most fundamental level possible, because everything about Catholicism at the most fundamental level possible radically cuts against the grain of such us-vs.-them proclamations. Catholicism at the most basic level imaginable insists that God makes all of us human.

Period. No buts.

And Catholicism at the most basic level imaginable also insists that human rights are rights for all humans. No buts. Human? Then you have human rights. You have the same human rights I claim for myself.

There's that which astonishes me, the obtuseness of God's self-appointed official spokespersons in my church, of their Eminences and the powerbrokering centrists in the Catholic academy and media who walk lockstep with their Eminences when it comes to controlling the Catholic conversation. When it comes to reserving to themselves the right to speak in God's name and on behalf of the church.

And then there's this: I'm astonished that any institution which claims to have hegemonic moral insight in secular culture appears to have done so little over the years to inculcate even the tiniest sense of self-reflection among entitled and privileged human beings--among some heterosexual Catholics--about how dangerous it is to imagine oneself as the center. As the norm. As the definer of humanity. As Marie Antoinette doling out smidgeons of cake to the poor have nots.

It takes little moral development at all to teach anyone that such astonishing assumptions of one's own centrality and normativity are damaging not only to the people one herds, excludes, defines down. They're intensely toxic to oneself.

Because God has made no one the center and the norm in the way that some heterosexual Catholics (or some pretend-heterosexual Catholics, in the case of many clerics) want to imagine has happened in their case, as they choose when it's expedient and fitting to hand out human rights to their poor gay brothers and sisters.

You're entitled to friendship. But . . . . Does His Eminence ever listen to the words that pope [sic] out of his mouth? Does he think about them? Does he read the gospels as he formulates his statements about us and them and who speaks on behalf of God?

Does he have any inkling that the God for whom he speaks so confidently appears to have a track record of subverting stolid proclamations made in "his" name, especially when those proclamations define the humanity of others down and imply that targeted others belong less than the movers and shakers and God's mouthpieces belong?

We know that God has told us, indeed!

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