Friday, August 9, 2013

Rhode Island Priest Attacks Gay-Friendly Legislators, Wisconsin Priest Boots Boy Scouts: Unfinished Story of Catholics and Gays

I said yesterday that some days, the news seems to come to us pre-packaged in novelistic form: headline links to headline, as if we're reading a single interesting narrative. Here's another of those narratives I noticed yesterday as I scanned the news sites I routinely read each morning:

The very first article to which Dennis Coday linked in his "Morning Briefing" column at National Catholic Reporter tells the story of Father Brian Sistare of Sacred Heart church in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, who, it's alleged, recently sent an email to the 26 Rhode Island senators who voted for marriage equality, informing them,

I’m praying for each of you, that you turn back to God. I’m also going to let my Parish know exactly how you voted, so come re-election time, you will not be re-elected.

Father Sistare has also informed his parishioners, it's claimed, that any of them who obtain a same-sex civil marriage will be denied communion unless they end the marriage. 

And then my eyes scanned down Dennis Coday's list of links and, third on the list, I read this: "Church Tells Scout Troop to Find a New Meeting Place." Another story centering on a Catholic priest: Father Derek Sakowski of St. Mary's church in Altoona, Wisconsin, has just informed a Boy Scouts troop that has met at his parish for a quarter century that the church won't offer the troop hospitality now that the Scouts accept openly gay members.

And then I clicked onto the website of The New Civil Rights Movement and read this report by David Badash, which states that in an interview with CBS this week, the head of the Catholic League, Bill Donohue, declared,

Nothing the Catholic Church has ever said about the moral status of homosexuals—which is as irrelevant as the moral status of heterosexuals—could possibly be construed as hateful.

Nothing to see here. Just move on. Please disregard those news flashes right this morning from Altoona and Woonsocket, from Glendora, California, from Columbus, Ohio, and Oceanside, New York, and Normandy, Missouri, Charlotte, North Carolina, Gaithersburg, Maryland, Moorhead and Barnesville, Minnesota, Boulder, Colorado, etc.

Nothing at all to see here. The story we Catholics tell is all about compassion, love, acceptance, and defense of human rights. Period. End of story.

But, since any story worth its salt has a plot comprising narrative tension, I have to add this: later in the same day, several Facebook friends sent me a link to this statement by Catholics United about the Altoona story, which asks Father Derek Sadowski, "Who are you to judge?" And which notes that the bishop of the diocese of La Crosse, in which Altoona is located, has not taken the hard, exclusive line about the Boy Scouts and their policy of accepting gay members that Father Sadowski is choosing to take.

And then this morning, I see at Andrew Sullivan's Dish site a link to Maureen Tilly's recent WaPo article about the pope's question, "Who am I to judge?," which highlights the following information:

The day after he [i.e., Pope Francis] spoke those memorable words the Vatican announced the resignation of Bishop Simon Bakot of Yaoundé, former president of the National Bishops’ Conference of Cameroon. Bishop Bakot did not resign for reason of age as Catholic bishops are required to do when they reach 75; he is only 66. Nor is he known to have been in ill health or under scrutiny for financial reasons or his own sexual misconduct. The sole reason he is famous is for his staunch opposition to gays. He lumps them with pedophiles and practitioners of bestiality and calls them an affront to God’s creation. He threatens to ‘out’ clergy he opposed by revealing their sexual orientation. He has even been a vocal public supporter of Cameroon’s national day of hatred of gays. The fact that his resignation was accepted the day after Francis’s now famous utterance casts new light on the Vatican’s stance toward gays.

And as I read that passage and the Catholics United statement about Father Derek Sadowski's reprehensible action in Altoona, Wisconsin, I realize that, with each of these narratives steps, we're dealing with a narrative journey whose end is not yet in sight--and which may depend radically on the willingness of many Catholic laypeople (and some courageous Catholic pastoral leaders) to push back against the injustice, outright hatred, or, in the case of Dr. Donohue's statements, outright lies that inflict such misery on LGBT human beings insofar as we connect in some way to the Catholic church.

I find the graphic at the top of the posting at a number of websites, including the Always Lauren blog, but do not see information about its original source. If a reader has that information, I'd be grateful to know about it, since I always want to give proper credit to anyone who has created graphic work I use at this blog.

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