Monday, September 30, 2013

As a Gay Catholic I Continue to Ask, "Reform? What Reform?"

And so reform, the reform of the Catholic church about which so many people are speaking as the pope's advisory council of eight cardinals prepares for its first meeting: how does it touch my own life? As I think about what's taking place in Rome (and Assisi) this week, the following bullet points flash through my mind:

As Pope's Advisory Council of Eight Cardinals Meets, People of God Bombard Rome with Appeals for Reform

This is an important week for the Catholic church: as Fr. Thomas Reese explains in this recent National Catholic Reporter article, this week the eight cardinals Pope Francis has appointed to advise him about the needs of the church and reform of the Vatican will meet in Rome. As Reese also notes, it's not clear that the "gang of eight" will actually do anything beyond listening and talking. And this poses a danger, given the pope's advanced age, the urgent need for reform--the need, precisely, that something be done. Immediately.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Catching Up (Still)

We knew how tired I was from the week of preparing for testimony, and then the testifying itself, when we got to the airport Thursday morning and found I had no i.d. Because I had no wallet.

Richard Gaillardetz: For Francis, Thinking with the Church Is Thinking with Whole Church and Not Just the Ones Who Count Ecclesiastically

In my theological reflection on Pope Francis's interview, I wrote,

Jon Stewart: Pope Francis and the GOP--Two Holy Conduits No Longer on Same Page

Friday, September 27, 2013

Jonathan Chait: Republicans Must Force Obama to Accept GOP Agenda Precisely Because Voters Rejected It in 2012

Jonathan Chait points out that the Republicans have to try to force their will on the nation in the debt-ceiling war precisely because they lost and lost big in 2012:

Quote for the Day: "The Church, Like Any Other Network of Human Relationships, Must Live in the Spaces in Between"

At Hepzibah, Alan McCornick suggests that in his refocussing of the Catholic conversation, Pope Francis "is inviting all within the church, gays, women, priests sanctioned for their work as Liberation Theologists, to the table." And then Alan says,

Women in the Catholic Church in the Era of Francis: More Valuable Commentary

Last week, a day after Pope Francis's bombshell interview was released, as I discussed Mary Hunt's reflections on the interview at her WATER site, I wrote,

Pope Francis and Changing the Catholic Conversation: More Recent Commentary

Now that I'm back home from my trip to testify, I'm still playing catch-up with articles I had bookmarked last week. I hope some of these may be of interest to readers. Here's a set that has to do with Pope Francis's recent conversation-shifting interview:

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Abuse Survivors Respond to Pope Francis's Interview and Pope Benedict's Claim That He Never Covered Up Abuse

Meanwhile, as Pope Francis's recent interview and what it portends for the direction of the Catholic church continues to be discussed, Kristine Ward of the National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) points out that what Francis didn't say also deserves notice. Nothing in his interview touches on the abuse crisis in the Catholic church, which is, as Kris notes, "the largest crisis in the Church since the Reformation."

Gospel. Good News. Is What. It's All. About. Commentators Continue to Parse Pope Francis's Recent Interview

Gospel. Good news. Is what. It's all. About.

GOP Cuts Food Assistance for Poor, Tries Yet Again to Torpedo Obamacare, Quotes Bible All the While

While I was preparing to provide testimony in a trial in the past two weeks, one of the two major political parties in the U.S., the Republican party, was up to some exceedingly dirty business--cutting food support for needy American families to the tune of $40 billion, while beefing up subsidies to agribusiness. And, of course, trying once again ineffectually to torpedo a federal program designed to provide access to healthcare for millions of citizens who lack such access . . . . And, of course, quoting the bible to beat the band as it did this dirty work. Here are some articles I've read about these matters in the past two weeks that have caught my eye:

Score: Daniel, 1, Lions, 0--I Give My Testimony, I Survive

Whew. It's over. I gave my testimony yesterday, and I very definitely felt far less alone than I'd otherwise have felt, due to all of you and your support/light/prayers/vibes/good wishes. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Quick Update: Still Waiting to Testify

I know this saga is getting to be a bore, but since I've told you all about it up to now, I don't want to leave hanging any readers who may have an interest in it: I did not get called to testify yesterday. But I'm supposed to be up to testify bright and early this morning. I'll keep all of you posted, and I remain very deeply grateful for your expressions of support in comments here and emails some of you have sent me. It means the world to know I'm not alone as I do battle with principalities and powers. Because that's exactly what's going on in this case, and sometimes the rich and powerful people and institutions who wrap themselves up in Christian banners and spout bible verses aren't necessarily the good guys.

I find the photo of immigrants waiting to be processed at Angel Island on a number of websites (e.g., including this one, The Top 7 Asian American Places of Institutional Interest), but I haven't yet found its original source. If any reader has that information, I'll be grateful for it and will post it. (See Chris Morley's comment in the thread below, providing the original source of the photo.)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Just Logging In . . . With Gratitude, and An Update

Just logging in for a brief time this Tuesday morning, and I wanted to update all of you about the trial. But first, I want to express my heartfelt thanks for the helpful, moving, extraordinary messages of support so many of you have left in the comments thread here after I told you of my obligation to testify at trial. Several readers have also emailed and contacted me by Facebook. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Pope Francis Strongly Asserts Workers' Rights and Attacks Economic System Based on a "God Called Money"

Tom Fox reports at National Catholic Reporter that Pope Francis made "one of his strongest attacks" on the global economic system, saying it can no longer be based on a "god called money" and urging the unemployed to fight for work:

Walking into the Lions' Den: I Ask for Readers' Help as I Testify in a Case Involving Faculty Rights

Dear Readers,

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Why Do Catholic Institutions Need Reform? Margaret Mary Vojtko

Why do the Catholic church and the institutions it sponsors need reform, you ask? Read this story:

And Yet More Commentary on Pope Francis's Interview: Resetting Catholic Conversation, People of God, and Nuns on Bus

As I noted yesterday, Human Rights Campaign's Chad Griffin sees Pope Francis's recent interview as a "reset button" for the Catholic conversation about gay folks. For Catholic ethicist Daniel Maguire, the pope has now not only taken the locks off the doors that John Paul II and Benedict slammed fast shut, he's unscrewed the doors from their jambs. Jim Yardley and Elisabetta Polovedo offer yet another metaphor for what Francis is doing to the Catholic church--he's changing the conversation from the center:

Friday, September 20, 2013

Mary Hunt Responds to Pope Francis: Need for "New Ecclesial Structures, New Forms of Shared Ministry, Leadership, and Authority"

At her WATER (Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual) blog site, theologian Mary Hunt has published her response to Pope Francis's interview yesterday. Mary's comments were included in the link to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force site I posted in my posting earlier today on commentary about the papal interview.

Catholic Ethicist Daniel Maguire on Pope's Interview as End of the Catholic Church's "Pelvic Zone Orthodoxy"

Catholic ethicist Daniel Maguire on Pope Francis's comments in the interview released yesterday:

People Talking: A Gathering of Commentary about Pope Francis's Jesuit Interview

There's been a wealth of commentary in the past two days about Pope Francis's Jesuit interview. As a service to readers, I thought I'd list articles I've read that may be of interest to readers of Bilgrimage. I don't by any means pretend to be compiling a comprehensive summary of commentary here. These are simply the pieces that have caught my eye or been shared with me by friends (with significant excerpts in some cases). In some cases, links are repeated under other subheadings:

My Theological Reflection on Pope Francis's Jesuit Interview: "God Is Encountered Walking, Along the Path"

Where is God?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pope Francis's Bombshell Interview with America: A Church That Is "the Home of All, Not a Small Chapel"--10 Initial Reflection Points

And another voice well worth listening to right now (I'm echoing here what I said in my previous posting): as I type this, the lead headline at Huffington Post reads, "Pope: Church 'Obsessed' with Gays, Abortion & Contraception." This points to an article reporting on America's exclusive interview with Pope Francis published today entitled "A Big Heart Open to God." I've just read someplace--perhaps at the Commonweal blog (yes, I now see Bill Mazzella's comment)--that so many people are clicking on the America article this morning, it's hard to access. John Allen has also published a summary of the interview for National Catholic Reporter

People Talking--About Religion, Gay Folks, Women, Pope Francis, Etc.

Some recent commentary on these issues well worth reading:

Some Updates on Previous Stories: Little Rock Catholic School Abuse Case, Altoona, Wisconsin, Boy Scouts and Catholic Parish

Some updates on stories about which I've posted here in the not-too-distant past:

And More Bros: Tony Abbott's Blokey New Cabinet

Did I just say something about bros and more bros? For The Drum, Annabel Crab takes a close look at the cabinet just announced by the new Australian PM (and former Catholic seminarian) Tony Abbott. Crab finds said cabinet, well, rather blokey:

More Bro Talk: "Shorthand for the Sort of Privileged Ignorance That Thrives in Groups Dominated by Wealthy, White, Straight Men"

Piggybacking on yesterday's posting about bros, bros, and more bros: 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Quote for the Day: "Defense of Patriarchy Is . . . a Theological Defense Based on the Same Theology . . . Used to Defend Slavery and to Defend Segregation"

At his Slacktivist site, Fred Clark takes a look at John Turner's reviews of Carolyn Dupont's Mississippi Praying: Southern White Evangelicals and the Civil Rights Movement, 1945-1975, a book that makes Fred think of Mark Noll's The Civil War as a Theological Crisis. Dupont finds that the intense biblical literalism of many Southern white evangelicals, wedded to an animus against understanding the call to salvation in anything other than an individualistic sense, led most Southern white evangelicals to back segregation to the hilt during the Civil Rights period.

Sister Teresa Forcades Receiving Increased Attention as Leading European Public Intellectual (as Pope Francis Meets with Gustavo Gutiérrez)

I've been writing about the Catalan Benedictine nun Teresa Forcades for some time now, since I discovered her last year via Rebel Girl's Iglesia Descalza site and Terry Weldon's Queering the Church blog. As I noted this past April, I find great hope in the fact that Catholic religious women like Forcades in Europe or the nuns on the bus in the U.S. have claimed strong public voices in the face of repressive movements in the culture at large, often backed by the Catholic hierarchy, to return women to positions of mute servitude.

Jeff Sharlet on Ditto Boys: Laying Bare the Ideology of Male-Bonded Obedience in New Religious Movements Like the Fellowship and Opus Dei

In the excerpt from his letter to Pope Francis on "new evangelization" that I featured yesterday, Matthew Fox maintains that many of the cultic "lay" movements within Catholicism today that are spearheading the "new evangelization" aren't about proclaiming the gospel at all. Groups such as Opus Dei and the Legion of Christ substitute for the gospel, Fox argues, a "theology" of christofascist authoritarianism that boils the entire Christian faith down into a bare command to obey--to obey the highest authority figure in one's group, which is, for Catholics, the pope.

Monday, September 16, 2013

NCR Thread Today Mulls Over Abuse Crisis: Gays Remain the Problem No Matter What Any Study Proves to Contrary

Matthew Fox, Letters to Pope Francis: On the "New" Evangelization

More excerpts from Matthew Fox's book Letters to Pope Francis: in an important letter in the book, Fox discusses the "new" evangelization that was so strongly promoted by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and encourages Francis to look closely at what the term "evangelize" actually means, as he himself promotes the church's mission of proclaiming the good news of the gospel to the world: 

Remarks of Archbishop Nienstedt Linking Gay Rights to Devil Gaining Wide Attention, with Video Coverage on YouTube

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "Narcissism . . . Is the Most Determinate Factor in the Sexual/Spiritual Abuse Crisis of the Church," A Footnote

In the thread discussing Dennis Coday's National Catholic Reporter article noting the sentencing of Father Shawn Ratigan for possession and production of child pornography--I discussed this thread yesterday--Colleen Baker responds to Becca Robinson's surmisal that "no doubt" Ratigan took pictures of boys by stating,

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Remembering My Mother on the Anniversary of Her Death

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "Narcissism . . . Is the Most Determinate Factor in the Sexual/Spiritual Abuse Crisis of the Church, Not a Person's Sexual Orientation"

And another excellent comment from the past week in a discussion at a Catholic blog site--in this case, the thread following Dennis Coday's report at National Catholic Reporter that Father Shawn Ratigan was given a 50-year sentence recently in Kansas City for production and possession of child pornography: this is Mark 13 Fs responding to Father Joseph O'Leary, who (astonishingly, given the facts in the Ratigan case), wants to explain the Catholic clerical abuse crisis as "ordinary gay guys slipping over the line between minors and adults." O'Leary then goes on to say that "Bilgrimage" goes berserk if one makes that observation.

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: Women Responding to Arrows-and-Holes Theology of Catholic Right

It's imperative that we look carefully at who's inventing many of the "scientific" theories designed to put women and LGBTI people in their places in the divine-natural scheme of things. And it's imperative that we ask why those who are shopping around this junk science are doing so, and whose self-interest the pseudo-science serves.

Amanda Marcotte on Bizarre Christian Right Theories Influencing American Politics: More on Need for Conversation Between Religion and Science

Yet another indicator of the importance of fashioning our theological views in fruitful dialogue with science--with real science and not the junk science that increasingly passes for scientific truth in much of the American religious right: as Amanda Marcotte notes

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Matthew Fox, Letters to Pope Francis: The Name Francis and Stories about Fathers

Another excerpt from Matthew Fox's book Letters to Pope Francis: in the opening chapter of his book, Fox explores the promise he sees in the new pope's choice of the name Francis. Part of that promise is the way in which Francis of Assisi was willing to bend rigid gender lines, to honor (and incorporate into his own discipleship) the feminine and repudiate the aggressive masculine insofar as it is determined to dominate others:

More on "Scientific" Theories about Race and Sexual Orientation: Black Birds Don't Mate with Red Birds

I've told this story before. I think it may be time to tell it again, with apologies to readers who have already heard it.

From Arrows and Holes to Magnets and Poles: Yet More "Scientific" Claptrap Proving Gay Marriage Wrong

If it's not arrows and holes, it's magnets and poles: all so obvious. So simple. So self-evident, for God's sake. Why do the gays insist on mucking things up by asking whether the arrow fits the hole or the magnet moves to the pole?

Friday, September 13, 2013

NALT Project: Contribution of Joe Murray, Former Staff Attorney for American Family Association

Peter Beinart on New York Elections and Rise of a New Left in American Politics

For Peter Beinart, national political indicators are to be seen in Bill de Blasio's win in the New York Democratic primary. Beinart argues that for the last two decades, the American political conversation has been to a great extent a conversation between Reaganism and Clintonism, a conversation that, with its starry-eyed infatuation with terms like "capital" and "free" and "market," tilts ideologically towards the right. But a new millennial generation now coming of age, which has been disproportionately the victim of that starry-eyed infatuation of both Reaganism and Clintonism with the capitalist free market, is now shifting the conversation to the left: 

Matthew Fox, Letters to Pope Francis: On Homosexuality

I've begun reading Matthew Fox's recent book Letters to Pope Francis, and thought it might be helpful to readers if I posted excerpts (and perhaps some commentary) from the book--as I have done previously for Elizabeth Johnson's Quest for the Living God and Margaret Farley's Just Love

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Father Shawn Ratigan Sentenced to 50 Years in Prison, But Robert Finn Continues to Sit His Episcopal Throne

Father Shawn Ratigan of Kansas City was sentenced to 50 years in prison today for possession and production of child pornography. 

Robert Koehler on Mr. Obama and Syria: Is "An Intelligently Angry Slice of the American Public" Prevailing in Discussion of War?

I like the hopefulness of Robert Koehler's conclusion to his recent essay about President Obama's response to the Syrian situation:

John Connelly on Pope John Paul II's Legacy of "Repressive Intolerance": Papal Authoritarianism and the Catholic Abuse Crisis

In a review of the complex legacy and complex life of Polish public intellectual Leszek Kolakowski, John Connelly reminds readers of the legacy of the soon-to-be-canonized pope, John Paul II--a legacy of  "repressive intolerance" of anyone who disagreed with him, of "stubborn disregard of critical voices," of a "moral intransigence" that was "theologically threadbare" and often inflicted severe pain on others, in contradiction of what is best about the Catholic pastoral tradition. Connelly writes,

Yet Another Catholic Teacher Loses Job: Kristen Ostendorf Comes Out and Is Fired by Minnesota Catholic School

Kristen Ostendorf

Despite Pope Francis's question "Who am I to judge?" and the claims that have been made about how this ushers in a new moment in Catholic history, it seems that Catholic institutions in the U.S. just can't quit their addictive habit of targeting gay folks and people who love gay folks: as Michael Bayly reports at his The Wild Reed blog site this morning, Totino-Grace Catholic high school in Fridley, Minnesota, has just fired English and religion teacher Kristen Ostendorf after she told colleagues in late August that she's a lesbian in a committed relationship. As Jim Walsh notes in the Minnesota Post article to which the last link points, the school's president, Bill Hudson, resigned this summer after he, too, came out of the closet.

Katie McDonough on Why We Can't Take Away Zimmerman's Gun: The Patriarchal Context

At Salon today, Katie McDonough asks the right question about George Zimmerman, a question Mary O'Grady has asked here in a comment in the past several days: "What exactly does it take for a man with domestic abuse complaints and a fatal shooting to lose access to weapons?"

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

LGBTQ Nation Publishes My Piece about Sarah Pulliam Bailey's "Gay Rights vs. Religious Rights"

I mentioned yesterday that my posting here several days ago about Sarah Pulliam Bailey's Religion News Service article whose title puts gay rights in opposition to religious rights had been very aptly summarized by Fred Clark at his Slacktivist site. I'm now happy to report that LGBTQ Nation has published the posting in its latest issue.

Catholics of the Right, Sarah Bailey Pulliam on Gay Rights vs. Religious Rights, and Arrows and Holes: The Argument in a Nutshell

As Barbara has just wisely noted in response to my posting about Edward Hu and his theology of arrows and holes earlier today: "That's the dumbest thing I've heard yet!" 

Catholics of the Right Respond to Sarah Bailey Pulliam on Gay Rights vs. Religious Rights: "Arrow and Hole Is Natural. And Hole/Hole Not"

"[A]rrow and hole is natural.
And hole/hole not.
"Hole/hole is 'we decide'. And arrow/arrow is going against the design."

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

More on RNS Headline, "Gay Rights vs. Religious Rights": Fred Clark's Excellent Summary of My Argument

A crazy day in which I have had not much time at all to blog, but before the day ends, I do want to take note of (and make a statement of sincere thanks for) Fred Clark's commentary today about my posting yesterday pointing out that Religion News Service's recent article, "Gay Rights vs. Religious Rights," keeps the us-vs.-them meme about religious folks and the gays alive in the very week after the NALT project was launched. NALT was launched in order to demonstrate that there are a lot of believers who recognize and support gay rights and love gay folks. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Breaking News: Zimmerman Arrested After Estranged Wife Calls Police

So when are we, the American public, going to have our craws full to bursting of Mr. Zimmerman and his arrogant scofflaw behavior?

Gay Rights vs. Religious Rights: Religion News Service Counters NALT Project

So, let me see if I understand this correctly:

Pauls Toutonghi on Suicide of Gay Teen Jadin Bell: "As a Recent Father of Twins, This Story Wouldn’t Leave Me Alone"

At Salon, Pauls Toutonghi discusses in heart-rending detail the protracted, relentless bullying that led to the suicide of 15-year-old Jadin Bell on 19 January this year. Bell was the only openly gay student in his high school in La Grande, Oregon. An excerpt: