Wednesday, November 13, 2013

U.S. Catholic Bishops Continue to Try to Convince Their Flocks That Gay Marriage Is Evil, But . . . .

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I suspect it's not self-evident to many people with good heads on their shoulders and hearts pumping blood infused with milk of human kindness rather than bitter bile that the loving, publicly recognized marital unions of two people of the same sex are an incomparable threat to the stability of the cosmos. Or an incomparable evil demanding that people of good will spend millions of dollars funding political lobbies designed to prevent that evil from growing in our midst, while many people around the world who are hungry, lack access to basic medical care, need housing, jobs, education, etc., would benefit greatly from that wasted money.

Though the evil of loving, committed, public marital unions of two people of the same sex is not immediately apparent to many people of good will, the U.S. Catholic bishops remain focused on said evil with laserlike intensity--no matter what the new pope has said about putting the praxis of faith above ideology, not judging those who are gay, or jettisoning the attempt to equate Catholic faith in all its purity and splendor with culture-war battles against same-sex marriage, abortion, and contraception.

Only two days ago, the U.S. bishops' point man on marriage and the family, Archbishop Salvatore "Gays = Devil" Cordileone was at it again at the meeting of the bishops in Baltimore: lambasting same-sex marriage, decrying legislation that would make it illegal to discriminate against people on grounds of sexual orientation in the workplace. Actively defending discrimination against gay people and gay couples by private businesses if those businesses object to homosexuality . . . .

Evil. The bishops see it . . . everywhere . . . in Western societies today, insofar as Western nations are now granting legal recognition to same-sex couples and outlawing gross discrimination against people on grounds of sexual orientation. 

I'd like to suggest here that the U.S. bishops may have an increasingly steep climb ahead of them as they attempt to convince their flocks that same-sex couples seeking the civil right of marriage (which heterosexual couples have long enjoyed) are evil. That these couples are agents of evil destroying civilized societies and undermining Christian values . . . . 

I suspect the bishops have a steep road ahead of them as they try to keep American Catholics focused on the incomparable evil that two men or two women who love one another and seek legal recognition of their loving commitment to each other represent, for the following reasons: to many of us, while it's not self-evident that Ellen and Portia or Neal Patrick and David are the face of evil in the world today, it's pretty glaringly obvious that evil does manifest itself in our world. No matter what the bishops say about the evil of gay people and gay love and gay rights, when most of us hear the word "evil," we tend to think, instead, of things like the following:

• climate change that now threatens the future of the entire planet, which is, scientists overwhelmingly  agree, caused by human beings, and which threatens the poor of the world more immediately than it threatens the rest of us--as we're now seeing with horrifying clarity in the Philippines

• climate change, which many people of faith in the U.S. reject as a myth, even as it happens all around us 

• climate change, which has become a serious problem confronting the entire human community in part because those who benefit economically from the uncontrolled exploitation of natural resources spend billions of dollars to disseminate disinformation about climate change and to lean on legislatures to prevent measures designed to address this critical problem.

Or, say the word "evil," and I daresay that rather than thinking of Ellen and Portia or Neal Patrick and David, many people of good will think instead of things like the following:

one in three women in the U.S. report that they have been victims of rape, beating, assault, or stalking

• rape and violence against women are endemic in one society after another around the world: in Asia and the Pacific region, one in four men admit that they have raped at least one woman 

• in the U.S. in communities like Steubenville, Ohio, and Maryville, Missouri, it's possible for teenaged girls raped by football players to be blamed for their assault and to be shunned by the local community while their assailants are excused and protected.

Say "evil," and I suspect a lot of Americans think of Steubenville and Maryville and not Neal Patrick and David or Ellen and Portia--no matter how much hot air the U.S. Catholic bishops blow around in their attempts to convince the public of the incomparable evil that loving, committed gay couples seeking civil rights represent to us.

Or say "evil," and people might think immediately of things like the following:

Father Marcial Maciel, founder of the wealthy and influential Legionaries of Christ, who sexually abused seminarians for years, fathered several children by different mothers and supported them secretly with the funds of his community, and raped his own children

• Father Marcial Maciel, who enjoyed the protection and received the blessing of Bl. Pope John Paul II, who, according to John Paul's friend and confidant Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, knew nothing of Maciel's activities, though the rest of the world seems to have had no great difficulty ascertaining Maciel's history as a sexual abuser of seminarians, rapist of his own children, drug addict, etc.

Say "evil," and people might think of the following before they imagine two people of the same sex who love each other and want to enjoy the rights and privileges of married couples of the opposite sex:

• "One night on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota nearly four decades ago, a 36-year-old Roman Catholic priest asked a young boy to share his bed. The boy was about 9 or 10 years old. As he climbed into bed, he asked the priest a question: Are you going to molest me, like my relative does when he asks me to spend the night? The answer was yes."

• And when diocesan officials learned about what this priest was doing, how did they respond? "The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis kept the priest in ministry after he admitted to abuse on the reservation in the 1970s."

Or you want to talk evil? Many folks might regard the following (and not Ellen and Portia or Neal Patrick and David ) as downright evil:

a group of religious leaders meet to inveigh against pornography while a convicted porn-hider sits* among them as they do their inveighing. 

A lot of people of good will with sound heads on their shoulders and hearts pumping blood mixed with milk of human kindness and not bitter bile might find that behavior outrageously evil--the unmitigated gall of it, the hypocrisy of crafting noble statements about the evil of pornography while a man who has protected someone taking upskirt photos of infant girls sits in the room, though that man sitting in the room has been convicted of the crime of putting children at risk.

And isn't it curious that these men, the ones carrying on about the evil of pornography while one of them has protected a pornographer, are the very same men who want to convince the rest of us to see gay faces--the faces of Neal Patrick Harris and David Burtka or Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi--when they shout the word "evil"?

As I say, I suspect that these gentlemen have an increasingly uphill climb ahead of them as they try to get us to buy that formula. Or to listen seriously to anything they might have to say about the problem of evil.

*Later: I've updated this link. When I first posted this piece earlier today, the fine NSAC editorial statement of Kris Ward was not yet at the NSAC website, though I'd gotten it by email earlier in the day.

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