Friday, February 28, 2014

Blog Slowdown--Nursing Duties

Dear Friends,

I may be behinder than usual in acknowledging your much-appreciated comments here for the next day or so. We've spent an anxious night and morning dealing with what appears to be a severe case of viral gastroenteritis. Steve spent the entire night trekking to the toilet to vomit, and we went to the doctor as soon as the office opened this morning, when we found he couldn't even drink a cup of weak tea. They found Steve very dehydrated and kept him all morning, hydrating him with an i.v.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Arizona Catholic Conference Yanks Its "Action Alert" Calling on Catholics to Ask Gov. Brewer to Sign Anti-Gay Bill

Earlier today, I blogged about the "Action Alert" issued by the Catholic bishops of Arizona asking Catholics in their state to contact Governor Brewer and ask her to sign the anti-gay bill into law. As Jim McCrea has pointed out in a later thread today, the Arizona Catholic Conference has now yanked this "Action Alert" from its website. The file was here, and now points to a "page not found" message with no indication that the "Action Alert" calling on Catholics to support the gay-discrimination bill ever existed.

Quote for Day: "Congratulations to the Arizona Legislature for Doing Such an Excellent Job at De-Evangelization"

Frank Cocozzelli on Slaveholders' "Mudsill" Theory and Applications to Contemporary Political and Economic Debates

At Talk to Action, Frank Cocozzelli discusses the mudsill theory of economics that originates with an 1858 defense of slavery by South Carolina Senator James Henry Hammond. As Frank notes, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines "mudsill" as 

1. a supporting sill (as of a building or bridge) resting directly on a base and especially the earth; 2. a person of the lowest social level.

Frederick Nzwili in The Tablet: "Ugandan Catholic Church Leaders Are Backing the Controversial Anti-Homosexuality Legislation"

Frederick Nzwili in The Tablet on the response of the Catholic leaders of Uganda to the legislation just signed into law in that country, which criminalizes homosexuality and provides a sentence of 14 years in jail for "first offenders" and a life sentence for repeat offenders:

Veto of Arizona Gay-Discrimination Bill: A Selection of Commentary

There's a wealth of good commentary in the past several days about the phony "religious freedom" legislation sweeping the nation right now, including the law that Jan Brewer just vetoed in Arizona. Here are some of my picks:

Arizona Bishops Promote Failed Gay-Discrimination Bill: The Serious Pastoral Problem Facing U.S. Catholics

Yesterday, I discussed the latest in a series of surveys of the religious landscape of the U.S., all of which find that the millennial generation is rapidly leaving organized religion behind--and that a significant proportion of millennials walking away from faith communities cite the homophobia of the communities they're leaving as their reason for leaving. As my discussion yesterday notes, while a generation of younger Americans is leaving religion behind and noting that the homophobia of religious bodies is precipitating its departure, the top pastoral leaders of the Catholic church in the U.S. are doing absolutely nothing to address this exodus.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: Secrets of the Vatican and the Sexual Hypocrisy in Benedict's Own House

Patricia Miller on "Secrets of the Vatican" and its confirmation of a "don't ask, don't tell" gay subculture in the Vatican, which may have figured in Pope Benedict's decision to resign the papacy:

As Gay-Discrimination Bill Appears to Falter in Arizona, 15 Other States Consider Similar Legislation: Where's It Coming From?

Though Republican governor Jan Brewer of Arizona appears, according to some reports, poised to veto the gay-discrimination bill recently passed by her state's Republican-controlled legislature,* as Steve Benen points out today for the Maddow Blog, there's the following surprising thing to consider: 

America Editorial Calls on Catholics to Oppose Anti-Gay Legislation in Nigeria, Uganda, Etc.

In its latest editorial, the Jesuit magazine America notes that though Pope Francis's "Who am I to judge?" has offered a "fresh embodiment" of Catholic teaching that gay people are to treated with sensitivity, respect, and compassion, nonetheless "[t]ragically, we live in a world where people are not only judged harshly for their sexual orientation but are also targeted and punished for it." And then the editorial goes on to discuss the recent decision of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to sign into law a bill that criminalizes homosexuality.

New Public Religion Research Institute Survey: A Third of Millennials Who Have Left Churches Cite Anti-Gay Teachings As Reason for Leaving

The Public Religion Research Institute has just published the results of a national survey which finds that the religious landscape of the United States is being transformed as support for same-sex marriage dramatically increases in the U.S. One of the big takeaways of the survey:

Snapshots of the Catholic Abuse Crisis: It's Priests Who Are Being Hurt by the Abuse, Right?

Two snapshots this morning that speak volumes about why the abuse scandal has proven so intractable in the Catholic church--and why we remain so far still from addressing it effectively:

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Quote for Day: "Bills That Encourage Communities to Rip Apart the Fabric of America Should Be Seen for What They Are: Discriminatory and Deeply Un-American"

Moderation Means Respecting the Right of Christian Bakers to Discriminate, Correct? A Consideration of the Argument

At Talking Points Memo today, Ed Kilgore offers a very persuasive argument for why the religious freedom campaign may be backfiring right now for conservatives. As he notes, when the religious and political right put the campaign together in the past several years (under the leadership of the Vatican and the U.S. Catholic bishops, something I noted here as 2011 got underway), conservatives imagined they had a winning campaign on their hands. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

John Corvino, What's Wrong with Homosexuality?: "Man on Man, Man on Dog, or Whatever the Case May Be"

I was reminded of John Corvino's book What's Wrong with Homosexuality? (NY: Oxford UP, 2013) as I read Erik Eckholm's report this past weekend in the New York Times about the ongoing efforts of the religious right to depict tolerance of gay folks as the first step onto a slippery slope that will lead God knows where. Corvino takes the cue for his chapter discussing this slippery-slope argument from Rick Santorum's infamous statements to an AP reporter in 2003 that tolerance for homosexual people will lead everywhere--everywhere bad--in any society that extends such tolerance to gays. Corvino entitles the chapter "Man on Man, Man on Dog, or Whatever the Case May Be."

More Reports in Preparation for Vatican Synod on the Family: Spain, Japan, Diocese of Westminster, England, United States

As a new work week begins, I want to mention a few more reports that have recently been issued summarizing the response of lay Catholics in various parts of the world to the Vatican questionnaire on issues including contraception, same-sex marriage, and divorce, as the Vatican prepares for the Synod on the Family. At Iglesia Descalza, Rebel Girl offers a translation of a recent article in the Spanish journal El Periódico reporting on the response of Spanish Catholics to the questionnaire.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Thread on Disqus's Change in Down-Voting System Now Closed

A quick note to let all of you know that I've taken the unprecedented step of closing a discussion thread here, just after I mentioned to Rachelfs that I haven't ever done that in the past (well, not that I recall). At 128 130 comments, the thread responding to the recent decision of Disqus to stop showing tallies of down votes had become a distraction to serious readers of this blog, I suspect (and one reader vocalized this yesterday). And it was going nowhere.

Elias Isquith on Religious Right's "Utterly Self-Conscious Act of Disingenuousness" in Depicting Itself as Victim in War Against Human Rights of Gays

At Salon, Elias Isquith points out what many of us (George Takei included) are saying about the spate of anti-gay laws now being considered by a number of state legislatures in the U.S.--one of which Arizona's legislature just passed: that is, that these laws are a reincarnation of the odious Jim Crow laws of the Southern states in the 1890s:

Fred Clarkson on Alliance of U.S. Catholic Bishops with Evangelical Christian Right--and Import of This Alliance

At Talk to Action, Fred Clarkson reminds us of the tremendous responsibility the current bishops of the Catholic church in the U.S. bear, under the leadership of outgoing USCCB president Timothy Cardinal Dolan, for the right-wing politicization of American Catholicism in recent years. As I noted on Friday, Sarah Posner has pointed out that the templates being used by one state legislature after another to attack the rights of LGBTI citizens in recent weeks come straight out of the "religious freedom" playbook of the USCCB, as it's being followed by various state Catholic conferences and right-wing Catholic theologian George Weigel at his Ethics and Public Policy Institute.

George Takei Takes on Arizona: "You Say This Bill Protects 'Religious Freedom,' But No One Is Fooled"

Friday, February 21, 2014

Disqus Turns Down-Voting System Off?

Dear Readers,

Until I saw a comment by hrh here today noting that the Disqus system seems not to be showing down-votes for this blog any longer, I hadn't even noticed that the down votes seemed to have disappeared. Now that I check the National Catholic Reporter threads, I see the same absence of down votes there, too.

End-of-Week News Roundup: Russia as Republican Paradise

End-of-Week News Roundup: And Then There's Kansas (and Arizona, Maine, Tennessee, Utah, Oklahoma, Indiana, and Other States)

And then there's Kansas--and Arizona, Maine, Tennessee, Utah, Oklahoma, Indiana, and other states:

End-of-Week News Roundup: From L.A. to Twin Cities to Japan, Virginia, and Rome--Where's the Pope and the Hope He's Said to Represent?

As I read about the plans of Newark Archbishop John Myers to add yet more swank to an already swanky retirement house, I can't avoid, of course, thinking about Francis, the pope. The pope of hope. 

End-of-Week News Roundup: Archbishop John Myers Back in News, Now for Bling-Bling Retirement House

Archbishop John Myers

As this work week ends, an offering of observations from news of the week that will, I hope, inspire you to read the whole article from which the amuse-gueule is taken: these are all about the absolutely stunning decision of Newark, New Jersey, Archbishop John Myers to expand his 4,500-square-foot retirement house by adding to it a 3,000-square-foot addition (with the $500,000 renovation bill being footed by the archdiocese's lay Catholics):

Thursday, February 20, 2014

John Corvino, What's Wrong with Homosexuality?: "Born This Way"

In the chapter of John Corvino's book What’s Wrong with Homosexuality? (NY: Oxford UP, 2013) entitled "Born This Way," one line above all stands out for me: as Corvino shares a painful, powerful, and detailed account of his own coming-out process in an Italian Catholic family in which he prayed devoutly to be freed of his homoerotic leanings, and considered becoming a priest, he states, 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Taking Leave of Mavis Gallant

One of the unpleasant things about growing old (and this has often been noted, so it's not an original insight by any means) is that one more and more takes leave of old friends, of people one has "known" tangentially through books, plays, television. Writers whose work one has read and enjoyed become, in a sense, part of the family. And their death diminishes oneself.

On the Conservative Rhetoric of Entitlement: "Our Upper Class--Our Meritocratic Cognitive Elite" Really?!

Call me dumb--call me very dumb--but on what earthly grounds do the current lords of Wall Street and the banking industry imagine themselves "entitled"?--as Joan Walsh says,

U.S. Catholic Bishops' Anti-Contraception Battle and Legislation Targeting Gay Citizens: Making the Connections

As Jill Filipovic notes at Common Dreams today, the logic underlying the horrific anti-gay legislation with which the Kansas legislature has recently flirted is exactly the same logic that is underlying the claims of those (including the U.S. Catholic bishops) who assert the right of even private employers to withhold contraceptive coverage from employees on grounds of "belief": the underlying logic in both instances is, as Fillipovic asserts, My "religious freedom means the freedom to limit everyone else's rights." Because I say so.

Contraception and More Contraception: The Religious-Political Debate That Won't Subside

An interesting set of articles in just the past several days about the issue of contraception (and its political application in the U.S. elections in 2014):

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis Releases Financial Report: Curious Steep Jump in Communications Expenses Coinciding with Anti-Gay Marriage Initiative

In the financial report recently released (pdf) by the archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis providing details of its financial records for 2013, there's an interesting detail that, to my mind, richly deserves a great deal of attention. As Brian Roewe notes for National Catholic Reporter and Jean Hopfensperger and Tony Kennedy for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the report shows the archdiocese's operating expenses jumping by about $9 million in 2012.* Part of the reason is that the archdiocese, which faces an onslaught of lawsuits related to clerical abuse of minors, added $5 million to its litigation reserve fund in 2012.

From Nigeria to Uganda to Russia to Kansas: The Common Thread of Christian Complicity

So here's what's going on in Nigeria right now: 

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "'New Evangelization' Tactics Seem Based on Incorrect Assumptions That Lapsed Catholics Don’t Know Church Dogma"

This is one of the good ones, one of the birdcage droppings that fertilize the mind: Questions from a Ewe asks why it is that the "Francis effect" seems to be having little impact among American Catholics, when it comes to Mass attendance. In her diocese in 2013, 6 of 10 diocesan counties had the lowest records of weekly Mass attendance ever, since anyone began counting. As she notes, this echoes Pew findings, which show Mass attendance among American Catholics continuing to decline despite the Francis "bump."

Vatican Survey of Catholics for Synod on the Family: More Evidence (England, Wales, Canada) of "Huge Gap" Between Magisterial Teaching and People of God

Reports continue to come in from various parts of the world, noting how Catholics in various places have responded to the questionnaire that Pope Francis asked bishops to use as they solicited lay input prior to the Synod on the Family. On Saturday, I alluded to the survey results gathered by the bishops of England and Wales. I did so by linking to this Tablet editorial statement that decries the decision of these bishops to withhold the survey results from Catholics in their region. 

Amanda Marcotte on the "Wide View" of the Catholic Sex-Abuse Problem in the U.N. Report

At Slate, Amanda Marcotte explains why the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child took a "wide" view of the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic church, one that addresses questions about sexual orientation and gender: it's because the committee's charge is to protect rights. Of children. Of all children.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Quote for Day: Thomas Frank on What's Still the Matter with Kansas

Thomas Frank is incisive about the self-deluding, fatuous centrism (his word, and he's right) of the Democrats, who imagine that the sheer force of demographic change will somehow wrench the out-of-control American political process from the hands of the rabid right, whom the Democrats have cravenly appeased over and over again from Clinton forward. As he says, he knows what he's talking about when he talks about Kansas and its hard turn to the hard GOP right, because he grew up Republican in Kansas. And:

Stephanie Krehbiel on the Woody Allen Case and the Problem of John Howard Yoder: A Must-Read Article

A must-read article from this past week: Stephanie Krehbiel on the "Woody Allen Problem": how is it possible to read pacifist Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder now, now that we know that Yoder was a serial sex abuser? Here's the problem:

Panti Bliss on "Good" People, What Just Happened in Kansas, Parallels to Civil Rights Movement, and Club Catholic: In Summary

Two days ago, I puzzled, as I frequently do here, over the seeming inability of the "good" people of the world to hear the kind of testimony that Irish drag performer Panti Bliss recently offered in Dublin. Testimony about what it's like to live life in gay skin in a society whose norms are established and parsed by the good people she identified as ministers, senators, barristers, journalists, and nice middle-class folks like herself . . . .

Saturday, February 15, 2014

For Your Weekend Viewing: Hero Reporter Dave Hansen on "Ellen Show"

Dave Hansen says that the positive feedback he's gotten from across the U.S. for his support of Michael Sam gives him hope for the future for his children and their children.

Short Takes on News: Who Counts, Who Doesn't; Heroes and Heretics; "Religious" "Freedom"; the Gays; Father Knows Best and People of God

The pronouns "we" and "they" are the most important of all political words. They demarcate who's within the sphere of mutual responsibility, and who's not.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Division Over Gay Rights in U.S. Apparent Also in Global Catholic Church: Two Churches, Two Sharply Different Memories of Jesus

As the brief notes I posted prior to this about developments on the gay-rights front across the U.S. in just the past week suggest, the mind (and heart) of the American people remain divided about questions of inclusion and justice for gay human beings, even as there seems to be strong, ineluctable movement in the direction of recognizing the full humanity and full range of rights of those who are gay. Perhaps in some ways as strongly divided as the nation was at the time slavery was abolished . . . .

Virginia, Kentucky, Idaho, Indiana, Wyoming, Kansas, Nevada, Colorado: Things Are Popping Now on Gay-Rights Front in U.S.

So much is popping so quickly right now regarding questions of gay rights in the U.S., that it's almost impossible to keep up with all of the news. A quick (and probably very incomplete) précis:

More on Michael Sam's Coming Out: Powerful Testimony of Texas Sportscaster and Implications for Club Catholic


Thursday, February 13, 2014

John Corvino, What's Wrong with Homosexuality?: "It's Not Natural" (2)

Here are two more excerpts from John Corvino's book What’s Wrong with Homosexuality? (NY: Oxford UP, 2013). As with the last two I've posted here, these are from the chapter dealing with natural-law objections to homosexuality.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin Responds to Pantigate Controversy: "Anybody Who Doesn’t Show Love Towards Gay and Lesbian People Is insulting God"

The archbishop takes sides with the drag queen.

On the Firing of Pregnant and Unmarried Teachers in Catholic Schools: My Take

In case any reader of Bilgrimage wonders, it goes without saying that I oppose the recent firing of Shaela Evenson by Butte Central Catholic school in Montana because she is pregnant and unmarried just as much as I oppose the firing of Mark Zmuda by Eastside Catholic school in Seattle because he married his same-sex partner. My theological warrants for opposing firings of this sort have much to do with the biblical concept of mercy, to which Pope Francis has repeatedly sought to draw the attention of Catholics.

Univision Poll: Global Fracture Lines in Catholic Church Over Family Issues, with Widespread Rejection of Teaching on Contraception and Other Issues

As Conrad Noll points out in a comment here last evening, the Univision poll about which I blogged yesterday (and briefly on Sunday), has been very much in the news in the last several days. Conrad states,

Quote for Day: "The Holy See Did Itself No Favours by Not Delivering the Requested Reports for 14 Years"

Father Hans Zollner, SJ

Christa Pongratz-Lippitt and Robert Mickens report for The Tablet on Father Hans Zollner's recent remarks to Vatican Radio about the U.N. report on the Vatican's handling of child abuse. Zollner is head of the International Centre for Child Protection at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University, According to Pongratz-Lippitt and Mickens, here's what he told Vatican Radio:

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Correcting a Mistake: Univision Poll of Catholics re: Issues of Sexual Ethics Is a Global Poll, Not Just a Latin American One

I made a mistake several days ago, and want to let you all know about it--and to correct the misinformation I posted. On Sunday, I mentioned briefly a recent poll conducted by the U.S. Spanish-language network Univision. I discussed the poll in the context of discussing a Washington Post article by Michelle Boorstein and Peyton M. Craighill about the disconnect between official Catholic teaching about sexual ethical issues, and what Catholics actually believe about those issues.

Chris Kluwe on Michael Sam's Coming Out, Amanda Terkel on Woody Allen: Implications for Club Catholic

Two observations that stand out for me in recent news reports: at Huffington Post, Amanda Terkel quotes Chris Kluwe's response to the anonymous claims of NFL managerial types that Michael Sam's coming out as gay will prove a "distraction" that will "chemically imbalance" locker rooms and disturb what's, after all, a "man's-man game." Kluwe responds:

James Carroll on Vatican's "Shameless Dodge" in U.N. Hearing and Its "Terrible Moral Cost"

It's a recommendation to me when the (self-appointed) centrist gatekeepers of the American Catholic conversation like Michael Sean Winters (and here and here) at National Catholic Reporter or Jim Pauwels at Commonweal get their knives out for a fellow Catholic who has dared to say what they decree as unsayable. The three articles I've just linked from Winters don't address Carroll's op-ed piece yesterday in the Boston Globe; they do, however, richly illustrate his penchant for reading Carroll out of the American Catholic conversation, insofar as he does not accept Winters's strange ecclesiology of "the church belongs to the bishops and they can do as they want with it."

Moral Marches in North Carolina and Progressive Solidarity: A Developing Meme

An important meme is developing about the Moral Monday marches in North Carolina regarding which I blogged glancingly several days ago. In the latest development in this movement uniting people of faith and others working for progressive goals in the Southern swing state of North Carolina whose legislature and governor's office are now dominated by hard-right Republicans, more than 100,000 people marched on the state capitol in Raleigh Saturday.

Monday, February 10, 2014

John Corvino, What's Wrong with Homosexuality?: "It's Not Natural"

Some more sharp observations from John Corvino's book What’s Wrong with Homosexuality? (NY: Oxford UP, 2013)--these from his chapter on natural-law arguments against homosexuality: as Corvino notes, the term "unnatural" is frequently used in an exceptionally loose way as a rhetorical tag for all sorts of practices and behaviors to which one objects. The very looseness of the term as it's usually applied is part of its rhetorical power, as the term evokes a visceral reaction of repulsion its users hope to evoke, while also precluding the kind of careful thought that might make people think twice about the easy tagging of something as "unnatural": 

National Catholic Reporter Plans to Re-Open Comments Threads: See Helpful Information at Links Below

It seems I'm issuing versions of PSAs today. I've just told you all about the NPR Worldview program regarding the recent U.N. report about the Vatican's handling of sexual abuse cases. I'm listening to that program as I type this posting (I'm something of a type A personality--sometimes, at least--hence a multi-tasker). 

SNAP President Barbara Blaine to Be Interviewed by NPR's Worldview Program, 1 P.M. EST Today

A quick note to inform any of you who happen to be online right now that, in a few moments (1 P.M. EST, 12 P.M. CST, etc.), SNAP president Barbara Blaine will be interviewed by NPR's Worldview program about the recent U.N. report.

The Worldview website is here. I believe the interview will be streamed at this site.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Quote for Day: "UN's Message to the Church Is Stark. If You Want to Be a State, You Need to Act Like One"

In the Irish Independent Brendan O'Connor argues that we must not allow our "outrage fatigue" amidst a ceaseless stream of reports about the cover-up of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic authority figures to obscure the importance of the U.N. report on the Vatican:

Taking A Close Look at the "Church Teaching" That Vatican Media Apologists Claim U.N. Attacks: There's Their World, and Then There's the Real World

For Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), David Clohessy responds to Austen Ivereigh's claim that the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child "ambushed" the Vatican with its recent report: 

Brief Takes from Week's News Commentary: Russia, Russia, Russia (and Nigeria)


Homophobia is all but dead, they say. Think again. What’s going on in Russia is absolutely terrifying.  

Friday, February 7, 2014

Catholic Families and Human Rights Institute Simultaneously Defends Putin's Anti-Gay Regime and Attacks U.N. Committee Report on Vatican: Making the Connections

In my posting earlier today about Jeff Sharlet on the lives of gay Russians, I linked to Peter Montgomery's latest Religion Dispatches roundup of weekly global news stories about LGBT rights. There's a detail in Montgomery's article to which I'd like to draw readers' attention:

From Rabbi Shmuley Boteach on "Duck Dynasty" to Vatican Enablers Attacking U.N. Report: Protection of Heterosexual Male Power and Privilege as Nexus

Here's what fascinates me in this Media Matters video in which Gretchen Carlson of Fox News interviews Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and Wendy Griffith about "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson and his anti-gay comments:

Jeff Sharlet on Life Inside Russia's Iron Closet: A Must-Read Report

As Peter Montgomery says in his recap of global LGBT stories this week at Religion Dispatches, Jeff Sharlet's GQ report on being gay in Russia is a must-read article. It's chock-full of powerful first-hand testimony about the lives of LGBTI Russians. And it explains in detail how and why Putin has chosen to hand these citizens over to the wolves in order to consolidate his power--and the role being played in that cynical, cruel process by the Orthodox Church and the American religious right.