Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "I Think You Are An Abomination, but, Hey, I Mean That in a Religious Way, Not a Hateful Way"

At Commonweal, Abe Rosenzweig tries to help Chicago deacon Jim Pauwels understand that gays and African Americans are people, as Pauwels defends "religious liberty" exemptions for flower vendors and cake-makers dealing with the gays. Rosenzweig tells Pauwels:

I mean, you frighten me, Jim Pauwel. Not because of the way you coddle homophobes, but because I believe that one day in the near future you will read over what you've written above, and then be so ashamed that you will throw yourself whole-heartedly into designing a time machine that will enable you to visit your former self and set hm straight. I am afraid of what your time machine will do to the fabric of the universe, Jim Pauwel. Everybody wishes he or she could redo a past bit of foolishness, JIm, but it will be very selfish of you to actually do it with your time machine. Remember that.

And then he adds

I do not not [i.e., "know"] how to argue with somebody who thinks a person can call gays an abomination and not be thought of as hating gays.* I do not know how to argue with somebody who thinks a person can endorse the segregation of people of African descent from white society and not be thought of as hating those they wish to segregate.  
I do not know how to do it, and I do not fetishize "conversation" to the extent that I even want to know how.   
I mean, what the hell? What are the other situations where somebody can say, "I think you are an abomination, but, hey, I mean that in a religious way, not a hateful way. Some of my best friends are abominations."

Deacon Jim Pauwels is, you'll recall, the fellow who invited me in a Commonweal blog thread to contact him by email and discuss with him why I (and many other gay folks) feel unwelcome in his Catholic church. And then he simply ignored my email responding to his invitation.

I never heard from him at all in response, not in any shape, form, or fashion--though his totally unacceptable treatment of me as a fellow human being and fellow Catholic hasn't stopped him from holding forth in one Commonweal thread after another, as a married heterosexual man, about the Catholic church and the gays. As if he is an authority on that subject and has no need to listen to the people about whom he pontificates . . . .

Or even to recognize that they're in the room. 

Or even to acknowledge their communications when he has invited those communications to explain to him why gays feel unwelcome in his church.

Or even to apologize for that amazingly unkind behavior.

Deacon Jim Pauwels, you may remember, too, also defended the embarrassing anti-gay exorcism stunt of Bishop Paprocki last fall.

When I think Commonweal, and how that journal continues to be an elitist heterosexist club closed to openly gay Catholics, I think Jim Pauwels. When I think Commonweal, and how that journal continues to call on heterosexual married Catholics to pontificate about what it means to be gay in the Catholic church today--and does so in a very in-your-face way, vis-a-vis the gay community--I think Jim Pauwels.

When I think Commonweal, and wonder about the amazing anomaly of calling oneself catholic and then pretending that a segment of the human community is just not there and does not count, I think Jim Pauwels.

Since that's certainly how he himself has treated me, and how the elitist closed club at Commonweal continues to behave toward their fellow human beings and fellow Catholics who are gay.

And so I applaud Abe Rosenzweig for what he's trying to communicate to Deacon Jim Pauwels. It's high time that people in positions of authority in the Catholic church stop talking about LGBTI human beings as if we're abstractions, and start talking to us and with us.

Either that, or they need to stop talking. Period. About us.

*Pauwels did not use the term "abomination" in this thread, by the way. I believe Abe Rosenzweig is referencing here a remark made by Ann Olivier, though I am inclined to think she herself does not agree with that characterization of gay folks. I read Rosenzweig here as keying off Ann Olivier's remark to make a point to Pauwels about what he refers to in his previous remark as coddling homophobes.

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