Friday, September 19, 2014

Are Gay People Welcome in the Catholic Church? Ask Paul Huff and Tom Wojtowick

Are gay people unwelcome in the Catholic church? Or, why is that so many gay people report that they feel unwelcome in the Catholic church and that the Catholic church treats them like the enemy?

Ask Paul Huff and Tom Wojtowick:

On Aug. 6, four days after the Rev. Samuel Spiering arrived as the new administrator of St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Lewistown, he met with parishioner Paul Huff to ask him if he and his partner, Tom Wojtowick, had gotten married. 
After Huff confirmed the fact, the priest asked to meet with the two men the next day. At that second meeting, Spiering dismissed the pair from their volunteer posts in the church and told them they could no longer receive Communion, a sacrament at the core of a believer’s faith. 
Wojtowick and Huff were stunned and stung by the action. It sprang from the Catholic Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage and its belief that homosexual behavior is a sin. 
The issue has caused some people to leave the parish and stirred up controversy in the small central Montana town. To address all that has happened, Bishop Michael Warfel of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings plans to meet with parishioners at the church Saturday night. 
Wojtowick, 66, and Huff, 73, lifelong Catholics, have been partners for more than 30 years. The two men, both members and active at St. Leo’s and the community, married in Seattle in May 2013 to have the legal rights of spouses in their later years.

And before you (you hypothetical reader who doesn't represent most readers of this blog) get your knickers all a-twist about how Catholic priests have an obligation to keep sinners from communion — especially what are called "public" sinners whose "sin" can easily be ascertained by parishioners, whose tender consciences are hurt by the sight of said "sinners" standing the communion line: before you readers with your knickers a-twist log in to tell me about the obligation of priests to excommunicate "public" "sinners," I'd like for you to do some research and gather information about all the heterosexual "public" "sinners" being excommunicated in Catholic churches these days. Tell me about those folks.

You know, the divorced and remarried heterosexual folks. Or the living-in-sin heterosexual couples who have not solemnized their commitment with public marriage vows. Or the 90%+ of heterosexually married Catholic couples using contraceptives, whose "sin" is obvious as we count the number of children they haul into church of a Sunday.

Or, for that matter, the folks who vote for political leaders who vow to deny healthcare coverage to people too poor to afford it. Or the outright, outspoken racists. Or the parishioners whose livelihood depends on exploiting the poor. Or those whose livelihood depends on making war materials.

Why do gay people feel singled out and made unwelcome in a very ugly and very conspicuous way in many Catholic communities across the U.S., and by Catholic employers? Why do 8 in 10 LGBT Americans report that the Catholic church is particularly unfriendly to them? Why do 58% of Americans report that they view the Catholic church as the religious body most unfriendly to gay people among all religious bodies in the country?

Ask Paul Huff and Tom Wojtowick.

(Thanks to readers Kathy Hughes and Jim McCrea for sending me links to this story.)

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