Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Peter Isely on the Resignation of Bishop Finn, Abuse Survivors, and Persephone's Pomegranate Seed

A valuable piece of commentary from Peter Isely of SNAP Wisconsin, in his Facebook feed recently, about the resignation of Bishop Robert Finn and the pomegranate seed: Peter notes that the leaders of the Catholic church are divided into two teams, team Benedict and team Francis, one the "traditionalist tough guy" team, the other the "moderate" team. And because teams vie to be winners, making other teams losers, and because winners and losers continuously shift, there's a whole lot of politicking and image-making and face-saving going on.

Why Antonin Scalia Found the Outburst of a Nutcase Shouting about Hell and Abomination at Yesterday's Supreme Court Hearing "Refreshing"

In his commentary in the New Yorker today on the arguments in yesterday's Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court hearing about same-sex marriage, Jeffrey Toobin zeroes in on a "shocking, ugly moment" that occurred when a spectator stood up and shouted, 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A Lull in Conversation

From one side, I have people throwing rocks at me and accusing me of being unfair to poor Bishop Finn and to the Catholic clergy in general — accusing me of having an anti-Catholic animus that places me beyond the Catholic pale. 

Baltimore Burns: Limits of Rhetoric of Non-Violence in Face of Systemic Violence Practiced by Powerful vs. Vulnerable

Two takes this morning on what's happening in Baltimore that I find illuminating:

Irish Video on Marriage Equality: Bring Your Family with You

And, on this day that the U.S. Supreme Court hears the marriage equality case, a video to feed hope: from BeLong to Youth Services, a coalition  of Irish LGBT youth and parents, prepared in advance of the 22 May Irish refendum on marriage equality.

Controversy Over Choice of Wealthy Gay NYC Businessmen to Host Benefit for Ted Cruz: Miles to Go Before We Sleep in Movement for Human Rights

No matter what happens with the deliberations about marriage equality at the Supreme Court today (and in the weeks following), we who are LGBT in the U.S. and those supporting our rights have miles to go before we sleep. This is one of the lessons I draw from the choice of wealthy gay businessmen Ian Reisner and Mati Weiderpass to host a benefit recently for Ted Cruz. Two pieces of commentary (among many I've read) that leap out for me, as descriptions of the miles we still have to go in this human rights journey:

Monday, April 27, 2015

Quote for Day: Conservative Evangelicals Resisting Gay Rights Use Bible Today in Very Same Way They Did to Support Segregation in Past

William N. Eskridge, Jr., professor of law at Yale Law School, writing yesterday in the New York Times:

The Finn Story and What Crystallizes Lay Catholic Anger About the Abuse Crisis: A Photo Essay

And — it has to be said — (piggybacking on my first posting today) photos like the following absolutely do not help many of us lay Catholics overcome our anger about how the clerical club persistently finds every way in the world to make excuses for fellow priests abusing minors, and still, even now!, just does not seem to get it, about protecting children from danger as the obvious, indisputable top priority in the abuse crisis:

A Reader Writes: If Karl Barth Was Addressing Fundamentalism in Europe, How Is It Possible to Say that Notions of Biblical Inerrancy Are Grounded in Defense of Slavery?

In response to my posting last week about Fred Clark's response to Emma Green on the connection between the Southern evangelical defense of slavery and the doctrine of biblical inerrancy, Larry Motuz writes

Bishop Robert's Finn's Criminal Conviction, and What Crystallizes the Anger of Lay Catholics About the Abuse Crisis (Hint: It's All About Clericalism)

Here's a letter from the heart I have written (by email) this morning to an e-friend, a very good person, who had emailed me to add to the chorus of those who pointed out that my reference to Bishop Robert Finn several days ago as a convicted felon is not technically correct: Bishop Finn was convicted for a misdemeanor, not a felony. The friend who emailed me about this is ordained, and I cannot help but be struck by the fact that those who have picked at this point are all ordained, all clergymen.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Quote for Day: Mary Hunt on Most Important Takeaway of Vatican Attack on U.S. Nuns — "Women's Equality in the Church Is No Longer Negotiable"

Mary Hunt at Religion Dispatches in a post-mortem statement about the Vatican attack on American nuns:

Quote for Day: Fred Clark on How Doctrine of Biblical Inerrancy and Individualistic Notion of Salvation Stem from White Southern Evangelical Defense of Slavery

Fred Clark thinks that Emma Green's "Southern Baptists and the Sin of Racism" (in The Atlantic) "provides us a sharp image of the Southern Baptist Convention’s long, ugly struggle with what its leaders now at last admit is 'the sin of racism.'" But the image is a mirror image that gets things backwards, vis-a-vis how notions of biblical inerrancy and individual salvation connect to slavery.

Footnote to Story of Laurent Stefanini's Meeting with Pope Francis: I.Media Says Pope Did Not Inform Stefanini He's Unsuitable to Be Ambassador to Vatican

Yesterday, I.Media, a French-language news service based in Rome and specializing in Vatican coverage, published a statement about the meeting of Pope Francis with Laurent Stefanini that corrects (and/or contradicts) coverage of that meeting in other French journals. As I noted yesterday, other media outlets are stating that sources inside the Vatican insist that the pope has informed Stefanini that he's unsuitable for the job of French ambassador to the Vatican because he's gay.

Three More Statements on "Resignation" of Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City: Francis Must Prove He Is Different

Three more statements about the "resignation" of convicted felon* Bishop Robert Finn of St. Joseph-Kansas City, from groups supporting survivors of childhood clerical sexual abuse:

Thursday, April 23, 2015

First Same-Sex Couple Who Married in Alabama: "Being Gay in the South Is Just Being Brave"

An inspiring video from Mae Ryan and Andrea Morales in The Guardian, featuering Shanté Wolf-Sisson and Tori Wolf-Sisson, the first same-sex couple to marry in Alabama. (Thanks to Chris Morley for pointing us to this video in a comment here.)

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: As Pope Francis Informs French Ambassadorial Appointment He's Unacceptable, Papal Nuncio Slated to Speak at NOM Anti-Gay Hate Rally

Here's a two-fer for you — a two-fer of very stinky Catholic birdcage droppings:

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: Jerry Slevin on How "Finn Sacking . . . Points to Serious Trouble after the Chile Revolt for the Pope’s Upcoming Visit to Philly"

Jerry Slevin at Christian Catholicism on how the Finn sacking shows the tenacity of abuse survivor Marie Collins in holding the pope's feet the fire regarding the abuse, the trouble he's in following the revolt in Chile over his appointment of Juan Barros as bishop, and how all of this plays into the staging and messsaging of Pope Francis's visit to the U.S. later in the year:

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "Dear, Dear Pope Francis, Get off the 'Complementary' Band-Wagon Until You . . . Operationally, Administratively, and Theologically Demonstrate 'Equality'"

Dennism502 at National Catholic Reporter responding to an article by Joshua J. McElwee reporting on Pope Francis's continued defense of the "gender complementarity" musings of his predecessors John Paul II and Benedict XVI (men have their place, women have their place, men belong on top, women belong on bottom, bible this, bible that and blahblahblah):

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: Charles Pierce (with Love from Sirach) to the Supreme Catholic Men "Antonin, Anthony, Sam, Clarence, and Big John Down in D.C."

Charles Pierce, writing from his Irish Catholic-flavored shebeen with a reminder of what the bible says, to the Supreme Catholic men "Antonin, Anthony, Sam, Clarence, and Big John down in D.C.":

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "This Whole LCWR Crackdown Was Planned . . . So That People Would Think of the LCWR Orders As Somehow 'Suspect''"

My Facebook friend Mary DuMont Brower responding in my Facebook feed this morning to an article I had linked, by Sarah Posner writing in Al-Jazeera America about the observation of many feminist theologians and advocates for women's rights that Pope Francis has done little to challenge the status quo on matters of gender, and that the conclusion of the LCWR investigation demonstrates this: 

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: Mollie Wilson O'Reilly on Vatican Report on U.S. Nuns — "Very Short on Specifics, Which I Presume Is by Design"

Mollie Wilson O'Reilly at Commonweal on the "final report" that the Vatican released last week, ending its investigation of U.S. nuns for heresy and liberalism ostensibly not representing "the" Catholic tradition faithfully in the U.S. public square and thereby embarrassing the U.S. Catholic bishops as they seek to equate "the" Catholic tradition with support for the Republican party and its 1% handlers:

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "This Is a Big Deal . . . . Until Finn, No American Bishop Had Ever Been Forced from Office" for Cover-Up of Clerical Sex Crimes

David Gibson at Religion News Service on five lessons to be taken from the resignation of Bishop Robert Finn as bishop of St. Joseph-Kansas City: 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Big U.S. Catholic News of Day: Bishop Robert Finn Resigns

And, of course, the big news in the Catholic church in the U.S. today: the convicted felon who was bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Robert Finn, has just resigned. As Laurie Goodstein reports for New York Times,

The Ben Affleck Story: PBS Ignores His Slaveholding Ancestry — Valuable Commentary

Two people with insightful commentary on a recent news story: as Mary Elizabeth Williams notes at Salon and Kali Holloway at Alternet, emails leaked due to the Sony hacking scandal reveal that, when the PBS series "Finding Your Roots" worked on actor Ben Affleck's family tree and discovered that he had a slaveholding ancestor, Affleck insisted that the program not reveal this fact. And PBS apparently complied, or, at least, it did not mention this information in the program it did about Affleck's ancestry.

Quote for Day: Events at McGuffey High School Are a "Reminder That Large-Scale Successes Like Those Expected with Same-Sex Marriage at the Supreme Court . . . Will Not End the Struggle for LGBTQ Acceptance"

J. Bryan Lowder writing at Slate about an "anti-gay day" organized by some students last week at McGuffey High School in Claysville, Pennsylvania, in which it's reported that these students posted bible verses on gay students' lockers, harassed them verbally and physically, and allegedly created a "lynch list" targeting gay students:

Quote for Day: Odd That No One Ever Asks Rubio and Others Employing a States'-Rights Argument about Marriage Equality, Was Loving v. Virginia Wrongly Decided?

In several postings in the past several days, I've zeroed in on the, well, odd tendency of many centrist religious commentators about religious freedom and gay rights to draw a sharp dividing line around the issue of gay rights, and treat it as entirely separate from other struggles of marginalized minority groups for rights. As I stated last week, for instance, though you can find many centrist Catholic commentators arguing that denying goods and services to LGBT folks under the rubric of religion is thinkable and should remain discussable, you don't find these same people defending the practice of denying goods and services to people on racial grounds, while claiming religious warrant for the discrimination.

Ongoing Problems of Addressing Online Bullying and Hate Speech: Kelsey McKinney and the Case of Twitter

At Vox today, Kelsey McKinney takes a look at a new Twitter "upgrade" that will apparently permit Twitter users to message anyone with a Twitter account. In the past, you could only direct-message someone with whom you were a mutual follower. McKinney notes that Twitter users have begged Twitter's managers for years to address the harrassment that is such a routine feature of the Twitter experience for many folks, but have gotten no significant response from those running twitter.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Sodomites and Pansies: An Update to My Posting About Use of These Slur Terms at Catholic Blog Threads Yesterday

An update on the two offensive comments in threads at Commonweal and National Catholic Reporter that I highlighted in a posting here yesterday, one using the term "sodomite" as an anti-gay slur, the other using the term "pansy":

About the Use of Terms Like "Pansy" and "Sodomite" at Responsible Catholic Journals' Websites: Ten Questions We Might Ask

In light of the ongoing determination of responsible Catholic journals (e.g., National Catholic Reporter and Commonweal) to continue permitting people to use slur terms like "pansy" and "sodomite" to refer to gay folks on their blog sites, here are some questions we might ask:

"Pansy" As Defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary

P.S. Here's the definition of "pansy" from the online version of the Merriam-Webster dictionary. See the previous discussion to which this footnote attaches.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: From Sodomites to Pansies, It's Getting Ugly at the Liberal Catholic Blog Sites These Days

What's going on out there, folks? At the start of this month, Wayne Sheridan slings around the term "sodomite" at the Commonweal blog site, and his comment is still standing. Sheridan writes in reply to a comment by Jim McCrea responding to a posting by Andrew Koppelman about religious freedom,

Friday, April 17, 2015

Discussions That Should Be Placed Side by Side: Abuse Survivors Want Juan Barros Removed as Bishop of Osorno, San Francisco Catholics Want Salvatore Cordileone Removed as Archbishop of San Francisco

Two items I've read this morning strike me as a revealing synchronistic fit for one another. The first is Kristine Ward's editorial in today's edition of NSAC (National Survivor Advocates Coalition) News. Kristi is commenting on the recent meeting of Marie Collins, Peter Saunders, and other members of the pope's abuse advisory commission with Cardinal Sean O'Malley, the pope's "fixer." She notes that NSAC members "are appalled that they [the lay members of the abuse advisory commission] are the people who had to initiate the action to speak with the commission chair, Cardinal Sean O'Malley and through him seek to get the attention of Pope Francis."

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: Who Sits High and Who Sits Low (Picture's Worth 1,000 Words)

Gerelyn Hollingsworth, responding to Dominic Preziosi's posting yesterday at Commonweal blog about the Vatican announcement that the investigation of American nuns is over and done with:

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Here's the Ad from Today's San Francisco Chronicle, Asking Pope Francis to Remove Salvatore Cordileone as Archbishop of San Francisco

Here's the ad that appeared in today's San Francisco Chronicle, which I discussed in my first posting today. Thanks to Taku Imagawa for emailing it to me. (See Chris Morley's helpful suggestion below: if you click the link, it takes you to an even bigger and more legible copy of the ad.)

Quick Question for You: Is Anyone Having Disqus Log-In Problems or Other Disqus Problems As You Seek to Comment Here?

A quick Disqus-related question for you: Bilgrimage readers occasionally contact me to tell me they have log-in problems with Disqus when they try to leave comments here. I am very happy to assist any of you who have such problems. Disqus has an active and prompt help desk (at Twitter), and always responds quickly when I report problems like this to Disqus.

Reader Writes: "How Do We Know That the Bigotry and Bullying 'in God's Name' Isn't What 'God' Is All About and What 'God' Wants?"

In a comment this morning responding to my posting yesterday featuring Tom Ehrich's observation that we in the American public square need to have done with the bigotry and bullying done in God's name and giving a very bad name to Christians, ClevelandGirl writes,  

Pharmacist in Georgia Refuses to Fill Doctor-Prescribed Medicine to Complete Miscarriage: Why We Need to Keep Thinking about "Religious Freedom" Legislation

Here's a story that illustrates (for me, at least) why I think it's worthwhile to keep ranting about "religious freedom" laws that allow for-profit businesses to refuse to serve or sell goods to others on grounds of conscience: as Amanda Marcotte reports at Slate, a woman in Georgia, Brittany Cartrett, recently posted on Facebook an account of what happened when her doctor prescribed Misoprostol as she was miscarrying at about five weeks of pregnancy. Cartrett indicates that her doctor wanted her to take this pharmaceutical, which can also cause abortion, to complete the miscarriage.

In News: Calls for Removal of Archbishop Cordileone, Vatican Ends Investigation of Nuns, Pope and Environment, Roe v. Wade and Marriage Equality, Hot Mess with Chilean Bishop

Here's a hodgepodge of news stories (and commentary) about Catholic-themed issues previously discussed on this blog:

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "Picture of Catholic Religious Standing with Micah Clark, Curt Smith and Eric Miller at the Governor's RFRA Signing Ceremony Was Truly 'Cringe-Worthy'"

Michael McAninch of Westfield, Indiana, writing to Indianapolis Star on 11 April

Ten Questions I Might Ask Centrist Religion Journalists Defending Anti-Gay "Religious Freedom" Bills

With a nod to Mary Oliver and her poem "Some Questions You Might Ask," some questions I'd like to ask the centrist religion commentators who keep finding every reason in the world to defend bogus "religious freedom" legislation attacking LGBT people, while they rule those being so attacked out of their centrist conversation and declare them the opposite of what it means to be religious:

Quote for Day: "We Cannot Have One More Election When 'Christian' Becomes a Convenient Shorthand for Bigotry and Bullying Done in God’s Name"

Amidst the dross to be found at Religion News Service (dross churned out, in particular, by a goodly number of centrists most of whom, not coincidentally, have roots in Southern white evangelical churches, and who can't do enough to pander to the hard right while keeping those to the left of center out of their conversations), I recommend this gem by Tom Ehrich: he's commenting on what bears watching as the 2015 campaign gets underway:

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

More Notes on the Vatican's Refusal of the Appointment of the Gay French Ambassador: Who Might Be Doing What to Whom

As I said several days ago when I last spoke about what's being reported re: the French government's appointment of Laurent Stéfanini as ambassador to the Vatican, I don't really like discussions that center on tidbits of gossip traded around in murky corridors of princes' palaces — e.g., in the dark corridors of the Vatican. The whispering, the sordid intrigue, the nastiness, the back-stabbing: if none of this has ever interested me within gay male culture (and there are definitely opaque corners of gay male culture that batten on this kind of activity), why would it interest me in the Vatican?

Monday, April 13, 2015

The "Because Freedom" Argument of (Some) American Catholics Justifying Denial of Goods and Services to LGBT Folks: A Consideration of Moral Parameters

So a man logs into my Facebook page to inform me that he and whatever business he wants to operate have every right in the world to choose to whom to sell or deny goods, to whom to provide or not offer services. This is America. It's a free country. Butt out of my business and my freedom.

Quote for Day: "Religious Freedom Is Being Recodified to Justify Discrimination"

At Truthout, Stephanie Guilloud points out who (in addition to the U.S. Catholic bishops) is promoting the spate of new "religious freedom" laws in state after state today: as she notes, it's not accidental that half of the state-level laws of this sort already on the books are in the South, and it's in the South, Midwest, and Southwest that there's most impetus for more such bills. Guilloud observes that the "religious freedom" bills now being presented to legislatures in state after state are new drafts of old laws crafted in Southern states in the period after integration to justify religion-based discrimination against African-American citizens.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

USCCB Statement on "Religious Freedom" Bills: We Want Private Businesses Declared Persons with Right to Discriminate

The U.S. Catholic bishops are on the defensive about what happened recently in Indiana and Arkansas. Last week, having found themselves very much on the wrong side of the issue and of the cultural movement to support the human rights of LGBT people, they uploaded a statement about the state "religious freedom" bills to the USCCB website. It does not mention either the Indiana or the Arkansas situations, but is clearly addressing what happened in both states.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Quote for Day: "Whenever Established Power Brokers Have Felt Threatened in America's History, They Have Responded by Stirring Up Sexual Fears"

In a very powerful essay, William Barber and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, who have been leaders in North Carolina's "Moral Monday" movement, note how sexual baiting has long been used in the U.S. by established power brokers to deflect challenges to the powerful, when they sense that these challenges are having an effect. Barbar and Wilson-Hartgrove point out that, following the passing of the 14th amendment removing African Americans from the category of three-fifths of a person, the white power structure of the South, led by white preachers, stirred a backlash centered on the idea that black men would become unrestrained beasts raping white women if they were not put back into "their place."

Update, Further Commentary, on Recent Firing of Gay Teachers at Two Catholic High Schools in Midwest

And another brief update to a story I posted yesterday — this one about Matthew Eledge, who was recently fired by Skutt Catholic High School in Omaha after he became engaged to his partner, and Tyler McCubbin, who saw job offer made to him by Dowling Catholic High School in Des Moines revoked because he's gay and engaged to a partner. My posting yesterday linked to Bob Shine's report on these two stories at New Ways Ministry's blog Bondings 2.0, which notes that more than 40 people have lost jobs in Catholic institutions in the U.S. over LGBT issues since 2008.

The Pope's (Apparent) Decision to Freeze Out the Gay French Ambassadorial Appointment: A Brief Update

For those interested in the story of the Vatican's foot-dragging re: approving a French ambassador to the Holy See, about which I wrote yesterday:

Thursday, April 9, 2015

"Who Am I to Judge?" Continues to Have Little Impact as Two More Gay Employees Are Fired by Catholic Schools, and Pope Francis Refuses French Appointment of Gay Ambassador

Pope Francis's question, "Who am I to judge?," continues to appear to have no impact at all on how Catholic institutions keep treating their gay employees: as Bob Shine reports today for New Ways Ministry, news has just broken of the firing of Matthew Eledge, an English teacher at Skutt Catholic High School in Omaha, after he became engaged to his partner Elliot Doughtery, and of the revocation of a job offer made by Dowling Catholic High School in Des Moines to Tyler McCubbin because he's gay and engaged to a partner.

The Anti-Gay "Religious Freedom" Debate and Continued Calls for "Respectful Dialogue": What's at Stake Here?

As I've been noting here for days now, isn't it interesting that, now that the culture appears to be making a decisive turn towards recognizing LGBT people as fully human and according LGBT people the full range of human rights, the Catholic bishops suddenly want "respectful dialogue" about these matters? And about their "religious freedom" attacks on LGBT people? (On the turn now being made by the culture at large, see the results of the Reuters/IPSOS poll released today, showing that 54% of Americans side with the LGBT community in debates about whether "religious freedom" should permit private businesses to discriminate against LGBT people.)

Anti-Gay "Religious Freedom" Arguments: A Collection of Recent Essays Deconstructing the False Memes

A collection of excerpts from recent essays engaging the arguments being pushed right now by anti-gay "religious freedom" activists like the U.S. Catholic bishops and their defenders in the Catholic media and academy: 

Dan Savage on Despising and Discriminating Against Gay People As Quick Path to Cheap Grace

Dan Savage comments on the recent vote in Springfield, Missouri, to repeal an ordinance protecting LGBT citizens from discrimination:

Disreputable Racist Genealogy of Anti-Gay "Religious Liberty" Arguments and Abdication of Pastoral Responsibility by U.S. Catholic Leaders: So Much for Healing the World

Ed Kilgore, who grew up in Georgia and knows whereof he speaks, points out that the current battle over "religious freedom" and the belief-based right to discriminate is déjà vu all over again: we Americans have been here before. We were here during the Civil Rights kerfuffle of the 1950s and 1960s — though anti-gay activists foam at the mouth when one suggests that they're carrying on today, vis-a-vis gay rights, the same gesture of religion-grounded defiance of civil rights for a minority group that energized the political and religious right in the mid-20th century.