Saturday, October 24, 2015

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: Wafers for Repentant Divorced and Remarried Folks, No Wafers for Any Gays in Loving, Committed Relationships

Talk about plain weird. What a snapshot of the Catholic "mind" — that is, of the mentality of some Catholics regarding their fellow human beings who are LGBT — the exchange following this comment by Kate at National Catholic Reporter yesterday is. Kate is responding to Joshua McElwee's report citing Cardinal Oswald Gracias, who says the synod's final recommendations will not include a recommendation for Communion for the divorced and remarried.

Kate writes:

I think if divorced people are sorry and lead a repentant way of life then the Eucharist should be open to them. Those living in homosexual relationships are not turning away from grave sin and are unrepentant and therefore should not partake in the Eucharist.

Define "repentant way of life".

Turning away from what is wrong.

When John then asks what that means in specific for divorced and remarried persons, Kate replies,

I think acknowledging that they broke a promise with God and then vowing never to make that mistake again.

John counters with the observation that Kate is dodging his question. Kate shoots back,

What question am I dodging? It means what I already said. And for the future, choose a woman whom you can devote your life to. Learn from past mistakes and turn toward a more holy life. It really is that simple.

John will have none of the obfuscation, and reiterates in capital letters that Kate is continuing to dodge his question. Kate, who is getting ever testier as John dogs her steps, replies,

Did someone pee in your Cheerios this morning? Read the Cathechism if you need specifics. And stay married and honor your commitment. Are you dense?

To which John responds:

Now you are apparently blaming me for your refusal to answer the question. 
Let me restate. What does "lead a repentant way of life" mean in practice for a divorced person in a second marriage? Please be specific.

And then Kate puts her foot down and indicates that she simply will not reply to John's direct question:

Dude, I've said it. Sorry you aren't able to understand.

After which we learn from a comment Kate makes to someone else in the thread that she's now on her own second marriage. 

To anyone living outside the bizarre, twisting dark corridors of Club Catholic, this conversation probably makes little sense at all. For those who need help unraveling what's going on here, let me offer a tiny bit of hermeneutical assistance. Here's what's going on:

As Kate's opening salvo in the thread states plainly, she's all for communion for the divorced and remarried if they're sorry for their sin and lead a repentant life. But she wants no wafers — not ever — for anyone living in a "homosexual" relationship.

Those folks don't repent. They can't repent. They don't want or intend to repent.

Wafers for me and folks like me, since, as it turns out, I myself am divorced and remarried.

But no wafers for you gay folks who do not lead lives of absolute celibacy forever.

Some of those stepping into John's and Kate's conversation appear to think that Kate is calling for absolute and total celibacy for people who have divorced and remarried, as a precondition to receiving the Eucharist. That's not her point at all. And this is why she dodges John's direct question: she does so because she knows quite well she's imposing a double standard on LGBT folks to which she herself does not adhere.

Her point is, quite plainly, that the sins of heterosexual people like herself are different from the sins of homosexual ones, even when both sets of people have contravened the same moral rules. Click her Disqus username and look at her comments at other sites, and you'll see her clear, demonstrable fixation on letting the gays know that they do not count and are outside the circle of salvation as defined by Catholic teaching.

This is a quintessentially Catholic way of thinking, this suggestion that the moral infractions of LGBT human beings (or their supposed moral infractions) are at a moral level far beyond the infractions of straight human beings, even when both sets of people have violated the same moral norms.

Discussion of the synod in the Catholic media has revolved around claims that the synod is about family for God's sake, so how can it possibly be about the gays? Gays by definition are not family.

Gays by definition are the opposite of what it means to be family and to be Catholic.

The question of communion for the divorced and remarried is a real question, since it has to do with heterosexual people and with family for God's sake. No questions having to do with the gays are legitimate questions for a synod on the family.

All that those upholding the Catholic faith need to do for the gays is to keep reminding them that they are disordered in their natures, that they represent the smoke of Satan in the church, that everything about Club Catholic (which is ipso facto Club Heterosexual) is defined over against them, and that they're going to hell if they choose to enter into loving personal relationships with someone else.


This is truly the best the Catholic church intends, at an official level, to offer to LGBT human beings at this point in history. And as the leaders of the church betray all pastoral sensitivity — or any pastoral obligation at all — to those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered, we who care about these issues and these members of the human community should not expect "liberal" Catholics of the sort who hang out at online Catholic dialogue spaces to understand or support us.

Insofar as they're comfortably ensconced inside Club Catholic, they themselves have bought into the heterosexism which takes for granted that gay issues are outside the scope of Catholic concern, and certainly outside the scope of discussions centered on the family. Insofar as they're comfortable card-carrying members of Club Catholic, who can't and won't see beyond the parochial boundaries of that club, they don't and won't get how outrageously inhumane and cruel it is to impose one set of moral standards on heterosexual people and another on homosexual ones.

Insofar as they're part of Club Catholic, they'll continue to suggest that the question of communion for divorced and remarried people is a real question, an authentic pastoral question, while the question of even minimally humane and just treatment of LGBT people simply counts for nothing at all. Not at a Catholic synod. Certainly not at a Catholic synod about the family.

P.S. Does it strike anyone else as strange that Kate has chosen a male icon for her Disqus profile? What's that about, I wonder?

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