Monday, June 20, 2016

"They Put Us in Closets and Do All They Can to Keep Us There": More on the Catholic Erasure of LGBTQ People from the Narrative About Orlando

And now some more resources that focus specifically on the erasure by top Catholic pastoral leaders of queer people from an act of mass murder of queer people:

Patricia Miller sums up the shameful official can't-say-LGBTQ response of the U.S. Catholic bishops to Orlando at their recent meeting:

The U.S. Catholic bishops met in Huntington Beach, California this week, just days after the Orlando massacre. And despite the fact that the church’s most powerful prelates were all gathered together at a time when the nation is desperate for pastoral leadership to counter the vitriol spewing from Donald Trump and his ilk, this was the official, and only, USCCB statement on the massacre released by conference president Archbishop Joseph Kurtz: 
"Waking up to the unspeakable violence in Orlando reminds us of how precious human life is. Our prayers are with the victims, their families and all those affected by this terrible act. The merciful love of Christ calls us to solidarity with the suffering and to ever greater resolve in protecting the life and dignity of every person."

Kevin McKenna notes the same shameful refusal to acknowledge that this was an anti-LGBTQ hate crime on the part of top pastoral leaders of his Scottish Catholic church: and then he writes, 

A moral and ecclesiastical conundrum exists at the heart of hard-line Catholic attitudes to issues surrounding an individual’s sexual orientation. Those who adhere to such thinking confess that God is omnipotent and omniscient; that He does not make mistakes and that everything He creates is sacred and pleasing to Him. 
God made gay people and so, as He does not make mistakes, presumably their sexual orientation is part of His plan for their lives and is pleasing to Him. Presumably also then, being murdered because of their sexuality is displeasing to Him.

This is, of course, what the top pastoral leaders of the Catholic church do not wish to face: namely, that the logic of their natural law understanding of human sexuality leads to the conclusion that God makes some people LGBTQ. They continue to wish to use their natural law teaching to insist that God makes men naturally "better" than women (and a penis is required for ordination); that the use of contraceptives is immoral; that every act of intercourse must be open to the possibility of conception; that every act of masturbation is gravely sinful; that homosexuality is disordered and homosexual "acts" enact this disorder. (Though, it has to be noted, we hear almost no preaching at all from these Catholic leaders about the large numbers of heterosexual people who live together before marrying in Catholic churches, or about the almost universal use of contraceptives among Catholic married couples.)

It's all non-sense. But it's a tool they wield in order to consolidate their power over others, and they do not wish to relinquish it — even to the extent of saying "gay" or "LGBTQ" when LGBTQ bodies lie on the ground following an act of mass murder of LGBTQ human beings. 

Robert Mickens notes that the intent of Catholic teaching about LGBTQ people (hence, the refusal of top Catholic pastoral leaders even to say LGBTQ when LGBTQ people have been murdered in a mass shooting) is to keep queer human beings closeted: 

The church's official doctrine and the practice of most of its bishops (and too many religious superiors) do exactly what normal people would never do to their prized plants or beloved pets. They put us in closets and do all they can to keep us there. . . . 
The most up-to-date Vatican teaching on homosexuality dates from the pontificate of John Paul II. The then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and his aides at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith drafted it. 
And one of the main practical results and assertions is that LGBT Catholics should keep their homosexuality hidden from others.

And, of course, in that 1986 document, Ratzinger (who later became Pope Benedict XVI) went on to say that, if gay people insist on revealing their sexual orientation to others, it's understandable that people react violently, even if violence is not a desirable way to react. The document blames LGBTQ folks for the violence inflicted on them.

Michael Bayly cites Michael Bernard Kelly's 2007 book, Seduced by Grace: Contemporary Spirituality, Gay Experience and Christian Faith, in which Kelly tells Catholic pastoral leaders,

You cannot repeatedly, and in the name of God, present a group of people as unnatural, disordered, oriented towards evil, depraved, and a danger to society and family, and not expect that violence will break out against them sooner or later. Church leaders must have the moral courage to face the destructive results of teachings they claim are the Word of God. They must also examine their own words.

In a posting today at Commonweal expanding that journal's previous straitened can't-say-LGBTQ treatment of the Orlando atrocity, Lisa Fullam writes,  

In the wake of Orlando, where racist homophobia killed 49 Americans and terrorized millions of LGBTQ people, especially queer people of color, it is time for the Church--the people of God, all of us--to step away from language that fuels distrust and disdain of sexual minorities. It is time for us to exercise positive solidarity with LGBTQ people. As with racism, it is not enough to renounce overtly homophobic acts, but rather we must recognize and stand against the structures of social sin that drive them. As Bishop Lynch observed, the Catholic faith is not innocent on this score. Instead, our churches must be safe places for LGBTQ people (and especially clergy, who are largely silenced about their sexuality) to be "out," and our institutions must be secure places to work. Let's work together on strategies to minimize the carnage, as Rand Cooper argues in his excellent post. At a minimum, let us remember in our prayers and in our liturgies our LGBTQ brothers and sisters who are the victims of the hateful anti-gay rhetoric that too often spirals into deadly assaults. And please--if there is a Pride parade coming up near you, go out and stand with the LGBTQ community. Come and mourn and celebrate, come thumb your nose at the forces of sin and death that only love can overcome. In the wake of this most recent explosion of savage racist homophobia, we must all stand together as children of the same God.

More valuable resources in the same vein are to be found in Bob Shine's latest posting at Bondings 2.0. Bondings is also encouraging people to consider signing a petition by the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics for the Catholic community to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community and to work for inclusion and justice. 

Finally — and not unrelated, since almost all of those murdered recently at the Pulse nightclub were Latinx and therefore had Catholic roots in many cases, I recommend Tim Teeman's discussion of the Latino response to what happeend in Orlando. He notes that Cuban-American (and openly gay) poet Richard Blanco, who read his poem for President Obama at the second inauguration of Mr. Obama, is writing a poem about the Orlando massacre and its effect on the Latino gay community.

Along these lines, I find Leslye Davis's photo in the New York Times today of the double memorial service held in Kissimmee, Florida, on Friday night for Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon and Jean Carlo Mendez-Perez deeply moving — though I would not look at this photo and conclude that it tells us that the Catholic community is a welcoming and safe space for queer people. I'd look at it and conclude, rather, that it speaks of the strength of Catholic faith in a loving, welcoming Christ that is rooted in the experience of Latino Catholic families:

In conclusion, there really is a reason that Americans rank the Catholic church as the religious group most unfriendly to gay people among all religious groups found in the U.S. That reason has been on full display in the past week as top pastoral leaders did everything short of standing on their heads to avoid saying the word "gay" or the acronym "LGBTQ" as they responded to the Orlando massacre.

And as "liberal" Catholics talking at "liberal" Catholic journal and blog sites reinforced the determination of top Catholic pastoral leaders to make queer people invisible even as an act of mass murder of queer people was being discussed . . . . As I say at the end of my previous posting, I honestly do not look for any of this to change anytime soon.

For one thing, many LGBTQ Catholics who continue to connect to the church themselves ignore or mute the voices of those of us who have been driven away by the church, and who often engage Catholic issues and leaders in a critical way that is not welcomed by queer Catholics who remain affiliated with the Catholic church. Many of us who are LGBTQ and alienated from the church find ourselves shut out of discussions of LGBTQ issues and the Catholic church just as decisively by many fellow queer Catholics who remain institutionally affiliated as by church leaders themselves.

Our voices are tagged as hostile, unfriendly, too critical — and one excuse after another is made for the tepid, vapid response of "liberal" Catholics to the queer community, as these Catholic-affiliated queer folks discuss these matters. Ultimately, what has not ever been done and perhaps never will be done is for the Catholic community in the U.S. to build safe spaces in which queer people and non-queer people can encounter each other in the Catholic context, in a way that permits those who are queer to share our stories with the community at large.

Even when those stories contain considerable pain and painful truth about how the Catholic community in the U.S. really deals with queer people outside the elite circles in which many "liberal" Catholics and many LGBTQ Catholics who remain connected to "liberal" iterations of Catholicism in large cities live and move . . . .

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