Thursday, September 8, 2016

Yesterday, Kate Drumgoole and Father Warren Hall; Today, Father José García: Why I Keep Concluding That Under Pope Francis, It's Not Getting Better

I have to be honest: I don't see things getting better for gay* Catholics in the Catholic institution as it's currently configured. Not under Pope Francis, despite media spin suggesting that he has opened doors to greater inclusion of gay folks in the Catholic community . . . .

I am frankly weary of the pretense. I'm beyond weary of clicking on sites I read daily for news and commentary and finding yet another story of the firing of a Catholic teacher (Kate Drumgoole is the latest), or yet another story of the suspension of a gay priest from ministry (Father Warren Hall is the latest). Nothing has changed under Pope Francis, except that the pig has a new shade of lipstick that may be slightly more fetching.

And today I open my email to find a link to a posting by Bob Shine at the Bondings 2.0 site, noting that a Spanish priest, Father José García of the diocese of Segorbe-Castellón, is facing sanctions after having offered a blessing to a lesbian couple before the couple married civilly. Diocesan officials are denouncing his "grave error."

As Bob Shine notes, Catholic priests freely bless "animals, ships, church vestments, eggs, and so much more," but it's a "grave error" to bless two people in love committing their lives in loving fidelity to each other. What this official Catholic position says about how the Catholic church, at an official level, regards the very humanity of gay* human beings is sickening in the extreme.

I'll agree that there's "grave error" here. I locate the error in an entirely different place than church officials do, however.

It's not getting better under Pope Francis. It's not going to get better. It cannot get better either for gay* folks or for women, because the Catholic church, at an official level, has made a preferential option for heterosexual males — and as Colleen Baker's remark I cited two days ago indicates, this places the Catholic church, at an official level, in the same camp in which Fox News and Donald Trump live and move and have their being.

In that same posting to which I have just pointed you with a link, I also cite Michael Boyle, who notes that the Catholic left — Catholics who lean left politically, but remain committed to supporting the Catholic hierarchy — seeks to resolve the tension between what the church proclaims about welcoming, including, affirming everyone and, in particular, those on the margins of society, and how the church actually treats gay* people, by informing us that only economic marginalization is "real" marginalization. You can find this position articulated all over the place by leading luminaries of the Catholic left in the U.S., from Michael Sean Winters of National Catholic Reporter, to Matthew Boudway of Commonweal and Tony Annett, a regular contributor to Commonweal.

To its shame, Commonweal has refused even to take a public stand in support of the right of gay* human beings to civil marriage — while NCR has, in fact, supported this right publicly. On any given day, however, we who are gay* can open an issue of just about any "liberal" Catholic publication in the U.S. and read that our lives and stories do not count as marginalization and issues of exclusion are being discussed — since our marginalization and exclusion are not "real" in the way that economic marginalization and exclusion are "real."

We can read in many "liberal" Catholic journals on any given day articles which tell us that if we continue to insist that our stories need to be heard by a church professing that marginalization and exclusion are wrong, we're contributing to the liberal-individualistic fragmentation of our culture and of our church. We're told incessantly by leading lights of the Catholic left in the U.S. that our appeal to have our voices heard is all about trying to shame the community in a way that claims false moral superiority for ourselves merely because we've been knocked around by the church — knocking around that we presumably deserve for having refused to play the game right and keep our heads down.

We're being told, ultimately, that we as human beings simply do not count — not only for the leaders of the church, but for many of its leading intellectuals who profess to be all about making the Catholic community a more welcoming and inclusive community for those on the margins of church and society. This is a toxic, deeply harmful message that one can bear only so long before one simply turns away from the community beaming it in one's direction.

When Christian communities inflict active harm on human beings — And what can be more harmful than communicating, over and over again, to a marginalized group of human beings that their very humanity does not count? We'll bless dogs, cats, automobiles, and fields, but not you — they should be avoided as sources of psychic and spiritual harm. 

They should be avoided as sources of "grave error."

* Gay = LGBTQI.

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