Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Paul Ryan, Erik Prince, Steve Bannon: Welcome to the Catholic Table! (People Like Me, Not So Much) — Post-Birthday Reflections

In the Catholic church in the U.S., there's a nice, secure seat at the table for Paul Ryan.

Erik Prince has a wonderfully bedecked place high at the best table of the church.

Steve Bannon has long been invited to belly up to the Catholic table, even to the extent of giving an address to a Vatican conference.

Kellyanne Conway, Mick Mulvaney, Mike Flynn, Sean Spicer? The Trump White House is like a Who's Who of right-wing Irish Catholics who are always welcomed with open arms to the table kept by the U.S. Catholic bishops.

Sam Brownback, Newt Gingrich, Bill Donohue, Austin Ruse — I could go on and on: Welcome. Welcome. Welcome. And welcome!

People like me? Not so welcome.

Unwanted, told our lives do not count, that we have no place in the institution and no right to a livelihood, to healthcare coverage via employment in Catholic institutions, to a place in which to use our talents and exercise our gifts for the good of the community.

Told to move on. Told to vanish. 

No spot for you and those who are like you at our Catholic table — sorry. It's a Catholic table, after all.

These are thoughts I've been mulling over since I turned 67 last week, and which I want to share with you. In fact, I've been thinking about the old gospel song "I'm Going to Sit at the Welcome Table One of These Days," about which I wrote two years ago — here — and was delighted to read Kirstin Shrom-Roads' comment here a day ago telling me she intends to use that meditation and the song itself in a Lenten presentation to her United Methodist Church communion study group, just at the time when that song was running through my own head all over again as I thought about who's welcome at the table of the U.S. Catholic church.

And who's clearly not welcome.

Interesting, isn't it as a statement of what the church believes itself to be all about, especially in the hands of its pastoral, spiritual, moral, and educational leaders? Interesting, isn't it, as an explanation for how about two in three white Catholics placed the current man in the White House, as the bishops have sat by in total silence, taking no responsibility for their complicity (that's spelled C-O-M-P-L-I-C-I-T-Y, your eminences: you're welcome) in this moral tragedy so deeply destructive to our nation and to the world as a whole?

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