Friday, July 7, 2017

Jamie Manson's Critique of Father James Martin's Bridge-Building Proposal: "Compassion, Respect and Sensitivity Are Not Enough to Bring about a Truly Just Relationship Between Bishops and LGBT Catholics"

Jamie L. Manson responds to Father James Martin's proposal for a bridge to be built between the LGBTQ community and the Catholic hierarchy, in his book Building a Bridge:

Martin asks the LGBT community to give bishops "the gift of time — time to know each other." But the movement to seek justice for LGBT people in the Catholic Church is nearly as old as the 1969 Stonewall riots. In that time, thousands of LGBT Catholics and their families have held vigils, witnessed outside cathedrals, and written thousands of letters, respectfully and in good faith, to bishops pleading for dialogue. Some of those letters received a dismissive response, many simply went unanswered. 
More than 40 years of struggle should have taught us by now that compassion, respect and sensitivity are not enough to bring about a truly just relationship between bishops and LGBT Catholics. Even with these three virtues in play, bishops still have the power to judge and negatively impact the lives of LGBT Catholics, while operating in secrecy and lying about their own sexualities. And LGBT Catholics are expected to bare their souls to their religious leaders and beg to be heard, while also, ultimately, remaining voiceless and officially condemned by their church.

This is the most incisive (and honest) response to Father Martin's proposal I've yet read. To anyone who wants to retain hope for the future of Catholicism in the U.S., and especially to LGBTQ young folks seeking moorings in a world that is often harsh, I'd advise not reading the thread of comments responding to Jamie Manson's valuable critique. From the tired old hateful right-wing slurs of gay men as sodomites to the tired old right-wing proposal that the Catholic church cannot bless gay unions because it blesses  only procreative heterosexual ones (though it has long married non-procreative heterosexual couples, and everyone knows this), to the equally tired "liberal" claim that people like Jamie Manson are only talking about sociology when the magisterium talks about revelation, the situation in the U.S. Catholic church seems to me hopeless. Hopeless for LGBTQ folks . . . . 

What neither the right-leaning nor the "liberal" Catholic set intends to do — not ever — is engage its own unmerited heterosexual power and privilege, and how it has for a very long time allowed many spokespersons for "the" Catholic position about LGBTQ folks to be cruel, callous, judgmental, and exclusive in their dealings with fellow human beings who happen to be made by God LGBTQ. From either side, the cruelty bespeaks an astonishing lack of moral formation that says something really shocking about what the pastoral leaders of the Catholic church have made of their institution at this point in time.

From adults, one expects more self-awareness. Bottom line. Moral analysis that means anything at all issues from self-awareness, and self-awareness is simply not there, not on display, among many heterosexual Catholics who discuss LGBTQ lives as if LGBTQ folks are not even in the room, and who obviously feel no shame at all about speaking on behalf of people who are not represented in the conversations defining their humanity.

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