Friday, January 19, 2018

When "Pro-Life" Christianity Becomes Death-Dealing: An Intra-Catholic Twitter Discussion on the Day of March for Life (2)

And there's more: in response to Father James Martin's statement on Twitter yesterday about what it means to be pro-life, a statement I featured in a previous posting to which this one is linked, there's a string of tweets venting bile against LGBTQ people in the name of a "pro-life" ethic. Father Martin's tweet starting this discussion states, 

Being "pro life" means defending the lives of
the unborn 
the sick 
the poor
the homeless
the aged
the mentally challenged
the inmate
the refugee
and the person or people you hate.
Being pro life means reverencing  
all human life.
Because it's all from God.

To which there's a set of replies like the following: 

And then there are these statements in the same thread, which I won't dignify by replicating them on this blog: here, here, here, and here. You're welcome to click these links and read those tweets if  you wish. If you do so, I encourage you then to click on the Twitter page of the folks leaving these comments and see what they've said about other matters, where they stand on many different issues. How they represent Catholic values to the world, as "pro-life" Catholics . . . . It will, I promise you, be an eye-opening experience if you do this.

As I wrote earlier today,  

In the formuation of right-wing evangelicals and right-wing Catholics, the "pro-life" movement has shown a demonic face to the world: while loudly proclaiming itself to be singularly pro-life, it has become, in fact, conspicuously anti-life. It has organized a voting bloc that votes for and empowers people who, as a matter of fact, work against a consistent ethic of respect for life in ways too numerous to count. 
And the world is now in serious peril as a result of all of this death-dealing activity disguised as "pro-life" Christianity.

What about the comments above in response to Father Martin's tweet would make me revise that opinion, I wonder? 

The tweet at the head of the posting is one that James Martin made two days ago. When I read it, I thought of the valuable time I wasted for a number of years trying to stir up conversation among so-called "liberal" Catholics — people who are lay leaders of the U.S. Catholic church in its academies and journalistic sphere — about the kind of open, unabashed anti-LGBTQ hate on full display in the Catholic church in the U.S. on an everyday basis, chronicled in a tiny slice by this single tweet by Father Martin.

I tried engaging in discussions about all of this — tried sounding alarms about what was really happening in the real world to LGBTQ Catholics — in conversation threads at America Magazine, Commonweal, and National Catholic Reporter. At all three Catholic journal sites, I found myself made conspicuously unwelcome by many fellow Catholics, and by moderators of discussions at these sites. At both America and National Catholic Reporter, I found myself bluntly censored, comments I made erased without explanation. I was told that I was making things up. I was treated as a malicious, cracked, unreliable witness to things that simply were not happening in the American Catholic church.

At Commonweal, I was taunted and deliberately misgendered in a discussion in which only two people stood up to defend me. Both of those people were so dismayed at the refusal of other Commonweal regulars to defend me that they stopped posting comments at Commonweal from that time forward. They both contacted me to tell me this.

I was informed — and haughtily so — by a leading lay liturgist that I was imagining that LGBTQ folks are not welcome in many Catholic parishes. Her parish welcomes and has all sorts of openly gay folks in it, she told me — not many months before a lay minister at a parish neighboring hers was removed from his ministerial position because he was openly gay. She and other Commonweal regulars did not want to hear about what queer Catholics experience in Catholic venues. They let me know quite plainly that neither I nor the testimony I had to offer about this was respectable in their eyes.

I was asked by a deacon who was a regular contributor to Commonweal discussions to email him and explain to him why I thought LGBTQ people feel unwelcome in Catholic parishes and institutions. Then when I accepted his invitation to email him and sent a long email pouring out my heart about these matters, the deacon, the Commonweal regular, who had invited me to email him completely ignored my email. He never responded. He never acknowledged that I had accepted his invitation and written to him. He blew me off as if I simply were not there. 

I was treated disdainfully by a leading Catholic professor-commentator who combines expertise in the fields of law and theology, and who has a very iffy track record when it comes to defending the rights of queer human beings. I addressed a comment or two to her in Commonweal discussion threads, addressing her by name as I did so — since these discussions were presumably personal discussions between persons addressing other persons. She ignored each of my attempts to engage her in conversation, even though I had addressed her directly and by her name, except on one occasion, when she replied to me without addressing me by my name and spoke to me as if I were someone beneath contempt and beneath notice — not someone of her pay grade, someone with whom to have a meaningful conversation.

All these people have long had the power to make a real difference in the dynamics Father Martin documents, and have not chosen to do so. These folks have enormous influence in Catholic institutions in the U.S. They could, if they chose, raise their voices to decry homophobic abuse of fellow Catholics who happen to be queer; they could change the course of the U.S. Catholic church if they chose to speak out.

They will not do so. They would like, I suspect, to pretend that they and the "pro-life" Catholicism they defend have had nothing to do with placing the moral monstrosity now in the White House.

But they clearly paved the way for him and for the choice of six in ten white Catholics to vote for him.

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