Monday, September 17, 2018

Once Again: Catholic Journalists Pushing Back Vs. Viganò's False Claims Are Not Pushing Back Vs. His Homophobia — See Austen Ivereigh's Recent Tweet re: Mary Hunt

In my last posting, I shared a Twitter conversation I had several days ago with Catholic Democrats. It was about his claim that there had been "tremendous push back" against the ugly homophobia now surfacing all through Catholic conversation circles following the McCarrick revelations and Viganò's accusations about a "homosexual network" in the church that is responsible for the abuse crisis. 

I challenged Catholic Democrats' claim that "tremendous push back" is taking place against that resurgence of homophobia  in the Catholic world, and he told me that he disagreed, stating,

We've seen a lot of very vocal push back from academics, journalists, etc., at least here on Twitter. 

As my posting about this conversation concludes, I stand by my observation that I'm simply not seeing tremendous pushback to the current wave of homophobia — I'm especially not seeing it among Catholic journalists and academics. And I won't hold my breath as I wait for Catholic "liberals" to create a forum in which we, the constantly defined and voiceless, finally get a chance to speak back to them in our own voices, as they make claims on our behalf that radically impinge on our lives and our connection to the church, but do not invite us into these defining conversations.

There has been a lot of nice talk for years about how this is a "good idea."

It's never followed by action.

And the same old voices — overwhelmingly heterosexual male ones — keep right on speaking shamelessly on behalf of those of us who are queer, as if we're voiceless and too dumb to speak for ourselves, and knocking us back into place the moment we open our mouths and ask to be included in the conversations that define us and our connection to the church. 

Even when leading Catholic journalists and scholars are now pushing back against Viganò's false charges, they are not pushing back against the homophobic hate connected to the Viganò charges. The Catholic commentariat, especially in the journalistic sphere, remains overwhelmingly heterosexual and male (not to mention, white), and remains either oblivious or impervious to the repeated appeal of queer Catholics for a place at the table as Catholic issues are discussed in the Catholic media. 

A case in point: some days back, I shared a tweet from a leading Catholic journalist, Austin Ivereigh. That tweet was pushing back against the claims of Viganò's document about Pope Francis — though not against Viganò's ugly gay-bashing. Even as I shared this tweet, I knew where Austin Ivereigh stands on the issue of including, welcoming, and respecting queer people in the Catholic church. I have, after all, posted about that very matter frequently here, as you can see by clicking Mr. Ivereigh's name in the labels below.

Yesterday, Mr. Ivereigh tweeted the following:

Austen Ivereigh's "catholic" church is not a church for lesbians.

Austen Ivereigh's "catholic" church is not a church for feminists.

Austen Ivereigh's "catholic" church is not a church for queer human beings.

It is a church that deliberately, self-consciously, and cruelly tells all these people that they are second-class citizens, and that the church exists primarily to cater to the needs of heterosexual men like Mr. Ivereigh — and the other heterosexual Catholic media men with whom he talks in an exclusive way on Twitter and in other Catholic conversation spaces.

The fundamental issue here is theological: it is impossible to claim that a church is catholic, that it seeks the inclusion and salvation of everyone, when it behaves in this heterosexist, misogynistic way. Mary Hunt, who is a brilliant theologian with whom I gladly stand in solidarity against the kind of slurs Austen Ivereigh is using to demean and marginalize her, has herself made this point very persuasively in an essay entitled "Keep It Catholic" responding to an attack by National Catholic Reporter writer Michael Sean Winters against Frances Kissling.

Catholic Democrats: the old boys' network of the Catholic media is decidedly not pushing back against the wave of homophobia sweeping through the Catholic church right now, especially in the U.S. That network is doing what it always does: keeping the conversation heterosexist and misogynistic, working overtime to exclude women and queer people — "lesbian feminist[s]," no less! — from "the" Catholic conversation.

This is a serious problem. It should not be glossed over with false claims about tremendous pushback. It should not be ignored. It will not go away when we use those dismissive tactics and when we marginalize mouthy queer people who point out the contradiction between rhetoric and reality. 

This behavior presents a serious theological problem for people seeking to figure out whether they should remain in the Catholic church or leave it. Anyone ignoring the problem, participating in and blessing the exclusions, is part of the problem — a big part of it — that is driving away increasing numbers of Catholics who prefer to look for a church that actually is catholic.

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