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Friday, November 13, 2009

Thomas Reese SJ/Catholic Charities, gays and DC's poor

Last week I posted about the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. threatening to stop providing services for the homeless in response to a pending DC move to permit gay marriage because because the law might prevent the Church from discriminating against homosexual couples in the area of employee benefits .... Enough of this!.

Today I saw that the story is all over - there's a post at dotCommonweal by Eduardo PeƱalver - Compare and Contrast - and Jesuit Thomas Reese has also commented on it at the Georgetown/On Faith blog - Catholic Charities, gays and DC's poor. Fr. Reese defends the Church's intentions, saying that they don't really mean to hold the poor hostage (I have to wonder about this), and he hopes an exception can be made for the Church to allow it to continue with the charity work (and I disagree with this suggestion), but then he goes on to say ....

So far I have been defending the archdiocese, but in fact I regret that the U.S. Catholic bishops have an obsession with opposing the legalization of gay marriage. This is an issue that at most deserves one letter of opposition from the bishop and then they should let it go. Spending millions of church dollars to oppose gay marriage in California, Massachusetts and Maine was a waste of resources and a case of misplaced priorities.

I have never bought the argument that gay marriage is a threat to families. Legalizing gay marriage is not going to cause millions of people in heterosexual marriages to suddenly decide to leave their spouses for a same-sex partner. It could be argued that gay marriage might help heterosexual marriages. For example, in an apartment building filled with unmarried couples in New York City, the gays who get married may inspire the heterosexuals to do the same thing.

With regards to medical benefits, the real answer is that whether a person gets health care should not depend on their marital status or where they are employed. We should have universal health care for everyone that is not dependent on employers. But in the meantime, can the Catholic Church give health care benefits to gay partners of its employees? The archdiocese says it cannot because gay marriage is against its teachings.

However, remarrying after a divorce is also against Catholic teaching, yet the church gives health care benefits to divorced and remarried couples. No one believes that the church has changed its teaching on divorce. No one will believe that the church has changed its teaching on gay sex if it provides medical benefits to gay couples ......

In Eduardo's post, he points out that even the Mormon Church has recently come out supporting civil rights of gays, and he writes "Good for the Mormons! Shame on us." I agree.


Blogger Mike L said...

I also question the statement that the Church does not mean to hold the poor as hostages. First one has to note that the programs that they say they will have to close are those funded by taxpayer dollars, not money coming from the Church coffers. So those funds could be diverted to other charitable groups, and I understand that the Episcopalians might well be glad to accept it :).

I am willing to bet that if the bill passes, the Church will find some way around the problem that will let them continue to collect money from the government.

I certainly seems that the Church is expressing its moral values in a very selective way to cater to an apparent homophobia that exists in it.

I often hear the clergy preaching that we should not be too strongly attached to material things. I think that perhaps the Church might think about detaching itself from government money and return to more spiritual things.


Mike L

4:50 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Mike,

Yes, I agree with you. Someone in one of the comments to Eduardo's post brought up a similar past situation in San Francisco and the way the then Archbishop of San Francisco, William J. Levada, handled it - The San Francisco Solution at First Things. In a way I find that also disturbing too as it just sidesteps the issue, but ....

5:11 PM  
Blogger freefun0616 said...

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1:35 AM  

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