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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Cardinal Dolan, James Martin SJ, and the facts

Dolan Says Church Is ‘Caricatured’ as Antigay

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said on Friday that the Roman Catholic Church was being “caricatured as being anti-gay,” even as he lamented the continued expansion of same-sex marriage in the United States and vowed to keep fighting it .... Dolan said the church had been “out-marketed” on the issue of same-sex marriage by Hollywood and by some politicians who have tried to paint the church in a negative light. “We’re pro-marriage, we’re pro-traditional marriage, we’re not anti-anybody,” he said.

Who can he possibly think he's fooling??? As Bryan Cones writes at US Catholic ...

"Out-marketed by Hollywood" is Cardinal Timothy Dolan's diagnosis for why the U.S. bishops have failed to sway hearts and minds on the issue of same-sex marriage, as Hawaii and Illinois become the next states to legalize same-gender nuptials. Who knew "Hollywood" could out-muscle a 70-million member church with equally deep pockets?

"Blame Hollywood" is a tried-and-true tactic for losses on the culture war front, but I think the truth on this one is the personal experience of many Americans, Catholics included, of the same-gender relationships in their own family and social circles. And while Dolan may decry the "anti-gay" label that has been applied by many to the Catholic Church, he may want to check in with his brother bishop in Illinois, who responded to same-gender marriage in Illinois with a firebreathing exorcism, blessedly "performed" mostly in Latin. I think most observers would see that as "anti-gay." .....


No amount of spin by Dolan can change the facts - one need only consult the church's comments, documents, and actions to see where it stands on this issue. In a 2009 article at America magazine, Fr. James Martin SJ reviewed some the many ways in which the church has spoken and acted towards gays and lesbians ....

What Should a Gay Catholic Do?

[...] If you are gay, you cannot:

1.) Enjoy romantic love. At least not the kind of fulfilling love that most people, from their earliest adolescence, anticipate, dream about, hope for, plan about, talk about and pray for. In other cases, celibacy (that is, a lifelong abstinence from sex) is seen as a gift, a calling or a charism in a person's life. Thus, it is not to be enjoined on a person. ("Celibacy is not a matter of compulsion," said then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.) Yet it is enjoined on you. ("Homosexual person are called to chastity," says the Catechism, meaning complete abstinence.) In any event, you cannot enjoy any sort of romantic, physical or sexual relationship.

2.) Marry. The church has been clear, especially of late, in its opposition to same-sex unions. Of course, you can not marry within the church. Nor can you enter into any sort of civil, same-sex unions of any kind. (Such unions are "pseudo-matrimonies," said the Holy Father, that stem from "expressions of an anarchic freedom") They are beyond the pale. This should be clear to any Catholic. One bishop compared the possibility of gays marrying one another to people marrying animals.

3.) Adopt a child. Despite the church's warm approval of adoption, you cannot adopt a needy child. You would do "violence," according to church teaching, to a child if you were to adopt.

4.) Enter a seminary. If you accept the church's teaching on celibacy for gays, and feel a call to enter a seminary or religious order, you cannot--even if you desire the celibate life. The church explicitly forbids men with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" from entering the priesthood. Nor can you hide your sexuality if you wish to enter a seminary.

5.) Work for the church and be open. If you work for the church in any sort of official capacity it is close to impossible to be open about who your identity as a gay man or a lesbian. A gay layman I know who serves an important role in a diocese (and even writes some of his bishop's statements on social justice) has a solid theological education and desires to serve the church, but finds it impossible to be open in the face of the bishop's repeated disparaging remarks about gays. Some laypeople have been fired, or dismissed, for being open. Like this altar server, who lives a chaste life. Or this woman, who worked at a Catholic high school. Or this choir director.

At the same time, if you are a devout Catholic who is attentive both to church teachings and the public pronouncements of church leaders, you will be reminded that you are "objectively disordered," and your sexuality is "a deviation, an irregularity a wound." ....


One might argue that Pope Francis has changed the church's anti-gay stance with his observation "Who am I to judge?" but as the NYT's article cited above notes ...

[Francis] cautioned against succumbing to moral relativism, and on Tuesday endorsed a document written by the bishops of the United States that insists that those with a “homosexual inclination” be held to “objective moral norms,” even if this is perceived as prejudiced.

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