Friday, August 5, 2011

Catholics on the campaign against equality

Over and over again, polls tell us that Roman Catholic laity--that is, the people in the pews-- are amongst the most supportive groups when it comes to marriage equality.  But the Roman Catholic hierarchy, that is, the Bishops and up, are amongst the most intense opponents, funneling millions into the anti-marriage campaigns.

Why, in Minnesota, the Archbishop actually suggested that parents reject their children rather than the church.  Yeah, how's that workin' for ya?

And NOM, the most active, yet secretive opponent to equality, is run by conservative Catholics as a front group for Catholic money.

The laity have practiced a sort of don't-ask-don't-tell, managing to ignore this, but stories of denying funerals to parishioners who are gay don't sit well with anyone.

As this excellent piece in ReligionDispatches points out, it's as though being gay is a unique sin.
In their zeal to deny any form of legitimacy to same-sex relationships, the bishops have neglected more urgent pastoral duties. Catholic schools and parishes are closing by the dozen in dioceses across the country, yet somehow the hierarchy and its allies in the Knights of Columbus have found millions of dollars to spend in one state after another opposing marriage equality, or its weaker cousin, the civil union.
Many Catholics, though, still believe in their church as an agent of social justice.
...The Church’s teachings on social justice compelled us to act as advocates for fairness, justice, and individual dignity, that its teachings on politics instructed us to vote for the common good, and that in making moral decisions, we were to follow the promptings of our own well-formed consciences

There are times, it seems, when our hierarchy is so committed to cultivating political power, and deploying our Church’s resources in contemporary culture wars, that they expect us to forget all of this. We won’t..
And then, of course, there's the hypocrisy, such as expelling children of gay parents from Catholic schools.
The archbishop argued that parents must be able to cooperate with Catholic schools in the education of their children, and that those who do not embrace Church doctrine cannot do so.

This was not an argument he employed against Protestants, or non-Christians, or children whose parents had remarried after a divorce. It was employed exclusively against lesbian parents. Because in the theological universe that our bishops are constructing to support their personal biases, there is sin, and then there is gay sin, and gay sin is so much worse.
My wife used to be Roman Catholic--until the day she visited an unfamiliar church prior to Prop8, and a priest spat bile and hatred over homosexuals in a vile screeching sermon. Her many, many supportive RC friends urged her to stay with her regular congregation, to practice Don't Ask Don't Tell with the priest. But how can you have a healthy spiritual life if you can't be honest? My wife left the RC and became an Episcopalian, where she is welcomed as a total person and our marriage is , literally, blessed.

So while it's great that these individual Roman Catholics at REligion Dispatches are calling out the bishops, there's a problem. The Roman Catholic church is not a democracy. The institution is still actively harming gay people, and pouring money into anti-equality efforts. And while individual RC don't agree and don't support that, what are they doing--what can they do-- to stop the abuse?

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