In his opening address to the fall meeting of the US Bishops, Archbishop Dolan kept linking the Roman Catholic Church with Jesus Christ. While there is a long history of the church as the bride of Christ, the way Dolan uses it seems simplistic. Archbishop Dolan and the US bishops could profit from a good course in missiology.
Missiologists like Fr. John Fuellenbach, SVD who has taught at the Gregorian in Rome and is presently based at an SVD seminary in the Philippines would put the church as bride of Christ in a larger, richer and more pastoral context. Fuellenbach would argue that Jesus proclaimed two essential truths: one is that God is a truly loving, forgiving, and compassionate God; and two that God’s dream for creation is a future expressed in that symbolic phrase, the Kingdom or Reign of God. The church was not Jesus’ main concern rather Jesus was about proclaiming the Kingdom or Reign of God.
I suspect our American bishops led by Archbishop Dolan have so politicized the Roman Catholic Church that they cannot recognize the Kingdom or Reign of God present in the world today even if it was right at their front door. It is no wonder people leave the church in droves because the bishops have not helped in discovering the presence of that reality, the Kingdom or Reign of God. People who live real lives have a better chance of finding and experiencing God than all the bishops and cardinals parading in their capa magnae and hurling shrill edicts on who is in communion or not in communion.
Several years ago I had the opportunity to hear Fr. Fuellenbach speak at a conference on Catholic mission. He told a wonderful story that captures his theology of the Kingdom or Reign of God. He talked about the black robes coming to bring the church and Jesus to the natives in the new world. As the ship with the black robes approached the shores of the new world the black robes began waving to the natives. In turn the natives began to wave back to the black robes on board the ship. Fr. Fuellenbach said that if you looked very closely at the scene on the land with the natives waving, you could see Jesus behind the natives also waving back to at the black robes. Jesus was already there.
Jesus was already there. I fear the US bishops at this time in their present politicized mode have no sense of where Jesus is.
Here is a link to his book, Church: Community for Kingdom, with a review and several comments:
A few years ago I did have the opportunity to meet John Boswell. I think he makes a credible argument that Sergius and Bachaus were gay lovers. At least they were romantic lovers. So for those of us who need heavenly models, let's celebrate this feast of Sts. Sergius and Bachaus for all gay and lesbian, queer, bisexual, and transgendered folks.
It seems to me that the Roman Catholic Church, the Archdiocese of New York, and the Vatican, need to stay out of the business of sex education in the New York Public Schools.
The Roman Catholic Church has lost its credibility in the area of sexuality even as much as they try to show they are making efforts to rehabilitate their image on this issue. With the church’s recent history in the sexual abuse crisis, the church does and should not present itself as the only viable voice on sexuality. I mean, the audacity, when just this week Archbishop Finn of Kansas City, Missouri, is shown to be in non observance of the bishops’ own guidelines regarding priests accused of sexual impropriety with young people, you would think the church would come to these matters with a more deferential and respectful spirit. http://ncronline.org/news/accountability/report-kc-diocese-jeopardized-safety-children
A while back, I began asking myself where a young person might turn for advice on matters of sexuality. Growing up my experience was to trust the church. I have found as I have matured and grown in the experience of my own sexuality that while there might be high ideals in the church’s teaching, the message the church offers is severely limited. I wish the church would realize that. There is much the church could offer in the area of building long, loving relationships. This is even compromised because the church is blind to those kinds of relationships between gay and lesbian couples.
I have to agree that young people need advice on sexually transmitted diseases and how to prevent them. I think young people deserve the full range of knowledge on matters of sexuality.I agree that parents have a role to play. I suspect many times, while that role is important, it is also missing. Most state guidelines allow for offering instruction on the role abstinence can provide. I think this is good. I respect the New York School System for moving ahead even in the face of religious obstinacy and even bigotry to provide young people with a full range of information on matters of sexuality,
This red hat is for Governor Andrew Cuomo for his leadership on the gay marriage legislation in New York State. It is given for his work on a long overdue issue of fairness and justice. It recognizes the continuing struggle for GLBT rights in this country. It is offered by all those gay and lesbian Catholics who have been marginalized by the institutional catholic church in the last generation.
Archbishop Dolan who acts much like an aged parent trying to arrange a suitable partner for his offspring will find himself a relic of a former age. For Dolan the time is long gone, at least in the USA when a parent, usually the father would try to provide a suitable spouse for his child. Finally gay and lesbian people are free to choose to marry the partner they love, not the one daddy would provide.
The archbishop of New York was sounding contrite on the Feast of Corpus Christi after the vote to legalize marriage for gay and lesbian people in New York. He said he loved the people in the gay community and if he ever did anything to offend them, he was deeply sorry. Even as he was speaking these words, members of Dignity were outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York asking for just a word, a conversation, a dialogue with the archbishop and his church. Members of Dignity have been waiting outside this cathedral every year since 1987. For the last twenty-four years gay Catholics, members of Dignity, have asked to have their stories heard by the Catholic Church. Archbishop Dolan if he is really serious about understanding how he may have offended gay and lesbian people might accept the invitation to talk to real live gay and lesbian people about their hopes, their struggles, and their love.
It may be too late for the archbishop. So many people have walked away from the institutional catholic church. Many of those people are gay and lesbian Catholics. In his new book, The Pope’s War, Matthew Fox argues that the hard line of the Vatican under JPII and Benedict for the last thirty years has driven that exodus of many from the church. In its place, some suggest, a new secularism has emerged. The passage of the legislation approving gay marriage in New York State is indicative of the maturing of the secular order. The German theologians said as much in their recent statement when they wrote: “When it comes to acknowledgement of each person’s freedom, maturity, and responsibility, modern society surpasses the church in many respects.” Archbishop Dolan is more suited for medieval or even feudal times. For Governor Cuomo, even if it is something out of another world and another time, he deserves this red cardinal's hat.
Today Gay Pride celebrations reach a climax in New York City with the Pride Parade. June is also a traditional month for weddings. This combination makes the legislative victory for gay marriage in New York so wonderful for the Pride Parade there today.
Friday evening I listened for a long while to a live feed from the Senate debate in Albany regarding gay marriage. One of the best speeches of the evening was the one by Senator Mark Grisanti, a Catholic and a republican. Grisanti talked about his Catholic upbringing and how he struggled with the concept of marriage being between a man and a woman. He added that he was also an attorney and that the more he struggled with this issue and thought about it; he had to conclude that gay and lesbian people had these same rights to marriage that he and his wife had. In an earlier interview with a Buffalo newspaper Grisanti said: "If I take the Catholic out of me, which is hard to do, then absolutely they should have these rights," In the end, reason won out. Here is a link to his speech. Senator Mark Grisanti's Speech for Gay Marriage
I admire the struggle and soul searching of someone like Senator Mark Grisanti. That effort is not something new for gay and lesbian people. We have been doing it for a long time. My hope is that more and more people will embrace that struggle in the honest and respectful way in which Senator Grisanti did. I am confident they will come to a similar conclusion.
Yesterday I attended a wedding in the garden of gay couple. The wedding was between a man and a woman. One of the persons getting married was a staffer for a member of Congress.That member of Congress was there. This congress person has taken strong stands on behalf of gay and lesbian people. The congress person was comfortable in the garden and environment of the gay hosts. So were the two people getting married. This is the second straight wedding that has taken place in that gay garden. I wonder how long it will be before my two gay friends will be able to be married in their own back yard.
While at the reception I was sitting with one of my gay neighbors and he held out his wedding ring. It appears to be just like the one his partner wears. The design is the same except for the diamond. Then he told the story of the diamond. It first belonged to his partner’s grandmother. When his partner was preparing to marry a woman he was dating, he gave her an engagement ring with that diamond. Two weeks before the wedding my friend said his partner realized he could not go through with this wedding. Everything was called off. The engagement ring with the diamond was returned. Now my gay friend wears a ring with that diamond. These two men have been together for almost twenty years.
June is Gay Pride month and a month for weddings. I want to celebrate the victory for gay marriage in New York, not only for the equality it brings but also for the honesty that it allows. The honesty that this new law allows means a person does not need to pretend to be someone he or she is not. Now, at least in New York and several other states, it is possible for two people who really love each other who are gay or lesbian to get married.
Bishop Joseph Sullivan a retired auxiliary bishop of Brooklyn, New York wrote an op ed yesterday for the Buffalo News. In that opinion piece the retired bishop strikes a tone that is so much more pastoral than the bellicose hectoring of New York’s archbishop.
Here are two paragraphs from Bishop Sullivan’s piece in the Buffalo News.
“What you would probably be surprised to learn is that Catholics are among those who increasingly are reaching out pastorally to the LGBT community. A recent study released by the Public Religion Research Institute found that a majority of Catholics believe that job discrimination against gay and lesbian people should be outlawed. By almost 2 to 1, Catholics believe that gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to adopt children.”
“More than a decade ago, the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a graceful message, “Always Our Children,” which reminded us, “For St. Paul love is the greatest of spiritual gifts. St. John considers love to be the most certain sign of God’s presence.” For most Catholics, there can be no statement that better summarizes an attitude of welcoming of our LGBT brothers and sisters than those of Jesus, “love one another as I have loved you.”
The article in America includes these words from Bishop Sullivan.
"Catholics and other religious people who support LGBT rights do so because of their experience of engagement with members of the LGBT community. They are not rebels in their churches, but people who have taken spiritual messages of inclusiveness and welcoming to heart. They are taking the church’s teaching on social justice and applying it to pastoral practice in engaging the LGBT community."
"We see these teachings play out as Catholics across the country engage in prayerful and meaningful dialogues about understanding and embracing the LGBT community. This dialogue is happening amongst faithful families, in student groups on the campuses of Catholic universities, and within church congregations. This dialogue is admittedly difficult, at times, but important."
Back on May 13th. the archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolin, went on a rant condemning the movement toward the recognition of gay marriage in his blog titled "Marriage: The Core of Every Civilization". In his blog the archbishop always uses the word “homosexual” which is offensive and distancing even as he talks of welcome.
When a reporter asked me[Dolin]for a comment, I replied, “They’re right: we do love and respect homosexual people."
There are a few comments that repeat the standard theme of church teaching. Many other comments talk about how marriage has been defined differently over the centuries as well as the fact that marriage was a civil institution before the church got involved.
One commentator even challengs the archbishop to meet with him. He suggests that the archbishop is a coward. I agree.
Over the years the bishops have never tried to engage in a meaningful discussion with the GLBT community. So the bishops, the so called shepherds, remain in their ignorance and can rightfully be called bigots, which seems to offend the archbishop.
That is why I want to call attention to words of Bishop Sullivan. He speaks like a shepherd. He speaks in a way that invites a response and dialogue.
Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton today issued this press release observing International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State Washington, DC May 17, 2011 In every part of the world, men and women are persecuted and attacked because of who they are or whom they love. Homophobia, transphobia and the brutal hostility associated with them are often rooted in a lack of understanding of what it actually means to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). So to combat this terrible scourge and break the cycle of fear and violence, we must work together to improve education and support those who stand up against laws that criminalize love and promote hate. As we mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia this May 17, let us resolve to redouble our efforts. On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am proud to reaffirm our support for LGBT communities at home and abroad, and to call for an end to discrimination and mistreatment of LGBT persons wherever it occurs. Whether by supporting LGBT advocates marching in Belgrade, leading the effort at the United Nations to affirm the human rights of LGBT persons, or condemning a vile law under consideration in Uganda, we are committed to our friends and allies in every region of the world who are fighting for equality and justice. These are not Western concepts; these are universal human rights. Despite these gains and hard work, there is more to do to turn the tide of inequality and discrimination against the LGBT community. If you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, know that the United States stands with you and we are unwavering in our commitment to ending this cycle of hate.
Governor Scott Walker, son of a baptist preacher and born in right wing, conservative Colorado Springs, CO probably thinks this is godly. In Secretary Clinton's words, Walker's actions reflect someone out of touch and lacking understanding of what it means to be gay or lesbian. Walker is trying to criminalize love. This is simply bullying by another name. Secretary Clinton calls it "brutal hostility".
I hope actions like Walker's represent some of the last vestiges of the take over of the republican party by the religious right.
This morning a small group of Catholics gathered in the chapel of the house where I live. I suggested we could write our own beatitudes. I shared this version with them from another time, April 1995. It was from the second national gathering of gay and lesbian clergy and religious who met in northern Kentucky.
The Word of the Lord spoken to the CMI assembly gathered in Kentucky in April 1995: Blessed are they who stand naked and shame free
before God and one another.
Blessed are they who celebrate the rich diversity of all people
as spiritual & sexual beings.
Blessed are they who honor the sacredness of sexuality
& the inherent need for intimacy.
Blessed are they who value and celebrate all life giving relationships
& harmony with all creation.
Amen, Amen I say to you:
Listen to, acknowledge and respect your own
And each others's experience and wisdom.
Amen, Amen I say to you:
Strive with all your heart to live lives
of emotional honesty.
Amen, Amen I say to you:
Seek out & listen to the stranger within yourself
& to the stranger in your midst.
Amen, Amen I say to you you:
Be the embodiment of Christ in the world
whose table included all ---
even his betrayer.