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A Patronizing “Pastoral Message”

Timothy Kincaid

December 6th, 2008

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, Archbishop of Los Angeles, has issued A pastoral message to homosexual Catholics in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles assuring gay Catholics that they “are cherished members of the Catholic Church, and that we value you as equal and active members of the Body of Christ”.

I know what the Cardinal is trying to say. He just wants gay Catholics to know that this very personal action that he encouraged to harm their life wasn’t personal. It’s not out of some desire to hurt them, you see, it’s just out of Mahony’s absolute certainty about how things should be.

And that while he actively seeks to eliminate any measure of equality for same-sex attracted persons either in society or in the Church, he values them as equal members of the Body of Christ. You’re equal in the eyes of God, you see, but dogma and doctrine require that you be treated as intrinsically disordered, not to be protected from death sentences, and psychologically suspect due to your “deep-seated homosexual tendencies.”

Frankly, there are times that outright animosity is better. At least you know that the Phelpses are thinking about you when they carry signs saying “God Hates Fags”.

But these folks who campaign to change civil law in some way that impacts only gay people and then turn around and claim that it has nothing to do with gays, well they just infuriate me. It’s not that they declare us evil, per se, but rather that they refuse to consider us at all.

Consider the dismissiveness inherent in the Cardinal’s refusal to even recognize that gay couples exist:

As we have come to learn over these past decades, there are many groupings of people residing under one roof across California. Some of these groupings are related family members, while others are companions and friends. There are now 17 rights for such companions and friends specifically included in the State of California’s legal structure.

Having relegated decades-long committed loving relationships to “companions and friends”, and having declared – in a moment of absolute absurdity – that Proposition 8 never “intended, directly or indirectly, to lessen the value and importance of gay and lesbian persons”, the Cardinal arrogantly assigns the ill intention of the perpetrators of this attack on gay family onto the victims.

We are saddened that some people who opposed Proposition 8 have employed hurtful and accusatory language, and even threatening actions, against those who voted for Proposition 8. This is most unfortunate since such strategies obscure the basic matter at issue: the preservation of the ordered relationship between man and woman created by God.

At no point did Mahony acknowledge, much less apologize for, the hurtful and accusatory language of the Yes on 8 Campaign or the threatening actions against those who contributed against it. I guess the extortion letter signed by the Executive Director of the California Catholic Conference was justified by “the basic matter at issue”.

This is not by any reasonable definition a “pastoral message”. There is no recognition of the harm caused. There is no salve for the wounds in his flock. There is not even an admission that this political endeavor had the slightest of negative consequences on gay people.

There is only self-justification, lies about the intent and result of the campaign, and blame assigned to those who disagree with him – including those to whom this letter pretends to be addressed.

I’m not a Catholic so I cannot speak for those who are part of the Church. But were I one of Mahony’s flock, I would find his smarmy patronizing self-congratulatory “message” to be an offense to me, my family, my friends, my God, and all decent people everywhere.

Comments

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KZ
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

Enjoy your victory while you can, Cardinal Mahony. Some day, reason and understanding will trump fear and dogma. Prop 8 DOES NOT preserve or protect traditional marriage.

John
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

Cardinal Mahoney’s letter comes at the same time as the interviews with the SF Archbishop. Most of the attention so far has been on the Mormons who paid for, managed and directed the Prop 8 campaign. I think that top Catholic clerics in CA are trying to take some heat off the Mormons.

It is amazing to me that Cardinal Mahoney even has the guts to show his face in public given his actions with regard to the priest sexual abuse cover ups in LA.

Lindoro
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

Somebody please post his email address. It would be nice for him to know what gay people think of his bigoted ass

Jaft
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

I’m Catholic. I share your disdain, Timothy.

Lindoro
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

This is all I could find. Anymore information on this asshole’s personal email address would be nice:

Archdiocese of Los Angeles
3424 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90010-2202
213 637 7000
info@la-archdiocese.org

Lindoro
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

and here is my letter to the Cardinal:

Roger M. Mahony does not get it does he? After all that time so close to the body of Christ you just do not get it.

You need to know something:

You do not get top work against an entire section of the population and then expect to be treated with dignity. Hypocrite.

You do not get to tell an entire segment of the population that we are not worthy of protection under the law and then just issue some pastoral bullshit and expect that it is all OK. Hypocrite.

You do not get to put your hands on the state’s business and then just issue a little letter saying “don’t hate us, we just could not help ourselves.” Hypocrite.

You do not get to use the bible to abuse, oppress and all out tell people that the law should not protect us and then say, but we cherish you anyway. Hypocrite.

You do not get to use the bible to spread rumors, hate and misinformation and then issue a little letter saying, “it is for your own good”. Hypocrite.

You do not get to issue letter telling anything about what the church thinks because you DO NOT know what the church thinks. The church is the body of God and you have NO IDEA what God thinks. You have spent your entire life protecting child abusers and rapists. You have spent your entire priestly life defiling the body of Christ. Hypocrite.

You do not get to tell what you think are reassuring words to the gay community. You get to take their wrath because that is what you deserve.

You do not get to sit on a throne and expect to be treated with any dignity when you worked so hard to tade people’s dignity away. Hypocrite.

You do not speak for Christ, nor can you speak intelligently for the Holy Spirit because you are not in touch with either. You have no idea what God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit would do because your heart is closed to their influence. You have spent your life pursuing a false Christ and a distorted vision of Jesus and in doing so have closed the doors of your heart and mind to the true church and the true God.

Go back to your hole and go back to worshiping your false god. We do not need you to issue pastoral messages in the name of God.

You are no longer speaking for Him. You are no longer a representative of Him on the earth.

tristram
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

Anyone who has had the stomach to watch “Deliver Us From Evil,” knows that Roger Mahony is on the bottom rung of humanity. Even allowing for the polemical nature of the film, it demonstrates unmistakably (by showing his face and words) that Mahony is the lowest form of human life. Children – innocent boys and girls – were raped so that he could become a cardinal. And this latest bit of theo-sophistry is the same sort of BS he was spouting back then.

Jim Burroway
December 6th, 2008 | LINK

Timothy, I am one Catholic who shares your outrage over Mahoney’s condescending letter. Unfortunately, on so many matters, condescension is just about all that Cardinal Mahoney has to offer. I’m afraid that on so many issues — whether its the place of gays in the church or his own province’s response to the clergy sexual abuse scandals — he’s become quite famous for it.

A few years ago, I toured the new Our Lady Of the Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles — the House that Mahoney built. I thought it was a very fitting metaphor that the massive and imposing structure does not have one single door which opens out into the street. The entire building complex is turned as inward as the province that he has come to represent.

Phil
December 7th, 2008 | LINK

[...]it’s just out of Mahony’s absolute certainty about how things should be.

I agree that Mahony is condescending, bigoted, and, well, wrong. But why call him out on having absolute certainty about how things should be?

That’s what Catholicism is. It’s not a religion based on questioning assumptions. Suggesting that a Catholic Bishop ought not express certainty about the things he’s required to believe is, essentially, suggesting that he not be Catholic.

Which is fine. I happen to think that Catholics should stop being Catholic. But it just seems silly to suggest that Catholics ought to be Catholic on your terms.

Lynn David
December 7th, 2008 | LINK

Comment or request information about a position or statement by Cardinal Mahony or the Archdiocese
Please contact Media Relations at
213 637 7215 or
mediarelations@la-archdiocese.org.

Around and about my 50th birthday I left the Catholic Church which I grew up in, and at the same time I left all churches behind. They’re dinosaurs.

Ryan
December 7th, 2008 | LINK

You can’t be patronizing to someone if they’re not around. Gay Catholics deserves what they get.

Priya Lynn
December 7th, 2008 | LINK

Mahony said “This is most unfortunate since such strategies obscure the basic matter at issue: the preservation of the ordered relationship between man and woman created by God.”.

These sorts of false claims are incredibly annoying. Gay people getting married in no way affects anyone’s ability to preserve the relationship between man and woman as they believe their god created it.

Ben in Oakland
December 7th, 2008 | LINK

Priya: I would add that it merely preserves heterosexual privilege

cd
December 7th, 2008 | LINK

It’s an insult, but the attitude of Catholic orthodox doctrine toward gay people simply is inherently that way.

All there is to say about it is: dinosaurs in our time die out.

Pierre
December 7th, 2008 | LINK

Can you believe the new action to the bishops of California?
I just need to send you and everyone you know this invitation to join in the WHITE CHRISTMAS campaign. It is simply a message to the Catholic Church to stop using underhanded techniques to manipulate their member’s political views, and to respect members for who they are and not how they want them to be. (see at http://www.whitechristmascampaign.citymax.com)

In late June 2008, Catholic parishes around the country announced a new campaign. Its call: to “educate Catholics in politics”! This campaign started immediately, and it was very successful as evidenced by the organization of the campaign to pass of Prop 8, a discrimination amendment to the California constitution which banned marriages between two individuals of the same sex. The Catholic Church, with the Mormon Church, spent over $40M to pass California Prop. 8.

In mass, we were literally asked to pray that marriage be allowed for only a man and a woman. And at a Catholic school by Mountain View, signs advocating Yes on 8 were placed in the school yards for kids and parents to see as kids were picked up.

Is this what church is about?!

This is why you need to know about the White Christmas campaign. This Christmas, the lay members can s end the Catholic Church a clear message to stop using church donation money to support political agendas by holding back their your Christmas donation.

This is how the plan would work:
-1- Withhold your Christmas donation and instead, place in the collection basket an empty white envelope with the words “WHITE CHRISTMAS” on it.
-2- Insert a brief note in the envelope on your reason for this WHITE CHRISTMAS zero offering. For example: The Catholic Church needs not to divide but unite, please stay out of defining marriage, or No to politics in the Church.
That’s it.

This year, please redirect your normal Christmas donation to other non-profit organizations, groups like Doctors-Without-Borders, your local Food Bank, youth education groups, etc. (see listing at http://www.whitechristmascampaign.citymax.com/redirect_donation.html). Many charities need your help especially during these hard economic times. They will truly appreciate your gifts for improving this world with your WHITE CHRISTMAS contribution.

Please visit http://www.whitechristmascampaign.citymax.com and love your church enough to fight for it and reclaim it this Christmas for you and for everyone.

Blessings,
Pierre

NOTES:
- If you haven’t been in church for a while, you can still participate by going to your closest parish on Christmas day to pray for a new start in your Church, and then placing a note in your WHITE CHRISTMAS envelope with the reason you haven’t been attending.
- If you receive direct mail fundraising from the Catholic church, respond with check for $0.00 and a brief explanation for participating in WHITE CHRISTMAS.

El Rose
December 8th, 2008 | LINK

The Cardinal’s job is to preach the Gospel. He is mandated to speak the Truth.

When the Truth conflicts with your behavior, you need to examine your behavior.

CPT_Doom
December 8th, 2008 | LINK

I agree that Mahony is condescending, bigoted, and, well, wrong. But why call him out on having absolute certainty about how things should be?

That’s what Catholicism is. It’s not a religion based on questioning assumptions. Suggesting that a Catholic Bishop ought not express certainty about the things he’s required to believe is, essentially, suggesting that he not be Catholic.

Which is fine. I happen to think that Catholics should stop being Catholic. But it just seems silly to suggest that Catholics ought to be Catholic on your terms.

Phil, it is true that Mahony is required to believe the only valid marrigaes are those that follow that Roman Catholic model, but it is completely warranted to point out Mahony’s hypocrisy on this matter. That is because there are many other types of legal marriage, including the relationship enjoyed by the recent GOP nominee for President, that fail to meet the Roman Catholic ideal, yet Mahony would never support a referendum to take away the marriage rights of divorced people. Mahony is guilty of violating his own religious beliefs by singling out one type of sexual sin as being more worthy of social control than other equally sinful behaviors (people like Tom Brady, who is raising a child with a Babymama).

Not only does Mahony violate the Catholic teaching that all sexual sin (any sex outside of a Roman Catholic marriage) is equally wrong, he and the head of the SF diocese could also have violated their religious belief system by working with the Mormons, a religious sect considered to be a “psuedo-Christian cult” in the Catholic theology. If it is wrong for Catholics to vote for pro-choice politicians, as many Roman Catholic clerics claim, then it must be even worse for a Bishop to legitimize a cult in the way both the LA and SF diocese leaders have done.

Phil
December 8th, 2008 | LINK

CPT_Doom,
I don’t disagree with you, but it sounds like you’re doing exactly what I described: telling this man how he ought to be Catholic on your terms.

Catholicisim isn’t about making sense. It’s not about being logically consistent. It’s not just a faith or a congregation, the way that many Christian churches are. It’s a membership organization with a list of required beliefs a mile long.

Each Catholic, of course, has their own individual conscience. But it seems silly for people outside the faith to try to interpret what Catholics ought to believe. (It’s like pointing out inconsistencies in the beliefs of the Heaven’s Gate cult. A better solution is to _stop_ being a member, not to change the kind of Nikes you wear to meet the magical comet-God.)

Ken R
December 8th, 2008 | LINK

The Cardinal’s job is to preach the Gospel. He is mandated to speak the Truth.

I agree. But the Catholic Church from what I have read over the centuries has lied, tortured, and waged wars all in the name of that “Truth” you believe they espouse El Rose. Man-made doctrines, legalism, and perfectionism has trumped the Grace given freely by God for all believers.

I used to be a faithful practicing Catholic and a defender of the Church. No longer. I have come to realize that the Church is the people of God and not a rigid and self-righteous religious institution.

When the Truth conflicts with your behavior, you need to examine your behavior.

This “Truth” I always hear about is almost laughable. And I’m not ridiculing Christianity at all. Really I am not. I’m a Christian myself. What I am laughing at is that this “Truth” that each Christian denomination claims to hold are so vastly different from one another it boggles my mind when people say “Truth” when they preach to others. They always claim to have “THE TRUTH”.

So I’m always asking people which “Truth”? Catholic Church? Evangelical Christian? Fundamentalist Christian? Whose “Truth”?

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