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Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for October, 2008

Ex-Gay Group Courage Continues to Push Heterosexual Marriage as the Goal

Timothy Kincaid

October 29th, 2008

I have mixed feelings about the Catholic Church’s ex-gay group Courage. On one hand they do make a place for same-sex attracted people who wish to live celebately in accordance with their faith without expectation of miraculous reorientation. They tend not to highly politicize their agenda or publically demean those who don’t “become straight”. And yet, on the other hand, they continue to perpetuate the myth that orientation is maliable.

From an LA Daily News article about how Catholic priests are feeling pressured to comply with the Church’s anti-gay marriage campaign, some light is shed on the attitudes of the Los Angeles branch of Courage:

Harrigan oversees the Los Angeles chapter of the Roman Catholic-based Courage support group, modeled after 12-step recovery programs, for men and women renouncing gay and lesbian lifestyles. If they continue to feel homosexual attraction, members receive help in living celibately.

“In some cases, members finish the program and go on and marry members of the opposite sex and have children,” Harrigan said. “As for the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign, I do hope members of the Catholic Church step up and vote.”

Personally, I think it is the height of irresponsibility to encourage same-sex attracted persons to marry someone of the opposite sex and concieve children. The pressures on any marriage are great, and when one’s primary sexual, emotional, and romantic attraction is naturally directed towards the same sex, the likelihood of long-term success is low. And to bring children into a such a relationship is rash and callous.

To set up marriage and children as an accomplishment, the “finished” stage of “the program”, is cruel. It sets a goal that will be unacheivable for most “stugglers” and which will be disasterous for many, if not most, that reach it.

The Pope’s Anti-Marriage Record

Timothy Kincaid

April 15th, 2008

phome_new_en_02.jpgIn conjunction with the visit of Pope Benedict XVI, anti-gay marriage activist Maggie Gallagher has compiled a listing of the Pope’s rants in opposition to any efforts to provide civil protections to same-sex families.

A new analysis entitled “Pope Benedict XVI on Marriage: A Compendium” [pdf] and published by the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy on the eve of Benedict’s historic U.S. visit, finds that in less than three years of his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI has spoken publicly about marriage on 111 occasions, connecting marriage to such overarching themes as human rights, world peace, and the conversation between faith and reason.

Sadly, rather than revealing an obsession that places opposition to gay equality as more important than scandals within the church, Gallagher sees this as validation of her quest for civil discrimination.

The short pontificate of Benedict XVI is thus already a standing rebuke to those voices of our time who attempt to make us embarrassed about our concern for, and battles over, marriage, family and sexual issues – to those who see in the contemporary marriage debate merely a distraction from more important issues.

But Gallagher is a bright woman. And even she can recognize that Benedict is a bit extreme.

Marriage essential to world peace? This may strike American ears as an oddity.

Ummm, yeah. Ya think?

Scottish Catholic Bishop Spews Homophobia

Timothy Kincaid

March 14th, 2008

A doddering senior level Bishop is convinced that there’s a secret gay “huge and well-orchestrated conspiracy” against Christian values.

Rt. Reverend Joseph Devine, Bishop of Motherwell, said, “Rant rant rant vent drool spittle…”

Well, really I don’t care what he said. I just marveled at the idea that there actually is a Bishop of Motherwell and that his name is Rt. Reverend Joseph Devine. I mean, really, isn’t that the sort of name and title you’d expect of a nefarious churchman in a Shreck movie?

But if you want to know more you can check out the bile that abides in the brain of Father Devine or the response of the non-drooling crowd.

And enjoy your weekend.

The All New and Improved Seven Deadly Sins

Timothy Kincaid

March 12th, 2008

Catholic theology differentiates between venal sins and deadly sins. Venal Sins, your regular old every-day sins may slow up your progress to Heaven, but Deadly Sins will doom you to eternal damnation unless absolved through confession.

As laid out by Pope Gregory some 1,400 years ago, the Seven Deadly Sins were determined to be:


Well now the Catholic Church has decided that greed and wrath were maybe not so deadly after all. The new list of Seven Deadly Sins is:

genetic modification
carrying out experiments on humans
polluting the environment
causing social injustice
causing poverty
becoming obscenely wealthy
taking drugs

Wow, now that is interesting. They didn’t include voting for pro-gay politicians as a deadly sin; I’m surprised.

And I’m especially impressed with “taking drugs”. We know that at the time of Christ and the Disciples that stimulants were a part of the culture. But I guess Christ just forgot to mention it.

But, of course, everything is left to interpretation.

I’m sure the Holy Father doesn’t think that anti-gay policies cause social injustice. And I’m certain that the sin of becoming obscenely wealthy does not include the Church or her officers.

I miss the days when “sin” was something that stood between one’s own personal soul and one’s relationship with the divine. Now “sin” seems to be the failing that one finds in others, especially if it involves social policy.

UPDATE: Or is it a hoax?

So far, I can’t tell. Some newspapers are carrying the story at face value, but it really does seem to be too nutty to be true.

Marriage to Remain Legal in Spain

Timothy Kincaid

March 10th, 2008

One of the standard threats made against any politician that supports gay equality – especially marriage equality – is that the voters will get their revenge at the ballot box.

And after Spain legalized marriage between same-sex couples, the Catholic Church and the more conservative Popular Party vowed to change the law. And the Popular Party sought to make the decision by the Socialist Party’s Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero a campaign issue.

But Zapatero won, with his party picking up additional seats in parliament. The Washington Post credits his social policies:

But voters turned out in force to endorse the progressive social agenda that Zapatero championed in his first term — including new laws on women’s rights, divorce and gay marriage — and returned him to office for another four years.

As the economy in Spain has been crumbling, the Popular Party changed directions mid-stream and sought to reframe the debate as one about fiscal policy. It would appear that their anti-gay posturing had already poisoned their message.

A Gay Priest’s Second Life

Jim Burroway

February 3rd, 2008

In 1997, the U.S. Catholic Conference issued a pastoral message, “Always Your Children,” with statements like “homosexual persons who are living chaste lives should have opportunities to lead and serve the community” and “homosexual orientation cannot be considered sinful, for morality presumes the freedom to choose.” That pastoral message was strongly opposed by conservative Catholics, who felt that these statements amounted to a step towards tacit approval to homosexuality.

But all of that changed after the clerical sex scandals, in which the actions of a very small percentage of priests cast a long shadow of suspicion that all priests felt — especially those who were gay but leading celibate lives. They fell under a particularly harsh microsocope, exemplified by the 2005 Congregation for Catholic Education’s instruction concerning gay men entering holy orders. This instruction, which barred gay men from entering the seminary unless they had “overcome” for at least three years, led to a virtual witch hunt within many seminaries.

One Mesa, Arizona priest, Fr. Leonard Walker, found he couldn’t endure the Church’s growing hostility to homosexuality. During his last year at Queen of Peace parish, he commonly told his friends and fellow priests that he felt like “a a Jew wearing a Nazi uniform.” He wanted to leave quietly in November 2005, but when diocesan officials told him he couldn’t celebrate a final Mass at Queen of Peace and that his health insurance would be cut off immediately, Fr. Walker made his resignation public.

That was more than two years ago. The Mesa-based East Valley Tribune published a follow-up yesterday, reporting that Walker is living quietly in Kingman with his partner and is working as a chaplain at a Mojave County hospice. On leaving the priesthood, Walker says:

“I have no regrets,” he said. “I discovered my integrity, and that is worth everything. Being able to go into (hospice) ministry made all the difference in the world.

“I did not resign the priesthood as some protest or some political stunt to get the church to recognize me as a gay individual,” he said.

But his church “increasingly and aggressively became anti-gay,” he said.

Walker said Church policies needlessly maligned extraordinary priests and led “gay youth and struggling adults” to suffer depression, self-hate and suicidal thoughts. He credits his work at the hospice and the welcoming community in Kingman for helping him work through the grief of leaving a vocation he loved for more than thirty years.

Blame the Altar Boys – They WANTED It!!

Timothy Kincaid

December 28th, 2007

alter.jpgThis one comes in a bit of a circuitous route (via PageOneQ‘s reference to a translation site) so I can’t swear to its accuracy.

However, the Catholic Bishop of the Canary Island of Tenerife seems to think gay folks are bad for society.

“Homosexuality harms society, and we will pay for it,” he said, adding that most homosexuals lived out their sexual leanings as if they were addicts.

No big surprise. The Church under the current Pope seems to be constantly looking for ever more outrageous things to say.

But Bishop Bernardo Alvarez has an all new take on what I assume is his response to the scandals surrounding priests molestating children and the Church covering it up. Usually it’s simply “defend the Church, blame the homosexuals that snuck into the Church.” Alvarez’ position is even more ignoble.

The bishop further stated that there are minors who desired sexual abuse and even sought it out. “If one isn’t careful, they could even provoke it,” Alvarez said. “Sexuality is more complicated than one suspects.”

So now it’s not just the Church that is innocent, it’s also the molesting priests. The ones to blame are those oversexed Lolitas, male or female, that provoked the priests.

Sure there are sexually provocative youth. No question. There are even precocious minors that are sexually active younger than thirteen, Spain’s age of consent. But isn’t it the adult’s job to set appropriate boundaries?

Benedict XVI: Gay Marriage “Obstacle On the Road to Peace”

Jim Burroway

December 12th, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI has issued his Message for the Celebration of World Peace Day, titled “The Human Family, A Community of Peace.” In this traditional January 1 message (issued in advance of 2008), he discusses “the one human family’s” importance for world peace:

6. The social community, if it is to live in peace, is also called to draw inspiration from the values on which the family community is based. This is as true for local communities as it is for national communities; it is also true for the international community itself, for the human family which dwells in that common house which is the earth. [All emphasis in the original]

There is so much to appreciate in this statement:

  • A call for people to treat each other as family (“We do not live alongside one another purely by chance; all of us are progressing along a common path as men and women, and thus as brothers and sisters.”),
  • responsible stewardship of the earth’s energy resources and the environment (“sustainable development capable of ensuring the well-being of all while respecting environmental balance”),
  • the “prudent use of resources and an equitable distribution of wealth,”
  • laws “which would foster true freedom rather than blind caprice, and protect the weak from oppression by the strong,”
  • concerns over wars and conflicts in Africa and the Middle East, and continuing arms races in countries all over the world.

In many ways, it is a beautiful and well-considered document. It’s the sort of document I often appreciated during my Catholic days. Except this time, there’s this that’s buried in the text:

…[E]verything that serves to weaken the family based on the marriage of a man and a woman, everything that directly or indirectly stands in the way of its openness to the responsible acceptance of a new life, everything that obstructs its right to be primarily responsible for the education of its children, constitutes an objective obstacle on the road to peace.

If I were in a flippant mood, I might say that he’s not talking about same-sex marriage because the ability for gays and lesbians to enter into marriages does nothing to weaken anyone else’s family. But of course we all know better; we know exactly what he’s talking about.

Arms races, Conflicting economic interests, dwindling resources, not being able to see each other as brothers and sisters in the “one human family” — these are all serious impediments to world peace, no question about it. And framing these conflicts as disruptions inside the human family is a useful way of looking at things.

But gay marriage? An objective obstacle on the road to peace?

I think Benedict missed another important obstacle to peace: efforts by some world leaders to scapegoat a few members of that one human family for the problems suffered by other members of that family. I’m sure it’s just an oversight. Maybe he’ll pick up that theme for 2009.

Sometimes an Anti-Gay Appointment Makes Sense

Timothy Kincaid

November 6th, 2007

glendon.jpgPresident Bush has named his appointment for Ambassador to the Vatican City, Mary Ann Glendon, an advisor to Mitt Romney’s campaign.

Glendon, 69, is an anti-abortion scholar and an opponent of gay marriage who also has written on the effects of divorce and increased litigation on society. Her 1987 book “Abortion and Divorce in Western Law” was critical of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established a legal right to abortion.

I expect that we will hear from gay and pro-choice advocates that Glendon is not a suitable choice as a representative of America’s values and interests overseas. However, I think her beliefs and values will suit her well.

Glendon’s job will be to work for our country’s foreign interests and I think her positions and her history will cause her input to be well received by the political institution to which she will be our representative.

Glendon was appointed by Pope John Paul II in 1994 to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, a panel that advises the Roman Catholic church on social policy.

Glendon has served as an adviser to the Vatican in several capacities. In 1995, she was the first woman to lead a delegation of the Holy See at the United Nations Women’s Conference in Beijing. She has also served on the Pontifical Council for the Laity and as a consultant to the Pontifical Council on the Family.

Were Glendon being sent to a liberal European country, or even a developing nation, I would be supportive of arguments that she should not be confirmed. And some might claim that a better choice could be found in someone who could serve as a counter-voice to the Vatican’s current virulent attack on the lives of gay men and women around the world.

But for a political representative to the Catholic Church to be truly effective in influencing policy … well, I think an anti-gay appointment might make perfect sense.

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