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Posts for September, 2012

Lady Gaga v. Papa Ratzi

Timothy Kincaid

September 24th, 2012

Joseph Ratzinger (you may know him as Pope Benedict XVI) was in France this weekend to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ lobby against the human rights of French gays. (Parisdespaches translated by Google)

“The family is threatened by a conception of human nature that is defective (…) defend the family and life in society is nothing but retrograde prophetic” Benedict XVI stated in particular at this meeting , before recalling that “marriage and family are institutions that must be promoted and defended from every possible misrepresentation of their true nature, since whatever is injurious to them is in fact caused injury to the society itself.”

You know, the usual “gay marriage will destroy society itself” routine.

Meanwhile just your little ol’ average Catholic girl, Stefani Germanotta (you may know her as Lady Gaga) was asked her opinion on the matter. (Pinknews)

Speaking slowly to allow a simultaneous translator to keep up with her, Lady Gaga today told Europe 1 radio: “I think that gay marriage is going to happen. It must. We are not actually equal — humanity — if we are not allowed to freely love one another.”

After being asked on the Pope’s recent comments, Lady Gaga said: “What the Pope thinks of being gay does not matter to the world. It matters to the people who like the Pope and follow the Pope. … It is not a reflection of all religious people.”

That’s actually a pretty smart response. In a nation that is at least nominally Catholic, coming from someone raised Catholic, it’s a reminder that he may have a title but when it comes down to it, this is just some guy and his views only matter if you like or respect him or think he speaks for God.

Priest/Psychologist Apologizes for Blaming Sex Abuse On Victims While Catholic Paper Censors His Offending Remarks

Jim Burroway

August 31st, 2012

On Monday, The National Catholic Register published an interview with popular Catholic speaker and television personality Fr. Benedict Groeschel in which the Capuchin friar blamed much of the Church’s sexual abuse scandals on the young boys themselves. “A lot of the cases, the youngster — 14, 16, 18 — is the seducer,” he told The Register’s interviewer. These were remarkable statements coming from Groeschel, who has a Ph.D in psychology from Columbia University, has taught psychology at several Catholic Universities, and who has counseled priests accused of sexual misconduct as well as provided psychological screening for applicants to Catholic seminaries. On Wednesday, The Register removed Groeschel’s interview from its web site, and sometime late yesterday, replaced it with the following statements from the order that Groeschel founded and from Groeschel himself:

Statement from the Community of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal:

The Community of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal sincerely apologizes for the comments made by Fr. Benedict Groeschel in an interview released August 27 by the National Catholic Register. In that interview, Fr. Benedict made comments that were inappropriate and untrue. A child is never responsible for abuse. Any abuser of a child is always responsible, especially a priest. Sexual abuse of a minor is a terrible crime and should always be treated as such. We are sorry for any pain his comments may have caused. Fr. Benedict has dedicated his life to helping others and these comments were completely out of character. He never intended to excuse abuse or implicate the victims. We hope that these unfortunate statements will not overshadow the great good Fr. Benedict has done in housing countless homeless people, feeding innumerable poor families, and bringing healing, peace and encouragement to so many.

Fr Benedict helped found our community 25 years ago with the hope of bringing the healing peace of Jesus Christ to our wounded world. Our desire has always been to lift-up humanity and never to hurt. About seven years ago Fr. Benedict was struck by a car and was in a coma for over a month. In recent months his health, memory and cognitive ability have been failing. He has been in and out of the hospital. Due to his declining health and inability to care for himself, Fr. Benedict had moved to a location where he could rest and be relieved of his responsibilities. Although these factors do not excuse his comments, they help us understand how such a compassionate man could have said something so wrong, so insensitive, and so out of character. Our prayers are with all those who have been hurt by his comments, especially victims of sexual abuse.

Statement from Fr Benedict:

I apologize for my comments. I did not intend to blame the victim. A priest (or anyone else) who abuses a minor is always wrong and is always responsible. My mind and my way of expressing myself are not as clear as they used to be. I have spent my life trying to help others the best that I could. I deeply regret any harm I have caused to anyone.

The National Catholic Register pulled down its interview with Groeschel and replaced it with statement from Editor in Chief Jeanette R. De Melo, calling the decision to publish the interview “an editorial mistake, for which we sincerely apologize.” It is still unclear exactly what De Mel0 is apologizing for however. Is she apologizing to The Register’s readers? I cannot imagine how that should warrant an apology. It’s the journalistic responsibility of every news organization to not censor the people they interview, which The Register certainly didn’t do (at least not until they chose to pull down the entire interview). As far as The Register is concerned, the interview happened, but readers now don’t get to read it to see what the fuss is about. It seems instead that De Melo is apologizing to Groeschel for publishing his remarks uncensored — or perhaps to EWTN, the Catholic television channel which airs Groeschel’s programs and owns The National Catholic Register.

At any rate, when I wrote yesterday’s post, I could only find an edited, condensed version of Groeschel’s remarks on underage sexual abuse. Late last night, I found his remarks in their full context at the ultra-conservative Renew America web site. Because The National Catholic Register is behaving less like a newspaper and more like a propaganda organ by not allowing its readers to read the original interview alongside Groeschel’s apology and the statement from his order, I am repeating Groeschel’s full remarks below:

[Interviewer]: Part of your work here at Trinity has been working with priests involved in abuse, no?

[Father Groeschel]: A little bit, yes; but you know, in those cases, they have to leave. And some of them profoundly — profoundly — penitential, horrified. People have this picture in their minds of a person planning to — a psychopath. But that’s not the case. Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown, and a youngster comes after him. A lot of the cases, the youngster — 14, 16, 18 — is the seducer.

[Interviewer]: Why would that be?

[Father Greoschel]: Well, it’s not so hard to see — a kid looking for a father and didn’t have his own — and they won’t be planning to get into heavy-duty sex, but almost romantic, embracing, kissing, perhaps sleeping but not having intercourse or anything like that.

It’s an understandable thing, and you know where you find it, among other clergy or important people; you look at teachers, attorneys, judges, social workers. Generally, if they get involved, it’s heterosexually, and if it’s a priest, he leaves and gets married — that’s the usual thing — and gets a dispensation. A lot of priests leave quickly, get civilly married and then apply for the dispensation, which takes about three years.

But there are the relatively rare cases where a priest is involved in a homosexual way with a minor. I think the statistic I read recently in a secular psychology review was about 2%. Would that be true of other clergy? Would it be true of doctors, lawyers, coaches?

Here’s this poor guy — [Penn State football coach Jerry] Sandusky — it went on for years. Interesting: Why didn’t anyone say anything? Apparently, a number of kids knew about it and didn’t break the ice. Well, you know, until recent years, people did not register in their minds that it was a crime. It was a moral failure, scandalous; but they didn’t think of it in terms of legal things.

If you go back 10 or 15 years ago with different sexual difficulties — except for rape or violence — it was very rarely brought as a civil crime. Nobody thought of it that way. Sometimes statutory rape would be — but only if the girl pushed her case. Parents wouldn’t touch it. People backed off, for years, on sexual cases. I’m not sure why.

I think perhaps part of the reason would be an embarrassment, that it brings the case out into the open, and the girl’s name is there, or people will figure out what’s there, or the youngster involved — you know, it’s not put in the paper, but everybody knows; they’re talking about it.

At this point, (when) any priest, any clergyman, any social worker, any teacher, any responsible person in society would become involved in a single sexual act — not necessarily intercourse — they’re done. And I’m inclined to think, on their first offense, they should not go to jail because their intention was not committing a crime.

Bad news for Washington Catholic hierarchy

Timothy Kincaid

August 30th, 2012

The electioneering laws in Washington are fairly strict. No anonymous donations, no secret deals, no hidden signatories, and no bundling.

“Bundling” is where a special interest group will get around donation limitations by collecting checks from individual people and present them together so the recipient knows that they really are all related to a single cause. But bundling also has another purpose, to let special interest groups know just who is a loyal participant and who needs to cough up or lose influence.

And the latest effort by Catholic hierarchy to fund opposition to Washington’s Referendum 74 (which validates the state’s equal marriage law) has been deemed to be bundling. The Church had planned on passing the plate next weekend to collect parishioner dollars to oppose equality. (News Tribune)

The diocese’s chief of staff, Monsignor Robert Siler, said Tuesday that the expected collection was set for Sept. 8-9.

But Lori Anderson, a spokeswoman for the state’s Public Disclosure Commission, said no organization can be an intermediary for a contribution. The church can hand out envelopes at Mass, but a member of Preserve Washington has to be on hand to collect them, or parishioners must send them in individually.

Now I know a thing or two about contributions. And one of the things I know is that when Father Dogma passes the plate and everyone is watching, there’s a lot of social pressure to give, and give generously. But when you take home an envelope, find your checkbook, hunt up that pack of stamps you bought in 2009, address and mail the whole thing off to the campaign office – all out of the sight of Father Dogma and that annoying Thelma who thinks she so holy and always watches to see what you give – the impetus to contribute is significantly lower.

Now it is likely that the campaign will have volunteers at most of the Catholic churches next weekend. But even that isn’t quite the same as presenting your envelope to Father Dogma at the end of services.

And the campaign is counting on this cash. Donations have been sparse.

Catholic Priest/Psychologist: It’s The Kids’ Fault (UPDATED)

Jim Burroway

August 30th, 2012

[UPDATE: When this post was originally written, I didn't have access to the full portion of the interview. The web site Renew America however has the unedited version. I have replaced the original truncated the fuller version. Because the National Catholic Register removed the interview from their web site, I think it is important to preserve it here, particularly since in the broader context, I find his remarks even more shocking.]

Fr. Benedict Groeschel, the 79-year-old founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, is not just a curmudgeonly New Jersey-born and -accented Capuchin monk. He is also a long-time television personality on the Catholic television network EWTN and popular speaker among American Catholicism’s conservative set.

But he’s not just a Franciscan priest, he’s also Dr. Benedict Groeschel, having earned a Ph.D in Psychology from Columbia University back in 1971, when homosexuality was still considered a mental illness by the APA. At the invitation of New York’s Terrence Cardinal Cooke, Groeschel helped to found Courage, the Catholic ex-gay ministry, with Fr. John Harvey in 1980. In 1988, Groeschel wrote The Courage to Be Chaste, a guidebook for living with “same-sex attraction,” and in 1996, he wrote the introduction to Harvey’s Truth about Homosexuality: The Cry of the Faithful and 2007′s Homosexuality and the Catholic Church.  As one of the Church’s acknowledged “experts” on sexuality, Groeschel was called upon by east coast dioceses, including the Boston Archdiocese, to perform psychological screenings to candidates for the priesthood. He has also been called upon to counsel Catholic priests who were accused of sexual improprieties — including those who had sex with minors – with disasterous results. Nevertheless, he was honored in 2011 by the Catholic Psychotherapy Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

I think it’s important to understand all of that before reading what Groeschel told the National Catholic Register this week:

[Interviewer]: Part of your work here at Trinity has been working with priests involved in abuse, no?

[Father Groeschel]: A little bit, yes; but you know, in those cases, they have to leave. And some of them profoundly — profoundly — penitential, horrified. People have this picture in their minds of a person planning to — a psychopath. But that’s not the case. Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown, and a youngster comes after him. A lot of the cases, the youngster — 14, 16, 18 — is the seducer.

[Interviewer]: Why would that be?

[Father Greoschel]: Well, it’s not so hard to see — a kid looking for a father and didn’t have his own — and they won’t be planning to get into heavy-duty sex, but almost romantic, embracing, kissing, perhaps sleeping but not having intercourse or anything like that.

It’s an understandable thing, and you know where you find it, among other clergy or important people; you look at teachers, attorneys, judges, social workers. Generally, if they get involved, it’s heterosexually, and if it’s a priest, he leaves and gets married — that’s the usual thing — and gets a dispensation. A lot of priests leave quickly, get civilly married and then apply for the dispensation, which takes about three years.

But there are the relatively rare cases where a priest is involved in a homosexual way with a minor. I think the statistic I read recently in a secular psychology review was about 2%. Would that be true of other clergy? Would it be true of doctors, lawyers, coaches?

Here’s this poor guy — [Penn State football coach Jerry] Sandusky — it went on for years. Interesting: Why didn’t anyone say anything? Apparently, a number of kids knew about it and didn’t break the ice. Well, you know, until recent years, people did not register in their minds that it was a crime. It was a moral failure, scandalous; but they didn’t think of it in terms of legal things.

If you go back 10 or 15 years ago with different sexual difficulties — except for rape or violence — it was very rarely brought as a civil crime. Nobody thought of it that way. Sometimes statutory rape would be — but only if the girl pushed her case. Parents wouldn’t touch it. People backed off, for years, on sexual cases. I’m not sure why.

I think perhaps part of the reason would be an embarrassment, that it brings the case out into the open, and the girl’s name is there, or people will figure out what’s there, or the youngster involved — you know, it’s not put in the paper, but everybody knows; they’re talking about it.

At this point, (when) any priest, any clergyman, any social worker, any teacher, any responsible person in society would become involved in a single sexual act — not necessarily intercourse — they’re done. And I’m inclined to think, on their first offense, they should not go to jail because their intention was not committing a crime.

The Register yesterday removed the article from its online presence yesterday, but not before Tom Roberts at the other NCR, National Catholic Reporter, got wind of it:

The paper in which the interview appeared – the National Catholic Register – was once owned by the Legion of Christ. Don’t go looking into their files for any truth on the life of the late Marciel Maciel Degollado, founder of the order, at least while the publication was under control of the Legion. It has since been sold – part of the selloff of the order’s assets – to EWTN. …

Certainly Fr. Groeschel knows that Maciel, who lived a variety of lives and was ultimately sanctioned by the Vatican, not only molested his own young seminarians, but had children by at least two women.

The testimony of Maciel’s victims is abundant. His behavior was monstrous, and not because little boys were seducing him. He exemplifies that side of the clerical culture that is both calculating and deceptive – he had many fooled, including a pope – and that is far more the heart of the problem than seductive kids.

Moments ago, the Register’s editor placed the following note at the URL where the interview was originally posted:

Child sexual abuse is never excusable. The editors of the National Catholic Register apologize for publishing without clarification or challenge Father Benedict Groeschel’s comments that seem to suggest that the child is somehow responsible for abuse. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our publication of that comment was an editorial mistake, for which we sincerely apologize. Given Father Benedict’s stellar history over many years, we released his interview without our usual screening and oversight. We have removed the story. We have sought clarification from Father Benedict.

Jeanette R. De Melo
Editor in Chief

But since Groeschel’s unedited comments is now news, why not make them available alongside whatever correction or clarification that he wishes to make? I’m not sure who it is that Ms. De Melo’s sincerely apologizing to: the readers who learned something new about Groeschel, or to one of EWTN’s more popular television personalities himself.

The Pope holds you in contempt

Timothy Kincaid

July 27th, 2012

Pope Benedict the Evil holds you in contempt.

Really, that’s the only explanation. When someone take a step to insult you, exclude you, and show you just how little they value you, it must be out of contempt.

bishop salSan Francisco is known world wide as a city that is not only disproportionately gay in population but also deeply supportive of gay rights. A Pope with a sense of respect for Catholics in the City would have appointed an Archbishop that had a history of compassion for gay people and who could be perceived if not as an ally, at least as being non-antagonistic.

This Pope took a different approach. He appointed the single most anti-gay Catholic in the Country, Father Salvatore Cordileone, the author of Proposition 8. Truly a bigger insult to San Francisco’s Catholics could not be imagined.

While no doubt anti-gays within the church rejoiced, they may want to note that their rejoicing is echoing louder in increasingly empty cathedrals around the world.

Andrew Comiskey To Speak at Catholic Ex-Gay Conference

Jim Burroway

July 19th, 2012

As I mentioned in today’s Daily Agenda, the Catholic ex-gay organization Courage will be holding its annual conference on the campus of Mount St. Mary’s College and Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD. Most of the speakers lined up for the conference are relatively unknown outside of the Catholic/Courage world, but one names stands out: Andrew Comiskey, Executive Director of Desert Stream Ministries, who recently pulled out of the Exodus umbrella. As I noted before, Comiskey appears to be leaning much more toward Catholic theology, which made his theological dispute with Exodus president Alan Chambers rather interesting, to say the least.

Comiskey also split with Exodus over the latter organization’s decision to distance itself from Reparative Therapy, which remains an important component in DSM. While Courage has typically shied away from encouraging members to seek sexual orientation change as a goal, it has nevertheless promoted the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), including a direct link to “NARTH testimonies” under Courage’s “Member Testimonies” web page.

Comiskey will give two talks at the Courage conference. On Friday, he will deliver the evening plenary talk, “Naked Surrender: Coming Home to Our True Sexuality”, and on Saturday he will give a workshop on “Restoring Relational Integrity through the Broken Body of Christ.”

It’s probably not unprecedented for a non-Catholic to give a talk at a Courage Conference, but it’s also hard to image Comiskey being given a platform for either of these two talks unless they are fully in line with Catholic teachings. If it turns out that Comiskey is increasingly finding a home in the Catholic world, it remains to be seen what kinds of strains Comiskey’s theological outlook may induce within Desert Stream’s far-flung ministries or with potential tie-ups with other ex-gay ministries which have recently left Exodus, all of which have deep historic roots in Protestant Evangelicalism.

Update: I had missed this, but as William commented below, Comiskey announced in January that he converted to Catholicism the prior Easter. He should fit in well. In 2010, Comiskey posted an admission on his blog that a staffer at DSM had sexually abused at least one teenager under their care. But instead of publicly apologizing for the appalling transgression or expressing anguish over the teen’s abuse, he lamented his trauma from having been interrogated by police and worrying about liability insurers. And he expressed gratitude that “God spared us” from the humiliation of the story appearing in the newspapers. He’s only been a Catholic for a little over a year, but already he’s qualified to be a Bishop.

Ugandan Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox Bishops Call for Anti-Homosexuality Bill’s Revival

Jim Burroway

June 12th, 2012

Daily Monitor, Uganda’s largest independent newspaper, reported this worrisome call on Sunday:

Top religious leaders from across the country have asked Parliament to speed-up the process of enacting the Anti-Homosexuality law to prevent what they called “an attack on the Bible and the institution of marriage”.

Speaking after their recent annual conference organised by the Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC), an ecumenical body which brings together the Anglican, Catholic and Orthodox churches, the bishops resolved that the parliamentary committee on Gender should be tasked to engage the House on the Bill which is now at committee level.

“We also ask the Education committee to engage the Ministry of Education on the issue of incorporating a topic on human sexuality in the curricula of our schools and institutions of learning,” the resolutions signed by archbishops Henry Luke Orombi, Cyprian Kizito Lwanga and Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga, indicated.

This is a worrying development. Roman Catholic Archbishop Lwanga’s Christmas message of 2009 included his opposition to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. He reiterated that message the following January. He was also a signatory to a multi-faith letter in 2010 which criticized the bill. More than a year later, we learned that prior to the Archbishop’s statements, the Vatican had intervened with its opposition to the bill. This statement now appears to be an about-face on the part of Lwanga.

Meanwhile, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill’s sponsor, M.P. David Bahati, continues to lie about the bill’s provisions:

Among some of the propositions in the Bill was one of death and life sentence for those for those caught engaging in homosexuality for a second time.

However, Mr Bahati said these penalties had since been removed from the Bill.

This is as untrue now as it has been every time Bahati has repeated this lie since the bill’s first introduction in 2009. It was referred to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, where it languished until 2011. When the committee finally reported the bill back onto the House floor in May, 2011 they suggested removing some clauses of the bill while adding of a new clause criminalizing the conduct of same-sex marriages. As for the death penalty provision, the committee recommended a sly change to the bill, removing the explicit language of “suffer(ing) death,” and replacing it with a reference to the penalties provided in an unrelated already existing law. That law however specifies the death penalty. Which means that the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee recommended that the death penalty be retained through stealth. Bahati then went on to claim that the death penalty was removed even though it was still a part of the bill. The Eighth Parliament ended before it could act on the committee’s recommendation.

On February 7, 2012, the original version of the bill, unchanged from when it was first introduced in 2009, was reintroduced into the Ninth Parliament. The bill was again sent to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee. Despite reports to the contrary, the original language specifying the death penalty is still in the bill, and will remain there unless the committee recommends its actual removal and Parliament adopts that recommendation in a floor vote.

So thats why it’s called that

Timothy Kincaid

April 2nd, 2012

From ABC we have this:

A Catholic priest in Northern Ireland has found himself in hot water after he accidentally displayed a series of pornographic gay images during a presentation to parents of children preparing to receive First Holy Communion.

Father Martin McVeigh projected 16 “indecent images of men” on a projector screen during a March 26 PowerPoint presentation to a group of 26 parents at St. Mary’s School in Pomeroy, Ireland, the BBC reports.

Naturally Father McVeigh has no idea where those pictures came from or how they ended up on the memory stick he inserted into the computer. Here we call such a device a flash drive.

Dutch Catholic Church allegedly castrated boys

Timothy Kincaid

March 21st, 2012


Oh dear God.

BBC is reporting a story that is shocking beyond almost anything I can imagine hearing today:

Henk Hethuis, a pupil at a Catholic boarding school, was 18 when he told police in 1956 he was being abused by a Dutch monk. He was castrated on the instructions of Catholic priests, NRC Handelsblad said, and told this would “cure” him of his homosexuality.

The same happened to at least 10 of his schoolmates, the newspaper said.

If this is true, it goes beyond even the most heinous of crimes the Church has committed in the past century. To castrate the victims of their molestation illustrates a depravity that is nearly unfathomable. Truly, this is an evil act and if the Vatican knew of and sanctioned this act, it is an evil organization.

[okay, only 40% of NH Republican caucus voting to repeal marriage runs a close race in the "shocking" category. Wild day today]

The Catholic vote

Timothy Kincaid

March 20th, 2012

Here’s a little factoid that missed my notice: (NYT: Bruni)

Exit polling suggests that [Santorum] lost the Catholic vote to Mitt Romney, a Mormon, by 7 percentage points in Michigan and by 13 in Ohio. These weren’t isolated cases. In primary after primary, more Catholics have gravitated to Romney than to Santorum (or, for that matter, to Newt Gingrich, a Catholic-come-lately who collaborated with his third wife to make a worshipful documentary about Pope John Paul II).

Seems the Catholics in America are just not all that fond of the idea of having the mandates of Rome dictated by a theocratic state. Probably because they are familiar with them.

Who speaks for Jesus?

Timothy Kincaid

March 8th, 2012

Within the more than 2 billion people on the planet who fall under the very diverse umbrella of Christianity, there are a good many voices who claim to speak for the founder of the faith. What Would Jesus Do is not only a trite slogan but a question that many religious leaders seek to answer, often with “exactly what I want to do”.

But sometimes that isn’t a question without an answer. If the gospels reflect the attitudes and theological positions expressed by Jesus, then sometimes it’s really pretty clear what Jesus would do, or say, or expect. Take, for example, this small disagreement between a Methodist minister and the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento.

For decades Francis House in Sacramento has served the needy of the community. The Bee describes them thusly:

Each morning, dozens of poor people line up at Francis House, in Sacramento’s homeless services epicenter on C and 14th streets, for help with basic services such as housing and transportation. Now in its 42nd year, the organization is one of the largest homeless services agencies in the Sacramento region, serving upward of 25,000 people. It has an annual budget of about $500,000.

More than a soup kitchen or homeless shelter, Francis House is partly referral agency for address substance abuse, legal issues, and basic needs and partly an effort to provide the immediate necessities for people to become employable or safe. They do things like provide bus tokens, training in what is expected from employers, and yes get food and shelter to individuals and families in crisis. But, recognizing that while food may address hunger, it cannot change a life, a significant part of their work is counseling.

And though some of this is possible through programs funded by various levels of government, the majority is contributions from individuals and organizations. With three full time employees, three part time, and about 50 volunteers, they try to put their faith into action to change the world for those who most need change. The final paragraph in their Form 990 listing of accomplishments puts it this way:

Through God’s grace and the generous support of our community, we strive to serve the poorest among us, as worthy of His grace and His love regardless of circumstances. As we open our hearts to healing and growth we strive to assist our guests to discover a better life.

(I love the language that sees the necessity for healing and growth in the hearts of those who are not disadvantaged)

The group is not denominationally driven and receives funding from a wide variety of sources, one of which was an annual $7,000 to $10,000 contribution from the Catholic Church. But in December 2010 the director for the past 2 decades died from a heart attack and the new director just doesn’t live up to the Church’s expectations.

You see, before Rev. Faith Whitmore became the executive director, when she was still the senior pastor at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, she expressed her personal views on some issue and her personal views are in disagreement with the declarations of the Vatican.

No, these views were not about liturgy or sacraments. They didn’t address papal infallibility, transubstantiation, or the veneration of Mary. No problem arose about catechism, form of baptism, or even whether each could consider the other a brother or sister in Christ.

But the issues about which Whitmore expressed opinion go to the heart of the differences between where the United Methodist Church and the Roman Catholic Church today: the extent to which each church believes it has a claim on the unquestioning obedience of those around them. Whitmore expressed opinions which “publicly oppose Catholic teaching” and that makes her and Francis house unacceptable. And these teachings, unlike the mystical matters of faith that purported divide denominations, are the matters which define the approach of each.

Within her own denomination, she has been a strong advocate of same-sex marriage. In 2008, during a short period in which gay marriage was legal in California, Whitmore openly defied church law by marrying same-sex couples. She has said publicly that she supports a woman’s right to obtain an abortion.

Gay marriage and abortion. These are the issues with which one MUST conform to Catholic teaching (a position that would disqualify most Catholics). And the difference is not even whether each should be a part of sacrament or even recognized as morally acceptable, the difference is what society can and should demand of its citizens and to whom it should defer.

It should be noted that Whitmore does not hold these views despite her faith. These are not matters of a secular nature, but rather are to her matters of justice and mercy situated at the heart of Christ and his message.

And so here we have two intractable positions, both integral to their faith, both established and bound by what each party believes is the will of God. Each believes that their view is the holy and righteous position.

And I can see how each came to hold their views and why they believe them to be moral. But views are not all we are discussing. And when we look at the priorities chosen and the behaviors resulting from a clenched hold to these views, I cannot see how one of these two parties can see themselves as being ambassadors of Christ.

Because one of these parties has been on a consistent path: if society will not conform to their doctrine, they will not run orphanages. Civil law must follow church law or they will not administer governmental aid programs. And now, if anyone dare differ with their beliefs, they will not feed the hungry or provide counsel for those seeking to reestablish themselves in the working world.

There are many issues on which Christian voices can claim to speak for Christ, but on this one, I’ll let Jesus speak for himself.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

Washington Catholic Bishops demean gay parents

Timothy Kincaid

January 16th, 2012

Arrogance can be blinding. And the arrogance that the Roman Catholic Bishops hold in their perception of their role in society often leads them to make statements that only make sense to those who share their presumptions, prejudices and undying belief that the Catholic Church dictates what is real simply by declaring it so.

And in their blinding arrogance, Bishops in the State of Washington have released a letter that is so disdainful of gay parents, adoptive parents, and those who require help with fertility that I believe it will only serve to further illustrate how ignorant and out-of-touch the Catholic Church has become. Perhaps staying within the realm of religious doctrine their words could be given some respect, but posed as declarations about objective reality and public policy, their advice on the proposed marriage bill is laughable … and disgusting.

Married couples who bring children into the world make particular sacrifices and take on unique risks and obligations for the good of society. For this reason the state has long understood that it has a compelling interest in recognizing and supporting these mothers and fathers through a distinct category of laws. Were the definition of marriage to change, there would be no special laws to support and recognize the irreplaceable contribution that these married couples make to society and to the common good by bringing to life the next generation.

Upholding the present definition of marriage does not depend on anyone’s religious beliefs. Washington State’s present law defining marriage as “a civil contract between a male and a female” is grounded not in faith, but in reason and the experience of society. It recognizes the value of marriage as a bond of personal relationships, but also in terms of the unique and irreplaceable potential of a man and woman to conceive and nurture new life, thus contributing to the continuation of the human race. A change in legislation would mean that the state would no longer recognize the unique sacrifices and contributions made by these couples, thereby adding to the forces already undermining family life today.

You see, heterosexuals make “sacrifices and contributions” that are “unique and irreplaceable”. The rest of you are just slackers.

Those same-sex couples who adopt kids who are past the preferred adoption age – slackers. Those same-sex couples who adopt kids who are born addicted to heroin – slackers. Those same-sex couples who adopt kids who are mixed-race and hard to place – slackers. Those same-sex couples who adopt kids who are infected with HIV or have other special needs – slackers. These same-sex couples who carefully plan to have a family and wait until they can afford to do so without being a burden to anyone else – slackers. Those same-sex couples who step in when heterosexuals abuse and rape and torture their own offspring and who give endless hours of love and attention – there’s no sacrifice or contribution to society there. Nope, just slackers.

And you can ask anyone in adoption services – anyone in child protection – anyone in foster care administration who they turn to when no one else is willing to take a kid. It isn’t the Catholic Church; they care so little for children that they’d close adoption services rather than be seen treating their gay neighbors like themselves. And it’s not just a meme or a stereotype or PR, it’s a simple fact – gay couples take the kids that no one else will take. The damn slackers.

But when little Mary Catherine McPlaidskirt and Michael Joseph Illpullout have their backseat tryst and then rush into a Holy Union before they pop out the 6,988,281,769th human – and immediately get on public assistance – they are making “particular sacrifices” and taking on “unique risks and obligations for the good of society”.

Fortunately, this is not only offensive to gay couples, it’s offensive to those who have friends who are gay or infertile or adopted or who have ever been in a position where they were unable to provide for a child and took the responsible step of seeking a better home. Frankly, it’s insulting to anyone with even a modicum of mental capability.

Keep it up, Catholic Church. You may just reach the place where your opposition is so absurd and spiteful that it is all that is needed to ensure success.

And just when you thought the Catholic Church couldn’t out-crazy itself

Timothy Kincaid

January 9th, 2012

Meeting in Spain under the motto “Christian Family: the hope of Europe”, Catholic leadership revealed some startling discoveries. Startlingly stupid, that is.

From El Pias (and no, this doesn’t appear to be a spoof)

The Spanish Catholic Church is also concerned about homosexuality. During his Boxing Day sermon, the Bishop of Córdoba, Demetrio Fernández, said there was a conspiracy by the United Nations. “The Minister for Family of the Papal Government, Cardinal Antonelli, told me a few days ago in Zaragoza that UNESCO has a program for the next 20 years to make half the world population homosexual. To do this they have distinct programs, and will continue to implant the ideology that is already present in our schools.”

A Christian response to Cardinal George

Timothy Kincaid

December 28th, 2011

A professor at the Chicago Theological Seminary has an unexpected response to Cardinal George’s wacky KKK comparisons. Well, it the seminary is affiliated with the United Church of Christ so it really isn’t all that unexpected. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite has invited the Cardinal to come experience the Pride Parade as her guest – because it would help him be a better Christian leader.

I would like to invite the cardinal because I have become an ally of the LGBTQ community and it has been an incredible spiritual and theological journey for me. I would like to share with him a small part of how important this journey can be for Christian leaders as well as parishioners.

I have learned so much from what a spirituality of truthfulness teaches, and how it can illumine a great deal about the Christian Gospel, as well as about theology, ethics, pastoral care, and worship. Over the years of teaching and learning with gay students, faculty, and staff colleagues, both at the seminary, around the nation and indeed around the world, I have gained from their courage in facing up to a world that is hostile to their very humanity, and challenging churches that claim they are not included in God’s love and care. Despite all the hurtful and harmful religious messages, many LGBT people nevertheless come to know God’s love and affirmation for exactly who they are.

The Cardinal may do well to listen to Thistlewaite, she’s no theological lightweight.

Cardinal George’s self-delusional narcissism

Timothy Kincaid

December 28th, 2011

Have you heard of the Ku Klux Klan? They were that group best known for marching through cities in the forties in order to stifle Catholic worship. Or so Cardinal George seems to think.

In defending his bizarre comparison between the Klan and gay people, George issued the following statement:

The Chicago Gay Pride Parade has been organized and attended for many years without interfering with the worship of God in a Catholic church. When the 2012 Parade organizers announced a time and route change this year, it was apparent that the Parade would interfere with divine worship in a Catholic parish on the new route. When the pastor’s request for reconsideration of the plans was ignored, the organizers invited an obvious comparison to other groups who have historically attempted to stifle the religious freedom of the Catholic Church. One such organization is the Ku Klux Klan which, well into the 1940′s, paraded through American cities not only to interfere with Catholic worship but also to demonstrate that Catholics stand outside of the American consensus. It is not a precedent anyone should want to emulate.

It is terribly wrong and sinful that gays and lesbians have been harassed and subjected to psychological and even physical harm. These tragedies can be addressed, however, without disturbing the organized and orderly public worship of God in a country that claims to be free. I am grateful that all parties concerned resolved this problem by moving the Parade’s start time so as not to conflict with the celebration of Mass that Sunday.

Cardinal George is like a child in his thinking. He is only capable of seeing the world through the prism of his own immediate wants. And Cardinal George believes that as he is a child of God, his Father is very important and very powerful and therefore the Cardinal is entitled to get what he wants. When and how he wants it.

Cardinal George might be more compelling if he were not the spiritual equivalent of Veruca Salt.

A very special Christmas message to you from Cardinal George

Timothy Kincaid

December 22nd, 2011

This year, Chicago’s Catholic Cardinal, Francis George, has a very special Christmas message:

You don’t want the gay liberation movement to morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism.”

When the Fox host pointed out that George’s comparison was “a little strong,” the cardinal stood by his statement.

“It is, but you take a look at the rhetoric,” he continued. “The rhetoric of the Klu Klux Klan, the rhetoric of some of the gay liberation people. Who is the enemy? Who is the enemy? The Catholic Church.”

It’s not the customary “peace, good will toward men” Christmas message, but I’m sure he means it from the very bottom of what functions as his heart.

Priorities and perspectives in Illinois

Timothy Kincaid

November 16th, 2011

The American Family Association has, unintentionally, the most revelatory article on the final cessation of the foster care program of the Catholic Charities of Illinois. Although the Catholic Church had appealed the state’s decision to allow gay couples to be foster parents, time has run out so they are dropping their appeal.

And so they are ceasing their 90 year old program. Because, unlike 90 years ago, the current Catholic Church is unwilling to fund a foster care program out of their own pocket.

But it is two statements within the article that caught my attention:

Now the state will only be dealing with organizations that are willing to hand children over to homosexuals.

There is something about that which is so bald, so unfiltered, that I caught my breath. The implications are astonishing.

This isn’t about “the best environment for children” or “denying a mom or dad” or any of the other catch phrases. Rather, there is a broadly shared assumption that gay people not only would be harmful to children, just by their being gay, but also that there is some nefarious element involved.

To Charlie Butts and Bob Kellogg, the authors of this article, being homosexual is cause not to have access to children. By default. And, like Catholic Charities, they would never “hand children over” to someone like you or me.

One of my themes in writing here, indeed one of BTB’s underlying themes, is to provide a more nuanced perspective on the views, goals, fears, and concerns of those who oppose our political equality. We don’t often use language such as “bigot” or “hater” here. Not only is it not particularly effective, it often isn’t an accurate portrayal of the motivations, thoughts or intent of those being called bigot and hater.

But there is something about that sentence – presented alone as its own paragraph – that is so full of contempt, so full of animus, that I have a hard time finding any motivation that isn’t based in hatred.

But then at the end of the article I read the words of a Catholic man, words which bring me hope and faith. I also found an irony, a sadness, and a recognition that while his church may have their own priorities, he needn’t follow their lead. Oh, I’m sure that AFA didn’t see it – and, indeed, he may not have seen it – but Gary Huelsmann could not have said it better.

Meanwhile, an organization once known as Catholic Social Services of South Illinois has severed its ties with the diocese in order to comply with the state law. Gary Huelsmann, executive director of the agency, recently told LifeSiteNews that it “boiled down to the Catholic Church needing to stay true to its core beliefs and the agency needing to take care for all of the abused, neglected children.”

Catholic Archbishop Warns of “National Conflict” Over Marriage Equality

Jim Burroway

September 23rd, 2011

Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, who heads the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, warned President Barack Obama that his refusal to support a federal ban on same-sex marriage would “precipitate a national conflict between church and state of enormous proportions.” The letter, dated Sept 20, marks a notable escalation in the political rhetoric from the Catholic Church:

Dolan said the bishops are especially upset that the administration and opponents of DOMA are framing their argument as a civil rights issue, which he said equates “opposition to redefining marriage with either intentional or willfully ignorant racial discrimination.”

…“The administration’s failure to change course on this matter will … precipitate a national conflict between church and state of enormous proportions and to the detriment of both institutions,” Dolan warned.

The two-page letter was followed by a three-page analysis from the USCCB’s legal staff that charges the administration with “hostility” to traditional marriage and a “new, more aggressive position” on behalf of gay marriage. In especially strong language, it also argues that the administration treats millions of Americans who oppose gay marriage “as if they were bigots.”

Wikileaks: Vatican Lobbied Against Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Jim Burroway

September 11th, 2011

A leaked U.S. diplomatic cable dated December 15, 2009, reveals that the U.S. Embassy to the Vatican lobbied the Catholic church to oppose the proposed Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill. According to the cable:

Embassy Vatican has actively lobbied Holy See officials to take a stand against pending legislation in Uganda that would criminalize homosexuality and in extreme cases, even punish it with death (reftel). On December 11, after the Ambassador raised USG (U.S. Government) concerns, Cardinal Antonelli Ennio, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, reaffirmed the Church’s position that legal approaches to homosexuality are inappropriate. Antonelli admitted that he had not followed the Uganda controversy closely, but agreed that Catholic bishops there or anywhere should not/not support the criminalization of homosexuality. The Ambassador urged the Cardinal to make sure bishops in Uganda understood this. Embassy poloff followed up with the Cardinal, providing information about the bill and USG concerns about it

On December 8, DCM met with Monsignor Peter Wells, Assessor in the Vatican Secretariat of State’s Section for General Affairs (NSC equivalent) and raised these issues. Monsignor Wells expressed the Vatican’s view that the Church considers homosexuality sinful but does not believe it should be criminalized. Moreover, the Church is opposed to the death penalty.

…The Vatican likely will not want bishops in Uganda to support the criminalization of homosexuality, so Embassy efforts may well translate into Vatican officials communicating with bishops in Uganda to reaffirm the Church teaching that homosexuality is a personal moral decision, which should not be penalized in any way by judicial authorities. The Vatican, however, likely will shy away from instructing the bishops directly to denounce the bill, as bishops everywhere are given a lot of leeway in deciding how to conduct pastoral work in their own dioceses. Embassy Kampala may want to reach out to the Holy See’s Nuncio and to the President of the Ugandan Conference of Catholic Bishops to further underline USG concerns.

On December 10, 2009, the Vatican released a statement which opposing “all grave violations of human rights against homosexual persons,” particularly “the murder and abuse of homosexual persons are to be confronted on all levels, especially when such violence is perpetrated by the State.” The statement didn’t reference Uganda by name, but that last statement was taken as an oblique reference to the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Shortly before Christmas Day that year, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Uganda, Cyprian Lwanga, denounced the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill in his annual Christmas message from Rubaga Cathedral. That message was broadcast over several Ugandan television channels.

See also:
Feb 17, 2011: Wikileaks Posts Cables from US Embassy in Uganda Concerning Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Feb 17, 2011: More Wikileaks Cables on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Sep 10, 2011: Wikileaks: Ugandan First Lady “Ultimately Behind” Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Sep 11: 2011: More On Ugandan First Lady’s Support For Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Sep 11, 2011: Wikileaks: Vatican Lobbied Against Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Sep 12, 2011: Wikileaks on Uganda’s Homosexuality Bill: Museveni “Surprised” and Buturo “Obsessed”
Sep 12, 2011: Ugandan Presidential Aide Confirms Wikileaks Conversation
Sep 23, 2011: Ugandan First Lady Affirms Support For “Kill The Gays” Bill

Yeah, Bishop, be an asshole. That’ll show ‘em

Timothy Kincaid

July 8th, 2011

The Catholic Church is an institution with a reputation that few would wish for. Currently perceived by many as an international pedophile ring and headed up by a man who looks like he was cast for the role of Evil Sorcerer in a cheap Hollywood thriller, the Church’s public image problem has seldom been worse. And in response to this image catastrophe, the Church seems to have collectively agreed upon one course of action: whenever possible be an asshole.

Now this doesn’t seem to me to be the most effective way of regaining the trust and goodwill of the people, but it certainly seems to be what they’ve decided.

You can’t help but wonder who came up with this gem of a strategy: Rather than be known as a caretaker of sacred art, an ancient tradition of spiritual learning, a voice for personal integrity, and an advocate for the downtrodden, make your church’s highest visibility all about denying rights to gays and encouraging the poor to disregard economic realities in deciding family growth.

Oh, and to really prove your point, find those few areas in which you still have public goodwill and be a great big puckered oozing asshole.

If people respect your adoption programs, shut them down and blame gay people. If people see nuns as being selfless and devoted, close the nunnery to pay settlements for pedophile priests. And be sure that your spiritual leaders take actions that make them look like corrupt back-room finagling politicians; Because who doesn’t love a politician?

And at all times be an asshole in the most obnoxious, hostile, arrogant and truly hateful way. If you need a presence on television, why who could be better than Bill Donohue? And if social trends show that society is coming to see same-sex couples in a positive light, then make sure that the public sees you as the primary party seeking to uphold discrimination (and be certain to talk a lot about destroying society and perversion, that will be remembered well).

Ah yes, it’s a brilliant plan.

And right in line with this strategy is the response of the Bishop of Brooklyn to the New York marriage vote: If you voted for marriage equality, then you can’t give to needy children.

I kid you not. (Christian Post)

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio

Joseph Lentol, an assemblyman representing Brooklyn’s 50th district, saw firsthand just how serious the Brooklyn Diocese was. The Catholic legislative assembly member who openly voted for same-sex marriage made a donation to Our Lady of Mt Carmel Parish School. The donation was declined.

Along with the return of his $50 donation, Lentol received a letter from Monsignor Joseph Calise, the church pastor. The letter stated: “Bishop DiMarzio has requested that all gifts received from politicians supporting same-sex marriage legislation be refused.”

Marketing genius, I tell ya. Sheer marketing genius.

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