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Posts for January, 2013

Identifying your (dwindling) opposition

Timothy Kincaid

January 4th, 2013

On NomBlog, the National Organization for Marriage describes a letter issued in opposition to equality as “An extraordinary show of support for true marriage by a wide spectrum of faith communities in Illinois”. But that letter illustrates just how narrow that spectrum has become.

There are a variety of signatories on the bottom, but the logos atop the letter tell the story.

Our denominational opposition in Illinois consists of:

* Catholic Conference of Illinois
* Anglican Church in North America
* The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
* The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago
* The Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod

That may seem like a “wide spectrum” at first glance, and quite diverse, but when you look closer it reveals how few denominations have signed on to oppose civil marriage in the state. Our opponents are the Catholic hierarchy (lay Catholics support equality), Mormons, Muslims, and two Protestant denominations: the churches that left the Episcopal Church when she became pro-gay, and the smaller of the two major Lutheran churches (the other blesses same-sex unions).

It can no longer be said that the battle over civil marriage is between the gay community and people of faith. Far too many in the religious community have either disengaged or defected to our side.

- TK

O Holy Night, the Gays are Ruining Christmas

Timothy Kincaid

December 14th, 2012

On Christmas Eve every year a friend and I go to the same steakhouse for dinner, an old studio hangout with huge steaks and perfect cosmopolitans. A Christmas tree holds place of honor, the pictures on the walls are wrapped like presents, and tables are packed with three or four generations celebrating the holiday.

Sometimes it’s just us and one or two others, sometimes it’s a dozen or more. But one Christmas our crowd was large and one invitee was a rather loud and obnoxious person who we later realized was best not included.

Things like slashed tires and sugar in the gas tank tended to happen to those with whom he disagreed or who he thought had slighted him. But this Christmas Eve we were blissfully unaware. Until he started making comments that were inappropriate in public.

Anywhere. But especially in a family restaurant where there were kids.

Also there, was an equally loud and colorful friend who wasn’t having it. He decided to inform our boisterous friend that he was being inappropriate and should watch what he was saying. They bickered back and forth until the obnoxious one got in the other one’s face, shoved him in the chest, and screamed, “YOU RUIN EVERYTHING!!” before storming out of the restaurant.

It was this event that came to my mind when I read about the Pope’s message of hope and peace this Christmas. In a ceremony for lighting the Vatican Christmas tree as part of the annual celebration of the birth of Christ, His Holiness’ thoughts turned to gays. Of course. (FoxNews)

In comments to a delegation from Italy’s south-central Molise region, which donated the Vatican’s main Christmas tree this year, Benedict said the tree lights that were being turned on at a ceremony early Friday evening represented “divine light.”

“And when in the past they tried to stamp out the light of God to instead turn on illusory and misleading glows, there were seasons of tragic violence against man,” he said.

The Vatican on Friday released the pope’s peace message, in which he called for policymakers to think of themselves as peacemakers in economic and social policy. He warned that abortion and gay marriage were threats to peace.

Laws granting legal status for gay unions, he said, “actually harm and help destabilize marriage” by obscuring its specific nature as a union between man and woman that forms the basis of society.

Now I’m not suggesting that the Pope would put sugar in your gas tank. But he would deny you love in your life. He would take away your rights to civil equality.

And at this time when mankind is reminded of the goals of peace on earth and goodwill to all men, the Pope cannot help but think of you. Because, to the Pope, “YOU RUIN EVERYTHING!!”

……
(and, if you’re wondering, this year we will be just six – none of whom are loud)

Catholic Bishops give grants to Uganda

Timothy Kincaid

November 28th, 2012

And meanwhile, in an entirely 100% coincidental move that has nothing at all whatsoever to do with US concern over the Ugandan Kill the Gays Bill, the Us Catholic Bishops have chosen today to announce new piles of cash being sent to Uganda and her neighbors. (Albany Tribune)

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Subcommittee on the Church in Africa approved 49 grants to 16 episcopal conferences and 4 regional associations of the Church in Africa for a total of $1,226,500. The subcommittee approved the grants during the USCCB’s General Assembly meeting in Baltimore.

Grant to Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania will help implement the Year of Faith and the new evangelization. With the addition of these most recent awards, the subcommittee has given out 109 grants for a total of $2,805,442 in aid this year.

Vatican: we are not losing the marriage battle

Timothy Kincaid

November 9th, 2012

Forget all those election results you saw on Tuesday. Ignore what the legislature is doing in France. And as for Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Canada, and South Africa, they are inconsequential. And the Catholic countries of Portugal, Spain, Argentina and Mexico… oh, please, that’s just silly posturing.

Because none of that matters. The Vatican has declared that it is not losing the marriage battle. (WaPo)

On the contrary, according to an article in L’Osservatore Romano by historian Lucetta Scaraffia, the church has emerged in recent years as the only institution on the global stage that’s capable of resisting the forces that threaten to “break up … human society.”

According to the historian, the church’s fight on moral issues such as gay marriage and abortion has drawn support and “admiration” from many non-Catholics.

Well there you have it. The Vatican is winning. And if you try to argue, we’ll just stick our fingers in our ears and say, “la la la la la, I can’t hear you”!!

The French symbol of anti-equality

Timothy Kincaid

November 7th, 2012

The National Organization for Marriage is joyously reporting that France’s faithful Catholics are in opposition to marriage. And accompanying that article is this rather perplexing photograph:

I have no idea what this guy is doing, but it does raise an interesting question: Why wear neck-to-knee underwear under your skin tight body suit if your junk is going to show anyway?

The Bishop of Peoria offers spiritual guidance during the election season

Timothy Kincaid

November 1st, 2012

The decisions that go into whom to vote for can be difficult and emotional. Often conflicting priorities and perspectives can leave one distraught and troubled. So the Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky, C.S.C. Bishop of Peoria, Illinois, has penned a letter to his flock seeking to provide spiritual guidance at this time of civic duty. Or something like that.

First the Bishop appeals to his pastors to share his guidance

By virtue of your vow of obedience to me as your Bishop, I require that this letter be personally read by each celebrating priest at each Weekend Mass, November 3/4. [emphasis in the original]

And then he begins his letter to those who come to share the ancient and sacred sacrament

Since the foundation of the American Republic and the adoption of the Bill of Rights, I do not think there has ever been a time more threatening to our religious liberty than the present.

And a bit later he provides the congregation with a gentle biblical reminder

Nearly two thousand years ago, after our Savior had been bound, beaten, scourged, mocked, and crowned with thorns, a pagan Roman Procurator displayed Jesus to a hostile crowd by sarcastically declaring: Behold your King. The mob roared back: We have no king but Caesar. Today, Catholic politicians, bureaucrats, and their electoral supporters who callously enable the destruction of innocent human life in the womb also thereby reject Jesus as their Lord.

Now I’m sure many Catholics are troubled by the decisions of the HHS that require Catholic organizations to provide contraception and/or other medical procedures which they believe to be contrary to their moral beliefs. But there are many considerations when one votes and some Catholics may consider other matters to be of more importance.

Does that really mean that they are rejecting Jesus as their Lord? Is there no gray area?

They are objectively guilty of grave sin.

It’s objectively grave sin, you see, just like scourging Jesus.

For those who hope for salvation, no political loyalty can ever take precedence over loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ and to his Gospel of Life. God is not mocked, and as the Bible clearly teaches, after this passing instant of life on earth, God’s great mercy in time will give way to God’s perfect judgment in eternity.

Ah, yes. The good old “vote as I tell you or burn in Hell forever” doctrine.

I think the Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky might have missed his calling. Perhaps a drill sergeant might have been a more fitting career choice.

Follow the Money: Catholic Groups Emerge As Largest Donors In Marriage Battles

Jim Burroway

October 18th, 2012

Simultaneous to Equally Blessed’s report on the Knights of Columbus’ extensive donations against marriage equality since 2005, the Human Rights Campaign released its tabulations of contributions to the four 2012 battleground states in which marriage proposals are on the ballot. According to the HRC’s calculations, the Catholic Church and its affiliate organizations are providing more than half of the funds that have been raised so far against marriage equality in each of the four battleground states.

The major sources of funding include various dioceses and parishes of the Catholic Church itself, the Catholic charitable organization the Knights of Columbus, and the National Organization for Marriage, which has extensive ties to the Catholic hierarchy. The breakdown of Catholic spending against marriage equality in 2012 goes like this:

Minnesota: Of the nearly $1.2 million raised so far, $600,000 has come from the Minnesota Catholic Conference Marriage Defense fund, $135,000 from the Knights of Columbus and its local chapters, $188,200 from Catholic dioceses and parishes across the nation, and $23,000 from NOM. Nearly 78% of Minnesota’s anti-marriage funding has come from Catholic sources.

Maryland: Of the $855,00 raised so far, $250,000 has come from the Knights of Columbus, $400,000 from NOM, and $12,000 from the Maryland Catholic Conference. About 77% of Maryland’s anti-marriage funding has come from Catholic sources.

Washington: Of the 1.6 million raised so far, $675,939 has come from NOM, $250,000 from the Knights of Columbus, another $4,000 from a local Knights chapter, $5,000 from St. Monica Parish. About 58% of Washington’s anti-marriage funding has come from Catholic sources.

Maine: Of the $446,317 raised so far, $263,324 has come from NOM, and $1,135 from the Knights of Columbus. About 59% of Maine’s anti-marriage funding has come from those two sources.

These activities contrast sharply to public opinion polls which show that Roman Catholics increasingly support marriage quality for gays and lesbians. A Public Religion Research Poll in 2011 showed that nearly three quarters of self-identified Roman Catholics support civil recognition of marriage or civil unions, with 64% of weekly churchgoing Catholics holding that same opinion. In 2012, Catholic support for marriage equality has risen noticeably, particularly when the question is framed in terms of civil marriage. When same-sex marriage is defined as a civil marriage “like you get at city hall,” Catholic support for allowing gay couples to marry increases by 28 points, from 43% to 71%. (This large jump is undoubtedly due to the fact that Catholics — divorced Catholics in particular — are very attuned to the distinction between a civil marriage and a church marriage.) This latest data demonstrates a growing divide between lay Catholics and the actions of the Catholic Church and its affiliated institutions.

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.

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