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Posts for September, 2011

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.

Oh that klassy klassy Catholic parish

Timothy Kincaid

June 28th, 2011

File this under “you have got to be kidding me” (San Diego 10News.com)

Local businessman and devout Catholic John Sanfilippo died last week after struggling with emphysema. Friends said Sanfilippo planned for the funeral mass to be held at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church in Little Italy, where Sanfilippo had attended for decades. Friends said he even left the church a large sum of money in his will.

This past weekend, Sanfilippo’s partner of 28 years and Sanfilippo’s family were notified that the church canceled the funeral because Sanfilippo was gay.

The Diocese reversed the parish’s decision, but the family is no longer interested in having the service take place there. I hope that they challenge that provision of the will.

NY Daily News’ wide-eyed expose of NOM

Timothy Kincaid

June 14th, 2011

Okay, it’s a little breathless. And, yeah, it could probably be classified as “liberal media bias”. (NY Daily News)

A shadowy group run by religious fundamentalists is bankrolling a pitched crusade against same-sex marriage in New York.

Secretive and flush with cash, the National Organization for Marriage is igniting a culture war as it battles Gov. Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg in their campaign to legalize gay wedlock.

But that is the way that thePost writes and, well, it’s the facts ma’am. As ooky-spooky nefarious as it sounds, they’re spot-on:

“They came into the state with a big splash,” said civil rights lawyer Evan Wolfson, president of Chelsea-based Freedom to Marry. “They’re basically just a shell group that exists to funnel money into anti-gay causes from a small set of secret donors.”

Some day we will know exactly which super-rich Catholics are using NOM as an intermediary in their effort to finance the institutionalization of Catholic Doctrine into civil law. But in the meantime, New Yorkers need to know the truth about NOM and their purpose. Even if it is a bit over the top in style.

[Ugh.... No, this was not a NY Post article. It's the Daily News]

But ‘freedom of religion’ means that you have to give me taxpayer money!!

Timothy Kincaid

May 27th, 2011

The State of Illinois has changes the way in which it wants one of its programs to operate. One of their contractors doesn’t think that it can operate under the new rules, and so it is not going to apply for further contracts with the state. The policy change is that same-sex couples cannot be excluded from consideration by state-funded adoption agencies, and the contractor is the Rockford Diocese of the Catholic Church.

Yeah, they made good on their threat. And, of course, they are whining and moaning that their “moral stance” actually cost them anything. They seem to believe that when you claim that you are taking a moral stance, then everyone else should cater to you and make exceptions for you. (Beacon-News)

Officials from the Rockford Diocese, which includes Aurora, Kane County and much of Kendall County, said they were forced to terminate state contracts worth $7.5 million after lawmakers failed to pass an amendment exempting religious groups from provisions of the state’s new civil unions law. The law, which will let gay and lesbian couples form civil unions, a rough equivalent to marriage, takes effect on Wednesday.

“The law of our land has always guaranteed its people freedom of religion,” diocese spokeswoman Penny Wiegert said. “Denying this exemption to faith-based agencies leads one to believe that our lawmakers prefer laws that guarantee freedom from religion.”

Yes, they believe that it’s a matter of religious freedom. Of course, they also believe that the Pope should dictate civil policy to “Christian Europe”, so it’s a little difficult to take them seriously when they talk about “religious freedom.”

So now the other 40-odd private agencies (including two other religiously-based groups) will have to pick up the Catholic Church’s 15% of the burden. Or perhaps not even that much if the other three Catholic agencies decide that their faith doesn’t exactly compel them deny orphans a loving adoptive family.

I support you, Catholic Charities…

A Commentary.

Timothy Kincaid

May 6th, 2011

Now that the state of Illinois is offering civil union recognition to same-sex couples, the Catholic Church has disseminating fears that they will no longer be able to offer foster care or adoption services. They have vowed to be defiant.

And to the Catholic Church in Illinois, I say:

I support you.

I totally agree that if Catholic girls wish to give their children up for adoption and want them to go to Catholic families and be raised in the Catholic faith, then Catholic organizations should be able to facilitate such adoptions. With Catholic dollars.

After all, that is the very meaning of Catholic charity. Catholics sacrificing and contributing for the betterment of others. Bringing Catholic funds to help those in need.

Amen.

Oh… wait, what’s that? Oh you actually do placement with non-Catholics. Well, that’s even more charitable of you. Peace be with you.

And – sorry, say that again? You disallow unmarried heterosexual couples and all gay couples?

Oh, well I think that is extremely foolish of you and that you are denying a loving family to hard-to-place children. You should really reconsider your values.

But I guess it’s your money. And there are some children being placed that otherwise would not have a family so I’ll defer to your decisions on how best to spend the contributions of your parishioners.

But it’s what? I’m sorry, you mumbled that last part. It’s not what?

Oh, it’s not the money of your parishioners! Oh, so it’s Vatican money? No?

I’m confused. Then who gave you the money to run these programs?

THE STATE??!!?? You mean that the State of Illinois is paying you to run a program that decides foster care and adoption placement based on your own religious criteria? That tax dollars are taken out of the paychecks of gay people and given to you and that you won’t even let them apply?

And the kids AREN’T EVEN CATHOLIC??!!?? They are just kids placed with you by the State????

NO FRIGGEN WAY!!! Why that’s… it’s just… whew whew

Whew… sorry that I got so excited there. I guess I just over-reacted.

Well, there’s the clear and easy solution. The one I’m sure you have already started.

Just pull out your checkbook, Cardinal, and write the state a great big check to pay them back for the fees they’ve given you to administer the state’s foster care and adoption programs. And notify the state that you’ll only be placing kids that are brought to you with the parents’ intention that they be placed according to the teachings of the Church.

And then, praise be to God, you can go back to applying Catholic rules to Catholic kids and everyone is happy.

No?

NO?

What do you mean, “NO??”

You don’t intend to repay the State? You don’t intend to only place kids brought to you by their parents for Catholic placement?

Well, F U, Cardinal, you selfish, money-grubbing, pompous bureaucrat.

No, I do NOT support you discriminating against me and my family with MY OWN MONEY.

So kindly take your self-righteous discrimination and shove it.

Oh, and while you’re at it, you may want to consider removing “Charities” from your name. It isn’t charitable if you do it with someone else’s funds.

Catholic priest champions non-discrimination ordinance

Timothy Kincaid

March 15th, 2011

It isn’t that often that I have anything complimentary to say about the current state of the Catholic Church and its practices, so I’m not letting this opportunity pass by. (Gay Socialites)

Rev. Joseph Breen of the St. Edward Church in Nashville, Tennessee is standing up for the LGBT community.

Breen penned a letter to the Metro Council that also ran in the Tennessean this week encouraging the elected officials to get behind a bill meant to eliminate anti-gay bias when it comes to contracts with the city.

“I ask you to approve this bill banning discrimination by city contractors against gay, lesbian and transgender people,” Breen wrote in a letter sent to each member of Nashville’s Metro Council (and also published in the Tennessean). “I fully support the spirit of inclusion rather than exclusion in our great city and ask you to do the same with your vote of approval,” he added.

Clearly Father Breen has given up on any hope of ever becoming bishop and is now just seeking to better the lives of those in his parish, his city, and his community. I wonder if the Diocese will retaliate.

Catholics really don’t want to be thought of as bigots

Timothy Kincaid

February 25th, 2011

More and more I find myself running across angsty protests against describing actions that exclude gay people from civil inclusion as “discriminatory.” Often these come from Catholic Bishops who have become accustomed to thinking of their church as the defender of the downtrodden and panic when downtrodden gay folk start pointing fingers.

Take, for example, this Catholic News Agency response to the President’s recent DOMA decision:

Anthony R. Picarello, Jr., the top legal counsel for the U.S. bishops, called the administration’s decision a “grave affront” to Americans who reject unjust discrimination but also affirm “the unique and inestimable value of marriage as between one man and one woman.”

“Support for actual marriage is not bigotry, but instead an eminently reasonable, common judgment affirming the foundational institution of civil society,” Picarello said.

Any government suggestion that this belief is discriminatory is a “serious threat” to religious liberty, he added.

Note Picarello’s greatest concern: that the official Catholic teaching is seen as discriminatory, that the church’s anti-gay political activism be viewed as based in bigotry. And anti-gay activism’s number one marriage theorist, Robert George, explains why.

“He treats that belief as if it were a mere prejudice, as though it is motivated by a desire to cause harm to people,” George told CNA Feb. 24. “Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. It is a legitimate moral belief that has informed our law throughout history.”

The statement suggests to George the possibility that the Justice Department will “abuse its authority to suppress the religious liberty of people who dissent.”

“It raises the concern that the Justice Department will treat believing Christians, Jews, Muslims and others as though they are the equivalent of racists,” he warned.

And if there is anything that the Catholic Church wishes to avoid, it’s facing society equating their dogma with racism or other animus-based bias. That doesn’t bode well for evangelism or donations.

Courage overseer assigned to be Catholic anti-gay point man

Timothy Kincaid

January 7th, 2011

Last week I predicted that change will be coming to the Catholic ex-gay group Courage, a change that will likely turn this support group into an anti-gay advocacy group using their own choices as “evidence” against the civil rights and equalities of their Protestant and non-Christian neighbors. Further witness to the likelihood of such change has come this week. (Catholic News Agency)

The new president of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, announced Jan. 5 that he appointed Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of Oakland, California as chairman of the conference’s Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage.

Both Dolan and Cordileone sit on something called the Body of Members, who “provide governance and impart ecclesial authority” to Courage.

A Change at Courage

Timothy Kincaid

December 31st, 2010

Along with the passage of Father John Harvey, Catholic ex-gay group Courage is taking a new direction. They are moving from their home in Manhattan to Norwalk, CT, and are leaving behind their staff, volunteers, directors, and even their legal identity. The new non-profit corporation will have a Board of Directors will consist of:

Father Paul Scalia – son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia – tends to discuss “homosexual activities” using language such as “depravity” and his writings focus as much on the miseries that he just knows are experienced by those who choose the homosexual lifestyle as they do on Catholic teaching about sexuality.

Father James Knapp – has long been a leader in Courage, but seems to have written or spoken publicly little on the subject.

Dr. Tim Lock – a psychologist, was a presenter at NARTH’s 2010 conference with, of all people, Gerald Schoenewolf whose “other way of looking at” slavery led a number of evangelicals to question their association with NARTH. Lock is a true NARTHy who, in a conference in Australia, “exposed nine gay myths, citing scientific research” in a manner reminiscent of John Diggs or Paul Cameron.

Mrs. Marylee MacDougall – is less well known, but in a letter to the editor of The Cowl, Brown’s student newspaper, seems to endorse anti-gay political activism:

Matt Rand (in the Apr. 2 issue) is saying gay marriage is a religious issue, but the history of this topic is that even without religion more than 2000 years of civilization has had a position opposing this lifestyle and valuing family life-which starts with marriage between a man and a woman. Pending legislation and recent court decisions indicate a frontal assault on the traditional and widely accepted understanding of the essence and purpose of marriage.

Father Paul Check (ex-officio) – is the new executive director of the newly revised organization.

In addition to the Directors, there will be “a Body of Members, who provide governance and impart ecclesial authority,” consisting of:

New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan – a conservative Catholic who has made his campaign against marriage equality in New York a significant priority. However, Dolan – who sees homosexuality as a compulsion – is not perceived to be harshly anti-gay and uses more nuanced language.

Bridgeport, CT, Bishop William Lori – will be the host to Courage. A conservative, he’s best known for successfully fighting against an attempt by the State of Connecticut to require the Catholic Church to turn over control of the diocese to its membership rather than its hierarchy.

New Ulm, MN, Bishop John LeVoir – gave $250 to the campaign to defeat marriage equality in Maine.

Oakland, CA, Bishop Salvatore Cordileone – is the father of Proposition 8. It was his organization and advocacy that initiated the writing and signature collection of the proposition (remember the early funding was almost entirely Catholic and only after it got on the ballot did the Mormon Church dump in some 20 million dollars).

Father Paul Check (ex-officio)

Considering the number of politically motivated anti-gay activists now involved, what do you want to bet that the ‘new and improved’ Courage has more on its plate than ministry to those with same-sex attractions?

Founder of Courage, Catholic ex-gay group, has died

Timothy Kincaid

December 30th, 2010

I have a certain amount of sympathy for those individuals who decide that their religious convictions preclude them from engaging in any form of sexuality that is not within the confines of heterosexual marriage. Each of us must be allowed the space to determine for ourselves what gives us meaning and happiness, and some may choose to prioritize their spirituality over their sexuality.

So I am not opposed to ex-gay individuals or groups, per se, provided that they do not insist that other live according to their values, advocate for discrimination, or propagate lies. Sadly, most ex-gay groups have difficulty with strict honesty – probably because many of them are operating from a realm of “faith” in which empirical evidence can be ignored and hope can be given the imprimatur of TRUTH. But there are a few ex-gay groups that have managed to avoid overt political advocacy and who place less emphasis on miraculous reorientation and instead provide support and community for their same-sex attracted adherents.

One such group is Courage, the Catholic ex-gay organization.

While the Vatican and the Bishops have taken it upon themselves to use coercion, threat of eternal damnation, and machine politics to try and force the nations of the world to adopt their dogma on issues like gay marriage, Courage has been mostly apolitical. And while they do not discourage those who hope for eventual heterosexuality, their emphasis is on chastity as a life goal. Courage has given me very little about which to object.

In 1980, New York’s Archbishop Cooke invited Father John Harvey to develop a ministry to Catholics with same-sex attractions. And while I disagree with much that Harvey espoused over the years, I do think that he was a man whose intents were compassionate and who sought neither political power, prestige, or personal advancement through his ex-gay endeavors.

This week Father John Harvey died. (PilotCatholicNews)

Oblate Father John F. Harvey, who founded an organization for celibate Catholic homosexuals that now has more than 100 chapters worldwide, died Dec. 27 at Union Hospital in Elkton. He was 92.

His funeral Mass was scheduled for Dec. 31 at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Wilmington, Del., followed by interment in the Oblate Cemetery in Elkton.

An Oblate of St. Francis de Sales for 73 years, Father Harvey founded Courage, a spiritual support group for homosexual men and women, in 1980 at the request of Cardinal Terence Cooke of New York and served as its national director until his death.

Today, Courage has chapters in the United States, Canada, England, Ireland, Poland, Mexico, Slovakia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, Philippines and New Zealand.

“Father Harvey’s commitment to pastoral care in the church was tireless,” said Oblate Father James J. Greenfield, provincial of the Oblates’ Wilmington-Philadelphia province, in a statement. “Even in his later years, his travel would take him all over the country and world to offer a voice of compassion.”

I hope some day that the Catholic Church will find a path to full acceptance and equality for gay and lesbian Catholics (perhaps when they finally accept women as equal). But I do appreciate that in recent decades the Church has made the distinction between “inclination” and behavior (though the current Pope seems to conflate the two) as a small step in the right direction and I believe that Harvey may have played some role in that move.

Pope: gay hustlers can use condoms

Timothy Kincaid

November 20th, 2010

This is just bizarre: (bloomburg)

Pope Benedict XVI has opened the door on the previously taboo subject of condoms as a way to fight HIV, saying male prostitutes who use condoms may be beginning to act responsibly. It’s a stunning comment for a pontiff who has blamed condoms for making the AIDS crisis worse.

Benedict said that condoms are not a moral solution to stopping AIDS. But he said in some cases, such as for male prostitutes, their use could represent a first step in assuming moral responsibility “in the intention of reducing the risk of infection.”

It appears that Papa Ratzi’s logic is that by using condoms, male prostitutes are not really blocking procreation, unlike heterosexuals who use condoms. He appears to remain opposed to condom use for married heterosexuals in cases in which one party is infected with HIV.

I understand the thinking; I just can’t wrap my head around the morality. Yet, I accept it as perhaps a step in the right direction, a tiny inclination towards placing the good of the people above the Church’s somewhat arbitrary opposition to a piece of latex.

More Christians see need to speak out against bullying

Timothy Kincaid

November 3rd, 2010

From Connecticut’s MinuteManNewsService:

Two vigils held in Fairfield in the last week have sought to shine light, literally and figuratively, on the tragedy of gay teens who have taken their own lives after being bullied.

One vigil was to be held at Fairfield University Wednesday night after our press time and the other was held in front of First Church Congregational at the corner of Old Post Road and Beach Road last Friday night.

Jennifer Habetz, Youth Minister of First Church, said, “We are morally obligated, in the face of suicide after suicide to work to change the world in which our young people are growing up. And we must do so loudly and visibly, so they know that they are not alone.”

Habetz runs a ministry at First Church which seeks to provide a space for kids of all faiths to counteract the messages which say “they are less than acceptable in the eyes of God.”

At Fairfield University, their Jesuit heritage called on them to support troubled kids and to give comfort a higher priority than condemnation.

The head of Campus Ministry Reverend Michael Doody, S. J. said, “We don’t beat up or demonize people we disagree with. Everyone is entitled to their dignity.”

“The sin against that young man (Tyler Clementi at Rutgers) is far more grievous than anything he could have thought of committing,” said Doody, who pointed out that the Church also says that drinking too much is a sin.

“The Vigil is being held to raise the consciousness of the University Community,” said the priest, adding, “We’re all God’s people. God doesn’t discriminate in His loving.”

Shhhhhh. Don’t tell the Pope.

Phoenix Clergy protest anti-gay declaration

Timothy Kincaid

October 15th, 2010

I believe that the ideals behind our quest for rights are appealing. We want equality, we want to be included, we want to make family, we want to be responsible citizens. In fact, I think that a decent society would be naturally inclined to positively address our concerns.

But there’s the God thing. Our culture has been convinced to a great extent that gay rights run counter to what “the church says” and, well, there are a lot of decent people who defer to religion when they are uncertain.

But what is seldom understood is that in America there is no one religious position on homosexuality. While the media pits “gay activists” against “people of faith” for more dramatic ratings, the truth is that a good many people of faith, congregations, regions, and even denominations loudly and proudly support gay people and their full inclusion into society.

But it is not just the media’s fault. It is, to an extent, our fault as well; we have been too compliant in allowing our enemies to set up the religion v. homosexuality dichotomy. And blame also rests on our religious allies who have allowed the discussion of religion in our country to be dominated by right-wing extremists. Those who are more religiously liberal have been embarrassed to sound as though they were claiming to be “real Christians” and were hesitant to denounce the beliefs of others, even those who espouse views that are exclusionary and homophobic.

But that may be changing. More and more I see men and women of the cloth publicly standing up and declaring anti-gay attitudes to be immoral and contrary to God. One such example is No Longer Silent – Clergy for Justice.

The group will be protesting the Catholic Diocese of Phoenix who has organized an event to celebrate their decision to adopt the virulently anti-gay Manhattan Declaration. (AZ Central)

The liberal clergy group, known as No Longer Silent – Clergy for Justice, plans to place several hundred people along the sidewalk outside the basilica to challenge what they consider hateful rhetoric. They will protext while people leave an 8 a.m. Mass kicking off the Manhattan Declaration events.

“When religious authorities in the name of God tell people they are less than whole, few things are more destructive,” said the Rev. David Ragan, a leader of the group who works at Beatitudes Campus.

The Rev. Jeff Proctor-Murphy of Asbury United Methodist Church in Phoenix said the group hoped to help people understand “there is an alternative way to be Christian and to understand scripture, to love people even when we don’t understand them.”

I wish them tremendous success and much visibility. And I hope that many more religious leaders will be emboldened to stand up for all of God’s children and oppose the voices of condemnation and contempt. As anti-gay ideology ceases to be the religious position and becomes just a religious position in the mind of the public, then they will feel freer to choose decency, equality and love.

Belgian Archbishop: “AIDS Is a Kind of Immanant Justice”

Jim Burroway

October 15th, 2010
Belgian Catholic Primate Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard

Belgian Catholic Primate Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard

According to Flandersnews, the Belgian Catholic Primate, Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard, is about to publish a memoir in which he describes AIDS as a kind of “Immanent justice.” The news item contains very little information on the context of the remarks, but the Archbishop’s spokesman Jürgen Mettepenningen confirmed that those comments accurately reflect the Archbishop’s belief:

Jürgen Mettepenningen: “When the Archbishop spoke of homosexuality as a misunderstood form of sexuality I also sounded the alarm (to the archbishop). I thought that this could be formulated in a better way. But I don’t have the job of thinking for him. I am only his spokesman.”

The Catholic Church in Belgium is embroiled in a massive child sexual abuse scandal. Last June, police seized files on 475 cases last Juny, but a court declared the raid illegal and ordered the files returned. The Bishop of Bruges, Roger Vengheluwe, resigned in April after admitting he had sexually abused his nephew for years. In September, Bishop Guy Harpigny, the Belgian bishops’ spokesman on the abuse scandal, told Belgium Radio that the church is afraid to give a full apology for the sexual abuse of children by its priests as this could open the door to compensation claims.

Michigan Assistant DA Andrew Shirvell: raging homophobe, stalker, dumb as a box of rocks

Timothy Kincaid

September 29th, 2010

When Thomas Monaghan, the founder of the Dominos Pizza Chain, sold his business for $1 billion in 1998, he decided to dedicate the rest of his life to advancing his faith.

Unfortunately his faith is Catholicism of the Papa Ratzi / Mel Gibson variety, strong on bronze age moralism and devoted to making you follow the rules that Monaghan is sure that God wants you to follow. He is passionate about abortion issues and believes that one of the best ways to achieve a nation that obeys the Church is to create an army of lawyers who will fight for the views of the Church.

So Monaghan founded the Thomas More Law Center, an anti-gay, anti-abortion activist organization. He also funded the Ave Maria School of Law, a Catholic law school with teachings that are “in fidelity to the Catholic Faith as expressed through Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, and the teaching authority of the Church” and which would send out graduates “equipped for leading positions in law firms, corporate legal offices, the judiciary, and national, state, and local government.”

As Ave Maria is fairly young and is among what is generously referred to as “second tier law schools”, I haven’t learned that much about them. While I knew that they included as friends and supporters Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, I’ve not yet had much opportunity to see what caliber of person they are unleashing on the nation. Until now.

The public has recently been introduced to what must be among Ave Maria’s highest profile alumni, Michigan Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell. Now how Shirvell came to be qualified for his position can be debated, but as Attorney General Mike Cox is also a conservative Republican Catholic, I suspect that Shirvell’s hard-core extremist Catholic ideology did not count as a liability.

And Shirvell has made his mark, though for work performed outside of his job qualification. And quite a mark it is.

You see, Andrew Shirvell has been, in his off time, writing a blog. And this blog is dedicated to one subject: exposing the “radical homosexual agenda” of the University of Michigan student body president Chris Armstrong. And let me tell ya, it’s quite the blog.

Welcome to “Chris Armstrong Watch.” This is a site for concerned University of Michigan alumni, students, and others who oppose the recent election of Chris Armstrong – a RADICAL HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVIST, RACIST, ELITIST, & LIAR – as the new head of student government.

Prior to Armstrong’s March, 2010, election as president of the Michigan Student Assembly (MSA), Armstrong served as chairman of MSA’s LGBT commission – a commission that solely focused on utilizing the student government to promote the radical homosexual agenda, including gay “marriage” and adoption “rights.” As chair, Armstrong also succeeded in lobbying for the annual Midwest LGBT College Conference to take place at U of M in 2011. This conference has a notorious reputation for promoting decadence, including illegal drug use and public sex acts.

Andrew Shirvell is like Peter LaBarbera, but with a real job. A very powerful job. And one that his boss, Mike Cox, seems to have no interest in rethinking. (Detroit Free Press)

“All state employees have a right to free speech outside working hours,” Cox said in a statement today. “But Mr. Shirvell’s immaturity and lack of judgment outside the office are clear.”

But this goes beyond “lack of judgment”. It is obsessive, abusive, and perhaps illegal – though when you work for the state Attorney General, “illegal” is a subjective term.

But while Cox’s lack of judgment in hiring an extremist wackadoodle is disconcerting, it is also troubling that he hired – with taxpayer funds – a bumbling fool. Now having been exposed to just what kind of lawyer that Monaghan is making, we can see that his business model hasn’t changed: put out the lowest quality in town.

I mean, if Shirvell was a pizza, there would be no detectable meat-product in his pepperoni. I’m talking cheese so processed that Shirvell was willing to go on Anderson Cooper’s 360 and show the world just what kind of sauceless crust he is:

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Well I guess the good news is that we have less to fear from an army of idiots.

Catholics “do the work of Jesus” with anti-gay DVD

Timothy Kincaid

September 28th, 2010

If you are Catholic and living in the area of St. Paul, Minnesota, then you probably received a DVD in the mail from your Archbishop. Some “anonymous donor” paid to take the moral authority of the church and turn it into political shilling in opposition to the rights of their neighbors and a all-too-transparent attempt to push votes in the gubernatorial election. (StarTribune)

More than 400,000 DVDs are being mailed to the homes of Minnesota Catholics on Wednesday, courtesy of Catholic bishops in the state who want to stop the campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in its tracks.

The 18-minute DVD includes an appearance from St. Paul and Minneapolis Archbishop John Nienstedt in which he says it is time for Minnesotans — not the “ruling elite” of legislators and judges — to vote on a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

But as the Catholics hierarchy ratchets up its efforts to impose Catholic doctrine on society by force of the ballot box, the Catholic laity seems to be increasing in its rebellion against the rigid demands of the Church. Not only can this been seen on a global scale with one Catholic country after another flouting the threats of the Church and choosing civil equality, so too can this disconnect be seen on the local level.

So it is not surprising that some lay Catholics in Minnesota see no Christ in the Church’s latest political maneuvering. But seeking to be good Christians, they have found a way to turn the Archbishop’s priorities on their ear.

Return The DVD, a group that describes itself as “Catholics who are concerned about the priorities of the leaders in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis” have called on their fellow faithful to send them the Archbishop’s DVD.

We are collecting as many DVDs as possible and will return them to Archbishop John Nienstedt with a letter asking him to make the needs of the poor and love of neighbor his highest priority.

They are also taking the opportunity to focus Catholics’ minds away from worldly political fiefdoms and towards what Jesus instructed.

2.) Make a donation to an organization doing the work of Jesus.

Make a donation directly to an organization helping to fight poverty and end homelessness in Minnesota.

If the hierarchy of the Church is still capable of feeling shame, now would be a good time.

More amicus, more animus

Timothy Kincaid

September 27th, 2010

Those who oppose civil equality simply can’t restrain themselves from supporting the Proponents of Proposition 8. Although history is going to be rather unkind to them (and we will both document and remember), there is almost a sense of desperation to the compulsion to go on record as favoring inequality, supporting supremacist attitudes and expressing dismay that their views may be held up to inspection.

Today I have a whole long list of amicus briefs to add to those who previously have come down on the side of institutionalized discrimination. You can check them all out here.

Robert P. George, Sherif Girgis, and Ryan T. Anderson – You may recall that Robert George was one of the founders of the National Organization for Marriage. His argument is that the state does indeed have interest in enforcing private moral or religious beliefs. Further, “a belief that a relationship between a man and woman is inherently better than a relationship between two men or two women” and “moral disapproval of homosexuality” are both legitimate bases for legislation. And because any position has some moral values assigned, then therefor the value of heterosexual supremacy is a perfectly fine one on which to base law. Oh, and Lawrence v. Texas only applies to criminal law.

NARTH (yes, NARTH!!) – Typical NARTHian science to argue that homosexuality is not immutable and therefore gay people should not have rights. Example “the study also found that those who report themselves as homosexuals showed variety in their sexual experiences when measured on a continuum: 65 percent of homosexual men and 84 percent of homosexual women reported having had heterosexual intercourse.” Lots of discussion of studies from decades gone by in which psychotherapy resulted in “functioning as heterosexual” and a lot of misrepresentation of the work of others (Spitzer and Jones and Yarhouse, for example.)

Pacific Justice Institute – The Greeks and the Romans didn’t allow gay marriage so neither should we. They started with “the Greeks and Romans were clearly not homophobic” but just couldn’t resist the impulse to put in every example of Greek or Roman condemnation that could be found and concluded “Hence, defining marriage as a union of a man and a woman reflects not only the collected wisdom of the citizens, but of the ages as well.”

The States of Indiana, Virginia, Louisiana, Michigan, Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Idaho, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah and Wyoming. – More specifically, the attorneys general of these states. The argument: Walker exceeded his judicial authority; the Federal Courts have no jurisdiction over marriage. Loving was justified “to uphold the core guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment” but Perry would “recast the basic parameters of marriage.” The rest was a rerun of the Proponents’ failing arguments in court.

American College of Pediatricians – Remember this totally bogus group from the lie-ridden letter crafted by NARTH but sent under their name? They are back with the predictable “Think of the Children!! Children need a mommy and a daddy. Ignore what the real professional groups say” message.

Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence (John Eastman) – Eastman was NOM’s special pick for CA Attorney General – he lost badly in the Republican primary, 16 points below Steve Cooley, who had opposed Proposition 8. Reading this political rant (it really can’t be called a legal argument), I am relieved that this guy has no chance of representing my state in court… or at least not this year. His argument: ” The Initiative Proponents have standing to defend Proposition 8, both as Agents of the State and in their own right”.

Becket Fund for Religious Liberty – Gay equality is incompatible with religious liberty. If gay people are treated as full citizens and granted equal access to civil marriage, then those religious individuals and groups that oppose civil equality and support heterosexual supremacy might be sued for discrimination. Those people who operate “job training programs, child care, gyms and day camps” would not be able to discriminate, and if they did, they might not get taxpayer dollars with which to deny gay people access. And that’s why the voters approved Proposition 8: to support “religious liberty” to discriminate against gays. (They got $500 K from the Knights of Columbus last year)

National Legal Foundation – These folk call themselves “a Christian public interest law firm” but are best known as the legal team who defended Cincinnati’s Issue 3, which would have amended the city charter to ban any city laws and policies that would prohibit discrimination against gay Cincinnati residents in employment, housing, and other areas. They disagree with Walker’s finding of fact and argue that the Ninth Circuit should revisit and reverse them. In the Cincinnati case, the Sixth Circuit reversed a number of the lower court’s findings and NLF gloatingly says that this court should do the same. They fail to mention that the US Supreme Court reversed the decision and found that Cincinnati violated the US Constitution.

Eagle Forum (Phyllis Schlafly) – The Proponents and Imperial county have standing. And if they don’t have standing, then there’s no case and the whole thing should be thrown out entirely, including Judge Walker’s ruling.

Concerned Women of America – Gays are politically powerful, have powerful allies, significant funding, and the public is growing in support. So discrimination against gay people should not be subjected to heightened scrutiny. “As of June 1, 2009, thirty-one states and the District of Columbia had state laws regarding “hate crimes” based on sexual orientation.” (I wonder what else 31 states had?)

National Organization for Marriage (NOM – Brian Brown and Maggie Gallagher) – Ah, NOM, we knew you’d participate. NOM has a number of interesting arguments. Yes, there are “children need a mommy and daddy” and “marriage is about procreation” and “you’re redefining marriage”, but they also have these fascinating (and oh-so-classy) things to share:

Men will no longer be willing to support their children: “When society simply weakens its support for the ideal that children should be cared for by both the man and the woman who made them, children end up disproportionately in the care of solo mothers. What will happen when the law and society rejects that view altogether as irrational bigotry? If the district court has its way, we will find out.”

Same-sex marriage will lead to polygamy and incest: “If, as the district court suggests, marriage were to become an essentially private, intimate, emotional relationship created by two people to enhance their own personal well-being, it is wrong, discriminatory, and counterproductive for the state to favor certain kinds of intimate relations over others. Sisters can cohabit and commit, and so can best friends in non-romantic relationships. Three people can cohabit and commit, too. Why can’t these people claim marriage as well? Once a key feature of marriage has been deconstructed, other historic features of marriage will become much harder to explain and defend, both in law and culture.”

And my very favorite: Look at Massachusetts; If you allow gay marriage then – oh noes – people will support it. “Data from Massachusetts likewise does little to alleviate concerns that same- sex marriage could lead to negative consequences. To the contrary, the data relied upon by the district court actually suggests a weakening in the marriage culture in the years immediately following the same-sex marriage ruling in Massachusetts. … In 2009, amicus curiae National Organization for Marriage commissioned a survey in Massachusetts of attitudes about marriage five years into that state’s experiment with same-sex marriage. The survey found that ―in the five years since gay marriage became a reality in Massachusetts, support for the idea that the ideal is a married mother and father dropped from 84 percent to 76 percent.”

Paul McHugh – McHugh is perhaps best known for his anti-transgender activism. But he’s joining in amicus to declare that you can’t define “homosexual” and it’s not fixed or immutable (presumably unlike race which is always and ever immediately discernible). Because while many people fit all three definitions (attractions, behavior, identity) there are exceptions. So therefore someone who is same-sex attracted, in a relationship with another person of the same sex, and who identifies as being gay should not be considered to be homosexual because, after all, there are people in the closet.

And because you can’t define “homosexual” then a woman in love with her same-sex partner ought not be able to marry her. Further, because there is no gay gene (unlike the African-American gene). It may be caused by education (I love this one): Because “It may very well be the case that on average lesbians and gay men in the United States have a higher educational level than comparable heterosexual men and women”, there therefore, “Education and socioeconomic levels have also been suggested as contributing factors to homosexuality.” Really? By whom? That has to be the worst example of correlation = causation that I’ve seen in a while.

But to understand the depth of McHugh’s basic dishonesty and lack of any sense of moral character, you have to consider ” Identical twin studies confirm that homosexual orientation is not genetically determined.”
Actually, twin studies have found that genetics contribute 35-39% for men and 18-19% for women. In other words, while it’s not fully genetically determined, McHugh is implying the opposite of what the studies have found.

Eugene Dong – No idea who this guy is but his argument is this: It’s expensive to have children so the state benefits by subsidizing and benefiting heterosexuality so as to perpetuate the human race.

American Civil Rights Union (sort of an anti-ACLU) – fundamental rights are limited to those that are deep-rooted in American history and tradition.

Catholics for the Common Good – God’s definition of marriage pre-exists any state recognition. They make the usual arguments (including quoting the Pope as an authority), but their real objection is found in their request to file the amicus: “…because the district court’s opinion enshrined a re-definition of marriage in California law that may expose this and similar organizations and persons of good will to claims of discrimination…” It’s the Maggie complaint, “If you treat gay people equally under the law, then those of us who want to treat them as inferior will be called bigots.”

And one woman, Tamara L. Cravit, wrote in to say that the Proponents do not have standing. So far she’s the only pro-plaintiff amicus brief.

Knights of Columbus funds NOM

Timothy Kincaid

September 20th, 2010

The National Organization for Marriage refuses to follow state laws that require disclosure of who is paying for political advertising. And while some speculate that they are a front for the Mormon Church, I suspect that behind the paper face of Brian Brown lies a handful of very wealthy, very devout, very conservative Catholics who wish to influence legislators and voters without their identity being known.

But whoever provides the major funding, we now know that a chunk of it comes from the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal order.

On their website, the KOC talks about the good they do:

Our Catholic faith teaches us to “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Members of the Knights of Columbus show love for their neighbors by conducting food drives and donating the food to local soup kitchens and food pantries, by volunteering at Special Olympics, and by supporting, both spiritually and materially, mothers who choose life for their babies. Knights recognize that our mission, and our faith in God, compels us to action. There is no better way to experience love and compassion than by helping those in need, a call we answer every day.

But what get’s less attention is where their money really goes. While they tell the reader that “During the past decade, the Knights of Columbus has donated more than $1.367 billion to charity,” the Knights define “charity” a bit differently than many of us.

Of the $34.6 million that the Supreme Council spent in 2009, only $3.0 went for doing good deeds. Eight million went to the church’s hierarchy, five million for the KOC museum, three million on “evangelization”, and over six million went for “family life” and “pro-life” programs ($4.7 million for anti-gay and $1.9 million for anti-abortion political advocacy). In 2009, one of the Knights’ largest individual donations, $1,430,000, went to the National Organization for Marriage.

In addition to the $34.6 million distributed by the Supreme Council, there were an additional $116 million in “contributions from state and local councils assemblies and Squires circles.” We do not know how much of the $116 million went to NOM.

NOM received total contributions of about $8,000,00 that year. It spent about $1.8 million on Maine’s referendum to block same-sex marriage.

(hat tip Washington Independent)

Tensions Rise in Guadalajara

Jim Burroway

August 22nd, 2010
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Gay rights supporters during Sunday morning's protest in Guadalajara

First off, let me begin by saying that I’m having trouble with the AP’s headline (“Mexican Catholics, gay rights protesters face off“) because more than three-quarters of all Mexicans identify as Roman Catholic, including undoubtedly a similar proportion of LGBT Mexicans. But tensions do appear to be rising in Guadalajara, home to Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez, who accused the mayor of Mexico City of bribing the nation’s Supreme Court to find that Mexico City’s marriage equality law was constitutional. The Court then followed that with another ruling declaring that LGBT people cannot be discriminated against in adoption. As Timothy Kincaid noted, Iniguez’ head exploded, and claimed he had “proof” that the fix is in. But also in that LA Times story, we have this:

Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez, archbishop of Guadalajara and one of the most senior prelates in the nation, in recent days made especially harsh comments widely seen here as offensive. His statement set off a firestorm in a country where, by law, the church is not supposed to get involved in politics.

Calling same-sex unions an “aberration,” he said, “Would you want to be adopted by a pair of faggots or lesbians?”

So that set the stage for Sunday morning’s march by LGBT advocates at the plaza next to Guadalajara’s Cathedral. According to the AP, they were met by a similar number of protesters opposed to the court’s decision. The AP reports that “One of them ripped up a sign held by a gay rights activist, prompting screaming by both sides.”

Writing for the blog for the magazine U.S. Catholic, Bryan Cones laments the Cardinal’s rhetoric, and called him out in particular for hurling anti-gay epithets. And for good reason:

Indeed, the Catholic side of this debate must tread carefully, for several reasons. First, there are many gay and lesbian people in the church, called by God into it through their baptism. Catholic conversation about homosexuality must always keep in mind that we are talking about members of the body of Christ here.

Second, there are more and more Catholic families with openly gay and lesbian children, many of whom are grown and have partners and families of their own. The blood of family being thicker than the waters of baptism, the participants in the Catholic debate about gay marriage must recognize that many Catholic parents long ago accepted the sexuality of their gay children, have come to love their partners, and treasure the grandchildren they have through them.

Cones cited the poll we discussed last month which found that Latino Catholics in California were more likely to vote for marriage equality than any other religious/ethnic combination surveyed, and said, “That’s the family dynamic at work.”

Update: According to this Spanish language report, another confrontation occurred Saturday afternoon between about 400 conservative Catholics and approximately 150 LGBT advocates. The war of words was rough, according to my rough translation:

En ese momento se desató una guerra de consignas: “¡guerra-guerra contra lucifer!” y “¡adopten un perro maricones!”, gritaban los católicos encarando a los grupos gay, quienes respondieron: “¡nos vamos a casar y vamos a adoptar, nos vamos a casar y vamos a adoptar!”

“¡Ustedes dense, pero dejen a los niños en paz!”, profirió un joven católico haciendo la seña del acto sexual; además, ponían el pulgar hacia abajo en señal de desaprobación, y en respuesta los integrantes de la diversidad sexual gritaban “¡pederastas!”

[That's when a war of words broke out: "War! War against Lucifer" and "Adopt dogs, faggots!" shouted the Catholics confronting the gay groups, who responded, "We're getting married and we're going to adopt, we're getting married and we're going to adopt!"

"Go ahead, but leave the kids alone," shouted a young Catholic while making a gesture of a sexual act, and then putting his thumbs down in disapproval. And in response, members of the sexual diversity groups were shouting, "Pedophiles!"

Second Update: My translation of "¡Ustedes dense" as "Go ahead" may be a bit off, according to commenters. I can usually handle straight-on Spanish, but idiomatic expressions often elude me. This one apparently has a crude sexual connotation as well, sort of on the lines of "Go f*ck yourselves." Classy people, aren't they?]

Meanwhile, the College of Catholic Lawyers of Mexico announced that will file a request for impeachment before  Mexico’s lower House of Congress against the Supreme Court judges who ruled in favor of marriage equality.

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