Friday, November 27, 2009
Next time a Roman Catholic cleric tries to degrade loving same-sex relationships, stop him mid-sentence and say:
"The Roman Catholic Church has no moral authority to oppose loving gay relationships."
Keep repeating this until the hypocrite walks away, head bowed in shame.
As far as I know, there has never been a huge, multi-decade scandal of gay activists molesting children. No GLBT community centers raided and shuttered. No billion dollar lawsuits against gay bars for abusing children.
Sure, one can always find a rotten apple, but the GLBT barrel -- for the most-part -- is stocked with the organic, red, shiny, healthy variety.
The same cannot be said of the Roman Catholic Church.
According to a new report released today that was ordered by Ireland's government, Catholic leaders in Dublin, in collusion with the police, spent decades protecting and covering up the illegal, sinful behavior of pedophile priests.
What went on -- for decades -- was so incredibly sick and downright evil, that it borders on satanic. Dublin's current Archbishop, Diarmuid Martin, said he felt deep shame and sorrow for how previous archbishops handled the child abuse.
Today's 720-page report focused on why church leaders in the Dublin Archdiocese did not tell police about a single abuse complaint against a priest until 1995. Yet, there had been at been at least 100 parish priests who had sexually molested children since 1940. Those files had remained locked in the Dublin archbishop's private vault.
The investigators also uncovered a paper trail documenting the church's clandestine insurance policy, taken out in 1987, to cover potential lawsuits. Dublin church leaders publicly denied the existence of the problem for a decade afterward but since the mid-1990s have paid out more than $15 million in settlements.
The report cited documents showing how church officials learned about some cases only when Catholic police received complaints from children or their parents, but handed the investigation back to church leaders so they could engage in cover-ups.
It is hard to believe, but this high level of pious pathology, ethical corruption and sin occurred under the "leadership" of THREE Dublin archbishops: John Charles McQuaid (1940-72), Dermot Ryan (1972-84) and Kevin McNamara (1985-87).
The commission found that these moral luminaries eschewed public scandals by shuffling the abusers from parish to parish and overseas to U.S. churches -- where no doubt a few of these heinous hypocrites are still loudly opposing the freedom to marry for gay couples.
Seriously, I refuse to hear lectures on wholesome values and the meaning of family from anyone affiliated with a church that engaged in such shocking and outrageous behavior. The Catholic Church has, indeed, lost its right to discuss such issues and expect thinking people to keep a straight face.
Just to reiterate, the Bishop's and Archbishop's have zero credibility to even discuss my healthy relationship. At least my boyfriend isn't an altar boy.
My advice to these priests is to take their condemnation of my relationship and lock it in a private vault in the Archdiocese, along with the secret records of rampant child abuse.
Finally, I want to make it abundantly clear that this is not an attack on the millions of Catholics who are good people and oppose the handling of these child abuse cases. There are also many Catholics who support equality for all people, including a gay couples' right to marry. This is not meant for the wonderful, charitable people who have clothed the naked, cared for the sick and fed the hungry.
However, the church hierarchy has surrendered its high ground on moral issues and must work to regain the respectability and trust it has clearly lost. Considering the behavior it has practiced, it certainly has no right to preach to those of us who have obeyed the law.
World leaders and members of Congress should skip the National Prayer Breakfast, February 4th, in protest of The Family's (aka The Fellowship) direct role in promoting a bill that would lead to severe human rights abuses against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in Uganda.
The National Prayer Breakfast is giving legitimacy to those who promote barbarism in the name of the Bible. I hope that world leaders who care about human rights will reconsider attending this year's breakfast. To say grace with the people pushing this hateful and dehumanizing bill in Uganda would be disgraceful.
Think about it. Is it not unconscionable to pray with a group that is actively preying on innocent people in Uganda, just because of their sexual orientation? No one should break bread with a group that is breaking the bones and spirits of gay and lesbian people.
On National Public Radio's Fresh Air, Terry Gross interviewed author Jeff Sharlet, whose book, "The Family", is a groundbreaking expose on the clandestine group in charge of the National Prayer Breakfast. On the program, Sharlet revealed a "smoking gun", tying The Family directly to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009, which threatens liberty and life for all GLBT people living in Uganda. Here is the key part of the transcript:
GROSS: So you're reporting the story for the first time today, and you found this story -- this direct connection between The Family and the proposed [Uganda anti-gay hate] legislation by following the money?
SHARLET: Yes, it's -- I always say that the family is secretive, but not secret. You can go and look at 990s, tax forms and follow the money through these organizations that The Family describe as invisible. But you go and you look. You follow that money. You look at their archives. You do interviews where you can. It's not so invisible anymore. So that's how working with some research colleagues we discovered that David Bahati, the man behind this legislation, is really deeply, deeply involved in The Family's work in Uganda, that the ethics minister of Uganda, Museveni's kind of right hand man, a guy named Nsaba Buturo, is also helping to organize The Family's National Prayer Breakfast. And here's a guy who has been the main force for this Anti-Homosexuality Act in Uganda's executive office and has been very vocal about what he's doing, and in a rather extreme and hateful way. But these guys are not so much under the influence of The Family. They are, in Uganda, The Family.
GROSS: So how did you find out that Bahati is directly connected to The Family? You've described him as a core member of The Family. And this is the person who introduced the anti-gay legislation in Uganda that calls for the death penalty for some gay people.
SHARLET: Looking at the, The Family's 990s, where they're moving their money to -- into this African leadership academy called Cornerstone, which runs two programs: Youth Corps, which has described its in the past as an international quote, "invisible family binding together world leaders," and also, an alumni organization designed to place Cornerstone grads -- graduates of this sort of very elite educational program and politics and NGO's through something called the African Youth Leadership Forum, which is run by -- according to Ugandan media -- David Bahati, this same legislator who introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Act.
Earlier this week, extremists within the Republican Party proposed a 10-point checklist of principles that GOP candidates would have to sign if they expect to receive Party support. Like a deranged "Social Issues Santa", the enforcers of doctrine are descending in their sleighs to slay Republicans who are naughty and not considered nice.
According to their puritanical plan, Republicans would be required to sign 7 of 10 radical resolutions, such as, "opposing Obama's socialist agenda." By far the most reckless part of this pledge is the demand that Republicans agree to, "Support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troops surges." I wonder what such pandering politicians might say to families if these wars took a turn for the worse: "I'm sorry your son died on the battlefield, but I had six campaign pledges and needed a seventh to get a windfall of dough from the Republican Party."
Ironically, the Republican governors gathered last week and ran away from such extremism. According to The New York Times, "There was little talk of the divisive social and political issues that Mr. Bush and Mr. Rove embraced as a way to attract independent and moderate Democratic voters and build a lasting Republican majority."
The right wing chest thumping seen in the GOP checklist was echoed in a manifesto signed by 145 religious activists and clerics called the Manhattan Declaration. This document basically said that religious people were above the law and did not have to obey it if they deemed it unholy. Tony Perkins, the President of the Family Research Council, hailed the radical manifesto by calling it a "line in the sand" and vowing that the malcontents "will not be moved."
Of course, growing up on the lovely beaches of Florida and Hawaii, I've learned that there is nothing more temporary than a line in the sand. These arrogant preachers are badly overreaching and will be surprised to find that their sinister sandcastle will succumb to history's high tide.
The Catholic Church, in particular, is entering politically perilous territory it will soon regret. For most of American history, many voters were concerned that Catholic politicians were beholden to Rome. John F. Kennedy, the first Roman Catholic President, won by assuring people that he was independent of the Vatican.
This week, however, Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin scolded another member of the famous clan, Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), and told him he was unworthy of taking part in communion because of his pro-choice views.
Amazingly, Tobin told NBC News, "To receive a sacrament you have to be in union with the church." To voters, this can be interpreted as: "Bow to Rome or go home."
If the Church continues to push these boundaries, it will become toxic. It will force office holders into making a decision between voting with the Vatican, or risking nasty public spats, like the Tobin-Kennedy spectacle. In an era where people are quite fickle with faith, aspiring Catholic politicians may find it easier to avoid this dilemma and switch religions. In the future, the only remaining Catholic politicians may be hardliners, such as former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa) and Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.).
In fact, this backlash is already underway. Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine criticized the Archdiocese of Washington this week for threatening to end contracts to feed Washington, DC's homeless if the city allows gay couples the freedom to marry.
"I'm Catholic and I think it's wrong," Kaine said. "If you look at the church through history, the church will stand in tough situations and continue to do good. I think the strategy of threatening to hold back, it just doesn't seem like the church I've come up in."
Kaine was seconded by Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who also is Catholic.
"I don't understand how they can possibly do this," O'Malley said. "I have a hard time believing that the nuns and priests who taught me about the Corporal Works of Mercy would agree that this is an appropriate response for the church."
Inside their adoring mega-churches and towering Cathedrals, these conservative clerics are powerful demigods. Such adoration blinds them to the sobering reality that millions of people view them as power hungry demagogues. The Religious Right is still one of the strongest special interest groups in America, but they keep forgetting that they represent an immoral minority, not the Moral Majority they once fancied themselves to be.
Raging with dictatorial ultimatums and mutinous manifestos, these extremists are too far-gone to realize they have gone too far. As the "Social Issues Santas" shimmy down the chimney to deliver their dogma, it is unclear if they are simply blowing smoke or gift-wrapping future elections for the Democratic Party.
Monday, November 23, 2009
It is time to admit that the gay community has a gigantic Pope problem. Under the leadership of Benedict XVI, the Vatican has become an implacable foe of liberalism, modernity and basic rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Rome has eagerly jumped with both feet into America's culture wars and is working on a global scale to punish or purge ideological dissenters within the church. This aggressive activism presents a formidable new front in the fight for parity -- one with considerable political clout and financial resources.
Last week, a coalition of totalitarian religious activists and radical clerics joined forces to unveil the "Manhattan Declaration"
at Washington's National Press Club. This rambling manifesto, written by former Watergate felon Chuck Colson, called for "Christians" to disobey laws they don't fancy and to ignore civil rights laws that protected GLBT people from discrimination. It was a dishonest document filled with historical revisionism that promoted theocracy, encouraged anarchy and supported the dissolution of the rule of law. It falsely portrayed right wing Christians as victims, even as they pledged to work tirelessly to deny equality to those who would not adhere to their sectarian church rules.
An extreme manifesto of such breathtaking cynicism and insincerity is no surprise coming from what passes for "leaders" in today's evangelical circles. It was striking, however, that more than 15 key American Catholic leaders signed on to the "Manhattan Declaration". Signatories included heavyweights such as Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York and Donald Wuerl
, Archbishop of Washington, DC. This was clearly a call to arms and a powerful signal that the Roman Catholic Church is taking the gloves off to fight political battles in America.
This hands-on involvement from Rome has passed the "trend" stage and appears to be official policy. Consider the significant involvement the Catholic Church had in stripping marriage rights away from GLBT couples in a Maine referendum held earlier this month.
In the same manner, on June 11, the Washington, DC Archdiocese threatened to abandon
the homeless and quit charity work in the District if it had to comply with anti-discrimination laws. Catholic Charities had the audacity to believe it was entitled to collect $8.2 million in tax dollars meant to serve all DC residents, and then still get to handpick whom it deems worthy of assistance.
Catholic involvement with arch-conservative politics is growing by the day. In May, Catholic groups tried to stop President Barack Obama from speaking at a Notre Dame commencement ceremony
because of his pro-choice position.
Earlier this month, Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin put the clamp
on Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), banning the lawmaker from communion because he is pro-choice. This was reminiscent of
The St. Louis Archbishop refusing to give communion to John Kerry during his presidential campaign.
The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has suddenly begun to steer GLBT Catholics to 12-step programs that promise to "cure" homosexuality
or support them in a lifelong celibacy. The Catholic Diocese in Sioux Falls, South Dakota urged its 128-thousand members to oppose an attempt
to bring legalizing embryonic stem cell research to a public referendum. (I guess the sacrosanct "people's right to vote" on controversial social issues only applies to same-sex marriage)
In fighting back, we must remember that the Vatican is launching these attacks from a position of weakness. It has yet to recover its moral authority from public exposure of rampant child sexual abuse scandals that cost the Church billions of dollars in legal settlements.
The Vatican appears to be acutely aware it is losing its worldwide market share. It is basically defunct in the Middle East, where the religion began, and on life-support in Western Europe, where it once prospered. In Africa, Rome competes with Islam and Anglicanism for a shrinking slice of the pie. (Who can forget that while in Africa the Pope said condoms could make the AIDS crisis worse.) South America, one of its few remaining strongholds, is losing Roman Catholics to evangelical faiths by the millions.
Instead of competing against the conservative evangelical brand, Pope Benedict has decided to embrace it, shaping a conspicuously political Catholicism that embraces extremism and drives out dissenters. The Vatican has become so doctrinaire that it recently launched an invasive probe into the lives of America's 60,000 nuns to enforce anachronistic rules. In January, Benedict welcomed back excommunicated Bishop Richard Williamson who denied that millions of Jews died in Nazi death camps.
Fortunately, Benedict is a cold, unsympathetic figure and the majority of American Catholics often ignore his edicts. The strategy for the GLBT community should be to stand up to Rome and help mobilize mainstream Catholics to fight back against an authoritarian Pontiff who is hell-bent on making the Catholic Church as unpopular and unappealing as His Holiness.