Michael J. Bayly, the executive coordinator of the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities and the editor of The Progressive Catholic Voice, and author of the "Wild Reed" blog (http://thewildreed.blogspot.com/2007/12/episcopal-fundamentalists-take-their.html) has kindly referenced my post on the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin's vote to leave the Episcopal church as well as the VNS column relating to that issue. As a thinking Catholic, he has some very interesting reflections on the Roman Catholic Church's treatment of gays and it;'s reluctance to accept new knowledge. I highly recommend you read the entire post. Here are some highlights from his post, "In Catholicism’s case, the fundamentalists are not, to use different imagery, “jumping ship.” Rather, they’re very much in control. Indeed, they’ve barricaded themselves on the ship’s bridge - all the while declaring that such an arrangement is God’s will." (emphasis is mine):
Interestingly, Roman Catholic Coadjutor Archbishop John Nienstedt, in a recent letter-to-the-editor of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, cited biblical rather than doctrinal reasons for the Catholic Church’s “teaching” on homosexuality. I say “interestingly” because although some, including Archbishop Nienstedt, often argue that the church’s doctrinal stance is based on the “witness of scripture,” the Catholic Church tends to emphasize and rely more on “tradition” rather than “scripture” in justifying its prohibition on “homosexual acts.”
Why? Well, I think part of the reason is that most Catholics, including those within the hierarchy, know that the vast majority of scripture scholars question the appropriateness and validity of using ancient biblical texts to condemn our modern-day understanding and acceptance of homosexuality. On a range of issues, people realize that the Bible can’t be taken literally. Accordingly, even the Catholic Church has come to condemn biblical fundamentalism. Put another way, it no longer teaches that the Bible is the inerrant word of God.
Yet what the Catholic Church claims, instead, as inerrant (and thus unchangeable) is its “tradition,” by which is generally meant its teaching on faith and morals. As a result of this claim, dialogue on any number of important issues is effectively shut down. Of course, what’s happened is that one form of fundamentalism has been replaced by another: biblical by doctrinal. The end result is the same: the Spirit, present and active in the lives of all – yes, even gay people – is denied, and the church’s living tradition becomes mired in hubris, intellectual dishonesty, and the fear of change.
Fundamentalists, I’ve discovered, are incredibly insecure. The mere thought of development, growth, and change can send them into a frenzy. They have forgotten that religion should point to God, not be God. Yet sadly, aspects of their religious lives have become their god. Any threat to these idols is met with hostility fueled by both arrogance and fear.
In Catholicism’s case, the fundamentalists are not, to use different imagery, “jumping ship.” Rather, they’re very much in control. Indeed, they’ve barricaded themselves on the ship’s bridge - all the while declaring that such an arrangement is God’s will.