Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Gay Rights and The Increasingly Embatteld Catholic Church

Pope Francis has made statements that wishful thinking Catholics want to believe have signaled a change in the Church's approach towards gays and gay rights.  As reviewed in prior posts, the reality is that to date under Pope Francis NOTHING has changed in terms of dogma.  However, that is not to say that growing forces of opposition are not coming to bear on the Church's mistreatment of and discrimination against LGBT individuals.  These forces ranges from Catholic high school students in Washington State who are in open revolt following the firing of a gay vice-principal after he married his husband to the former president of the Republic of Ireland who recently slammed the Church's anti-gay policies.  Sooner or later, Pope Francis must embrace real substantive change or stand by and witness the death spiral of the Church.  In the context of young Catholics, Andrew Sullivan summed up the situation unfolding in Washington State:
Something quite contagious is happening at Eastside Catholic School in Sammamish, Washington. A well-liked vice-principal was fired recently (Dish coverage here) not because he was gay but because he married his partner. In a spectacular and revealing twist, the vice-principal, Mark Zmuda, claims that in his discussions with the school’s president, he was told he could be re-hired if he divorced his husband.

What does it say about the twisted, absurd view of homosexual persons that the Catholic Church should demand that they divorce their spouses as a condition of working for a Catholic organization? It tells you so much. What the church is saying by this is that homosexuals should be punished for constructing stable, committed relationships of mutual care and support. If they stay single or have some kind of down-low commitment ceremony, all will be ignored.
Patheos Blog went even deeper to the heart of this stand off:
But even if the Church and school change nothing, the students give you a glimpse into the Church’s future. It’s making itself obsolete by pushing away young people who are concerned with social justice and civil rights and who know the Catholic Church can’t be counted on to stand for what’s right. 

Are these kids going to remain in the Church once they’re out of their parents’ houses? Are they going to raise their kids in the Church? Are they going to attend Church when they’re older? Are they going to have any respect for Church authority?
The obvious answer is than many will leave Catholicism and perhaps even Christianity.  Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, former Irish President Mary McAleese laid into the Church for its treatment of gays.  That's right the former president of Ireland, a nation that once was a bastion of Catholicism.  The Scotland Herald looks at her statements.  Here are excerpts:

The call came from former Irish President Mary McAleese, who said the Catholic Church had been in denial over homosexuality for decades and that it was "not so much the elephant in the room but a herd of elephants".

Speaking during a lecture at the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Mrs McAleese said: "I would have thought Cardinal Keith O'Brien, in telling the story of his life - if he was willing to do that - could have been of great assistance to gay people, not just in the Church but elsewhere, who felt over many, many years constrained to pretend to be heterosexual while at the same time acting a different life."

Mrs McAleese said that, like so many closet homosexuals, Keith O'Brien hoped to divert attention from himself by raising his voice "in the most homophobic way".

However this, she said, was a reflection of the Vatican's attitude to gay people in general.
She said: "Things written by Benedict, for example, were completely contradictory to modern science and to modern understanding, and to the understanding of most Catholics nowadays in relation to homosexuality.

Mrs McAleese drew a ­comparison with the Church's attitude to Jews. It took almost two millennia formally to revise the "Christ-killer" slander which had been repeated down the decades. 

Mrs McAleese studied suicide among young Irish males, many of them gay Catholics who grew up being told their sexuality was "intrinsically disordered" and "evil".

When she took this research to the new papal nuncio in Dublin she was surprised by his response. 

She said she was asked: "What do you want me to do? Do you want us to turn our back on tradition?" Her answer was: "Yes, if it's wrong."

Only time will tell whether or not Pope Francis will have the courage - and common decency - to begin a sea change in the Church.  One thing is clear: if he doesn't the Church will continue to wither and die in the Western World.

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