May 9, 2012

Identity Crisis: Is The Catholic Church A Super PAC? Or A Religion?

Part One: The Intersection Of Faith & Politics In America
The Roman Catholic Church Abandons Basic Doctrine And Continues To Alienate The Flock

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York and their bigoted Cardinal Dolan were under fire last month for being unwilling to minister to LGBT homeless kids. When a man or woman of faith fails to answer a call for help, and will not minister to school age kids who are less fortunate, because they identify themselves as LGBT, the Roman Catholic Church have failed God, failed the kids who need their help, and most importantly they have failed themselves and their mission. The Church made a judgement which is antithetical to the Catechism, and the doctrine, that the Catholic Church purportedly stands for.


It was widely reported that Cardinal “Dolan has refused to accept that through his anti-gay comments he may be directly contributing to the intolerance and prejudice that leaves LGBT kids homeless and vulnerable.”

Carl Siciliano, who heads the Ali Forney Center, a homeless shelter dedicated to LGBT youth, wrote to the Cardinal saying that Dolan’s rhetoric was unacceptable and that he was becoming a “loud and strident voice against the acceptance of LGBT people” which creates “a climate where parents turn on their own children.

Dolan refused to accept Siciliano’s accusations, saying they were “not only unfair and unjust, but inflammatory.”

About ten days after Cardinal Dolan reasserted himself as New York’s most bigoted anti-gay cleric, the Vatican announced they had launched a crackdown on the group that represents the majority of America's 55,000 Catholic nuns, saying that the group was not speaking out strongly enough against gay marriage, abortion and women's ordination.

After a two year investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the Vatican issued a report critical of Catholic Nuns in the United States, in part because they minister to the sick, the poor, and the indigent, and they try to include the LGBT homeless kids that the bigoted Cardinal refuses to acknowledge. The Nuns were criticized for not working against marriage equality, and for their ministry to assist LGBT Catholic adults.

Keaton Fuller, a gay Iowa high school student, who attends Prince of Peace Catholic School,  said he’s never felt so "invalidated and unaccepted" as he did when he learned that his Catholic High School would not allow the Des Moines-based Eychaner Foundation to present the $40,000 Matthew Shepard scholarship award, as is custom,  to him during graduation. The scholarship honors gay rights activism. The decision by the school is clearly anti-gay discrimination - but because they are a religious institution, they are exempt from having to comply with any anti-discrimination laws or legislation.

Davenport Bishop Martin Amos said “we cannot allow anyone or any organization which promotes a position that is contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church to present at a diocesan institution.”

Just two days ago, the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue compared pro-choice groups to neo-Nazis. He also voiced his opposition to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius’s invitation to speak at Georgetown University, because her pro-choice views make her similar to the visit of a racist or an anti-semite. Really Donohue? You don’t have anything better to do with your life?

What is going on in Rome? This is insanity!  To attack benevolent Nuns, who don’t have a say or a seat among the sexist hierarchy that governs the Roman Catholic Church, is bullying of the worst order. To add insult to injury, the Nuns can’t even defend themselves when the Pope attacks them.

What is the core reason for all of these attacks? Where is the empathy, compassion and love that is articulated so well in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), that is the   official text of the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Most importantly, each one of these issues has a component that's political in nature - and for some reason politics trumps religion, and suddenly the Catholic Church has lost it’s way. Who is the Church attacking now? The Vatican, and minions of the Pope here in the US, and abroad, have attacked Nuns, homeless teens, an Iowa LGBT teenager, and government officials, in what can only be described as politically motivated attacks.

Is the Catholic Church a political action committee first? And then a Church? Or is it a Church that has lost its way, and no longer ministers to the poor and less fortunate? I asked the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, and their response was "no comment."

The Roman Catholic Church is a behemoth, with over 1 billion members, across the globe. The Bible is a sacred text, and the ten commandments is a part of the Catholic Catechism, which serve as the basis for Catholic social teaching. Because the Catholic Church uses the Catechism of the Catholic Church (or CCC)  as the official text of the teachings of the Church, and incorporates the ten Commandments within the CCC, the Pope can make changes to the CCC, and the ten commandments, whenever he wants.

When ecumenical scholars determined that the Bible didn’t outlaw homosexuality, and that scripture didn’t reflect what parish priests had been preaching about sexuality, the Pope couldn’t rewrite the Bible, with hundreds of years of well documented studies and scholarship. So the Pope revised the CCC, and he expanded the sixth commandment to include sexual activities that the Church wanted to exercise more control over.

The sixth commandment, says that:  "You shall not commit adultery."

1. In the sixth commandment, the CCC adds that “sexual acts outside of marriage is a
  grave sin”

2. All clerics take a vow of chastity

3.  The Catechism devotes a separate section to homosexuality within its explanation of the sixth commandment. Like heterosexual acts outside of marriage, homosexual acts are considered sins. The Church distinguishes between homosexual attractions, which are not considered sinful, and homosexual acts, which are. The Catechism states that they "violate natural law, cannot bring forth life, and do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved

The Catechism lists the following "offenses against chastity"in increasing order of gravity

  1. Lust: the Church teaches that sexual pleasure is good and created by God, who meant for spouses to "experience pleasure and enjoyment of body and spirit". Kreeft says, "Lust does not mean sexual pleasure as such, nor the delight in it, nor the desire for it in its right context." Lust is the desire for sexual pleasure alone, outside its intended purpose of procreation and the uniting of man and woman, body and soul, in mutual self-donation.
  2. Masturbation is considered sinful for the same reasons as lust, but is a step above lust in that it involves a physical act instead of a mental one.
  3. Fornication is the sexual union of an unmarried man and an unmarried woman. This is considered contrary to "the dignity of persons and of human sexuality" because it is not ordered to the "good of spouses" or the "generation and education of children."
  4. Pornography ranks higher because it is considered a perversion of the sexual act that is intended for distribution to third parties for viewing.
  5. Prostitution is considered sinful for both the prostitute and the customer; it reduces a person to an instrument of sexual pleasure, violating human dignity and harming society. The gravity of the sinfulness is less for prostitutes who are forced into the act by destitution, blackmail or social pressure—than it is for the customer.
  6. Rape is an intrinsically evil act that can cause grave damage to the victim for life.
  7. Incest, or "rape of children by parents or other adult relatives" or "those responsible for the education of the children entrusted to them" is considered the most heinous of sexual sins.

The Catholic Church realized that there was a consensus among ecumenical scholars, that scripture should be read and interpreted within the context that it was written, and because scripture doesn’t condemn LGBT people to hell, and there is no mention of marriage equality in scripture, the Pope devised a foolproof manner to update the sixth commandment, and he made changes to many of the others as well.

The Pope is a dictator, in an authoritarian regime, with all of the power, while being responsible to no one. When Pope John Paul II made the sixth commandment changes in 1997, as is custom, no one said a word or registered a protest.

As a kid growing up among Catholics, I wanted to be Catholic, because all of my friends were, and they played guitars during mass at Our Lady Of Good Counsel Church. I really thought that was cool. As I got older and understood religion better, while I felt at home in any Church, I didn't think I could be obedient enough for Catholicism. I like the pomp and circumstance, and some of the dresses that the clergy wear are pretty, but the old-fashioned dogmatic doctrine, the disrespect for women, and the rituals that went on forever convinced me to stick with being an Anglican.

Whether the Pope remains the current Pope, or a Pope John Paul III, or someone else - it's the Pope who we will have to appeal to, if we ever want to see any change within the Catholic Church.

I hope that I live that long. .




On Friday -  Part 2: Those Blasphemous Baptists



straight talk in a queer world.


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