Friday, June 16, 2017

Remembering the Pulse Massacre: "Less Talking about LGBT Catholics; More Listening to Them"

Some things I've been reading (and conversations in which I've been involved on social media) in the past two or three days, about the Catholic community's response (or non-response, as the case may be) to the Pulse massacre last year and its commemoration this year:

John Gehring, "Pulse anniversary: Church plays wounding role to LGBT people":

If Catholic bishops really want a church that listens, heals and goes to the margins as Pope Francis does, it's far past time to build a culture of encounter with the LGBT community.

David Cloutier, "The Ignatian Option: 'Building a Bridge' by James Martin, SJ":

"You can’t be sensitive to the LGBT community if you only issue documents about them, preach about them, or tweet about them, without knowing them," he [Father James Martin] writes.

Robert Shine, "Orlando Anniversary Is a Time to Reflect on Church/LGBT Relationship":

Gehring offers the following advice to stave off this mass exodus: 
"If they want to retain the next generation of Catholics — including LGBT people and their allies — Catholic leaders should listen more closely and learn from the experiences of gay and transgender people. . . . Church leaders can't stand with LGBT people without taking the time to listen to them. Bishops could take a simple but powerful step by setting up forums to meet with and learn from LGBT Catholics."

And as I tell my Facebook family and friends in sharing this article,

Yes. But I've been saying this for more years now than I can count. No such listening spaces or forums have ever been set up. And it's not only a Catholic problem. When Steve and I returned to Little Rock in the late 1990s, I made an appeal for such forums within churches that were supporting AIDS ministries at that time. My appeal fell on deaf ears. Even so-called "gay-affirming" churches did not want to rock the boat and open dialogue with LGBTQ people, to hear our stories and what they imply about the failure of church to be church at this point in history.

Father James Martin, SJ, "Catholics Should Accept and Love All LGBTQ People"

There is no group more marginalized in the church today than the LGBTQ community.

And as I tell my Facebook family and friends in sharing this quotation,

And as this article is published, news circulates that Cardinal Timothy Dolan, previously president of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, has endorsed a book by a Catholic man promoting the absurd notion that gay people can become "ex-gay" by denying who they have been made by God.

It is not only Cardinal Dolan: it's also Cardinal Robert Sarah and Archbishop José Gomez: see their recommendation, in this paid ad at Religion News Service, of Daniel Mattson's new book peddling the notion that one can choose to be "ex-gay" and that making that choice is obligatory for good Catholics.

The Catholic church remains (and isn't this astonishing — the lack of basic honesty, elementary commitment to justice, human decency, and moral awareness it shows?) a church in which people enjoying heterosexual power and privilege define what it means to be LGBTQ from the vantage point of Catholic teaching — in which people enjoying heterosexual power and privilege are shameless about exercising their preferential option to speak on behalf of and down to their LGBTQ brothers and sisters, but unwilling to open space to listen respectfully to us. And unwilling to acknowledge that their heterosexual power and privilege is unmerited, and may be a blinder and impediment as they seek to understand what it means to be LGBTQ and Catholic.

When we do speak in our own unvarnished voices telling our own gospel truths, they stop their ears and tell us we are not the right kind of people, with the right pedigrees, from the right backgrounds and places. We're too "angry," too "bitter," too out to get the church . . . . 

The excuses are endless. I heard them all, in another context, during the Civil Rights struggle in the South as I grew up in the middle of it. Such self-serving justifications for immoral stolidity just about drove Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. around the bend, because these excuses came primarily from the progressive wing of the white churches — just as they do today within the Catholic context when the issue is the matter of learning to respect the humanity of LGBTQ people.

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