Tagged: Catholic

Catholic Bishops Becoming Increasingly Hysterical in Opposition to Marriage Equality

With the U.S. Supreme Court poised to rule on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 in June, and two new states enacting same-sex marriage legislation in the first few months of 2013 (with another potentially on the way), marriage equality in the United States is on the move.

RainbowCatholicWhile this is welcome news to equality-minded folks across the country, it’s decidedly bad news for America’s Catholic bishops, who are leading the crusade to exclude same-sex couples from legal civil marriage. It’s a battle they’re clearly losing, but as the bishops’ struggle against the tide of history becomes ever more exhausting, they’re taking a cue from their Anglican counterparts: their opposition is becoming increasingly hysterical.

In their latest anti-equality attack, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has prepared an insert that Catholic parishes across the country will place in their bulletins in May and June. They warn that a pro-fairness Supreme Court ruling (a broad negative ruling,” as they call it) could “redefine marriage in the law throughout the entire country, becoming the ‘Roe v. Wade’ of marriage.” [emphasis theirs] Continue reading

Cardinal Dolan to LGBTs: Wash Your Hands Before Entering My Church

Archbishop Timothy Dolan smiles during the Solemn Vespers ceremony for Dolan at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New YorkNew York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the American Catholic Church’s most outspoken homophobe, caused a stir last month when he acknowledged that the Church needs to be more “welcoming” to gays and lesbians. He then proceeded to denigrate loving and committed same-sex relationships as mere “friendships,” although this detail was largely overlooked in coverage of his remarks thanks to a misleading and overly optimistic New York Times headline.

Things got even more confusing at the end of April, when Dolan expounded on his “let’s welcome the gays” message in a jaw-droppingly arrogant blog post where he made clear that any such “welcome” would be conditional: only those who accept the Catholic Church’s anti-gay teachings could be truly welcomed into the fold, in the same way that children must wash their “dirty hands” before they can be welcomed to the dinner table.

Naturally, Dolan’s condescending comments provoked outrage among equality-minded Catholics. Last Sunday, a small group of them — LGBTs, straight allies, and parents of LGBT children — decided to see whether Dolan meant his remarks literally. They gathered a few blocks away from St. Patrick’s Cathedral, soiled their hands with ashes, and prepared to walk to the Cathedral for Sunday Mass. Their intention was to see whether or not they would be welcomed, and if they were, to be a peaceful, silent presence during the service in order to draw attention to the Cardinal’s exclusionary remarks and the marginalization experienced by LGBT Catholics.

How did Dolan respond? By calling out the New York Police Department to prohibit the group from entering the cathedral for Mass — unless they washed their hands. Continue reading

Detroit Archbishop: Pro-Marriage Equality Catholics Taking Communion is ‘Not Unlike Perjury’

allen_vigneron2In the latest salvo fired by the Catholic Church in its worldwide crusade against LGBT rights and marriage equality, Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron said yesterday that pro-equality Catholics should not receive Communion and claimed that those who choose to do so essentially perjure themselves before God. USA Today reports:

On Sunday, Vigneron said about supporting gay marriage and receiving Communion: “For a Catholic to receive holy Communion and still deny the revelation Christ entrusted to the church is to try to say two contradictory things at once: ‘I believe the church offers the saving truth of Jesus, and I reject what the church teaches.’ In effect, they would contradict themselves. This sort of behavior would result in publicly renouncing one’s integrity and logically bring shame for a double-dealing that is not unlike perjury.”

The Detroit Free Press also notes that another prominent Detroit-area Catholic — Edward Peters, a professor of canon law at Sacred Heart Major Seminary — made similar comments in a March 27 blog post:

Peters said that Catholic teachings make it clear that marriage is between one man and one woman. And so, “Catholics who promote ‘same-sex marriage’ act contrary to” Catholic law “and should not approach for holy Communion,” he wrote. “They also risk having holy Communion withheld from them … being rebuked and/or being sanctioned.”

Peters didn’t specify a Catholic politician or public figure in his post. But he told the Free Press that a person’s “public efforts to change society’s definition of marriage … amount to committing objectively wrong actions.”

In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Peters as a legal advisor to the Apostolic Signatura, known colloquially as the Vatican’s Supreme Court. According to Jeremy Hooper of Good As You, marriage discrimination runs in Edward Peters’ family: his son Thomas is the communications director for the National Organization for Marriage, which fights to preserve an exclusionary definition of marriage across the country.

Of course, this latest attempt to use the Eucharist — which is sacred to Catholics — as a weapon of punishment against marriage equality supporters is utterly repugnant and deserves to be widely condemned. But it’s definitely not the first time Catholic leaders have singled them out in this way. The Archbishops of Newark and San Francisco have made similar statements advising gay and lesbian Catholics and their pro-equality allies not to take Communion at Mass. Bishops in Green Bay, Wisconsin and Springfield, Illinois warned Catholics before the November election that voting for candidates that opposed the church’s positions on marriage equality and reproductive choice would jeopardize a Catholic’s eternal salvation. And Twin Cities Archbishop John Nienstedt even told the mother of a gay child — who wrote to him pleading for acceptance for her son — that she “ought not to participate in the sacramental life of the Church” unless she renounced her pro-equality views and that her “eternal salvation may well depend upon” her ability to accept the Catholic Church’s anti-gay teachings. 

When considered alongside such a reprehensible track record, these statements from Archbishop Vigneron and Edward Peters prove once again that the Catholic Church has made homophobic bigotry and the spiritual bullying of LGBT people and their allies a top priority. In my view, it’s utterly monstrous.

TWO Condemns Illinois Bishop For Implying that Catholics Must Vote Republican or Go to Hell

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 28, 2012

Contact: John Becker, Director of Communications
Phone: 920.265.6023
Email: john@truthwinsout.org

Truth Wins Out Condemns Illinois Bishop For Implying that Catholics Must Vote Republican or Go to Hell

Politicization of the Catholic Pulpit in an Election Year is Alarming, Says TWO

 

Bthomas_paprockiURLINGTON, Vt – Truth Wins Out slammed Springfield, Illinois Catholic Bishop Thomas Paprocki today after the prelate released a video message in which he implied that, because the Democratic Party is pro-choice and supports marriage equality, casting one’s vote for a Democratic candidate threatens one’s eternal soul. After specifically pointing out what he called the “intrinsic evils” endorsed by the Democratic Party platform, the prelate told his flock, “…a vote for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil and gravely sinful makes you morally complicit and places the eternal salvation of your own soul in serious jeopardy.”

“We are incredibly alarmed by the blatant politicization of the Catholic pulpit in this election year,” said Wayne Besen, executive director of Truth Wins Out. “The bishops are trying to turn Catholic parishes into political precincts.”

“This is a contemptible and transparent attempt by Bishop Paprocki to use fear to bully and manipulate Catholics into voting for the GOP,” added John Becker, TWO’s Director of Communications. “It’s incredibly clear: in their crusade against the civil rights of LGBT people, the American Catholic bishops have essentially jumped into bed with the Republican Party in a truly unholy alliance.”

TWO also questioned the timing of Bp. Paprocki’s video as it became public just 40 days before the November elections, at a time when political campaigning has reached a fever pitch.

“Bishop Paprocki’s timing is dubious and highly questionable,” said Besen. “It’s hard to believe that the release of such a video so close to the election happened by chance. If there is indeed a concerted effort on the part of Catholic bishops to meddle in election-year politics, the Church needs to be investigated for repeatedly violating its tax-exempt status.”

Paprocki’s video is just the latest in a long string of anti-gay activities on the part of Catholic leaders:

  • The Minnesota Catholic Conference, the policy arm of the state’s Catholic bishops, is sending out a letter to every Catholic household in that state, asking them to vote yes on a constitutional marriage discrimination amendment on the ballot this November and urging them to donate money to the main group working to ensure its passage. Twin Cities Archbishop John Nienstedt has also injected a prayer for marriage discrimination into the Mass, ordered his priests to organize grassroots political committees in their parishes – at parish expense – for the express purpose of drumming up support for the amendment, attempted to silence any dissenters within the clerical ranks, mandated marriage discrimination lectures in Catholic schools across the archdiocese, and caused pro-equality lay employees to fear for their jobs. In 2010, the Catholic Conference mailed an anti-gay DVD to all 400,000 Catholic households in Minnesota.
  • Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha, Nebraska recently sent a letter to every parish priest in his diocese in which he gave them permission to devote parish time and resources to an anti-LGBT group that’s gathering signatures in order to force a referendum on Omaha’s sexual orientation nondiscrimination ordinance, with the goal of overturning the law.
  • In a recent interview with the Los Angeles TimesSalvatore Cordileone, archbishop-elect of San Francisco, said that gay and lesbian Catholics in sexual relationships of any kind should not present themselves for the Sacrament of Holy Communion.
  • Newark, New Jersey Archbishop John Myers equated same-sex marriage with incest in a pastoral statement earlier this week, saying that Catholics who support marriage equality are unfit to partake in the Eucharist and should “refrain from receiving Holy Communion.”
  • Last Sunday Chicago Cardinal Francis George, who came under fire last year for comparing the LGBT movement to the Ku Klux Klan, used his homily at a Mass celebrating couples’ golden anniversaries to take a swipe at marriage equality and trivialize the relationships and marriages of loving, committed same-sex couples, characterizing them as merely “friendships.”
  • Peter Sartain, Archbishop of Seattle, recently posted a video message in which he ominously warned that society “would be harmed beyond repair” if voters in Washington upheld that state’s marriage equality law in the November election.
  • This summer, the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts backed out of a real estate agreement after it found out the buyers were a gay couple, possibly violating state law in the process.
  • Catholic high schools and universities now routinely rescind speaking invitations to LGBT people and even straight allies.
  • Pope Benedict XVI endorsed the American bishops’ anti-LGBT efforts in an address at the Vatican in March.
  • Also in March, the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento de-funded a local nonprofit agency serving that city’s homeless population after finding out that the agency’s newly-hired (non-Catholic) director supports marriage equality.
  • Earlier this year, a Catholic priest in Maryland denied a lesbian woman communion at her mother’s funeral.
  • An openly gay music teacher at a St. Louis-area Catholic school was fired in February after an archdiocesan official overheard him talking with co-workers about his upcoming New York wedding to his partner of nearly twenty years.
  • In November, Dan Avila, then serving as the USCCB’s “Policy Advisor for Marriage and Family,” resigned in disgrace after TWO and many other groups condemned him for writing that homosexuality was caused by Satan entering the wombs of pregnant mothers and messing with their hormones.
  • Last year, as lawmakers in New York debated a marriage equality law, now-Cardinal Timothy Dolan equated allowing same-sex couples the freedom to marry with North Korean-style communist dictatorship and compared marriage equality with incest and polygamy. After the law passed, Dolan complained that he had been tricked by pro-equality politicians and claimed that churches in his diocese were being threatened with lawsuits intended to force them to perform same-sex weddings, despite the fact that New York’s marriage equality law explicitly prohibits such suits.

“It is the height of arrogance for prelates like Bp. Thomas Paprocki to use the power of the pulpit for partisan political purposes,” said Becker. “A church that protected pedophile priests has no moral authority whatsoever to condemn LGBT people or their healthy, adult relationships, nor does it have the right to order Catholics to vote to support anti-gay oppression.”

Truth Wins Out (TWO) is a nonprofit organization whose goal it is to create a world where LGBT people can live openly, honestly, and true to themselves. TWO monitors anti-LGBT organizations, documents their lies, and exposes their leaders. TWO specializes in turning information into action by organizing, advocating, and fighting for LGBT equality.

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Originally written for and posted at Truth Wins Out.

BREAKING: Nebraska Catholic Archbishop Spearheading Charge to Remove Housing Nondiscrimination Protections

george_lucas_abpIt really is a daily occurrence. . .

The amazing Zack Ford over at ThinkProgress has just reported that George Lucas, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Omaha, Nebraska, is leading the charge to repeal the city’s sexual orientation nondiscrimination ordinance, which was passed in March.

An anti-LGBT conservative group called the Heritage Coalition is working to beat back the protections, which Ford notes they were able to do successfully last month in Lincoln.

Archbishop Lucas sent a letter to every parish priest in his diocese, explaining that the Heritage Coalition needs to collect 12,000 signatures in order to force a referendum on the ordinance in spring 2013, and that they should feel free to devote parish time and resources to the Coalition’s signature-gathering effort, should they so choose. A local conservative blog posted the text of Lucas’s letter, which I’ve reproduced in full below (emphases mine):

Dear Father,

You will soon learn from the local media about an effort that is underway to repeal the City of Omaha’s sexual orientation anti-discrimination ordinance.  The sponsor of this initiative – the Heritage Coalition – must collect 12,000 signatures from October to November to place the ordinance on the spring (2013) mayoral ballot.  The sponsor believes that if given the opportunity, Omahans will vote to repeal this ordinance.

Representatives of the Heritage Coalition may try to solicit your support.  As pastor of your parish, you are free to exercise your discretion in determining if and how you want to involve yourself or your parishioners in this effort which addresses an important moral issue.  Examples of your involvement may include speaking about the issue in your parish, giving petitioners access to your parish events, scheduling information nights at your parish to discuss the issue, providing informational handouts to your parishioners, etc.  If you and your parishioners choose to participate in this petition drive, I ask that there be no undue disruption of parish liturgies, nor distraction from the important moral issues at stake in national and state elections this fall.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Archbishop George Lucas

What Lucas is doing here is essentially giving his blessing to a ballot initiative that seeks to re-enable anti-gay discrimination in employment and public accommodations in the city of Omaha. What could his motivation possibly be other than pure, unadulterated anti-LGBT animus?

Fr. Benedict Groeschel, Catholic Legend: In Some Sex Abuse Cases, Teenager is the ‘Seducer’

groeschelPardon me while I pick my jaw up off the floor: in an interview with the National Catholic Register published this week, Fr. Benedict Groeschel, the 78-year-old founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, said that in some priest sex abuse cases, the teen – not the priest — “is the seducer.”

Groeschel made the startling comments after being asked about his work with priests accused of sexual abuse:

People have this picture in their minds of a person planning to — a psychopath. But that’s not the case. Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown, and a youngster comes after him. A lot of the cases, the youngster — 14, 16, 18 — is the seducer.

groeschel_dolanGroeschel, seen at right with New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, then puzzlingly discussed intimacy between priests and minors in terms of “heterosexual” and “homosexual” and said that intolerance of relationships between men and boys is a relatively new phenomenon, even citing the case of convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky (because, after all, at the time when Sandusky began molesting boys, society just looked the other way):

Here’s this poor guy — [Penn State football coach Jerry] Sandusky — it went on for years. Interesting: Why didn’t anyone say anything? Apparently, a number of kids knew about it and didn’t break the ice. Well, you know, until recent years, people did not register in their minds that it was a crime. It was a moral failure, scandalous; but they didn’t think of it in terms of legal things.

If you go back 10 or 15 years ago with different sexual difficulties — except for rape or violence — it was very rarely brought as a civil crime. Nobody thought of it that way. Sometimes statutory rape would be — but only if the girl pushed her case. Parents wouldn’t touch it. People backed off, for years, on sexual cases. I’m not sure why. . .

At this point, (when) any priest, any clergyman, any social worker, any teacher, any responsible person in society would become involved in a single sexual act — not necessarily intercourse — they’re done.

And I’m inclined to think, on their first offense, they should not go to jail because their intention was not committing a crime.

groeschel_ewtnAstonishing, right? But Fr. Groeschel isn’t just some random friar running off at the mouth in a secluded monastery somewhere — he’s actually something of a Catholic rockstar. When I was a teenager in Green Bay, Wisconsin running away from my sexuality, I worked in a Catholic bookstore where we couldn’t restock Groeschel’s dozens of books fast enough. Despite his advanced age, Fr. Groeschel is in high demand for speaking gigs, spiritual direction, and religious retreats across the country. And he’s even got his own television show on the Eternal Word Television Network. (For those of you who don’t know, EWTN is the traditionalist Catholic equivalent of the evangelical Trinity Broadcasting Network.)

So yeah, this is kind of a big deal in the Catholic world, especially because Groeschel was one of the relatively few figures who was admired to some degree by conservatives (for his views on reproductive rights and homosexuality) and liberals (for his work in other social justice and civil rights issues). It’s just a thought, but Groeschel’s fans may want to re-evaluate their opinion about a man who would make such outrageous excuses for predatory priests.

Catholic Church in Scotland Declares War on Marriage Equality

keith-obrienNot wanting to be outdone in the alarmist anti-LGBT hysteria department by their Anglican brethren (who threatened last month to disestablish the Church of England from the state if the government legalizes same-sex marriage), the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland have declared war on marriage equality. Speaking yesterday to the UK’s Sunday Times newspaper, Cardinal Keith O’Brien — the senior-most Catholic in Scotland — did not mince words on the subject:

“Marriage is under threat and politicians need to know the Catholic Church will bear any burden and meeting any cost in its defense. . . We will use this opportunity to remind Catholics of the importance of marriage as a union of a man and a woman and to urge them to be generous in contributing to a special collection which will be used to support initiatives in defense of marriage.”

O’Brien also threatened the Scottish government, warning that it would face what he called an “unprecedented backlash” if it allowed same-sex couples equal access to civil marriage.

Gay Star News reports that O’Brien has a history of anti-gay comments, having previously described marriage equality as a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right.” O’Brien has also falsely claimed that Scottish Catholic churches would be compelled to marry same-sex couples, made the baseless assertion that same-sex relationships are unhealthy, inferior to opposite-sex relationships, and detrimental to children, and deliriously warned that marriage equality would force schools to stock what he called “homosexual fairy stories.” The news source also quotes a Catholic Church spokesperson who said that this latest escalation “. . . is a straight-forward plan by the church to up the stakes in the war on gay marriage [sic].”

Speaking on behalf of the Equality Network, the charity campaigning for marriage equality in Scotland, Policy Coordinator Tom French said:

“For the Catholic Church to spend another £100,000 fighting LGBT equality in its self-declared ‘war on gay marriage’ seems to be an aggressive, undemocratic and unchristian thing to do.

At a time of financial crisis, when poverty and deprivation are on the rise, surely there are better things that this money could be spent on. We know that two-thirds of Scots, and a majority of Scottish Catholics, support same-sex marriage. We trust that the Scottish Government will make its decision based on democratic principles and the evidence, and not who can spend the most money. We urge the Scottish Government to stand up for equality and not give in to threats.”

While Cardinal O’Brien’s outrageous, “you’re-either-with-us-or-you’re-with-the-gay-marriage-terrorists” rhetoric is sure to induce some well-deserved eye rolling (and believe me, it sure did here), we’d be foolish not to realize that the exact same thing will happen with increased regularity on this side of the pond as public support for marriage equality continues to grow rapidly. Don’t believe me? Some of America’s highest-ranking Catholic officials are already making similarly outlandish claims, and both the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Pope Benedict XVI himself have endorsed the spiritual bullying of LGBT people.

Fasten your seatbbelts — it’s going to be a bumpy night.