Archive for the ‘Catholic Protest’ Category

Catholicism: Why the Sheep are Scattering

August 11, 2013
Avenging Angel

Avenging Angel

by Doughlas Remy

Without fear, shame and the concept of hell, the church would pretty much be out of business. Or at least out of the business they’re presently in.   –Dean Hansen

I think Dean Hansen has it exactly right: “Without fear, shame, and the concept of Hell, the [Catholic] Church would pretty much be out of business.”

Conservative Catholics writers and bloggers routinely use the threat of eternal damnation as their ultimate trump card when they feel cornered by demands for change. The threat is usually covert, thinly veiled by references to “judgment,” “pleasing God,” “consequences of sin,” and “being lost.” The avowed purpose of these allusions is to encourage sinners to secure their salvation while there is still time. Their real and obvious purpose, however, is to stoke feelings of existential Angst about death, guilt, and the Final Reckoning. Once believers are “primed” with such thoughts, the institutional Church is positioned to influence their behavior.

However, these fear dynamics are no longer as effective as they were when the Church’s authority on matters of faith and morals went virtually unquestioned. Western Catholics are now, by and large, well-educated and cosmopolitan. They live in pluralistic societies where monotheisms co-mingle more or less comfortably precisely because the hard edges of absolutist faith have been progressively worn down by commerce, communications, and a worldview increasingly informed by science and reason.

The threat of damnation has lost its sting. We are now all Universalists: the idea of an exclusionary heaven loses its appeal once we see people of other faiths—or of no faith—as “like us,” no better and no worse. None of us seriously believes that the Dalai Lama is an evil man deserving of eternal punishment, or that only a select few (i.e., those who espouse our own particular views) will enter that “strait” gate into Paradise. These archaic ideas have been seen for what they are: naive, tribalistic, solipsistic, and profoundly divisive. Their power to leverage Catholics’ behavior and unify the Church has waned. The old sheep dog has lost its teeth, and the sheep are scattering.

Conservative Catholics—those who have held fast to the modalities of fear and shame—sometimes express their bewilderment about the pace of change in the actual beliefs and practices of Catholic laity, a laity that, in the U.S. and several predominantly Catholic countries, has supported same-sex marriage and access to contraception despite the fulminations of the bishops. What they seem not to understand is that the majority of Catholics in these countries have become “father-deaf,” so to speak. They simply ignore what they are instructed to do, without any fear of consequences. They have looked behind the curtain and seen who the wizard really is.

Students at a D.C. Catholic University Seek Ouster of Catholic Chaplain for Anti-Gay Comments

April 25, 2013

Reaction to a story published April 9, 2013 in Bondings 2.0.

by Doughlas Remy

Blake Bergen and Damian Legacy

Blake Bergen and Damian Legacy

(Background: Last month, two gay seniors at George Washington University in Washington D.C., filed a formal complaint with the University’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion against Fr. Greg Shaffer, Chaplain at the Newman Center, which receives funding from the GWU Student Association. The students, Blake Bergen and Damian Legacy, claim that Fr. Shaffer has created an environment hostile to GLBT students seeking pastoral care at the Newman Center.)

Fr. Greg Schaffer

Fr. Greg Schaffer

This is where change will come from. The new generation of young people in Catholic universities have little patience with spiritual bullying of the sort that Fr. Shaffer practices, and I believe they will either win their case against him or both the Newman Center and George Washington University will take a hit. Let’s not forget that students these days generally select the universities they will attend, and so they are a force to be reckoned with. GWU cannot survive without them. The Newman Center there depends on the GWU Student Association for a significant amount of its funding.

And let’s not imagine that it is just a couple of gay activists demanding Fr. Schaffer’s ouster. The two seniors mounting the campaign–Damian Legacy and Blake Bergen–have the support of many straight students on the campus, many of whom have also complained of Fr. Schaffer’s harsh counseling style and his homophobic homilies.

He tells gay students that they should be celibate for the rest of their lives (!) and calls their relationships “unnatural and immoral.” He called Legacy “wicked and faithless” and “intrinsically disordered” for being gay. Legacy reports that he was on an “emotional rollercoaster” for months afterwards, losing sleep and appetite.

Under the law, Fr. Shaffer is free to speak as he likes, even if his counseling is abusive. But if he is upsetting the students who come seeking pastoral care, then he may have to take his abusive speech elsewhere. The younger generation of Catholics are not afraid to challenge him.

Bergen and Legacy filed their complaint in GWU’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion. The University has a zero-tolerance policy toward harassment or bullying of LGBT students. Fr. Shaffer’s conduct appears to be in violation of that policy.

In response to charges that they are “persecuting” Fr. Shaffer, Bergen and Legacy have explained their position:

Let us be clear, we are not attacking the Roman Catholic Church. We are by no means asking the Church to change its views on same-sex marriage, nor are we seeking validation or celebration of our sexuality by the Church, or anyone for that matter.

What we ask is to be treated with dignity and respect at our university. We ask that the Chaplain of the George Washington University Newman Catholic Student Center, a man charged with the pastoral care of students by a non-university entity, treat each of us with equal love and value. We ask that our university provide a safe and welcoming environment for every student.

Can we not agree that our students should be safe in schools and that all bullying should be stopped? Furthermore, as an institution dedicated to acceptance and inclusion should GW not be called to take steps to stop homophobic bullying along with all other forms of bullying? We might not all agree about full celebration and inclusion of LGBT civil rights, but we can all agree that bullying should be considered unacceptable, especially from our spiritual leaders.

We have been criticized for waging an intolerant attack on civil liberties by speaking out against a religious leader for espousing discrimination and anti-LGBT rhetoric. Hate in God’s name is hate, not religion.

4/26/13: Further thoughts:

For some time now, we’ve been seeing the fruits of the diversity programs that began in the K-12 schools 20 years ago, especially in the progressive urban areas of the East and West coasts.  My own son, now 25, is a product of those efforts, and I couldn’t be more pleased. He gets along with everyone and I’ve never heard him bully or disparage anyone.

University students now have high, though certainly not unrealistic, expectations about the respect that they are due. It must have been a shock for these two GWU students to be treated in ways that would have been completely unacceptable in their K-12 schools. The Catholic Church is going to lose these young people unless it can change its message, which they rightly perceive as psychologically or spiritually abusive.

It is sad that the secular schools, and not the Church, were the ones to lead on this. What efforts has the Church made to stop bullying and teach respect for diversity in the schools?

It’s Time to Quit the Catholic Church

February 7, 2013

This ad from the Freedom of Religion Foundation appeared in the Washington Post on May 8, 2012 (Click to enlarge):

Time to Quit the CathChu

Huge Catholic Support for Same-Sex Marriage

January 15, 2013

After a couple of hours spent studying U.S. religious demographics, I discovered some revealing correlations concerning Catholic support for same-sex marriage in this country. The data is from each U.S. state’s religious demographic profile that is widely available from a number of sources. The one I used was in Wikipedia’s article on American Catholicism.

Here’s what is interesting: Same-sex marriage has been legalized in only one state that is NOT predominantly Catholic, and that is Delaware, where the largest denomination is Methodist. Eight of the nine states that have legalized SSM are among the 30 “most Catholic” states. Four of them are near the top of the ranking of “most Catholic,” at positions 3 (MA), 6 (NY), 7 (NH), and 8 (CT). Vermont is ranked as 18th “most Catholic, Iowa is 27th, and Washington State is 30th.

Of the states that are considering legalization of same-sex marriage this year, ALL are in the top 23 “most Catholic states, and in all of them, the largest denomination is Catholic. They are Rhode Island, New Jersey, Illinois, Vermont, Minnesota, and Hawaii.

It appears that only the “least Catholic” states and the Mormon and Baptist states have succeeded in pushing back same-sex marriage legalization for the present.

Catholics seem to be supporting same-sex marriage. In fact, Catholics may be among the staunchest supports of same-sex marriage. What are we to make of that?

A Catholic Opponent of Marriage Equality Asks, “How do we move forward?”

January 6, 2013

Archie Bunker

Toward the end of an animated discussion about same-sex marriage, Catholic blogger “Misplacedbook” asks me,

How do we move forward?

Can we?

You find our teachings bigoted. So what should be done? We won’t stop professing them. Are we to be shunned, relegated to a cultural ghetto, disinvited from the cocktail parties, and marginalized? Is that a recipe for unity?

My answer:

Misplacedbook, I am optimistic about the outcome of these cultural quarrels that we’re having, and, though they are painful at times, I believe there will be healing, both in the short term and the long term. True, the Shias and the Sunnis are still fighting over something that happened more than a thousand years ago, the Irish Republicans are still steamed about Cromwell, and there are Southerners who still haven’t gotten over their defeat in the Civil War. On the bright side, however, the Berlin Wall fell almost overnight and, in this country, racial segregation is a thing of the past. In my state and in much of this country, gays and lesbians no longer have to hide themselves and live in fear. These are ways that the world has improved just since I was born.

I don’t agree with you that same-sex marriage will deepen the cultural divide—at least not over the long run. It will bring us together just as it brings couples together. Over time, those who fear it will realize there is nothing to fear, and it will become normalized, just as racial integration did. This is already happening.

The Church’s position on homosexuality cannot be sustained without an unacceptable level of damage to its credibility and moral authority. Its staunchest allies on this issue are in countries where ignorance is rife, and medical science has universally repudiated its premise that homosexuality is disordered.

You ask what will happen to Catholics who continue to channel these teachings? They will continue for a while to find support in their own ranks, and then even that will dwindle, as we are already beginning to see. Voice for the Faithful, The National Catholic Reporter, Hans Küng, and the LCWR are at the gates of the fortress and are running Ethernet cables under the walls.

The Internet has the highly salutary effect of aerating sites like this one [Crisis magazine]—or in fact any site that attempts to promulgate only one point of view. You’ve noticed what happened here. Hard-line Catholics like yourself kept asking why I was here, as if this were a closed meeting in the basement of the parish church. Hello, it’s the Internet. You’re in the public square.

But to focus more sharply on your question about being relegated to a cultural ghetto: I don’t think that will happen to you if you are savvy. It needn’t. You will do what my father did, starting in the seventies: he stopped talking like Archie Bunker. He gradually stopped disparaging African-Americans at every opportunity. He wasn’t getting positive feedback for his remarks. I didn’t like them, my brother didn’t like them, our neighbors didn’t like them. He wised up. I think he was racist until the day he died, but he learned to keep the lid on it.

Another Purge, More Melodrama at The Cornerstone Forum

November 22, 2012

Not long ago, Gil Bailie was considering a run for public office. But voters beware. If he were to run an administration anything like he runs his Cornerstone Forum website and Facebook page, his periodic ideological purges would rival those of the Politburo.

The Cornerstone Forum is certainly no forum, if by “forum” we mean a place where ideas on a particular issue can be exchanged. Those who step up to the microphone must be prepared to parrot the prescribed line, or they’re out on their duffs. The ideological purity exacted from commenters is extreme and even extends to prohibitions against factual corrections.

Mr. Bailie’s bottom line is that the Catholic Church can do no wrong. She is the gold standard for all that is True and Good. She has never erred. Her teachings are not to be questioned. And in Mr. Bailie’s little empire, one does not question them. Or him.

Dorothy Jospin was the latest unwary visitor to Mr. Bailie’s Venus Flytrap. It all started when Mr. Bailie posted the photo shown to the right, with the following caption:

This is what we all looked like at 12 weeks in the womb. Legal to kill in all 50 states. Anyone think its not a person? Pass this along. It literally might save a life.

Dorothy responded:

This photo actually shows a plastic baby replica made by Mattel. It sells for $25, and you’ll find it on Mattel’s website.
For a photo of a real 12-week-old fetus (which looks nothing like this one), go to YouTube and find the video called “Week by week fetal development showing fetal development stages.”

At week 5 the fetus is the size of a poppy seed. At week 12, it is about two inches in length and weighs less than an ounce. It’s not until week 17 that it becomes the size of an orange.

The majority of abortions (88% to 92%) occur during the first trimester (the first 12 weeks), and the majority of those are well within the embryonic, pre-fetal stage of development. Most abortions occur sometime after the blastocyst attaches itself to the wall of the uterus.

The blastocyst has 70-100 cells (contrasted to a fruit fly, which has 100,000).

Mr. Bailie responded:

Quite literally, the devil is in such details. Poppy seed. Fruit fly. All these dismissive metaphors, and all the technical equivocations, so profoundly miss the essential point that it is hard not to assume that that is their purpose. Whatever the fetus looks like at 12 weeks – or 12 minutes – it remains perfectly clear to anyone who has not hardened himself against reality that abortion takes the very human life of the most innocent, powerless, and voiceless among us.

To which Dorothy had the effrontery to respond:

If the case against abortion is really compelling, then misrepresenting the facts makes it seem that the facts are not on the side of the pro-life movement. I believe it would be best to studiously avoid any tinkering with images or transparent attempts at propagandizing. They only discredit the movement.

At about the same time, Mr. Bailie posted a photo of German Lutheran pastors filing in front of Nazi officers, with the following caption:

This photo is a march of Lutheran pastors who allowed themselves to be useful idiots to the Nazis, and march under the banner of the deutsche Christians. Do they look like idiots today or what?

Dorothy responded, pointing out that the Catholic Church also collaborated with the Nazis, and not just the Nazis but with virtually every fascist regime of that era. The Church saw these regimes as bulwarks against Bolshevism and French anti-clericalism. Dorothy mentioned the 1933 Konkordat between Hitler and the Vatican. This is something that one must never mention on The Cornerstone Forum.

Mr. Bailie “clarified” by referring to Catholic and Lutheran “heroes” and conveniently ignoring the Vatican’s complicity as well as that of rank-and-file clergy of both confessions:

There were heroes among the Lutherans and Catholics in the face of Nazi thugs. But most of those who complain that the Church failed to stand up to savage oppression are cowered into submission by the threats of political correctness. It doesn’t inspire confidence that these same people would resist something far more threatening. More to the point, those who criticize the Church for not doing more to resist the mass murderers of yesteryear are the first and loudest to condemn it for resisting today’s mass murder of the unborn. You can’t have it both ways.

…Nor should Mr. Bailie. But that was it. Dorothy disappeared. Every trace of her. All that was left were Mr. Bailie’s responses, dangling like half an arch in the air.

At this point, Sophie Sommers, who must have been following the awkward exchange, spoke up to ask, “What happened to Dorothy??” and “Was that really a Mattel baby?” She reminded me of the gangster’s moll played by Mia Farrow in Woody Allen’s “Radio Days,” stumbling into a restaurant just as one of the diners—a Mafioso—has been gunned down at his table. She looks at the assassin, who is still holding his gun, and says in her shrill Brooklynese, “Oh my God! You KILLED Mr. Luciano! I SAW you shoot him!” (View clip here.)

As if that weren’t messy enough, Ben Boyce, a parishioner from St. Leo’s Parish in Sonoma, left this comment:

Oh, Gill [sic], what happened to you? You’ve drunk the Konservative Kool-Aide, and now you see the tepid centrists of the Obama Administration as some kind of anti-Christ threat to religious liberty in America. You might have known that this was ridiculous at one time, but now the logic of orthodoxy has backed you into defending this absurd thesis. The greatest blow to the last remnants of the moral authority of the Catholic bishops was delivered by their own unhinged attack on Obama and making common cause with the most reactionary elements in American society in the 2012 election. Thank God the Catholic laity had more sense than their bishops. When Bishop Jenky denounced Obama as a threat to America like Hitler and Obama, and not a single bishop had the courage to standup for decency and common sense to distinguish themselves from this outrageous comment, I knew that the American Catholic Church has hit bottom. Men of that caliber have no spiritual teaching worth listening to.

Whereupon Mr. Bailie brought out the big guns again:

It pains me, on the day before Thanksgiving, to have to repeat—once again— what I have said multiple times about this Page and our comments policy. But below is a word-for-word repetition of what I have said many times. Those who ignore this, and especially those who insist on slandering the Catholic Church or mock its teachings, should not be surprised to find that they are blocked from further comment.

Mr. Bailie then, for the fourth or fifth time, pastes in his entire speech about the purpose of The Cornerstone Forum.

Mr Boyce responds:

Apparently, my comments have precipitated this response. I do take exception to being described as some kind of random outsider who is coming in to stir up trouble on your Facebook page.I am a weekly Mass attendee at St. Leo’s parish in Sonoma, where you lived and worshipped for many years.I have listened to every audio tape you made over a twenty-year period, until you took a turn to the dark side by falling under the influence of the Religious Right. I have attended a number of your lectures and have always held you in high regard until this latest chapter in your career. You can ban me from the page, but that will not be because I am making inappropriate or offensive comments. Yes, I and my Catholic colleagues are directly challenging your assertion that you and your conservative Catholicism represent the gold standard.

Mia Farrow as "Sally" in Woody Allen's "Radio Days"

Mia Farrow as “Sally” in Woody Allen’s “Radio Days”

And Sophie again, in her best gangsta moll voice:

So THAT’s what happened to Dorothy! Was it her comment about the plastic baby? Or pointing out that the Lutherans weren’t the only ones who collaborated with the Nazis? These things are both true, aren’t they? Don’t you want to know when something you’ve shown or written on your Facebook is untrue? I always taught my children that truth was important–not just “Truth” with a capital T, but “truth” with a small one. The little truths all add up, and when you punish those who speak them, pretty soon you lose the big Truths, too. I know this, because I have family who lived in the DDR before Reunification.

I think you owe Dorothy and Ben Boyce an apology. But you’ll probably throw me off now, too. How many of us have there been?

Mr. Bailie responds:

I shared a post by my friend Jennifer Roback-Morse and the photograph she posted. I never said Lutherans were the only ones who collaborated with the Nazis. My gosh. What nonsense. I made my point clear in the follow-up. Who thought that the fetus in the palm of the hand was an actual fetus for goodness sake? Of course it was a replica —and of course it was not bloodied and covered with fetal fluid. My gosh. To make such a big deal out of that—all the while ignoring the real point—the systematic killing of millions of unborn babies in the womb—is simply amazing. You wonder why I’m uninterested in that kind of dialogue. I know it will be a badge you will wear proudly, but unless you can show some respect for the purpose of this Facebook page, you will be obliged to find another outlet for your positions. Don’t expect further response.

Sophie’s bold response:

I know you won’t like this, Mr. Bailie, but what you said about the Catholic and Lutheran heroes suggests that they were in opposition to their churches’ official positions, because both churches supported the Nazi regime. The Vatican was not heroic; it collaborated and cooperated with fascist regimes. If Catholic priests in Germany were heroic, it was because they spoke out not only against the Nazis but also against their own magisterium. This is what you don’t seem to be able to acknowledge, and I wonder why you can’t. It is the truth.

And an offline comment from Dean Hansen:

Golly Jeepers, Sophie!  Golly gosh!
Bullshit.  Thou dost protest too much. You fully believed the fetus was real:  “….This is what we all looked like at 12 weeks in the womb. Legal to kill in all 50 states. Anyone think its not a person? Pass this along. It literally might save a life.”  Why would you ask others if they thought it was a person unless you thought it one yourself?  If you knew it was plastic, it would cancel out the rhetorical assertion in your question. “Anyone think it’s not a person?”  (Well, you don’t of course, but will nevertheless use any kind of trickery to get a concession from your captive audience even if it means lying to yourself.)  I’m sure that once you Googled the images and realized your error, you had two options.  Come clean and acknowledge that you were fooled, or lie and pretend ignorance.  The second option seems to fit you well, but it makes you look no less foolish.  Why make a big deal out of that?  Because you have decided to make abortion your Waterloo; your rubicon.  When you use the word “killing” and “murder” indiscriminately to define what women do when they are pro-active in their own decisions, it is a big deal.  It’s a big deal because 1) You are barred from the actual experience of birth, and need to show some humility when it comes to other people’s plight.  2) Life actually begins before conception (sperm and ova are alive) but they don’t make babies, therefore, since life is a continuum, you draw the line at conception, which, along with birth, are both false thresholds.  At what point does a baby become a person?  Fertilized eggs, like the gametes that precede them, cannot live on their own, or think or feel.  They are biological life in the strict sense, but they are not human life.  Since they are not human, you are not guilty of murder if you abort them.  3)  Look beneath the heated passions on the surface and you will find there is a remarkable lack of polarization on the issue, save with old guard Catholics and picketers at abortion clinics with concealed handguns. Most people think that abortion should be allowed but not encouraged. That is the de facto reality.  And most people choose the first trimester as their own threshold because of what science, biology, nature, and common sense tell them.  It is why only 1% of abortions occur after week 20, and usually only when the life of the mother is in danger, or the fetus is damaged and not sustainable.  (Most women who waited 15 weeks or more to get an abortion did so because it was so hard to find a clinic where the operation could be performed, and not because they were resistant to basic information about gestation and pregnancy).

1000+ Washington State Catholics Sign Ad Supporting Marriage Equality

October 30, 2012

The following ad appeared in the Seattle Times, Sunday, October 28, 2012:

Why I hope Conservative Christians Will Fight Gay Marriage Tooth and Nail Till their Teeth and Nails Fall Out

October 29, 2012

by Valerie Tarico

With marriage equality battles in front of the voters in four states, the faithful are out in flocks to defend traditional matrimony.  I don’t know exactly what traditional means in this context. It certainly doesn’t mean biblical, or it would include captive virgins and sex slaves and fathering children for your deceased brothers. It certainly doesn’t mean Mitt Romney’s version of traditional, since his great grandfather had five wives and his great-great grandfather had twelve.

Continue reading this article at Away Point.

The Cornerstone Forum Silences Critics

October 11, 2012

Just beneath the calm surface of Gil Bailie’s Facebook page for The Cornerstone Forum (TCF), the waters are roiling. Bailie, a paleo-conservative Catholic whose life and career have become a wholly-owned subsidiary of the magisterium, uses TCF as a Gatling gun against all those perceived “enemies” of Catholicism gathered outside the walls: homosexuals, pro-choicers, secularists, and especially the more moderate Catholic voices, the voices of protest and reform. But he is attempting to insulate himself—on Facebook of all places—from any return fire. Bailie has built a fortress that also functions, as one visitor put it, as an echo-chamber and a hall of mirrors—a make-believe world where those who are faithful to the Church can go on pretending that the institution is eternal and that its teachings are unassailable.

Gil Bailie of The Cornerstone Forum

Except that it’s not and they’re not. The make-believe world is under attack, most significantly and vocally by Catholics themselves. And Bailie is armed and ready for its defense. Those who disagree with the views expressed on TCF are enemies who must be wiped out, not through negotiation or reasoned argumentation but by making them simply … disappear, like the “desaparecidos” of Chile and Brazil under authoritarian regimes, or those fractious Politburo members whose images were erased from official photos. Bailie regularly purges the site of troublesome visitors. This year’s casualty count is now at around eight. These were all, with one or two exceptions, intelligent reform-minded Catholics. Others were of unknown or no faith affiliation but respectful and thoughtful in their comments. All had carefully crafted their objections to the tone and content of TCF and deserved to be heard, if only by each other.

The latest of the “desaparecidos” is S. Darrick Northington, in whose honor I am posting the conversation that occurred today regarding the HHS mandate:

(more…)

Awakening

September 30, 2012

Digital art by Dean Hansen

by Dean Hansen

I don’t like Paul, I don’t like Greek,
Or people who with forked tongue speak,
I don’t like good news mixed with bad,
Or gibberish that makes me mad.

I don’t like freedom couched in shame,
Or Gods who threaten, warn or blame,
I don’t like being told I’m rotten,
In a language dead, but not forgotten.

I don’t like mercy mixed with wrath,
or thin and narrow joy-filled paths,
I don’t like violence, blood and gore,
Or plastic saints who scream for more.

I don’t like fiction labeled truth,
or eye for eye and tooth for tooth,
I don’t like giddy, drooling clowns,
Whose dogma weighs a thousand pounds.

I don’t like sweet talk bearing chains,
from muscle heads who have no brains,
I don’t like cripples bearing gifts,
Or drowning martyr’s sinking ships.

I don’t like hate disguised as love,
With fire raining from above,
Or gnashing teeth or beating breasts,
Or endless torments without rest.

So take this church you wish to save,
The one that looks just like a grave,
That’s crowded thick with age and rust,
Of endless lies and broken trust.

Abandon fear and stand up tall,
You are the building, you are the hall,
You are the arches, brick and stone
No architecture but the bone.

No place to be that isn’t you,
Contrived of secrets blazing,
No sacred, silent place apart,
Just you and me:  Amazing.