Father Tony

A Christmas Eve Call to Catholic Action

Filed By Father Tony | December 07, 2009 6:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Action Alerts, Marriage Equality
Tags: Catholic bishops, gay equality, marriage equality, married priests, women priests

Will you please consider sending this call to Catholic action to all your Catholic friends and relatives?

Did you know that the mistreatment of women, married men and gay men by the Catholic bishops is really the same issue?

I began to realize this while thinking about why the struggle for gay equality in America seems to be failing.

Recent losses in California, Maine and New York have left gay activist leaders arguing about what exactly went wrong. Those battles have, however, made clear the identity of an aggressive enemy of the gay community, the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church.

To please the Pope, the American Catholic bishops have pooled financial resources to overcome marriage equality. They have threatened the cessation of social services and have bound their flock to the belief that God demands that marriage be exclusively between one man and one woman. They have mandated the taking up of collections to support their battle against marriage equality.

These bishops also believe that women are not good enough in the eyes of God to be ordained priests. These bishops also believe that married men are not good enough in the eyes of God to be ordained priests. These bishops also believe that gay men are not good enough to be ordained priests (a particularly curious belief given the huge gay portion of their own ranks).

Now is the time for Catholic women, married men, gay men, and all their Catholic friends and relatives to band together and to end this nonsense. You have the ability to gain your rights if you will realize that these bishops no longer speak for God in this matter. They have gone astray and are misleading you. In your hearts you know this to be true.

You can rectify this situation by holding back your financial support until women, married men and gay men all have equal access to the Catholic priesthood. Do you understand how critically important your financial support is to the life of the Roman Catholic Church in America? Do you understand what would happen if, as a group, you turned off the financial faucet? There would be a panic among those bishops and soon they would find a way to announce that the Holy Spirit has revealed a new truth; that women and married men and gay men deserve equal places in the church and are all worthy of the priesthood. The threat of bankruptcy can be a fast route to holy wisdom.

I am suggesting that on Christmas Eve, all Roman Catholics in America refrain from giving money when the collection basket is passed, and that you continue that restraint until your God-given rights are granted.

I am also suggesting that you consider placing a small pebble in the collection basket as a clear message to your bishops. Your priests who are torn between believing in your equality and their sworn obedience to the bishops might send those pebbles to those bishops just as they do a good portion of the money you routinely give them. And remember, those bishops have already cast the first stone. All you would be doing is politely returning it to them.

The Roman Catholic Church in America is at a crossroads. There will soon be either a healthy enlightenment or a rapid withering. Catholic women, married men and gay men who understand that their bishops are speaking for the Pope rather than for Jesus Christ in this matter will save their Church if they act together. Christmas Eve is the perfect time to start.

I am urging you to refrain from financial support as an act of love for your church. I do not want to see the Catholic Church destroyed by a generation of bishops who are confused and in need of your intervention. They will someday thank you for doing what they could not do.

Will you please consider forwarding this call to Catholic action to all your Catholic friends and relatives?

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If you really want to do the world a favor, stop supporting them altogether. Forever.

How many atrocities does the catholic church need to commit before the world demands justice?

Does the church hate gay people? Yes, it always has. Does the church discriminate against women? Once again, yes, it always has.

But suddenly all is forgiven if the church simply lets gay people, women, and married men in the door?

Why?

Just this year, the Irish government published the 'Ryan Report' which documents the sexual, physical, and emotional abuse of tens of thousands of children.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/may/20/irish-catholic-schools-child-abuse-claims

The report says the abuse was endemic in church run schools and orphanages. Another report uncovering more abuse was issued in November.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5i75ARlz1g9vdw5GMzoyHJ-_0Dkeg

In both cases, the catholic church protected the abusers, intimidated families into silence, unduly influenced police investigations, and did everything in it's power to cover it up.

When the Ryan report was issued, the Archbishop of Westminster said that the abusers showed courage in facing the allegations.

All of these scandals are in addition to earlier scandals involving child abuse, and the scandal of the horrible "Magdalene Houses" for girls.

And this is just one country. America has a great many catholic scandals of their own.

The church has barely acknowledged any responsibility in these cases, and the American church has the audacity to sign the Manhattan Declaration. Nice.

But, I guess if they let gay people and women in the door, everything will be okay though.

All is forgiven.

Do the world a favor, and let the church die the death it deserves.

Dear Todd,
Look deeper. Look longer. Back to the church that Jesus set in motion. It was so beautifully simple: a memorial breaking of the bread among people who love, and a belief in truth disclosed in beautiful stories. That is what I loved. I will not abandon that just because a generation of wrong-headed bishops have trashed it.

Sorry, but I have to disagree.

The current environment is not the result of a few wrong headed bishops. It is simply the culmination of a 2000 year history of intolerance, greed, and superstition.

The church you describe has very little historical evidence behind it. The history of the church I am describing is well documented.

Nothing the church does will ever make up for the pain and suffering they have caused.

It is time to bring it to an end.

dogs playing poker on black velvet. nice choice of picture.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | December 8, 2009 12:57 AM

I think that we have to look at the institution of the church much like a many faceted jewel of positives and negatives. For most of it's history the Roman church had married clergy. Father Tony, you are very brave to have posted on this issue at this time. I remember vividly the feeling of having an angel on my shoulder.

We would know nothing of Greek, Roman, and most of Egyptian history had there not been the efforts of the Roman Church and the Orthodox church. Their contribution to the literal survival of Europe during the dark ages was certainly their finest hour. Many people alive today *would not be alive* had there been no unifying force at that time. The full history of Western civilization and institutions we hold dear might well not exist today.

Sadly, between the Crusades, Inquisitions, papal prohibitions against Jews, alignments with authoritarian kings, a Concordat with Hitler among other fascist dictators in Europe and more recently in South America the institution of the church has demonstrated long before now that she is not a friend of free thinking. Also it demonstrates that Christianity itself has cost many people their lives, alienated the followers of Islam, and finally by teaching against condom use, is still costing lives.

This is the institution that suppressed Copernicus, insisted the world was flat, and then allowed that the Earth was round, but was the center of the universe with our sun revolving around it. She stifled all scientific innovation as long as she could and threatened those who indulged in this practice with death.

This is the institution that sold indulgences and titles. She is still in the title selling business, but the "get out of Hell free" card left with Martin Luther.

This is the institution that burned people at the stake in England for the horrible crime of daring to read the Bible in English.

There is no greater repository in the world of culture, fine art, and the best examples of "civilization" than the Catholic Churches. I also know that they are determined that the "man behind the curtain" not be revealed to be only a man.

It would be fine with them if there is only one priest per 10,000 Catholics as that is the ratio they maintain in much of poor South America right now. The Roman Church is fine with that arrangement. The American church is presently recruiting foreign priests from countries with a lower ratio of priests to Catholics to staff our wealthy parishes. (Hmmm, follow the money, again)

While I totally agree with your call to withhold any funding to their coffers all I foresee is a reversal of the recruitment of priests as the church shrinks in power, prestige and influence just as it has already done across Europe.

Could I afford the wager I would bet all the hand hammered gold bars in the ceiling of Santa Maria Maggiore church in Rome. The gift of her Majesty Queen Isabella of Spain which were made from the first gold stolen by the Spaniards from the new world. I would bet this institution will gladly shrink to it's core few believers as it exploits the African continent next.

Meanwhile, our Gay supportive, Marriage for clergy, and female priest affirming Episcopal Church allies need our support in numbers to overwhelm the conservative retrogrades in that faith. Should anyone require religion in their lives vote with your feet the way a Protestant would.

I think many thousands of letters renouncing Catholicism sent to bishops along with an end to funding might, just might, have an impact. If they are allowed to silently wither they will do just that.

Gutsy Post Fr. Tony!

The holiday season should be a time of happiness, joy, peace and love for everyone.

For those who consider themselves Christians, Christmas is a time a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is a individual who has always been described as loving, caring, accepting of everyone and always there for
the downtrodden of society. At the present time, alot of Christians are not accepting of everyone, there for the downtrodden, caring or loving. Truthfully, if Jesus Christ were to come back to earth today he/she would not be welcome in the majority of Christian churches.

With the diversity of the United States, during the holiday season we also recognize the traditions of the various non-Christian faiths. In some countries homosexuality is a crime and forbidden by both the state and the religion.
This country was founded on the basis of the separation of church and state. In so many countries around the world, there is no such separation. In my opinion, some people here in the United States under freedom of religion feel it is totally acceptable to practice hate and discriminate in the name of their religion.

In my opinion, regardless of one's faith: it is truly sad when individuals use their faith/religion to justify hate.

Robert,
I am with you right up to the point of your wager. I would put money on the guess that if the Catholic Church in North America does wither drastically, Catholics will break from Rome. It will be described as a schism, but really it will be just an obvious and practical restructuring of the service provision system. You would think that the shrinking of the world via the net and TV etc would have made the pope more visible, vocal and a daily intercessor in the lives of American Catholics. Instead, he is distant and frozen in time. A new and charismatic - American - pope could change that - and there we have the third possibility. If B16 dies at the correct moment, in a panic will the cardinals elect an American to keep the church intact. You heard it here first!

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | December 8, 2009 9:34 AM

Well, I would expect one more Italian pope and then it would be followed by an African pope. After all, the Borgias were hardly Italian...there is history here of non Italian popes.

And regarding my wager it is what I was told in 1985 when I visited the Basilica. Of course the guide did not say it was stolen from native American peoples :) and there is even dispute if Isabella was the source. Still, it is not gilt, It is gold and it is the pope's personal church in Rome.

I believe you know how I have struggled with this but I do think that my suggestion that we seek out our natural allies, rather than convert whole institutions, is about the correct patience level for this age. Even now, Rome will happily accept married Anglican priests who convert family and all. Even now they are playing at the margins and it's last evidence was just a week ago. Even now the greatest advocates of Anglican schism are within Africa and Asia and it is about US.

I agree with both Father Tony and Robert. And I'll bet on the same horse that Father Tony is picking.

If history teaches us anything, it's this: when a religion gets too repressive and authoritarian, it inevitably faces a schism as its more liberal and dissenting members head for the door. The Roman Catholic Church has seen many ruptures --starting with the Eastern Church, and on through the Protestant Reformation, the period of the Anti-Popes, and the Church of England. One has to wonder why the Pope and the Roman Curia don't get it by now.

The same splitting has happened endlessly within different Protestant denominations -- and is happening even now over same-sex marriage and other issues.

I think it's interesting that the Catholic bishops are mandating collections to be used for fighting same-sex marriage. Historically, money has been a big issue. For centuries before Henry VIII split with Rome over the issue of his divorce, England was seething with resentment that so much English gold was sucked away to Rome in the form of tithes. Henry didn't just go on to marry Anne Boleyn -- he also went on to nationalize the Catholic monasteries and appropriate their wealth.

In my opinion, it's past time for dissenting American Catholics to bolt and form their own Church. Discontent has festered for a long time over divorce, birth control, marriage for priests, ordination for women and other issues besides same-sex marriage. Word has it that not all the bishops are mindlessly aligned with Rome on these issues. The bishops were NEVER a monolith, and inevitably their positionings reflected the splits taking place.

Indeed there are already dissenting U.S. groups that have formed their own Church. As a former Roman Catholic, I have the pleasure to know Archbishop Wynn Wagner of the North American Old Catholic Church, whose church is St. Mychal Judge's in Dallas. Whenever I am present at services there, I am always deeply touched that an openly gay man has emerged as one of the chief figures in an American Catholic schism.

To the American Catholics who have a heart on all these issues, I say Way to go. Have the courage of your convictions and do what your hearts tell you is the right thing to do. You, at least, will have learned the hard lessons of history.

I do not see how an American pope will be any better. The current system is that of a self-perpetuating autocracy. In other words, like minded person(s) in power keep appointing unelected like minded persons.

The second problem is that the reality of this type of system is that it abandons its claim of searching for truth, by instead repeating the perceived orthodoxy generation after generation . This is done because the clerical advancement is purely by ass-kissing those above in order to advance one's clerical career. In a system such as this, one can never introduce new scientific or medical data that conflicts with accepted "truths", or else such a cleric will undoubtedly face a glass ceiling, or worse, demotion or expulsion. This is evident concerning topics such as married priests, women as clergy, contraception, and homosexuality.

Historically, this process of anti-science and anti-medicine punished many persons, such as Galileo and Jordano Bruno. When presented with irrefutable facts in opposition to the orthodoxy, the autocratic governance (pope, cardinals, bishops) change the discussion from one based upon facts, evidence, or reason, to one purely based upon "obedience" to the autocracy. There is nothing holy about an obedience that is antithetical to the search for truth. Among the thousands of victims to such a anti-truth seeking system was Martin Luther.

So many excellent points.

And, for what it's worth, I choose to stand apart from the official Roman Catholic church- because to do anything else for me, at this moment in my life, would be to permit and condone abuse of my person and my experience. Once my eyes are opened to an abusive situation, I will leave it. This I have done. But I also will not allow the church to become my enemy. I can't let it have that influence.
A friend recently reminded me of this quote:

"I can be angry. I can hate. I can rage.
But the moment I have defined another being as my enemy,
I lose part of myself,
the complexity and subtlety of my vision.
I begin to exist in a closed system.
When anything goes wrong, I blame my enemy.
If I wake troubled, my enemy had led me to this feeling.
If I cannot sleep, it is because of my enemy.
Slowly all the power in my life begins to be located outside,
and my whole being is defined in relation to this outside force, which becomes daily more monstrous, more evil,
more laden with all the qualities in myself
I no longer wish to own.
The quality of my thought then is diminished.
My imagination grows small.
My self seems meagre.
For my enemy has stolen all these."
Susan Griffin

It is one thing to believe in the person, message and mission of Jesus; it can be quite another to believe in the message, mission and ministry of the Roman Church.

I appreciate your idea, Tony. It speaks so optimistically for you. But for me, it would be like waiting for an abusive husband to change, and I don't have the time or the trust left to wait.

At their latest meeting, the Roman Catholic bishops upped the ante. They are returning to their rule against DATING someone who is not Roman Catholic. If a teenage Roman Catholic boy goes to the movies with a teenage Methodist boy, it is a double-whammy.

Part of me is in awe that a group of people has such a grasp of what God (the unknowable) wants and is willing to risk becoming irrelevant to society in its zeal to follow what they claim to know. The other part of me is sad because their passion has led to so much pain (the Inquisition, the Crusades, and suicides of gay kids). It is a shame that the Roman sect can’t find the humility to rejoin the rest of Christianity and to offer solace to those who need their support (but find only condemnation).