The late author and AIDS activist Paul Monette must be doing a little jig in heaven right now. Wednesday night Lawrence O'Donnell, host of MSNBC's The Last Word, called out the antigay Catholic Church in an articulate, explosive, captivating fulmination that promoted goosebumps and teary eyes.
Monette, as some may remember, tore up a photo of the Pope during a Creating Change conference (caught on tape for the excellent 1996 documentary Paul Monette: The Brink of Summer's End) to protest the enormous and deadly sway the Church had over its followers.
"As the United States continues our important work in the Human Rights Council this week, we are proud to recognize a historic statement, signed by a record 85 nations, reaffirming the rights of all people - regardless of who they are and whom they love. More nations than ever believe that violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity must end. The United States is proud to lend our strong support to this growing consensus and to work towards a world in which all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals can live free from fear of persecution, discrimination, or assault.
We will continue to stand firm in the Human Rights Council on behalf of all those who are at risk of violence and discrimination. And we will continue to work to ensure that rights that are universally held are universally protected."
What O'Donnell exquisitely points out, using a new poll about attitudes of American Catholics, is that actually lay Catholics disagree with the Church's teaching condemning homosexuality. Catholics for Equality has more on the survey below. But first – heeerrrreeee’s Lawrence:
Save this press release from Catholics for Equality for future reference:
Catholics for Equality, a national organization of Catholics who put their faith into ethical and effective political action on behalf of the LGBT community and their families, is voicing concern over an orchestrated effort by conservative leaders within our church to frame the growing supermajority of pro-equality Catholics in America as “confused.” The group also expressed concerns over parish funds being used by our bishops to fuel anti-gay political campaigns across the country and calls for greater financial transparency.
“Two polls reaffirming vast Catholic support for an end to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity does not suggest ‘confusion’ on an issue,” remarked Catholics for Equality Executive Director Phil Attey. “These polls show that pro-equality American Catholics are clear in our beliefs. Our eyes are wide open and we know what we see!”
“Vatican officials, U.S. bishops and paid lobbyists for state Catholic Conferences are all frustrated that American Catholics are not blindly following the heavy handed dictates from Rome, telling us not to support the wellbeing our LGBT family, parish and community members. And now that they’ve realized they’ve lost that battle, they’re trying to frame our conviction as confusion. It doesn’t take a rocket-scientist to see who’s confused here.”
Another issue American Catholics are not confused about is that bishops are channeling vast amounts of money into anti-equality political campaigns and that these financial reports are not making it into our parish bulletins. While Catholic parishes and schools continue to close due to lack of funding, in 2009, Catholic bishops nationwide sent over a half-million dollars in funds from parish collection plates to strip same-gender couples in Maine their right to civil marriage.
Catholics for Equality believes this is just the tip of the iceberg to the behind-the-scenes fundraising U.S. bishops are orchestrating for anti-gay political groups and candidates.
Last year, Archbishop Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis spent over a million dollars (from an “unnamed donor”) to support the Republican candidate for governor who opposed civil marriage equality in their state. Catholics in Minnesota protested the Archbishop’s political involvement, not only in the public square and in the media, but ultimately at the ballot box.
“Catholics deserve to know where our money is going and what our bishops are doing behind closed doors,” says Attey. “We’re well aware of the strong ties between our bishops and ‘suspected hate groups’ like the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) but our bishops and these groups are being tight lipped when it comes to their political coordination and financial relationship. They owe it to us, Catholics in the pews, to be transparent about those efforts and relationships, especially when it comes to our money.”