Father Tony

Nuns Join The Battle For The Soul of American Catholicism

Filed By Father Tony | November 18, 2010 10:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality

I like New York's Archbishop Dolan. I really do. We were in Rome together as seminarians. We were not close friends, but the man radiates good will and has a huge heart. Unfortunately, his spiritual instincts are tempered by his overwhelming sense of slavish 10-11-17_1.jpgobedience to the papal agenda of homophobia. I strongly suspect he privately does not agree with the Pope about this, but he is a humble man who assumes that the Pope has some spiritual closeness to God that exceeds his own. This is where we differ. I've always been the voice in the crowd proclaiming the obvious fact that the emperor is wearing no clothes. That is certainly one reason why I am where I am today (married and blogging in my underwear in Fort Lauderdale) whereas many of my classmates are bishops.

This week, Archbishop Dolan's election as president of the Unites States Conference of Catholic Bishops, sends a clear message about the anti-LGBT position of the American bishops and their willingness to meddle in American politics as minions of Benedict XVI.

Catholics For Equality explains the significance of this election.

As the press release states, Catholics are alarmed by the diversion of their contributions away from works of charity in their communities and into inappropriate (and very likely illegal) political interference.

I am heartened, however, by a statement from the group of roughly 500 American nuns who comprise the National Coalition of American Nuns. You won't find this statement on their website (they need to fly under the radar to avoid "The Inquisitor"). Reading their words lets me know that Catholics will not be easily herded into a dangerous pen. We have been taught to form our consciences and to follow them. We have been taught to question authority. We are amused, not awed, by the idea of moral infallibility.

Here is what the long-suffering and good sisters have to say and I encourage you to send a supportive message to Sister Beth Rindler who courageously affixed her name to the statement:

November 16, 2010
Nuns to Bishops: Condemn Bullying, not Marriage Equality
On behalf of GLBT Catholics, their families and friends, and thoughtful Catholics across the United States, the National Coalition of American Nuns is appalled at the lack of sensitivity of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to lesbian and gay persons.
More than a month has gone by since the media broke the news about a series of gay suicides. During that time, the US Catholic Bishops failed to make a single statement regarding these tragic, preventable deaths. Not one bishop's voice was raised to condemn a culture where youths are bullied for being who God created them to be and are sometimes pushed by society's judgments to attempt suicide. Many people have accused certain segments of organized religion, including the Catholic hierarchy, of fueling these attacks and contributing to suicides.
The annual meeting in Baltimore of the US Catholic Bishops this week offered an opportunity to decry these horrendous events. Instead, the bishops have chosen to discuss "the defense of marriage," their well-funded attack on same-gender couples.
Like blinded Pharisees, they fail to see that the Catholic community is embarrassed by their silence in the face of brutality and incensed by their push of a political agenda against marriage equality--all at a time when their credibility on sexual matters is at a record low.
The bishops have not learned from the Minnesota experience, where Catholics returned the anti-gay DVD's the hierarchy sent to each household in the state. The anger of Minnesota Catholics is erupting all across our country. Faithful Catholics believe their bishops should be preaching a message of concern and understanding, instead of rejection and hate. 
The National Coalition of American Nuns calls on all US Catholics to rise up and say, "Enough, enough!  No more discriminatory rhetoric and repressive measures from men who lay heavy burdens on the shoulders of others and do not lift one finger of human kindness and compassion. We all need to work for a holy and just society and church."

Founded in 1969 to study and to speak out on issues of justice in church and society, the National Coalition of American Nuns consists of approximately 500 Catholic sisters from various congregations of women religious in the United States.
Sister Beth Rindler, SFP
12434 Klinger St.
Detroit, MI 48212

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Thank you for this Father Tony. Sister Beth is indeed courageous!

When I began transition, my spouse' mother refused to aknowledge that I existed at all any longer. This, rightfully troubled Cindy very much and she looked for ways to try and understand why her mother felt it was ok to treat me and her in such a hateful way.

Cindy is a self-described "recovering catholic" but, she wondered if the priest at a parish where she was once the music director could provide some insight. He did, Father Mike was very clear in HIS interpretation of our our lives; By transitioning, I was fulfilling God's will by allowing myself to become that which God intended. By staying married, we were in not so good graces however; once I was post-op, Cindy would be in a same-sex marriage which was not acceptable - BUT, since she was past the safest age for childbirth and both of us had carried out our obligation to sire and bear children, he could "let her off" with very little penance, IF she left me and sought an annulment.Annulment should be easy he said, as I had obviously lied to her. "That's good news, isn't it, he asked?

Not once did love come into consideration and that being said, Cindy had the answer to her mother's behavior.

Wow, Amy.

Kudos to the good sisters - especially Sister Beth Rindler.

You should ask her for an interview, Tony.

I encourage all of you to write a note to Sister Beth Rindler above-

There are many, many gay priests. Most are celibate, but celibate or not, there are many who are attracted to the same sex. Now, in order not to feel unbearably guilty about that, and as they're sexually frustrated, they can't help but think about it a lot, it's important that they be given some form of excuse. That there's nothing wrong per se with same-sex attraction, it's only same-sex behaviour that's wrong.

But how to casuistically find or manufacture a reason why it's not the attraction that's wrong, just the behaviour? That it is, in the words of the magisterium, "intrinsically disordered"? Tricky, that. But it's vital to do so, lest a large proportion of the priesthood - possibly even a majority - feel tortured by feelings they can't control. They can control their actions (well, most can) but not their attractions.

What's needed is something plausible - and of course Natural Law, which you can state without proof supports whatever claim you care to make, as long as it's not completely and obviously ridiculous.

Hence the notion that there is an indivisible and immutable boundary between Male and Female, that Nature supports this, and that to violate or blur this boundary is a threat to all Creation. That this is not an out-dated Metaphysics, but something very real and relevant today. Such a blurring, so contrary to nature, is a Threat to Mankind, and the Human Ecology. And same-sex sexual behaviour (but not attraction) blurs this line, so must be anathematised. There, simple, problem solved. And it all ties in nicely with the Theology of the Body too, a dogma very popular with the more conservative elements of the Church who wish to roll back Vatican II.

Except... there are side-effects. Unintended consequences. Those people who are born with bodies neither stereotypically male not stereotypically female, regardless of sexual behaviour, also blur this line. Blur? Some of us shatter it!

So we are a threat to Creation too. A threat to all Mankind. Because of what we were born as. Constantine the Great, venerated as a saint in the Eastern Rite, put intersexed infants in caskets and threw them into the river as a kind of ecological recycling program, for this very reason.

That means our existence must be denied, or at least suppressed. We're inconvenient facts, that must be kept out of the eye of the Faithful, lest they ask unanswerable questions.

Persecuting Gays is unjust - unless for a really good reason, such as preventing the "intrinsic disorder" of same-sex marriage. But persecuting those of us who are Intersexed is a different matter, that's just by definition. One could even call it a matter of self-defence.

In addition to ENDA’s protection of same-sex conduct, its threat to religious liberty, and its contribution to the cause of same-sex “marriage,” there are other obstacles to its passage. The bill’s treatment of “gender identity,” which was not in the 2007 bill, would have an adverse effect on privacy and associational rights of others.
-- Letter from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to members of Congress

They can't condemn Trans or Intersexed people for being Gay - as many are not. So they rely on the rights of "privacy and association", the same argument they actually fought against in the 1950's and early 60's when it came to civil rights.

Hey Father Tony,

How many nuns are there in the United States?

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | November 20, 2010 9:29 AM

Of course, this does not mean that all nuns are of the same opinion. Most living nuns are senior citizens themselves now are they not?. Still, the activist nuns who championed this statement are to be congratulated.

The church needs an injection of what Jesus taught. Compassion.

Dear Mykelb,
"Pheh"? I don't know what that means.

BRAVO Nuns. Read this statement by the National Coalition of American Nuns! Our movement is bigger than us, this struggle is going to change religion on earth... to make it as it was supposed to be before MEN took it over as a political and power weapon. The truth is among us!

MauraHennessey | November 21, 2010 7:21 AM

Many of the activist nuns are senior citizens...and are powerful, experienced and determined activists these days

thank you for passing on Sister's comments. I was just sitting here getting ready to search the the Episcopal Church in the United States of America with the idea of leaving the Catholic church.
The current atmosphere is so negative and abusive.
Even though I am not part of the gay community I have conducted numerous services for our community here.
The new bishop has just banned the Sunday mass for the community