Karen Ocamb

MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell Takes on the Catholic Church Over LGBTs

Filed By Karen Ocamb | March 25, 2011 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Media
Tags: Catholic church, Catholics for Equality, MSNBC Lawrence O'Donnell, Phil Attey

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.

It's a practice the Catholic Church appears to continue today, with some US Bishops threatening to withhold communion from Pro-Choice politicians and chastising the United Nations for its "radical agenda" to re-define gender. This at the same time the US is pushing the UN to expand it's recognition of human rights to include LGBT people. Here's the statement from the US UN Ambassador Susan E. Rice:

"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!”

Catholics for Equality applauds two recent polls that show vast and rapidly growing American Catholic support for LGBT equal rights. A March 18, 2011 poll, released by ABC News and the Washington Post showed that 63% of American Catholics support same-gender civil marriage. A March 22, 2011 poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute showed 71% of Americans support same-gender civil marriage, and 73% support legislation to end LGBT-related workplace discrimination.

“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.”

The National Organization for Marriage is a multi-million dollar political campaign, currently under investigation by the Southern Poverty Law Center for continued use of misinformation, with the intention to demonize an oppressed segment of society. The SPLC ruling on NOM as an official hate group is expected to come out later this Spring.

crossposted at LGBT POV

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Um, no he really didn't. What he actually did was talk exclusively about gays and lesbians. The term LGBT was not used, nor were bi or transfolks ever mentioned.

None of the hosts at MSNBC ever bother to cover anything but the wealthiest and most populous parts of our community, in other words wealthy and upper middle class gays and lesbians exclusively. Please don't give these pseudo-progressives any credit where absolutely none is due.

I hate to agree with the bigots, but aren't the Catholics for Equality actually confused? Last time I checked, the Pope was the head of the earthly church and had a direct hotline to God to figure out what's acceptable and unacceptable in terms of morality. The Catholic Church is the most traditional non-secular Christian church today and if these pro-gay so-called "Catholics" don't jive with what Papa Ratzi's handing down from the Big Man himself, maybe they should just leave the church and set up a new sect King Henry the 8th style instead of pretending Catholism hasn't always been a cash cow for child molestation and queer bashing.

Annette Gross Annette Gross | March 25, 2011 3:26 PM

First, there is such a thing as separation of church and state. I would think what these bishops are doing is illegal.

Second, I'm annoyed at MSNBC too. They haven't really said much about what's going on here in Indiana at all. Most of what they cover is Wisconsin. I sent an e-mail to the Rachel Maddow Show about our Rally for Equality, and nothing was said. Nor about the rallies that the unions and workers are holding, nor Planned Parenthood. It's like Indiana doesn't exist in their minds. If they have said anything about these events, I haven't heard anything about it. We're in this fight up to our wazoos, and getting hardly any coverage.

The Roman Catholic Church isn't a democracy. There is no "accountability" to those in the pews, and there never has been.

What's the beef?

There's similar hand-wringing whenever elected officials don't just follow the polls in their voting. But we live in a republic, and here we do vote for our representatives, but we vote for people with agendas, not poll-takers.


The disconnect between the millionaire ministers in Rome & the people in the American pews is huge. Sooner or later it'll cause a schism.

For those complaining of trans and bi exclusion, have you even read the polling data?

I did. It didn't ask about bi and trans people. So saying it's about LGBT people is inaccurate.

Dawn Storrud | March 27, 2011 8:17 PM

Although it is the teaching of many denominations, most Christians do not believe that every word of the "Bible" came from God. In fact most denominations encourage the use of one's brain in interpreting whether any particular message carries any message from God, whether that message is intended for use today or whether time and circumstances have changed. Roman Catholics have long taught that the church interprets the Word. Most American catholics have long abandoned the idea that a Pope cannot make a mistake in teaching about the Scripture or God's intent. Quite a few will give you there own examples. These people have been taught to share love for their neighbors, so its no wonder they are more affirming of their gay and lesbian neighbors than the average American citizen. Not being a Roman Catholic does not mean I can not thank them for their support. It does not mean that their leadership is speaks for them anymore than George Bush, either one, could say he spoke for most of us.

Renee Thomas | March 27, 2011 10:34 PM

Thanks Alex


You can't fucking help yourself can you?