Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Most Dangerous Catholic Priest

I don't know if you follow Roman Catholic news much these days, but it is fascinating to see the same kinds of cultural divisions and battles occur in the American RC church as in our culture at large, particularly the vehemence of the hard right.  They are united in loathing the more merciful style of Pope Francis, after the hard culture warrior years of JPII and Benedict.

But their current bugbear is a thoughtful Jesuit named Fr James Martin.

And every time he is invited to speak somewhere, the hard right Catholics roll out the hate calls and hate mail, to try to silence him. Sadly it works, more often than not.  (Interesting irony that these people are probably the same ones complaining that conservatives are silenced on college campuses.)

Frank Bruni tells us more:
What’s Father Martin’s unconscionable sin? In his most recent book, “Building a Bridge,” which was published in June, he calls on Catholics to show L.G.B.T. people more respect and compassion than many of them have demonstrated in the past. 
That’s all. That’s it. He doesn’t say that the church should bless gay marriage or gay adoption. He doesn’t explicitly reject church teaching, which prescribes chastity for gay men and lesbians, though he questions the language — “intrinsically disordered” — with which it describes homosexuality.

Think about it. Simply asking people to be kinder is enough for this guy to be attacked and accused.

San Diego's RC Bishop Robert McElroy isn't having it.  Writing in  America, he says
[A]longside .... legitimate and substantive criticism of Father Martin’s book, there has arisen both in Catholic journals and on social media a campaign to vilify Father Martin, to distort his work, to label him heterodox, to assassinate his personal character and to annihilate both the ideas and the dialogue that he has initiated.

This campaign of distortion must be challenged and exposed for what it is—not primarily for Father Martin’s sake but because this cancer of vilification is seeping into the institutional life of the church....The coordinated attack on Building a Bridge must be a wake-up call for the Catholic community to look inward and purge itself of bigotry against the L.G.B.T. community. If we do not, we will build a gulf between the church and L.G.B.T. men and women and their families. Even more important, we will build an increasing gulf between the church and our God.
McElroy, like Cardinal Cupich in Chicago, is decidedly a "Francis Bishop": open to voices and relationship.  Since being appointed, he has made a point of reaching out to many communities, which is wonderfully ironic, given that the evils of proposition 8 (the anti-marriage equality campaign in California in 2008) was largely driven by a previous San Diego Bishop, now Archbishop of San Francisco Salvatore Cordileone.  I suspect Abp Cordileone won't be getting a red cardinal's hat from Pope Francis.  Wouldn't it be delicious if McElroy did?

But the sad fact is that the hard right Catholics, like their Evangelical brethren, think that any kindness to LGBT people is evil.  They truly hate us.

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