"Let us make man in our image, after our likeness...in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them" (Gen.1:27)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Spit in the Face

Have you ever had someone spit at you? I don't just mean "toward" you, and I don't mean on the playground in third grade. I mean as an adult, has anyone ever actually spat in your face?

That's what happened to me yesterday on my way home through Capitol Hill. An unpleasant encounter with a taxicab driver ended with him spitting at me through the open drivers-side windows of both our vehicles.

He quickly sped off, leaving me shocked, angered and wanting to lash back at him. I called the cab company and the DC taxicab commission and followed with what formal avenues were open to me, but what I continue to be struck by the extreme level of anger that this incident brought about. I wasn't just angry, and I wasn'g just really, really angry... I was ANGRY!!!

As I sad quietly in my bedroom later last night, trying to calm down and think through why I was reacting in such an extreme way, I kept thinking about what the US Catholic bishops did earlier this week in approving new guidelines for those ministering to gay people. It occurred to me that what happened with the cab driver was actually the second time I had been spat upon in as many days -- the bishops and their so-called guidelines for pastoral care having done it the first time.

These guidelines continue to move the official teaching of the Catholic church further and further away from the more moderate approach taken by the official church over the past forty years. The bishops have embraced language that is out of sync with the rest of the sciences in refusing to use the term "orientation" and instead speaking of "homosexual inclination." I'm not sure what inclination actually means here, but it certainly doesn't convey the meaning that the rest of science has come to understand by orientation, namely an inherent (I would say God-given) and unchanging quality or characteristic at the very core of one's identity as a person.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Vatican Condemns Jerusalem Gay Pride Event

The Vatican exerted pressure on the government of Israel earlier this week by condemning a scheduled Gay Pride event. The Vatican's communique to Israel's ministry of foreign affairs began as follows: "The Holy See has reiterated on many occasions that the right to freedom of expression, sanctioned by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is subject to just limits, in particular when the exercise of this right would offend the religious sentiments of believers."

The Holy See was expressing concern that such a demonstration would be an affront to the religious values of Jews, Muslims, and Christians for whom Jerusalem is a sacred, holy city.

What the Vatican fails to recognize, however, is that the gay men and women who would be demonstrating to express pride in their God-given identity are, most likely, themselves faithful Jews, Muslims, and Christians. The fact that their co-religionists betray their own Faiths by condemning a whole group of God's children does not give the "religious sentiments" of these particular believers more significance than the views of their gay brothers and sisters.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A Matter of Hearts and Minds

Dear Mr. Solmonese,

I know that part of your job and the job of your media/communications staff is to put the best possible spin on things political, but when I read the subject of this email communication [HRC's post-election listserv email exlaiming, "We did it!"], all I could think of was George W. Bush's pronouncement, "Mission Accomplished!"

"We did it!"?? What, exactly, did we do? Yes, from a standpoint of partisan politics, the results of congressional elections are good for the Democratic party. Certainly the election of public officials who are on record supporting the advancement of those rights which gay men and women have so long been denied is also a good, dare I say hopeful, sign. But while the elected can celebrate, as a gay man I see precious little to celebrate when four more states (and perhaps five) have voted strongly to ban "same-sex marriage" in one form or another.

This means that the majority of voters in these states have come out and publicly stated that they believe gay men and women do not deserve the rights of heterosexuals. This means that the lives of gay men and women in these four states are worse today than they were yesterday. This means that as a community, we have such a long road ahead of us to change the hearts and minds of many who would rather, to be frank, see a world in which gay people did not exist.

Am I wrong to think that the HRC exists not for the advancement of one political party over another, but rather for the advancement of the rights of gay and lesbian people, regardless of other factors? I hope that your pronouncement of victory will result in concrete measures in the next Congress that clearly and practically improve the lives of gay men and women throughout country. Failing that, perhaps the HRC needs to re-consider its methods and strategies. To my way of thinking, this does come down to a matter of hearts and minds. A "fair-minded Congress" will naturally be the result of a "fair minded electorate" who believe that gay men and women are just as equal before the law as all other persons.

Best wishes.

Timothy MacGeorge Washington, DC

Monday, November 06, 2006

When will they listen?

Why is my church so afraid of the Truth?

Both the Catholic and secular press are carrying stories these days about the proposed document that the US Bishops will discuss and vote on during their upcoming meeting in Baltimore. The document on "ministry to persons with a homosexual inclination" apparently reiterates the tired phrases ("disordered") and self-contradictory logic (a homosexual inclination is not in itself sinful [which must mean it's either morally good or morally neutral, right?] but acting on this morally good or neutral inclination is sinful) that has become standard fare in these official pronouncements.

What is most disturbing -- yet not surprising -- is that the document has precious little in terms of external input. Where was the consultation with real-life gay men and women? Were any openly gay people asked what their thoughts on the topic might be? Where was the discussion with other fields of science -- psychology, medicine, sociology, anthropology -- that might just have something to say about homosexuality?

If the bishops are so certain of their views on this topic, then what would be so wrong with actually engaging gay and lesbian people in conversation? Wouldn't that be the truly pastoral thing to do -- to engage, to encounter, to listen with respect and speak with confidence? Their failure to engage, however, is unfortunately just a sign of the weakness of their teaching and will, in the end, lead to its being relegated to that closet that countless thousands of gay Catholics have happily left behind.