"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)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Eve Homily - 2008

Christmas – Mass at Midnight (Dignity/NoVa)
December 24, 2008

A good friend of mine told me about a recent public speaking training he participated in. The trainer told them that whenever you are talking to a group of people, no more than 90% of the audience is paying attention to you when you first open your mouth. As you might suspect, that percentage usually decreases as you continue talking … so, in putting together some thoughts to share for our reflection this evening, I realized even more acutely the need to be brief, and on point.

With that said, let me say that I have just 3 points I want to share with you this evening. As you know, during these four weeks of Advent, we have been focusing our reflections on the theme of “Christ our Hope.” And today we gather to celebrate the realization of that Hope in the Incarnation … this feast of “God with Us,” in this church named “God with Us – Immanuel.”

Point One: First and foremost, Christmas reminds us that the God we believe in is involved in our world. The God of Scriptures, of our Judaeo-Christian tradition – this God is not distant and removed, sitting back and watching his handiwork unfold. No, we believe that God throughout history has been and continues to be intimately involved with and present in our world.

Point Two: If God is involved in our world, then the Hope we have been reflecting on during Advent is well-founded. Theologians often speak of the “two comings of Christ.” We believe in the first and have hope in the second. As Christians we believe that what we celebrate tonight was that first “coming of Christ in time” some two millennia ago. We believe that God indeed took on the flesh and blood of humanity in the Person of Jesus, and became “one like us, in all things but sin.” And as believers we hope in the second “coming of Christ in glory” – that point in some near or distant future, known to no one, when the world as we know it will pass away. The Christian view of history – what we call “salvation history” – is marked by these two “comings” – these two bookends, as it were. Even though the first followers of Jesus in the early days of the Church thought that this Second Coming was “just around the corner,” we – like them – live in this “in-between” time. Because we have hope for and not knowledge of when this Second Coming of Christ will occur, living in these “in between times” presents its own challenges. In particular, there is the challenge of what “hope” really means. Yes, our faith in a God who took on human flesh, who suffered for us, who died for us, and who ultimately rose from the dead for us – this faith gives us Hope (with a capital H) for eternal life. But because we live in these “in between times” – a time when, guided by the Spirit, we live in “joyful Hope” – are we not also to have hopes about the here and now? Doesn’t a living faith challenge us to be hopeful about this world, these circumstances, our lives, this time? If Christ truly is our Hope, then shouldn’t that have some bearing not only about his “second coming again in glory” for which we Hope, but also impact the realizable hopes and dreams and aspirations of our daily lives?

And so it’s this question that brings me to my third and final point.

Point Three: Given the very real and concrete circumstances of the “here and now” – in the wider world, in the Church, in our communal lives, our family lives and in our own individual lives – what hopes do you and I have for today and for the future?

For the past couple of weeks I’ve actually been thinking about and writing down a few of the things that I hope for this Christmas season – and I invite each of you to pause for just a few moments – perhaps even close your eyes – and think about: What do I really hope for? As we gather in the darkness of this night – knowing that we, too, “have seen a great light” in the birth of Jesus – what hopes and dreams do I have for myself, my loved ones, and our world?

• I hope that my nephew, who has recently joined the military and is now in basic training even today, will be kept safe from all harm.
• I hope for a day when the person sitting in the Chair of Peter – perhaps a Pope Catherine the First or a Theresa the Great? – might take an active role in leading all Christians to that Unity among his followers for which Jesus prayed.
• I hope for a day when all of God’s children – regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity – will be fully welcomed in their families of origin and their families of faith.
• I hope that my parents – though still quite healthy and active even in their mid-70’s – will continue to be blessed with full and healthy lives until they draw their last breath.
• I hope for a day when Dignity is an official ministry within every Diocese and every Parish this country.
• I hope for a day when religion – especially the traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – are less a force for division or even violence, and more a force for justice and lasting peace.
• I hope for a world in which the blessings of this earth are shared by all humanity, so that hunger, poverty and homelessness are only distant memories.
• I hope for a day when our collective treatment of this Earth which sustains us will be marked by appreciation of her gifts and caring stewardship for her future.
• And finally, I hope that each of us gathered here might come to see more clearly and know more fully the living presence of the Incarnate God in our world, in one another, and in ourselves.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Vatical Opposes EU Proposal to Eliminate Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation

This headline from the conservative Catholic News Agency (CNA) reveals another enlightened public policy position from the Vatican:

Holy See not in favor of death penalty for gays, Vatican spokesman clarifies.

I feel so much better!

Monday, November 24, 2008

"No More Mr. Nice Gay"

That's the link on the front page of today's Washington Post that caught my eye. The opinion piece by Dan Wetzel provides another glimpse into the anger that is welling up among gays and lesbians in response to a political and social world that seems to be becoming less and less friendly.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Response to an Appeal

The following letter was sent in response to the Archbishop's Appeal, the annual end-of-year fundrasing effort of the Archbishop of Washington that supports many of the archdiocesan activities throughout the year.

November 9, 2008

Most Rev. Donald W. Wuerl, S.T.D.
c/o Rev. Msgr. John J. Enzler
Vicar for Development
PO Box 98076
Washington, DC 20090-8076

Dear Archbishop Wuerl and Msgr. Enzler,

I am responding to your recent letter for this year’s Archbishop’s Appeal. As a past contributor, I have been pleased to support those efforts in the Archdiocese of Washington which support the “least among us” by meeting the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the poor, the homeless, the dying, the immigrant, and those whom our society can so easily forget. Though my contributions both to the archdiocese and my parish of St. Joseph on Capitol Hill have been modest, I have tried to give what I could to support what I know have been, and I pray will continue to be, very worthwhile efforts.

However, I am writing to say that I will not contribute to the Archbishop’s Appeal for this year. Newspapers have reported that the bishops of the United States, through the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), recently contributed $200,000.00 in California toward the successful effort to pass Proposition 8 and make legal once again state-sponsored discrimination against God’s gay and lesbian children. What small contribution I would have given to the Archbishop’s Appeal will instead be donated to efforts to promote the civil rights of gay and lesbian people through our country.

The bishops of California and the USCCB continue to speak about “defending marriage,” though they fail to see the illogic of their position. After all, why would those who wish to share in something simultaneously “attack” it? Proposition 8 and other efforts through the United States to support same-sex relationships would do nothing to harm or diminish either the civil marriages that all heterosexual men and women may enter, or the sacramental marriages that the Church recognizes between men and women who are baptized. These civil efforts are about the right to civil marriage which allows gay men and women to publicly solemnize their committed relationships and share in the same civil and legal benefits accorded to other civil marriages. Gay and lesbian people forge their relationships in love, according to their God-given nature. Even the Church recognizes that sexual orientation is a given, not a choice; to deny God’s gay children the right to fulfill their nature is not only an affront to their human dignity, but it is an affront to God Himself.

This past October 12th marked the 10th anniversary of the brutal slaying of Matthew Shepard on the plains of Wyoming. This twenty-one year old man was murdered because he dared to be true to himself, a young gay man trying to find his way in the world. The world the bishops envision is one in which God’s gay and lesbian children would be told once again to deny their God-given selves; a world in which acts of hatred toward gay people would no doubt increase. While I do not believe the bishops would consciously promote physical violence against gay people, their message to gay people that they are somehow “less than” and “not fully human” promotes a violence to the heart and soul that is equally deadly.

The moral emptiness of the bishops’ position on this matter, as well as the partisan political actions they have taken, compel me to write and tell you why I choose not to support your appeal this year. Even as I do so, please be assured of my prayers for you and all bishops of the United States, that they may come to see ALL God’s children, including those whom God chose to create as gay, as members of their flock, deserving the full rights and dignity of their baptism and their citizenship.

In Christ’s Peace,

Timothy J. MacGeorge
Washington, DC

P.S. – for more information on Catholic perspectives on the issue of homosexuality, I encourage you to visit the following Web sites:

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Bittersweetness of November 4

For the past several days, the one word that has summed up how I've felt about the results of this past Election Day has been "bittersweet." I've wanted to write about my thoughts more in-depth, but the words haven't come as I've reflected on both the sweet victory of Barack Obama as president of the United States and the bitter decisions of so many Americans to continue to discriminate against God's gay and lesbian children. In the absence of my own words, let me share the words of Soulforce Execcutive Director Jeff Lutes, who writes:

"Today is a day of blessing seasoned by loss. For even as America's historic presidential election ushers in a new dawn of fairness and inclusivity, a majority of voters in Arizona, Arkansas, California, and Florida have voted, once again, to exclude some Americans from the fundamental promise of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." (See his full statement)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Bishops Spend $$ to Promote Exclusion and Bigotry

Although I decided some time ago which of the two presidential candidates would receive my vote on November 4, I've made another decision today.

It appears that the Catholic Bishops of the United States, through the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, have given $200,000 to support efforts in California seeking to overturn the right of gay men and women in that state to marry (see "Catholic bishops give $200K to ban gay marriage").

Though I'll never be a "person of means," I am making the personal commitment today not to provide financial support directly to any diocesan or parish effort - at least for the forseeable future. Instead, I will donate any funds that I would otherwise have contributed to an "official" Catholic diocese or parish to one that recognizes that all Catholics, including those whom God chose to create gay and lesbian, deserve their full rights as Catholics and as Americans.

Former CUA Law Dean on Abp. Chaput

Douglas Kmiec, former Dean of the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law, articulates (Why Achbishop Chaput's abortion stance is wrong) why the position of St. Louis Archbishop Chaput is wrong when he states his (personal!) opinion being Catholic and voting for Obama can't go together.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time – October 25/26, 2008

Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time – October 25/26, 2008
Dignity/NoVA & Dignity/Washington

There is a story from the Talmud about two great Rabbis who lived a generation before Jesus. One, Rabbi Shammai, was known to be very strict in his views and adherence to the law. One day, a gentile – a non-Jew – came to him and said he would convert to Judaism if the rabbi could teach him the whole Torah in the time he could maintain his balance standing on one foot. Thinking this ridiculous because the Torah was so involved and substantive, Rabbi Shammai picked up a stick and drove him away! The gentile asked the same question of Rabbi Hillel, who was known for his kindness, his gentleness, and his concern for humanity. Rabbi Hillel listened to his question, the man stood on one foot, and the rabbi told him that that the whole of the Torah can be summed up in this: That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary. Needless to say, the man converted!

That story seems appropriate as we continue to read from the 22nd Chapter of Matthew. Last week we heard the story about one group, the Herodians – followers of Herod and collaborators with the Roman occupiers – came to Jesus and sought to “trip him up” with their question about whether or not it was lawful to pay taxes to the emperor. Of course, Jesus would not play their game and responded with his line that they should “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”

Matthew then follows with a story in which Jesus is questioned by the Sadducees about Marriage and the Resurrection … and then we come to the passage today, where Jesus is questioned yet a third time in this very public way. This time, the question comes from a lawyer who is a Pharisee. The lawyer asks Jesus a question that was very frequently a topic of discussion: of all the laws in the Torah, which one was the most important? Jesus had a lot to choose from – as most reckonings say that there are about 613 laws – 248 of which were positive (“thou shalt”) and 365 of which were negative (“thou shalt not”).

Jesus responded to the lawyer’s question with two quotations from the Torah. The first comes from the Sacred Jewish Prayer called the Shema Israel. From the Book of Deuteronomy (6:5), this was and still is recited by pious Jews every morning and evening. “Hear, O Israel, God is One. You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." This response was probably not a surprise to the lawyer and the others listening. But then Jesus says something that probably did surprise them. He says that the second is like the first, and then quotes from the Leviticus (19:18): "You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” All of the Law and all of the teachings of the Prophets depend on these two inseparable commandments – Love of God and Love of Neighbor.

Remembering these two commandments is certainly easier than remembering 613 rules and regulations, but if the fundamental definition of what it means to be a person of faith – someone who loves God and loves Neighbor – is so relatively simple and straightforward, why then does it seem to be so difficult to live up to?

There are probably a number of obstacles that can get in our way of fulfilling this second commandment, but let me mention just two of them. First, the commandment is not just to “love your neighbor,” but it’s “love your neighbor as yourself.” I suspect that for many of us – and probably all of us at least occasionally – the “…as yourself” part can get in the way. How well do we truly love ourselves, respect ourselves, value ourselves, care for ourselves? Do we see ourselves as fundamentally good, created in God’s image and likeness? Do we ourselves as the daughters and sons of God that we are?

And even if we do “love ourselves” in the way God wants us to, we’re faced with the question of, “just who is my neighbor?” Herein lies the challenge of putting into concrete practice Jesus’ command – the command which really sums up the entirety of what Christianity is all about.

The beginning of an answer to the question, “who is my neighbor” is suggested in the reading from Exodus: our neighbor is the widow, the orphan, the foreigner who lives among us. Our neighbor is also anyone and everyone who is in need – regardless of race, language, ethnic origin, even regardless of religious connection or political perspective. Given the divisiveness that we see all around us – especially during this political season in which we find ourselves, how many of us can say we truly see the face of our neighbor in the faces of those with whom we disagree on issues of such importance? For me as perhaps for many of us, this can be particularly difficult at a time when some of our fellow citizens around the country are faced with ballot initiatives that seek to further limit the rights of GLBT people. Yes, we must never fail to be neighbor to the least among us … but the Gospel also calls us to “Be Neighbor” even to those who aren’t very neighborly toward us. It’s all too easy to be dismissive of those who would dismiss us – but isn’t the Gospel standard a little higher than that?

To help us get past stumbling blocks that can get in the way of loving God and loving neighbor, it can be helpful to remember that even before these “two commandments of love,” there is another love that makes them possible. Before we can ever hope to love God or love our neighbor, we must remember that God has first loved us. It is precisely God’s love for us that sustains us each and every day. It is God’s love for us that gives us life and breath and without which we would perish. Because we have first been loved by God, we are then able to return that love by putting it into daily practice with every person we meet.

The scriptures today are a timely reminder that these two great commandments – Love of God and Love of Neighbor – go hand in hand. According to Jesus, true love blends of faith (love of God) and justice (love of neighbor). It is impossible to have one without the other. If I have faith and truly love God with all my heart, then it is not possible for me to act with injustice and hate my neighbor. On the other hand, if by my actions and my indifference to others I show that I do not really love my neighbor; if I do not have active concern for the alien (documented or not), the widow, or the orphan; if I do nothing to help the poor and the oppressed and the outcast, and I treat these neighbors with contempt or disdain – then all my claims to love God are nothing but empty words.

While the passage from Exodus provides us with a start, each of us must individually ask, “Who is my neighbor?” Given the circumstances of my life, in what ways am I being asked to love a neighbor in need? As we celebrate this liturgy, let us pray that we may express our love for God in concrete and practical ways by loving every neighbor we encounter.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Is this the kind of bishop we need?

The Catholic News Agency reports this story about Scranton (PA) Bishop Joseph Martino, who showed up unexpectedly at a non-partisan voter forum held at a parish in Honesdale, PA. Speaking in reference to the USCCB's document, Faithful Citizenship, Martino apparently dismissed the document and stated, as reported in the local newspaper.

"'No USCCB document is relevant in this diocese,' said Martino according to the Wayne Independent. 'The USCCB doesn’t speak for me....The only relevant document ... is my letter,' he continued, 'There is one teacher in this diocese, and these points are not debatable.'"

So much for the good bishop's understanding of episcopal collegiality and the responsibility that each of us has to form and inform our own consciences.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Calif. Prop 8: Don't Let Religious Bigotry Win!

California Proposition 8 doesn't just want to relegate gay and lesbian people to the back of the bus -- it wants to throw them under it and leave them behind!

Sadly, the forces that most strongly oppose the recognition of these basic rights of gay and lesbian people attempt to root their positions in their own religious view (for example, see Mormon Church steps into the prop 8 battle or Catholic Bishops Support Proposition 8). While I can't critique the Mormon's theological position, I think there's no doubt that the Catholic bishops of California base their stance on a flawed understanding of human history and of Christianity.

Apparently equality in California is losing by 5 points, according to the latest poll numbers. People of good faith throughout the world know that a religion that does not speak the truth is empty. Please join me in fighting the lies that anti-gay groups have been spreading everywhere.

Join me in the fight by donating today to the Human Rights Campaign California Marriage PAC - and your gift will be DOUBLED.
Just click here.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

"Vote the Common Good"

A Catholic Platform for the Common Good -- http://www.votethecommongood.com/ -- non-partisan perspective on informing our Catholic consciences as we approach the polls in November.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time – August 30/31, 2008

Homily for the Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time – August 30/31, 2008 (Dignity/NoVA & Dignity/Washington)

In last Sunday's Gospel reading, we heard Peter’s divinely inspired proclamation that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Jesus responded boldly to Peter by affirming that he was correct, and by stating that Peter – the “rock” – would be the foundation upon whom the Church would be built. Jesus then continued on in language that bespoke the authority Peter would have as the first among the followers of Jesus – and last week our homilist shared with us some of the challenges that we have had over the years in understanding the proper role of this authority in the history and life of the Church.

Today, however, the scene continues and we see a very different encounter between Jesus and Peter. In speaking to his disciples, in helping them to learn more clearly about who He is and what He has come to bring and to do, Jesus offers what scripture scholars call a “Passion Prediction.” Jesus prepares his disciples for what lies ahead by telling them he must go up to Jerusalem, that he will suffer greatly at the hands of the religious leaders of the day, that he will be killed, and that he will rise on the third day.

The disciples’ mindset is apparently still one that was expecting the Messiah to be an earthly king, one who would restore Israel to its previous glory, one that might perhaps throw off the yoke of foreign oppression and bring Israel back to where it should be. For Peter in particular, this prediction is apparently too much to take! How can it be that the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, would suffer such a humiliating and disgraceful defeat? How can it be that Jesus could speak so calmly and acceptingly about a future that does nothing to restore Israel and does not live up to their expectations of what the Messiah was supposed to do? And because it’s too much for Peter to bear … what does he do? He doesn’t just question Jesus and ask for an explanation. He takes Jesus aside, and, in Matthew’s words, “begins to rebuke him.” Peter – the disciple and follower – begins to rebuke Jesus whom he has just acknowledged as the Christ, the Son of the Living God!

And so – to leave absolutely no doubt about who is the Leader and who is the disciple – Jesus turns to Peter and says, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do!” “Peter the rock” has become “Peter the stumbling block.” The word “obstacle” in Greek is “skandalon” – and a scandal in the biblical sense is something that causes someone else to stumble and fall. In this brief response to Peter, Jesus is presented as speaking with as much force and strength of character as anywhere else in the Gospels. He firmly and clearly and without equivocation is telling Peter that he has overstepped his bounds and that he is still a disciple. It’s almost as if Jesus is reminding him: “You may be the rock on which I will build my church … but I am the builder and it is MY church, not yours.” By extension, these words of Jesus to Peter are also a strong and clear reminder to anyone in a position of authority within the Church. It’s a reminder that one’s authority remains only insofar as one’s words and deeds are consistent with the Will of God. God’s Will comes first – and when the person in authority speaks or acts in ways not consistent with God’s Will, the authority is void.

And then – perhaps taking a deep breath and calming down a bit – Jesus returns to “teacher mode” and explains in greater detail what his “passion prediction” means for anyone who wants to be his disciple. Just as Jesus will suffer and die, so too must anyone who wants to bear the name “Christian” follow this same path of suffering and death. To be a follower of Jesus, one must deny oneself, take up one’s cross, and follow him.

As I was thinking about these three steps – denial of self, taking up the cross, and following Jesus – I myself got held up on that first challenge of self-denial. I got caught up on it because it sounded much too much like what the Church and Society have told us as LGBT people that we should do. After all, haven’t we been told that we should deny that deepest part of us that calls us to love in the way we love? Haven’t we been told we should disregard what we know to be the truth of ourselves and that we should embrace a cross of inner repression, even though it leads to self-hatred and outward dysfunction?

As I thought and prayed about this further, I realized that I was not seeing the whole picture of Jesus’ own description of discipleship. As Jesus goes on to explain, there is a paradox in Christian discipleship. If someone wishes truly to live, then he must be willing to die. If someone wants to save her life, she must be willing to lose it. I was failing to see that any understanding of discipleship that does not lead ultimately to life is false. Yes, we are called to deny ourselves; but we are called to deny our false selves so that our true selves might emerge. We are called to lose those parts of us that are not essential to our humanity so that the divine image within us might be revealed.

How do we know, then, if we are being faithful disciples – or if we are succumbing like Peter did, to the thinking of this world? Some insight into that answer is provided by Paul in today’s reading from the Letter to the Romans.

“Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Paul reminds us that this age – as every age before us and every age until the end of time – is not entirely aligned with the will of God. Every “present age” is not in tune with the mind and heart of God. Just like when on a long road trip, the favorite station that we have tuned to our radio might become "staticky" and eventually lost the further and further we drive from home, so too can our individual and collective lives become “out of tune” with God whenever we forget the fundamental meaning of Christian discipleship. While we all know that there is no playbook for the game of life – no answer book to tell us what to do and how to act all along the way and in each and every situation – our lived faith should be constantly challenging us to deeper and deeper discipleship.

Discerning what the Disciple would do in this situation or in that situation – that is the constant challenge of our daily lives; it’s the question that faces us every minute of every hour of every day. Perhaps one rule of thumb might be to ask ourselves regularly whether we – as today’s psalm reminds us – are constantly thirsting for God? Let us pray that our hearts, our minds, and our souls never fail to recognize that we are incomplete; that we are like a parched earth without water, and that only the riches of God’s banquet can satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts.

Friday, July 25, 2008

"The truth of my judgement and conclusions"

James Cardinal Stafford has provided his personal reflections on the reception that Pope Paul VI's 1968 encycyclical, Humanae Vitae, received in the United States and his home diocese of Baltimore.

Recounting how, shortly after the encyclical's publication, he found himself gathered in a Baltimore rectory basement, being encouraged to add his name to the already-published "Statement of Dissent" by a number of clergy from Washington, Stafford states that he could not sign it. Why? "I remained convinced of the truth of my judgement and conclusions," he writes.

I'm glad that His Eminence recognizes the respect that is due to an individual's judgment and conclusions -- especially ones borne of careful thought, study, and prayer. Wouldn't it be nice if such respect were more broadly recognized at all levels of the Church, especially as it relates to those heart-felt issues that, sadly, tend to cause strife and division, rather than discussion and mutual understanding.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Congressman should mind his own business

Local D.C. public radio station WAMU reported this morning that Republican Congressman Mark Souder from Indiana has introduced legislation regarding guns and the District of Columbia. In part, Souder suggested that pending legislation in the D.C. City Council would "deprive people of their civil rights," and that his proposed legislation was an attempt to ensure that citizens were not deprived of a civil right.

If Mark Souder is so concerned with fundamental civil rights of Americans, then perhaps he should start with the right of self-governance and publicly support efforts to provide full congressional representation for the almost 600,000 residents of the District of Columbia who are disenfranchised from full participation in American government. Perhaps he should also focus his time working on issues that affect the people who elected him -- and leave the elected officials of D.C. to do the same!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Room for Gay and Lesbian Youth in the Church?

Pope Benedict XVI is in Australia for World Youth Day. I wonder if he'll have time to attend a forum for gay and lesbian youth sponsored by Acceptance Sydney, an organization providing a "safe, spiritual and social environment for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics, their family and friends"?

Monday, July 14, 2008

The People of God at Work

I defy anyone not to be moved by the Assembly's response to a man who heckled Episcopalian Bishop Gene Robinson as he attempted to deliver the sermon at a London church recently. Bishop Robinson is in London as the outsider-looking-in, having been uninvited form the decennial Lambeth Conference which, as the conference's Web site states, is an occasion, "when all bishops can meet for worship, study and conversation. Archbishops, diocesan, assistant and suffragan bishops are invited." Stopping his sermon as an unruly man stands and shouts at him, calling him a "heretic," the gathered assembly of the faithful come to the Bishop's aid by joining their voices in song to drown out the disruptive heckler.

As for Bishop Robinson, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan William's has added insult to injury. Not only has Williams invited every other Anglican Communion bishop (along with their spouses!), but so too has he invited "bishops from other churches 'in communion' with the Anglican Communion, bishops from United Churches and a number of ecumenical guests."

For Bishop Robinsson and the people of New Hampshire, this must be like discovering that that your neighbors are having a block party -- and yours is the only family on the street not welcome. And not only that, people from other parts of town have been invited as well. For you and your family, however ... well, there just wasn't a place at the table!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Catholics' Financial Support for Pope Decreases

The Vatican's consolidated financial statement for 2007 has been published, and things don't look so good. The annual Peter's Pence collection -- the traditional means by which Catholics around the world directly support the Pope and his evangelizing ministries -- fell by a staggering 32% (i.e. from €70.4 million in 2006 to €50.8 million in 2007).

Even despite an anonymous gift of €9.09 million (over $14 million) from one very generous individual, the Holy See still had a deficit of €9 million for the year. The weak U.S. dollar was cited as one of the major reasons for this deficit ("This decrease [in the surplus] ... 'is due above all to a sudden very strong reversal of trend in fluctuations of the rate of exchange, especially of the US dollar.'")

Monday, July 07, 2008

A Study in Contrasts

The photo on the cover of the recently published book, "Life in Paradox: The Story of a Gay Catholic Priest," depicts its author Paul Murray being ordained at the hands of the late Pope Paul VI. The irony of the photograph is that the man ordained side-by-side with Paul is none other than Raymond Burke, former Archbishop of St. Louis and newly-appointed Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura. Archbishop Burke is famous (or is it infamous?) for not only advocating the regular exclusion from Eucharistic sharing of those whose political views may be inconsistent with some official Church teaching, but also for the recent draconian measures against an apparently well-loved and well-respected Pastoral Associate in one of Burke's St. Louis parishes.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Catholic Justices and the Death Penalty

Despite the efforts of some to claim that Catholic teaching allows for the possibility of capital punishment, anyone who has taken the time to read the Church's position on this will quickly learn that capital punishment -- in all practical instances -- goes against the Church's call to proclaim a "gospel of life" and is forbidden. (See below.)

Why is it, then, that the four Supreme Court Justices who seem to have no problem with States wanting to expand the use of state-imposed executions are all Catholic? In the 5-4 decision reaffirming current U.S. law that allows the State to take a human life only when the individual being executed has also taken a life, Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito joined Chief Justice Roberts in dissenting from the majority.

One wonders why these jurists -- whose "Catholicity" is often made note of -- are not called to task by those prelates who have no problem witholding the Eucharist from politicians with equally questionable commitment to the Gospel of Life.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (# 2267) states: "Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person.Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm—without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself—the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity 'are very rare, if not practically non-existent.'"

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Austalian Bishops Ask Forgiveness

Through their National Office for Evanglization, the Catholic bishops of Australia recently launced a national advertising campaign inviting those who have drifted away from the Church to come back. Part of the campagin includes these words: "The Church is God’s family and, like any family, has its differences. Sometimes people are hurt by other family members. We ask your forgiveness if you have been hurt in some way through the Church."

The bishops are to be applauded for taking this step to reach out to those who have been hurt by the Church, seeking the forgiveness that is necessary to repair damaged relationships. But this is only a step, and seeking forgiveness is only one part of the process of reconciliation, as any 2nd grade Catholic preparing for his/her first confession can tell you. Other critical elements of the reconciliation process -- be that sacramental, interpersonal, or social reconciliation -- require that the sins be named, repentance be sincere, and a firm "purpose of amendment" be embraced.

As in the United States, I have no doubt that there are scores of Australian gay and lesbian Catholics who have drifted away from the Church because the message they have heard from the "official" Church is not the Good News of the Gospel, but rather a message telling them they are "disordered," "sinful," and not worthy of the respect that full human dignity demands. If such Catholics are to return, what welcome will they receive? Will the bishops and clergy of the Church in Australia engage in the dialogue that true reconciliation requires, or will they expect these faithful and spiritually hungry people simply to come back, sit down, and be quiet? Will the bishops' hearts and minds be open at least to listening to the stories of gay and lesbian catholics, stories that bespeak a God Who is not a cookie-cutter Creator, but whose Hands have lovingly formed each and every human person in unique and diverse fashion? Will they be willing at least to consider that such diversity is reflected not only in "race, language, and way of life," but also in the divine gift of sexual orientation?

I am thankful that the bishops of Australia have taken this first step. I pray they may have the faith and courage to take the next step, too.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tenth Sunday of Ordinary Time - God, Us, and Hesed

Tenth Sunday of Ordinary Time – June 7/8, 2008
Dignity/NoVA & Dignity/Washington

Studying a language other than our first or native language certainly has its rewards, but it also has its challenges and potential pitfalls. One such pitfall that any student of another language quickly learns is that there are many words and phrases in one language that don’t translate perfectly into the other language. My Spanish isn’t all that good, but I do remember learning the concept of one pitfall that involves what linguists call “false cognates” – words in one language which look like and sound like a word in another language, but which actually have a totally different meaning. For example, the Spanish word, “embarazada” doesn’t mean “embarrassed” as it sounds to our English ear; it means pregnant.

Another pitfall in languages is a bit more nuanced. This is when one word in a given language has no real equivalent in another language. The word’s original meaning might be so broad and nuanced and multi-faceted, that there’s really no satisfactory equivalent in the other language. This is actually what I encountered earlier this week when I began to reflect on the scripture readings that we have before us for our liturgy tonight. When we look at those scriptures, it’s pretty clear that our focus and attention is being drawn to a phrase which we hear Jesus repeat in the Gospel from Matthew. After calling the tax collector Matthew to be one of his disciples, and then dining with Matthew, other tax collectors and others who would be considered outcasts or socially unacceptable people, Jesus admonishes the Pharisees to “Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’” Jesus is here quoting what we heard in our first reading when Hosea, presenting the words of Yahweh being spoken to the unfaithful Israelites, states, “For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice.” So … if we take Jesus’ challenge at face value … what IS the meaning of these words: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”

The “not sacrifice” part makes sense to me and is something that probably most of us are faithful to. After all, I suspect not many of us have burning altars in our back yards on which we offer up a pair of turtle doves or a young ram taken from our flocks. So the part about avoiding sacrifice or “burning holocausts” is not too difficult to put into practice.

But the “mercy” part was a bit more problematic for me. I had more trouble with this because of the way we define and use the word “mercy” in contemporary English. In our contemporary usage, “mercy” usually means something like “leniency” or not imposing as harsh a penalty as might be justified. We think of, for example …

  • The Judge who is asked to “show mercy” before imposing sentence on the convicted criminal; or
  • Perhaps a powerhouse sports team “shows mercy” on a weaker opponent by not defeating them as resoundingly as they could.

When understood this way, I don’t often find myself in situations where I can show mercy. Mercy is usually a one-way street; it’s something that one party – the dominant, active, “in control” party – is able to demonstrate to the other, less powerful party. If this is what Jesus and Hosea and Yahweh had in mind, then I didn’t see much application to my own life. It turns out, however, that this is not what they had in mind. As it turns out, “mercy” isn’t really the best translation of the original Hebrew word. That Hebrew word – hesed – is one of those very rich, very nuanced, very multi-faceted words that don’t lend themselves to easy or literal translation. I’m no Hebrew scholar, but in Hebrew the word is “hesed” is a simple word with complex meanings. Unlike “mercy” – which is suggestive of a very one-sided relationship – hesed can’t really be understood outside of the context of a reciprocal relationship, a relationship based on mutuality, reciprocity, give-and-take.

We see this, in fact, in the translation from Hosea … the translation we have uses the word “love” … but in other translations this same word, “hesed,” is translated as covenant love, loving kindness, steadfast love, loyal love, devotion, commitment, reliability or covenant loyalty. All of these words describe the relationship that God wishes to have with us, God’s People … and the type or relationship God wishes us to have with one another.
And so with this understanding of “hesed” as covenantal loyalty that is focused on a reciprocal relationship…. What does it mean for us … as individuals and as a community, when we hear God saying: “I desire not sacrifice – not mere outward signs of religious practice – but I desire covenantal loyalty”???

For one thing, being in this type of loyal, covenant relationship reminds us that we are part of something bigger than ourselves:

  1. The presence of our national president and executive director here with us this evening remind us that we are not just this intimate community of NoVA or Washington, … but that we are connected to our brothers and sisters in the Dignity community around the country.
  2. In our Eucharistic prayer when we speak the name of the pope and the local bishop, as well as leaders of other communities the world over, it reminds us that we are part of a Church community that reaches the corners of the earth—even if, and perhaps especially if, those same Church leaders are “uncomfortable” with our presence.
  3. When we have a visible presence in events such as Gay Pride, it reminds us that we are called to be actively engaged in the world around us, being faithful and proud of who we are as God’s LGBT Catholic children.

When I was having difficulty earlier this week grasping these scriptures, I went where most of us go these days when we’re trying to figure something out … Google! If you Google the phrase, “Mercy, not Sacrifice,” you’ll get, 21,700 search results. The absolute number one, first result in that long list links to a posting on a Web site that describes itself as: “A Web Magazine for Christian Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender People.” In closing, I’d like to read what’s posted there as a reflection on these words from Hosea and Jesus – “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”

“The Pharisees taught themselves that serving God was about performing rituals, sacrificing burnt offerings and keeping traditions. Jesus was saying that the Pharisees’ judgment of the tax collectors, sinners …ordinary people…was wrong.

'Today is no different than back then. Many religious Christians and churches of all denominations have decided that being gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender is a sin and that we are, in effect, “sinners.” But Jesus is telling them that it is a SIN to view ANYONE with contempt and that the reign of God is about mercy, compassion and love for ALL God’s people. It is NOT about living a perfect life of sacrifice, but about people coming together and learning to love and accept one another other." (http://epistle.us/articles/mercy.html)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Benedict XVI & Joseph Ratzinger - Reason to Hope?

Homily for the Fifth Sunday of Easter (April 19/20, 2008)
Dignity/NoVA and Dignity/Washington

Last week, in anticipation of the visit to the US of Pope Benedict XVI, our presider and homilist, Fr. Joe spoke to us very passionately about the voice that he – and, by extension, each one of us – has a right to claim as a child of God created fundamentally good, in the image of the divine. Not yet knowing what the forthcoming visit of the Pope would bring to the Church here in the US, not knowing what the visit might mean for us here in one of the two local Churches on the Papal itinerary, and not yet knowing what the Pope’s visit might mean for us as gay and lesbian Catholics, Joe lifted us up with his words that were rooted in faith, in confidence, and in hope. Despite the efforts of too many Church leaders in our own country and around the world to say that our voices and the voices of our experience as GLBT people have no place in conversations within the Church, Joe powerfully reminded us that the vision of what it means “to be church, to be God’s people” cannot be limited by those who have been called to a particular church office, or who hold a particular church ministry. Rather, each and every one of us – baptized as we are into the saving death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – has both the right and the responsibility to be continually formed by the Word of God, to be nourished by the Eucharistic presence of Christ, to exercise our ministry of the baptized as part of that “royal priesthood, a holy nation,” and to live out our faith as full members of the Catholic Christian community.

As the week unfolded, I suspect that many of us listened and watched the coverage with more than just passing interest as we got to know this man, Benedict XVI, more and more over these past several days. Not only was I interested in watching how the media covered this visit, but I also wanted to hear Benedict's own words and read the texts of the Pope’s various homilies, commentaries and statements as he met with the bishops, with Catholic educators, with clergy and religious, or with representative at the United Nations.

The reason I wanted to be so attentive to the words of Benedict the XVI – as well as one of the reasons it was so good for us to hear Joe’s words in anticipation of his visit – was to see if there might be any difference between the words of Benedict XVI and the words of Joseph Ratzinger. As head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the words of Joseph Ratzinger – especially words spoken about God’s gay and lesbian children (and it was almost always “about,” rarely “to” and never "with"!) – were often so harsh. It was Joseph Ratzinger, after all, who spoke of homosexuality as having a tendency toward an “intrinsic moral evil” and that this inclination of the homosexual person is an “objective disorder.” It was Joseph Ratzinger who said that this “inclination” is “essentially self-indulgent,” and that committed gay unions are “pseudo” unions, and that the laws in societies which recognize civil unions or gay marriage are “gravely unjust” and that they should be opposed at every level. And, it was Joseph Ratzinger who said that men and women who raise children within the context of a same-sex relationship – no matter how loving or stable or committed that relationship might be – do “violence” to these children. Because we as gay and lesbian Catholics have been all-too familiar with these less-than-hopeful, less-than-helpful words from the past, I know that I at least was hoping and praying to catch a glimpse of something different during this current visit.

As the week went on, we may not have seen or heard an epiphany of something dramatically different about the Church’s understanding of the lived experience of faithful gay and lesbian people, but there were, to be sure, many good things that the Pope said.
  • He spoke repeatedly about a fundamental element of the Catholic intellectual perspective, namely the unity of faith and reason and how these ways of knowing are in complementary service to the unity of the Truth.
  • He spoke about academic freedom, and that in virtue of this freedom, educators, professors and researchers are “called to search for the truth wherever careful analysis of evidence leads.”
  • He recognized the value of diversity and of diversity of thought, telling the religious and priests gathered in New York that we need “to open ourselves to points of view which may not necessarily conform to our own ideas or assumptions. Thus we can value the perspectives of others, be they younger or older than ourselves, and ultimately hear ‘what the Spirit is saying’ to us and to the Church (cf. Rev 2:7).”
  • He even spoke of the human limitations that all of us are subject to, recognizing that the “splendor of the Church” is sometimes “obscured by the sins and weaknesses of her members,” and even stating publicly that our own bishops often badly handled the painful situations in which minors were sexually and spiritually abused by clergy.

More important than anything he said, however, is the significance of one thing he did. I have no doubt that what will be remembered as the defining event of this trip was Benedict’s private meeting with victims of clergy sexual abuse after the public Mass here in Washington. These men and women – all from my own home archdiocese of Boston – had the opportunity to speak with the Pope and to receive from him directly and personally his own “mea culpa” on behalf of the entire Church.

As he stated repeatedly, the main theme of Benedict’s trip to the US was, “Christ our Hope.” In his statement before leaving Rome earlier this week, Benedict said that, "With the various groups I shall meet, my intention is to share our Lord's word of life. In Christ is our hope! Christ is the foundation of our hope for peace, for justice, and for the freedom that flows from God's law fulfilled in His commandment to love one another".

With that in mind, let me share with you the words of the Czech writer, dramatist, and also the first President of the Czech Republic. On the topic of "hope," Vaclev Havel wrote the following:

“Hope is an orientation of the spirit,
an orientation of the heart.
It is not the conviction that something
will turn out well,
but the certainty that something makes sense,
regardless of how it turns out.”

As GLBT Catholics, we still don’t know “how things will turn out” under this or any future papacy. But we do know in the depths of our spirits and in the recesses of our hearts that we ARE God’s beloved children; we do know that we ARE sons and daughters of a God who has created us in the image of the divine. We do know that we ARE sisters and brothers of Jesus who not only strengthens us on this our earthly pilgrimage, but who has gone before us and even now is preparing an eternal dwelling place for his faithful disciples. As people of faith and hope, there is nothing that makes more sense to us than this. Let us, therefore, truly embrace the words of Jesus, words that we hear him speak to his disciples during the “farewell discourse” of today's reading from John’s Gospel. “Do not let your hearts be troubled… have faith in me… for I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

Friday, March 14, 2008

Bush Touts the Benefits of Ozone!!!

Just one more example of the moral and ethical bankruptcy of George W. Bush as a person and a president.

This paragraph says it all:

"When the OMB's Susan E. Dudley urged the EPA to consider the effects of cutting ozone further on 'economic values and on personal comfort and well-being,' the EPA's Marcus Peacock responded in a March 7 memo: 'EPA is not aware of any information that ozone has beneficial effects on economic values or on personal comfort and well being.'"

Monday, February 25, 2008

Why are Catholics Leaving the Church?

A new and comprehensive report from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life provides sobering information for leaders of U.S. religious communities. In particular, there is much in the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey (2008) that U.S. Catholic bishops should take heed of. But if they read only one point, it's this:

"While those Americans who are unaffiliated with any particular religion have seen the greatest growth in numbers as a result of changes in affiliation, Catholicism has experienced the greatest net losses as a result of affiliation changes. While nearly one-in-three Americans (31%) were raised in the Catholic faith, today fewer than one-in-four (24%) describe themselves as Catholic."

Then, the bishops should do what any smart, intelligent leaders do: Ask those most likely to know what explains this exodus and what should be done about it.

See the full report online.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Jesus' Transfiguration, Our Transformation: Homily for the 2nd Sunday of Lent (Cycle A)

I am not a huge HGTV fan, although someone that I spend a lot of time with is. And so I’m familiar, as I’m sure many of you are, with the types of shows that HGTV produces and broadcasts. You probably know many of the shows on that network have a similar premise or structure. Shows like “Designed to Sell” and “Color Correction” and “Desperate Spaces” and many others … these all start out with a home or a part of a home that is in need of significant help. Even those of us who didn’t get a very strong “sense of style” in our genes can tell that the places selected for the program are in great need. And so, throughout the course of the next thirty minutes … we see what was outwardly drab, dull or even ugly become updated, modernized, vibrant, visually appealing and sometimes even beautiful.

These types of programs … are really about transformation, of being changed and transformed from what they previously were into something quite different. In a similar way, today we have Matthew’s version of a gospel story which is commonly referred to as “The Transfiguration” – based on the word metamorphothe – from which we get the word “metamorphosis.” Just as we heard last week about the Temptations of Jesus – a story we hear on the First Sunday of Lent every year – this story of the Transfiguration is one that we hear every year on this, the Second Sunday of Lent.

This passage from Matthew comes a little more than halfway through Matthew’s Gospel. The disciples and followers of Jesus have been getting to know who he is more and more. They have heard him preach – especially with his wonderful parables that teach about God and the reign of God. They have been witness to an amazing power in him as he has performed miracles … including wonderful healings of the sick and others in great need. And in the passage just before this story of the Transfiguration, Matthew tells us about the first time that Jesus speaks of his death. This first “passion prediction” has Jesus telling his disciples that he will go Jerusalem, that he will suffer at the hands of the religious leaders, be tortured, and be put to death … but that on the third day be raised. Peter protests at this prediction … and Jesus sternly rebukes him, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as humans do.” And then Jesus says to all of them … all who would be his disciples… that if they want to be a part of him and his work, “…you must deny your very self, take up your cross and follow me!”

And so this is the context in which Matthew sets the story we just heard. It’s now six days later and Jesus takes 3 of his closest disciples – including Peter whom he had so recently called Satan! – to the top of a high mountain. The fact that they are going up a high mountain is a clue to Matthew’s readers and to us 20 centuries later that something unusual is about to happen. Not only in the Judaeo-Christian heritage, but in the traditions of other peoples and religions as well, the “mountain” is very meaningful – at the very least, it is symbolically where the Divine and the Human meet – where Heaven touches Earth -- and where Revelation takes place.

And so here, on top of this mountain that Matthew does not name, Peter, James and John see that – all of a sudden – Jesus is “transfigured before them.” Jesus face shines like the sun, his clothes are as white as light … and they see that he is not alone. Rather, he is standing with and conversing with two great figures from Jewish history -- Moses and Elijah! Both Moses and Elijah had their own “mountain top experiences.” Symbolically speaking, each of these great figures represents different and complementary strands of Jewish life. It was on a mountain that Moses encountered the divine and returned with the Ten Commandments … and so Moses, the “Law Giver,” represents the institutional part of Jewish life that is devoted to the structuring of society and obeying the rule of God’s law. Elijah ….the one who climbed Mt. Horeb and experienced the Divine Presence not in the drama of an earthquake or great wind or dramatic fire … but rather in the stillness of a quiet, almost imperceptible breeze … Elijah represents the great tradition of the prophets, those men and women who – usually against their own will – faithfully followed God’s Call in speaking “Truth to Power,” challenging individual leaders, or practices, or even the entire community of their day when these same leaders or practices or communities were straying from the path of walking humbly with God.

And then, as if to rebuke Peter once again who starts talking about building tents to stay there … they hear a voice, the voice of the One whom Jesus elsewhere calls “Abba.” This voice makes a simple declaration and a simple command: Do you want to know who Jesus is? “This is my beloved son.” Do you want to know how you should relate to or respond to him? “Listen to him.” “This is my beloved son with whom I am well-pleased. Listen to him.” These words – “beloved son” – these are the very same words that are used when Abraham – about whom we read in the first reading – is called upon to sacrifice his son Isaac … “since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.” With this heavenly, cosmic declaration, the vision ends … and the frightened disciples are left to be comforted by Jesus who tells them not to be afraid.

We call this story “The Transfiguration” … and by that, we mean the transfiguration of Jesus. But in reality, what the story depicts is not so much a transfiguration or transformation or metamorphosis of Jesus; in fact, what happens with Jesus is essentially a more complete Revelation of his identity, of who he is and already was. Jesus is revealed in as clear a way as possible as one who is the “fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets.” The REAL Transfiguration and Transformation – unlike the external transformation we see on an HGTV program – occurs within the hearts of these three disciples – Peter, James and John. This story of the transfiguration is as much about what happens to them as it is about Jesus. What happens to them is that they come to believe even more deeply that this One whom they have been following is more than just a do-gooder, more than just another prophet or someone shaking up the status quo – this One is the Real Deal – Jesus is the very presence of the Divine in the world.

And so what does this mean for us? It means, in part, that you and I ARE “Peter, James and John.” We, too, have been given the gift of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, of knowing who Jesus is, of what lies ahead, and most importantly … of seeing a glimpse of what lies beyond the pain of Good Friday and the “hardships” of discipleship. And although we might be able to see with the eyes of faith some glimpse of what the future holds … we cannot escape the painful realities of the present. It is sometimes hard to be faithful to our communal Lenten challenge to “Be Open” to the voice of God who calls us to Listen to Jesus and be sources of compassion, peace, and truth in our world that is so very noisy and filled with violence and war, death and destruction; where the mighty and powerful seem always to have the upper hand over the vulnerable, weak, and the poor. And that’s the world out there. What are the hardships that you and I are called to bear in the concrete circumstances of our own personal and individual lives, perhaps hardships that no one else is even aware of? Are we struggling with a relationship that might not be all that we hoped it would be? A job we’re not happy with? Am I or someone I love facing illness or health challenges, not knowing what the outcome might be? As individuals and as a community – we are called to bear these hardships for the sake of the Gospel. We are challenged during this Lenten season with our practices of Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving – to “Be Open” to whatever ways in which our faith asks us to be Jesus’ beloved disciples who “bear our share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God.”

Friday, February 08, 2008

Thought for the Day

"War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good." - Jimmy Carter (December, 10, 2002; Nobel Lecture after receiving the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, Oslo, Norway)

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

"Let's Talk About Homosexuality"

Fortunate Families has begun an education series entitled, "Let's Talk About Homosexuality." The eight week series may be found under Education Programs on their Web site. A presentation on a new topic in the series will be posted weekly. Although I have not yet had the chance to read this first week's presentation, I am encouraged that there are groups like this that are doing concrete things to encourage diaglogue and conversation.

Perhaps the parents and other family members of gay and lesbian Catholics are in the ones in the best position to facilitate such a conversation. Popes and bishops often seem so entrenched in merely repeating the old "teachings" that do nothing but drive away faithful gay men and women; and gay Catholics often feel so very hurt and disillusioned by how they've been treated, they walk away from the closed Church door thinking, "things will never change, so why bother?!"

Perhaps gay people need to call upon our parents, sisters, brothers, and friends more so than we have in the past to be not only our quiet supporters who "love us as individuals," but also our advocates in small ways and large.