Does a Catholic play belong at The Stonewall Inn?

Images: Wikimedia Commons/Unsplash

Growing up, I attended a lovely Catholic grade school named for the man called “Hitler’s pope.” To be fair not all—or even most—historians refer to the controversial pontiff Pius XII by this provocative moniker. But it is telling that in the sacred bubble of my school I had no idea its namesake was reviled by anyone.

For some, Pius is hailed as the hero who secretly saved the lives of thousands of Jews during the Holocaust. For others, he is the cowardly politician who failed to speak out due to fear. In many ways, Eugenio Pacelli embodies the tension I feel about my Catholic faith. It is both the saving grace and the greatest challenge of my life. It is this constant internal tension that led me to write “The Chalice.”

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I wrote this play because I was—I am—struggling with my faith.

“The Chalice” is the story of Alex, a formerly Catholic gay man, and his deeply religious sister, Angela, who inherit a relic of Pope Pius XII. Because of their contrasting relationships with the church and their vastly different interpretations of Pius’s legacy, they are thrown into a struggle over the object’s fate. Should the chalice be enshrined in a place of honor or should it be discarded and sold? Ultimately, Angela and Alex have to decide if and how they can heal their fractured relationship. And they have to decide what role, if any, their religion will play in that healing.

I wrote this play because I was—I am—struggling with my faith. The question is not whether I ought to be Catholic but rather: How ought I to be Catholic? What kind of Catholic am I to be? How can I continue to nurture my relationship with God, a relationship anchored in the church, but also acknowledge that I want change?

This is what I planned to write about: what happens when we, as Catholics, isolate, shame and abuse our L.G.B.T. brothers and sisters.

This friction created a spark, and that spark was art.

I do not wish to delve into an analysis of the church’s teaching on homosexuality. Suffice it to say that I have witnessed the pain of my gay and lesbian loved ones, and it troubles me deeply. I have also seen the trauma caused to gays by individual Catholics who have misunderstood the language of the catechism—who have taken it to read that gays and lesbians are defective. Many parishes do little to clarify the true meaning of the church’s teaching, allowing blatant homophobia to persist.

This is what I planned to write about: what happens when we, as Catholics, isolate, shame and abuse our L.G.B.T. brothers and sisters. I thought this, combined with the complex history of Pope Pius, was enough material for a play.

Apparently, God thought differently. An image came to me after I finished the first draft: a woman, prostrate on the ground, licking wine off the floor. I knew in an instant that the wine must be sacred. More important, I knew who the woman was: a close family friend and mother figure who also happened to be profoundly deaf. I wrote her into the play as Alex and Angela’s aunt, Janice. Suddenly, there was a new type of isolation being explored: that of a devoutly Catholic deaf woman.

If we want to heal the division between the church and the gay community, we have to meet them, humbly, where they are.

Then, during casting for the original production at The New School for Drama, we cast an African-American man as Alex. In a play where the characters consistently reference the Holocaust, race was not something I wanted to ignore. With the guidance of the actor, I rewrote the role of Alex specifically for a black actor. Once again, new dimensions of isolation and judgment seeped into the play. The issues of faith, race, sexuality and ability are intimately connected in ways that I barely understood at the beginning of this journey.

As a person of faith, I know that all of my accomplishments ought to be attributed to God. The irony is that most of my accomplishments are in some way a critique of God’s church. What I learned from this process is that God can handle this. God wants to be in the world. Catholic plays need not be performed in churches.

In this case, we have brought a play about God and Catholicism to The Stonewall Inn. This place, considered the historical birthplace of the gay rights movement, is a sacred space for the gay community. It is a sort of Mecca: a place you must see once. By producing the play here, in collaboration with their incredible staff, we are having the kind of dialogue the church ought to be having. If we want to heal the division between the church and the gay community, we have to meet them, humbly, where they are. We have to acknowledge our sins and ask for forgiveness. We have to listen and love.

The Catholic Church, as the name indicates, is diverse. So, too, is the world.

Tim O'Leary
1 week 1 day ago

How sad that an article hoping to reduce divisions would begin with a blatant bearing of false witness against a venerable holy man. The historical evidence is clearly on the side of the heroic holiness of Pius XII. It undermines any idea of healing of divisions to libel him further by opening this article with such equivocation. This, it seems to me, is the fundamental weakness of the current outreach of Fr. Martin and his allies. It does not start from a position of honesty. It is a bridge built on presumptuous self-righteousness and aggrieved sentimentality, a bridge to nowhere. "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Mt 6:33

Mike Mussman
1 week 1 day ago

Looks like the author gave both viewpoints and did not pick a side.

Tim O'Leary
1 week ago

Mike - that is the whole point. What does it mean to "not pick a side" between saying one is a Nazi (sympathizer or actual) and that one is a holy man? Most people do not know the details of the history and will assume the truth lies somewhere in the middle. But, the attack on Pius XII was a complete fabrication by an antisemitic writer (Rolf Hochhuth) in cahoots with the Soviet KGB (to discredit Catholic witness against Communism), later used by ex-Catholic fabulist John Cornwall, to undermine Catholic teaching on sexual ethics - seemingly the only remaining unifier of the left, given the implosion of the economic-political adventures. http://www.catholicleague.org/john-cornwell-breaking-faith/ and https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=3124

Dionys Murphy
1 week ago

"For some, Pius is hailed as the hero who secretly saved the lives of thousands of Jews during the Holocaust. For others, he is the cowardly politician who failed to speak out due to fear. " Fr. Martin clearly presents both perspectives of the Pope. He clearly, secretly saved the lives of thousands of Jews during the holocaust. He also clearly did not speak out against the atrocities. Whether it was out of fear or being cowardly may certainly be up for debate, but there is no libel or false witness contained in the statement. How Ironic, though that you accuse others of building things on "presumptuous self-righteousness and [an] aggrieved sentimentality" while committing the act you accuse others of. Par for the course, however.

Mike Mussman
1 week ago

Sounds like he just has an axe to grind

Tim O'Leary
1 week ago

Dionys - Ironic indeed. You haven't read the article or my comment closely enough, since Fr. Martin is not the author of the nefarious comparison. But, you perpetuate the same injustice by excusing the "Hitler's pope" moniker, even if the pope's failure was one of omission (not speaking out enough). Arguing for dialogue by beginning with argumentum ad Nazium (Godwin's law) has got to be close to oxymoronic. Par for the course, however (as you say).

Robert Lewis
1 week ago

It is a well-known fact that, as the chief negotiator of the concordat between the Vatican and the Nazi regime, Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII, was much more concerned about the communist influence in European politics than the fascist one. For that reason, as a codicil of the concordat, he ordered the Catholic Party in Germany to go out of business. It is true that he despised the Nazis and secretly rescued many Jews. Nobody in their right mind would accuse him of either collaborating with the Nazis or being anti-Semitic. However, his writings before becoming pope do indicate that he took an extremely negative view of the political influence of European Jewry, as did many other European Catholic prelates. He believed that he could do more for the Jews by remaining silent and working behind the scenes to save lives. It is paradoxical, however, that the leader of a Christian organization that places a higher priority on saving souls than saving lives should have forgotten the duty that he owed to the "truth." You, Mr. O'Leary, are constantly going on about the importance of relying heavily on dogmatic faith, and it is obvious that Pope Pius declined to tell the "truth" to the world about what was happening in Germany. Compare that to what Pius VII did about Napoleon and Napoleon's treatment of the French Catholic Church. Consider, also, please, what you might readily guess would have happened to the fate of the Roman Catholic Church in the 20th and 21st centuries, if Pius had remained faithful to the meaning of the liturgical colour of those scarlet robes he and his cardinals wore--how much more inspiring it would have been for the youthful idealists that the Church is so rapidly losing nowadays. It is a very well-documented fact that, at the end of his life, Pius himself wondered aloud if he had done the right thing. Even he knew, instinctively, that it was his duty to speak out publicly, as his predecessor was about to do, just before his untimely death. Pius XII Pacelli was definitely a good man, but he was also a weak one, undeserving of canonization because he failed in the category of HEROIC sanctity.

Tim O'Leary
6 days 22 hours ago

“Nobody in their right mind” - Precisely, Robert. Cornwall’s accusations of Pius XII being anti-Semitic and a secret Nazi are so ludicrous that anyone who makes them should be designated a quack (and not defended as just one reasonable side of the debate). Cornwall and Hochhuth should be consigned to the same cell of false witness as the Holocaust deniers.

I can agree with some of what you say. But, the overwhelming evidence favors a much more heroic picture of Pius XII. See especially the 2015 book by Mark Riebling, “an American historian and policy analyst who has researched and written on matters of national security and terrorism:” - Church of Spies: The Pope’s Secret War Against Hitler.

From the Crux review: “he turns his meticulous attention to the whole matter of Pope Pius XII and what he really did - or did not do - during Hitler’s ascendancy and in the face of the evils perpetrated by the Nazis and Fascists in the Second World War. Digging deeply into the Vatican’s archives and other documented sources, Riebling reveals how Pius XII, far from practicing silent indifference to what was happening, was busily waging his own war against Hitler through clandestine efforts to undermine his objectives and even to oust him from power.” https://cruxnow.com/interviews/2016/06/16/pius-xii-part-one/

Mike Mussman
1 week 1 day ago

What a beautiful and thoughtful way to heal with those who feel excluded from the Church.

This coming from a young, Catholic women - when the Church is losing this demographic. We should be celebrating our young women!

This play is focused on healing divisions and we are the Catholic (Universal!) Church.

A young lady questioning her Church history and is very much in line with the Catholic Intellectual Tradition. Well done!

Nancy Walton-House
1 week 1 day ago

Well said. Agreed.

Kevin Murphy
1 week 1 day ago

How does the gay community see this healing? By the Church's acceptance of the gay lifestyle? Everyone uses vague language like "building bridges" and "healing." Everyone would be better off if they were honest in their objectives. Father Martin is the lord of this dance. Does, as he often says, uphold church teaching, which would require chastity, or does he believe in gay relationships.?Everyone should speak plainly.

Carlos Orozco
1 week 1 day ago

There is, of course, an agenda to confuse behind the purposefully vague language, and it helps no one. Why can't a Catholic simply love the sinner and reject the sin? Are we so conditioned that we accept that an intrinsically damiging lifestyle (both to the individual and society) is a core identity of a particular person? If we do we are being incredibly uncharitable behing a mask of love and acceptance, abandoning the person to deceit and its consequences.

Dionys Murphy
1 week ago

"Why can't a Catholic simply love the sinner and reject the sin?" - Because this is the language people use when they clearly still reject the sinner and focus on the sins of a few while ignoring the sins of others, including their own self. It seems to me that pretending to love while still hating is in and of itself an intrinsically damaging lifestyle (both to the individual and society) and an indication of the sad core identity of a particular person.

I agree that what you are doing is "being incredibly uncharitable behind a mask of love and acceptance" while abandoning the person.

Andrew Wolfe
4 days 13 hours ago

The language of "hate the sin, love the sinner" is Christianity since the beginning. Don't you hate your own sin? I know I hate mine. But the vileness of my sin makes me better appreciate the Love and Mercy of God and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I thank God that He hates my sin so much He died to free me from it. If He didn't hate my sin, I would know He didn't love me. You cannot love someone while accepting what is killing them, let alone affirming or endorsing it.

J Brookbank
6 days 18 hours ago

Carlos, in answer to your first question: the reason why many in the Catholic community are not willing to let the argument end with "Carlos loves the sinner but hates the sin" is a rejection of the teaching that gay relationships are sinful relationships.

The LGBTQ community is living more openly with the result that increasing numbers of non-gay people are discovering that people in their lives - relatives, friends, coworkers, the person next to them in the pew at church or on the weekend bowling team - are LGBTQ. And guess what? Everything that was true before is true after the discovery: the gay neighbor, cousin, coworker, bowler, parishioner is every bit who they were before we found out who they love and go to bed with at night. Most of us discover that there was no danger emanating from the LGBTQ person before we knew they were gay and that the only danger present once we know rests with our struggle to deal with a reality that contradicts a religious teaching.

In response to your second question, Carlos: are we so conditioned that we accept that openly gay relationships constitute "an intrinsically damaging lifestyle (both to the individual and society)"?

There are no studies that document or prove this. There are no statistics that prove this.

For every anecdote that supports your contention, my guess is that there are dozens of anecdotes that supports mine, which is that there is nothing intrinsically damaging in or about the lives of my gay friends.

Again, the LGBTQ community is living more openly with the result that increasing numbers of non-gay people are discovering that people in their lives - relatives, friends, coworkers, the person next to them in the pew at church or on the weekend bowling team - are LGBTQ. And guess what? Everything that was true before is true after the discovery: the gay neighbor, cousin, coworker, bowler, parishioner is every bit who they were before we found out who they love and go to bed with at night. Most of us discover that there was no danger emanating from the LGBTQ person before we knew they were gay and that the only danger present once we know rests with our struggle to deal with a reality that contradicts a religious teaching.

In fact, my belief is that when I allow your assumptions to go unquestioned, THAT is when I am "being incredibly uncharitable behing a mask of love and acceptance, abandoning [you] to deceit and its consequences", the deceit being this particular derivation of a teaching on reverence for life.

Peace to you, Carlos.

Robert Lewis
6 days 18 hours ago

Amen!

Tim O'Leary
6 days 15 hours ago

J - Thank you for being honest in stating what you believe with respect to sexually active relationships between people of the same sex. Dialogue is hard in the best of situations, but is impossible without honesty. But, here's the thing. Despite your statements and those of many critics of the Church, I don't think you really expect the Catholic Church to reverse its teaching, no more than you expect it to come around to blessing abortions and divorces. The Church can't evolve in this way, without going into extinction. So, it is hated for its teaching of "male and female He made them," or "let no man tear asunder" or chastity. Yes, it is certainly in the minority in the West today. So, some get-along types work around the edges, in the world of language modification, and ask for a change of the the subject, and a focus on welcoming and leaving repentance behind, unless it is repentance for insensitivity.

The Catholic Church teaches a radical heterosexuality, of men and women, of masculinity and femininity, manliness and womanhood, of fathers and mothers, of chastity and vows, of sacrifice and repentance, of large families. For this it is hated, ridiculed and opposed. I would say the sin of the age is heterophobia - the denial of this radical heterosexuality.

J Brookbank
6 days 6 hours ago

Tim - Thanking for the dialogue and the appreciation of my honest statement.

I do understand why many Catholics in positions which are public and powerful might struggle to share all of their thinking on controversial topics in Catholic life: charges of heresy seem to be leveled so easily these days. I met a couple of lovely Catholic women recently and, in talking about which local parishes might interest me, one said she did not like the local priest. "It's not really heresy", she said, and I held my breath waiting to hear what this priest was teaching or doing. Then she told me what had caused her to raise the specter of heresy. "I just really disagree with these priests who leave the altar during Mass to shake hands." How does anyone in an official position in the Church dare talk about difficult topics in such an environment? That excess would certainly make me, were I in an official position in the Church, want to ask that we start with practicing a simple welcome before we start on more difficult challenges.

I have not encountered the language of "radical heterosexuality" to describe the Church's teachings but I get your point.

Nor have I ever encountered heterophobia, and I will tell you that I think the latter is not a real phenomenon. What I do think is real in the Catholic community is very real anger that our LGBTQ brothers and sisters are treated with so much fear, hostility and condemnation by those who, to use your language, are "radically heterosexual". If "radically heterosexual Catholics" are "hated, ridiculed and opposed" by LGBTQ Catholics and their allies, Tim, I believe it is not because they are heterosexual; it is because they cannot just get on with their heterosexuality and practice a simple welcome when they encounter LGBTQ Catholics. I am heterosexual; my housemates are an engaged gay couple; we get on with our lives as good human beings who do good work in the world and two of us are Catholic. There is no hate in my house; there is no harm; there is only love and fellowship and evening prayer at table.

Tim O'Leary
4 days 18 hours ago

J - Both homophobia and heterophobia are indeed new terms, since the world believed in the heterosexuality norm before these terms were invented in recent years. Whatever term you might use, there indeed is a strong effort to impugn the heterosexual norm as somehow outdated, oppressive and exclusionary, and to deny the complementarity of the sexes. In recent weeks, pressure has been put on UK Catholic schools to drop the terms "mother" and father" from their application forms. The exclusion of Catholic agencies for adoption, in the UK and some US states, are just some recent examples. So, you might be in denial. But, I am glad to see there is no hate in your house, and that you do not hear of attacks on Catholic teaching there.

J Brookbank
4 days 5 hours ago

Hi Tim - Thank you for the kindness about my household. The other Catholic in my household has said she accepts that many Catholics believe homosexuality is a sin and she doesn't feel compelled to change their minds; she just wishes that those Catholics would not make such a fuss about her when she comes through the door of the Church, surrounded as she is by all of the other sinners at Mass. I do speak my mind about my belief that gay relationships are not sinful; they are certainly "against the rules" in the RCC but I just don't buy that that makes them sinful. (A great line from one of my favorite books from the Vietnam War era: "I started developing a mentality of resistance: if something doesn't make sense to me, maybe it just doesn't make sense". I see no reason not to apply that to my life as a Catholic too.)

Tim, I honestly don't know of any gay person or ally that does not full accept that the heterosexual couple and family is the norm. And I honestly don't know anyone who believes that heterosexuality is, in and of itself, a problem in any way. It just is, and it is way the attraction and love and relationship and family work for the vast majority of human beings. What is there to fear there? What is there to argue against there? I don't believe there is anything to fear or hate in heterosexuality, and I very sincerely do not know a single LGBTQ person who does fear or hate heterosexuality or heterosexuals because they are heterosexuals.

In the examples you offer, I see no evidence of either fear or hate. As for the refusal to use taxpayer money to fund Catholic adoption agencies which refuse to work with gay families, it seems entirely clear to me that the issue in not hatred or fear of heterosexuals. The issue is that "separate but equal" laws and policies were rejected long ago when it was black Americans who would not be served where white Americans were served. In t he case of adoptions, Catholic agencies want to establish a separate but equal system in which they serve only heterosexual families and someone else serves gay families - and they want taxpayer dollars to fund that separate-but-equal system. No one is stopping Catholic agencies from working only with heterosexual families; the government is simply saying it will not give Catholics taxpayer money to refuse to serve all taxpayers. That is simply NOT about fear or hate of heterosexuals. That is plainly and simply a rejection of "separate but equal" tax-funded institutions.

My experience is that many Catholics are uncomfortable with that reality because it means we have to face the reality that American taxpayers and NOT the Catholic Church are funding most of what call "Catholic charities" in general and "Catholic Charities" specifically. Most Catholic social service agencies rely heavily on government funding (well over - well over! - 50% is taxpayer money).

For me, that's the end of the squabble in this one.

If Catholics want to keep homeless children in foster care until they identify appropriate and willing heterosexual families, they can do it. Period. End of story.

If Catholics want taxpayer funding for their adoption services ----- and most Catholic adoption programs do rely *heavily* on taxpayer funds, they have to serve all legal families. Period. End of story.

Again, it is a rejection of government funding for "separate but equal". It has nothing to do with heterosexuality per se. That is a red herring and, though effective in working up the Catholic masses, it is nonsense (in that it literally makes no sense) and, as such, it is destructive.

Nobody in the UK school system has a vendetta against "mothers and fathers". They are trying to make a pain-in-the-arse bureacratic form more efficient, more functional and less cumbersome. As has been established for decades now, more and more kids live in non-traditional homes. The vast majority of those non-traditional homes are NOT gay homes because gay people are and always will be a minority. It is just that the traditional two parent household is increasingly ANOTHER minority and it is not functional to create forms which assume in its structure the two parent household.

Forms are not moral statements; they are tools for efficiently obtaining a set of facts which have specific functions in the given institution. In this case, name the adults with legal responsibility for the care and education of this child. Period.

Please forgive me, but truly we heterosexuals need to quit seeing anti-heterosexual henchmen around every corner. No one is out to get us or our way of life, especially not through the endless bureaucratic process of refining forms.

I mean no disrespect but I just cannot support a narrative that encourages people to fear persecution where there is absolutely no reason.

No one hates or fears heterosexuals based on the fact of their heterosexuality. Some people hate and fear the way some heterosexuals direct hate and fear toward others.

In short, there aint nothing wrong with us straight folk except when we discriminate and direct hate and fear at gay folk.

Peace to you

Tim O'Leary
2 days 21 hours ago

J – I completely disagree with your desire to conflate the disputes on gender with race. Race does not propose any immoral behaviors, whereas the goal of the LGBTQ campaign is to have certain immoral & unhealthy behaviors approved and normalized by the government (and even promoted in sex ed in public schools). Catholic charities have been involved in finding mothers and fathers for orphans for at least two thousand years (and Jewish charities before that), and many different types of governments over the centuries have supported that work as they viewed it highly beneficial to society. Now, some governments want to pull their support for those long-standing charities, and use money, compulsorily taken from citizens (against many of their morals), to prioritize the gay agenda (with so-called diversity quotas). The children are an after-thought. This doesn't hurt the Church, which essentially was saving money the public had to pay, but it surely hurts children, who must now grow up without fathers and mothers to guide them.

More importantly, it does seem you want the government to force Catholics to go against their consciences or pay a price. That is injustice, pure and simple. There could have been a much less oppressive middle ground, if only the LGBTQ movements really wanted to respect other people's rights. But, it's not what they want. They want Catholicism to change or disappear. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit protects the Church.

Here is another profession the Government want's orthodox Catholics excluded from: http://www.catholicherald.co.ukww001001w.catholicherald.co.uk/issues/no…
So, a black man is excluded from a profession because of his religious beliefs. that is what the LGBT ideology results in.

You are probably not aware that the attack on heterosexuality (the term cis, heteronormativity) is very common in gender study departments across the academic world. Some examples:
Judith Butler (Berkeley, Yale, lots of honorary awards) – “Gender trouble: feminism and the subversion of identity.”
Maria Lugones (Argentinian, UCLA, U. Wis) - Heterosexualism and the Colonial / Modern Gender System
Michael Warner (Yale, the Nation, the Advocate) - The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life
Samuel A. Chambers: An Incalculable effect: Subversions of Heteronormativity

I know most of this work is complete rot, but it is still out there and has much more influence than you realize.

J Brookbank
2 days 18 hours ago

Tim- Thanks for your thoughtful reply.

A couple quick thoughts before I run out and then I will get back to you.

Americans pay taxes for any number of things which any number of us find morally objectionable. I am sympathetic to all of us in that situation, which means I am sympathetic to all of us for that challenging cost of living in civil society.

An idea: war tax resisters figure out and then refuse to pay the percentage of their federal tax that is slated for the military, include a statement on their taxes that says "nope", then many donate that amount to a non-profit anti-war effort and tolerate the risk of audit by the IRS and the fall out from there. That is an option for any one who has a moral objection to a particular tax. Those who feel like you do could do the same research, etc., and then donate the money to those Catholic charities who have opted to do adoption work without federal funds rather than comply with the requirements for federal funding. I totally support that.

I agree that Catholic Church has been caring for orphaned children since the beginning. Nothing is stopping it from doing that now, and it is an a profound act of mercy when they do, with or without tax payer money. The tax payer money is available if the program requirements for funding are met.

I hear you that the "separate but equal" argument does not hold water for you. It is, however, the fact of the matter.

A few observations: "heteronormism" (or variations on that word) is not the same as heterosexuality, just as racism is not the same thing as race and sexism is not the same thing as sex (gender)

People object to societal/governmental/civic systems that privilege heterosexuals, whites, men and, in this case, Catholic beliefs. That is not at all the same thing as objecting to heterosexual people, white people, male people or Catholic people. I read your thinking and words as conflating those two very different subjects.

And to believe that they are the same must be very painful and scary and enraging when you are a good and caring and deeply religious person in addition to many of those things (heterosexual, white, male and Catholic, which I imagine you are, just as I am heterosexual, white, female and Catholic).

And I have compassion for that, Tim. I really do.

I believe that one path forward is to do the intellectually honest work of untangling the two. I don't know anyone who hates heterosexuals. I know lots of people, myself among them, who hate the privileging of heterosexuality, even though heterosexuals are now and always will be the statistical norm.

Peace to you.

Tim O'Leary
2 days 15 hours ago

" I know lots of people, myself among them, who hate the privileging of heterosexuality" - that is the crux of the matter. Biology, demography, reproduction, natural law, psychology, moral theology have always privileged the father and mother model of family life as the optimal unit for raising children. That is what is hated. That is heterophobia. It is an irrational fear, in that everyone, including every LGBTQIA-identifying person is born to one father and mother practicing heterosexual sex.

A middle ground could be to accept heterosexual marriages as the best for the children, and to support it no matter what one's individual proclivities are, and to defend their own lifestyle and look for tolerance without demanding to break that biological unit or try to introduce a new penal code for Christains. Many non-monogamous heterosexuals and homosexuals already agree that their lifestyles are not optimal for the children. Even Obama and the Clintons agreed on this only a few years ago. Many homosexuals do not try to impose their ideology on children. It is the ideological heterophobes who do not accept biology and put their own self-actualization above the benefits of the children, and society at large.

I don't think you read the story I linked to on how Felix Ngole was denied the right to quality as a social worker just because he is a Christian who holds to orthodox teaching (held by millions of his fellow citizens). He was declared unfit to practice as a social worker and the courts agreed. Can you not see how extraordinary this ruling is. It is a new penal code barring Christians from various occupations solely because they are orthodox Christians.
Is this what you want? Should orthodox Christians, Jews and Muslims be denied the right to quality for certain occupations based on their religious beliefs? Please read the article and ask yourself if this is the society you want to support - a "No Christians need apply" standard???

J Brookbank
2 days 11 hours ago

Tim, I will think more about what you write here and I will read the article about the social worker.

With regard to your first paragraph, I think we might be missing each other over our seemingly divergent uses of the word "privilege". I will think about how to clarify my meaning and see if it helps.

I am not aware, Tim, that there is any - *any* - credible research that supports your suggestion that "heterosexual marriages [are] best for the children".

There is, however, endless credible support for the argument that children do best in stable households with stable adults and a close, stable support system that includes both male and female stable adults who form committed, healthy, age-appropriate relationships with the children.

More later.

Jean

Tim O'Leary
2 days 3 hours ago

Jean - I will let you think about the religious liberty vs. sexual liberty rights. But, I do want to address your agnosticism regarding the "best" parents for children.

Again, from time immemorial, it has been assumed that, all other things being equal, children should be raised by their biological father and mother. Only when there is some severe deficiency in a parent does society severe the bond between a parent and their natural biological child. It is even seen as a great evil to separate a child from its biological parent, unless there are extreme reasons for it. Death of a parent or divorce are seen as a sad event in a child's life and can have long-term negative consequences (for the stability of the child's future relationships, etc), even if they occur when the child is too young to have formed an emotional bond

So, all things being equal, all societies agree children should be raised by their actual biological parents. It is seen as a fundamental right of families, of parents and of children. Therefore, all societies privilege the heterosexual bond, in law, in custom, in religion. It is this privilege that has only recently been questioned, as your 3rd paragraph does.

J Brookbank
2 days 1 hour ago

Tim -

First, I did read the article about the social worker and responded but included some links (to a Guardian newspaper article and a social work journal article) so the response is being reviewed by the moderator and I assume it will be posted.

Thanks for the time to think about religious liberty rights vs sexual liberty rights.

I do not believe our government has set them in opposition, though I accept that you and many Christians very sincerely believe their religious rights are being threatened by laws that protect the Constitutional rights of Americans regardless of the gender of adult with whom they are in relationship.

I have compassion for the pain and fear and anger the belief that you are threatened clearly causes; nonetheless, I do not accept that your religious rights are threatened by the rights of sexual minorities anymore than I believe the rights of the white or male communities are threatened by the rights of non-white or female community.

"Societies agree that all children should be raised by their actual biological parents" is a different statement from your earlier one that "heterosexual marriage is best for children".

All credible research reveals that "children do best" when they grow up in the context of a stable, loving relationship with an adult or adults.

What has been thought to be the *only* good thing for kids, with all other things being thought to be damaging, has been proven NOT to be the only good thing for kids.

And many of "those other things" have been proven NOT to be damaging to kids.

In other words, heterosexual marriage was thought to be the *only* good set up for the raising of children, and that has just not turned out be true, Tim.
That is why I am arguing with you. You speak of what you believe on this topic as if it represents an incontrovertible fact. And it doesn't.

I do have compassion for the sense of fear and threat with which you live. I imagine it is very scary to find oneself and one's beliefs and way of life increasingly in the minority, even among Catholics, and it is undeniably true that people who adhere strictly to the teachings of the RCC and the Catechism are increasingly a minority both in the general population and in the Church. That must be difficult on any number of levels.

I simply do not accept that the decreased adoption of those teachings by others represents a threat to you and your beliefs and your right to your beliefs.
It certainly means that many of those beliefs will increasingly not be privileged by society and, again, that must be very painful and difficult on many levels.

And, for that pain and difficulty, I have compassion and I pray you find a path forward that allows you to live your religious beliefs without also believing that you are threatened when others do not share them and decline to comport law and their individual lives to adhere to your beliefs.

Peace to you, Tim.

Tim O'Leary
1 day 20 hours ago

Jean - I think we are making progress in that you are now openly denying that it is just, preferable and best (barring some serious deficiency) for children to be raise by their biological father and mother. Just like you didn't know about any academic movement arguing that heterosexualism was oppressive, you are also unaware of the science supporting optimal child-raising. But, we have been going back and forth too long, so this will be my last post. Here are some references for your edification.
Byrd, A. Dean. “Conjugal marriage fosters healthy human and societal development.” What’s the Harm (2008): 3-26.
Moore, Kristin A., Susan M. Jekielek, and Carol Emig. Marriage from a Child’s Perspective: How Does Family Structure Affect Children, and What Can We Do About It?. Washington, DC: Child Trends, 2002.
McLanahan, Sarah, and Gary Sandefur. Growing up with a single parent: What hurts, what helps. Harvard University Press, 2009.
Parke, Mary. “Are Married Parents Really Better for Children? What Research Says about the Effects of Family Structure on Child Well-Being.” (2003).
The Witherspoon Institute, Marriage and the Public Good: Ten Principles..

You are mis-interpreting if you think my sense of justice is coupled with "the sense of fear and threat with which you live" or the "very scary..." etc. I actually can do the following two things at once 1) point out the injustice of the heterophobes and 2) not fear the injustice on orthodox Christians. The only fear I have is the fear (awe) of the Lord and the sadness of my neighbors who turn away from Him. "Blessed are all they that fear the Lord: that walk in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labors of thy hands: blessed art thou, and it shall be well with thee." Psalm 128 last Sunday.

The first book of Maccabees described a situation where, surrounded by a hostile pagan peoples, many true believers i.e. Israelites, decided to “reach an understanding” with the society surrounding them. They “abandoned the holy covenant, submitting to the heathen rule as willing slaves of impiety."
Christians will continue to speak justice to power, and be a witness to the Gospel. Many will not listen but some will hear. Peace to you.

J Brookbank
1 day 19 hours ago

Tim -

Peace to you as well.

A couple of notes and then, yes, it seems time to wrap up.

My post about the UK social worker has not shown up. So, here is the name of 2013 article from a social work journal on the issues raised by that man's case. In Social Work Today, "Wrestling With Faith in Social Work Education By Frederic G. Reamer, PhD May 2013. This is a US publication while the case you mention is from the UK. I would add that the the man in question was NOT discharged from his training because he is Christian and that the case is not emblematic of a trend that "no Christian need apply".

He was discharged because he publicly defended and endorsed the denial of legal rights and services to legally eligible persons on the foundation of the service provider's religious beliefs (he defended and endorsed Kim Davis's refusal of public and legal services - marriage licenses - to legally eligible persons, a gay couple). In the process, he also called gay relationships an "abomination". Neither is consistent with the professional and ethical obligations inherent in social work practice. The article by Reamer explains why that is unacceptable, at least in the US.

It also makes sense that the man's public statements described above where not the sole evidence that the university could not credential him as fit for practice as a professional social worker. He almost certainly made it known in a number of other but more difficult to verify for court purposes that he would use his public licensure to serve others according to the dictates of his personal religious views. No one is stopping him from that service: he simply cannot do it with public credentials. As with heterosexual-only adoption agencies, the promotion of his religious views is not rejected. What is rejected is public licensure, funding and endorsement for that endorsement and imposition. To see it otherwise is a willful interpretation that serves an imagined sense of persecution.

Quick thought: imagine that man practicing therapy in a county clinic and in walks a suicidal gay teen from an orthodox family who is being told by family, church and religious school that his relationship with a boyfriend is an abomination, and that social worker quotes the Biblical passage he used on facebook, the same one the teen's family, church and school use in telling the boy his relationship is an abomination against God. THAT is what the UK program was addressing: the possibility that this man's public endorsement of the imposition of one's religious beliefs of people who have come for services and not the service provider's beliefs. They were appropriately protecting that hypothetical suicidal gay teen from being told he is an abomination in God's eyes by the person the world told him he could go to when seeking safety against crushing despair and the pressing urge toward self-destruction through suicide.

It is not the would-be social worker's Christianity that was rejected. The profession of social work is chockful of Catholics, Christians, Jews and increasing numbers of Muslims. It is often a faith tradition that leads people to become social workers and to practice it with great skill and commitment.

The whole incident and its inclusion here reflects a misunderstanding the nature of professional social work and its ethical requirements.

I am very glad to hear that I misinterpreted your statements as rooted in fear and pain and anger. Such a hard way to go through life.

Much peace to you, Tim.

J Brookbank
1 day 16 hours ago

Tim -

For the sake of others who may reading this, several of your references are from anti-homosexual individual or institutional advocates while the others are far more nuanced than your comments suggest.

An "academic movement" is no guarantee of truth; think of the holocaust deniers, the deniers that Sandy Hook really happened; those who believe 9/11 was an inside job; even those who insist Jesus was married in the civil, modern or even religious sense.

Dialogue is made very difficult when one participant fails to clarify that they are relying on sources who are advocates whose speech is explicitly dedicated to the promulgation of a very specific worldview. It is not intellectually honest and, thus, the dialogue will dead-end as this one has.

Peace to you.

J Brookbank
1 week ago

Emily, your play sounds powerful and I am grateful for your writing here. So often, the phrase "meet people where they are" - when used in these contexts - is code for "meet them in their dens of sin as prelude to a full court press to drag them out of there".

You write:

"If we want to heal the division between the church and the gay community, we have to meet them, humbly, where they are. We have to acknowledge our sins and ask for forgiveness. We have to listen and love."

You are not talking about a relationship that begins with a desire to change the other. You are talking about a relationship that begins with a desire to KNOW the other and to know one's own role in the suffering of that other. THAT is a loving and spiritually fertile relationship, one that can be led by the Holy Spirit.

Thank you for your work, in every sense. This gives me hope that I can find my own way to stay.

Robert Lewis
6 days 23 hours ago

I think it's extremely ironic that an article attacked by so many Catholic homophobes is immediately followed on the AMERICA website by a review of Michelangelo's drawings at the MET. The exhibition catalogue for this show makes no bones about the artist's homosexuality, while at the same time giving ample credit to his sincere and intense religiosity. I bet no confessor ever asked Michelangelo, "how many times and how publicly and with whom?" The ASSUMPTION in that more civilized time than ours would have been that he tried to live chastely.
Most of the people responding on these threads to any article proposing charity for and acceptance of same-sex-attracted Catholic couples PRESUME that they want access to sacramental marriage, which is an entirely different thing from civil unions or spousal rights (to which they have every right under the American Constitution, because the Protestant majority in this country long ago rejected indissoluble Catholic marriage). No gay Catholic that I know wants to do any harm to the indissoluble, more "traditional-than-'traditional'", sacrament that Christ instituted at Cana. They simply don't want to have to live all of their lives in solitude. But to say, "we love the sinner, but hate the sin" presumes that: a) you know what they do with their genitals, which you don't; and b) that their relationships are somehow inferior to heterosexual couples' because, unlike heterosexual couples', theirs revolves exclusively around sexual activities. Would you say the same thing about heterosexuals' spousal relationships? Do you actually believe that a man cannot fall genuinely in love with another man, without seeking to get him into bed? Then what was Michelangelo doing with Tommaso di Cavalieri? I think some of you had better go and take a look at that exhibit at the MET, because I can't think of any more graphic illustrations of Hopkins' famous lines "...Christ plays in ten thousand places/Lovely in eyes, lovely in limbs not His/To the Father, through the features of men's faces..."
I should also like to suggest, to any of you genuinely interested in this conundrum facing the Church and her gay members, to take a look at a certain extremely scholarly and enormously well-researched tome, entitled "The Friend," by Alan Bray, who started out studying tomb monuments in British cathedrals and monasteries, and noted numerous embracing effigies on tomb monuments that suggest an almost conjugal relationship between numerous historical figures of the same sex. Then Mr. Bray began looking for liturgical rites associated with these monuments, and discovered documentation of a ceremony performed in churches of "sworn brotherhood," that was enacted in conjunction with reception of the Eucharist. Of course, the assumption made by THOSE more civilized Catholic and Anglican ecclesiastical organizations was that the "sworn brothers" were attempting to live chastely, and that's what I think the assumption should be now, too!

Tim O'Leary
6 days 15 hours ago

Robert - Am I to understand your position to be that a same-sex relationship is a fine thing as long as there is no genital sexual activity?

Robert Lewis
6 days 13 hours ago

Yes, that is the ideal. It is to be striven for, and it is to be openly embraced by Churches, if we wish to put the calumny of "intrinsically disordered" behind us. In fact, "same sex attraction" must be one of the most sanctifying "crosses to bear" that could possibly be imagined--and the evidence is that many great saints have borne it, and have sublimated erotic attraction to their same sex into mystical, and indeed passionate love for Jesus Christ, as both man and deity, or for the Virgin Mother of God, as woman and intercessor.

Tim O'Leary
4 days 18 hours ago

Robert - I can certainly agree that "same sex attraction" is a heavy cross to carry and we should help them with love and truth and support. As Bishop Robert Morlino says "we should help them under the cross like Simon of Cyrene helped Jesus."

Robert Lewis
4 days 12 hours ago

The "love and support" MUST include a public embrace that includes encouragement of them to find lifelong and monogamous partners to share a life with together, and a tacit assumption that, in that sharing, they embrace the virtue of chastity, but in a way unique to them, which must be different than the way in which married spouses are also called to embrace it. (Remember that, according to orthodox theology, chastity is also mandatory within sacramental marriage--in the sense that neither of the spouse's bodies may be used simply for sexual gratification or "relief".) And to be consistent, and in order to abandon an interpretation of "natural law" that flies in the face of what modern science is telling us about the etiology of homosexuality, as well as gender formation, the Church must also loudly proclaim that the divorce of the sacramentally married is equally as grave a sin as sodomy--and actually, by the logic of the meaning of the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, a greater one.

Dan Acosta
4 days 19 hours ago

Schmitt writes: "I knew in an instant that the wine must be sacred." There is no such thing as "sacred wine." It is either just wine or it is the Blood of Christ. Some more catechizing is due here.

Richard Bell
4 days 19 hours ago

If we want to heal the division between the church and the gay community, we have to meet them, humbly, where they are, and the church has to celebrate homosexual marriages just as it celebrates heterosexual marriages.

Robert Lewis
4 days 12 hours ago

The Church cannot do that, because her "sacramental marriage" is profoundly different from Protestant marriages or civil marriages. In Catholic marriage, Jesus Christ is equally a member of the union as the opposite-sex couple are, and the promises are made to Him just as much as they are made to each other, and those promises are indissoluble. The Church CAN, however, bless a rite of "sworn brotherhood" or "sworn sisterhood," just as she once did, historically. The same assumption would be made, however, in the sense that it would be an oath before God, but with no purpose of procreation. Mr. O'Leary is right, in his comments above, that the Church finds a special and sanctified charism in heterosexuality, in that it is a guarantor of God's command to be "fruitful and multiply," but he tends, too often, to forget that, in the New Covenant, the greater vocation is to be a "eunuch for the kingdom's sake."

Richard Bell
4 days 8 hours ago

"In Catholic marriage, Jesus Christ is equally a member of the union as the opposite-sex couple are, and the promises are made to Him just as much as they are made to each other, and those promises are indissoluble." This is no obstacle to celebration of same-sex marriage by the Church.
"[T]he Church finds a special and sanctified charism in heterosexuality, in that it is a guarantor of God's command to be 'fruitful and multiply,' but . . . in the New Covenant, the greater vocation is to be a 'eunuch for the kingdom's sake.'" Indeed, St Paul said that he would have all celibate as he was. That this is the greater vocation implies that God's purpose to fully populate the earth was long ago realized and that the Church's celebration of marriages with no purpose of procreation does not contravene God's will. I dare say that the Church does celebrate marriages with no purpose of procreation; it will marry a couple whose members are beyond childbearing age and it will marry a couple one of whose members does not even have all necessary reproductive organs, and it will marry such couples without scruple.
No, the mere fact that a same-sex couple is barren gives no good reason for the Church to refuse marriage.

Robert Lewis
4 days 5 hours ago

I want to try to be clearer and more explicit for you, but I'll refer you to a book by Brad Pitre for this; it's entitled "Jesus the Bridegroom." In this book, Mr. Pitre explains that the marriage of the heterosexual couple is part of the continuing work of Christ on the cross. In that marriage, the couple not only marry themselves to each other, but they marry themselves to Jesus Christ, because their sufferings, in what they agree to undertake, will be unique: they will involve the hardships of child-rearing, as well as the pain of childbirth. It is a lifetime commitment, and to break the commitment will be to betray Christ and His Church. It is fundamentally different from the "companionate marriage" of the Protestants and the American majority, because it is indissoluble. The sacrament marks them forever, just as the priestly vows of ordination mark him forever; there is no getting out of it. Christ cannot marry Himself to the gay couple of the vows of "sworn brotherhood" in the same sense that He can marry Himself to the heterosexual couple because only the PAIN of procreation can physically mirror and renew His suffering on the cross, in which He literally married Himself to the members of His Body, the Church. This is the aspect of the Church's sacrament of Holy Matrimony that she is doing a very bad job of explaining, in all this debate about "gay marriage," in part, I think, because this mystical aspect of matrimony is embarrassing to moderns, in that it seems weird--weird especially to the heterosexual Protestant and secularist majority--just as the Real Presence is weird to moderns. But it needs to be properly explained, because it is the rational--or should I say "mystical"--basis for her explanation to the world as to why she cannot "marry" two homosexuals. On the other hand, she could do a far better job of ministering to them if she would allow vows of "sworn brotherhood." In refusing to do what she once did in the past, she is turning her back on God's words, "It is not good for a man to be alone."

Robert Lewis
4 days 5 hours ago

I don't mean to repeat myself. Sorry

Robert Lewis
4 days 5 hours ago

I didn't mean to repeat these comments on the thread. Sorry

Robert Lewis
4 days 4 hours ago

To be fair to your objections--as well as to my own and Mr. Pitre's description of what Christ is doing, both on the cross, and in the sacrament of Matrimony, I have to agree with you that the Church is doing wrong by marrying the barren and those who have no purpose of procreating. She should not condemn them for seeking civil union, but neither should she be involving Christ in a parody of what He did on the cross.

Richard Bell
2 days 8 hours ago

“Christ cannot marry Himself to the gay couple of the vows of ‘sworn brotherhood’ in the same sense that He can marry Himself to the heterosexual couple because only the PAIN of procreation can physically mirror and renew His suffering on the cross, in which He literally married Himself to the members of His Body, the Church. This is the aspect of the Church's sacrament of Holy Matrimony that she is doing a very bad job of explaining, in all this debate about ‘gay marriage,’ in part, I think, because this mystical aspect of matrimony is embarrassing to moderns, in that it seems weird--weird especially to the heterosexual Protestant and secularist majority--just as the Real Presence is weird to moderns.”
I think Mr Pitre’s rationale for the Church’s refusal to celebrate same-sex marriage seems weird to Roman Catholics in this day, and not only because they think it is “mystical” upon stilts.
First, if the parties to such a marriage were both women, not one but both could have the pain of procreation, and thus they would be able (per Mr Pitre’s theory) to doubly mirror and renew Christ’s suffering on the cross, in which He married himself to his Bride, the Church. That would make same-sex marriage of women the best kind of candidate for the Church's sacrament of Holy Matrimony – a weird interpretation of this sacrament, indeed!
Second, to my knowledge, at least, the Church has not officially defended its refusal to celebrate same-sex marriage by a line of reasoning like Mr Pitre’s – not ever. I can only assume that the Church has not proffered this defense because the Church finds it weird. Moreover, as you point out, if the Church were to proffer this defense, the Church would be bound by consistency to refuse to celebrate any marriage in which neither party could give natural birth to a child. Given the Church’s sacramental practice for centuries, this restriction probably would seem weird today.

Therese Mary Alburger
4 days 18 hours ago

Homosexuality is a sin. I believe that is still catholic teaching. Love the sinner. Hate the sin.

Robert Lewis
4 days 5 hours ago

There is no "sin" in being "same-sex-attracted." What you are saying is heretical. The "sin" (if there is any, and if there is, it is to be determined contextually, in the confessional) is in the ACT of "sodomy". And it is a very minor sin, not at all equivalent to divorcing oneself from Christ, by breaking one's marriage vows. It is equivalent to the consumption of pork or the weaving together of two different textiles, as proscribed in Leviticus. No one throws himself out of the Church by making love to his or her friend.

Tim O'Leary
2 days 21 hours ago

Robert - where do you get the idea that sodomy is a very minor sin. Here is the Catechism: “The catechetical tradition also recalls that there are ‘sins that cry to heaven’: the blood of Abel, the sin of the Sodomites, the cry of the people oppressed in Egypt, the cry of the foreigner, the widow, and the orphan, injustice to the wage earner.” (1867). Traditionally, these sins have been categorized as four distinct heinous acts: willful murder, the sin of Sodom, oppression of the poor, and defrauding laborers of their wages." You can't just keep making things up and claiming they are Catholic. Either the Church is wrong or right on this, but you do not get to decide what it teaches. It is not honest. It kills dialogue for you to continuously misrepresent Catholic teaching.

Robert Lewis
2 days 17 hours ago

"Cry to heaven" may mean "cry to heaven for rectification," and "rectification" may come in many forms--such as "rectification" by being alleviated through the Church's public embrace of the same-sex-attracted. I've just explained to you, in the thread above, how the Church once DID normalize, i.e. "rectified," the situation of the same-sex-attracted through "sworn brotherhood" sanctified by an oath during reception of the Eucharist. And the Church has MANY TIMES altered her teachings on moral theology and Church discipline, e.g. priestly celibacy, slavery, capital punishment, just war--and the list goes on and on, and it's all JUSTIFIED by the Petrine Commission, "to bind and to loose." It's high time to "loose" the Church's blanket condemnation of expressions of same-sex-love that are chaste. Many physical expressions considered "sodomitical" in the past, just aren't and should not be proscribed. You are a legalist, Mr. O'Leary, and Christ condemned the legalists of his time. You want to turn the Biblical injunctions, which are part of a LIVING DOCUMENT into a dead letter. That's not what orthodox Christianity is about, and, if you think it should be, there is a Protestant Fundamentalist church in your neighborhood that'll welcome you.

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