Saturday, October 17, 2009

My Personal Take on the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference Plan to Release November Statement Against Marriage Equality

I'd like to begin this post with a short, rare, personal insight into this blogger.

I was raised in an evangelical, Christian, non-denominational, missionary family. Since I can remember, we traveled the world, spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have seen parts of the world by the time I was twelve that most people don't get to see in their lifetime, and I wouldn't change my upbringing. Ever.

Though I didn't have the vocabulary to voice it at the time, I knew I was gay by the time I was four. I had crushes on boys, but I thought that was normal and in time would grow up and find my attraction focused on girls.

It didn't happen. And I grew up hating myself because everyday, I read my Bible and heard how 'homosexuals' were deviant people.

My parents are amazing people, and though they had their suspicions about me while I was growing up, they loved me.

Luckily, as I got older, I was able to separate myself from the self-hatred and accepted myself for who I am. Unfortunately, my family is several steps behind. But what my upbringing has given me is insight into those who practice organized religion.

It's hard for me to shout "bigot" or "hater" because I know that a majority of these people are not (though I acknowledge many do act out of animus - growing up, I witnessed that, too). They have good intentions, and they have been forced by zealots to make an unconstitutional decision at the ballot, to choose between their faith and their civil duty to respect equality. That's wrong. And in many cases, they're victims of having to choose as we are victims having to vote on our own rights to save them. This is why the judicial and legislative system exists, but they're failing.

Case in point: Catholics are the most supportive of marriage equality out of all Christian denominations.

So why am I saying this? I'm saying this because I think it's important to separate those who attend church, who practice out of their convictions an organized religion, and the leaders of their church who dove into the social and political arena. Many times, these leaders say they speak for their congregants when in fact, many of these congregants don't agree.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops intend to release this November a powerful statement titled, "Marriage: Love and Live the Divine Plan." (See full statement embedded below.)

Why is this important? Because over 300 bishops will collectively sign this statement that will enact this as the new language that the U.S. Catholic Church will stand behind in regards to marriage.

In the statement, it condemns co-habitation, divorce and contraception as "intrinsically evil", even stating that in vitro fertilization is wrong, but it also clearly attacks marriage equality.

This is a long document - same-sex unions is addressed in lines 423 - 465. An excerpt:
Today, advocacy for the legal recognition of various same-sex relationships is often equated with non-discrimination, fairness, equality, and civil rights. However, it is not unjust to oppose legal recognition of same-sex unions, because marriage and same-sex unions are essentially different realities. "The denial of the social and legal status of marriage to forms of cohabitation that are not and cannot be marital is not opposed to justice; on the contrary, justice requires it." To promote and protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman is itself a matter of justice. In fact, it would be a grave injustice if the state ignored the unique and proper place of husbands and wives, the place of mothers and fathers, and the rights of the child.


The legal recognition of same-sex unions poses a multifaceted threat to the very fabric of society, striking at the source from which society and culture come and which they are meant to serve. such recognition affects all people, married and non-married: not only at the fundamental levels of the good of the spouses, the good of children, the intrinsic dignity of every human person, and the common good, but also at the levels of education, cultural imagination and influence, and religious freedom.
This statement will be powerful in that it will unite the various parishes throughout the country behind one new, solid language regarding marriage.

I don't think I need to repeat the argument that, though the church has every right to believe what they do and should practice that freedom, civil marriage "intrinsically" is not the same as religious marriage, and therefore renders this statement moot when it comes to the issue of civil justice.

But I'd like to quote a Catholic priest who commented on Unite the Fight about this statement, which obviously was leaked early because of the marriage equality initiative facing Maine now and the power the church wields there.

Fr. Marty Kurylowicz:
Being a priest and psychologist, I know the kind of serious harm that is caused to children who grow up gay by those who oppose Marriage Equality. “Kids are being hurt!!!” There is plenty of research data that makes that [sic] supports this statement. I have been an advocate for children who grow up gay for their protection from antigay statements.

Benedict XVI's continual ordering the hierarchy in a united effort to oppose Marriage Equality is proof that they have not even considered the harm to children and have ignored the overabundance amount of research data. The harm that is done to children is tremendous. It cuts deeply at the very core of child's ability to bond/attach to another or other human beings for life. However, in the meantime how many millions of innocent children will continue to be abused in this way because of their criminal neglect of their responsibility. Everyone is responsible to thoroughly study and learn the facts and research data about human sexuality for the safety and well-being of children. There is a lot more to learn than the outdated, inaccurate and whimsical ideas of "the birds and the bees," a child's life depends on our being responsible in this regard. In order to be more like this mom was in this ad.

The U.S. Bishops are currently individually reviewing the draft of a pastoral letter -- "Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan" --which they will formally consider at their Nov. 16-19 national meeting [2009]. With all due respect this pastoral letter will become their most vivid indictment against them and Benedict XVI exposing their irresponsible leadership at the expensive of millions of innocent children, globally.
Father Tony, a man who was once a Catholic priest, blogs at Bilerico Project. He will be issuing a series of responses to this statement. This is his first:

A Love Letter from the Roman Catholic Bishops of the USA from tony adams on Vimeo.

It is so easy for us who are fighting for our rights, and in many cases, protecting our existing rights, to lose sight of the fact that the symbols of our opposition, such as the Catholic Church, can easily lead us to judge them with a broad stroke. We know how it feels to be judged the same way, so let us remember that nothing is as it seems.

When this statement is issued in November, we must remember that not all Catholics will agree, and let that truth guide us in how we respond.

Marriage - Love and Life in the Divine Plan


  1. Of course, we must remember that many, indeed probably most, Catholics do not agree with the hierarchy on may, maybe most, political positions they advocate. I am glad that this statement of the Catholic Bishops does not focus only on same-sex marriage. Precisely because it comes out against contraception and other practices that Catholics routinely flout, it will not be taken very seriously by congregants, who already know the hierarchy's position.

    What strikes me is the way in Maine, at least, the Catholic Church is trying falsely to present itself as supportive of gay families and eager to provide equal rights in civil unions or domestic partnerships. In the debate on 1 presented on this site, Marc Mutty went so far as to say that the Church has been in the forefront of securing human rights for gay people. This, of course, is nonsense. The Catholic Church has opposed almost every attempt to extend gay rights in this country. The only time they have endorsed civil unions or domestic partnerships has been when the alternative was marriage.

    Apparently, in Maine, however, they have calculated that they cannot win the people's veto unless they appear supportive of gay people. They never mention that we are "intrisically evil" or that our sexuality is "disordered" or our unions are sinful because that might not play well with the undecided voters. (When they meet with those who have already decided to vote yes, they no doubt are less circumspect.)

    Just more hypocrisy from the hierarchy, which, let's face it, does not have much moral authority, even among adherents of the church, in sexual matters any more.

  2. Although my parents would both tell you that they are Christians, I was lucky enough (in my opinion) to grow up in a household in which religion played only the most minor of roles. I can recall going to church with my parents a handful of times at most. And my father was often disdainful of preachers, especially televangelists. But my extended family is large and almost all of them are ultra-ultra religious. It is difficult to have a conversation with most of my aunts, uncles and cousins without the discussion centering on their church or the mission they went on last year or the youth group at their church, or how some personal struggle deepened their relationship with Christ, etc...

    I feel quite certain that based on their religious beliefs none of my extended family members support marriage equality. And yet, I do not believe my relatives, or most other people of faith, are coming from a place of hate when they oppose marriage equality.

    Here is what I believe: The people who are opposed to our equality are horribly misguided, deeply ignorant of homosexuality and therefore intolerant of homosexual relationships. Certainly some of them are simply hateful. But I believe most of them, in their twisted logic, think they are somehow helping us by refusing to support our equality. In their ignorance and their religiosity, they think that supporting marriage equality and being accepting of homosexuality in general is helping us engage in sinful behavior that will result in our going to hell. And they believe that by opposing us, they are helping us get to heaven which, in turn, will help them get to heaven.

    Obviously, it is twisted, paranoid, selfish and, in the opinion of Richard Dawkins, delusional. But I believe it is rarely hateful.

    I do not, however, have NO problem at protests holding signs or shouting chants that equate opposition to marriage equality with hate. I don't have a problem with that because surely some 'Christians', especially the core members of groups like National Organization for Marriage, Focus on the Family, Traditional Values Coalition, etc...that are pushing these anti marriage equality ballot measures, are coming from a place of hate. And I think it is important to let those who are simply misguided know that they are buying into the hate.

    Full disclosure: my license plate reads "8 IS H8". If you see me on the road, be sure to wave hello!

  3. To the hearing impaired: Here is the beginning of Father Tony's video. Will transcribe more as time permits:
    Father Tony's video:

    I want to talk to you today about a pastoral letter that the United Conference of Catholic Bishops is going to release in November...and this letter is sort of a love letter for American Catholics and they say that it will be useful for not just Catholics but people everywhere.
    I read the entire letter, it is about 1100 lines longs, it won't be appearing on Twitter,
    and it basically gives you a beautifully clear picture of what the Roman Catholic Bishops are thinking. And to all of you out there who want to understand Catholicism or for all you Catholics who want to know why your church is positioning itself against equal rights for marriage really have to read this letter.
    Needless to say, I found a lot of it just disgusting.

    He then proceeds to go through the introduction and two main parts.

  4. Frankly, we need to stop giving these people excuses, or ways out, from their bigotry.

    They're uninformed? There's a library. Try reading.

    They're "misguided"? They've heard enough contrary opinions to educate themselves. Most chose not to.

    Bigotry is bigotry, and the "we didn't know" excuse coupled with the "we're just trying to help" reasoning is, in my opinion, crap.

    They know. They choose to turn their backs anyway.

    This is a war. You do not help your enemy. You wipe them out.

  5. @Shawn

    What a stupid thing to say! This is war? Wipe them out? Kind of like the Nazis who tried to wipe out Jews and gays right?

  6. So here is FTony re the Introduction: (This goes up to about the 8th minute.)

    Title: Marriage, Love and Life in the Divine Plan, a Pastoral Letter

    This is a draft version that was leaked. The final version that comes out next month
    will probably look a bit different.

    So line 31-32 states: Among the many blessings that God has showered upon us in Christ, is the blessing of marriage, a gift bestowed by the Creator since the beginning of the world. OK that's nice. "His hand has described the vocation of marriage in the very nature of man and woman." So the Bishops are saying that God has put the calling of marriage in the very nature of man and woman..
    It's in your DNA folks, not a call to sex, not a call to friendship, not a call to love, not a call to relationships, but a CALL to Marriage. It's inscribed in you.That's what they are saying.

    Now throughout the letter they are going to play fast and loose with the flowery churchy words, but right off the bat they are making a very clear statement about where they are going.

    Course I can't quite imagine how they are going to justify the fact that if God put the call to marriage in their DNA from the beginning of time they feel that by being celibate they are in line with the blessing and the vocation and the gift given at the beginning of the world, ... but somehow they are going to get there.

    What is interesting here also is that from the premise set here in the introduction, that they are going to use the Genesis account of creation as a major component of their justification for their understanding of marriage. Especially in light of their abhorrence of same-sex marriage.... okay so that's line 32.

    5:00 And yet by line 64 They say: "At the same time, we are troubled by the fact that
    far too many people say that they do not understand that marriage is both a gift of divine nature and a sacrament. It is left out about a blessing, because we know that not everyone receives blessings.. or we wouldnt say "May God Bless You'.. so already we have a problem with them saying it is inscribed in your DNA, but some people dont get blessings...That was troubling but it is going to get worse.

    LIne 78: We (the Bishops)note a disturbing trend today to view marriage as a mostly private matter. He agrees with this, stating that relationships are personal, private matters, but marriage is a public contract governing the distribution of assets and it comes with public responsibilities. Thats why I think the church ought to get out of the marriage business and concentrate on building relationships and good solid families.

    But they are going to talk about marriage and relationships and sex and somehow that the church is the Bride of Christ and everything...and then they are gonna...

    wait till you get to the end of this letter where they say that in Heaven all of us will be united into this great communal marriage exemplified by Christ and his Church.
    So that folks you may be married to one person today, but no way is that going to hold for all eternity into one big Borg. Honestly that's what they say in here toward the end.

  7. I will probably finish..and will post the gist of the rest as a note on facebook. Will be back to give you link when done.

  8. I have a very simple reply to those catholic "leaders" who lead from some long ago time capsule of male domination in a bronze age society.

    If their idea of marriage is about procreation what becomes of a married man and woman who for some physical reason are unable to conceive a child of their own? Is their marriage annuled? If so, by whom, the church or the state? By the way, no religious marriage is valid unless the STATE in which the marriage is performed has issued a license FIRST.

    No church is in the driver's seat in this regard, otherwise marriages performed by state-authorized officials such as JPs, sheriffs, judges, etc, would also be invalid.

  9. I did finish the transcript. It is here, in a fb note.

    After doing that I am just wondering why God has picked out American Bishops to say this to, when apparently he fully concurs with the blessing of SSM in countries where it is legal! E.G. Canada, Norway, Netherlands, South Africa..? Spain?..Different god? Different Bishops? Come on we aren't that dumb.

  10. The bishops are not only opposed to marriage equality but also officially strongly opposed to domestic partnerships and civil unions - but their forked-tongue spokesman in Maine Marc Mutty tells voters they can reject marriage with a clear conscience because couples can get "justice" through DP or civil unions. Shameless.