Monday, November 19, 2007

So, kids, I didn't make it to the SOA Peace Vigil and protest at Ft. Benning. I was there in spirit, but I have to send shouts-out to dear Joe & Mary Jean Goode, Maggie Winfrey, and Pat Joyce and sister Maureen, for giving the SOA their top priority, and attending. I spoke with Mary Jean last night, and the estimate of the crowd was---25,0000 people. Young people, old men and women, veterans-against-the-war, nuns, priests, monks...People of every type, standing up and saying NO.
Speaking of standing up, it's time for me to OUT something.
An insidious brand of intolerance appears to be taking hold of at least one member of a church that is beloved to me. I'll be writing a pointed letter to the offender, later today. Currently, I'm still seething....
I understand that there is room for a wide array of OPINION on various issues--in life, and even in the Roman Catholic Church. But know what?I don't have the STOMACH for intolerance, and lack of respect, for gay people. I'm proudly bi, and I was bi, and knew it, and suffered tremendous pain because I felt no one could understand my distress, long before it(Bisexuality) gained some sort of "popular" cachet. It makes me angry to think that so many young people think it's "cool" or "daring" to claim to be bi, when those of us who wrestled with understanding what our nature IS, were nearly destroyed by our orientation(not the orientation, of course, but by Society's extreme failure to grasp science, and embrace tolerance.).
And paradoxically, here we are--in 2007, no less. And STILL, "General acceptance of homosexuality is a problem." can be said in a church, and no one rises up, to say NO.
Not even me.
I sat there, frozen in fear, about to cry.
And my blood pressure rose, as I heard a young white priest who never once has spoken up about the immorality of an unjust, illegal war, parrot whatever he understands to be Church doctrine, or perhaps it's just his own, very personal paranoia...
He spoke about upcoming elections, encouraging people to vote "as a Catholic", even though The Catechism specifically calls for the individual to "answer to your conscience first, your Church, second."
That dictate--personal conscience over Church is what drew me back, in recent years, to the Catholic Church.
He commented that "Without repenting(for his public political views)Guiliani won't[be allowed to] recieve communion from the Pope"(who is going to visit to New York City soon)and even made a lame joke--which a few actually laughed at-- that "He'll make an excuse...say he had a cheeseburger, that it hasn't been an hour, so he can't;he had to have a Big Mac".
What incredible arrogance--ANYone deciding WHO can receive Communion in their Church! And what incredible hubris on the part of this priest, deciding that he knows who we should vote for, or who we should not...
In San Fransisco some years ago, there was a controversy about whether "active" homosexuals(as opposed to what, passive??!!)could receive Communion. Some churches even DENIED the Sacrament to homosexuals!
Whatever this is, wherever this comes from, I can absolutely assure you, this comes from the same place that defending slavery(which the Church also--at one time, for a very long time-- supported); the same place that allowed the burning of human beings in the name of God took place; the same place where "The Crusades" took place.
I spoke with a beloved friend and she said "Lisa, sometimes it's like there are TWO[Catholic] Churches--one is the loving, Christ-centered Church; the other, this conservative church [that does not reflect Christ's teachings], at all."

I am a Spiritual person, because I recognize that Spirituality is internal, and I have that. Really.
But I also enjoy(or did, until yesterday)the ritual of the Mass, the theatricality of lighting that is lowered as chants and incantations are uttered, solemnly, by the priest. The choir, lifting their voices in prayer, as we, the congregants, respond.The ting-a-ling of bells, as the Sacrament of Communion is blessed. I was robbed of that, yesterday. Not by the priest, who politicized his homily, and who railed quietly--and without verbal opposition--against homosexuality.
(I am sure he would claim he's "not against homosexuals, just the act of homosexuality.", but that is like saying you are not prejudiced against black people, it's just their skin color).
But by me. I robbed myself of the opportunity to be authentic, to be genuine, to be honest. And I am ashamed.
It won't happen again.
The next time any word is spoken against me, against my brothers and sisters, I will stand up. I will stand up-- possibly to jeers, possibly to hate.
But I'll be standing.
Standing for what is right, and standing, with pride.

I think one day when the hate begins to fall way, when people realize that fear is what drives people to think(in a quote from this same priest) "The general acceptance of homosexuality threatens marriage and family", there'll rise up someone who will stand--with both great Faith in Christ--and his message of Love, Inclusion, and Peace, and the strength to say, "I am gay."(or bi, or lesbian, or transgendered)"And we are your family."
And that person--that person will one day be applauded, perhaps beatified--and there will stand one day, (and I am dead serious here) a Patron Saint of Homosexuals--just as there are Patron Saints for everyone else. The Catholic Church has over 10,000 saints--is there not room for someone to rise up, and speak out against what is bigotry, plain and simple? Is there not someone who can say,
"No more. We are ALL made with God's love, God's care. We all deserve to receive the Sacraments of the Church."?

1 comment:

Lisa Allender said...

I am posting an additional thought here, to my faithful, and also to my faith-filled readers:
If you are asking WHY I would attend/take part in any institution that practices bigotry, I would answer you that it has NEVER been my experience, ever...
For example, the people of my Catholic-based Pax Christi group are warm, loving, and completely inclusive--not merely "tolerant".

I wrote this post out of my frustration with what I see as very misguided interpretation of "rules" or so-called doctrine, in addition to this particular priest's intolerance, bigotry, etc.
And, as I said in this entry, I am most disappointed in ME, for not raising a hand, or saying something--IN THE MOMENT.
That moment passed, and I hope my dear friends-- my brothers and sisters-- who identify as LGBTQ, can forgive me.I also hope I can forgive myself.