Is there any limit to which the use of the word ‘Catholic’ with a capital C, used as either adjective or noun, might be put in the attempt to convey respectability upon its bearer? Can just any one person or organization haul it into service? With a little tweaking, I can fit certain disparate Catholics, like Culbreath and Liccione, into my understanding of the word. (Relax guys, just kidding. Probably.) But can Catholics for a Free Choice and Catholics United for the Faith both fairly stake a claim? ZippyCatholic and Vox Nova? (Not kidding). Is Richard McBrien really a continuation of the same theology of the same Church to which Cardinal Manning won so many converts, while both men are tagged with the same religious label? Is the Catholicism of Henry Hyde (rip) and that of John Kerry one and the same thing? If so, why did their respective consciences dictate such different actions in the political sphere regarding the defense of the unborn, such that one man's actions amounted to no defense at all?
I ask because my inbox has been polluted by unsolicited emails from an organization called Catholics for Equality. (How did they find me? Is there some kind of “He’s Catholic” list out there?) The first email urged me to “Join the Fight to Repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell!” Why? Because they’re a “newly founded Catholic group dedicated to amplifying the voices of Catholics who support fair laws for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.” (What is a transgendered person? Someone who considers him/her self to be both male and female in equal persuasion?)
COE says that “78% of all Americans are for the repeal of ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell’. The most recent survey of Catholics in 2006 showed that 66% of Catholics favored gays and lesbians serving in the military - a number we believe is significantly higher now in 2010." I don’t know how they came by the numbers. I vaguely remember reference to a CNN poll. And they are quite “open” about what “equality” means. They want homosexuals, and victims of the other aforementioned confusions, to be able to announce their proclivity, enlist in the service, and then stride the barracks and frequent the showers alongside G I Joe and Jane. And they, COE, are eager to be of personal assistance. As they wrote to Archbishop Broglio (Archbishop for Military Sevices in the United States):
We want them to have the same freedom to be themselves, and to serve their country, as should all Americans. While we understand that, as a consecrated bishop, you uphold Catholic doctrine, you also have a responsibility as a chaplain to soldiers seeking your pastoral guidance…We hope that DADT will be repealed in the next few weeks and we are concerned about how you and your fellow military chaplains will fulfill the new public policy of our country. We pray that you will care for gays and lesbians as you would any other person in the military. We are ready to help you and Catholic chaplains in the transition to full acceptance of gays and lesbians in the military and respectfully request a meeting with you to discuss up-to-date information on gay and lesbian people and to explore ways we might be of assistance in this upcoming transition. The Catholic Church has a great opportunity to be at the forefront of this change, to show our faith to be compassionate, and to be an enlightened partner in the American pluralistic military and society.
There was other encouragement from Prominent Personages, like “former State Legislator and Catholics for Equality Board Member Patsy Trujillo,” who hasn’t quite finished her ESL classes: “...we trust our Catholic Senators will vote in their conscience and the will of the pro-equality Catholics in their state, and not the misinformed dictates of Rome” – this, even as she attends the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle.
Well, the vote didn’t turn out quite as they’d hoped. The Senate’s Catholic members voted along party lines, 16 in favor of repeal, 8 against. So I guess DADT is still in place. That’s what their email says, anyway. I’m not expecting it to last, though.
I did a little clicking around. COE is interested in more than one issue – two, to be exact. Immigration reform and LGBT mainstreaming, with a lopsided emphasis on LGBT. You can find them under the Issues tab. Under the About tab you find their leadership and staff. One member of the Founding Board is named Charles Martel. (Stop it, you’re killing me.) The Hammer is proprietor of a site called Catholics for Marriage Equality. The other members are comprised of one priest, several lay people, and one ex-priest. The lay people are all matriculators at parishes with names like Sacred Heart, St. Dominic’s, and Immaculate Conception. The Founding Board Member who got my attention, though, was the ex-priest, Tony Adams, whose bio says that he “is an ordained Roman Catholic priest who left the active ministry many years ago. He resides in Manhattan where he is the editor of Queer New York and in Fort Lauderdale where he is a columnist with South Florida Gay News. He is also on the editorial board of The Bilerico Project, where he writes a weekly advice column. His personal writing about Catholicism is found on Perge Modo. He is married to his partner of 26 years.”
At Perge Modo, you can scroll down to find a Youtube trailer of a movie called Bear City, which appears to be an attempt at making the homosexual lifestyle amusing, and in which our defrocked priest makes a cameo appearance. People of tender sensibilities, like Lydia and Jeff, are advised (no, commanded) not to click on it. Father Tony, as he still calls himself on occasion, works a number of blogs, one entitled “Stuff Gay Boyz Like.” Since I already know the answer, I didn’t click on it (and if there’s something I don’t know, I don’t want to know it). On Father Tony’s blogroll is a link to Father Geoff Farrow. Father Geoff’s profile page tells us that
On October 5th of 2008, Fr. Geoff delivered a statement [for the full text, read the first post "How it all began"] at the end of the 11 AM Mass at the Newman Center at CSUF. In this statement, Fr. Geoff explained that he could not comply with a directive from his bishop to direct parishioners to vote “yes” on Proposition 8. This Proposition would remove the right of same sex couples to enter into civil marriage in the state of California. Later that week, Fr. Geoff was removed as pastor of St. Paul’s by his bishop and suspended as a priest. He worked throughout the month of October with the “No on Prop. 8” campaign. Currently Fr. Geoff is engaged in public speaking to advance the cause of LGBT rights.
Well, you get the picture. That’s all the clicking I had energy for. You can see how easily exhausting it becomes, what with one link leading to another, the next more depressing than the former, and all of it a tangled mess, a subversive chaos. It is Christian morality as it would look if Beelzebub ran Ratzinger’s old Office. I just want the word ‘Catholic’ back before it goes the way of ‘gay,’ if it hasn’t already.