Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Will the Catholic Church declare war on Obama over gay equality?

NY Archbishop Timothy Dolan
In something which should be remembered - because I have a feeling that it may be the opening salvo to something huge and sinister - NY Archbishop Timothy Dolan has sent a letter to President Obama claiming that he is alarmed about recent actions by the President's administration that supposedly "escalate the threat to marriage and imperil the religious freedom of those who promote and defend marriage."

These "threats" named by Dolan are positions made by the Obama Administration to ensure lgbtq equality. They include:

1. The Justice Department no longer defending DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) and raising questions about the law's constitutionality.

2. The Obama Administration supporting the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in foster care and adoption placement

3. Sexual orientation sensitivity training for federal employees

4. The repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Dolan claims that these actions undermine what he calls the "natural family:"

In sum, these recent actions undermine certain fundamental truths about the nature of the human person—the equal importance of mothers and fathers to children, and the unchangeable meaning and nature of marriage as a communion of the sexes. They also oppose the deeply rooted consensus among the American people in support of the authentic definition of marriage and laws that reflect it. These actions also harm the common good by imperiling the religious freedom of those who hold these truths and defend these laws.

Dolan also makes what can only be seen as sort of a passive-aggressive threat to the President in regards to Catholic bishops speaking against the Obama Administration:

The Justice Department's move, in addition to other troubling federal decisions occurring recently, prompts me yet again to register my grave concerns. The content of this letter reflects the strong sentiment expressed at a recent meeting by more than thirty of my brother Bishops who serve on the Administrative Committee of our episcopal conference. I know they are joined by hundreds of additional Catholic bishops throughout our nation. My observations are offered in the spirit of respectful, but frank dialogue.

The Catholic Bishops stand ready to affirm every positive measure taken by you and your Administration to strengthen marriage and the family. We cannot be silent, however, when federal steps harmful to marriage, the laws defending it, and religious freedom continue apace. 

In lieu of how the Catholic Church is suspected of funding the National Organization for Marriage - an organization attempting to stomp out marriage equality in all 50 states - and the fact that next year is an election year, one would be dumb not to take Dolan's words as a threat.

While I respect Dolan's beliefs and his position, he is way out of his bounds here.  Furthermore, I think Dolan is dangerously stuck in the past. We no longer live in the time of the Middle Ages where government decisions had to be agreed upon by the Catholic Church before they are made.

The laws of this country are governed by the Constitution, not papal authority. No one elected Dolan to public office and he has no standing - other than that of an ordinary American citizen - to demand that the President reverse his standing on DOMA or any other law or decision.

 Dolan forgets that he does not live a theocracy, but a secular country which is home to many different people with many different religious beliefs.

And also different families.

Not every family has the mother and father dynamic but that does not make them inferior to those who do. All families which provide love and support to their children should be embraced and supported.

That's the most obscene thing about Dolan's letter. It is totally disrespectful to these families. It sends a message that since they don't abide by his definition of what makes a family, they are automatically inferior.

That same message of inferiority is also sent to those of us who are lgbtq. Granted, Dolan's letter includes the customary "we value all human beings and reject any hatred or unfair treatment of all people" line that's present in all religious right dogma in regards to the lgbtq community right before they lower the boom on us.

But the fact of the matter is the boom is still lowered, making us feel that we are not worthy of equal treatment.

So as a gay man, I don't buy Dolan's phony platitudes of love.  And as a citizen of this country, I am highly offended by his letter.

Lastly, I would suggest that before Dolan or any Catholic official takes it upon themselves to attempt to dictate policy to our elected officials, they follow the homily about "tending to their own gardens."

Based upon what I hear in regards to the sexual abuse of children in the Catholic church, some folks have been letting their gardens go to rot. 

Related post:

Is the Catholic Church overstepping its bounds in marriage equality fight?

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Xaratherus said...

I think that it's an incredibly stupid move on Dolan's part, in regards to the future of the Catholic Church.

There's already growing evidence of a major schism between the clergy and their congregations on this issue, and Dolan's increasingly militant stance on the issue threatens to drive a spike directly into that schism.

I predict that we'll eventually see a
"separation of church and church" - the formation of a new denomination of Catholicism - similar to what happened with the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church.

Anonymous said...

"We no longer live in the time of the Middle Ages where government decisions had to be agreed upon by the Catholic Church before they are made."

Actually, as you note we live in a Representative Constitutional Democracy which, I elaborate, includes Supreme Court rulings specifically contrary to the concept of religious "consultation" and interference.

You give him too much credit in "respecting his opinions." His actions, and the actions of the Catholic Church, if they indeed are contributing to organizations such as NOM, or engaging in political activity as they and the Mormon Church are accused of in regards to Proposition 8 in California should be grounds for stripping their tax exempt status under our Internal Revenue Code.

He is entitled as you note to one vote as any other citizen. When he gets up and speaks with the authority of the "Catholic Church" on political matters, or gives money and/or other support to organizations that are not tax exempt due to their political activity, the IRS should be investigating them.

Laurel said...

He probably thinks this is good posturing to get him in line to be elected pope. Ratzinger won't last forever.

Scott Amundsen said...

The Roman Church's dirty little secret (aside from the obvious one of their penchant for diddling little kids) is the rapidly-growing number of Catholic congregations that are separating from Rome because they are so out of synch, both ideologically and theologically. Unless the Roman Church starts bringing itself into the Twenty-first Century, it will soon find itself a minority, with the majority of Catholic churches either falling under the heading of American or simply Independent Catholics.

Anonymous said...

Scott is right, I'm friends with a priest from the Little Brothers of Jesus Christ and the Church of the Holy Paraclete. It's interesting how progressive they are to be honest.

And yes, Dolan needs to tone it down because the Catholic church wouldn't be what it is without gay people. Seriously, who else do you think came up with those outfits?

If it were straight men who designed it all, they'd all be dressed in drab gray.

John B. said...

Riiiiight. They "promote" and "defend" marriage by trying to prevent other people from getting married, and even by trying to get existing marriages declared legally null and void. Sure, that's "defending" marriage.

Gregory Peterson said...

"...the equal importance of mothers and fathers to children..."

If the Catholic power hierarchy actually believed that, wouldn't we be calling some priests "Mother" and some priests "Father?"

David Cox said...

It would take so little for Christian leaders to enlarge their "family values" to include all members of said families (eg. LGBT people). Sad...

Linnea said...

Earth to Dolan: We live in a country where separation of church and state is enshrined in our most basic founding document. This is NOT a theocracy! "Because my religion doesn't like it" is NOT a valid excuse for this kind of behavior!

He's perfectly entitled to speak up as a private citizen. But as a representative of the church? That may be getting into some awfully mushy territory.

Beth in MN said...

I have never seen a more queeny official photo of a bishop!

Rosemary said...

Why do you respect his opinions? They are ill-informed and bigoted, and a threat to the basic human rights of millions of people.

bobfett11 said...

Beth, you have never seen pictures of Cardinal Burke.