Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Catholic rebellion?

There is an article online over at the Guardian - Comment is free titled "A Catholic rebellion?", And I'd be lying if I didn't admit that my heart actually skipped a beat or two just trying to imagine what that title could possibly mean. So it was quite exciting to read the article and find that there indeed may be some "rebellion", at least by Catholic Church standards, going on across the pond. Nothing huge (yet) mind you, but at least it's something.

And I say, HALLELUJAH! Better late than never.

Apparently a "Pastoral Leaflet" has been distributed by the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales entitled: "What is life like if you or someone in your family is gay or lesbian in their sexual orientation? ... and what can your parish family do to make a difference?"

Oh. My. God! My eyes started stinging with a few tears. Why the hell couldn't something like this happen over here in the U.S.? WHY??? What a concept - a church that actually serves as a refuge to families going through painful and agonizing times, rather than being one of the main sources of all the pain and agony the family is going through.

The article goes on to say:

Unusual for an official Catholic publication, it acknowledges the "oppression" suffered by homosexuals:

As a group that has suffered more than its share of oppression and contempt, the homosexual community has a particular claim on the concern of the church.

Indeed, the leaflet includes a disarmingly honest admission of the role played by the Catholic church in the victimisation and marginalisation of lesbian and gay people. It quotes comments received from lay Catholics during its Listening Day survey:

The continual message from the church is that homosexuality is so, so dreadful. Our gay son just hasn't stood a chance … My brother is gay; the church has been very intolerant of him.

This frank admission of past failings is brave and honourable, as is the suggestion that Catholics should "express appreciation for the gifts that homosexual Catholics bring to their faith community".

Exuding love, compassion and empathy, the leaflet goes on to advise priests and parishioners:

Try not to assume that everyone is heterosexual ... Avoid stereotyping and condemning ... Remember that homophobic jokes and asides can be cruel and hurtful; a careless word can mean another experience of rejection and pain.

My gosh, if this compassion for gays thingee catches on, it would truly be an answer to so many Catholics' prayers. I know I would have given anything to know my Church was there for me and my husband back when we were struggling to come to grips with the news that our son was gay. But sadly, I am not very hopeful that we are going to see any big changes in the Church's attitude towards gays and lesbians any time soon. The hate and homophobia runs way too deep in the Catholic Church, starting with the guy at the top, a man who is so homophobic he opposes a measure calling on governments around the world to decriminalize homosexuality — including countries which impose the death penalty on gays. So I am not going to get my hopes up. Something tells me there are going to be some heads rolling over there in England and Wales.

I just wonder what the punishment is going to be for daring to show gays and lesbians compassion and love, but I guess that will depend on whether the infraction is considered a mortal sin or a venial sin. Maybe we can ask Father Joseph Illo. Something tells me he'd have no problem classifying such a hideous act a mortal sin. Share

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