Thursday, September 16, 2010

Change, or more of the same.

In January of 2010 the founding members of Catholics for Equality met in Washington, DC. Subsequent to that week of meetings, Catholic News Agency (CAN) published an article. The headline on the article read:

“Catholics for Equality demand changes from bishops on homosexuality.”

This past week Catholics for Equality launched as an organization. The National Catholic Reporter quoted Father Joseph Palacios, a priest from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Father Palacios said:

"We are not a church reform group," said Fr. Joseph Palacios, a founding board member and a sociologist and adjunct professor at Georgetown University. "We are not going to handle doctrine. We can't change that. That is the church's thing. We don't even have the illusion that we as Catholics can do that. …

Obviously, a change happened over the past nine months at Catholics for Equality. Father Palacios’ now states that doctrine is “the church’s thing.” His statement declares the idea that “the hierarchy” is “the church.” However, he forgets that WE, not just the hierarchy, are the Church. By its very nature, Catholics for Equality stands in opposition to the hierarchy's stance on LGBTQ equality laws. If Father Palacios believes that the Hierarchy should not change its position, then he should resign from Catholics for Equality and issue an apology to his bishop Cardinal Mahony for his role in founding this dissident organization.

Same-sex marriage is only one issue on a long list of issues that need to be considered, discussed and challenged within our church. The following video clip poignantly illustrates this point.

Admittedly people who love the church did not compose this clip; however, the points they make are very serious and a considered review and response is required by the faithful. The notion that fidelity should equal blind obedience is contrary to and undermines true faith.

The gifts of reason and free will require their recipients to employ them. “I was just following orders” was not a defense that worked at the Nuremberg Trials and it is not a defense that will work at our life’s review when we die. We, you and I, are each of us answerable for our actions and our inaction.

If we see an injustice and we chose to remain silent, we become an accomplice to that injustice. We are morally responsible and cannot delegate our moral responsibility to parents, a spouse, or religious leaders. Those people have an obligation to us, to help us form our conscience and to act uprightly; however, they can never act for us. In the end, each us must answer for our self.

Patriotism is not blindly approving every word and act of our government and piety is not blindly approving every word and act of our religious leaders. If our conscience informs us that something is morally wrong, we are obligated to try to right that wrong. We are obligated to try to effect change.

How to effect that change is a methodological question. Here media experts, political analysts, attorneys, journalists all can make great contributions. However, these individuals and their talents cannot compensate for the lack of a clear vision and just purpose. I write this in the hope that the Board of Directors of Catholics for Equality will not miss this historic opportunity to right a wrong.

Moving the movable middle requires clearly explaining to them why they should move. Make no mistake; this is calling the hierarchy to change their position. Anyone familiar with the history of the church knows the hierarchy has changed its position many times on moral questions ranging from slavery to marriage law.


topographic39 said...

Moving the middle is difficult to accomplish, when Bishop appointments are "top-down." Recent polls indicate that the heirarchy does not reflect the thinking of the average Catholic. The middle has moved!
I think history has shown that Cardinal Newman was right, when he indicated at the end of the First Vatican Council that the doctrine of infallibility was proclaimed at an inopportune time. It is used today to silence even the theologians who point out the limitations imposed on it.
The Heirarchy's views on morality are based in flawed philosophical ideals, not revealed truth. The sad thing is that they choose not to recognize this, and they have silenced the voice of God in their midst.

Jackie said...

So what is the purpose of "Catholics for Equality" if it isn't trying to accomplish a change in attitudes toward LGBT Catholics by the hierarchy and thus by the mainstream Catholics?
I agree that the middle has "moved", but will the stodgy, old, out of touch men in power ever look for revealed truth unless it is pointed out to them over and over again. I know they may not listen even then, but it seems that we must try.
Thanks for always being on the frontlines and keeping us aware of what is going on.

Mareczku said...

I watched that video clip and while it was moving I think that such a video could be used to stir up hatred against Catholics. Such a video would encourage a "circle the wagons" attitude in some Catholics. Still I don't understand that attitude of the Church towards victims of abuse and the lack of compassion. It is very troubling. Some in the hierarchy are moving in the right direction on this issue but they need to do more.

Bill said...

Fr. Geoff,
It's so good to hear your voice again. You should be the one leading Catholics for equality.