Repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in the Catholic Church


Don’t ask, Don’t tell” (DADT) was the official United States policy on same-sex oriented people serving in the US military from December 21, 1993 to September 20, 2011.

“Don’t ask, Don’t tell” has been the official Roman Catholic policy

for priests and bishops for hundreds of years.

It is time to repeal Roman Catholic DADT.

(For today’s spiritual reflection I offer this  interview — sent by a good friend — that appeared in  SPIEGEL.)

Interview With Gay Theologian David Berger

“A Large Proportion of Catholic Clerics and Trainee Priests Are Homosexual”

David Berger, a gay theologian who has written a book about his experiences as a senior theologian in the Catholic Church, speaks to SPIEGEL about homophobia and the church’s shift to the right.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Berger, you describe the Catholic Church as a homophobic organization. Why did it take you, a homosexual theologian, so long to resign from your offices in the church?

Berger: Because such an exit isn’t a question of days. Even as a child I wanted to be a priest, but by the time I had finished high school it was clear to me that I would not be able to live a life of celibacy.

SPIEGEL: And you became a theologian anyway?

Berger: Yes, because the church never lost its attraction for me. The Tridentine Mass was like a gateway drug for me. When I was 17, I was with the Pius Brothers in Lower Bavaria. What I saw there was a fascinatingly aesthetic baroque dream of leaf gold and Brussels Bobbin lace. I couldn’t get away from it. It only became clear to me later what I had got involved in, and the dream turned more and more into a nightmare.

SPIEGEL: Why?

Berger: Because my own life, my life with a partner, increasingly contradicted what was said and demanded in my church environment. Through my enthusiasm for the traditional mass and for conservative theology, I became increasingly involved with conservative Catholic networks of young aristocrats, industrialists and reputable academics. They utterly condemned homosexuality.

SPIEGEL: How did that manifest itself?

Berger: I kept having to listen to inhuman views. For example, Hitler was praised for having interned and murdered homosexuals in concentration camps. The point came when I couldn’t remain silent any longer …

SPIEGEL: … after you and your career had profited for a long time from contact with these right-wing circles.

Berger: Ever since Pope Benedict XVI, at the latest, you have to be anti-modern to have a career in the Catholic Church. I criticized the relatively progressive theology and left-wing church policy of Karl Rahner. That is how people noticed me. Because I was an expert on the medieval thinker Thomas Aquinas, I was invited by almost all right-wing conservative groups to give lectures. I was in touch with the Sedevacantists, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, the Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, Una Voce, Opus Dei and the Servants of Jesus and Mary.

SPIEGEL: What went on at the meetings?

Berger: These groups are very careful about who they invite. They meet in very high-class venues, sometimes in former aristocratic residences or in luxury hotels. Old men smoke fat cigars, drink expensive red wine and eat well. It is a parallel world whose inhabitants seek to defy the modern world.

SPIEGEL: And what do they discuss?

Berger: They talk about a supposed Jewish global conspiracy or about how to keep emancipators, freemasons and gays out of the church. For many years, there were
“gentlemen’s evenings” in Düsseldorf that were organized by a tax consultant. They increasingly became a focal point for a right-wing Catholic network. At one of the meetings, which were regularly visited by senior clerics, the man sitting next to me, a retired university professor, was railing against the gay parades on Christopher Street Day (in Germany):
“Instead of standing in a corner, being ashamed of themselves and just shutting up, they behave like pigs gone wild.”

SPIEGEL: Why didn’t you turn your back on the church at that point?

Berger: Many gays are attracted by the clear hierarchies of the male world of Catholic rituals. Among clerics I discovered extremely effeminate behavior of the sort I knew well from certain gay scenes. People give each other women’s names and attach very high importance to clerical robes in all colors. Just think of the nicknames Bishop Walter Mixa (who recently stepped down amid accusations of violence and financial irregularities) and his housemaster friend gave each other: “Hasi,” or “bunny,” and “Monsi,” short for
monsignore.

SPIEGEL: Did you get the impression that your homosexuality may even have helped your career?

Berger: In clerical circles I kept getting shown through unmistakeable looks, hugs, stroking of my upper arms and excessively long handshakes that one didn’t just appreciate my work a lot. The fact that many prelates had homosexual tendencies is certain to have made them more ready to help me get positions.

SPIEGEL: And these gentlemen weren’t homophobic?

Berger: The contradiction between evident homosexual inclinations and homophobic statements is one way in which people in the church deal with their own, usually
suppressed inclination.

SPIEGEL: You must explain that to us.

Berger: Evidently those who succumb to their desires are rejected particularly vehemently by those who painfully suppress such leanings in themselves. In the course of my
own close cooperation with clerics, something I had long disavowed suddenly became clear to me: The fiercest homophobia in the Catholic Church comes from homophile clerics who desperately suppress their own sexuality.

‘I Hope that the Church Will at Last Confront the Issue of Homophobia’

SPIEGEL: Did you feel this pressure yourself?

Berger: I published the magazine Theological Issues and was summoned by the sponsors every time a faintly liberal view was espoused. Opus Dei people were always there to observe. They said I wasn’t allowed to write “life partner;” it should instead be referred to as “fornication partner.” “Homosexuality” was too neutral, they said. One had to refer to it as “unnatural fornication.”

SPIEGEL: What finally triggered your departure?

Berger: The appearance of the bishop of Essen, Franz-Josef Overbeck, on Anne Will (a prominent Sunday night political talk show broadcast on German public television station ARD), when he described homosexuality as unnatural and a sin during a debate about sexual abuse.

SPIEGEL: Did that make clear to you that you’d been part of the church too long?

Berger: Instead of standing up for my rights and those of my partner I supported anti-democratic and anti-liberal groups that fight against these rights and in which some people dream of a fundamentalist Catholic religious state or seriously call for a Catholic jihad. I joined in this playing with fire and was then naively appalled when the whole house was ablaze. I regret that.

SPIEGEL: It sounds as if your book is a confession. But your former colleagues are not prepared to grant you absolution.

Berger: A reputable theologian loyal to the pope put it clearly: He said I was given the opportunity to discreetly distance myself from the “scene.” I was offered the chance to continue this hypocrisy and go on climbing up the career ladder. Because I didn’t want to take part in this ecclesiastic “crisis management,” I was accused of “shamelessly seeking the public spotlight.”

SPIEGEL: What impact do you hope your book will have?

Berger: I hope that the church will at last confront the issue of homophobia. It must recognize that a large proportion of the Catholic clerics and trainee priests in Europe and the United States are homosexual.

SPIEGEL: Can one really apply your experiences with peripheral right-wing groups to the whole church?

Berger: Ever since the rehabilitation of the Pius Brothers with a Holocaust denier among its leaders, it has become evident how much influence extreme conservative circles
have won in just a few years. The views that used to be exchanged discreetly at gentlemen’s evenings or in the editorial conferences of newspapers and magazines have now been declared part of the official doctrine of the Catholic Church by leading clerics.

SPIEGEL: Where do you think this development will end?

Berger: The fear of the world, of a spoiled, godless civil society, from which the Catholic Church wants to seal itself off in a bastion, will lead into isolation. There is no longer much sign of the open spirit, the sense of renewal that emanated from the Second Vatican Council. In order to defend itself, the Vatican is instead relying increasingly on reactionary troops. It is closing ranks with evangelists, bible fundamentals and extremely reactionary forces. But a fundamentalist parallel world will turn the people’s church into a sect.

Interview conducted by Anna Loll
and Peter Wensierski


http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,730520,00.html

Note to my readers: I have not forgotten the Autumn hierarchical fashion show…It will still come…..JW GREENLEAF

From the Boston Globe…..


 

September 17, 2011

As a dispute escalates between the Roman Catholic Church and the government of Ireland, it’s clear that the Vatican still has yet to fully digest the lessons it might have drawn from the sex-abuse scandal in the United States. This summer, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny delivered a thorough condemnation of the Catholic Church’s handling of abuse allegations. The Vatican, not to be outdone, recalled its ambassador. Then, Justice Minister Alan Shatter suggested passing a law that would require priests to report suspicions of child abuse, even if learned by confessions.

The dispute, which surely could have been avoided, is all the more remarkable in light of the traditional closeness between the church and Ireland’s elected leaders. Ireland’s aggressive stance was prompted by release of an official report on allegations of rampant abuse in the diocese of Cloyne between 1996 and 2009. The government maintains that church officials were less than helpful, and that a 1997 letter had at least the effect of discouraging cooperation with authorities.

Kenny, for one, directed much of his ire at what he termed the “dysfunction, the disconnection, the elitism that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day.’’ His attack was scathing enough that some people began to speculate that he was trying to protect Irish bishops by redirecting blame toward church leaders in Rome. Yet the government’s statements also capture a broader public anger, and the church’s defensive and, to some eyes, legalistic responses have not quieted the controversy.

Contrast that with efforts by Cardinal Sean O’Malley to repair the damage that the scandal has caused in the Boston archdiocese. His recent decision to releasen the names of priests accused of abuse acknowledged the public’s desire for displays of contrition that are genuine and substantive, rather than grudging.

The continued demand for further information and greater accountability in Boston underscores how much further church leaders must go to restore trust.

The diplomatic dispute with Ireland suggests that the Vatican is still focusing too much on its own institutional concerns and not enough on mending broken spirits.

NEXT WEEK………………a bit of humor looking toward Halloween ……as we take a more detailed  look at ecclesiastical fashions for Autumn.

Wisdom from Sarah Palin about Church Reform


For the record I have consistently and conscientiously not resonated with

Sarah Palin’s politics, rhetoric, or gun-toting lifestyle.

Last weekend ata Tea Party event in Indianola, Iowa, however, Sarah Palin made three observations that
go to the heart of our contemporary Roman Catholic leadership problem….from Rome to NewYork.

First of all she stressed that the United States is now governed by a permanent political class, drawn from both parties, that is cut off from the concerns of regular people. Hmmm I thought….just like our bishops.

Secondly Ms Palin  said both major political parties have allied themselves with big business to their own advantage in an arrangement of “corporate crony capitalism.”

Thirdly, and here especially her observations reflect the current Church scenario. Palin stressed that the real political divide in the United States is no longer between friends and foes of Big Government, but between friends and foes of vast, remote, unaccountable institutions (both public and private).

YES INDEED ………….Vast, remote, and unaccountable institutions…………..

They listen best to their own voices.

In Austria: The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Protest


Where are the voices of American priests?

According to Tom Heneghan reporting today for Reuters, “dissident Austrian priests” defying their archbishop with calls for married clergy, women priests, and other reforms are gaining increased support among Austrian Catholics.

Three-quarters of the people polled have backed an Austrian priests’  “Call to Disobedience,” a manifesto that Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn compares to a football team refusing to play by the rules.

The Call to Disobedience, openly supported now by about 400 priests, threatens a split in the Austrian Church weeks before Pope Benedict’s September 22 to 25 visit to neighboring Germany. Pope Benedict, 84, grew up in Bavarian villages close to the Austrian border.

Rather than simply appealing for reforms, the Austrian priests declared they will bypass Church rules by giving communion to Protestants and remarried divorced Catholics; and they will allow lay people to preach and head parishes..

Schoenborn — who many believe could succeed Pope Benedict —  has hinted they would be disciplined if they do not back down in the coming weeks. “This cannot go on,” he told the Vienna daily Der Standard. “If someone has decided to go down the path of dissent, that has consequences.”

Call to Disobedience leader Fr. Helmut Schueller, who as Vienna vicar general was Cardinal Schoenborn’s deputy from 1995 to 1999 and who once led the Austrian chapter of the international Catholic charity Caritas, has said he has no intention of giving up. Schueller says many priests are already quietly breaking the rules anyway, often with the knowledge of their bishops, and his campaign aims to force the hierarchy to agree to change. About eight per cent of Austrian priests have supported his movement.

Reformist Austrian Catholics have repeatedly challenged the conservative policies of Pope Benedict and his predecessor Pope John Paul, creating grassroots protest movements and advocating changes the Vatican refuses to make.

A survey published this week by the Oekonsult polling group showed 76 per cent of ,Austrians queried supported Schueller and his colleagues. Some 85 per cent said the Church should not do anything to drive away its reform-minded members. Schueller is now a parish priest and university chaplain in Vienna. If he is dismissed, 97 per cent of those polled said, a “very large wave” of people leaving the Church would follow.

A record 87,000 Austrians left the Church in 2010, many in reaction to sexual abuse scandals there.

+++++

This side of the Atlantic, The Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church (ARCC) has issued its strong support for the Austrain reform movement. 

ARCC  president Patrick Edgar has issued the following statement:

The Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church (ARCC) stands in solidarity with the right of the priests of Austria to strongly voice what they believe are the needs of the people of the church regarding married clergy, women priests, Eucharistic hospitality, and other reforms.

These priests are prepared to face the consequences of the decisions they have made in conscience. The needs they express are echoed around the world. Rather than strict penalties being imposed, a response of open discussion and loving action is called for.

We encourage all faithful Catholics to think deeply on these matters, and to call their pastors and bishops to a responsive action which goes to the heart of true need.

For more information, contact

Patrick Edgar, DPA, President

Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church (ARCC)

3150 Newgate Drive   —   Florissant, MO 63033

Phone: 1-877-700-ARCC (2722)

Fax: 1-877-700-2722

Email: arcc@arccsites.org