October 27, 2010
An Example LGBT Youth's Rational Fear of People of Faith
Clint McCance, a member of the Arkansas School Board, was reported in multiple media sources including the Huffington Post, to have posted the following to Facebook in response to recent calls for solidarity in preventing LGBT teen suicide...
"Seriously they want me to wear purple because five queers killed themselves. The only way im wearin it for them is if they all commit suicide. I cant believe the people of this world have gotten this stupid. We are honoring the fact that they sinned and killed thereselves because of their sin. REALLY PEOPLE."
His further comments are so offensive that I don't believe they are appropriate for posting here. If this is what children hear from Christian-identifying education officials, what should our response be?
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Well, what would have been a better response? I don't especially like this one; I am not by any means approving it. But seriously, what should one say. I suppose it is better to say nothing. If speak we must, what should it be?
We're sorry he killed himself because we're sorry he's dead, and especially that he's sorry that he died so young. I think we would be equally sorry if he was a sex-crazed Don Juan. Sexuality has nothing to do with it.
We might be tempted to ask if his sexuality contributed to his suicide. If homosexuality is a risk factor for suicide, I think the public health authorities should know about that. If it isn't, then I repeat: what does his sexuality have to do with anything?
Or is the point that since I disapprove of homosexuality, I somehow contributed to his untimely death? It wasn't you or I who disapproved of him, it was him who disapproved of himself. There's nothing I can do about that. I disapprove of all risk factors for suicide.
Posted by: Joel Clarke Gibbons | Oct 27, 2010 4:38:14 PM
Denunciation and, if he is Catholic, excommunication. There is no excuse for wishing death upon another human being. If there's any teaching that is deeply foundational to the meaning of Catholicism, it's the dignity of the human person and the sanctity of life; and if there's any statement or action that utterly rejects such a teaching, it's this.
And to respond to Joel Gibbons: homosexuality isn't a risk factor for suicide. Bullying - by peers and especially by adults entrusted with your care - is a risk factor for suicide. And yes, you, Joel Clark Gibbons, are personally responsible. Yes, it is because you disapprove of homosexuality, such disapproval being both immoral in any secular sense but also in violation of Church teaching. But it is also because of your attempts here to obscure the real threat. You are complicit.
Posted by: Michael | Oct 27, 2010 4:47:55 PM
Joel Clarke Gibbons,
Clint McCance, the Arkansas School Board Member (!), goes on to say, "I would disown my kids they were gay. They will not be welcome at my home or in my vicinity. I will absolutely run them off. Of course my kids will know better. My kids will have solid christian beliefs. See it infects everyone." I know for a fact that the US Conference of Catholic Bishops disapprove of homosexuality, too. Unequivocally. But they wrote a document called, "Always Our Children: A Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children and Suggestions for Pastoral Ministers." I can't say I agree with it all that much, but it's tone is far preferable to your own or to Clint McChance's.
Children of people like Clint McChance turn out to be gay at just the same rate as other people's children. A neighbor of mine when I was growing up -- a good Catholic father with a large family -- had basically the same reaction as Clint McChance when his son turned out to be gay. He cut off all contact with his son and pretended the young man never existed. His name was never mentioned. The mother kept in touch, but secretly, so her husband never found out.
Posted by: David Nickol | Oct 27, 2010 5:14:41 PM
There are 300 million people in this country. You can find a few who will say anything. You can find Phelpses too--but the Phelpses don't render a'' "people of faith" suspect. You can find people who want to burn the Koran, or people who want to crash airplanes into buildings, or people who want to eliminate the age of sexual consent. The internet doesn't make isolated sensational voices into a "rational fear of people of faith". Those who give attention to these kinds of comments and reprint them have to ask whether they are contributing in their own way to spreading that fear to the extent they use it to trash all Christians and they have readers who generalize the storyline to all people of faith.
Posted by: Matt Bowman | Oct 27, 2010 5:19:46 PM
What about statements like, "Homosexual acts are acts of grave depravity"? Don't you think that's a pretty heavy term to hit a 12- or 13-year-old with?
Here's something I posted on dotCommonweal recently.
A Google search of the entire Vatican website for the words "grave depravity"
“grave depravity” site:vatican.va
reveals that they are used only in the Catechism, and only to describe homosexual acts.
Do you think parents who would disown their gay children are as rare as Arkansas School Board Members who post garbage on Facebook?
Posted by: David Nickol | Oct 27, 2010 5:47:19 PM
I almost forgot this.
"Would any of you want to be adopted by a couple of lesbians or queers," said Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez, the Archbishop of Guadalajara, at a recent news conference.
He was reacting to a ruling by the Supreme Court that legislation passed in Mexico City granting equal rights to same-sex couples, including the right to adopt, was constitutional.
Cardinal Sandoval Iniguez's next comments then proceded to fan the flames of the dispute further.
He alleged that Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard had bribed the Supreme Court judges to hand down a ruling that supported gay rights.
The BBC is being a big dainty in translating the word the Cardinal did use, "maricones," as "queers."
How do you think Mexican queers in their early teens might have been affected by the Cardinal's remark?
By the way, when I lost track of the link and tried to find it again by searching for "maricones" and "cardinal," the first hit I got was a story from 2007 titled, "Dominican Cardinal Calls Gays Maricones."
Do Catholic Cardinals count as "people of faith"?
Posted by: David Nickol | Oct 27, 2010 5:58:31 PM
David, I am well aware that you contend that the Catholic Church's official position on sexual morality is by definition bigoted, hateful and seriously threatening.
Posted by: Matt Bowman | Oct 27, 2010 6:07:35 PM
Matt, I wouldn't say *all* sexual morality, and I would leave out "hateful." I do believe the Church's teachings on homosexuality are based on prejudice. But even if I believed the Catholic Church's teachings were flawlessly correct, I would still be concerned (and hope all Catholic parents would be concerned) about how to teach children about homosexuality in such a way that, if the children at age 12 or 13 or 13 realized they were "homosexual persons," they would not loath themselves, become depressed, and commit suicide.
I don't think Cardinals calling homosexuals "maricones" is helpful, even if the Church's teachings are absolutely correct. Would you agree on that much?
Posted by: David Nickol | Oct 27, 2010 6:24:23 PM
No one should ever be bullied or harassed nor should anyone be denied the counseling that could help reduce lonliness and depression by healing previous wounds and providing guidance that leads to the development of healthy and Holy relationships and friendships grounded in authentic Love. There is nothing to be feared from affirming the essence of our Dignity as Human Persons found within our complementary nature as male an female, created in The Image of God, and respecting God's intention for Marriage and the Family. The document "Always Our Children", which remains on the USCCB website despite having not been approved by anyone other than the committee who wrote it, fails to offer this necessary guidance because it does not recognize that our emotional, physical,pyschological, and spiritual well-being depends upon our ability to develop healthy and Holy relationships and friendships that are grounded in authenic Love. By denying this self-evident truth, many will coninue to suffer.
Posted by: Nancy D. | Oct 27, 2010 6:26:14 PM
How kind of you to call Church teaching bigoted instead of bigoted and hateful.
Posted by: Matt Bowman | Oct 27, 2010 6:58:28 PM
Nancy D. says: "The document "Always Our Children", which remains on the USCCB website despite having not been approved by anyone other than the committee who wrote it, fails to offer this necessary guidance . . . "
This is incorrect. According to the information accompanying the document on the USCCB web site, "Publication was approved by the Administrative Committee on September 10, 1997. The statement is further authorized for publication by the undersigned.
Monsignor Dennis M. Schnurr, General Secretary, NCCB/USCC."
Elsewhere on the site is the following: "The Administrative Committee is the USCCB's principal committee. Its membership of 43 bishops includes the Conference's officers, the chairmen of standing committees, and representatives of the 15 USCCB regions. It also serves as the Board of Trustees for the civil corporation. Semiannually it receives reactive and proactive advice from the National Advisory Council, which is comprised of fifty-five lay men and women, religious, priests, and bishops from the fourteen regions."
"Always Our Children" is a document of the full USCCB, not just the committee who wrote it. It is still on sale by the USCC Office for Publishing and Promotion Services, and is available in English and Spanish.
Posted by: David Nickol | Oct 27, 2010 7:04:45 PM
Matt, my word was "prejudiced," not "bigoted." If you think Church teaching has never been influenced by prejudice, I suggest you take a look at the 100-year-old version of the Catholic Encyclopedia available online. I can provide some excellent examples of attitudes only a century old that are deeply embarrassing in 2010.
Posted by: David Nickol | Oct 27, 2010 7:11:19 PM
This thread is about Clint McCance, not about your grudge against the Church or your confusion between Church teaching and "attitudes." Prejudiced and bigoted are synomyms, and the reason you didn't disclaim calling the Church itself bigoted above is becasue you have proclaimed it in the affirmative elsewhere. http://vox-nova.com/2010/10/05/winters-on-benedict/ I freely concede that if someone defines the traditional Christian teaching on sexuality as bigoted, they will inevitably conclude that Christians are inherent threats to various people, and on that premise they can consistently maintain that all people of faith are a threat. If someone thinks that anyone accepting Christianity makes them Clint McCance, then of course they will hold your anti-Catholic views. I don't think that's Russell Powell's premise, though of course I have no idea what he thinks.
Posted by: Matt Bowman | Oct 27, 2010 7:34:24 PM
...and believing Church teaching itself to be bigoted, they can build societal structures to marginalize and punish people who hold those views. People on both sides agree this is the result of such premises.
Posted by: Matt Bowman | Oct 27, 2010 7:35:47 PM
My views of Catholic teachings on homosexuality are not the issue here, and I don't intend to air them.
My concern, and the concern of this thread, is the effect that people of faith have, not so much in what they teach as how they teach it. The Catholic Church teaches that masturbation, premarital sex, and contraception are morally impermissible, but I doubt that any teenagers have ever committed suicide because they masturbated, lost their virginity before marriage, or used a condom or felt the urge to do so. I doubt that any Catholic teenage boy has ever been ridiculed and ostracized by his peers because he used a condom or had sex with a girl outside of marriage. Quite the opposite, I am sure.
I would hope we all could agree that it is necessary for Catholic parents and educators to teach young people about homosexuality in such a way that they do not feel justified in mocking or bullying other young people who are gay or are suspected of being gay, and also that the inevitable percentage of young people who realize they are gay do not despair and kill themselves.
So far you seem to be resisting the idea that people of faith -- apparently even Cardinals that use hate speech -- can have a negative impact on how young people feel about themselves. I disagree with that, and I will continue to disagree if that is what your argument is, but my personal views on Catholic teaching about sexuality, and whether they would lead to restrictions on religious freedom, will have to wait for another thread.
Posted by: David Nickol | Oct 27, 2010 8:34:28 PM
P.S. You misrepresented my message on Vox Nova, so people who care (and I don't know why anyone would) can follow the link you provided and see for themselves, or use this link directly to the message.
Now, back to the topic of the thread.
Posted by: David Nickol | Oct 27, 2010 9:11:30 PM
No one who has posted so far seems at all disturbed by the thought of disowning your own children! If every life is precious, aren't the lives of gay teenagers precious too--even if they are your own? Are religious parents really that spendthrift with their children? Clearly if Clint McCance had to choose between love and hate, hate would triumph. Should such a man be expressing such opinions as a member of the school board? And is no one concerned about the impact on the children of Arkansas? (I'm thinking, say, of an insecure child who is not even sure what "gay" means but who will learn that his or her parents can toss him out the door for any reason whatever.)
Posted by: BobG | Oct 27, 2010 9:52:56 PM
What a marvelously choreographed waltz around the issues. Is homosexuality a risk factor for suicide? That is first of all a medical question. I don't know the answer, but I think we would want to find out. Are homosexual youth at greater risk of suicide than other youth?
If not, then the (presumed) fact that this young man was homosexual is entirely irrelevant. Was he tall or short? Handsome or homely? Thin or broad? No one seems to care about those questions, because presumably they don't relate to risk factors for suicide either.
If homosexuality is a risk factor, we need to explore that link and, among other things, to try to understand why it would be the case. I don't see any posts here advocating that sort of study. Why not? Instead of knowledge they offer prejudice, which is just another word for presuppositions.
If homosexuals have low self esteme, which seems to be widely assumed here, why is that? Isn't that another proposition we need to study? While we're at it, try this one: why do you condemn the Church for opposing a condition that you assert causes depression and suicide? Would it be better if the Church encouraged depression and suicide, as a kind of cure-all for the sin of decency.
Not having mindreading talents myself, I really don't know why this young man took his own life. I do know though that I am glad that he will not join that claque of wicked youth -- may they come to understand what they tried to do and recognize its evil and so find forgiveness -- who attempted to deny Professor Howell his livelihood and his right -- indeed his duty -- to speak conscientiously on matters that naturally arose in his presentation of the beliefs of the Church.
Posted by: Joel Clarke Gibbons | Oct 28, 2010 12:00:46 AM
David, you took this thread off onto a tangent about your antagonism to Church teaching, not me, and I am glad you are ending the tangent. It is wrong to suggest that anyone who accepts the Church's teaching is a bigot and a Clint McCance. There's no basis to smear all "people of faith" based on what one non-Catholic guy in Alaska says on Facebook.
Posted by: Matt Bowman | Oct 28, 2010 3:06:52 AM
You say: "There's no basis to smear all 'people of faith' based on what one non-Catholic guy in Alaska says on Facebook."
I couldn't agree more. But I hope you are not implying that only Catholics are "people of faith."
My point would be that Catholics have a special burden to consider the issue in this thread, because the Catholic Church is the larges, most visible, and most vocal opponent of gay rights among people of faith and prides itself in not being "politically correct." Even the Mormon Church, which is at least as staunch an opponent of same-sex marriage as the Catholic Church, supports gay rights in other areas (employment and housing, for example). Other Christian denominations such as Lutherans, Methodists, and Episcopalians are more welcoming to gay people than the Catholic Church.
Now, am I saying the Church must support gay rights? Not necessarily. But I think that because the Church is such a vocal critic of gay rights, it has a special burden to take great care to articulate its positions in such a way as not to give the impression that anti-gay prejudice and bullying are in any way acceptable. That is a minimum. Father James Martin wrote a good piece on the America blog raising the question about what positive steps the Church could take. It can be found here:
He wrote the following prayer, which I don't think he would mind me reproducing here:
A Prayer When I Feel Hated
Loving God, you made me who I am. I praise you and I love you, for I am wonderfully made, in your own image.
But when people make fun of me, I feel hurt and embarrassed and even ashamed. So please God, help me remember my own goodness, which lies in you. Help me remember my dignity, which you gave me when I was conceived. Help me remember that I can live a life of love, because you created my heart.
Be with me, loving God, when people hate me, and help me to respond how you would want me to: with a love that respects others, but also respects me. Help me find friends who love me for who I am. Help me, most of all, to be a loving person.
And God, help me remember that Jesus loves me. For he was seen as an outcast, too. He was misunderstood, too. He was beaten and spat upon. Jesus understands me, and loves me with a special love, because of the way you made me. And when I am feeling lonely, help me to remember that Jesus welcomed everyone as a friend. Jesus reminded everyone that God loved them. Jesus encouraged everyone to embrace their dignity, even when others were blind to seeing that dignity. Jesus loved everyone with the boundless love that you gave him. And he loves me, too.
One more thing, God: Help me remember that nothing is impossible with you, that you have a way of making things better, and that you can find a way of love for me, even if I can’t see it right now. Help me remember all these things in the heart you created, loving God.
Posted by: David Nickol | Oct 28, 2010 7:36:45 AM
Joel Clarke Gibbons says: "Not having mindreading talents myself, I really don't know why this young man took his own life."
The recent concern over suicide by gay teens was prompted by the reports of five deaths, not one. The circumstances surround at least three of them were clear -- bullying. No scientific studies are needed to know that gay and lesbian teens, teens who are mistaken for gays and lesbians, or teens that are just "different," are at risk of being bullied and even physically attacked. It is difficult to find credible statistics on suicides because of sexual orientation. The usual assertion that one third of teens who commit suicide are gay may very well not be true. But I don't see that statistics are important, especially in the wake of five suicides in a row.
I think we can all agree that the treatment of Dr. Kenneth Howell at the University of Illinois was appalling, but the responsibility lies squarely with the school's administration, not with a "claque of wicked youth." Their misguided complaints should have been reviewed and dismissed. One doesn't have to agree with Catholic thought to acknowledge that when a Catholic is hired to teach Catholic thought, he should not then be fired for doing so.
Posted by: David Nickol | Oct 28, 2010 7:56:53 AM
Political correctness forces people to wear ribbons etc. for causes they many not agree with. Often they take examples of callousness, like this one, and use that to label all opposition to the homosexual agenda as "homophobia." Homosexual suicide rates I would argue are not higher because of homophobia, but because homosexuality is a mental disorder and depression is a symptom.
Posted by: Fr. J | Oct 28, 2010 11:57:20 AM
You say: "Homosexual suicide rates I would argue are not higher because of homophobia, but because homosexuality is a mental disorder and depression is a symptom."
Supposing, for the sake of argument, that this is true. Does that mean there should be no effort to stop young people from bullying their gay peers, or that nothing should be done to try to prevent the suicides of gay teens?
Posted by: David Nickol | Oct 28, 2010 12:34:09 PM
The argument that religion is the cause of bullying is absurd. Bullying starts on the playground when kids are largely ignornant of relgious teaching. "Sissy" is not a religous concept. Some attitudes and movements, such as the pro-life movement, can be fairly said to emenate from the Church. Bullying is not one of them.
If Church teaching on homosexuality were a cause of bullying, one would expect to see a correlation between frequency of Mass attendance and acts of bullying (as one sees, for examples, a correlation between pro-life sentiment and Mass attendance). Obviously no such correlation exists. On the contrary, what we have seen in recent years in is a signicant increase in the percentage of people, particularly the young, who reject the Church's teaching on homosexuality and say that homosexuality is not morally wrong. Why, then, are we not seeing a corresponding decrease in bullying? The explanation is simple: Bullying starts on the playground and occurs without regard to adult ideologies or belief systems.
Posted by: Dan | Oct 28, 2010 5:13:21 PM
Fr J. says: "The argument that religion is the cause of bullying is absurd."
I am not sure anybody is making that argument. The question is whether some religious statements and teachings unnecessarily reinforce bullying, even if unintentionally.
If there were a small but vocal Christian group whose message was "God loves abortion," I think the Catholic Church would be a lot more vocal in denouncing it than it is in denouncing the Christian group that says "God hates fags."
Also, do you really think parents don't teach their children that being sissies is a bad thing?
In the first Catholic school I went to, one of the standard punishments for boys in the 8th grade who misbehaved was to put them in a girl's uniform, but a bow in their hair, and make them sit on the girls' side of the classroom. What was the lesson in that?
Posted by: David Nickol | Oct 28, 2010 5:31:20 PM
Regarding civil rights for same-sex couples, it is important to note that while it is true that the Civil Rights movement served to affirm the equality of the Races, it is a self-evident truth that sexual acts and sexual relationships are not all equal.
Posted by: Nancy D. | Oct 28, 2010 7:31:28 PM
David, I oppose bullying. But I also oppose using bullying as an excuse to push for acceptance of homosexuality or giving special status to homosexuals. It is much like those who use the abuse scandals to attack aspects of the Catholic Church they don't like, they don't really care about abuse but see it as a club to beat us with.
Posted by: Fr. J | Oct 29, 2010 10:46:50 AM
I am glad to hear you oppose bullying.
Would you say that this quote gives "special status" to homosexuals: "It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church's pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law."
Do you think bishops could make a statement like that regarding the bullying of young gay people without compromising the Church's position in opposition to homosexuality? I certainly do.
Posted by: David Nickol | Oct 29, 2010 2:07:45 PM
Clint McCance acknowledged on the air with Anderson Cooper that he had gone too far on his blog, and he resigned (also on the air).
Posted by: David Nickol | Oct 29, 2010 6:05:53 PM
David, I oppose singling out any group when it comes to bullying. We should oppose bullying on general grounds. Kids get bullied for all kinds of reasons. One group is not more important then another. How about we just say this, "It is deplorable that persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church's pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law." That is inclusive (a nice PC word). It also means that homosexuals can't use the term "bullying" to describe those who disagree with their lifestyle or oppose their agenda and then punish them.
Posted by: Fr. J | Oct 29, 2010 8:55:53 PM
Fr. J: That you "oppose singling out any group" doesn't answer the question whether the bishops could make the statement David Nickol proposes without compromising the Church's position in opposition to homosexuality.
The agrument for doing so is not at all a suggestion that one group is more important than another. It is recognizing that the incidence of bullying against homosexual students is dramatically higher than the incidence of bullying against heterosexual students. That being the case, it seems to me that the Church's vocal and strong position against homosexuality should be accompanied by equally strong condemnation of violence against homosexuals.
Posted by: Susan Stabile | Oct 30, 2010 7:44:05 AM
"If homosexuality is a risk factor, we need to explore that link and, among other things, to try to understand why it would be the case. I don't see any posts here advocating that sort of study. Why not? Instead of knowledge they offer prejudice, which is just another word for presuppositions.
"If homosexuals have low self esteme, which seems to be widely assumed here, why is that? Isn't that another proposition we need to study? While we're at it, try this one: why do you condemn the Church for opposing a condition that you assert causes depression and suicide? Would it be better if the Church encouraged depression and suicide, as a kind of cure-all for the sin of decency."
I am not an expert on the suicide stats, but I suspect young homosexuals are significantly liklier to commit suicide; I also suspect that how much and whether they have engaged in homosexual behavior at all is NOT correlated with the suicide risk.
I have yet to look for exact numbers (and I suspect there are none) but I distinctly remember a shockingly high number of suicides of famous "little people," -- so many of them that it seemed to cross the line from anecdote to statistic.
And, one could understand why a "little person" as opposed to a developmentally disabled (what we used to call "retarded") would be more likely to take their life (as the little person is fully aware in a cognitive sense of his or her differences).
Most yougn gays who are taunted are so because they are "different" -- like the little person -- not because of the sex they have voluntarily chosen to have.
Posted by: Jon Rowe | Oct 30, 2010 10:56:36 AM
You say: "David, I oppose singling out any group when it comes to bullying. We should oppose bullying on general grounds."
I think you are sending a message here that is not really all that subtle. If you watch the news, you will find it is not uncommon to see an exchange in the following form:
INTERVIEWER: A member of your organization has been arrested for the murder of three Catholic priests and two nuns in five separate incidents. Do you condemn these murders?
PRESIDENT OF AMERICANS AGAINST FALSE RELIGIONS: We condemn ALL murders.
INTERVIEWER: Do you condemn violence against Catholics?
PRESIDENT OF AMERICANS AGAINST FALSE RELIGIONS: We are against ALL violence.
INTERVIEWER: Including violence against Catholics?
PRESIDENT OF AMERICANS AGAINST FALSE RELIGIONS: We condemn violence against anyone for their religious affiliation.
INTERVIEWER: Including Catholics?
PRESIDENT OF AMERICANS AGAINST FALSE RELIGIONS: Including all religions.
After seeing this interview, what might we conclude about the President of Americans Against False Religions?
Posted by: David Nickol | Oct 30, 2010 11:34:06 AM
I think the issue of bigotry is more vexing that either side makes it out to be.
I think we should begin with Christian charity towards those who do things that we don't agree with, whether that means being of the wrong "Church" or the wrong sexual orientation.
We should also start with the premise that reasonable, non-bigoted folks are allowed to have principled convictions that disagree with what you do, again whether it's being in a romantic/sexual relationship with the "wrong" person or being part of the "wrong" church.
That said what begins as principled religious convictions can cross the line into vile bigotry, as is the case with McCance.
Sometimes it's hard to tell when one crosses the line. Not every instance is as easy to call as the Westboro Baptist Church.
Anti-Semitism also raises some good analogy material. The Bible seems to clearly say Jesus was executed by a combination of Roman and Jewish forces. That fact -- while itself, not bigoted (unless we are willing to say the Bible says some bigoted things, as some of my friends do say, I'm not yet ready to make that categorization) -- has led to vile bigotry.
Posted by: Jon Rowe | Oct 30, 2010 11:46:45 AM
David, I would correct you about Always Our Children. The Holy See has stated that a bishop's conference can only issue doctrinal statements if all bishops in the conference are in agreement with the statement. It also must be approved by Rome. A committee document does not carry the full weight of the conference, much less the whole Catholic Church. In this case it is simply an opinion and was not taken to the full conference.
In response to your "interview" (a bit apples and oranges, but I'll play) I would say that there is little concern for anti-Catholicism. Many are now convinced that all pedophiles are priests and all priests are pedophiles. There was no hand wringing about it. In fact homosexual groups were delighted, but less so when connections began to be made with homosexuality and pedophilia. When they day comes that society recoils in horror at anti-Catholicism I might reconsider my position. But if someone is bullied for being a Catholic they will get no sympathy from anyone, especially for homosexuals. I have noticed Muslims saying things like you put in your interview and it is accepted immediately. No one dares to force them to be specific. That would be Islamophobic and hate speech. I don't see you complaining when they do it. It is clear that some groups are more equal then others and homosexuals want that status. It makes the issue something about acceptance of homosexuals rather then about bullying.
Susan, so homosexuals are more important then say Hispanics who are being bullied? Don't you care about Hispanics? I oppose the Balkanization of society into interest and ethnic groups, all fighting for the coveted victim status. Once that is achieved they can get benefits and silence opposition. I do not agree that bullying is predominately aimed at homosexuals. We have no figures to prove that. I have watched how singling out homosexuals for special protection leads to bullying...against those who oppose homosexuality on moral grounds.
Posted by: Fr. J | Oct 30, 2010 3:19:08 PM
Fr. J: You say, "The Holy See has stated that a bishop's conference can only issue doctrinal statements if all bishops in the conference are in agreement with the statement."
"Always Our Children" is not a doctrinal statement. It is a pastoral message. Nancy's statement ("'Always Our Children' . . . remains on the USCCB website despite having not been approved by anyone other than the committee who wrote it . . . ") is simply false. It is a document of the USCCB. It is published by the USCCB with official approval. Does that mean that every bishop in the USCCB agrees with every word of it? Not necessarily. But it is a document of the USCCB itself, not just of the committee who wrote it.
Posted by: David Nickol | Oct 30, 2010 3:57:54 PM
Fr. J: C'mon now, you know I was not saying that homosexuals are more important than Hispanics or anyone else. This is not about special treatment. My point was a simple one. There are statistics that the incidence of bullying of homosexual students is significantly higher than the statistics for students as a whole. Given that, I do think that when the Church makes statements about its opposition to homosexuality, such statements should be accompanied by a condemnation of violence against homosexuals. Making such a statement would not at all compromise the Church's position in opposition to homosexuality.
Posted by: Susan Stabile | Oct 30, 2010 4:26:01 PM
You say: "I have noticed Muslims saying things like you put in your interview and it is accepted immediately. No one dares to force them to be specific. That would be Islamophobic and hate speech."
You missed the point of my fictitious interview, which was there for its form, not it's content. I hate it when people say this, but . . . I think you are proving my point. I think you are implying that when a Muslim refuses to specifically denounce, say, violence against Jews, and won't even say the word "Jew," but insists that Muslims are against *all* violence, he is illegitimately being permitted to be vague and evasive. Yet that is exactly what you seem to want to permit the Church to do. When gay people are being victimized, you want the Church to speak out against *all* victimization lest it be perceived to have any sympathy for gay people, just as the Muslim does not want to appear to have any sympathy for the Jew or even specifically acknowledge their victimization.
The statement I provided above deploring the persecution of homosexuals, which you wanted to rewrite to remove the reference to homosexuals, was taken directly from the CDF document "Some Considerations Concerning the Response to Legislative Proposals Concerning the Response to Legislative Proposals on the Non-Discrimination of Homosexual Persons." Apparently you think the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Cardinal Ratzinger were duped into some kind of cooperation with the "homosexual agenda"!
Posted by: David Nickol | Oct 30, 2010 4:27:12 PM
I want to see some present day examples of Latinos or Roman Catholics being bullied in the school yard context.
Young Latinos, like young blacks can usually "take care of themselves" in that regard and proudly so. That's not to say they don't face other kinds of oppression; but I don't see that kind.
Likewise, Roman Catholicism is unfairly picked on in certain contexts, but I am unaware of "bully the young" Catholic kid.
If there is an anti-Catholic bullying, it's a different kind; it's done on rhetorical grounds and Roman Catholicism has official and unofficial big boys (like Bill Donahue) who are in positions to fight back.
Most of the anti-Catholicism is done by forces on the left like Bill Mahr who use satire and forces on the right like Bob Jones who are concerned about the souls of Roman Catholics. The pope is not a dope. The RC church has more than enough brain power and wit to fight those battles.
Posted by: Jon Rowe | Oct 30, 2010 5:19:09 PM
BTW, if you care, Fr. J, you improperly used "then" when it should have been "than" at least twice in your comment.
Posted by: Jon Rowe | Oct 30, 2010 5:21:21 PM
David, canonically it has no real value. You will notice how often it is quoted by the bishops. Almost never. I think the words of the CDF can be used to forward an agenda that they never intended.
Susan, I do? Notice how what you say can be construed by other special interest groups. Everyone wants victim status. I have seen no such stats and would question them. Kids bully kids for all kinds of reasons. How about we keep the focus on bullying rather then who gets to claim victim status and the attendant perks.
Jon, looking out over the field I find homosexual activists have no problems attacking anyone who opposes their agenda. Remember the Act Up crowd? By using bullying as a wedge issue homosexual groups can use it to shut up anyone who says something they don't like. For example a student says "I think homosexual acts are wrong." This is followed by an accusation of bullying, punishing the student, and reeducation. Students who are bullied for other reasons won't get that kind of protection. Not all bullying is about homosexuality. Kids have bullied kids since day one for all kinds of things. Concentrate on that not on "than."
Posted by: Fr. J | Oct 31, 2010 9:56:04 PM
Since it is true that no one should ever be bullied or harassed, then when protecting someone from the act of bullying, one should no discriminate between restricted and unrestricted classes.
Posted by: Nancy D. | Nov 1, 2010 9:55:08 AM
You say, "David, canonically it ["Always Our Children"] has no real value."
I don't understand the campaign to discredit "Always Our Children." It is a pastoral letter. It proposes no new doctrine. What canonical value is it supposed to have? I cited it as a Church document that in no way condoned homosexuality but was compassionate in tone. Is the compassion what you and Nancy object to?
Posted by: David Nickol | Nov 1, 2010 10:42:44 AM
David, as far as being "duped into some kind of cooperation with the homosexual agenda", the question is, are The Bishops aware that one of the consultants for "Always Our Children", (which did not receive CDF approval) was Father Robert Nugent? Why would someone who dissents to The Teaching of The Magisterium of the Catholic Church be a consultant for a document that is posted on the USCCB website despite the fact that it is flawed and defected?
Posted by: Nancy D. | Nov 1, 2010 10:47:57 AM
You say: "Since it is true that no one should ever be bullied or harassed, then when protecting someone from the act of bullying, one should no discriminate between restricted and unrestricted classes."
What are restricted and unrestricted classes?
Civil rights law prohibits discrimination based on race, color, creed, national origin, and gender, thereby establishing protected classes. Are you arguing that all people should be protected from discrimination without establishing protected categories? What about the grossly obese? Would you like to give a 500-pound woman the right to sue the New York City Ballet because it refuses to hire her as a ballerina?
There is a law pending in the New York State Legislature that would make it a felony to vandalize a house of worship. Would you object to this law? Would you say society has no right to distinguish between vandalizing the check-out counter in a grocery store and an altar in a church if the damage done in both cases has the same monetary value?
Posted by: David Nickol | Nov 1, 2010 10:55:33 AM
May I ask two simple questions in an effort to crystallize the issues:
First, can those who seem intent on discrediting Always My Children explain exactly what in that document is objectionable from the standpoint of the Catholic position on homosexuality? I'm not asking about canonical value or who may have consulted on it. I simply would like to understand what in the document offends those who want to pretend it doesn't exist.
Second, can someone who opposed this act explain why it does damage to the Church's opposition to homosexuality to condemn violence against gays IN THE CONTEXT of making its statements of opposition. What is problematic about a statement that effectively says that the Church's position against homosexuality should not be taken by anyone to mean that violence against homosexuals is permissible? When the statements (opposition to homosexuality and condemnation of violence against homosexuals) I do not see how it is possible for anyone to be confused.
Posted by: Susan Stabile | Nov 1, 2010 11:43:34 AM
David, I am arguing that all people should be protected from bullying. If you don't agree, perhaps you could tell us why you would restrict protection from bullying and who you think should not be protected from bullying?
Posted by: Nancy D. | Nov 1, 2010 12:32:22 PM
You can do BOTH, protect the teen student from anti-gay harassment with an explicit recognition of the notion of anti-gay bullying AND protect the rights of religious folks to hold moral objections to voluntary acts of sexual conduct with which they disagree.
And not all "homosexual activists" are Act Up types. In fact, many "homosexual activists" happen to be dear friends with religious conservatives with whom they disagree.
Posted by: Jon Rowe | Nov 1, 2010 1:16:44 PM
Susan, do you believe that those who struggle with a homosexual inclination should receive the authentic teaching of The Church affirming our complementary nature as male and female that has been endowed to us from God, affirming God's intention for Sexual Love, and affirming our call to develop healthy and Holy relationships? It is because the document "Always Our Children" fails to teach according to Caritas in Veritate, that it is objectionable from the beginning.
Posted by: Nancy D. | Nov 1, 2010 1:24:46 PM
Nancy: In what way does Always our Children fail to teach what it should? My question remains: What is it that is in that document that is objectionable? Saying it is "objectionable from the beginning" doesn't advance the discussion very far.
Posted by: Susan Stabile | Nov 1, 2010 1:55:17 PM
Susan, how exactly do you "advance the discussion", without beginning with an affirmation of God's intention for Sexual Love?
Posted by: Nancy D. | Nov 1, 2010 2:21:05 PM
Nancy: I'm simply trying to understand (a) the objection to the document and (b) why people think it is problematic for the Church to condemn violence against homosexuals while at the same time expressing its opposition. I can do nothing from my side to advance the discussion if I don't understand the objections.
Posted by: Susan Stabile | Nov 1, 2010 2:35:17 PM
Susan, why don't you read the document first so that you can understand that the document does not affirm The Church's teaching that our complementary nature as male and female has been endowed to us from God, the document does not affirm The Church's teaching regarding God's intention for Sexual Love, and the document does not confirm The Church's teaching that we have been called to develop healthy and Holy relationships, all of which makes the failure to affirm The Church's teaching, problematic. I will assume that you are aware that The Catholic Church condemns violence against all persons, including those men and women with a homosexual inclination, so why is condemning violence against all persons "problematic"?
Posted by: Nancy D. | Nov 1, 2010 3:10:29 PM
Nancy: I'm quite familiar with the contents of the document and do not find it inconsistent with Church teaching, which is why I asked the question. It is stated explicitly early in the document that it is not intended as a full presentation on the Church's position on matters of sexuality but is intended to provide aid to parents in responding to their children. Thus I am not troubled by the lack of inclusion of the doctrinal statements that you list.
I do not find condemning violence against all persons problematic and the Church should speak out against all violence. As I have consistently said, however, my point is simply that on those occasions when the Church speaks out against homosexuality, it should also remind people that it condemns violence against homosexuals and that there is good reason for it to do so, namely, avoiding any confusion on the part of those who may hear its language against homosexuality as a licence for violence. I assume from the lack of response to my question that no one can make an argument that its doing so would do damage to the Church's teaching.
Posted by: Susan Stabile | Nov 1, 2010 3:28:55 PM
You say: "David, I am arguing that all people should be protected from bullying. If you don't agree, perhaps you could tell us why you would restrict protection from bullying and who you think should not be protected from bullying?"
I am also in favor of protecting all people from bullying. What I am opposed to is -- when there is a rash of incidents of one group being bullied, be they gay people, or disabled people, or obese people, or Catholics, or Jews, or whatever -- refusing to acknowledge it. If, at a particular school, there are several incidents of disabled students being bullied, I don't think it is enough for the school to say, "We will not tolerate bullying of any kind." I think they must stand up and say, "There have been a number of disabled students bullied, and that is reprehensible, and we won't stand for bullying disabled students or any other students."
Posted by: David Nickol | Nov 1, 2010 3:42:44 PM
Susan, you state that you are familiar with this document, are not troubled by what you refer to as the lack of "The Church's full presentation of matters on sexuality", yet claim that the purpose of this document is to provide aid to parents in responding to their children who are struggling with a homosexual inclination. How exactly can you make the claim that this document is consistent with Catholic teaching and will provide aid to parents in responding to their children? How do you plan on moving forward in your discussion if you do not start from the beginning? This document should be removed from the USCCB website.
Posted by: Nancy D. | Nov 1, 2010 4:22:53 PM
Nancy, I simply do not think every document needs to contain a full recitation of the Church's teaching on the subject. I see no reason why a document aimed at giving practical advice to parents for dealing with the homosexuality of their children - and I see nothing objectionable in the 8 pastoral recommendations given to parents - needs to do so. I also think it is of paramount importance that the Church convey clearly to parents that it is not asking them to stop loving their children or to toss them out of the house.
But we obviously disagree on the document, and there is nothing to be gained by discussing it further.
Posted by: Susan Stabile | Nov 1, 2010 4:48:32 PM
You say: "How exactly can you make the claim that this document is consistent with Catholic teaching and will provide aid to parents in responding to their children?"
In order for a document to be consistent with Catholic teaching, it does not have to state Catholic teaching exhaustively. This is a pastoral document, not a treatise on human sexuality. The document you are calling to be removedl from the USCCB web site was written by a committee of bishops and approved for publication by the Administrative Committee of the USCCB. That means approximately 50 bishops wrote and/or approved it. Do you really think you are more of an authority on the topic than 50 bishops from the USCCB? (Apparently you do!)
Posted by: David Nickol | Nov 1, 2010 4:57:59 PM
David, that document is one of the reasons that the Holy See began to restrict Episcopal Conferences. "Compassion" is often defined by the Left as "acceptance." I see compassion as proclaiming the truth about human sexuality. Is the "truth" element that you object too?
Art. 1. In order that the doctrinal declarations of the Conference of Bishops referred to in No. 22 of the present Letter may constitute authentic magisterium and be published in the name of the Conference itself, they must be unanimously approved by the Bishops who are members, or receive the recognitio of the Apostolic See if approved in plenary assembly by at least two thirds of the Bishops belonging to the Conference and having a deliberative vote.
Art. 2. No body of the Episcopal Conference, outside of the plenary assembly, has the power to carry out acts of authentic magisterium. The Episcopal Conference cannot grant such power to its Commissions or other bodies set up by it.
Susan, unfortunately many use this rather flawed statement of a committee as a wedge to dilute the full Catholic teaching on homosexuality. They often rate it as equal to CDF documents or give it doctrinal weight. In answer to your second question I think I have already indicated the same thing. It is used as a wedge in order to make any opposition to homosexuality equal to "bullying". Hence the issue becomes homosexuality not bullying. People can be confused, it happens all the time.
Jon, once again the issue should be bullying, not homosexuality. All to often I see religious believers are discriminated against using such wedge issues. Today bullying might be beating the kid up. Tomorrow it might be a student who says that his faith sees homosexuality as a sin. I can cite cases where such things have happened, usually in California. How about we protect ALL students, not just selected groups.
Posted by: Fr. J | Nov 1, 2010 9:17:48 PM
You speak of compassion as if it were marijuana -- perhaps in itself not as horrid as its harshest critics would have one believe, but nevertheless a dangerous stepping stone to more serious evils.
Posted by: David Nickol | Nov 1, 2010 10:14:10 PM
You say: "[U]nfortunately many use this rather flawed statement of a committee as a wedge to dilute the full Catholic teaching on homosexuality. They often rate it as equal to CDF documents or give it doctrinal weight."
I was able to check out some of what you said regarding "Apostolos Suos," and indeed there is informed speculation that one of the motivations for issuing it was controversy over "Always Our Children."
However, the version of "Always Our Children" on the USCCB website that you and Nancy have been criticizing is a REVISION of the original document, done at the insistence of Cardinal Ratzinger. Perhaps your argument is that he was not thorough enough in the changes he required.
See "Cardinal Ratzinger: Enforcer of the Faith" by John Allen, pp. 208-210.
Posted by: David Nickol | Nov 1, 2010 10:29:16 PM
David, it is not compassionate to tell someone committing a mortal sin that it is okay. You treat truth as if it were poison. It is medicine. Btw, most of the addicts I have known started with marijuana and moved on to cocaine, meth etc. Sometimes we see things as benign when they are indeed dangerous. Consider the incident of Eve and that delicious looking fruit.
My argument is that people take that document and use it to dilute the magisterial teaching of the Church, that homosexuality is objectively disordered and homosexual acts are always morally evil. In other words what I am objecting too in regard to bullying. Taking an anti-bullying initiative and making it about accepting homosexuality. The Catholic Church will never accept homosexuality as normal or morally good. That simply will not happen. That is not bullying, but it is considered bullying by homosexuals. Let's leave homosexuality out of it and concentrate on making kids behave.
Posted by: Fr. J | Nov 2, 2010 12:36:50 PM
From the Daily Telegraph and Acts of the Apostasy blog:
Eunice and Owen Johns said their local council's fostering panel rejected them as carers because they could not tell a child a homosexual lifestyle was acceptable.
The Johns will go before the High Court to ask for clarification on the council's position on the suitability of foster carers who have traditional beliefs regarding sexual ethics.
The case, thought to be the first of its kind, has been described by Christian lawyers as vital for Christian freedoms.
The Pentecostal Christian couple from Derby, who have fostered almost 20 children in the past, are not homophobic, according to a legal representative.
But they are against sex before marriage - and by marriage, they do not recognise civil partnerships between gay couples.
Their beliefs are at odds with Derby City Council's equality policy, which was drawn up under the terms of the Sexual Orientation Act.
The case has been taken up by the Christian Legal Centre, who said it was the first time a court had been asked to decide how local authorities should deal with foster carers who have traditional views on sexual ethics.
It said in a statement: ''The council has an obligation to respect the Johns' religious beliefs, but also to comply with equality law, which prohibits discrimination because of sexual orientation.
''The case will decide whether the Johns will be able to foster without compromising their beliefs.''
The statement went on: ''The implications are huge. It is no exaggeration to say that the future of Christian foster carers and adoptive parents hangs in the balance, and that the outcome of (the) case will have a direct effect on whether Christians decide to apply to be foster carers or adoptive parents.
''It may not be long before local authorities decide that Christians cannot look after some of the most vulnerable children in our society, simply because they disapprove of homosexuality.''
But Stonewall, the lesbian, gay and bisexual rights charity, backed the council's stance.
Chief executive Ben Summerskill said: ''Too often in fostering cases nowadays it's forgotten that it is the interests of a child, and not the prejudices of a parent, that matter.
''Many Christian parents of gay children will be shocked at Mr and Mrs Johns's views, which are more redolent of the 19th century than the 21st.''
The world is becoming crazier and crazier - it wasn't too long ago that the standard policy was to prohibit gay couples from adopting children. Now it looks like Christian couples - who are married rather than just pretending to be - who espouse traditional views of marriage and of male/female relationships - may be excluded. Right and wrong have been turned upside-down.
Does this couple believe that gays should be rounded up and thrown in jail? Do they believe that they should be kicked out of England, or worse? You would think so, based on the actions of the City Council. Their offense is that they believe the homosexual lifestyle is sinful, and that so-called gay marriage is wrong. Actually, their offense is that they could pass on said beliefs to kids, and as everyone knows, only liberals and militant gays are permitted to indoctrinate children. They don't want any competition.
Here's the thing - the side that demands 'tolerance' and 'compassion' continues to demonstrate none of either when it comes to those who disagree with their position. Because this isn't about tolerance at all - it's about total acceptance of the pro-homosexual lifestyle stance with the abject repudiation of any public display of Christian morality. It's that simple.
According to the Derby City Council and the pro-gay group Stonewall, it's good to expose children to the homosexual lifestyle, and absolutely harmful to them should they be raised by folks who believe it to be sinful and wrong. How soon before someone advocates for children born to Christian parents to be removed from the home for their "safety and well-being"?
Posted by: Fr. J | Nov 2, 2010 4:16:00 PM
You say: "My argument is that people take that document and use it to dilute the magisterial teaching of the Church, that homosexuality is objectively disordered and homosexual acts are always morally evil."
But in Note 1 it say, "The Catechism of the Catholic Church states also: "This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most [persons with the homosexual inclination] a trial" (no. 2358)."
And on the topic of homosexual acts it says, "First, it is God's plan that sexual intercourse occur only within marriage between a man and a woman. Second, every act of intercourse must be open to the possible creation of human life. Homosexual intercourse cannot fulfill these two conditions. Therefore, the Church teaches that homogenital behavior is objectively immoral, while making the important distinction between this behavior and a homosexual orientation, which is not immoral in itself. It is also important to recognize that neither a homosexual orientation, nor a heterosexual one, leads inevitably to sexual activity. One's total personhood is not reducible to sexual orientation or behavior."
The document can't be used "to dilute the magisterial teaching of the Church" unless you cut parts of it out!
Posted by: David Nickol | Nov 2, 2010 7:10:33 PM
David, it is indeed a trial. Most mental disorders are. I am all for helping them, but even my view that they need "help" is considered bullying.
It is precisely those parts you mentioned from the CCC that are ignored and watered down. That happens with the Vatican II documents as well. For example the part of SC that says that Latin is to be maintained and Gregorian chant has pride of place. The issue here should be bullying NOT homosexuality.
Posted by: Fr. J | Nov 3, 2010 10:20:24 AM
Washington D.C., Nov 3, 2010 / 06:13 am (CNA).- A federal court has again reinstated the U.S. military’s policy against open homosexuals in service. While military chaplains are “hopeful” the policy will stay in place, some have been told they should “just get out” if the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy is repealed.
Who is bullying whom?
Posted by: Fr. J | Nov 3, 2010 10:37:09 AM
Fr. J - a question about the chaplain situation - the chaplain's question that yielded the "just get out" reponse was how will the repeal affect us if we have problems of conscience. Leave aside the response, which I agree with you was a bad response - I'm having trouble understanding what problem of conscience would arise for a military chaplain if Don't Ask, Don't Tell is repealed. There are already gays in the military. Presumably chaplains already minister to them. I'm having trouble understanding how repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell creates a problem of conscience for them.
Posted by: Susan Stabile | Nov 4, 2010 9:17:56 AM
Susan, I think the issue would be a chaplain who preaches that homosexuality is wrong, or refuses to perform a gay marriage, or in counseling a homosexual tells them to repent...there are any number of ways that the chaplain could be accused of "discriminating." The military might have to adopt a "don't ask, don't tell" policy for Christians. Having been in the military once homosexuality gets the green light there will be no tolerance for those who disagree. Anyone opposed will be denied promotion and reenlistment. All of this right in the middle of a war.
This column I think gives a good idea of what I am talking about:
Notice that they used the term "bullying" to accuse a speaker of hate speech and demand that he be censored.
Posted by: Fr. J | Nov 4, 2010 9:46:27 AM
I must acknowledge that I am not all that well informed regarding the duties of a chaplain, but I do know that in the US military, a chaplain is expected to serve soldiers of religions other than his own, as well as soldiers with no religion. You say, "The military might have to adopt a 'don't ask, don't tell' policy for Christians." However, different Christian denominations have different positions on homosexuality. Would it be appropriate for a Catholic chaplain to tell a gay soldier from another denomination that has a different view on homosexuality that he is a sinner? I would hope (and expect) that chaplains of any religion are careful when dealing with those of other religions not to promote the views specific to their own denomination. Chaplains must not proselytize. I know there are Quaker chaplains in the military, and Quakers are opposed to gambling. A lot of gambling (card gams and such) goes on in the military, and I doubt that this presents a problem to Quaker chaplains.
Posted by: David Nickol | Nov 4, 2010 10:36:58 AM
David, so chaplains can only minister if they don't reflect the views of their own religion? Think about that for a minute. Also what if the soldier is a Catholic soldier who dissents from Church teaching? He can still claim the priest is "discriminating." If a soldier of any denomination goes to any chaplain to discover what that chaplain believes and doesn't like it...we both know what will happen.
Note the things I have posted that show homosexuals have absolutely no intention of tolerating dissent from their views. We both know they will run out of the military anyone who believes there is something wrong with homosexuality. That is not speculation, it is fact. Let's not play games. Christians will have to conceal their beliefs, in direct violation of their 1st amendment rights.
Posted by: Fr. J | Nov 4, 2010 6:17:55 PM
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