Sunday, March 20, 2011
I recently came across an announcement for a four-session colloquium that will take place on four successive dates running from September to October 2011 that should be of interest and concern to the contributors and readers of the Mirror of Justice. Members of the academic communities at Fordham University, Fairfield University, Yale Divinity School, and Union Theological Seminary are sponsoring this program which is entitled “More Than A Monologue: Sexual Diversity and the Catholic Church.” Information about this program is hosted on a web log at Fairfield University which is available here. As readers and contributors are aware, we at the Mirror of Justice have frequently addressed issues related to topics concerning human sexuality in the past. I am reasonably confident that we will continue to do so in the future.
The conveners of “More than a Monologue” state that they “are coming together to change the conversation [and perhaps the teachings] about sexual diversity and the Catholic Church.” Apropos of this, the web log further indicates that:
For too long, the conversation on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in the Roman Catholic Church has been only a monologue — the sole voice being heard is that of the institutional Catholic Church. We must engage in more than a monologue by having a 21st century conversation on sexual diversity, with new and different voices heard from.
The four sessions that will be offered are entitled: (1) Learning to Listen: Voices of Sexual Diversity and the Catholic Church; (2) Pro-Queer Life: Youth Suicide Crisis, Catholic Education, and the Souls of LGBTQ People; (3) Same-Sex Marriage and the Catholic Church: Voices from Law, Religion, and the Pews; and, (4) The Care of Souls: Sexual Diversity, Celibacy, and Ministry.
Many of us who contribute to the Mirror of Justice have previously addressed most, if not all, of these issues with a variety of perspectives.
The organizers of this program also claim that “This series will show the variety of viewpoints on issues of sexual diversity among Catholics.” As just pointed out, they also claim that “the sole voice being heard is that of the institutional Catholic Church.”
I wonder if this is an accurate description of the program and the situation which its organizers describe. First of all, many of the currently advertised speakers are well known for their views on human sexuality and their criticism of or disagreement with Catholic teachings. I cannot see how they contend that “the sole voice being heard is that of the institutional Catholic Church.” Moreover, the modifier “institutional” in describing the Catholic Church is problematic. In the hope that there is more to this program than is currently advertised, I realize that there may be other speakers not listed on the web site who may very well explain the Church’s position on these neuralgic issues and why she teaches what she teaches. However, the diverse voices that are currently billed on the website are not really known for supporting the Church’s teachings on human sexuality, yet, as I have stated, their views and their works are well known and well publicized. It is a misrepresentation to imply that their voices are not heard on these critical issues since the only voice heard is that of “the institutional Catholic Church.”
If the organizers of “More than a Monologue” intend on presenting more than a monologue, I look forward to hearing about who will be the speakers scheduled to explain with fidelity the “what” and the “why” of the Church’s teachings. As the program is currently structured, I do not see this being any part of their offer. If I may borrow from Clara Peller, where’s the debate? Is it conceivable that the sponsors are more interested in convincing the audiences that the Church’s teachings are wrong and their challenges are correct? If so, a monologue will suit the cause.