Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hepzibah Responds to My Posting about Ratzinger on "Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons": How to Deal with Homophobia Central?

Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith, "On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons" (1986)

At his wonderful Hepzibah site, my friend Alan McCornick responds con brio to my comments earlier today about Ratzinger's 1986 Hallowe'en letter on the "pastoral care" of "homosexual persons":

Bill Tammeus's Open Letter to Pope Francis about Bishop Finn, and More on St. Paul-Minneapolis and Archbishop Nienstedt

Bill Tammeus's open letter to Pope Francis at National Catholic Reporter this week is excellent: he writes to Francis as a brother in Christ, stating,

Scary Hallowe'en Reads? Cardinal Ratzinger's "Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons"

There's an interesting Hallowe'en thread right now at Commonweal, responding to Dominic Preziosi's question to readers about forgotten, overlooked, or lesser known scary stories. As I've thought about the question, it occurs to me that it's hard for me to think of many scarier documents than the one the previous pope issued on Hallowe'en 1986,* when, as Cardinal Ratzinger, he headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The CDF document purports to be about the "pastoral care" of "homosexual persons."

Monday, October 28, 2013

Cooking to Save the Planet: Tamar Adler's An Everlasting Meal

When I blogged several days ago about our method of shopping weekly and cooking most of the vegetables we buy on the day that we shop and then storing them for use in meals later in the week, I told you I'd post a follow-up piece about Tamar Adler's book An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace (NY: Scribner, 2011). I read the book two summers ago, loved it, made copious notes and told myself I'd blog about it. And then I somehow neglected to do so.

Religious Right Leaders Note Declining Numbers and Conclude, "People Want God but They're Not Happy with Churches"

Last week, I noted Kathy Lynn Grossman's recent article which shows that baptism rates are dropping precipitously in churches in the U.S., and quite specifically in churches of the religious right (e.g., the Southern Baptist Convention) which have previously boasted that their hefty numbers of adherents show that God loves conservatives. Grossman notes that Southern Baptist churches saw 314,959 baptisms last year, a low not seen since 1948.

The Sea Change in Cultural Attitudes Toward Gay Lives: Importance of Telling Gay Stories and Bearing Gay Witness

Last week at the Huffington Post site, Arianna Huffington announced that the Oprah Winfrey Network would air several programs on 27 October about being gay in America. I'm telling you about this after the fact. Those shows aired last evening. Steve and I taped them but haven't yet watched them. The network will, I would hope, run them again at various times, in case you missed seeing them.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "High Time for Catholic Publications" to Include Women in Leadership Structures

(One of the good droppings): Heidi Schlumpf, commenting at National Catholic Reporter on the lack of women's representation in the leadership structures of leading U.S. Catholic publications:

We Are Church on Bishop Bling-Bling: "Tebartz-van Elst Is Just the Tip of the Iceberg"

Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst

Speaking on behalf of the German branch of the group We Are Church, Christian Weisner comments on Bishop Bling-Bling, Limburg bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, he of the $20,000 bathtub and $482,000 walk-in closets:

Former Promoter of Justice for Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Addresses Canon Law Society about Abuse Situation: For Whom Is Canon Law Designed?

Bishop Charles J. Scicluna

In my previous posting, I referred to a report Fr. Thomas Reese has published at National Catholic Reporter regarding Bishop Charles Scicluna's recent address to the Canon Law Society of America. Scicluna was previously the Promoter of Justice for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Vatican. In that capacity, he was, as Reese notes, roughly the equivalent of the Vatican's "chief prosecutor" for cases of clerical abuse in the Catholic church. 

More Minnesota: Recent Commentary on Situation in St. Paul-Minneapolis and Nienstedt's Leadership

For those continuing to follow the situation in the archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, a selection of valuable commentary I've read in the past few days:

Friday, October 25, 2013

Cooking to Save the Planet: Buying Fresh, Cooking What's on Hand, and Ending up with Arroz Con Pollo and a Salad of Sautéed Mustard Greens

I haven't done a food posting in a while. I'm not sure why. I suppose at some level I think they're trivial, when so much that's important deserves attention--in the U.S., the government shutdown, in the Catholic context, the abuse situation and Francis's promise of reform (or not?). 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Baptism of Prince George Opens Discussion of Why Baptism Rates Are Dropping: People's "Misunderstanding" of the Church's Welcome?

The baptism yesterday of Prince George, son of Prince William and Duchess Catherine by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, is eliciting much attention today: at his Slacktivist site today, Fred Clark links to a posting by BabyBlue Anglican, who agrees with Bishop Daniel Martins of Springfield, Illinois, that this baptism is "an evangelistic moment."

More (and Final Installment) from Augustine Thompson's Biography of Francis of Assisi on Francis and Gender

As I've said previously, I'm intrigued by the number of times Augustine Thompson's new biography of Francis of Assisi shows Francis contravening what are now regarded as "traditional" gender lines inscribed in stone by natural law. I think it's worth noting these instances because the current pope also contravened longstanding tradition to choose the name Francis, a name that has, as theologians Matthew Fox and Leonardo Boff insist, a certain resonance for Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

Religion, Politics, Politics, Religion from Russia and Germany to Minnesota, Ohio, and Over to Rome

Rachel: "It may be the dying gasps of a group that calls itself 'national': that's the N- in NomNomNom. But lately, they have to go to Russia to try get any of their ideas put into law."

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

New Ways Ministry Standing with LGBT Employees Serving Catholic Schools and Parishes

The graphic is something New Ways Ministry has uploaded to its Facebook page this afternoon. I'm certainly grateful for the support New Ways and other groups like it provide to LGBTI Catholics.

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "Compare and Contrast" (Tebartz van-Elst Punished, Nienstedt and Finn Continue with Impunity)

In response to my posting yesterday about the mess that is the archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis under the pastoral leadership of Archbishop John Nienstedt, Chris Morley writes (one of the good birdcage droppings),

Minnesota Again: Twin Cities Priest Calls on Archbishop Nienstedt to Resign, Questions Decision to Place Rev. Whitt at Head of Commission to Deal with Abuse

Yesterday, I noted that University of St. Thomas canonist Rev. Reginald Whitt is now vicar for ministerial standards in the archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, and will oversee issues relating to clergy misconduct. I cited commentary by Michael Skiendzielewski who indicates that Rev. Whitt has maintained the following:

Max Lindenman on Finally Trying Tolkien: Tolkien as Catholic Assignment

Reading Max Lindenman never fails to give delight. I love that he's willing to struggle with reading Tolkien as a kind of Catholic assignment, one a convert to the Catholic church can't possibly fail to complete if he expects a decent grade in Catholic 101. And that he wonders whether Portnoy and other anti-heroes, who pointed a way for him through the wilderness of adolescence, taught him to bang his head against tradition, such that he--naturally!--became a Catholic in the period of JPII and BXVI so he could find a tradition to bang his head against.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Augustine Thompson's Biography of Francis of Assisi on Francis and Gender Roles: Mother Hens and Chicks, Etc.

In previous postings, I've noted that the saint whose name the current pope has taken, Francis of Assisi, strikes many of us as a saint whose life corrects the heavy emphasis on male supremacy and female subordination that has captured the imagination of many Christians today. From the start of his spiritual journey, Francis repudiated the traditional male role that his father Pietro di Bernardone sought to impose on him. He began his journey by stripping himself and placing his clothes at his father's feet, stating that he no longer had any father except his father in heaven.

More Minnesota: Clashing Notions of Canon Law in St. Paul-Minneapolis Abuse Cover-Up (and Now Duluth)

As I read about the big mess that has emerged in the archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis (and now in Duluth--more about that in a moment), I'm struck by two diametrically opposed understandings of canon law that have also emerged in the discussion of the Minnesota situation. In response to an editorial this past Sunday by Progressive Catholic Voice calling on Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul-Minneapolis to resign, Michael Skiendzielewski notes that Rev. Reginald Whitt, professor of canon law at the University of St. Thomas, maintains the following: 

Marriage Equality Comes to New Jersey: "And Not Hearing Any Substantive, Worthy Objection"

Monday, October 21, 2013

Popular Science Shuts Down Comments Threads to Combat Internet Trolling

Alexander Reed Kelly's recent report at Truthdig about why Popular Science has shut down its comments threads catches my eye. We've discussed this issue here in the past (e.g., here, here, here, here, and here). 

Alan McCornick at Hepzibah to the Catholic Bishops of New Jersey re: Marriage Equality

Isaiah 1:18

And speaking of how the Catholic church (at an institutional level) is often perceived these days as a retrograde force in American public life, particularly vis-a-vis issues of gay rights and women's rights (I'm piggybacking here on my preceding posting about Charlotte, North Carolina): at his Hepzibah blog site, Alan McCornick offers a superb point-by-point refutation of the argument (loosely so called) that the Catholic bishops of New Jersey presented against same-sex marriage in January 2012. As Alan notes, it's important not to forget this argument as marriage equality is now enacted in that state--because the battle for gay rights continues everywhere and what religious authority figures have to say about these topics continues to influence many people.

When Welcome Doesn't Mean Welcome: Catholic Church in Charlotte Refuses to Host Thanksgiving Interfaith Service. Because the Gays.

As October began, I noted that the two Catholic bishops of North Carolina, Peter Jugis of Charlotte and Michael Burbidge of Raleigh, had recently announced they were withdrawing from the ecumenical group North Carolina Council of Churches because, as they maintain, that ecumenical group supports marriage equality and won't endorse Catholic magisterial rhetoric about abortion. The Catholic bishops of North Carolina are willing, that is to say, to unravel years of ecumenical collaboration in their part of the U.S. to score political points around two targeted issues in which they want other churches to toe the Catholic line as a precondition for such collaboration.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

More on Story of Tippi McCullough's Firing by Mount St. Mary School in Little Rock: Commentary Continues at Various Sites

More on the story about which I wrote Friday, the firing of Tippi McCullough by Mount St. Mary Catholic school in Little Rock on the day of her marriage to Barb Mariani:

Quote for Day: Some Republican Jihadists Live in "An Alternate Cognitive Universe in Which the Poor Lord It Over the Rich"

Arthur Godwag at Salon this morning on what roils the Republican base right now:

How's That Shutdown Thing Playing in the Heartland? I Have a Story for You

"Lost, and unable to say what it was that oppressed them" (James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time [1962, repr. NY: Random House, 1993]).

How's that shutdown thing playing in the heartland or in the miasmatic nether swamps of places like darkest Arkansas, you ask? Thanks for asking. Do I have a story for you! 

Augustine Thompson's Francis of Assisi: On Preaching the Good News Always, Using Words Only When Necessary

Augustine Thompson, Francis of Assisi: A New Biography (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2012):

Valuable Educational Resource: Stephen Fry's BBC Series "Out There" Now at YouTube

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Politics: False Centrism and the GOP Agenda of Minority Control

And political commentary that has caught my eye as the inglorious Republican shutdown of the U.S. government ends ingloriously: 

Theology: Gustavo Gutierrez on Marginalization, Frida Berrigan on Catholics in Waiting, Adam Ackley on Churches and Gender, Bill Tammeus on Theological Education

And following on the heels of what I've just posted about Bishop Robert McElroy's essay "A Church for the Poor," more theology-oriented articles that have caught my attention in the last day or so:

Bishop Robert McElroy, "A Church for the Poor": Reframing the Catholic Moral Conversation in Light of Pope Francis's Insistence on Primacy of the Poor

At America Magazine, Bishop Robert W. McElroy of San Francisco offers an essay entitled "A Church for the Poor."  Bishop McElroy views Pope Francis's stress on the primacy of the poor in Catholic thinking and the Catholic practice of faith as a profound challenge to the way in which many Americans, including American Catholics, think about political issues. Francis's call to orient our thinking about matters of faith and our practice of faith around the poor is an "invitation to cultural conversion."

For GLAAD's Spirit Day, Melissa Harris-Perry on Marcel Neergaard, 11-Year-Old Fighting School Bullying

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Disqus Problems!

Dear Readers,

Please note Chris Morley's comment here this morning that Disqus seems to be having problems at many sites today. I have noticed problems with Disqus at National Catholic Reporter today, and Chris tells me problems are occurring with Disqus here, too.

Politics: Dueling Hymns in Congress, Paul Ryan and Contraception, Pat Buchanan on Shutdown, MSM and Centrist Myths, Anonymous and Maryville Rape Story, Malala's Meeting with Obama

1. As Peter Montgomery notes, yesterday appears to have been dueling hymn day in the U.S. CongressHouse Republicans sang "Amazing Grace" as their latest plan to solve the government-shutdown crisis went up in flames, while a group of interfaith leaders gathered by Faith in Public Life sang the same hymn as the group walked through the halls of the House.

Churches and Gays: Stephen Fry on Ex-Gay Therapy, Becca Morn on Exporting of Anti-Gay Hatred, Rowan Williams on Appalling Anti-Gay Violence of Many Christians

It's worth watching Stephen Fry's stylish, humane look at ex-gay therapy* for his observation (at about the 8.24 mark) that Joseph Nicolosi could well pass for a gay man, a metrosexual. The look on Nicolosi's face as Fry delivers the observation is priceless.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Women and the Invention of Art

I'm not quite sure how the image at the head of this posting--a photograph of the paintings of hands from the Cueva de las Manos in Argentina--came on my radar screen some time ago. What I know is this: I found the image so intriguing that it was, until just a few days ago, the desktop picture on my computer.

Richard Rodriguez's Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography: Depending on Women "to Protect the Church from Its impulse to Cleanse Itself of Me"

For the San Francisco Chronicle, Lesley Hazleton reviews Richard Rodriguez's new book, Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography. As she notes, as an openly gay Latino Catholic, Rodriguez has long struggled with the overweeningly macho heritage of Christianity, or, at least, of significant strands of the Christian tradition. 

Grant Gallicho on Archdiocese of Wobegon: Nienstedt's Anti-Gay Record, Jennifer Haselberger and Women's Role in Church

I highly recommend Grant Gallicho's exhaustively researched and incisively written account at Commonweal of what's happening right now in the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese. Since I wrote about this story a week or so ago (though not with the depth and clarity that Gallicho brings to it), I won't summarize it again. I do recommend that anyone interested in it, and in the abuse crisis in the Catholic church in the U.S., read Gallicho's posting carefully.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Chris Hedges on Theological Roots of Tea Party Extremism: "I Think It's a Kind of Christofascism"

At Truthdig, Chris Hedges and Robert Scheer discuss the theological roots of the radical wing now controlling the Republican party, which is responsible for the current government shutdown: Hedges notes that the media shy away from noting or explaining these roots to the American public, with unhappy consequences. He concludes:

Francis's Reforms: Making the Circle Wider or Driving Traditional Catholics Away?

Where right-wing Catholics who adored Benedict, but Francis not so much, imagine that Francis's attempt to turn the Catholic church back to the center will result in attrition of traditionalist Catholics to the Orthodox churches, New York Times commentator Timothy Egan sees the opposite happening: 

A Reader Responds: But Is God Gay?

In response to Elliott Darrow's poem "God Is Gay," which I posted (in video format) yesterday, Barbara makes a good point

Friday, October 11, 2013

Quote for Day: "Letter to Congress from Cardinal O'Malley and Archbishop Lori . . . Seems to Me to Violate the First Amendment"

Religious Freedom Hearings, Feb. 2012, D.C.

About that 26 September letter the USCCB sent to members of Congress, Ken Briggs tells it like it is:

More Catholic News at Week's End: Mess in St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese, Francis's Reforms and U.S. Political Backdrop?

And in the still-looking-for-hope part of my life (in particular, part of my Catholic life), there are the following important pieces of commentary as the week ends, several of them commenting on the news of cover-up of priests abusing minors in the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese about which I blogged earlier in the week:

Week's-End News Round-Up: Catholic Bishops and Shutdown, Exporting of Anti-Gay Hate by U.S. Religious Right, Malala Yousafzai

As the work week ends, valuable news commentary I've noticed in recent days, which adds new information to discussions we've had here in the past:

In Catholic News: Pope Francis Responds to Letter from Gay Group in Italy

An item much in Catholic news in the past several days, particularly among gay Catholics: the Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported several days ago that a group of gay and lesbian Catholics in Italy, Kairos, had written a letter to Pope Francis about the struggles gay folks face in the Catholic church, and that the pope responded to the letter, sending a "benedictory greeting" to the group. At his Dish site, Andrew Sullivan offers a translation of the La Repubblica article. Kairos has not released the text of either its letter to Francis or Francis's response.

For National Coming Out Day: "What If I Told You God Is Gay?"

For National Coming Out Day today, a powerful poem by University of North Carolina drama student Elliott Darrow, which has recently gone viral at You Tube: for Time, Elizabeth Dias comments on Darrow and his performance: 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

To Readers: Do You Have Evidence That Catholic Theological Society of America Repeatedly Shows Concern to Include LGBTI Voices?

Michael Sean Winters wrote yesterday that the Catholic Theological Society of America has "repeatedly been concerned about including . . . different sexual orientation voices within its fold." And I confess that I'm surprised to read this.

National Catholic Reporter Editorial: Cover-Up of Sexual Abuse Cases Continues Due to Bishops' Impunity

In its latest editorial, National Catholic Reporter recounts the story about which I wrote two days ago--the courageous (but failed, in that she had to resign) attempt of canonist Jennifer Haselberger to challenge St. Paul-Minneapolis Archbishop John Nienstedt to remove Father Curtis Wehmeyer (and, later, Father Jonathan Shelley) from ministry after it was known that Wehmeyer and Shelley posed threats to minors. NCR also examines a parallel case from the Trenton, New Jersey, diocese involving a priest, Father Matthew Riedlinger, who was caught in a sting in which he believed he was exchanging sexually explicit text messages with a 16-year-old boy. 

More on Theological Roots of Tea Party: Amanda Marcotte on White Fundamentalists and End-Times Rhetoric about Obamacare

More good material about a topic I've been discussing throughout the government shutdown: the theological roots from which the behavior of the radical Republican fringe (which now controls the GOP) springs: at Alternet, Amanda Marcotte argues that it's impossible to understand the willingness of tea partiers to burn the government and the economy down to score political points without looking at the theology driving tea party beliefs.

Role of the U.S. Catholic Bishops in the Shutdown: Holding Government Funding Hostage in Battle Against Contraceptive Coverage

Religious Freedom Hearings, D.C., Feb. 2012

In an editorial just uploaded to its website, America rightly deplores the effects of the shutdown of government on working people and people living on the margins of the American socioeconomic system. The editorial notes that many people are now forced to wonder when they'll receive the next paycheck, park facilities have been shuttered around the country, and hundreds of cancer patients, including 30 children per week, have been locked out of their last-resort treatment at NIH's Clinical Center. And it adds,

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Quote for the Day: "This Is a Replay of the Civil Rights Drama That Gripped the Nation More Than Half a Century Ago"

Robert Scheer at Truthdig on the racism and cruelty driving the GOP's healthcare agenda:

Open Letter to Pope Francis and Cardinal-Advisors from For Christ's Sake: "All Catholics Have the Right, Innately Deriving from Our Baptism, to Have an Effective and Deliberative Voice"

More on the discussion of the agenda of reform that many lay Catholics hope the current pope has begun to undertake with the assistance of his advisory group of eight cardinals: at the For Christ's Sake website, an open letter (in pdf format) to the pope and his advisory group was published prior to last week's meeting of the advisors. The For Christ's Sake site was set up to support a previous petition of three Australian Catholic bishops--Geoffrey Robinson, Pat Power, and Bill Morris--to Pope Francis calling for a council of the entire church to address, and to end, the problem of sexual abuse of minors in the church. I recommended that petition to Bilgrimage readers this past June.

New Poll Finds Two-Thirds of U.S. Catholics Agree with Francis, Six in Ten Approve of Gay Marriage

Another important story in Catholic news right now (in addition to the one from Minnesota about which I have just blogged): as David Gibson notes in this recent Religion News Service article, a survey by Quinnipiac University whose results were released last Friday shows two out of three U.S. Catholics agreeing with Pope Francis that the church has become too focused on issues like homosexuality, abortion and contraception. Gibson also notes,

Minnesota Again: As Archbishop Nienstedt Targeted the Gays, Priest Possessing Child Pornography Was Permitted to Continue in Ministry

Yesterday, I mentioned in passing the story now breaking in the Catholic archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, where officials of the archdiocese have known from 2004 that a parish priest under their authority, Rev. Jonathan Shelley, has pornographic images of boys on his computer, but kept him in his position as a parish priest. For Minnesota Public Radio, Madeleine Baran published a run-down of the story yesterday. The details are absolutely damning. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Matthew Fox, Letters to Pope Francis: "It Is Essential to Talk of Women's Rights"

Throughout his book Letters to Pope Francis, theologian Matthew Fox points out that one of the major gifts to the church of the saint whose name Cardinal Bergoglio chose for his papal name--Francis--is the gift of gender balance. Fox notes (p. 12) that Francis of Assisi's actions "reveal a man who recognizes the necessary balance of masculine and feminine, yang and yin, in all beings and in all relationships if we are to be a sustainable species."