Friday, January 31, 2014

Getting Better Under Francis? Exorcist Bishop Thomas Paprocki and Loco Parentis

John Shore on "God Said It, I Believe It, That Settles It Argument": What Jesus Actually Says

John Shore suggests that Christians who say they intend to take the bible literally when it addresses the topic of homosexuality (as they believe it does) should also take Jesus literally when he talks about money. Here's his rationale for making this suggestion:

Getting Better Under Francis? Al Jazeera Tells Story of Firing of Mark Zmuda by Eastside Catholic in Seattle

In what I just posted about the story of Matthew Barrett and Fontbonne Academy in Boston, I linked to a story by Sheila MacVicar about Mark Zmuda and Eastside Catholic school in suburban Seattle, which Al Jazeera America has just published. That story comes with three video clips. For the benefit of readers here, I'm uploading the three clips. I'm grateful to the Keepmrz group at Facebook for the link to this article.

It's Getting Better Under Francis? Two New Stories of Raw Anti-Gay Discrimination in U.S. Catholic Church

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Disqus Display Problem

Several readers have written to tell me Disqus comments are not showing up on this blog today.

Political Scientist Tobin Grant Finds Religiosity in the U.S. Now in "The Great Decline"

Political scientist Tobin Grant notes that religiosity in the United States is in the midst of "The Great Decline," a decline significantly exceeding previous declines in religious practice. Using information  from scientific surveys on attendance at worship service, church membership, prayer, and feelings about religion, he and his colleagues have generated a computer algorithm to track over 400 survey results over the past 60 years. 

Rev. Gay Clark Jennings on Churches' Role In, and Against, Homophobia in Africa

Rev. Gay Clark Jennings

Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the Episcopal Church’s lay and clergy House of Deputies, on the role of Western Christians in bequeathing to African Christians a legacy of biblical fundamentalism that is now yielding bitter crops of homophobia:

Provocative One-Liners from This Week's News: Pete, SOTU, Women and Their Place, The Gays, Etc.

One-liners (loosely speaking, in two cases) about what's in the news now: Pete Seeger, reactions to the U.S. State of the Union Address, women and their place, gays, etc.:

John Corvino, What's Wrong with Homosexuality?: "A Risky Lifestyle" (3)

Another eye-catching statement from John Corvino's book What's Wrong with Homosexuality? (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2013)--again, from his chapter entitled "A Risky Lifestyle," which considers the argument that homosexuality should be beyond the pale since it poses a threat to the health of society:

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

In the News: Little Sisters of Poor and Affordable Care Act, German Catholics on Vatican Questionnaire, Pope and Rolling Stone

A mid-week selection of articles about themes Catholic that have caught my eye in the past few days:

Remembering Pete Seeger and Celebrating His Legacy: A Selection of Eulogies

As a service to readers interested in reading eulogies of Pete Seeger in addition to the ones to which I linked yesterday by Peter Scheer and John Nichols, here's a selection of tributes to him from news sites and blogs I read (with thanks to Alan McCornick for the link to Mother Jones):

John Corvino, What's Wrong with Homosexuality?: "A Risky Lifestyle" (2)

Another excerpt from John Corvino's book What's Wrong with Homosexuality? (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2013)--as with yesterday's quotation about the use of Paul Cameron's anti-gay junk science by esteemed scholars, this one is from Corvino's chapter dealing with the notion that homosexuality should be beyond the pale because it yields a risky lifestyle:

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Some Comments about Comments Here (with Apologies to Those Whose Comments Have Been Classified as "Pending," and I've Only Now Seen Them)

A little while ago, I discovered comments several of you have made here in the past few days, which had been shunted into the "pending" folder in the Disqus system for this blog. My sincere apologies to those of you whose comments were in that folder pending my approval. It so seldom happens that comments here go to the pending folder, that I seldom check it. I do see the comments classified as outright spam, since Disqus puts those in the thread of all approved comments for some reason--with an indication that they are spam and won't be visible until I approve them.

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "We Are Called to Bless Any Kind of Love. He Who Doesn't Bless, Curses. And That's a Sin."

This is one of the good droppings, as opposed to the malodorous ones that help fertilize gardens--this is cloistered Dominican nun Sister Lucia Caram, who had 25,800 Twitter followers about a week ago when Ignacio Castillo interviewed her for La Opinión de Málaga (English translation by Rebel Girl at her wonderful Iglesia Descalza website):

Remembering Pete Seeger: "The Music of the Harp Which Trembles Round the World"

On Talking Girl with a Guy in My Head: Questions from a Ewe Gives Pope Francis Some Advice about the "Theology of Women"

The incisive and funny blogger who maintains the Questions from a Ewe blog notes that Pope Francis may be visiting the U.S. next year. If he does, she wouldn't mind having a heart-to-heart with him about that "theology of women" thing he keeps talking about. I offer the following excerpt in the hope that readers will read the posting in its entirety; it's eminently worth the read:

John Corvino, What's Wrong with Homosexuality?: "A Risky Lifestyle"

Another nugget from John Corvino's book What's Wrong with Homosexuality? (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2013) that stands out for me in the chapter discussing proposals to keep discrimination against gay folks alive because they are carriers of a risky lifestyle:

Monday, January 27, 2014

Polish Catholic Bishops Suddenly Discover Threat of "Gender Ideology": Slawomir Sierakowski Explains Why

Slawomir Sierakowski wonders why, when the Catholic church in Poland hasn't been preoccupied with questions about "gender ideology," it has suddenly discovered "gender ideology" as an apocalyptic threat. His conclusion:

Sunday, January 26, 2014

John Corvino, What's Wrong with Homosexuality?: "God Said It, I Believe It, That Settles It"

Last July, I mentioned that I had gotten a copy of John Corvino's book What’s Wrong with Homosexuality? (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2013), and would perhaps share some thoughts about the book once I had read it. I've now found a stint of uninterrupted time to focus on reading the book, and thought I'd share my response to it by highlighting passages that grabbed my attention. And then I'll share some concluding reflections on the book as a whole.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Joyce Maynard on Relationship with J.D. Salinger: Carryovers for Discussion of Abuse Situation in Catholic Church?

Novelist Joyce Maynard, who says that J.D. Salinger sought her out for an intimate relationship when she was "a very young 18-year-old," reiterates (in different words) in the video interview above with HuffPost Live points that she also made last year in a New York Times article

Quote for Day: "Freedom to Discriminate Against Gay People in Hiring is the Second Prong of the Catholic Bishops’ 15-Year Effort to Expand the Definition of 'Religious Liberty'"

An important reminder from Patricia Miller about one primary reason we're seeing that "wave of firings and forced resignations of gay men and lesbians" at Catholic schools around the U.S., about which Michael Paulson wrote in a recent New York Times article that I discussed earlier in the week:

Sarah Posner on Uncle Sugar as Religious Bogeyman: Religious Right and Concern with Women's Place

I find Sarah Posner's take on Rev. Mike Huckabee's recent Uncle-Sugar-encourages-women's-libido remarks insightful: Sarah situates Huckabee's concern that the federal government (aka "Uncle Sugar") is  encouraging women to turn into, well, libidinous bad girls within the broader context of the model of biblical patriarchy promoted by churches of the religious right. As she notes, as a Southern Baptist, Rev. Huckabee has long had to contend with questions about the official 1998 Family Statement of his Southern Baptist Convention that explicitly maintains the following:

National Catholic Reporter Calls for Criminal Investigation of Legion of Christ--"An Agency of Almost Unimaginable Fraud"

National Catholic Reporter's editorial calling for criminal investigation of the Legion of Christ minces no words. An editorial beginning with the following opening sentence is whatever the opposite of word-mincing might be called:

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Public-Private Distinction about Double Standard of Catholic Institutions in Dealing with Gay and Straight Employees: An Elaboration of the Argument

At the risk of over-explaining (something I do altogether too easily), I'd like to elaborate on an elaboration I've already posted regarding my argument yesterday that the public-private distinction is less than helpful in explaining why Catholic institutions may legitimately fire gay employees who choose to marry a same-sex partner, while it's fine for these institutions to turn a blind eye to questions about whether their heterosexual married employees contracept--or even whether they live with an opposite-sex partner without marriage. Or whether they're divorced and remarry or form an intimate relationship with a person of the opposite sex. . . .

Religious Right (and Catholic Bishops) Discover Contraception: Steve Benen on Rev. Huckabee and "Uncle Sugar," Patricia Miller on the Catholic Bishops

As Steve Benen notes for the Maddow Blog, it's sort of . . . funny . . . that "Republican politician/preacher/media-personality Mike Huckabee" is now ranting about "Uncle Sugar" and women's unbridled libidos and the federal government and contraception, when, as Bill Scher points out,

Financial Transparency Emerges as Major Theme in St. Paul-Minneapolis Abuse Story: Outstanding MPR Report (and Nicole Sotelo on Knights of Columbus)

To my mind, one of the strangest claims that apologists for the Catholic hierarchy who want to assist the hierarchy by bashing survivors of clerical sexual abuse make is that the Catholic church is and always has been transparent in its handling of finances. This claim is so obviously counterintuitive that I can't quite fathom the reasons some apologists try to trot it out as a weapon against survivors and those who stand in solidarity with survivors.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Pathological Narcissism and Growing Disparity Between Super-Rich and Everyone Else in U.S. (with Side Notes re: Catholic Clerical Abuse Crisis)

Yesterday, evagrius provided a valuable link in a comment about my recent posting discussing abuse survivors' responses to the news that Pope Benedict defrocked 400 abusive priests before his resignation from the papacy. Evagrius's link points to an article by digby at Hullabaloo discussing corporate narcissism. Digby features an email discussion he had in 2009 with journalist Tim Hall, who suggests that the strike-it-rich schemes of Wall Street, bankers, and corporate leaders that resulted in the crash of the world economy several years ago is rooted in pathological narcissism. 

Father Roy Bourgeois Writes Open Letter to Pope Francis: Heal the Wounds of Women and Gay Folks in Catholic Church

Father Roy Bourgeois, who was defrocked in 2012 for supporting women's ordination, writes an open letter to Pope Francis:

Mark Zmuda Story Featured in New York Times: Spotlight Remains on Francis and the Kinder, Gentler, Less Homophobic Media Meme

The firing of Mark Zmuda by Eastside Catholic high school in suburban Seattle (Sammamish, Washington) is in the national news again today with an article about the Eastside story by Michael Paulson in the New York Times. I've talked about this story in the following previous postings--here, here, here, here, and here

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Photographer Isa Leshko on Elderly Animals

Spotlight on Vatican at Recent U.N. Grilling Now Becomes Spotlight on Francis

After Vatican officials were forced to answer questions last week at the UN about the Vatican's handling of sexual abuse of minor by Catholic religious officials, Anne Barrett Doyle of Bishop Accountability emailed Bishop Accountability supporters an article entitled "UN Grills the Vatican: 5 Remarkable Moments." The article is apparently slated to appear in Bishop Accountability's online journal The Monitor, but I haven't yet seen it uploaded at that site.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mormons and Gay Rights: 1995 Document on the Family Resurfaces as Marriage Equality Surges in Utah

Several points leap out at me as I read Andrew Sullivan's recent summary of Neil Young's discussion of the 1995 Mormon document "The Family":

Thanks to Fred Clark for Recommending Bilgrimage in Slacktivist's "Daily Blog of the Day" List

I am very grateful to Fred Clark for recommending my Bilgrimage blog in his new year's list of "daily blogs of the day" to which I pointed Bilgrimage readers a few days back. In his lead-up to his overview of my blog, Fred writes, 

Tom Roberts Responds to Michael Sean Winters: The "Narrow Range of Options" Within Which MSW Permits Women's Issues in the Church to Be Discussed

Tom Roberts's NCR column "Contra MSW" seems me to get it just right. Roberts quickly zeroes in on what is for me the salient point in Michael Sean Winters's slam of theologian Mary Hunt (and his slams of theologian Anthea Butler, Catholic intellectual-activist Frances Kissling, and journalist Maureen Dowd--see my reflections on this point several days ago). Roberts states,

Monday, January 20, 2014

Remembering Martin Luther King: James Cone and Taylor Branch Talk to Bill Moyers

Two Video Discussions of Pope Benedict's Defrocking of 400 Priests Who Had Abused Minors: "They've Been Kicked into Society with No Repercussions Whatsoever"

Two video interviews discussing the AP report that, in 2011 and 2012 Pope Benedict defrocked some 400 priests who has abused children: in the first, Judy Block-Jones, Midwest Director of SNAP, speaks to Al Jazeera, and in the second, Father Thomas Reese and Joelle Casteix (also of SNAP) speak to Milissa Rehberger of MSNBC:

Quote for Day: This Kind of Vitriol Is Designed to Silence Female Journalists

Amy Wallace on what women often encounter when they speak out online and elsewhere (as opposed to men):

Problems with Comments at Various Blogs?

At various sites using Disqus for comments, there have been reports in the last few days that some readers of blogs suddenly can't see comments. This is an ongoing problem that people have experienced with Disqus and other commenting systems at blog sites.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

AP Reports That Benedict Defrocked 400 Abusive Priests: Vatican Denies Report, Then Retracts Denial, John Allen Sums Up

Father Robert Nugent: A Eulogy by Theologian Mary Hunt

It was right after National Catholic Reporter published a eulogy of Father Robert Nugent of New Ways Ministry by Kevin Eckstrom that the comments threads at the NCR site blew up. I noted one reader's astonishingly unChristian response ("food for worms") to the eulogy here on the weekend in which things came to a head at the NCR site. Comments threads were then suspended as the next week began.

Bishop Accountability Responds to Vatican Claims at U.N. Hearing: "Silence Has Been the Pope’s Pattern"

Bishop Accountability has submitted a letter and report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child to assist the committee in its review of the response of the Holy See to child abuse in the Catholic church. Here's how the report frames the response of Pope Francis to the abuse situation up to this point in his papacy:

Friday, January 17, 2014

Facebook User Issues Death Threat to Wendy Davis: Continuing Questions about Experience of Women Online

A tiny footnote to discussions her in recent days--especially the discussion this past weekend of Amanda Hess's recent magisterial essay on the bullying of women online. Hess notes that women are faced with a quandary online: on the one hand, more and more jobs require online work and online skills. But on the other hand, there's abundant evidence that women are uniquely susceptible to bullying behavior--to outright threats of violence--as they interact with others online, in a way that men are not susceptible.

Michael Sean Winters Mounts Personal Attack Against Mary Hunt: My Reflections

As anyone reading Bilgrimage over the long run may know, I have a thing about National Catholic Reporter Michael Sean Winters's persistent attacks on mouthy, uppity women: I don't like these attacks.  As I noted last July, I've watched Winters  for some time now slam women with whom he disagrees in a particularly personal, particularly dismissive and disrespectful way, and have concluded that there's a pattern here: it's a pattern that's more than a little misogynistic.

Vatican Grilling by U.N.: Valuable Commentary

There's a wealth of outstanding commentary yesterday and today about the Vatican's grilling by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. One way that you can keep abreast of the commentary is by visiting Kathy Shaw's marvelous Abuse Tracker site sponsored by Bishop Accountability. Among the good articles I've read up to now:

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Another Week, Another Expulsion of a Gay Employee of a Catholic Institution: Sandusky Catholic High Forces Gay Music Teacher to Resign

I don't mean to be a downer in posting this piece, but it's impossible to ignore this ongoing story, it seems to me: despite the claims that gay people are being received more warmly in the Catholic church as Pope Francis models a kinder and gentler way of engaging people on the margins, the stories about the firing of gay employees of Catholic institutions continue to roll forth.

In Case You're Interested, My Travel Diary from Our Trip to Italy Is Now Posted

Back in December, when I posted snippets here from my travel diary regarding our Christmas trip to Italy (here, here, here, here, and here), some of you kindly showed an interest in my meandering travel notes. And so I thought I'd let readers know that I've now transcribed my entire travel journal from the recent trip, and have posted it at my travel blog, Never in Paradise.

Vatican Review by U.N. re: Compliance with the Convention on Rights of the Child: Links for Your Involvement

For those interested in watching the Vatican review by the United Nations today in real time, SNAP has helpfully provided information about links you may use. Unfortunately, for many of us in the U.S., the hearing has already occurred, due to the difference in U.S. time and European time. But note that you may still be able to catch the "reportback" by SNAP and Center for Constitutional Rights, here.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Catholic Sexual Ethics and the Category of Justice: A Reminder about Margaret Farley's Pioneering Work

Yesterday, as I looked at the statement made by German moral and pastoral theologians in response to Pope Francis's call for input about the issues of contraception, same-sex marriage, and family in preparation for the upcoming Synod on the Family, I wrote,

America on ACLU Case vs. USCCB: "Catholic Bishops Are not Making Decisions about Care"

The editors of the Jesuit journal America think that the American Civil Liberties Union does not understand how the Catholic church functions, and how Catholic bishops interact with Catholic hospitals. America is responding to the ACLU case against the USCCB, about which I've commented previously here, here, and here.

Pope Francis Continues in News: Jerry Slevin, Sarah Posner, New York Times, Colleen Baker

As the new year goes on, I'm seeing more and more news coverage about news coverage about Pope Francis. All of it fascinating . . . .

Mid-Week News One-Liners: Oklahoma and Equal Protection, Christie's Troubles and Women, Let Them Eat Prison, Women Cardinals and Vatican and U.N., Street Doctors

Pithy, brief takes from articles that have caught my eye in the last day or so, on a variety of topics ranging from a street doctor's care for homeless people, to court rulings overturning laws targeting gays, to women as the (naturally!) cause of Christie's woes, to the belief of elites that they earn their elite status, to women cardinals and the Vatican's upcoming appearance at the U.N.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

German Moral and Pastoral Theologians Respond to Pope Francis's Questions about Sexual Morality and Family: Time for Significant Change

For National Catholic Reporter, Joshua McElwee reports on a statement issued by the Association of German Moral Theologians and the Conference of German-Speaking Pastoral Theologians in response to Pope Francis's call for lay Catholics to provide input about issues of contraception, gay marriage, and family life prior to the upcoming Synod on the Family. McElwee has helpfully linked to a translation of the theologians' statement by Stephanie Knauss.

Joan Walsh on Why the Media Can't Get Christie Right: "Need to Invent 'Moderates' to Keep from Writing Over and Over about the Party’s Departure from Political Sanity"

At Salon, Joan Walsh notes that the media have been complicit in creating an image Chris Christie as one of those mythic conservatives who occupy the mythic "center" so beloved of many in the mainstream media: 

Sister Teresa Forcades on the Incarnation and Holy Family: "To Appear in the World, God Didn't Need a Heterosexual Couple"

Benedictine Sister Teresa Forcades, in an interview with Joana Grenzner for Pikara Magazine, by way of Iglesia Descalza:

Monday, January 13, 2014

Contraception and Affordable Care Act: Three Truth-Telling Takes

Three sharp observations about the religious right's--and U.S. Catholic bishops'--phony, cooked-up war over the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act:

A Reader Writes: "How Sick Is It That So Many Well-Meaning, Practicing Catholics Are Able to Be Desensitized to the Horrible Reality of Clergy Sex Abuse?"

In a comment a moment ago here, Mary writes

E.J. Dionne on Media's Ability to "Turn on a Dime": Critical Reflections about Media's Claim to Mediate Social Reality to Rest of Us

This is the kind of thing I'd have written in my journal, before I began blogging--and as I read the day's news and news commentary. Now that this blog has become my journal . . . .

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Friday, January 10, 2014

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: Church Needs to Woman-Up, Seminary Formation and Little Monsters

For Culturemap AustinChristina Pesoli explains what it means to be in stage three of her complicated relationship with the church in which she was raised, and which she loves--despite her ire at things like the U.S. bishops' silly and dangerous war against contraception--because of the powerful positive effect she saw Catholic social teaching exercising in the life of her parents and their friends as she was growing up:

Story of Mark Zmuda's Firing by Eastside Catholic in Seattle: End-of-Week Updates

Another-end-of-week retrospective: a number of good articles have appeared this week, reporting on the firing of Mark Zmuda by Eastside Catholic school in Seattle when he married his same-sex partner. In what I just posted re: the emerging meme about the breaking of Francis fever, I noted Jamie Manson's article yesterday at National Catholic Reporter discussing the Seattle story. My previous posting focused on Jamie's remarks about Pope Francis and whether he represents an opening to reassessing magisterial teaching about homosexuality.

As New Year Is Underway, Media Meme Emerging: Is Francis Fever Breaking?

As this first full week of the new year ends, an interesting meme I see emerging in the media: Francis fever may be breaking. At least, a little bit.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

In the News: Little Sisters of Poor vs. Obama, Frank Cocozzelli's Coughie Award, Fred Clark's "Daily Blog of the Day," John Allen Leaving NCR

Now a grab-bag of news items and articles that have caught my attention in recent days, and which I'd like to bring to the attention of readers here:

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "If We Accept, As a Sort of Constraint, That The Church Isn't Going to Change Its Fundamental Teachings on Same Sex Marriage"

The first Catholic birdcage dropping I've found particularly noteworthy as the new year gets underway:

Former Irish President Mary McAleese Calls on Catholic Church to Face "Herd of Elephants" in Living Room--Issue of Homosexuality and Pastoral Care of Gay People

There's considerable discussion at various news sites right now of a lecture that former Irish President Mary McAleese gave to the Royal Society of Edinburgh in December. McAleese was invited by the Royal Society to present its MacCormick European Lecture 2013. The Royal Society has helpfully uploaded part of the lecture to YouTube, and you'll find the YouTube clip at the head of this posting.

Suspension of Comments by National Catholic Reporter: An Update

My posting Monday noting that National Catholic Reporter had suspended comments due to a proliferation of "vile and demeaning" discourse at some threads at the NCR site has now had over 1,000 reads. Due to the fact that the posting was widely read, I think it's important that I now take note of an update that Dennis Coday posted yesterday at the NCR site.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Vatican Spokesperson on Francis and Gays: No "Opening to Gay Couples" with Pope Francis (or, Francis Talks Peripheries While Vatican Keeps Talking Center)

I have not referred yet to another remark Pope Francis made (pdf file) in his meeting with some 120 (male) religious superiors last November--the meeting I've previously discussed as I've looked at his comments about viewing things from the peripheries rather than the center. As media outlets have now reported in many places, in this colloquy, Francis also reminded his audience that younger Catholics now often live in "complex situations, especially family ones."