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Carl Paladino's opposition to homosexuality: "Exactly equivalent to the Catholic Church"

That's kind of a scary statement given the latest comments by the Tea Party fave and GOP gubernatorial candidate for governor in New York. Paladino has a hard-earned reputation for being, let's say, mercurial, and his statements on Sunday about gays at an Orthodox synagogue in Brooklyn plus his kind-of-walkback on the "Today" show this ayem only reinforce that.I have a story on the exchanges here, and NYT coverage is here.What intrigued me, in light of our recent discussions of Catholic teaching and gay bullying and the gay marriage battle by the bishops, were these quotes from Paladino's campaign manager, Michael R. Caputo, in reference to Paladino's often sneering dismissal of homosexuals:

"Carl Paladino is simply expressing the views that he holds in his heart as a Catholic," Caputo told The Times. "Carl Paladino is not homophobic, and neither is the Catholic Church."

Caputo continued that line in remarks to CNN.

"Carl Paladino's position on this is exactly equivalent to the Catholic Church," Caputo said. "And if Andrew Cuomo has a problem with the Catholic Church's position on abortion and homosexuality, he needs to take it up with his parish priest."

Caputo may be right, but does Paladino's tone at least merit a pastoral response from someone in the Catholic hierarchy? And is his attitude representative of how many Catholics internalize -- and then express -- church teaching on/against homosexuality and gays and lesbians?


Commenting Guidelines

Until the last person understands homosexuality, you will never be blabbing to much.Unfortunately many people don't, but we do seem to be getting there slow but sure.

Just to pile on, this has been one of the most constructive threads on one of the most polarizing topics. My sympathies lie largely with William Lindsey and his lonsmen, but I very much appreciate Kathy on the more or less other side and her tribe. This has been very instructive at many levels. Carry on. DG.

"God did not create heterosexuals, homosexuals and then ordered sexual morality according to various sexual preferences, "Nancy --True, He created us male and female. But you seem to think that homosexuals are neither male nor female. Hmmm. Something inaccurate there.

William,I appreciate your insightful connection of conscience and conscious. The imagery in ancient Latin hymns is somewhat related: the earth is sleepy, and it needs to be awakened. Christ, the true sun, shines on it to wake it from languor and sleep.I do think that the average parish could do much more in dealing with this issue. It would be great to have a Courage chapter, for example, and to really publicize it. Folks should know that there is a way to be Catholic, and in community, and "out" if they choose, in the most basic of Church settings, the parish.

Stephen --Back to definitions and what we are *most basically*. The Church has historically accepted the philosophical definition of man as "rational animal" as the definition of our most basic reality, our body-plus-soul, our humanity. Contrary to what Nancy affirms, this definition says nothing about male and female, about specific sorts of bodies nor about specific sorts of sexual inclinations. So when the Rome talks about disorders of sexual inclinations it is not talking about anyone's most basic reality or humanity. All rational animals, whether referred to as human persons, people, human beings, or whatever you want to call us, are equally valuable in our fundamental reality as human persons. Rome does affirm this -- maybe not as loud and as often as it should, but it does affirm this. This is indeed its official teaching.True, there is more to us than body and soul, and some of our non-most-basic parts are nevertheless highly important. But as basically human persons we are indeed all equal and deserve equal respect as such.

" If I am honest, I cannot be a buffet Catholic; I cannot say the Credo ( I believe in the Holy Spriti, the Holy Catholic Church. or I believe in one holy Catholic and apostolic Church..), unless I accept ALL that the Catholic Church teaches."St Thomas Aquinas agrees: "Now it is manifest that he who adheres to the teaching of the Church, as to an infallible rule, assents to whatever the Church teaches; otherwise, if, of the things taught by the Church, he holds what he chooses to hold, and rejects what he chooses to reject, he no longer adheres to the teaching of the Church as to an infallible rule, but to his own will."

Thanks, Kathy. That's an evocative image, the awakening of the world in slumber by the light of Christ. It evokes for me the poetic image of creation through divine song, which C.S. Lewis uses so masterfully in his Narnia stories.I agree about the need for education at a parish level. It's desperately needed, it seems to me. I've just watched Ft. Worth city councilor Joel Burns' statement for the "It Gets Better" project, seeking to offer youths bullied for sexual orientation reasons options other than suicide. As I watched, it occurred to me how useful this and other powerful statements of the first-hand experiences of gay and lesbian adults who worked through the shame, abuse, hateful comments, and so forth in teen years would be for communities of faith -- as a teaching tool.The video clip is at

Kathy --About the meanings of "nature". My trusty dictionary of Aquinas gives six pages of synonyms, definitions, and different phrases including the word. No wonder there are serious semantic problems with it. Sigh.One of the most common definitions is "essence insofar as it is operative". This isn't much help for the layman. You'd need to know from the context just what the meaning of "essence" is in that context and to have a good explanation of how our faculties/abilities are related to our most fundamental being. No, there are no abilities running around independent of a basic person, and neither are they identical with our most basic being (e.g., your ability to produce song). About the word "conscious" or "consciousness" == the medievals didn't have a word for it. It wasn't until Descartes and John Locke that philosophers started to focus on the fact that the act of knowing (awareness, consciousness) is not identical with what the awareness is conscious of. Complexity, complexity, and semantic problems make the complex doubly complex.

"St Thomas Aquinas agrees: Now it is manifest that he who adheres to the teaching of the Church, as to an infallible rule, assents to whatever the Church teaches; otherwise, if, of the things taught by the Church, he holds what he chooses to hold, and rejects what he chooses to reject, he no longer adheres to the teaching of the Church as to an infallible rule, but to his own will."P. Flanagan --Note that Thomas here is talking about *beliefs* not about matters of facts. Beliefs by definition are what could conceivably be otherwise, and thus require an act of the will to accept. Matters of fact, on the other hand aren't matters of belief, and one has no choice but to accept conclusive evidence of their existence. .

Ann, thank you. That's an extremely valuable reminder that words we imagine are self-evident, which have long histories in our tradition, almost invariably have meant something else (almost always, many different "something elses") over the long course of the tradition.And we're naive to imagine that our contemporary use of them is precisely what they have meant in the tradition. Just as we're naive to imagine that the theological or credal use of words is hermetically sealed from their cultural use.The word "person" comes into our theological language, after all, from Greek theater, in its earliest roots. I'm always perplexed by people who imagine that, when they say the creed, they're believing and understanding all of it, simply because they're repeating the words. As if the ultimate meaning of what we believe is frozen into words, and frozen in time -- and is not a Person rather than a formula.We do like to live with our assurance that we have the final answers. and aren't challenged to keep thinking, growing, and changing. And that's key to the problems this thread's confronting. Much depends on where we fall on the spectrum of need for absolute certainty here.

Kathy, are you aware of the connections between Courage and NARTH, highlighted by Michael Bayly?

"Defining men and women as heterosexual, homosexual, does not come from God, but from man, and it is absurd to think that God would refer to anyone as a sexual object. I have no doubt that this is why Pope Benedict referred to men and women with a homosexual inclination as men and women with a homosexual inclination because He understood that referring to someone as heterosexual, homosexual"No, Ratzinger calls gays "homosexual persons" and the title of his most famous document is "homosexualitatis problema" -- in short he shows MORE recognition of the irreducible reality of homosexuality and homosexual persons than you are prepared to.

Fr. O'Leary,First of all, according to Bayly's blog, the "connections" between Courage and NARTH amount to this: "its website has a link."

Besides open awareness in parish life of the homosexual orientation, it seems to me that the other aspect that is really necessary has to do with youth and high school/ college campus ministers.The question "am I gay?" is often a real question for teenagers, not a definitive answer. There should be some adults who care about kids, who are willing to work with them to sort out their honest feelings--and who respect and abide by Church teaching.Just brainstorming about a better way...

Kathy, I agree with you that there need to be adults on hand -- adults actively involved -- to be sounding boards and mentors for youth seeking answers to questions about sexual orientation. Even or above all in Catholic parishes, which tend to keep these questions at bay with a ten-foot pole for three reasons: 1) there's a huge silence and tamp-down effect from the top of the church, and threats of punishment lie behind that silence and oppression, if pastors even open their mouths about these issues; 2) every parish and diocese in the nation has active, spiteful, and often powerful watchdog groups to assure "orthodoxy," and crossing those folks gets a pastor quickly into hot water; and 3) much of the money most important to the church at its top levels comes from strongly conservative donors who don't want the Catholic church to address issues of sexual orientation except with its most stridently condemnatory voice.So, frankly, I have little hope that any parish anywhere will ever deal with these questions honestly. At the same time, as a believer, I have tremendous hope at every moment that the Spirit of God can move across the waters again, and trouble them into life.So I share your hope and interest here. Where I part company with you is in your proviso, which stresses that the role models youth be allowed to hear "respect and abide by Church teaching."I have no problem with respecting and abiding by church teaching, per se. But what the church teaches is vastly bigger and more challenging than the prohibition of gay sexual activity, or the call to chastity.The church also teaches us to follow Jesus and behave lovingly, justly, and mercifully. And for many gay and lesbian Catholics, that is the sticking point: what we have long heard the church teaching to us is simply not exemplified by those who focus with laser-beam intensity on the purported lapses of chastity among their gay brothers and sisters. But who remain relatively silent about the far more extensive failures of heterosexual Catholics to uphold church teaching about sexual morality. Young people, who aren't stupid, spot these discrepancies and know when they're not being dealt with honestly (or fairly or with authentic compassion).There's also this: many young Catholics are likely to be questioning and seeking and disturbed because they know full well that there is another option than the option of Courage you're promoting. We live in an information age, and many young gay and lesbian Catholics who are trying to come to terms with their identity know full well that a significant majority of Catholics in many countries reject the church's ban on gay behavior (which is, to all extents and purposes, also a ban on gay human beings). They know that there is a Catholic option to live in a far healthier way than Courage promotes -- in loving and committed relationships in which they accept their sexual identities as God-given. And they know that this Catholic option exists despite the cruel taunts of some self-professed "orthodox" Catholics that these brother and sister Catholics (and, really, the majority who support gay rights) should just leave the church.So in not even mentioning that option to young folks in parishes, you construct, from the outset, a self-defeating program of outreach and education which does precisely what many of them are raising questions about from the outset: it pretends that being Catholic is all about living in a tiny bubble of certainty (and, often, smug cruelty disguising itself as Christian compassion) inside a larger culture in which more morally appropriate ways of handling these issues have also been developed.In constructing your program as you recommend, you're implicitly telling all young gay and lesbian Catholics who reject the self-denying or self-loathing program you recommend that they simply can't ever be welcomed in the Catholic church. And so your program becomes not an educational one, but one that sorts sheep from goats, short of the eschatological sorting that belongs to Christ alone.P.S. I agree with you that not all teens raising questions about gender identity or searching in this direction are necessarily gay. All the more reason to respond appropriately at an educational level -- with honest, full information and honest, loving support.

William,This dialogue has been very interesting, and civil beyond normal expectations, so I will risk being somewhat challenging. Let me know if it's too much--I don't mind gearing down a notch.You said: "The church also teaches us to follow Jesus and behave lovingly, justly, and mercifully. And for many gay and lesbian Catholics, that is the sticking point: what we have long heard the church teaching to us is simply not exemplified by those who focus with laser-beam intensity on the purported lapses of chastity among their gay brothers and sisters."Several times you have made a similar argument, and I would like to ask you a couple of questions.First of all, it seems odd to me that after (rightly) citing the Gospels that challenge all Christians to love and show mercy, you do not immediately take ownership of this teaching for yourself. That is my habit: if Jesus says, "do this," then I try to look immediately to my own ways and try to reform them. I would consider it something of a temptation if, when reading the Sermon on the Mount or other prescriptive passages in the Epistles, my impulse would be to examine the consciences of others, which is what you seem to be doing when you mention the Gospel teachings. Which brings me to the second question: While I understand the long-term effects of hurt and have some acquaintance with shame and silence, still, the Gospel injunction is mercy and forgiveness. I would challenge you to consider whether there are religious persons who have hurt you and whether you have taken steps to forgive them.I hope you don't mind me mentioning these things. I hesitate to do so because they are rather personal.Regarding your other major question here, I think that we are unlikely to reach any agreement on one point, the question of whether an educational program should align with Church teaching. One question seems to be whether there is a possibility of having a good, yet chaste and celibate, life, as a person with same-sex attractions. Neither of us has a personal testimony to offer in that regard, and it seems to me that role models of just such a life would be very beneficial in the Church just now. The other question I would ask, and again, I hope you will pardon the challenge, is whether there might be a certain degree of inconsistency in the demands you are making of the Church. I understand why someone with a homosexual orientation would seek to be accepted on his own terms, according to his/her own self-understanding. And yet the Church has its own self-definitions, its own self-understanding. Can these be respected as well? To teach unchastity would un-do the Church's own self-understanding: the Church really can't and shouldn't do it. You have shared that you have felt, painfully, that your own self-understanding has often been disregarded. Will you really demand that the Church do this?

Kathy, thanks for the response and the questions, which I'll try to answer as succinctly as possible (and I'm seldom succinct, so this is a challenge to myself first and foremost to stay on topic as I begin to reply).I'd like to focus on the question of consistency, which is central to all the responses you make here. You call it inconsistent on my part to challenge the church to listen to and take seriously the experience of gay and lesbian believers.But your definition of consistency rests on a definition of what the church teaches which is, in and of itself, inconsistent. And that's one of the primary points I've wanted to make in the conversation, which somehow you don't seem able to hear.As my previous posting said, while the church may teach that all of us are called to chastity, and it may use that to forbid gay believers relationships premised on their orientation, it teaches much more.And I hear your focus on what the church teaches fixing exclusively on the challenge to chastity, and not on the much more that the church also teaches. Which centers on the call of all of us to live lives of love, mercy, and justice.And which the church's own behavior towards its gay members -- including its behavior in focusing exclusively on that call to chastity for us, which is uttered in a totally unilateral and single-focused way towards only gay believers -- undercuts. You can't teach or proclaim love, mercy, and justice credibly while belying that teaching in your own behavior. Focusing exclusively and unfairly on a targeted minority as you issue moral teaching does not serve the proclamation of love, mercy, and justice.And, of course, I'm aware that many believers who don't intend ever to examine that discrepancy will continue trying to use the tactic of calling those who call for honest discussion of the discrepancy unloving, unmerciful, and unjust.But, increasingly, as the cognitive dissonance grows around the huge discrepancy between what the church professes to be, when it comes to its gay members, and how it actually behaves, that tactic just doesn't work, for larger and larger numbers of people. Who can see with their own eyes that the church is behaving with a conspicuous lack of love, mercy, and justice re: its gay sons and daughters.While it never turns the same intensive moral focus to the lives of its heterosexual believers, no matter how grossly their lives belie what it proclaims in the area of human sexuality. Such cognitive dissonance is, ultimately, very destructive for communities of faith that will not deal with its root causes. I'm suggesting that the kind of retreat from culture, the kind of closing in on oneself as a faith community and ignoring honest conversation and hard questions that don't toe the party line, is very destructive to the church itself, and won't really meet the needs of the gay youth you're interested in reaching.This is why some gay or lesbian family members ultimately give up on their Catholic family members who don't want to listen, and who don't want to hear what their "loving" and "welcoming" messages really mean, beyond the nice rhetoric. Far from being unloving when they withdraw, I maintain that they are doing the most loving thing possible for their own lives and souls -- safeguarding their humanity from attack by people who claim that their attack is about love. And God.

William,I see I've gone too far. I thought it was worth trying. I'm not sure if you would like to continue the discussion, which I am happy to do, but I would like to clarify one matter. The CDF publishes dozens of notices each year, most of them addressing matters having nothing to do with homosexual inclinations. I think that there is no exclusive or "laser beam" focus on this one issue, although I would understand why someone with these attractions might feel singled out, particularly if someone were convinced that the homosexual inclination is a positive good along with the heterosexual orientation.

I'm sorry you imagine you've gone too far, Kathy. And if that means I somehow came across as uncivil, I apologize for the incivility, which was certainly not intended.My use of the term "laser-beam focus" is situational. I'm not addressing the focus on homosexuality in a broad spectrum of other issues in the magisterium.I'm addressing, quite specifically, the strangely disproportionate emphasis that the magisterium and many Catholics give only to gays and lesbians, when sexual ethics are discussed, and the way our conversations about order and disorder manage to ignore -- why, I wonder? -- the well-documented finding that a huge percentage of married Catholics in developed nations use artificial contraception. And that Catholics in general in the developed nations reject the church's approach to sexual ethics insofar as it is grounded in biologistic readings of natural law.Something in the laser-beam focus disproportionately applied -- unilaterally applied -- to a targeted, vulnerable minority is troubling in the extreme to many thinking and morally sensitive folks. Not just to gays.It's hard to mount an argument that the church is not focused with laser-beam intensity on the threat it imagines gays to pose, when the Knights of Columbus pour millions into anti-gay crusades, while cutting their budget for works of mercy; when the Minnesota bishops produce an expensive anti-gay marriage video on the eve of an election where only the Republican candidate for governor stands against gay marriage and the topic has not been a major campaign issue; when bishops across the nation take money donated to parishes for works of mercy and upkeep of schools and churches and send it to Maine to combat gay marriage; when Catholic adoption agencies threaten to shut down rather than place children in households headed by same-sex couples; when people wearing rainbow sashes are denied communion while Knights of Columbus and Knights and Dames of Malta can wear sashes and go to communion; when children of same-sex couples are denied entrance to schools on the ground that their parents violate Catholic marriage teachings, while children of divorced couples or couples (heterosexual, of course) living together without being married are not excluded.I suspect that one day we'll look back -- or those who come after us will do so -- and wonder why a religious community that claims love as its central norm imagined it was doing anything loving at all in behaving this way, and that it was not eroding its credibility as a moral teacher by behaving in such an unloving way towards a targeted minority. I imagine that this will be the case since I think we can see, even now, the moral arc of the universe bending towards such a critique.Some members of the church claim unilateral and exclusive ownership of the word "love," and want to deny gay folks the right to use that word to describe our lives and relationships. But as increasing numbers of people see that those to whom the church denies the right to claim the legitimacy of their love often love deeply and truly, and in way that benefits the entire community even when we don't acknowledge those gifts given to us by gay folks, while the church professing to own love often behaves cruelly and unjustly to those whose love it denies, then the church's claim to own that word in a singular way sounds more and more tinny to many folks.It would help if there were honest dialogue about this. And for that reason, I am happy to continue talking and sorry if you think I was not civil to you.

William, No harm done.I think you have put your finger on precisely the problem. The CDF is always liable to criticism precisely because its job involves a good amount of reaction to current trends. Just when a new kind of Trinitarian theology begins to get some traction, there goes the mean old CDF, pointing out "errors." I think that is the way some people see things. I see the CDF as a kind of guardian of the Church's self-understanding and self-definition. There are advances to be made in theology, but there is also a history, a "nature" of the Church, using the word nature in a more formal philosophical sense, as the principle of motion and change of a perduring underlying substrate.The Church has a responsibility to teach the truth, and only the truth, in matters of faith and morals. This, in my opinion, has become an urgent task in the matter of the homosexual orientation. You've asked why there are no pointed rebukes from the CDF about masturbation, but I am sure you will agree that these are different cases. There are, to my knowledge, no masturbation-rights lobbies. No one wants to make the solitary act equal in law to the marital act. Nobody compares being a downtrodden masturbator to being Martin Luther King. Nobody organizes masturbation rights sash-wearing protests to cathedrals and double-dares archbishops to give/refuse them Communion--either decision of which will make for bad press.Most importantly, there aren't growing movements among Catholic catechists to offer Masturbation Dignity Ministries to affirm, not simply persons, but intrinsically disorded acts. These documents from the CDF have catalysts.

Ken, you write that "if the Pope came out and said that homosexuality was nothing to be concerned about, I...would accept that and move on." You go on to state that in the meantime, "we have no choice but to follow."Contrary to your apparent understanding, Catholicism precisely entails faith AND reason. Vatican II's teaching acknowledges the "sense of faith" enjoyed by the faithful. Slavery is now condemned. Circumcision is not required for entry into the church. Most church teaching --- including that on sexual orientation --- is not infallible. Canon law acknowledges the right of the faithful to share their views on matters with fellow members in the church. The CCC, its weak language on the point notwithstanding, supports freedom of conscience. The church, in its very practice, acknowledges the reality of doctrinal development. If Jesus could challenge the religious authorities of his day, his example is good enough for me.

Kathy, you say, ". . . [T[here goes the mean old CDF, pointing out 'errors.' I think that is the way some people see things. I see the CDF as a kind of guardian of the Churchs self-understanding and self-definition."I don't think I'm one of the "some people" who see things this way.My own inclination, since I'm a historian of theology-cum-ethicist, is always to be painfully aware of how frequently the church has been wrong in the past, when it came to assessing the human dignity of some groups, including Jews, women, native non-European peoples, people of color, "witches," and gays and lesbians.The church was just as convinced in the past as many members of the church are now convinced re: the treatment of their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, that it was doing a holy thing when it participated in the Inquisition, incited pogroms, burned witches, defended slavery, and informed people of color that their humanity was on a level beneath that of other believers.My teaching career began in an African-American Catholic community. I heard hair-raising stories there of what the Catholic church had done in the past (and continued to do in the present) to many members of that community -- stories that make me marvel at the grace that allows African Americans to continue associating with the Catholic church.As David Tracy says someplace, only a fool would deny that the church can be sinful and has been sinful in the past.So I'm less inclined to take every contemporary magisterial teaching as gospel truth, particularly when I can see (and feel in my own flesh) the insalubrious effects of some of the teaching.To me, the more pertinent question to ask is what motivates that exclusive focus on the evil of homosexuality, when -- as you yourself maintained in a previous thread -- there's sin galore on the heterosexual side to attend to. And when the heterosexual members of the church far outnumber the gay ones.Why focus on gay marriage as the threat deserving all the attention, for instance, when divorce is far and away the bigger threat to the sanctity of heterosexual marriage? If the bishops want to enact civil laws to defend marriage, why are they spending millions on removing rights from gay citizens and not a penny to see divorce outlawed?I find it hard to imagine that this preoccupation is holy. I wonder what drives people who walk in the footsteps of Jesus to behave this way. And to try to deny the abundant evidence that they're doing harm as they do so.

William,Please see my previous comment, which addresses these questions.

Thanks, Kathy. I'll do so.It seems we've come to a dead end in this conversation, doesn't it? If nothing else, I'm tired of hearing the sound of my own voice.I'd still like very much to understand where the rabid need of some Christians today to want to single out their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters and demonstrate to us over and over again that we stand under condemnation -- under unique condemnation.To me, that feels as if doesn't come from the best places in the heart of the church.To me, it feels as if it doesn't come from a holy place at all.I can't imagine the need of family members, for instance (and this happens with my longtime partner's ultra-orthodox Catholic family members) to keep singling out a brother and sister as uniquely sinful. And then maintaining that this is loving and holy behavior on their part. And that it demonstrates what family is all about, at its best.

William,How exactly does the singling-out occur? What does it consist of?

Kathy, you ask, "How exactly does the singling out occur"?If I may, I'll refer you once again to the list just compiled by Michael O'Loughlin at America's "In All Things" blog. I asked previously what you thought of that list, and you didn't respond. I thought he did an outstanding job of documenting precisely where each of these "singling out" taboos comes from in our current teaching, didn't you?O'Loughlin notes the following "messages" now given by the magisterium and Catholics who defend this teaching to gays and lesbians -- to each and every person born gay and lesbian in the world, to each and every gay and lesbian brother and sister in the church: Something is wrong with you. Showing affection to the person you love is a grave sin, perhaps evil. You are unworthy of a lifetime commitment with the person you love. You are unworthy of employment with your church. You are unworthy to be a parent. You are unworthy of receiving the Eucharist. You are unworthy of heaven. You are unworthy to be a priest. You are a threat to human existence.If O'Loughlin is right -- and, again, he documents his case very well -- I wonder how anyone can defend the current magisterial teaching about homosexuality. And how any of my Catholic brothers and sisters can let this list simply drop into the conversation like a stone falling into water, which makes a ripple and then is settled.I find it hard to imagine that if any other group were subjected to this barrage of hateful messages, there'd be such complacency on the part of people of faith. It's hard to imagine a religious tradition that urges us to see ourselves through the eyes of the other fostering either such savagery towards a stigmatize minority, or such complacency (and defensive belligerence) among its adherents.These attitudes --the savagery, the complacency, and the defensive belligerence -- go a long ways towards undermining almost any claim to moral credibility our church wants to make today, in my view. And I believe this is view is increasingly shared by people of good will outside the church, as well as by many Catholics.My partner and I have lost jobs in Catholic institutions because we are gay and won't hide or apologize for that. We cannot find employment in any Catholic institution anywhere, as openly gay coupled theologians. Have you ever experienced anything like this, Kathy? Do you have any idea what this experience might do to a human heart and soul?

By the way, the reason I ask is that I know from experience that in certain family situations, anything less than full and vocal acceptance may be taken as an insult. I don't think that is unique to my family, nor unique to this particular issue. "What do you think of my trophy wife? My sports car? My hobby? My fibromyalgia?"--people want their family of origin to understand and accept them.

"I would understand why someone with these attractions might feel singled out, particularly if someone were convinced that the homosexual inclination is a positive good along with the heterosexual orientation."Kathy begins to see the problem.

"Far from being unloving when they withdraw, I maintain that they are doing the most loving thing possible for their own lives and souls safeguarding their humanity from attack by people who claim that their attack is about love. And God."A bit like the Jews who tried to get out of hearing the obligatory sermons about their sinful error in the Roman ghetto. Some fell asleep during the long sermons, and were given a sound beating by the papal police. Gays are still where Jews were in the Middle Ages.

Talking of Jews and gays:I was in the middle of eating a kosher pastrami sandwich, Rabbi Levin said. "While I was eating it, they come running and they say, Paladino became gay! I said, What? And then they showed me the statement. I almost choked on the kosher salami.Mr. Paladino, of course, had not become gay, but had announced that he wanted to clarify that he embraced gay rights and opposed discrimination. In explaining his views, Mr. Paladino and his aides noted that he had a gay nephew who worked for the campaign.That seemed to bother Rabbi Levin as well. He accused Mr. Paladino of deciding to apologize because his gay nephew or his family told him so.He discovered now he has a gay nephew? the rabbi said. Mazel tov! Well make a coming-out party!Rabbi Levin said he chose to hold his news conference at the cathedral because he hoped Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan would take a stand on the controversy involving Mr. Paladinos remarks.

Sorry for the typo: the last sentence in the third paragraph from the end uses the phrase "towards a stigmatize minority."And that phrase should be "towards a stigmatized minority."

"Have you ever experienced anything like this, Kathy? Do you have any idea what this experience might do to a human heart and soul?"William,Yes, I've experienced things like this.This is what confuses me. I don't know of anyone who goes around quoting the CDF on this point. I've never personally seen, and certainly haven't participated in, bullying or name-calling of homosexual persons--the event that originally began this series of threads. I don't know about the holiday dinners in your family, but these documents are never quoted around our dinner table. Nothing is ever said, really. Apparently the expectation is that I should be celebratory of relationships that I think are ordered incorrectly. In other words, there is an expectation that I will deny my own beliefs, and denounce a teaching of the Church that I believe to be not only inerrant, but true.Silence is not enough, apparently. Politeness, kindness--these are not enough. I have to renounce what I think is true. Failure to do so is likened to bullying, almost without distinction.Or am I missing your point?

Just want to add that today's NYT has a piece about Paladino often puttin ghis foot in his mouth and that at the gathering where he spoke on this originally, no women were allowed to be present.

Bob, surely the CDF is not responsible for the rules of an Orthodox Synagogue?

Kathy, you say, "This is what confuses me. I dont know of anyone who goes around quoting the CDF on this point."And yet you've argued vehemently in this thread that the disproportionate emphasis the CDF is placing on the policing of the sexual morality of gays and lesbians at this point in history is a necessary response to cultural trends raising new questions about sexual orientation now.If no one pays any attention to the CDF and if statements from the top of the church about these topics have no chilling effect at all, then why bother? Why is the CDF speaking out? And why are you defending what this ineffectual Vatican office is saying?Perhaps the chill is more discernible to those being frozen out. I have never seen a Catholic institution hound a married heterosexual Catholic practicing contraception out of a job, or a divorced Catholic who remarries. I've taught in even conservative Catholic universities where both situations occurred, and no one would have dreamed of calling for the head of these employees.That's simply not the case with gay and lesbian Catholics. Though the same moral criteria that forbid homosexual acts and relationships also outlaw use of contraception, Catholic institutions -- sanely and with ethical sensitivity, I would argue -- refrain from witch hunts to enforce Catholic sexual teachings with employees who are married and using contraception, divorced and remarried, or even living with a heterosexual partner without marrying that partner.There's an entirely different standard for gay and lesbian people working in Catholic institutions. It surprises me that you don't see this, and that you'd imagine that the magisterial teachings you're defending have nothing to do with setting that standard.

Kathy, I thought I was talking about Paladino, who this thread started with.He is a major candidate in a major state and his comments , if they are allowed to stand, create lots of havoc.Which of course leads to the kind of ongoing discussion here and how statements made by major figures have real impact on people's lives, despie, perhaps, your personal expewrience.

I am tired of Christiany with Caveat. I always considered catholic (small c) to mean all inclusive. It's not, and I grow distant from the Church. I think this is so unnecessarily sad.

William,I can't speak for the reasons that policies are applied unevenly. I'm hardly a policy wonk myself. My sense is that there are still plenty of policy wonks who would want you to be hired over some scapular-wearing, rosary-swinging "conservative." I've spoken with a lot of people who have been marginalized for such subversions as Marian devotion, and their train wrecks are not pretty at all. Imagine the blow to someone's confidence when their very piety gets them discerned right out of the seminary. That happens less these days, but wow, the 80s.To answer your question, I would like the statements from the CDF to have a real effect. I would prefer it if all of the teachers in Catholic universities, seminaries, and all chancery workers were willing and ready to teach the truth in its fullness and implement programs to help the People of God grow in holiness according to the truth.That is incredibly different from starting a pogrom. No one is saying "you can't have a job." But goodness gracious, please don't take this job. Please don't take a job representing and teaching for an institution you are angry at, want to dissuade people from trusting, and whose teachings you disrespect.Bob,I doubt it was Paladino's idea to separate men from women in a synagogue.

"Imagine the blow to someones confidence when their very piety gets them discerned right out of the seminary."I can imagine it very well, Kathy. As far as I can see, many women who are called to ordination get discerned out at the front door, precisely because of their strong piety that leads them to vocation. And the same happens with gay folks who know that they're called both to cherish their God-given nature and their vocation to ministry.As I keep emphasizing, it's not at all the gays-over-against-the-church and the truth of church teaching. The problem that arises for many of us is, quite precisely, a conflict between our most deeply held beliefs as Catholics, and what the church teaches and practices when it comes to gay and lesbian persons. Inducing cognitive dissonance, I would maintain, for increasing numbers of Catholics precisely because of their piety, their devotion to the core values of the church vis-a-vis human rights.And, of course, this goes well beyond policy and policy wonks. As Bob has stated recently in this thread, we're talking about teaching that gives clear signals from the top of the church. As to your conclusion, "Please dont take a job representing and teaching for an institution you are angry at, want to dissuade people from trusting, and whose teachings you disrespect": without intending to be flippant, it strikes me that this is pretty precisely a description of Jesus, from the viewpoint of the religious authorities of his own culture. Remember? He was an angry flake misleading the people of God, disrespecting the teachings of his religious group about all kinds of things (the Sabbath, laws dictating who is pure and impure, laws demanding that one not associate with this kind of person or that kind of person).I understand the need of religious groups to enact such purity laws. What I don't understand (or, perhaps, intend to keep questioning, because my faith demands this) is the dishonest wish to call that impulse holy.

William,I don't think you're flippant, exactly, but it's a pretty gutsy rhetorical move to compare one's own persecuation with that of Jesus Christ.Why don't we try another angle.Do you think that the Church should have any standards of sexual purity? Consider that this has been part of the kerygma from the earliest days of the Church, the days before the Gospels were written, as we find in the Acts and in the Letters.

Actually, Kathy, I had logged on to suggest a teeny bit of gutsiness on your part, when I saw your reply to me.I had intended to write something rather flippant: So, people wearing scapulars experiencing the same oppression that gays and lesbians experience in Catholic institutions. Fancy that. The oppression goes deeper than I've imagined!And I didn't compare myself to Jesus and or my suffering to his. I made an observation about the less than self-evident holiness that lies behind the kind of purge I hear you defending (and actively wanting), when you hanker for Catholic institutions that are staffed by only adherents of the truth, all the truth, all the time. As I understand things -- and please correct me if I'm wrong -- we're all called, all the time, to keep reading and re-reading the gospels and measuring our behavior against them. And meditating on the story of Jesus and what became of him when he was judged heretical and a trouble-maker by his own religious institutions.There seems to be something parabolic there, for all of us as followers of Jesus. At least one lesson I take from the gospels is that those who hanker for purges and have limited sympathy for the purged may consider that they, too, might one day be the purged. And so enlarge their hearts.And as to your final question, of course I envisage standards of sexual purity in the Christian life. All through this thread, I've argued for an ethics that stops looking at sexual ethics primarily from the angle of acts, and starts looking at sexual ethics primarily from the angle of relationship.

Oh, now I get where that remark about me comparing myself to Jesus and his sufferings comes from, Kathy:I was responding to this statement by you: "Please dont take a job representing and teaching for an institution you are angry at, want to dissuade people from trusting, and whose teachings you disrespect."And since you thought my response to that statement was personal, you evidently intended that remark to be a personal remark about me. Interestingly enough, I took it to be a remark aimed at a whole group of people that you seem willing and eager to purge from Catholic institutions now with your statement, "I would prefer it if all of the teachers in Catholic universities, seminaries, and all chancery workers were willing and ready to teach the truth in its fullness and implement programs to help the People of God grow in holiness according to the truth."And so I agree with you when you say in your next comment that we ought to try another angle. As I observed earlier, it seems we keep reaching an impasse in the conversation, and one or both of us is not hearing each other well, it seems.You may not remember our initial conversation at the Commonweal blog site -- or if not our very first exchange, one near the beginning of our "meeting." I won't rehash it. I assume it's there for you to find again if you're interested.I do seem to recall that your lead-in focusing on who has the right body parts to do what to whom struck me as, well, crude and unhelpful, and I told you that, using the word "crude." And perhaps I'm crude to remember it or even mention it -- if so, I apologize. It does seem to me that that conversation encapsulates, though, some of the difficulty of talking across the chasm in the church today, when one faithful Catholic, who speaks right from the safe, cozy heart of the institution, taunts another, who doesn't find the same welcome, about the right body parts fitting into the right places.And so -- again, without intending to give offense -- I would like to return one final time (since I'm bowing out of a conversation that won't budge, because, frankly, I don't think you're hearing what I'm saying and don't want to hear) to what I said previously in response to your story about your alienation from your brother. I said that I don't really know you and wouldn't comment on the alienation.And I still don't know you enough to make any sweeping comments about that relationship, but since you brought it up and did note your perplexity that he doesn't welcome your advances to him, I would observe, based on our interaction here and in other threads, that if you want to get people to respond to your concern for them, you might try not attributing to them motives they don't have, or leaping at them with remarks about their gutsiness when you imagine that they've claimed a connection to Jesus you withhold from the impure.I recall that you used the word "homosexual" to describe your brother when you spoke of the alienation in the preceding comments. As a gay person, I might note to you that I prefer -- and almost all gay folks I know prefer this, too -- to be called gay and not homosexual.When people of faith want to dismiss and smear us, they almost always resort (quite deliberately) to that clinical, reductionistic, off-putting word with its clinical overtones, which was invented for us by the scientific community. And so we have rejected that word and chosen to call ourselves gay to define ourselves in our own, self-chosen terminology.I learned during the Civil Rights struggle of the South, where I grew up, that it's extremely important for those who have used language to demean others and put them in their places, to listen to those others and learn how they prefer to speak of themselves, and then change their terminology after they listen. And I'm glad I learned that lesson and keep learning it over and over again, as I try to listen to my African-American friends and enlarge my heart to understand their experiences, and do something to combat the oppression they encounter.You might try listening a bit more, Kathy, and dictating (and reacting) less -- if you want a productive relationship with your brother. Ausculte . . . . And when we listen with the ears of our heart, we often learn that the truth is a whole lot larger than we'd like to believe it is, as we weed first this person and then that one out of our holy and pure church. And sometimes, yes, those we imagine to be the least fit to bring holiness to us are the very ones we exclude, taunt, demean, and feel ourselves superior to. (And rest assured, I'm not claiming I fit among the holy; I know better -- I'm just saying.)

William, No, I had not remembered our prior conversation. If I'd realized that you were entering into these threads with a grudge from a blog discussion from some months (or is it years?) back, I never would have mentioned my personal situation, which you seem to have turned into a kind of rhetorical device. But again, no harm done.The question I find more interesting is this: why do people want to teach for and represent a Church they resent? I find this very difficult to understand. Perhaps there is some gratitude in their desire, at some level. I would like to think so. But even so, I do believe that a consistent witness is necessary.Best wishes.

Kathy, I'm sorry you see my attempt to communicate as engaging in rhetoric. You've said that twice now. It's as if we're involved in a gotcha conversation in which what we really want or intend to say is not on the surface, because we don't really want or intent to engage in really meaningful conversation.I brought up the issue of our initial engagement not because I have held a grudge about it, but because, in my view, that engagement illuminates the fundamental dynamic at work in this conversation, which makes it relatively unproductive. And I brought this up not to be rhetorical, but to try to dig away at that underlying and unacknowledged dynamic. I had deliberately not referred to that initial encounter up to now because I hoped to have a productive conversation, and thought that bringing up that initial encounter would only muddy the waters and thwart conversation.But then, after you first accused me of blind self-righteousness (of not seeing that the rubric I want to apply to you also applies to me), and then of a cheap equation of my own situation with that of Christ, I decided there was little point in my trying to be polite and skate around the core issues, since you don't seem willing to relinquish the bludgeoning and engage in conversation -- in turning together, as the word means, etymologically.Here's really the central, unacknowledged dynamic in this conversation: what you keep communicating to me, right up to your last question about people who resent the church but want to stay connected to it, is that you own the church. And I don't.And you're right to a great extent. You are situated within the church in a way I'm not, and that situation places in your hands a whip -- or, better, a bat -- that can be used when and if you wish to bash me into submission and let me know I don't belong.That's the reality of the church and its teaching about gay folks today. I've been very surprised throughout the conversation that you don't see that reality, and are unwilling to examine how it might affect the dynamics of your relationship to your gay family member. And I brought up that relationship because you yourself brought it into the conversation, and seemed perplexed that you can't find a way across the gulf between you and your brother.I'm saying, quite simply, that though the church puts a bat into your hand, and gives you the right to bash those who do not own the church as you yourself own it, this behavior may not be as unambiguous as you want to believe it is. Or as holy as you wish to believe it is, even when it emanates from the heart of the church itself, from its central teaching office.Bashing people over the head is seldom the way to convince them that they are loved. And love is, as far as I understand, what the gospels are about, and what we are called to do and be, above all.

William,Okay, so now I'm bashing people over the head. With a baseball bat.I can only quote what I said above: "Silence is not enough, apparently. Politeness, kindnessthese are not enough. I have to renounce what I think is true. Failure to do so is likened to bullying, almost without distinction."

Accusing people of self-righteousness without a scrap of evidence to support the accusation is a form of bashing people over the head, Kathy. As is twisting words that are clearly not in any way meant to claim some special connection to Christ and his crucifixion to lambast somebody's "gutsy rhetoric" -- again, without a scrap of evidence to support that accusation, which was clearly entirely misplaced, if you'd read what I wrote.All this is premised on a bashing that emanates from the magisterial teaching about disorder.Sadly, this teaching causes many Catholics to imagine that when they project bizarre, strange, distorted fantasies onto the lives of their brothers and sisters who happen to gay, and when they enact policies premised on those false, lurid fantasies, they're engaged in a holy crusade.Might it not be better to get to know those about whose "disordered" lives you're fantasizing before you imagine they're demonic threats to the purity of your religious group? Getting to know people requires letting the defenses down, not going for the jugular, not rolling forth gestures designed to let someone else know you are superior and they're inferior. It means not leaping to the conclusion that, if another person questions your way of viewing sexual ethics, he's arguing for the abdication of any talk or thinking about sexual ethics altogether, for goodness' sake. There's something rather insulting, wouldn't you agree, about implicitly accusing someone who calls for discussion about alternative ways of talking about sexual morality (and of the worth of various human beings premised on that talk) of calling for the abdication of sexual morality altogether.The rhetoric -- and, yes, the behavior -- of many Catholics today, vis-a-vis your brothers and sisters who are gay, is premised on viewing us as the other, in a stigmatizing, alienating way. It is premised on your need to let us know that we are other. That we don't belong. That we can't lay claim to being Catholic as you can.That is the sense in which I say that you and other Catholics who speak of us as if we are impure outsiders and you are pure insiders have a bat in your hands, placed there by magisterial teaching, to bat away at us.And to consider yourself holy as you bat away. Purity crusades designed to crush those who are impure and remove them from a particular human community are enormously satisfying at a psychological level to those engaged in these crusades, even to those who consider their work of ridding their group of impurity a holy task.But history and the growth in moral awareness in various cultures almost always causes us to look back at such crusades and ask what on earth those involved in them were thinking, when they considered themselves to be doing something holy as they treated a targeted group of their brothers and sisters as dirty, alien, evil, or disordered.

Maybe I can put the point in a more positive way (and if my words sound sharp, they're not intended to wound, but to open avenues for real conversation, and I apologize if I have failed):I admire and honor your passion for what you believe. For your church.But the question I do want to keep asking -- not because it's rhetorical; as I've said, my self-worth is at stake in these conversations -- is why the passion for truth in the church today so often seems to run across the backs of those who are gay and lesbian.Is it not possible to imagine a Christian community in which those who have your passion for a truth that is clear to you co-exist -- at the minimum -- with those who see the truth as more complex and broader than you do? Why must your truth depend on the exclusion of those you regard as threats to your truth and purity?Is it not possible that the truth of what we believe is much broader and deeper than you or I have imagined? That we need various viewpoints to fathom it? That the exclusionary impulse in the contemporary church, even if it is blessed from the center, is not only counter-gospel, but destructive to the church itself?I think it must be a terrible burden to imagine that one owns the truth in some unilateral way.

William,Have I suggested that you are not part of the Church? I did not mean to suggest that the Church excludes you. Quite the contrary.

Kathy, running through your rhetoric about the church, I hear a message that those who raise critical questions that seem valid and important to me -- necessary to raise for the good of the church itself -- are angry, resentful, or unfaithful to revealed truth. You've articulated all those points in the discussion.And what I hear behind that rhetoric is a two-tiered approach to the church that, in essence, draws a line between "the" church and anyone who raises those valid and important critical questions. This two-tiered approach attributes malice to those asking valid and important critical questions, which may not be there at all.When this rhetoric comes forth from the backdrop painted by Michael O'Loughlin in that America posting I keep asking you to evaluate -- and which I haven't heard your response to --then it seems clear to me that this rhetoric is, indeed, all about establishing lines that claim your position in the church as the center, and the position of various critics as marginal or even beyond the lines that constitute the church's boundaries.The backdrop to this discussion, which I think we forget at our peril -- if only because our discussion them becomes pedantic, and we both care about a real church that lives in a real world -- is the backdrop painted by Michael O'Loughlin, in while real human beings who happen to be gay are being told that they are disordered, unworthy to receive communion, not wanted as employees in Catholic institutions, incapable of being priests, unworthy for heaven, and a threat to human existence.I don't know of any messages more powerfully alienating than those. I don't know of more powerful ways of saying that one is excluded and not wanted.

Sorry, where the penultimate paragraph says "in while," I meant to write, "in which."