Monday, February 28, 2011

Rick Santorum on Crusades: The Left Hates Christendom

Yesterday, as I wrote about the presidential aspirations of Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee, and how both gentlemen are now doing everything in their power to position themselves as the candidate of choice of the religious right, I said,

Openly Gay Religion Professor Fired by Pennsylvania Catholic College

Back last spring when Marquette University rescinded a job offer to out lesbian scholar Jodi O'Brien, a national conversation about how LGBT employees and students are treated at Catholic universities in the U.S. began to develop.  In response to that conversation, the conservative publication Wall Street Journal published an essay which implied that Catholic universities are welcoming places for those who are gay, and which stated that openly gay or lesbian administrators hold positions of prominence in some of these universities.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Commentary on Proposed Changes in U.K. Marriage Laws Permitting Religious Celebration of Same-Sex Unions

And a selection of interesting commentary on the proposed change in laws in the United Kingdom (and here) that would permit same-sex couples to solemnize unions or marriages in a religious context, if a faith community agrees to such an arrangement:

Diana Butler Bass and Jim Wallis: Moral Dimensions of Wisconsin Story

And, turning from Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee to some real and substantial moral analysis of the current American political scene: two good commentaries as the week ends by Diana Butler Bass and Jim Wallis about the situation in Wisconsin.  Both touch on the significant moral-religious issues involved in what's happening there.

More on the Newt

More on the Newt now running for the Republican presidential slot in 2012:

You Have to Hear This . . .

You just have to hear Joelle Casteix of SNAP talking about Father Martin O'Loghlen's case to John Kobylt and Kenneth Chiampou at KFI AM 640's (southern California) "John and Ken Show."  The link is at Patrick Wall's blog (with a hat tip to the wonderful Abuse Tracker site). 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hypocrisy Alert: Mr. Gingrich Calls for Mr. Obama's Impeachment Over DOMA

*Another update to a story about which I blogged recently: a few days ago, I noted Newt Gingrich's refusal this week to engage a question a student at the University of Pennsylvania asked him.   Isabel Friedman asked Gingrich, who is currently gearing up to run as a Republican presidential candidate in 2012, how he thinks he can credibly attack gay persons and gay rights, given his own far from stellar marital history, with three wives and several publicly known affairs.

Commentary on Assault on Planned Parenthood: "War on Women" Targeting Poor Women

As a follow-up to what I posted a few days ago about Planned Parenthood (a posting that has elicited quite a bit of commentary, suggesting the strong divide that runs through many faith communities today, including the Catholic church, about "pro-life" issues): I'd like to draw attention to several significant statements of the past day or so.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Paul Krugman on the Wisconsin Situation: The Pertinence of Naomi Klein's "Shock Doctrine"

I like Paul Krugman's analysis in today's New York Times of some of the parallels between what's happening in Wisconsin now and what has been happening in the Middle East.  After I blogged glancingly about that topic recently, I saw a segment of Jon Stewart's "Daily Show" in which Stewart did a take-down of the idea that the Wisconsin demonstrations in any way parallel what has been happening in Egypt, Libya, and Iran.

Cooking to Save the Planet: The Winter Kitchen and Oatcakes

I've been saving this important story from early February, because, to be honest, after the rat appeared at the back door when I began to write about this food-related story, I lost my appetite.  Just a little bit.  Back to the rat in a moment.

U.S. Catholic Bishops' Response to DOMA Decision: Continued Demands for the "Right" to Discriminate

Yesterday, I noted that the immediate response of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to the Obama administration's announcement that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and the administration cannot defend DOMA was this: the bishops argued that their religious freedom is curtailed by this decision.  Though the USCCB statement (which was made by the USCCB general counsel Anthony R. Picarello, Jr.) professes to decry discrimination, it precisely and explicitly rejects the definition of gay citizens as a group of citizens subject to systemic and unjust discrimination, who are therefore covered by the equal protection clause of the U.S. constitution.  

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bill Tammeus on Growing Movement for Gay Inclusion in Orthodox Churches: Whither Catholic-Orthodox Dialogue?

And as the issues of discrimination and non-discrimination about which I've just blogged play out in intra-ecclesial Catholic discussions, as Bill Tammeus points out in a recent posting at National Catholic Reporter, they also have implications for the ecumenical discussions of one Christian church with another.  Those implications have been highly publicized in the past year or so as Pope Benedict invites Anglicans fleeing the ordination of women and openly gay/lesbian clergy to cross the Tiber to Rome.

Obama Administration Won't Defend Unconstitutional DOMA: Official Catholic Reactions from U.S. Bishops and Maggie Gallagher

In case you're wondering what the moral teachers of the Catholic church in the U.S. have to say about the decision of the Obama administration yesterday no longer to defend the Defense of Marriage Act--because enshrining discrimination in federal law is unconstitutional!--wonder no more.  The bishops hastened to get out a press statement right away.  Their take?

Anti-Gay Initiatives Across U.S. State Legislatures: Gays Not to Take Them "Personally"

When I look at the pictures of the two young Republicans sponsoring the "Don't Say Gay" bill now before the Tennessee legislature, I think of something Timothy Beauchamp said at AmericaBlog Gay yesterday.  Beauchamp is reporting on a statement that the Republican minority leader in the Maryland Senate, Nancy Jacobs, made recently as the Maryland legislature gears up for a big debate about same-sex marriage.  Jacobs says she hopes her gay and lesbian fellow citizens won't take "personally" what her fellow Republicans say about them in the legislative debate.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

They Call It a Non-Sequitur . . .

I call it the sacramental principle.

Jeremy Hooper Connects Dots re: NOM Supporters and Funders: OPUS Fi-NOM

For the many of us who would still like to know where the money that the National Organization for Marriage continues to use to attack gay and lesbian citizens comes from, Jeremy Hooper's recent "Opus Fi-NOM" posting at Good As You is a valuable resource.  As Hooper says, this is a stab at connecting only a few dots, in the absence of much information regarding the deep pockets that seem to be funding NOM.

The Moral Implications of the Budget Debate: L. Randall Wray on Moral Majority v. Moral Minority

I like very much the way in which L. Randall Wray turns the tables on those who claim that morality demands that we attack government, curtail much-needed government services, and transfer the burden of paying for such services as remain onto the backs of the working and middle classes. As Wray points out, the position espoused by neo-conservatives and tea baggers represents not the position of the moral majority whom they claim to represent, but a position of a moral minority in the U.S.

Standing with Planned Parenthood: Why I Signed the Petition

A good e-friend of mine, whose insights I respect, has asked me how I can be Catholic and sign a petition stating that I stand with Planned Parenthood, as a group of federal legislators seek to remove all federal funding from that organization.  This is a valid question, and I'd like to try to answer it in this public forum, where others might benefit from this dialogue between two Catholics with a different perspective about Planned Parenthood.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New Catholic iPhone App Stirs Controversy with Questions about Homosexuality

Here's a story that fascinates me for all kinds of reasons: recently, several young Catholic men from Indiana collaborated with priests Fr. Dan Scheidt and Thomas Weinandy of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to produce an iPhone app to help Catholics prepare for confession.  Maureen Dowd had interesting commentary on this techno-sacramental breakthrough in the New York Times some days back. 

Francis X. Rocca on Berlusconi as Embarrassment: Catholic Heteronormativity Creating More Cognitive Dissonance

Yesterday, as I commented on Austen Ivereigh's recent call for the Catholic bishops of the United Kingdom to stand up against equality laws affecting gay and lesbian lives, I wrote,

Snapshots of the Soul of American Democracy, 2011: Three Disturbing Takes

This is one of those news-commentary compendium postings I do every now and then, when several articles that seem to me to connect dots appear around the same time.  What strikes me with the following three articles is that they seem to be connecting the same dots from different vantage points.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Comparing Egypt-Iran with Wisconsin

Quick note: I find it fascinating that some of the centrist websites that can't get enough of the democratic revolution in the Middle East have been absolutely silent about what's happening in Wisconsin.  And when they approach the latter democratic uprising, they are bound and determined to present "all sides" of the story.

Austen Ivereigh on Change in Marriage Laws in UK: "Stand Up Against Equality"

As I wrote about Ronni Sanlo's recent report noting that Jesuit-owned Marquette university is characterized by a climate of fear and harassment when it comes to LGBT persons, I noted that some members of the campus community whom Sanlo interviewed are disturbed by the discrepancy between what Jesuit institutions proclaim about social justice, and what they actually practice in the case of those who are gay.  I wrote:

Father O'Loghlen Story: Los Angeles Times Offers New Summary

In the preface to what I posted yesterday updating the story of Father Thomas Euteneuer, I noted that I intended to write a subsequent posting bringing readers up to date on the story of Father Martin O'Loghlen.  What I'd like to draw attention to here is a very good piece published yesterday by journalist Steve Lopez in the Los Angeles Times.  Lopez's article provides a thorough summary of the O'Loghlen story, and also contains some pieces of information new to me, which deserve commentary.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Father Euteneuer Story: Parents of Victim Speak Out

In the news the past two days: significant follow-up statements about two stories of clerical abuse re: which I've blogged a number of times recently.  The first of these is a public statement made by the parents of the young woman whom Father Thomas Euteneuer has admitted abusing while ministering to her pastorally.  The second is a thorough summary of the case of Father Martin O'Loghlen, with pointed questions about the role Cardinal Roger Mahony played in that case.  I'll deal with these two updates in two separate postings.*

Friday, February 18, 2011

To Bilgrimage Readers: Thanks

As this week winds down, I want to write a public note of thanks here to all of the readers who have, in recent weeks, very kindly sent me notes to tell me that the work I do at Bilgrimage makes a difference to you.  I particularly cherish the notes of support from survivors of clerical sexual abuse and those who stand in solidarity with survivors.  These notes mean a tremendous amount to me.  Blogging can definitely have its lonely moments, especially when someone tries to keep at it day upon day--sometimes with fierce criticism and even threats.

The Father Euteneuer Story and the Charge of Schadenfreude: Misplaced Attempts to Shut Down Conversation

When I began blogging about the story (and here and here) of Human Life International's former director Father Thomas Euteneuer early in the month, I suggested that this story was not going to go away anytime soon, though there would be predictable attempts from predictable quarters to shut the conversation down.  As I wrote in one of my postings about this story,

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Marquette Situation, More Commentary: "Not Catholic Enough" When It Practices Discrimination

What I posted yesterday about Ronni Sanlo's report re: the situation for LGBT faculty, staff, and students at Jesuit-owned Marquette University in Milwaukee focused on the disparity between what Jesuit institutions proclaim about themselves--"We do justice!"--and how Marquette  actually deals with LGBT members of the campus community, if Sanlo's report is correct.  For the epigraph to my posting, I took something from Ranlo's report that she heard from the Marquette community about this disparity:

SNAP's Peter Isely on Claims of Catholic Bishops' President Timothy Dolan That False Charges Against Priests Increasing

Two interlocking stories today on the abuse front in the Catholic church, both demanding attention.  The first--and more significant--statement depends on the second.  The first article is a press release from Peter Isely of SNAP, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.  Isely is the Midwest director of SNAP.  Dennis Coday makes this press statement available at National Catholic Reporter.  I haven't yet seen it at the SNAP site itself.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

David Gibson Comments on Fr. Thomas Euteneuer Story

The Euteneuer story remains in play.  David Gibson has done a very measured and thorough summary of it now at his blog at Politics Daily.  One of my favorite passages--Gibson quotes someone commenting at a Catholic blog site on what evidently happened as Fr. Euteneuer conducted his exorcisms:

Alliance of U.S. Catholic Bishops with Fundamenalist Religious Right: Why? James Carroll's Take

Some interesting dialogue developed here a day or so ago when I published a posting about recent indicators that the level of public discourse re: biblical scholarship may be shifting in the U.S., particularly when it comes to the issue of what the bible has to say about sexual ethics and homosexuality in particular.  One of the focal points of concern in the discussion that followed was whether the U.S. Catholic bishops have allied themselves in recent years with the fundamentalist wings of Protestant evangelicalism, and if so, what that portends for the future of the Catholic community in the U.S.

Report about LGBT Issues at Marquette University: Climate of Fear and Harassment

While inclusion of social justice is a strong Jesuit tenet, LGBT inclusion at Marquette is generally not part of the social justice work (Report on LGBT issues at Marquette by Ronnie Sanlo, December 2010). 

Last spring, I reported on a situation at Marquette, a Jesuit-owned Catholic university in Milwaukee, that stirred national dialogue about how LGBT students and employees are received in Catholic universities.  When Marquette rescinded a job offer to out lesbian scholar Jodi O'Brien, some members of that campus community maintained that the decision to rescind this job offer had everything to do with O'Brien's public sexual orientation and scholarship about LGBT issues.  Following the withdrawal of the job offer, Marquette's faculty recommended a vote of no confidence in the leadership of Fr. Robert Wild, the university president.  And the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) issued a statement noting that the decision to withdraw O'Brien's job offer threatened academic freedom at the university.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Andrew Sullivan on Obama's Budget: Too Weak, Cautious, Beholden to Politics to Lead

I'm interested in Andrew Sullivan's response to Mr. Obama's budget, which Sullivan entitles "Obama to the Next Generation: Screw You, Suckers," for two reasons:

More Commentary on German Theologians' Petition for Reform

Paul Hockenos has now published a discussion of the German theologians' reform petition to the Vatican at National Catholic Reporter.  Hockenos's report stresses something I've mentioned in the comments section of Bilgrimage recently: namely, that the response of the German Catholic bishops to the theologians' statement stresses the obligation of church officials to be in dialogue with the laity and with theologians, and the value of such dialogue for the church as a whole.

More on the Father O'Loghlen Story: The Significance of Julie Malcolm's Testimony

When I blogged a day or so ago about the story of Father Martin O'Loghlen in Los Angeles, who was placed in active ministry in a Catholic parish in 2009, though he had admitted to having sexually molested a 16-year old girl, some readers questioned my use of the term "molested" in connection with this story.  In response, I pointed out that Jennifer Medina's report in the New York Times states that Father O'Loghlen had admitted having sexually molested the girl, Julie Malcolm.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Promising New Popular Discussions of Bible and Its Cultural Use: Jay Michaelson and Laura Miller

Some years back, I remember Oprah interviewing several doughty defenders of the bible on her talk show.  Though it's entirely possible my memory has burnished this or that detail and so the story I'm about to recount is not exact in all particulars, this particular interview (along with the primary points it made, about which I trust my memory) has stuck in my mind for a number of reasons.  The bible's valiant defenders were all strapping men (who also happened to be African-American).  Oprah exhibited admirable feistiness in standing up to these oh-so-certain, oh-so-smug big men who overtowered her, several of them, by a foot or so.

New York Times Calls on Obama Administration to Stop Defending Discriminatory "Defense of Marriage" Law

And speaking of the Obama administration, and  leadership, and human rights (I'm keying off what I've just said about the President's response to the Egyptian revolution): the New York Times today calls on the Obama administration to stop defending the indefensible Defense of Marriage Act.  As the Times editorial points out, this law denies to married same-sex couples federal benefits accorded to married couples of the opposite sex.  It is, on the face of it, discriminatory, because it fails to pass the threshold test distinguishing prejudice and discrimination from justifiable non-prejudicial distinctions between one group of people and another: it treats those in same-sex marriages as if their marriages do not have real legal status solely because the two members of a gay marital union are of the same gender.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach on President Obama's Response to Egypt: Failure to Lead

A brief postscript to my two previous postings about the Egyptian revolution--the first reflecting on the inconsistent way in which the American government approaches the aspirations of people to democratic self-governance in different parts of the globe, the second on Nicholas Kristof's appeal to President Obama to speak out forcefully to condemn the violence in Egypt:

Report to Pope Benedict about Irish Catholic Church: On Edge of Collapse

As I've noted in some of my previous postings about the petition for reform that theologians in Germany recently sent to the Vatican, the petition explicitly states that it is addressing the situation in the Catholic church in Germany at present.  As the petition notes, this national church is in "deep crisis" following a series of revelations about the hierarchy's cover-up of sexual abuse of minors by priests last year.  People have been leaving the Catholic church in Germany in unprecedented numbers, and the German theologians note that they are appealing to Rome to address this situation pastorally and through dialogue with lay Catholics and theologians, since 2011 may be the last chance for the Catholic church in Germany--a last chance for a departure from paralysis and resignation to inevitable decline.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Latest Count of Theologians Signing German Reform Petition to Vatican: 247

A quick update to what I've reported recently about the petition for reform that 143 Catholic theologians in Germany--a third of the Catholic theologians on university faculties in that country--recently sent to the Vatican.

$75 Million Still Missing in Milwaukee Diocese, Attorney Wants to Question Archbishop Dolan

You're sitting down to balance your bank book at the end of the month and boom! $75,000,000 has suddenly disappeared.

And you just can't figure out where it got misplaced or how it's gone missing.

It will be interesting to see how the new president of the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Conference, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, deals with questions about that  pesky missing $75 million.  If he ever gets deposed.

Wall Street Journal on Father O'Loghlen Story: "Priest Removed for Affair 40 Years Ago"

Several days ago, I posted a piece in which I cited Marci Hamilton talking about how the conservative media suppress and distort information about the abuse crisis in the Catholic church and other churches.  Hamilton singles out the Wall Street Journal, noting,

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Lies, Secrets, and Silence as Heart of the Abuse Crisis, Continued: The Gay Question

As I just noted at the end of my previous posting about the rotten culture of clerical lies, secrets, and silence that forms the matrix out of which the clerical sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic church emerges, I want to make some brief comments about the systemic dynamics running underneath that crisis.  In particular, I want to address one facet of these dynamics--the attempt to scapegoat gay priests for the abuse crisis, and in that way to divert attention from the systemic roots of the crisis.  I do not by any means claim that this is the only facet of the systemic dynamics running underneath the crisis that demands attention.  

First Philadelphia, Now Los Angeles: David Clohessy on Rotten Culture of Lies, Secrets, and Silence at Heart of Abuse Crisis

David Clohessy, writing about the indictment of three Philadelphia priests on charges of rape, indecent assault, and other criminal charges, and the arrest of a former Secretary for Clergy for the diocese of Philadelphia for knowingly permitting priests dangerous to children to remain in ministry:

Friday, February 11, 2011

Jennifer Wright Knust Takes Down Argument That Bible Condemns Homosexuality

In line with my first posting this morning about our need to keep educating ourselves: I highly recommend a valuable educational resource that CNN placed online yesterday--Jennifer Wright Knust's essay about the complex, multi-faceted approach of the Jewish and Christian scriptures to issues of gender and sexuality.  I'm particularly struck by Knust's take-down of the argument one hears so often from Christians who claim they are struggling with love and tolerance for their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters: the argument that, well, the bible does, after all, condemn homosexuality and define it as a sin.

Joanna Brooks: Mormon Leaders Also Using Religious Freedom Rhetoric to Attack Gay Rights

Since the new year began, I've been writing about a theme that Pope Benedict moved to the center of Catholic magisterial rhetoric in 2011 with his new year's statement for World Peace Day, which is now being echoed by Catholic pastoral officials around the world.  This is the claim that religious freedom is the fundamental human right, and that this fundamental right is now under attack.  Catholic leaders are arguing on this basis that faith communities have a "right" to discriminate against those who are gay and lesbian which trumps the alleged human rights of those who are gay and lesbian.

Philadelphia Catholic Official Arrested: Survivors to Catholics--Get Educated!

Some readers may know that yesterday, Philadelphia's district attorney announced the indictment of three priests on charges of rape, indecent sexual assault, and other criminal charges.  Also arrested was Monsignor William Lynn, the Secretary for Clergy for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia under Cardinal Bevilacqua. Msgr. Lynn is charged with endangering the welfare of a child due to his handling of cases of abuse and allegations about abuse.  (Here's the DA's presentment.)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Eugene Kennedy on Benedict's Liturgical "Reform of the Reform": Reverence Demands a Sense of Imperfection

Eugene Kennedy writing, as always, with wonderful élan about theological issues--in this case, about Pope Benedict's "reform of the reform" and his top-down, heavy-handed imposition of liturgical "reforms" for which the faithful have not asked, and which many lay Catholics (and many priests) find clumsy, unwarranted, and not in the least conducive to the reverential worship at which Benedict claims to be aiming:

Women's Ordination and Abolition of Celibacy: Probing the Theological (and Gender) Issues

It's instructive to read Mary Hunt's latest essay at Religion Dispatches, which asks if women priests will change the Catholic church, side by side with a number of articles that have appeared in the days following the Thomas Euteneuer story, all of which focus on the need of the Catholic church to reconsider its ban on non-celibate clergy.  Recently, Alberto Cutie, a former Catholic priest in Miami who left the Catholic church to marry last year when his relationship to a woman became known, and who is now an Episcopal priest, published a statement about his new book Dilemma: A Priest's Struggle Between Faith and Love.

Readers Write: Peter Seewald and Theologians' "Rebellion in a Nursing Home"--Really?!

Some of the discussion that developed in response to my posting yesterday about further commentary on the recent petition of German theologians to the Vatican notes that Peter Seewald's dismissive reduction of the theologians' call for reform to a "rebellion in a nursing home" significantly distorts key facts about the damage the restorationist project has inflicted on the Catholic church.  As some readers noted, Seewald is pushing a meme that has become standard among reactionary Catholics today: Vatican II eroded faith and practice among Catholics, and the restorationist project of the last two popes have made the church flourish again.  Young people are rejecting the liberal ideas of the Vatican II generation, who are now outmoded hippies ridiculously rocking in their nursing homes and trying to foment ineffectual rebellion as they rock away.