When the Christian Right is Neither Christian nor Right

What kind of Obama rhetoric will our Catholic bishops use in the next presidential  campaign?

Will they be critical of the Christian Right or stand and watch?

For some time now US right wing Christian websites have been advertising a variety of “Pray for Obama” items:  t-shirts, bumper stickers, hats, etc.

They all have the phrase:   “Pray for Obama” followed by this biblical reference “Psalm 109:8.”

Psalm 109 is an ancient imprecatory prayer.  It implores God to invoke evil, misfortune, or physical harm upon someone. The words of Psalm 109:8 are:

“Let his days be few and let another take his office.”

The next line is:

“Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.”


In a free democracy, like our United States, no one is compelled to agree with everything the president says or does.

But no one who dislikes or disagrees with him has the license to incite and encourage people to murder him.

When Christians strand by silently and observe  projects like “Pray for Obama,” they support a deadly abomination…….

NEXT WEEK……a detailed reflection on:


Who Is Right? Is Vox Populi Vox Dei?



Coalition asks bishops to realize they can learn from LGBT Christians

March 18, 2011-Earlier this week, two Catholic bishops dismissed a booklet on marriage equality by a member of the Equally Blessed coalition, saying that its author was not authorized to “speak on behalf of the Catholic Church.”


Today, faithful U.S. Catholics spoke for themselves, supporting the legalization of same-gender marriage by a 60-38 margin in a new poll commissioned by ABC News and The Washington Post.


The survey, conducted last week by Langer Research Associates, found that for the first time, a majority of Americans (53 percent) now support marriage equality, and that this change in public opinion has happened with remarkable rapidity. Fewer than one third of respondents favored same-gender marriage when the same survey was conducted in 2004.


“The poll makes clear what we have long known,” said Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, a member of the Equally Blessed coalition. “Catholics driven by a desire for justice are at the forefront of efforts to make our country’s marriage laws more equitable, and to extend the legal benefits of civil marriage to same-gender couples and their children.”


DeBernardo is the author of the booklet Marriage Equality: A Positive Catholic Approach, which raised the ire of Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington D. C., and Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of Oakland, earlier this week. New Ways Ministry, they wrote, was not authorized to “identify itself as a Catholic organization.”


“The bishops’ approach to this issue is alienating the faithful,” said Mary Ellen Lopata, co-founder of Fortunate Families, another member of the Equally Blessed coalition. “We continue to hope that they will realize they have something to learn from the lived experience of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians, their families and their friends, and come to understand that one can be true to one’s God-given identity, even as one is true to the teachings of Christ.”


Forty percent of Catholics in the survey said they “strongly supported” the legalization of same-gender marriage, while 27 percent said they strongly opposed it.


“I am especially proud of my Church today,” said Nicole Sotelo, communications director for Call To Action, another member of the Equally Blessed coalition. “Catholics who take the social justice teachings of the church seriously know that the issue of same-gender civil marriage is simply one of honoring the dignity of all of God’s children, and treating them fairly as we treat all people.


Catholicism’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”

Are Bishops Now Speaking out of Both Sides of their Mouths?


The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has reaffirmed that New Ways Ministry

dissents from Catholic teaching on homosexuality and is not a Catholic organization.


Cardinal Donald Wuerl and Bishop Salvatore Cordileone said in a statement:

In view of the recent booklet Marriage Equality: A Positive Catholic Approach, by Francis DeBernardo (published by New Ways Ministry), we, as the respective chairmen of the USCCB Committee on Doctrine and the Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage, wish to reaffirm Francis Cardinal George’s statement of February 12, 2010 and assure Catholics that in no manner is the position proposed by New Ways Ministry in conformity with Catholic teaching and in no manner is this organization authorized to speak on behalf of the Catholic Church or to identify itself as a Catholic organization.


Really it becomes curiouser and curiouser……..


Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, retired bishop in the Archdiocese of Detroit, has consistently been a supporter of New Ways Ministry and has encouraged homosexual priests and bishops to “come out” and be truthful to themselves and others.

Conservative estimates suggest that about 33% of today’s Roman Catholic priests and bishops are gay.

Fr. Donald B. Cozens, author of The Changing Face of the Priesthood, wrote that with more than half of today’s priests and seminarians being gay, the priesthood is becoming a gay profession. Many who know the interior of the Catholic Church would argue that the priesthood has for centuries been a gay profession.

“If they were to eliminate all those who were homosexually oriented, the number would be so staggering that it would be like an atomic bomb; it would do damage to the church’s operation,” says A.W. Richard Sipe, a former priest and psychotherapist who has been studying the sexuality of priests for decades. Sipe also points out that to do away with gay priests “would mean the resignation of at least a third of the bishops of the world. And it’s very much against the tradition of the church; many saints have gay orientation and many popes had gay orientations.”

The existence of homosexual bishops in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and other traditions is a matter of historical record. As far back as the eleventh century, Ralph, Archbishop of Tours had his lover installed as Bishop of Orléans, yet neither Pope Urban II, nor his successor Paschal II took action to depose either man.


Francis Spellman, the Cardinal Archbishop of New York (died 1967) was rumored during his lifetime to have been gay. Spellman’s biographer, John Cooney, reported that many interviewees took his homosexuality for granted. A book published in 1998 claims that during World War II, Spellman allegedly was carrying on a relationship with a chorus boy in the Broadway revue One Touch of Venus. Ironically,  Spellman defended Senator Joseph McCarthy’s 1953 investigations of subversives and homosexuals in the US federal government.

Eugene Kennedy, a specialist on sexuality and the priesthood and a former priest, wrote in his book, The Unhealed Wound: The Church and Human Sexuality, that the Catholic Church….

“…had always had gay priests, and they have often been models of what priests should be. To say that these men should be kept from the priesthood is in itself a challenge to the grace of God and an insult to them and the people they serve.”


I agree with Tom Gumbleton…

It is time for bishops to “come out” and be truthful to themselves and others.


Reflection for the Start of Lent 2011

Hierarchical Governance : Hierarchical Smokescreens

Cardinal Rigali Incenses

On Ash Wednesday, March 9th 2011, Michael Sean Winters wrote in NCR:

The announcement yesterday that 21 priests in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia were being placed on administrative leave demonstrates conclusively that the Dallas norms have failed….Last Sunday, those 21 priests presided at Mass in their parishes. Last Sunday, those 21 priests were in active ministry. The charges against them had been examined before and…what? They were either wrongly exonerated or diocesan officials decided to look the other way….And this is no ordinary diocese. It is led by a cardinal, indeed, by one of the most powerful cardinals in America given his active responsibilities as a member of the Congregation for Bishops. Over the past few years, the fastest way to become a bishop was to be a successful monsignor in Philadelphia….But we now know the man at the helm was not only derelict in his duties, he completely misunderstood the nature and import of the promises made to the faithful at Dallas….To be clear, the entire reputation of the entire American hierarchy, and that of the officials in the Vatican, is being weighed in the balance. There is nothing that has been done or said by SNAP, or by victims’ attorney Jeff Anderson, or by any of the Church’s critics that comes even close to the damage to the Church’s reputation inflicted by Cardinal Justin Rigali.

The New Evangelization? Forget about it. Pro-life activities? Not a chance. Advocacy for the poor? It rings hollow. If the leaders of the Church cannot be trusted to keep their most solemn pledge to protect children, they cannot be trusted at all. If they fail to see this, their moral sensibility is not merely skewed, it is dead. It is not only that they cannot be trusted, it is that they should not be trusted.

Michael Sean sees reality as it is. Frankly I wonder why it has taken him so long!

And then today (the second day of Lent 2011) we read that Pope Benedict has released another book about Jesus (convenient…just in time for Lent and all that…) and he rejects the idea that Jesus was a political revolutionary (e. g. a slap in the face for any remaining liberation theology people) and insists that violent uprisings must never be carried out in God’s name.

Maybe Pope Benedict is growing restless within his own authoritarian regime?

Vatican II (It is starting to seem so very long ago!) filled many of us with hopeful excitement about the future of the church. We seemed to be moving AWAY from an authoritarian and hierarchical church into communities of faith characterized by the radical freedom of Jesus and the Christian Gospels.

Thanks to Benedict-Ratzinger and John Paul-Wojtyla, almost all the Roman Catholic structural gains of the Second Vatican Council are being slowly but surely undermined and reversed.

For people who understand what the church is REALLY about, the Ratzinger/Wojtyla reform of the reform is a formula for demoralization and despair.

Nevertheless…..Christians don’t despair. Events in the Near East are more a stimulus than a warning.

Pope Benedict can publish as many books as he likes. The old gentleman just doesn’t get it: In our postmodern world people are looking for authenticity rather than authority.

Jesus exemplified the values people are seeking today: the values of sharing, solidarity, justice, dignity and service.

On this second day of Lent 2011, we should all set aside Pope Benedict’s new book and turn instead to the Gospel According to Mark:

 “You know that among the pagans their so-called rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you! No! Anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant……..”


Catholic Credibility Crisis and Change

Thoughts that make me restless in the middle of the night

The highly Latinized new missal, that will soon be imposed on the English-speaking world, is clearly a major step backwards toward a broader use of Latin in parish liturgies.

In a parish near the place where I grew up in Michigan, most week end liturgies are now in Latin. When a close relative (president of the parish council) complained about the imposition of the Latin liturgy by the new young Legionnaires of Christ pastor, he was asked, by the pastor, to resign and leave the parish. That’s what he did. No solution, really.

Major seminaries are already training future priests to preside at Latin masses.

Coming soon from Rome, and from Rome-focused bishops, will be more liturgical directives that will stress: the “traditional piety” behind communion on the tongue, a re-clericalization of Eucharist as a “priestly act,” and to help people “better focus on God” we can expect more masses at which the presider stands with his back to the congregation (so that people do not distort his contemplation of God).

New York’s Archbishop Timothy Dolan is already laying foundations for a new anti-Obama campaign — getting ready for the next presidential campaign. The theme this time will be that Obama is anti-marriage and pro gay.

We can expect to see Rome’s best dressed cardinal, Raymond Burke, putting on his own anti-Obama boxing gloves, once again, with new assertions that Obama is anti-life and a baby-killer.

Philadelphia’s Cardinal Justin Rigali is having his own sleepless nights these days. He continues to assert no sexual abuse cover-ups and no recent re-assigning of pedophile priests in his archdiocese. The cardinal’s credibility is pretty low.  Can we expect a major pedophile explosion in Philadelphia…just as we saw a few years ago in Boston? Is the Vatican already preparing a safe and comfortable refuge for Rigali in Rome? Just as it did to punish Boston’s Cardinal Bernard Law?

Roman Catholics in the United States are leaving the church in an historic and major exodus. Ten percent of today’s adult Americans are former Catholics.