Monday, May 25, 2015

Progressive Thoughts on Recent Developments in Ireland, El Salvador and the U.S.

Writes Francis DeBernardo about both the overwhelming Catholic support for marriage equality in Ireland and the latest step in the journey to sainthood for Oscar Romero in El Salvador . . .



Meanwhile, Fred Clark writes of how the U. S. bishops comprise a "culture-war vanguard without an army."

For Americans accustomed to the politicized culture-warrior bishops of the American Catholic church, it is startling to watch a pervasively Catholic country like Ireland mobilize in such a massive expression of support for the rights and dignity of LGBT people. After three decades of watching our nation’s Catholic bishops scrambling to enlist in the partisan culture-war of the white evangelical religious right, we’ve started to accept the American hierarchy’s claim that their church is, or must be, intrinsically right-wing and anti-gay. The news from Ireland is a reminder that this claim has never been true. The right-wing American hierarchy is a culture-war vanguard without an army.


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Singing Their Own Song in Ireland
Remembering Oscar Romero
Catholicism's Future is "Up to the Laity"
Roman Catholicism's Fundamental Problem: The Cultic Priesthood and Its "Diseased System" of Clericalism
A Clerical Leadership Unresponsive to Voices of Reason
Re-Forming "the Vatican" Doesn't Mean Destroying the Church

Related Off-site Links:
A Great Day for Irish Lay Catholics! And for Lay Catholics in El Salvador, Too! – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, May 23, 2015).
Irish Catholicism Supports Same-Sex Marriage! – Mark Silk (Religion News Service, May 23, 2015).
Dublin Archbishop: "The Church Needs to Do a Reality Check" – Terence Weldon (Queering the Church, May 23, 2015).
For One Irish Catholic Couple, Backing Gay Marriage Is a Matter of Family Values – Hanna Ingber (The New York Times, May 22, 2015).
Vatican Newspaper Views Catholic Support for Marriage Equality in Ireland as "a Defeat" – AFP via Yahoo! News, May 25, 2015).
Catholic Hierarchy Ponders Future After Same-Sex Marriage Vote in Ireland – Danny Hakim (The New York Times, May 25, 2015).
Oscar Romero, Slain Salvadoran Archbishop, is a Step Closer to Sainthood – Tracy Wilkinson (The Los Angeles Times, May 23, 2015).
Oscar Romero, Saint for Our Times – Pat Marrin (Celebrations, May 2015).
Pope’s Focus on Poor Revives Scorned Theology – Jim Yardley and Simon Romero (The New York Times, May 23, 2015).


Sunday, May 24, 2015

A Pentecost Reflection by Elizabeth Johnson

We should no longer think of God as having a set plan for the evolving universe, rather a vision. This vision aims at bringing about a community of love. The Creator Spirit is at the heart of the process, guiding and luring the world in that direction.

. . . Yet the on-going destruction of the earth through human acts is a deeply sinful desecration. We counter this destruction by the care, protection, and restoration of nature, even if this goes counter to powerful economic and political interests . . . and it does.

If nature is the new poor then our passion to establish justice for the poor and oppressed now must extend to include suffering humans and all life systems and other species under threat. "Save the rainforest" becomes a concrete moral application of the commandment "Thou shalt not kill."

Instead of living as thoughtless or greedy exploiters, we are called to live as sisters and brothers, co-creators, and children of this Earth which God so loves. . . . "The love of God is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit." And this love is universal, planetary, cosmic, and unceasing.

– Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ
Excerpted from Quest for the Living God
Bloomsbury Academic (Reprint edition, July 2011)


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Tongues and Souls on Fire
The Spirit and the Faithful
The Holy Spirit as Inclusive Community
Gospel Leadership
Pentecost
A Prayer for Pentecost
Strange Tongues

Image: Michael J. Bayly.


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Singing Their Own Song in Ireland


The great flood of tears that we've cried
for our brothers and sisters who've died
over [fifteen hundred] years has washed away
our fears and strengthened our pride.
Now we turn back the tide.

We will no longer hear your commands,
we will slide your control from our lands;
redirect the flame of our anger and pain
and pity the shame for what you do in God's name.

– From "Sing Our Own Song"
by UB40 (with modified lyrics by Michael Bayly)



One of the most inspiring quotes I've heard in the wake of the overwhelming "Yes" vote for marriage equality in Ireland came from Leo Varadkar (pictured at left). Varadkar is a cabinet minister who came out as gay at the start of the government-led effort to amend Ireland’s conservative Catholic Constitution so as to extend civil marriage rights to same-sex couples. He's quoted in an Associated Press news story as declaring the following.


We’re the first country in the world to enshrine marriage equality in our constitution and do so by popular mandate. That makes us a beacon, a light to the rest of the world, of liberty and equality. So it’s a very proud day to be Irish. . . . People from the LGBT community in Ireland are a minority. But with our parents, our families, our friends, co-workers and colleagues, we’re a majority. For me it wasn’t just a referendum. It was more like a social revolution.


Amen, brother!

In celebration of yesterday's historic vote in Ireland I share Buffy Sainte-Marie's cover of UB40's "Sing Our Own Song."

Why this particular song? Well, let me explain . . .

The original version of "Sing Our Own Song" by UB40 was released in 1986 and reached #5 on the UK charts. Written as an anti-apartheid anthem, it was censored in South Africa by the ruling apartheid regime as it contained the ANC rallying cry of Amandla Awethu ("Power to us").

Buffy Sainte-Marie's version of the song features on her recently-released album, Power in the Blood, and celebrates indigenous resistance to colonial control. Her modified lyrics reference contemporary issues facing First Nation peoples, along with two of the movements that are responding in positive ways to these issues: Idle No More and Occupy.

Sings Buffy:


When the ancient drum rhythms ring,
the voice of our forefathers sings.
The will to live will beat on,
we will no longer be pawns
to greed and to war;
we will be Idle No More.
. . . When the ancient drum rhythms ring,
the voice of our grandmother sings.
Native America run,
we will no longer succumb
to oil and to ore.
We will be Idle No More.

Dance, dance for the right to be free,
we will rebuild our own society.
And occupy for the right to be free,
we will rebuild a just society.
And we will sing, we will sing,
we will sing our own song.


Now, here's why I consider "Sing Our Own Song" appropriate for celebrating yesterday's marriage equality victory in Ireland: The song's opening lyrics, which remain the same in both UB40's version and Buffy's version, are applicable to any group of people who resist and overcome the denial of their human and civil rights by a corrupt system of power and control. My modifying of these opening lyrics at the beginning of this post reflect my belief that in many ways, especially in relation to its understanding and "teachings" on gender and sexuality, the Roman Catholic hierarchy is one such corrupt and dysfunctional system, and has been for over fifteen hundred years.

For centuries, this feudal patriarchal system has exercised a destructive influence and an often abusive control over people, including the citizens of Ireland. Yet as yesterday's vote clearly shows, this is no longer the case. As one "Yes" campaigner notes, "Love has conquered all" . . . including the power of the Catholic hierarchy over people's sexual lives and decisions.

Catholic theologian Hans Küng has said the same thing in another, though no less helpful and liberating way:

The gospel of Jesus is stronger than the hierarchy.


And, yes, for many Catholics, the recent manifestation of this reality in Ireland is a cause for celebration.






. . . And we will stand for the right to be free,
and we will rebuild a just society.
And we will sing, we will sing,
we will sing our own song.


I conclude this post by sharing excerpts from two powerful pieces published in response to yesterday's historic marriage equality vote in Ireland. The first excerpt is from an Associated Press article by Shawn Pogatchnik.

Gay couples flocked to central Dublin to celebrate a "historic watershed" on Saturday as a large majority in the traditionally Catholic country voted to allow same-sex marriage, the culmination of a four-decade struggle for gay rights.

Waving rainbow flags, embracing and crying, two thousand people gathered to watch the official results in the courtyard of Dublin Castle after voters, young and old, accounted for one of the highest turnouts in a referendum for decades.

"The amount of people who came out to vote is just such an emotional thing for us," said Fred Schelbaum, 48, standing with his civil partner Feargal Scott, 43, who he said he intended to marry.

"Up to now a lot of gay people felt they were tolerated in Ireland. Now we know that it's much more than that."


The second excerpt is from "After This, No Exile," an op-ed by Bernárd Lynch, a gay Irish priest. In his op-ed, Lynch reflects on what he calls Ireland’s "declaration of independence" from "our colonial past and our colonial governance by the Roman Catholic Church."

Although still Catholic, the majority of the Irish people have voted that the freedom to love transcends their deepest religious beliefs. This marks a seismic shift in the mind of the nation. This consciousness serves not only the LGBT community but the entire people of Ireland in their long and arduous struggle for justice and co-equality among all their citizens.

As LGBT people, we had been robbed of our birthright: our absolute right to live and love as co-equals in our families, churches, towns, villages, and the country of our birth. Many of us left our homeland not for work and employment or for education – as the Irish have done for centuries by the millions – but simply because those of us who are LGBT were not welcome. Ireland up until now failed to honour its own Constitution in not “cherishing all her children equally.”

But, Friday, May 22, 2105, this changed forever. We have broken the shackles of our colonial past and our colonial governance by the Roman Catholic Church. We are free at last to live and love as we were born to be. For freedom – not happiness – is the precious stone. One cannot cling to happiness; it submits to no clinging. To be free, to live and love in your homeland, this is the most precious stone into which all others fade by comparison.





See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Quote of the Day – May 21, 2015
The Same Premise
The Blood-Soaked Thread
Louis Crompton on the "Theological Assault" of the Ulpianic-Thomistic Conception of Natural Law
Catholic Hierarchy Can Overcome Fear of LGBT People
Threshold Musings
No Matter What
No Patriarchal Hierarchy, No Rigid Conformity
Tongues and Souls on Fire
Quote of the Day – July 24, 2012


Related Off-site Links:
Ireland "Changed Utterly" by Gay Marriage Vote – AFP via Yahoo! News (May 24, 2015).
Ireland Backs Gay Marriage in "Landslide" Victory – Amy R. Connolly (UPI, May 23, 2015).
Ireland Says "Yes" to Same-Sex Marriage in Historic Vote – Colm Coyne and Louise Roug (Mashable, May 23, 2015).
Irish Catholicism Supports Same-Sex Marriage! – Mark Silk (Religion News Service, May 23, 2015).
A Great Day for Irish Lay Catholics! And for Lay Catholics in El Salvador, Too! – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, May 23, 2015).
Amnesty International Welcomes Ireland's Historic Decision to Say "Yes" to Marriage Equality – Amnesty International (May 23, 2015).
Irish Anti-Gay Groups Gracious in Defeat – Bil Browning (The Bilerico Project, May 23, 2015).
Ireland Has Left "Tolerance" Far Behind – Fintan O'Toole (The Irish Times, May 23, 2015).
Dublin Archbishop: "The Church Needs to Do a Reality Check" – Terence Weldon (Queering the Church, May 23, 2015).
For One Irish Catholic Couple, Backing Gay Marriage Is a Matter of Family Values – Hanna Ingber (The New York Times, May 22, 2015).
Why One of the World's Most Catholic Countries Might Approve Gay Marriage – Mo Moulton (The Atlantic, May 21, 2015).

Image 1: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images.
Image of Leo Varadkar: Photographer unknown.
Image of Buffy Sainte-Marie: Matt Barnes.
Image 4: A woman walks past a pro marriage equality mural in Dublin, Ireland. (Aidan Crawley/EPA)
Image of Bernárd Lynch: Photographer unknown.
Image 6: A double rainbow over Dublin on the day the referendum result was announced. (Karl via Facebook)


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Quote of the Day


Other communities who have been oppressed – Jewish people, say, or Catholics in Northern Ireland – have every opportunity to work out the implications of their oppression in their early lives. They hear the stories; they have the books around them. As gay people, on the other hand, we grow up alone; there is no history. There are no ballads about the wrongs of the gay past, the gay martyrs are mostly forgotten. It is as though, in Adrienne Rich’s phrase, if you were gay, “you looked into the mirror and saw nothing.” Thus the discovery of a history and a tradition and a sense of heritage must be done by each individual, as though alone, as part of the road to freedom, or at least knowledge.

This is maybe why this same-sex marriage referendum campaign, the one we are going through now [in Ireland], has been so liberating for gay people and for our friends and families. It has allowed us to set out publicly and communally who we are and how we wish to be treated in our country in the future. It has allowed us to have a public debate with our entire nation about our need for recognition and equality. It has allowed us to speak openly about the terms of our love. The level of support has been heartening, encouraging, inspiring. After 2015, it is unlikely that there will be many people in Ireland who will not know about us, have a sense of how ordinary our desires are. Or see how normal and middle-of-the-road most of us are.

– Colm Tóibín
Excerpted from "Ireland's Same-Sex Marriage Referendum
and the Embrace of Love
"
The Irish Times
May 14, 2015


Related Off-site Links:
As Ireland Heads to Vote Tomorrow, Valuable Last-Minute Wrap-Ups About the Irish Marriage Referendum – William D. Lindsey (Bilgrimage, May 21, 2015).
A Powerful, Collective Coming Out in Ireland – Colin Crummy (i-D, May 21, 2015).
Will Ireland Say "Yes" to Same-Sex Marriage? – Amy Davidson (The New Yorker, May 21, 2015).
Chastened Church Leaders Take Back Seat in Irish Gay Marriage Vote – Padraic Halpin (Reuters via Yahoo! News, May 18, 2015).
Reading the Same-Sex Marriage Polls in Ireland – Dominic Preziosi (Commonweal, May 21, 2015).
Ireland's Gay Marriage Referendum – Kate Lyons (The Guardian, May 21, 2015).
Why One of the World's Most Catholic Countries Might Approve Gay Marriage – Mo Moulton (The Atlantic, May 21, 2015).
Archbishop of Dublin Declines to Tell Catholics How to Vote in Referendum – Patsy McGarry (The Irish Times, May 20, 2015).
Irish Catholicism Can Adapt to a New Role – Oliver P. Rafferty, (The New York Times, May 20, 2015).
Ireland’s Catholic Church Lost Its Moral Authority A While Ago – Una Mullally (The New York Times, May 20, 2015).
Why the Bad Science of the "No" Campaign Shouldn't Sway Ireland's Voters – David Robert Grimes (The Guardian, May 22, 2015).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Catholic Hierarchy's "Stupid Carry-On"
Mary Bednarowski on the Power of Our Stories
Daniel Helminiak on the Lesson of Jesus: "We Will Be True to God by Being True to Our Deepest and Best Selves"
The Challenge to Become Ourselves
David Whyte: "To Be Courageous is to Stay Close to the Way We Are Made"
LGBT Catholics Celebrate Being "Wonderfully Made"
The Gifts of Homosexuality
The Many Forms of Courage
The Many Manifestations of God's Loving Embrace
Same-Sex Desires: "Immanent and Essential Traits Transcending Time and Culture"
The Same People
"Your Witness to Love is Key to Transforming Our Church"

Image: William Murphy.


Something to Think About . . .


Related Off-site Links:
Louise ErdrichWikipedia.
Minnesota Author Louise Erdrich Wins Literary Peace Prize – Lisa Cornwell (Associated Press via The Pioneer Press, August 17, 2014).
Louise Erdrich's Birchbark Blog

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Questioning God's Benevolence in the Face of Tragedy
Something We Dare Call Hope
Soul Deep


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

An Afternoon at Taylors Falls and the Franconia Sculpture Park




I spent the afternoon today with my good friends Curtis and Liana and their beautiful little daughter Amelia at Interstate State Park and the nearby Franconia Sculpture Park. Following are a few photos of our adventure!


















See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A Visit to the Weisman
Adventures in Mississippi River Bluff Country
Wisconsin Adventure
Long-Weekend in Georgia

Images: Michael J. Bayly.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Prayer

By Stuart Kestenbaum



Our problem – may I include you? – is that we
don't know how to start, how to just close
our eyes and let something dance between
our heart and our lips. We don't know how
to skip across the room only for the joy of the leap.
We walk, we run, but what happened to the skip
and its partner the gallop, the useless and imaginary
way we could move through space, the horses we
rode before we knew how to saddle up, before we
had opinions about everything and just loved
the wind in our faces and the horizon in our eyes.

Stuart Kestenbaum
(The Sun, August 2004, Issue 344)


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
"Then I Shall Leap Into Love"
Easter Exultet
Quote of the Day – May 13, 2015
The Soul of a Dancer

Image: Members of the Colorado Ballet Company, photographed by Jana Cruder.


Monday, May 18, 2015

The Catholic Hierarchy's "Stupid Carry-On"

On Friday [Ireland] votes in a referendum that, if passed, will enshrine marriage equality in the Constitution.

[A] reporter engaged an elderly woman after Mass at Dublin’s main Catholic cathedral. “I’m just going to vote for gay people because I have nothing against them,” the woman, Rita O’Connor, told the journalist. “I can’t understand why anybody is against [marriage equality].” And she dismissed the church’s opposition: “It’s a stupid carry-on.”

– Fintan O'Toole
Excerpted from "Ireland's Marriage Equality Moment"
The New York Times
May 18, 2015


Related Off-site Links:
Churchgoers Give Their Views on Marriage Referendum – Ciarán D'Arcy (The Irish Times, May 4, 2015).
The Same-Sex Marriage Referendum and the Embrace of Love – Colm Tóibín (The Irish Times, May 14, 2015).
Nun and Priest Join With Other Irish Catholics Set to Vote “Yes” for Marriage Equality – Bob Shine (Bondings 2.0, May 14, 2015).
Ireland is About to Become the First Country to Vote for Same-Sex Marriage – J. Lester Feder (BuzzFeed, May 12, 2015).
Ireland Days Away from Gay Marriage Equality According to Latest Polls – Reuters via The Guardian (May 16, 2015).
Author Colm Tóibín on Ireland’s Gay Marriage Vote: Nobody is Invisible – Griff Witte (The Washington Post, May 16, 2015).
US Christians "Bankrolling" the "Vote No" Campaign in Ireland’s Gay Marriage Referendum – Henry McDonald (The Guardian, May 16, 2015).
Chastened Church Leaders Take Back Seat in Irish Gay Marriage Vote – Padraic Halpin (Reuters via Yahoo! News, May 18, 2015).

UPDATES: Archbishop of Dublin Declines to Tell Catholics How to Vote in Referendum – Patsy McGarry (The Irish Times, May 20, 2015).
Ireland’s Catholic Church Lost Its Moral Authority a While Ago – Una Mullally (The New York Times, May 20, 2015).
Irish Catholicism Can Adapt to a New Role – Oliver P. Rafferty, (The New York Times, May 20, 2015).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Quote of the Day – December 10, 2014
A Cradle Catholic's Case for Same-Sex Marriage
Grandma Knows Best
Aunt Peg Tells It Like It Is
Catholic Theologian: Heterosexism, Not Homosexuality, is the Problem
At UST, a Rousing and Very Catholic Show of Support for Marriage Equality
The Bishops' Guidelines: A Parent's Response
Voices of Parental Authority and Wisdom
A Parent's Prayer
The Triumph of Love
From Australia, "Possibly the Most Beautiful Ad for Marriage Equality"
God Weighs In on the Gay Marriage Debate

Image: Thousands gather this week at a "Vote Yes" rally in Dublin for Friday's referendum, which would make marriage equality a constitutional right in Ireland. (Photograph: Robin English/Demotix/Corbis)


Saturday, May 16, 2015

"Your Witness to Love is Key to Transforming Our Church"

Jason Steidl is a PhD student studying systematic theology at Fordham University in New York City. He identifies as an "LGBT Catholic." On May 15, 2015 he published in The Huffington Post's Gay Voices forum an open letter to a gay couple whom he recently observed at Mass. Following is an excerpt from Jason's letter.

Your presence did not go unnoticed. Many other parishioners saw your public relationship on Sunday, and many will see you in the future when you come again. Your love for each other is a prophetic sign before God and the world. Through your lives together you show that your love is the same as any other love that becomes concrete in self-sacrificing and life-giving relationship. This is the same love that Jesus Christ embodied when he entered the world and offered himself as the total and world-changing self-gift of God. This is the love that we celebrate at Mass.

Your witness to love is key to transforming our church into a community that welcomes all people and recognizes God's work in all loving relationships. Last Sunday, you showed our parish that you were okay being gay, married, and Catholic. Your participation in worship showed that your conscience is clean before God. Your comfort with each other and other believers was a sign that you, with all LGBT believers, are an integral part of the body of Christ. It was good for the church that you came to Mass. Your participation and presence were transformative.

– Jason Steidl
Excerpted from "A Letter to the Couple at Mass"
HuffPost Gay Voices
May 15, 2015


Related Off-site Link:
Author Colm Tóibín on Ireland’s Gay Marriage Vote: Nobody is Invisible – Griff Witte (The Washington Post, May 16, 2015).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Quote of the Day – April 21, 2015
Francis DeBernardo: "The Church is Better Because of the Presence of LGBT People"
Rediscovering What Has Been Written on Our Hearts from the Very Beginning
Marriage: "Part of What is Best in Human Nature"
The Many Manifestations of God's Loving Embrace
Getting It Right
To Be Held and to Hold
The Longing for Love: God's Primal Beatitude
Love at Love's Brightest


Thursday, May 14, 2015

LGBTQ+ Catholic Youth Summit to Proceed Despite Chancery's Misstep

Sadly for some, this post could aptly be titled: How to ensure our youth join the documented exodus of Catholics from the church.

Why? Well, let me explain by first noting that the recently established LGBTQ+ Catholic Student Coalition is a student-run initiative that describes itself as "a group of individual students from Catholic schools in Minnesota, and Catholic identified individuals who attend public or non-Catholic private schools, who are interested in advancing LGBTQ+ equity in their schools and local communities."

The inspiring mission of this student-led coalition is to "create genuine, open conversation about LGBTQ+ issues at Catholic schools for faculty, staff, administrators, and students in Minnesota, and a safer, more equitable Catholic school environment for all students, particularly LGBTQ+ identified students."

Members of the coalition come from four of the eleven Twin Cities metro-area Catholic high schools: Benilde-St. Margaret's, Holy Family, Academy of Holy Angels, and Totino Grace.


Creating safe spaces

This Saturday, May 16, 2015, the LGBTQ+ Catholic Student Coalition, with support from OutFront MN and the Justice Office of the Sister's of St. Joseph of Carondelet and Consociates – St. Paul Province, is hosting an event that's being billed as the "first annual LGBTQ+ Catholic student summit."

Creating safe spaces for LGBTQ+ people of faith is the main goal of the summit, one that the coalition describes as "a day of conversation, learning, and action to improve the climate for LGBTQ+ individuals in Catholic environments, and the lives of LGBTQ+ Catholics in LGBTQ+ ones."

The day will begin with Mass, followed by a keynote address by Kristen Ostendorf, who, in 2013, was fired from her position of English/religion teacher at Totino-Grace Catholic High School after she came out to colleagues as gay and "happily in a relationship" (Ostendorf now teaches English at Highland Park Senior High in St. Paul). The summit's afternoon session will be devoted to a series of student-led workshops on creating safe spaces in Catholic schools, the experience of being LGBT and Catholic, and how to talk to people of faith about LGBT issues. The coalition and its partners expect more than 200 Catholic students from around the state to attend Saturday's summit.


The chancery responds

The young people who comprise the LGBTQ+ Catholic Student Coalition are quite impressive, wouldn't you say? I mean, they and their efforts are "signs and wonders" of the good news of Jesus, of God's transforming love breaking through into the world via the actions of people mindful and responsive to this love both in the depths of their being and in all aspects of creation. These young people are clearly embodying the gospel values of concern for the marginalized, compassion, inclusion, and justice. Also, their efforts to facilitate respectful dialogue reflect the leadership style of Pope Francis. Given all of this, one would think that these students and their efforts would be supported by the clerical leadership of the archdiocese. Not so.

You see, Saturday's LGBTQ+ Catholic Youth Summit was originally scheduled to take place at Christ the King Catholic Church in Minneapolis. However, earlier this week the LGBTQ+ Catholic Student Coalition posted the following message on its Facebook page:

The LGBTQ+ Catholic Student Coalition regrets to announce that on orders from the Chancery of the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Christ the King Catholic Church is no longer able to host the LGBTQ+ Catholic Youth Summit.

Fortunately, Edina Community Lutheran Church (4113 W 54th St, Edina) has graciously agreed to host the event this Saturday, May 16.

While we are deeply disappointed that we are no longer able to host this event at a Catholic parish, the decision from the chancery clearly demonstrates the need for this event and the conversations we will be having on Saturday at the summit.

Now more than ever it’s important to come together as a community in solidarity! Can’t wait to see you all there.


In a statement to The Column, Archbishop John C. Nienstedt said he “intervened” in the decision of Christ the King to host the event because the forum is being “led by a speaker who has publicly dissented from Church teaching. . . . We are concerned that the content of the proposed presentation will contradict Church teaching, leaving those in attendance, especially young people, confused about the truth of the teaching long after the May 16th presentation.”


Another egregious misstep

Of course, this type of action from the chancery is not new; in relation to LGBT issues, it dates back to October 2007 and the banning of 82-year-old “cradle Catholic” Robert Curoe and his lesbian daughter, Carol, from speaking at St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church about their book, Are There Closets in Heaven? A Catholic Father and Lesbian Daughter Share Their Story. (For my thoughts at the time on this action by the chancery, click here.) Indeed, when it comes to questioning voices and differing opinions around issues of sexuality and church reform, the general response of the chancery under Archbishop Nienstedt (who, it should be noted, remains under investigation for allegations of sexual misconduct with adult men) has been to censor, denounce, and ban. In the context of our shared journey as Catholics, such actions are egregious missteps on the part of our clerical leadership.

One can only speculate on the impact that the chancery's banning of the summit from official Catholic property will have on the young members of the LGBTQ+ Catholic Student Coalition. Their Facebook statement puts a positive spin on things, but I'm sure that many of the young people involved are feeling hurt and rejected by the message that has been sent by the chancery's directive.

This is significant, not to mention relevant to the alternative title to this post: How to ensure our youth join the documented exodus of Catholics from the church. For as Jane C. Timm notes in her MSNBC article from last year:

One third of young people who left organized religion did so because of anti-gay teachings or treatment within their churches, according to a new study.

While not surprising—it’s no secret that younger Americans are more accepting of gay people—it puts a number on the cost anti-gay policies can have on organizations.

A full 31% of young people (ages 18 to 33) who left organized religion said “negative teachings” or “negative treatment” of gay people was a “somewhat important” or “very important” factor in their departure, as surveyed by the Public Religion Research Institute.

A strong majority (58%) of Americans also said religious groups are “alienating” young people by “being too judgmental on gay and lesbian issues.” A full 70% of young people said the same.


In response to the chancery's latest misstep, the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform is encouraging the members of its lay network to "write to Archbishop Nienstedt and tell him what you think of his decision to order Christ the King parish to cancel a GLBTQ youth event."

Archbishop John C. Nienstedt
226 Summit Avenue
St. Paul MN 55102

Phone: (651) 291-4400
Email: archbishop@archspm.org


For more information about the LGBTQ+ Catholic Youth Summit, including how to register, click here.


Related Off-site Links:
Archbishop Nienstedt Blocks Church from Hosting LGBT Catholic Youth Event – Andy Birkey (TheColu.mn, May 15, 2015).
Forced Venue Change for LGBTQ+ Catholic Students' Summit Highlights Need for Support, Says Organizer – Jim Walsh (MinnPost, May 15, 2015).
Students Organize Youth Summit to Be Held This Weekend – Grace Gyolai (Knight Errant, May 14, 2015).
First Annual LGBT Catholic Student Summit to Be Held Saturday – Andy Birkey (TheColu.mn, May 12, 2015).
Why LGBT Adolescents Are Still More Likely to Face Bullying, Including Social Exclusion and Physical Harm – Andrew M. Seaman (Reuters via HuffPost Gay Voices, May 7, 2015).
Shaping Men and Women for Others in Catholic Schools – Andy Otto (Millennial, May 18, 2015).
America’s Changing Religious Landscape: Christians Decline Sharply as Share of Population; Unaffiliated and Other Faiths Continue to Grow – Pew Research Center (May 12, 2015).
Big Drop in Share of Americans Calling Themselves Christian – Nate Cohn (New York Times, May 12, 2015).
Study Finds Significant Decline in Minnesotans Identifying Themselves as Catholic – Joe Kimball (MinnPost, May 12, 2015).
How the Church Can Get Millennials Back – Christopher J. Hale (Time, May 14, 2015).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Choosing to Stay
GSAs and the Catholic High School Setting
Dave Navarro to LGBT Youth: "We Need Your Voice"
An Inspiring Event
The Two Editorials that Benilde-St. Margaret's Catholic High School Doesn't Want You to Read
How Times Have Changed
CPCSM and the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis – Part 3: Archdiocese Defends CPCSM's Efforts on Behalf of Gay Students
CPCSM and the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis – Part 4: More on the Archdiocese's Efforts to Defend the Addressing of Gay Issues in Catholic High Schools
Remembering and Reclaiming a Wise, Spacious, and Holy Understanding of Homosexuality

Image: Felicia Pruitt Brown.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Quote of the Day

Life consists in learning to live on one's own, spontaneous, freewheeling: to do this one must recognize what is one's own – be familiar and at home with oneself. This means basically learning who one is, and learning what one has to offer to the contemporary world, and then learning how to make that offering valid.

. . . The world is made up of people fully alive in it: that is, of people who can be themselves in it and can enter into a living and fruitful relationship with each other in it. The world is, therefore, more real in proportion as the people in it are able to be more fully and more humanly alive: that is to say, better able to make a lucid and conscious use of their freedom. Basically, this freedom must consist first of all in the capacity to choose their own lives, to find themselves on the deepest possible level.

Thomas Merton (1915-1968)
Excerpted from "Learning to Live"
in Love and Living (1979)


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Daniel Helminiak on the Lesson of Jesus: "We Will Be True to God by Being True to Our Deepest and Best Selves"
The Challenge to Become Ourselves
David Whyte: "To Be Courageous is to Stay Close to the Way We Are Made"
LGBT Catholics Celebrate Being "Wonderfully Made"
The Gifts of Homosexuality
The Many Forms of Courage
The Many Manifestations of God's Loving Embrace

Image: Eric Saulitis.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Long-Weekend in Georgia


As you may have gathered from Sunday's Photo of the Day, I was recently down South . . . Georgia to be exact!

I traveled to the Peach State to visit my friend Phil (pictured with me at right), who lives in Augusta. As well as spending time in "the Garden City" (as Augusta is known as), we also spent time in Savannah (above) and Atlanta.



Above: Phil, pictured by the Savannah River in Augusta, Georgia – Saturday, May 9, 2015.

According to Wikipedia:

The city was named after Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha (1719-1772), wife of Frederick, Prince of Wales. She was the mother of King George III of the United Kingdom.

Augusta is the principal city of the Augusta-Richmond County Metropolitan Statistical Area, which as of 2012 had an estimated population of 580,270, making it the third-largest city and the second-largest metro area in the state after Atlanta. It is the 116th-largest city in the United States. Internationally, Augusta is best known for hosting The Masters golf tournament each spring.



On Sunday, May 10, Phil and I drove from Augusta to Savannah. It's about a two-and-a-half hour trip by car.

Above: Savannah's popular River Street.

Right: In Savannah's Robert Emmet Park.


Among other things, Savannah is famous for being the oldest city in Georgia. Established in 1733, it became the British colonial capital of the Province of Georgia and later the first state capital of Georgia. It served as a strategic port city in the American Revolution and during the American Civil War. Today, Savannah is an industrial center and an important Atlantic seaport. It is Georgia's fifth-largest city and third-largest metropolitan area.

Of course, Savannah is also renowned for its cobblestone streets, numerous parks and cemeteries, and notable historic buildings. This is largely due to the fact that downtown Savannah retains much of the original town plan prescribed by founder James Oglethorpe (now known as the Oglethorpe Plan). The downtown area is one of the largest National Historic Landmark Districts in the United States (designated by the U.S. government in 1966), and includes the Savannah Historic District, the Savannah Victorian Historic District, and 22 park squares.



Above: The Talmadge Memorial Bridge, which spans the Savannah River at Savannah, Georgia. Completed in 1991, the bridge is dedicated to Eugene Talmadge, who served as the Democratic Governor of Georgia from 1933-37 and from 1941-43.



Above: Phil, in one of downtown Savannah'a 22 park squares.








Above: The Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.



Above: Headstones in Savannah's Colonial Park Cemetery, an early graveyard dating back to the English colony of Georgia.



Although my visit to Georgia began in Atlanta on the evening of Friday, May 9, I didn't see much of the city then as after being picked up at the airport by Phil, we drove that night to Augusta. Because my flight back to Minneapolis was scheduled to leave at 6:30 in the morning on Tuesday, Phil and I returned to Atlanta from Augusta on Monday and stayed that night in a downtown hotel. We spent a good part of Monday afternoon exploring downtown Atlanta.

Above: The Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel, the second-tallest all-hotel skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere, and the 17th tallest all-hotel building in the world.



Left: The Georgia State Capitol, completed in 1889.



Above and below: Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park – May 11, 2015.

Notes Wikipedia:

Centennial Olympic Park was built by the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG) as part of the infrastructure improvements for the Centennial 1996 Summer Olympics. The park plays host to millions of visitors a year and several events, including a summer popular music concert series and an annual Independence Day concert and fireworks display.





Above: Phil, pointing out shrapnel marks in one of the sculptures in Centennial Olympic Park made by the bombing of the 1996 Olympic Games.



Above and below: Views of downtown Atlanta – Monday, May 11, 2015.





Above: Phil, taking a breather from all the sightseeing – Monday, May 11, 2015.


See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Weekend in Chicago
Weekend in Kansas City
Road Trip to St. Louis
Wisconsin Adventure
Days of Summer on the Bayfield Peninsula
Adventures in Mississippi River Bluff Country
Pahá Sápa Adventure