Last night I received the following communication from “Gus,” who questions the Catholicity of much of what I write on The Wild Reed.
“You may in fact be progressive and gay,” writes Gus, “[but] you are most definitely not Catholic.”
Gus, a gay Catholic man and president of his local Dignity chapter, also takes issue with the Spirit of St. Stephen’s Catholic Community, of which I’m a member.
Following is Gus’ message in its entirety.
This is the second time I’m writing to you and it’ll probably be the last.
The first time I wrote was to share with you my excitement at having found a blog from “a progressive, gay, Catholic perspective.” I consider myself as such and it is always joyful to find companions on the journey. I should explain that I am a self-described liberal who usually votes Democratic, who opposed the Iraq War, who supports universal healthcare, who opposes capital punishment, etc. I’m also the president of a local chapter of Dignity. So, I don’t think that I'd be very welcomed by conservatives, either political or religious ones.
However, the reason why I’m writing today is to say that over the past several months my excitement has turned to disappointment and with [your Rome Falling column] to utter dismay. You see, I’ve realized that this blog is just an exercise in false advertisement. For while you may in fact be progressive and gay, you are most definitely not Catholic.
Imagine for a moment that someone who described herself or himself as LGBT had a blog where all they did was to criticize Queer culture and extol the merits of heterosexuality while basically saying that the best way to be gay was to belong to Courage. Such a blog would be a farce. That person might indeed be homosexual but she or he would not be gay, i.e., self accepting of their sexual orientation.
Now here you describe yourself as Catholic but almost always you are criticizing the Roman Catholic Church, extolling the merits of other religious traditions such as Sufism, and basically saying that the best way to be Catholic is to be Protestant. You basically deny every Catholic dogma that you address whether its the hierarchical nature of the Church, the qualitative difference between the priesthood of the ordained versus the priesthood of the baptized, papal infallibility, etc. (BTW, all of the preceding are clearly affirmed by Vatican II). Furthermore, you misrepresent Church practice on indulgences and excommunication.
Finally, you seem to be engaged in this tearing down of the Church with glee since you believe that Catholic orthodoxy must give way to Protestant congregationalism where there is no universal Magisterium and only a local communal authority to determine worship and belief. [I think this contention is made in response to this post.] Of course, it is your right to promote your agenda but I have to call you out and make it clear that what you advocate for is not Catholicism.
You often state that you believe that the center (Rome) of the Church is dying while the periphery (where you situate yourself) is thriving. Well, I’d wager that twenty years from now the Roman Catholic Church (where Christ’s Church subsists – see Vatican II) will be around, while a group like the Spirit of St. Stephen’s Community will have dissolved altogether or find itself becoming increasingly agnostic or even atheistic; the inevitable result of Protestantism – see Northern Europe).
Michael, I don’t know if you are calling yourself Catholic intentionally to mislead or if you are just not aware of how far from the Church you already are, but please realize that having cut yourself from the vine there is nothing left but to wither. I will pray for you (and others in the Spirit of St. Stephen’s Catholic Community) that you may come back to the Church and really begin to integrate being progressive, gay, AND Catholic.
Now I must admit that my first response was to wonder if Gus has similar issues with those (much higher profile) Catholics such as Hans Küng, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Joseph O’Leary, Robert McClory, and Mary Hunt. After all, they all espouse similar views to mine. Indeed, their scholarship and theologizing have helped shape my thinking on a number of topics. (Mary Hunt, incidentally, is scheduled to be one of the keynote speakers at DignityUSA’s annual conference. I wonder if Gus will be attending, given that he’s president of his local Dignity chapter!).
Anyway, I could go on (and probably will at some later date). But for now, after having directed Gus to this previous Wild Reed post where I address some of his concerns, and after having posted his comment here, I would now like to open this important discussion to a wider audience than would have been possible if I’d left Gus’ comment languishing in the comments section of my previous Rome Falling post.
So your thoughts & responses, my friends, I respectfully request . . .
See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
What It Means to Be Catholic
Who Gets to Be Called “Catholic” - and Why?
Thoughts on Authority and Fidelity
Comprehending the “Fullness of Truth”
Celebrating Our Sanctifying Truth
A Catholic Understanding of Faithful Dissent (Part 1)
A Catholic Understanding of Faithful Dissent (Part 2)
Agreeing with the Vatican
Opening Image: A Passing Storm.