Church is Picking Unnecessary Fight
Winona Daily News
September 22, 2010
Winona Daily News
September 22, 2010
Let’s face it, it’s a lot easier to pick on gay people than it is to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and give shelter to the homeless. It’s probably cheaper, too.
For just the cost of a stamp, some letterhead and a DVD, the Rev. John Quinn, the Bishop of the Diocese of Winona, has joined his other unmarried brother bishops in sending out kits to parishioners in the diocese, warning them of the impending danger of same-sex marriages.
Quinn, if you’ll excuse the phrase, pontificated about the dangers of same-sex marriage in the diocesan newspaper, The Courier.
Yet, when pressed on the issue by the Daily News, a diocesan spokesperson referred questions to the archdiocese of Minneapolis/St.Paul, saying this was really its bailiwick.
This most recent example should be doubly disappointing to area faithful.
First, if Quinn has the conviction of principles enough to espouse it in print, under his own name, then he should be courageous enough to defend such a position, rather than deferring to some distant authority.
But even more troubling than Quinn’s silence is the position the church has taken. It’s urging Catholics to take legislative action.
If the church wants to preach and practice a policy of discrimination and second-class citizenry from its pulpits, that is an established constitutional right, even if irksome and disconcerting.
If the church — Catholic or otherwise — wants to preach a message of homosexuality’s sinfulness, then it can only be considered free, religious speech, even if we believe it grossly uninformed and patently hurtful.
But when the church starts urging political activity, especially using a vehicle as overt as the diocese’s own printed propaganda, then it crosses an equally hallowed line between church and state.
Any church’s authority is one of spirituality. Yet, politics, especially in our American democracy, is decidedly secular. When Quinn and other bishops urge political action, they go too far.
Nowhere do the bishops acknowledge that even if a marriage rights bill passed, it would never compel any church or denomination to perform weddings it didn’t approve of.
That makes us wonder if the bishops aren’t just taking an opportunity to engage in gay bashing, because the threat gay marriage presents to Catholic clergy is almost less than minimal.
Even area lawmakers — for example, Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, who introduced a marriage bill aimed at defining it as between a man and a woman — said the church’s interference seems ill timed, considering the massive budget problems looming.
It’s a scary thing when we urge the Catholic Church to follow the politicians’ lead.
If the church was really so concerned with families and the sanctity of marriage, it might realize that so many of the families are hurting because of lost jobs. Lost jobs mean lost food, lost homes, lost opportunities.
In a time of such hurt, such need and such brokenness, it’s hard to believe bishops would even spend the money and the political capital to fight a war that denies rights to some individuals, while granting them to others.
The bishops, including Quinn, would do well to remember: Just because God’s name is invoked, doesn’t mean the war is holy.
By Darrell Ehrlick, editor, on behalf of the Winona Daily News editorial board, which also includes publisher Rusty Cunningham and deputy editor Jerome Christenson. To comment, call 453-3507 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Quote of the Day – August 6, 2010
The Minnesota Bishops’ Last Ditch Effort
It’s a Scandal
Local Catholics Seek to "Create Some Good Out of an Unfortunate Situation"
A Message for NOM (and the Catholic Hierarchy)
At UST, a Rousing and Very Catholic Show of Support for Same-Sex Marriage
The Misplaced Priorities of the Catholic Church in Maine
A Call to Emphasize Catholicism's "Sweet Spot"