Saturday, January 03, 2009

(Australian) Summer Round-Up

Last summer, back in the States, I meant to do a summer round-up of some of the insightful and interesting online articles that I’d come across. For one reason or another, however, I never got around to it.

Yet since I’m currently in Australia experiencing summer, I’ve decided to take the opportunity to finally do that “summer round-up”!


So let’s get this round-up underway with a shout-out to two new blogsites by “Terence,” a partnered gay Catholic man from London. Terence’s two blogs are Queering the Church and The Gay Disciple.

The former features a welcoming statement that includes the following succinct summation of the dilemma facing many gay Catholics:

As gay Catholics, we have often found ourselves double outsiders. As a sexual minority in a world where heterosexuality is routinely taken for granted, and even suffered ridicule, discrimination, violence or worse, we have often felt excluded, left out - or even invisible. Typically, we have felt even more rejected in the churches than in the secular world, with widespread condemnation of the 'sin' of homosexuality. This hostility from the religious establishment has led to a counter-reaction from many in the LGBT community, who see religion as the architect and driving force behind our 'oppression', and consequently refuse to have any truck with organised religion. The result for gay Catholics is too often, exclusion by both camps. I have often heard the observation from my gay Catholic friends, that it can be as difficult to be out as Catholic in the gay community, as it is to be out as gay in the world at large.

Terence envisions his blogs helping people find a support network for both virtual and face to face contact and discussion. I wish him all the best in such a worthy endeavour.


Another new blog that’s well worth investigating is that of Fr. Marty Kurylowicz’s, the focus of which is early childhood psychological development and the experience of growing up gay.

Notes Kurylowicz:

By exploring the early childhood psychological development of human sexuality, we come to a more accurate understanding about adult human sexuality. In this way, we can begin to understand how and why social and religious norms regarding human sexuality have been formed more out ignorance and fear. We are then able with knowledge to begin disabling this dangerous combination that is self-perpetuating, generation after generation, seriously limiting human beings from reaching their fullest potential.”

Over at the great Nihil Obstat blogsite, “Censor Librorum” offers an insightful overview of Kurylowicz’s personal journey as a gay Catholic priest who is advocating in a courageous and informed way for a renewed sexual theology within the Church:

Fr. Kurylowicz’ ministry for children growing up gay began during Holy Week of 1997, when he told his parishioners, the people of Holy Family Catholic Church in Sparta, Michigan, that he was a celibate homosexual. At that time, Fr. Kurylowicz had served as pastor for 12 years. He had struggled for years with his homosexuality.

The announcement came shortly before he took an educational leave to study psychology at the University of Michigan and Madonna University. Then-Bishop Robert Rose took no action against Kurylowicz, saying his views were in line with Catholic teaching.

Because he grew up gay himself, Fr. Kurylowicz understood the kind of harm done to children when they come under the influence of social and religious norms that convey to be “gay” is socially unacceptable and evil.

Since then Kurylowicz has spoken out to raise awareness of violence against gays and teach others homosexuality is not a choice but inboard trait. Church leaders still don’t understand that and contribute to gays’ poor self-esteem, he said.

“Kids as young as 4 or 5 know they’re different,” said Kurylowicz, “they grow up with this pervasive guilt which sabotages their growth and motivation.”

The church needs to discuss sexuality more candidly and heed Jesus’ teachings more closely, he said. “Jesus never said one word about homosexuality,” Kurylowicz said. “He said, ‘Be careful not to hurt one of these little ones of mine.’”


Nihil Obstat also offers an update on Fr. Roy Bourgeois, the Maryknoll priest and internationally known peace activist, who was excommunicated for participating at an ordination rite for women.

Vatican spokesman Fr. Frederico Lombardi said Bourgeois’ excommunication would be automatic, in other words, a latae sententiae excommunication, effective when the offense is committed. In other words, the person excommunicates himself or herself.

Excommunication is the most severe penalty under church law, cutting off a Catholic from receiving or administering the sacraments.

Fr. Bourgeois said he was following his conscience in his participation at the ordination rite, though it was clearly against the church’s teaching on women’s ordination.

“Conscience is very sacred,” Bourgeois said in his November 7, 2008 letter to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. “Conscience gives us a sense of right and wrong and urges us to do the right thing …Conscience is what compels women in our Church to say they cannot be silent and deny their call from God to the priesthood. And after much prayer, reflection and discernment, it is my conscience that compels me to do the right thing. I cannot recant my belief and public statements that support the ordination of women in our Church.”

The author of Nihil Obstat, “Censor Librorum,” also poses some important questions in light of Fr. Bourgeouis’ excommunication:

Fr. Bourgeois was impelled to follow his conscience. He must have known by participating in the ceremony–particularly in the laying on of hands, one of the main symbols of ordination in the Catholic church – his actions would have some serious consequences.

But why did the Vatican feel compelled to enforce canon law and excommunicate him within three months of the event?

In comparison, I do not know of s single instance where a Catholic priest, bishop or other religious has been publicly excommunicated for the sexual abuse or rape of a minor.

Does that mean it’s more of a scandal for a man in good conscience to participate in the laying on of hands in a women’s ordination ceremony; than a man to lay hands on a child for his sexual gratification?

Is something off here?


Meanwhile, Joseph S. O’Leary offers extensive coverage on his blogsite of the Vatican’s objections to the UN’s efforts to universally decriminalize homosexuality.

This well-researched coverage is organized under three headings: “Vatican Objections to Human Rights Proposal” (which includes the full transcript of the UN’s proposed declaration of decriminalization of homosexuality); “The Criticisms and the Vatican Response;” “Defenders of the Vatican;” and “Press Releases and Internet Comments.” O’Leary has done an excellent job in compiling a vast range of information and opinion, and although the end result is lengthy, it’s well worth reading.

O’Leary’s November 18, 2008, commentary, Catholic Nervousness About Gay Marriage is also highly recommended – especially his response to and critique of the perspective of blogger “Pertinacious Papist.”

Also noteworthy is O’Leary’s excellent overview of the German reception of Pope Benedict XVI’s book, Jesus of Nazareth.

At one point O’Leary observes the following:

Emeritus Catholic theologian Hermann Häring said: “One thing is clear. In [Jesus’] lifetime he was not venerated as God. But the Pope does not want to know anything about this in his book. He projects representations that were invented later on back onto the Gospels... The Pope uses historical research when it fits his dogma. He ignores it when it contradicts him. What is all-important for him is to vindicate the Roman Church and the papal office. Even though his book is distinguished by great clarity and deep religiosity, his image of Jesus is a unified one: smoothed out, harmonious and very inward. It shows neither breaks nor rejections. In the eyes of the Pope, Jesus is very far from being a rebel, who protests against a maddeningly unjust world”

(See also the previous Wild Reed post: The Vatican’s Actions at the UN: “Sickening, Depraved, and Shameless”).

___________________________________ has recently published some insightful articles on the situation in Gaza. Particularly recommended are The Gaza War is Completely Stoppable by Robert Naiman, Israel Can’t Bomb Its Way to Peace by Rosa Brooks, and Gaza Attacks: Murder with Impunity by Mustafa Qadri.

Also recommended is Joann Hari’s December 28 piece on The Huffington Post, The True Story Behind This War is Not the One Israel is Telling.

Meanwhile on the website of Pacifica Radio’s Democracy Now! program, the perspectives of an Israeli lawmaker and an Israeli conscientious objector to the current crisis in the Middle East are shared and discussed.


I was last in Australia about two years ago. Since then while living in Minnesota (my other home since 1994) I haven’t kept as up-to-date with the gay scene here as much as I would’ve liked to. All the more reason to appreciate Australian gay advocate Rodney Croome’s overview of 2008.

Part of Croome’s summary includes the following:

Personal landmarks in 2008 included the inaugural speech of newly-elected openly-lesbian WA Senator Louise Pratt, the announcement of Justice Michael Kirby’s retirement, and Matthew Mitcham’s perfect dive at the Beijing Olympics.

Each of these achievers has been received respectfully in mainstream Australia, showing how far the nation has come.

But it was still considered risky for them to be out and to call, as each did, for their right to marry, reminding us how far we have yet to go until we have a truly fair and inclusive society.

(See also the previous Wild Reed posts: Making a Splash and Openly Gay Diver Wins Olympic Gold.)


For weeks now the blogosphere has been awash with talk about U.S. President-Elect Obama’s choice of Rick Warren to offer the invocation at his inauguration. Two commentaries on this controversy that I particularly appreciate and recommend are Timothy Kincaid’s The Newer, Gay Friendlier Rick Warren (Same as the Old Rick Warren with New Packaging) and Christopher Evans’ My Last Word on Rev. Warren: Better Words, More Loving Words.


And finally, the December 28, 2008, issue of the Boston Globe contains an interesting interview by Michael Paulson with Catholic priest, theologian, author – and “lightening rod” Richard McBrien.

Asked at one point why he was such a “lightening rod” for some Catholics, McBrien replies:

It might be because I have such a public image. I regard myself as a broad centrist. But to an extreme right-wing person, especially in religion, and within the Catholic Church, a centrist or a center/left person is automatically perceived as an extreme left-wing person, bordering on, if not actually in, heresy. But for every e-mail or blog that you would see that would condemn me . . . I can tell you I got a lot of e-mails and letters from Catholics who said that I had given them hope and that their teenage kids who had been alienated from the church said that, “If there were more priests like the guy we were watching on television, I'd still be a Catholic.”

Asked why he doesn’t leave the Church, McBrien responds:

Because it’s my church. It’s my home. And I was born in it. I’ve been a Catholic all my life. And I have affirmation from so many good people. I feel that I have a responsibility to them to continue working at it and doing the best I can.

Hmm, now that’s a response I can relate to!

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Fall Round-Up (2007)
Spring Round-Up (2007)

Opening Image: Hugh Jackman in Australia.

1 comment:

Terence said...

I was flattered and delighted to find you leading off your Summer Round-up with kind remarks on my own new blogs. As your site is my no 1 blogosphere port of call, you shohuld not be surprised if you find you become a regular jumping off point in my own reflections. I trust you will not object if I plunder your archives shamelessly.
As you wish me well in my objective, I hope I do not disappoint. The site is still just a shell, but will most certainly grow.

I also like your choice of Nihil Obstat and JS O'Leary for your next observations - as it happens, my no 2 & 3 blog choices respectively.

All the best for the New Year.