Monday, June 08, 2009

Interesting Developments

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors rebukes the Vatican,
and a Catholic priest calls for a boycott of the Knights of Columbus

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: these are fascinating and exciting times to be a Catholic. And two recent (and hopeful) developments - within and beyond the Church - in response to ignorance and hypocrisy on the part of the institutional Roman Catholic Church bear testimony to this fact.

First, take a look at the following excerpt from an article in The Edge newspaper of Boston:

A San Francisco resolution decrying instructions from the Vatican to an American Catholic organization to defy local law was upheld in federal court.

The March 21, 2006 resolution was a response by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to orders issued by the Vatican instructing Catholic Charities to break the law and treat prospective adoptive parents on a discriminatory basis according to whether or not the couples were heterosexual or homosexual.

The resolution formally called on Cardinal William Levada “in his capacity as head of the Congregation for the doctrine of Faith at the Vatican, to withdraw his discriminatory and defamatory directive that Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of San Francisco stop placing children in need of adoption with homosexual households.”

The resolution called it “an insult to all San Franciscans when a foreign country, like the Vatican, meddles with and attempts to negatively influence this great City’s existing and established customs and traditions such as the right of same-sex couples to adopt and care for children in need.”

The resolution viewed a claim from the Vatican that, “Allowing children to be adopted by persons living in [homosexual] unions would actually mean doing violence to these children" as defamatory in nature and "absolutely unacceptable to the citizenry of San Francisco.”

Further, the resolution viewed such defamatory language as being “insulting and callous, and shows a level of insensitivity and ignorance which has seldom been encountered by this Board of Supervisors,” and defended the ability of same-sex parents to care for their children as equal to that of heterosexual couples.

Wow! I applaud the courage, common sense, and compassion of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. The members of the Roman Catholic hierarchy could learn a lot from them.

But wait! There’s more news from the City by the Bay. Apparently the San Francisco tax assessor believes the Archdiocese of San Francisco is dodging taxes! How? By moving the ownership of various assets to a new nonprofit organization in order to shield the properties from being seized or sold for potential lawsuit payouts. For more on this development, click

Meanwhile, out gay Catholic priest Geoff Farrow is calling for a boycott of the Knights of Columbus.

Writes Farrow on his blog:

Many priests have e-mailed me and expressed their rage and anger over the hypocrisy of the Catholic hierarchy in supporting anti-marriage equality legislation. They have often referred to the bishops as “old queens” who blithely support anti-gay efforts, because of their own self-loathing. One of the organizations, which the bishops have effectively employed to do their dirty work, has been the Knights of Columbus.

Specifically in California, the K of C donated large amounts of monies to the “yes on Prop 8” campaign. Priests feel impotent to fight back because they are kept in positions of economic servitude by their bishops.

. . . So, what can priests do to fight the anti-gay agenda of the bishops and the K of C? Here is a short list:

1) Borrow the full amount against your Knights of Columbus life insurance policy immediately. Take the check and invest the funds with an LGBT friendly fund. Do not pay back the loan. If every priest and K of C insurance policy holder were to do this, it would create a considerable capital drain on K of C and cripple their ability to write large checks to thwart LGBT legislation and ballot initiatives.

2) If you are a layperson, write them and tell them why you have done this. If you are a priest, simply inform them that you have decided to use the funds to promote social justice.

3) Pastors have the power to decide what is published in the Sunday bulletin and what is announced at Mass on Sundays. Do not let the K of C publish or announce.

4) Pastors may grant or withhold permission for organizations to use church facilities for their meetings. Most parishes have very tight facility scheduling. Create a program and tell the K of C they need to meet elsewhere.

Eventually, they will get the message. Economic boycotts helped bring down an unjust regime in South Africa and brought an end to apartheid there, it can work here too.

It will be interesting to see if Geoff’s campaign takes off.

It will also be interesting to observe the further developments that are sure to come as more and more people - both within and beyond the Roman Catholic Church - recognize and confront the institutional structures and practices that, in their fostering of intellectual dishonesty, insensitivity, and corruption, obstruct the Church’s true mission of embodying the life-affirming message of the Gospel.

Or as local author Chuck Pilon puts it in a comment over at the Progressive Catholic Voice:

We have begun to think for ourselves and to act on our thinking. Guidance from the institutional Church is often vacuous and corrupted by the cruel exercise of power and clerical, righteous certainty that “father always knows best.” This is supposedly the will of God for us and meant for our own good. No way, no longer. [As James Carroll says in his book “Practicing Catholic”:] “Reform is coming not from the collapsing clerical establishment, but from the people.”

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Rome Falling
Why the Bishops Are Being Ignored
Fr. Thomas Doyle: “There Is Something Radically Wrong With the Institutional Catholic Church”
A Time to Re-Think the Basis and Repair the Damage
The Real Battle
“We Are Facing a Structural Problem”
Clearing Away the Debris
Staying on Board
Authentic Catholicism: The Antidote to Clericalism
Genuine Authority


colkoch said...

Don't forget Bishop Lori is having his issues over in Conneticut with secular authorities.

It does appear some necessary lines are being drawn in the sand.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Don Foree, S.J., and I worked against the Archdiocese, and their bigotry against gay and lesbian adoptions, including the Archdiocese's refusal to include "domestic partners," in order to participate as United Way beneficiaries. The head of Catholic Charities and I met, his own son gay, and he a Catholic, demanding Archbishop Levada, Ratzinger's bulldog at SCDF, obey the city ordinance OR forfeit all public funds.

Money talks. The Archbishop bought "domestic partners," which allowed any two co-tenants, including mother/daughter, SSA recipients, and GLBT full rights. This story is regressive and sad. Where is the gay Catholic community to press the current A/B?

Anonymous said...

How can the Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco condemn the Vatican for its stand, when the Sups create, remove, obey and disobey the laws of the State of California as they see fit?

Sorry, Board of Supervisors. Deal with the plank in your individual eyes and collective eye before pointing out the splinter in Rome.