Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Don't Go Back to Sleep

Today is the birthday of Sufi poet and mystic Jelaluddin Rumi (September 30, 1207 – December 17, 1273).

To mark the occasion I share the following poem by Rumi as interpreted by Coleman Barks.

The breeze at dawn
has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what
you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth
across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.

– Rumi

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Sufi Way
Sufism: A Call to Awaken
Sufism: Way of Love, Tradition of Enlightenment, and Antidote to Fanaticism
Doris Lessing on the Sufi Way
Rumi and Shams: A Love of Another Kind
Ramesh Bjonnes on Rumi and Shams as Gay Lovers
In the Dance of Light, Eyes of Fiery Passion
Prayer of the Week – June 2, 2014
The Guesthouse
"Joined at the Heart": Robert Thompson on Christianity and Sufism

Related Off-site Links:
Rumi: Poet and Sufi Mystic Inspired by Same-Sex Love – Kittredge Cherry (Jesus in Live Blog, September 30, 2015).
Rumi: Another Male's Love Inspired Persia's Mystic Muse – Warren D. Adkins (Gay Today, January 5, 1998).

Image: "Ali" by JR Christiansen.

DignityUSA Responds to News of Meeting Between Pope Francis and Kim Davis

A statement released earlier today by DignityUSA is one of the most succinct responses yet to news of the secret September 25 meeting between Pope Francis and Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who briefly went to jail for refusing to issue civil marriage licenses to same-sex couples and thus attempting to force her religious beliefs onto others.

Following is DignityUSA's media release in its entirety.

DignityUSA, the leading organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Catholics, responded to the Vatican’s confirmation that Pope Francis had met with Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis with dismay.

“The news that Pope Francis met with Kim Davis while failing to respond to repeated requests for dialogue with LGBT Catholics and their families will be deeply disappointing to many Catholics, gay, trans, and straight alike,” said DignityUSA Executive Director Marianne Duddy-Burke. “It may be seen as putting the weight of the Vatican behind the U.S. Catholic bishops’ claims of victimization, and to support those who want to make it more difficult for same-sex couples to exercise their civil right to marriage. This encounter could, in many people’s minds, transform the Pope’s US trip from a largely successful pastoral visit to the endorsement of an exclusionary political agenda.

“I fear that this meeting and claims that the Pope told Ms. Davis to ‘stand strong’ will embolden the many US bishops and others who continue to try to turn back support for LGBT people. It will make even more of us feel like the Pope’s message of mercy and love was not meant for LGBT people and families. It points again to the deep divide between Catholics who affirm and support their LGBT family members and friends, and the hierarchy, which is tragically out of touch,” continued Duddy-Burke.

"It would be helpful for the Vatican to be more forthcoming about the circumstances that led to this meeting, and what the Pope hoped to convey in his discussions with Ms. Davis,” said Duddy-Burke.

In July 2015, DignityUSA, GLAAD and over 30 endorsing organizations sent a letter to Pope Francis, urging him to meet with LGBT Catholics and their families during his U.S. visit. The letter cited the “enormous pastoral crisis” with regard to LGBT people and the grave damage being done to LGBT youth as compelling reasons for this dialogue. The letter was followed by several petitions urging that such a meeting take place. No response was received from the Vatican.

“We still believe that for the Pope to hear the stories of LGBT Catholics and our families would be a key step in reversing the official Church teachings that damage so many people,” said Duddy-Burke. “In fact, his meeting with Ms. Davis makes this even more urgent. We have people in Rome right now, on the eve of the Synod of the Family reconvening, who would be happy to talk with the Pope if he’s willing to take a small step towards righting this injustice.

Related Off-site Links:
How Pope Francis Undermined the Goodwill of His Trip and Proved to Be a Coward – Michelangelo Signorile (HuffPost Gay Voices, September 30, 2015).
Kim Davis Recounts Secret Meeting With Pope FrancisABC News (September 30, 2015).
Pope Francis’ Meeting With Kim Davis Raises a Red Flag – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, September 30, 2015).
What We Don't Know About Francis' Kim Davis Meeting – Joshua J. McElwee (National Catholic Reporter, October 1, 2015).
The Pope and Kim Davis: Seven Points to Keep in Mind – James Martin, SJ (America, September 30, 2015).
Why the Pope's Meeting with Kim Davis is the Last Straw for Me: With Commentary on Father James Martin's "Points to Keep in Mind" About the Meeting – William D. Lindsey (Bilgrimage, October 1, 2015).
Pope Francis' Kim Davis Visit is the Dumbest Thing He's Ever Done – Charles P. Pierce (Esquire, September 30, 2015).
Responses to Pope's Meeting with Kim Davis from My Facebook Feed – William D. Lindsey (Bilgrimage, September 30, 2015).
LGBT Catholics Confused and Hurt by Pope's Visit with Kim Davis – Antonia Blumberg (HuffPost Religion, September 30, 2015).
Pope Francis's Meeting with Kim Davis Should Come as No Surprise – Trevor Martin (The Guardian, September 15, 2015).
Pope Francis Doesn’t Believe in LGBT Equality – Barbie Latza Nadeau (The Daily Beast, September 30, 2015).
Pope's Secret Meeting Reframes Historic Visit – Reuters (September 30, 2015).
Pope Francis, the Kentucky Clerk and Culture Wars Revisited – Laurie Goodstein and Jim Yardley (The New York Times, September 30, 2015).
Let's Really Talk About Religious Freedom, Pope Francis – Charles P. Pierce (Esquire, September 29, 2015).
Pope Francis' Deep Ties to Evangelicals – Jamie Manson (National Catholic Reporter, July 8, 2015).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Pope Francis in the U.S.
Quote (and Reality Check) of the Day – September 1, 2015
Quote (and Question) of the Day – January 22, 2015

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

St. Michael: Archangel, Spiritual Warrior, Icon of Homoerotic Love


Notes Cassell's Encyclopedia of Queer Myth, Symbol and Spirit:

Saint Michael the Archangel, usually depicted with a sword and/or standing over a dragon he has conquered, is one of the archangels of Christianity. Michael is often thought of as a spiritual warrior who leads the hosts of heaven and protects the soul at the hour of death. Saint Michael the Archangel is fêted on September 29.

In the work of Spanish poet Federico García Lorca, Michael becomes an icon of homoerotic love. In "San Miguel (Granada)," Lorca depicts the archangel as a beautiful young man "fragrante de agua colonia" ("fragrant with cologne"). In the Yoruba-diasporic religion of Candomblé, Michael is associated with Logunedé [left], an androgynous deity.

For more of St. Michael the Archangel at The Wild Reed, see:
The Archangel Michael as Gay Icon
St. Michael the Archangel: Perspectives and Portraits
Michaelmas (2008)
The Inherent Sensuality of Roman Catholicism

Images: Artists unknown.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Quote of the Day

I been loving all of what Pope Francis has been saying regarding poverty, war, climate and classism. However, he has yet to get around to the Doctrine of Discovery, and I doubt whether he has yet dedicated himself to either the background, the ongoing harm the Doctrine has caused, or the contemporary ramifications and future of unfairness, cruelty, the whole colonial holocaust upon indigenous people living in a modern world.

I have hope that he will do so, and applaud him for paving the way for a more just and peaceful world while he gets around to us. Stay calm and de-colonize, Friends.

In my own experience, I am aware of many loving, wonderful and highly educated people who have never learned about the Doctrine of Discovery. When they do learn about this green light for colonial horror against indigenous lands and people, most finally understand at last [and] are shocked and eager to get it gone, and to address solutions for reparations. Don't give up hope.

Buffy Sainte-Marie
via Facebook
September 27, 2015

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
It’s Time We Evolved Beyond Theological Imperialism
Buffy Sainte-Marie: Singing It and Praying It; Living It and Saying It
Buffy Sainte-Marie: Still Singing with Spirit, Joy, and Passion
Buffy Sainte-Marie: "The Big Ones Get Away"

For The Wild Reed's special series of posts leading-up to the May 12, 2015 release of Buffy's most recent album, Power in the Blood, see:
Buffy Sainte-Marie and That "Human-Being Magic"
Buffy Sainte-Marie's Lesson from the Cutting Edge: "Go Where You Must to Grow"
Buffy Sainte-Marie: "Sometimes You Have to Be Content to Plant Good Seeds and Be Patient"
Buffy Sainte-Marie's Power in the Blood

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Photo of the Day

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
O Sacred Season of Autumn
Autumn Hues
The Beauty of Autumn in Minnesota
Autumn Dance

Image: Michael J. Bayly.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Quote of the Day

Really? This is the best that the church has for LGBT Catholics – the expectation that they be celibate? At this extraordinary meeting of Catholics from around the globe, why is [a] celibate gay man [Ron Belgau, pictured with his mother, Beverley, at right] the only representation of the church's LGBT members?

What a wasted opportunity.

How extraordinary it would've been to also hear married gay Catholics tell their stories and for sincere, honest and mutually respectful discussions to have proceeded from them.

What an eye-opener it would've been for straight Catholics who don't know any LGBT Catholics to actually speak with them, from the heart. To get – maybe for the first time - that LGBT Catholics are more than their sexual orientation just as straight Catholics are more than their own.

They, too, are husbands, wives and parents who pray and yearn for a better world for themselves and their families. Who try to discern God's will and handle life's hardships with grace. Who are flawed but trying, broken but worthy of full inclusion in the faith that sustains them.

. . . After Belgau's talk, attendees lined up at two microphones to ask questions, at least one of which broke my heart: A woman wondered how she should respond to a beloved niece, a lesbian who has announced her engagement. As a Catholic, the woman didn't know if she should attend the wedding.

[Belgau] advised the woman to respond with love and, maybe, consult with her priest. I'm sorry: If you have to ask a priest whether to attend the wedding of a niece you say you love, you don't deserve to be there.

– Ronnie Polaneczky
Excerpted from "Just Say No to Sex. Forever."
The Philadelphia Inquirer
September 25, 2015

Related Off-site Links:
Hundreds Shut Out of Sole Session on Gays at World Meeting of Families – Kimberly Winston (Religion News Service, September 25, 2015).
At World Meeting of Families, Homosexuality Dominates Talk – Peter Smith (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 25, 2015).
At Philly’s World Meeting of Families: Not Much Time Given to Homosexuality, But LGBT Catholics Keep Conversation Going – Bob Shine (Bondings 2.0, September 26, 2015).
Pope's Outreach to Gays Doesn't Change Traditional Catholic View of Family – Jerome Socolovsky (Voice of America, September 25, 2015).
Marginalized Faithful Strive for Inclusion in Church – Laura Benshoff (NewsWorks, September 25, 2015).
Uneasy LGBT Conversations at Family Meeting – Elizabeth Eisenstadt Evans (National Catholic Reporter, September 25, 2015).
Papal Visit Prompts Calls for LGBT-inclusive Church – Michael K. Lavers (The Washington Blade, September 27, 2015).
Pope Francis Isn't As Progressive on LGBTQ Issues As You Think – German Lopez (Vox, September 23, 2015).
An Invitation to Pope Francis from D.C.’s Gay Catholic Community – Jeff Vomund (The Washington Post, September 20, 2015).
LGBT Catholics Say World Meeting is Missing an Opportunity – Julia Terruso (The Philadelphia Inquirer, August 17, 2015).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Jim Smith on the "Tears of Love and Faith" of LGBTI People and Their Families
Quote of the Day – August 19, 2015
The Many Manifestations of God's Loving Embrace
The Dreaded “Same-Sex Attracted” View of Catholicism
Be Not Afraid: You Can Be Happy and Gay
LGBT Catholics to Pope Francis: Let Us "Work Together Towards Creating a Church Where All Families Know That We Are Truly Loved and Welcomed"
Catholics Make Their Voices Heard on LGBTQ Issues
LGBT Catholics Celebrate Being "Wonderfully Made"
Remembering and Reclaiming a Wise, Spacious, and Holy Understanding of Homosexuality
300+ People Vigil at the Cathedral in Solidarity with LGBT Catholics
Celebrating Our Sanctifying Truth
Stop in the Name of Discriminatory Ideology!
The Real Meaning of Courage
The Many Forms of Courage (Part I)
The Many Forms of Courage (Part II)
The Many Forms of Courage (Part III)
Beyond Courage
Trusting God’s Generous Invitation
Sons of the Church: The Witnessing of Gay Catholic Men - A Discussion Guide
What the Vatican Can Learn from the X-Men

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Remembering John McNeill

John McNeill was the spiritual director to an entire generation of queer Catholics. He was a prophet, a pioneer, an activist, a scholar, a friend and a spouse. . . . He was a proud gay man.

I was saddened to hear last night of the death of John McNeill, a scholar and activist who, in his tireless proclamation of God's unconditional love for LBGT people, inspired and empowered countless lives. He was without doubt a prophet of his time, one who challenged the Roman Catholic hierarchy and cultural homophobia through his steadfast affirmation and celebration of the goodness of the human body, relationships and sexuality.

Following is a statement released by DignityUSA about the life and legacy of John McNeill.

DignityUSA mourns the passing of John J. McNeill, a seminal figure in the history of the 46-year-old organization of LGBT Catholics and allies, as well as the broader LGBT civil rights movement. McNeill died on the evening of September 22 at the age of 90 in hospice care in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in the presence of his devoted spouse and partner of 49 years, Charles Chiarelli.

A former Jesuit priest with a doctorate in philosophy from Louvain University in Belgium, McNeill helped inspire the founding of Dignity with articles in theological journals in the 1960s that for the first time challenged Catholic Church teaching on homosexuality from an authoritative theological and scholarly perspective. In 1972, he convened the meeting that led to the founding of Dignity’s New York City chapter. His groundbreaking, bestselling 1976 book, The Church and the Homosexual, was an international sensation that landed McNeill on the Today show and sparked widespread debate. Subsequent books, including Taking a Chance on God and Freedom, Glorious Freedom, extended McNeill’s discussion more deeply into the pastoral and personal realms of LGBT Catholic and Christian experience.

In 1987, McNeill was expelled from the Jesuits after nearly four decades for refusing to be silenced by the Vatican on LGBT issues. The same year, he was Grand Marshal of New York City’s LGBT Pride March. Until recent years, he pursued a multi-faceted vocation as a psychotherapist, spiritual director, retreat leader, and author, with a constant focus on the needs of the LGBT community. In addition, along with Fr. Mychal Judge, he founded The Upper Room AIDS Ministry, an outreach for homeless persons with AIDS in Harlem. Through these activities, he offered hope and healing — at times literally life-saving — to countless people around the globe.

Born and raised in Buffalo, McNeill entered the U.S. Army in 1942 and became a prisoner of war in Nazi Germany — an experience that for him was profoundly spiritual and led him to enter the Jesuits in 1948. Ordained in 1959, he taught philosophy and theology at Fordham University, Union Theological Seminary, and Le Moyne College, where he was a noted peace advocate during the Vietnam War.

A powerful presence at nearly every Dignity convention and in many Dignity communities until recent years, McNeill was presented with DignityUSA’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. In 2011, he traveled to Rome, where, along with European LGBT leaders, he delivered a letter to then-Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican. The letter asked for dialogue and urged Church leadership to speak out against the violence, injustice, and discrimination experienced by LGBT people around the world. In 2012, McNeill was the subject of Taking a Chance on God, a documentary film produced and directed by Dignity member Brendan Fay that highlights his role as priest, gay man, activist, author, spouse, and pioneer of the international LGBT civil rights movement.

DignityUSA also shares the following compilation of testimonials.

John was really the first major prophet of the Catholic LGBT movement. Every DignityUSA president has consulted him for insights into the emerging issues of the Catholic LGBT community. His groundbreaking bravery in daring to question official Church doctrine was truly liberating to so many people. The Church and the Homosexual was really the ‘coming-out’ Bible for LGBT Catholics. And Freedom, Glorious Freedom was incredibly important in helping to shape an empowered Catholicism not just for LGBT people, but for all. We offer our deepest condolences to Charlie [pictured with John above right in 2012] and commend him for his faithful companionship and care-giving to John over so many years.

– Marianne Duddy-Burke
DignityUSA Executive Director

I first became aware of John McNeill at the 1985 DignityUSA Convention. He spoke to us about his book and challenged us by his mere presence to join him in asserting with sincerity and courage, that God loved us in our identity and our sexuality and that we could remain faithful and whole in the presence of our God. A prophet, perhaps ahead of his time, whose message liberated many of us; a man of courage who, following his conscience, spoke truth to power and showed us how to do the same. He will be missed on earth, welcomed with the saints in heaven, leaving with us the message that living rooted in the Gospel is the only way to be whole and holy. May God help us make his legacy a reality in our work and in our lives.

– Lourdes Rodriguez-Nogues
DignityUSA President

When [I was] asked to step up to leadership, I was not an easy sell. The state of the organization had been quite stressful during my previous five years on the board. I was between jobs and feeling quite stressed myself. The needs seemed too great and I felt too weak. John called me to talk. He told me he believed I had the gifts required at the moment. He countered my instinctive Catholic rush to take it all along with a reminder that it was not my job to "save" Dignity. John said, "Just bring your gifts to the table and trust the Spirit will provide the rest. She has seen us through many trials. If we are meant to survive we will. But that is to be determined by forces bigger than any of us." I immediately felt the perceived "burden" lift. He reframed it for me. I was able to say yes. John was right – the Spirit has provided for our needs in abundance. John got us past a major sticking point with the wisdom he has shared with me then – as he has in countless ways thru our journey to the Promised Land.

– Mark Matson
Former DignityUSA President

My recollections of John go back to 1973 in Hollywood. His contributions to the equality and justice of the LGBT community are legendary. We all owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude.

– Pat McArron
Former DignityUSA President

John McNeill was a giant in the LGBT Catholic movement. He taught us all to take risks and trust in the Holy Spirit. In one of his later gatherings, he believed the Holy Spirit was always at work. He looked forward to the day the church officials would recognize the gifts of LGBT people and women.

– Lewis Speaks-Tanner
Incoming DignityUSA President
and member of Dignity/New York

Meanwhile, at Bondings 2.0, the blog of New Ways Ministry, Sr. Jeannine Gramick and Francis DeBernardo share their thoughts on the life and legacy of John McNeill.

John McNeill was a dear friend and colleague. He was a true pioneer in whose footsteps so many of us followed. I learned so much from his research and writing, but I learned even more from personal interactions with him, by witnessing the passion and human concern he had for every LGBT person he encountered.

– Jeannine Gramick
Co-Founder, New Ways Ministry

John McNeill was a good friend of New Ways Ministry for many years. He had a rare mixture of both a great heart and a great mind. His “academic” theological work was informed not only by philosophical principles and logic, but by awareness of deep and real human needs. It is not an overstatement to say that any of the pastoral, political, theological, and practical advances that LGBT Catholics have made in recent years could only have been brought about because of John’s ground-breaking work.

– Francis DeBernardo
Executive Director, New Ways Ministry

In remembrance of John and his pioneering work, his family has established The John J. McNeill Legacy Fund to provide support for the preservation and dissemination of his writings, lectures and teachings. An immediate goal of this fund will be the digitization of his correspondence, audio/visual recordings and other archival works so that they will be available for scholarly research as well as to continue the work to which he devoted his life of inspiring and empowering the worldwide gay and lesbian community.

To learn more and/or make a donation, click here.

Related Off-site Links:
The Rev. John J. McNeill, Jesuit Priest Who Became Famed LGBT Activist, Dies at 90 – Steve Rothaus (Miami Herald, September 23, 2015).
"Patron Saint" of LGBT Catholics, John J. McNeill, 90, Dies – Thomas C. Fox (National Catholic Reporter, September 24, 2015).
Reflecting on the Life and Ministry of John McNeill, Gay Theology Pioneer – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, September 24, 2015).
RIP John McNeill: Pioneering Gay Priest and Patron Saint of LGBT Catholics – Kittredge Cherry (Jesus in Love Blog, September 24, 2015).
Father John McNeill, Gay Catholic Pioneer, Dead at 90 – Andy Humm (Gay City News, September 25, 2015).
John McNeill, Priest Who Pushed Catholic Church to Welcome Gays, Dies at 90 – Margalit Fox (The New York Times, September 25, 2015).
Rev. John McNeill Dies at 90; Gay Priest and Author Expelled by Jesuits – Elaine Woo (The Los Angeles Times, September 29, 2015).

UPDATES: The Spiritual Legacy of John J. McNeill – Mary E. Hunt (Beacon Broadside, October 5, 2015).
Jesuit John McNeill Changed the Conversation on Gays – Alexander Santora (The Jersey Journal, December 28, 2015).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
John McNeill's Message to the US Bishops: "Enough!"
Gay People and the Spiritual Life
"Catholic Harvey Milk," Fr. Robert Carter, Dies at 82

Image: John McNeill pictured with (from left) Dan McCarthy, Bernard Lynch and Robert Carter at a gay pride march in the early 1980s.

Quote of the Day

Being "straight-acting," for a gay man at least, is directly related to how convincingly he is able to present traditionally masculine mannerisms. The term is so markedly offensive because its very existence insists that there is a particular, instantly identifiable manner of being gay (defined by effeminacy). And what's more, those qualities are seen as patently unattractive, undesirable and wildly dangerous.

Conversely, it then follows that there simultaneously exists a particular, instantly recognizable manner of being straight (defined by "masculinity"). And what's more, those qualities are seen as incredibly attractive, desirable and wholly advantageous – enough so that gay people would try to "act" in that way.

And there is a long history of straights attempting to straight-ify queer people (and of us trying to do it to ourselves). The performance of straightness is something that gay men have struggled with and against for as long as modern gay identities have existed. Because being gay has been so intimately connected with being effeminate, which was – and still is – equated with being submissive, weak and ineffectual. Gay men have been shamed (and attacked and murdered) for any display that does not reverberate with and reflect what our culture has determined is sufficiently masculine.

. . . It's time we stop using "straight-acting" as some kind of dreamy, aspirational bridge-building tactic or lure. There are all kinds of different ways to be gay and straight (and everything in between or outside of that binary). And while we're at it, how about we just stop trying to act like straight people all together and start acting like exactly who we are? And let's get some sissies up on the big screen. And let's get some more trans people in the spotlight. And let's remember that our community is not comprised of only gay white cis men. Let's tell our stories to each other and anyone else who will listen. . . . [And] we'll just keep telling our stories over and over again until we all know them by heart and they're so loud and powerful and yes, of course, awful and painful and tragic in parts, but finally so beautiful and true that when we're finally heard – and we will be heard – they'll know exactly who we are, what we have been through and why it matters.

– Noah Michelson
Excerpted from "'Straight-Acting' and Roland Emmerich's Stonewall"
The Huffington Post
September 24, 2015

Related Off-site Links:
Stonewall Might Be the Year’s Most Insulting Film, But Not for the Reasons You Think – Jeremy Kinser (Queerty, September 25, 2015).
Stonewall Uprising's Most Noted Historian Says Film "Is No Credit to the History It Purports to Portray"Queerty (September 25, 2015).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A Fresh Take on Masculinity
Beyond Limiting Ideas of "Real" Gay Sex
The Trouble with the Male Dancer
Rockin' with Maxwell
Love as Exploring Vulnerability
Unique . . . Yes, You!
Quote of the Day – May 13, 2015
Quote of the Day – July 16, 2010
The Challenge to Become Ourselves
Mary Bednarowski on the Power of Our Stories
Jesus Was a Sissy

Image: Subject and photographer unknown.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Pope Francis in the U.S.

Pope Francis arrived in Washington, D.C. yesterday for his first visit to the United States.

Much has been written in the lead-up to this historic visit and I'm sure much more will be written in the days to come. My own thoughts on the pope's visit aren't that profound, in large part because I have no real enthusiasm for the whole feudal monarchical papal system – a system of authority and governance totally at odds with the model of leadership embodied by Jesus. Quite frankly, I'd rather expend time and energy on evolving the Catholic community beyond both papalism and its "diseased system" of clericalism.

The purpose of this post, however, isn't to belabor this point. After all, a whole Wild Reed series, "Progressive Perspectives on the Papacy" is devoted to exploring the pitfalls of and alternatives to papalism. Rather, I share today some perspectives (along with a number of relevant links) that I find both interesting and helpful in the midst of the media hoopla surrounding the Bishop of Rome's U.S. visit.

A glimmer of hope

I start with the perspective of E.J. Dionne Jr., shared in his recent Washington Post op-ed. I appreciate how Dionne reminds us of how in a number of significant ways, Francis is more radical than many "liberals." It's important to note that the word "radical" is being used here in its deepest and truest sense. All too often "radical" is erroneously equated with extremism of one kind or another. Yet that’s not what it means. It actually means to go to the root, to recognize and address the underlying essence of a given reality, along with the deep-seated issues, questions and/or problems associated with it. Pope Francis does this with regards to economic and environmental issues. He is yet to do it, however, with regards to issues of gender and sexuality. This discrepancy is problematic for many people, and stems from the fact that the Vatican employs two conflicting worldviews when dealing with different areas of human inquiry and experience.

Yet Dionne finds hope in many of the pope's actions, which he argues speak louder than his words, words often reflective of and thus limited by the impoverished and dysfunctional doctrines of the "official" church. By and large, the pope's actions tend to favor human experience over doctrine, a favoring which in turn has, says Dionne, "radically reordered the priorities of the church." At the core of this development is the pope's focus on human encounter and experience, and in this I see an ever-so-slight glimmer of hope for gay people and their loved ones. One reason it's a slight glimmer is because of the ongoing treatment of women in the church. They continue to be left out of the pope's "revolution" of encounter. It's a scandalous and demoralizing situation that doesn't bode well for LGBT people.

Despite this (or perhaps because he's unmindful of it), Dionne writes that: "It’s hard to see how progressives don’t come out ahead [with Francis]. He is not fighting culture wars. He is fighting against them. This, in part, is what accounts for his broad popularity among former Catholics, Americans of other faiths and even secularists and atheists."

Continues Dionne:

But seeing Francis only as a player in our political fights is misleading. To begin with, he is — both spiritually and politically — far more radical than most Americans, including most liberals.

While he has been quite specific on some political questions (the climate and immigration especially), what characterizes his mission is an effort to turn our notions of who counts and who has the strongest claim on our attention upside down.

. . . In a moving New York Times piece about one of the pope’s planned stops in New York, columnist Jim Dwyer described the invitation list: “carwashers . . . Hudson Valley farmworkers, day-laborers, immigrant mothers, and teenagers and children who have crossed the border without their parents.” In Philadelphia, Francis will visit the city’s largest jail. In Washington, he will bless the needy who get help from Catholic Charities. His ministry will be right out of what the Catholic Mass says of Jesus: “To the poor he proclaimed the good news of salvation, to prisoners freedom, and to those in sorrow joy.”

Francis will be calling everyone (liberals no less than others) out of complacency.

A gay Catholic invitation

The second perspective I share today is that of Jeff Vomund (left), a member of Dignity/Washington. Vomund has an incredibly well-written and inspiring commentary in the September 20, 2015 issue of The Washington Post. To date, it's the best "gay Catholic" commentary I've read in relation to the pope's visit to the U.S..

In its recognition and understanding of the lived experiences of gay people, Vomund's perspective stands in stark contrast to that of Ron Belgau, the only gay person officially sanctioned to appear (along with his mother) at the upcoming World Meeting of Families. Belgau, a self-described celibate gay man, sees "chaste and holy intimacy as a model for Christ-centered spiritual friendship" between gay people. Echoing the stance of the Vatican, Belgau maintains that it is type of friendship that is "corrupted" by "homosexual activity," which is a reductive and demeaning term for the rich and complex reality of sexual encounters and/or relationships between people of the same gender. In contrast to Belgau's limited perspective, Vomund's words reflect what I and many other Catholics consider to be a wise, spacious, and holy understanding of homosexuality.

Following is Jeff Vomund's September 20 Washington Post op-ed reprinted in its entirety. It's entitled "An Invitation to Pope Francis from D.C.’s Gay Catholic Community."

Pope Francis, welcome to Washington! Like the rest of the Catholic world and people of good faith everywhere, we have felt challenged to find God in all people by your focus on the poor and the outcast. We watched you wash the feet of women and non-Christians and were inspired to be more inclusive. We read your words on the moral imperatives caused by our climate crisis and were challenged to change our relationship to the Earth. But never have we been more energized by your words than when, on the first foreign trip of your papacy, you said this to a reporter who asked you about gay priests: “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge?”

As an organization that provides a spiritual home to LGBTQ Catholics, Dignity/Washington works for respect and justice for people of all sexual orientations, genders and gender identities in the Catholic Church. We know what it’s like to feel judged. For being honest about our sexuality. For wanting to live happy and open lives with families and friends. And, indeed, for wanting to be who we are — LGBTQ and Roman Catholic.

We also love our church. We love gathering as a community around the altar for the Eucharist. We love the scriptures and the liturgy and the faith tradition that has shaped our lives. Although we as an organization have been exiled from Catholic buildings and rejected by Catholic leaders because we want to live our sexuality openly and without apology, we are still Catholic, and we still look to you for leadership.

That is why we are so grateful for your upcoming presence in our city. We await your arrival with hope and expectation. And we invite you, Holy Father, in the words of Jesus to his first disciples, to “come and see.”

So often when the church has made pronouncements about homosexuality and the LGBTQ community, it has done so from a distance. Despite the high percentage of gay clergy in the Catholic Church — or perhaps because of it — Vatican and hierarchical statements about homosexuality and LGBTQ people have felt like an intellectual exercise in natural law and interpretations of scriptural text, not statements that speak to the great commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves. “Intrinsically disordered,” as the church refers to homosexual acts, may be a legitimate philosophical category, but it is not a label to put on brothers and sisters.

We are, like you and all church leaders, human beings who fall in love, have to learn how to forgive and want to grow old surrounded by friends and family. It is not the church’s judgment about us that has hurt so much, but rather our being judged without being known. For if church leaders knew us, they would also know the love that surrounds us. They would know couples who have cared for each other in sickness and in health — indeed not parting until death. They would see the power of understanding, especially the understanding of parents and children, as we have struggled with our families to make sense of who we are. They would know the joy and laughter that come from friendship and the powerful bond that comes, at times, from feeling outcast together. For any who know us would know that what church teaching has labeled “disordered” is actually a gift that gives order to our love and to our lives. From the distance of philosophical theology, that might seem impossible. But up close I promise one cannot fail to see it.

And so, we invite you, Holy Father, as well as Cardinal Donald Wuerl, our own archbishop, and all of the bishops and priests in whose dioceses and parishes we live, to “come and see.” Get to know the strength of love that survives despite ridicule and cultural rejection. Experience firsthand couples who have been together for decades praying and seeking to do God’s will. See us in our need for forgiveness, but also in the sharing of our gifts. We are confident that, like those who experienced Jesus firsthand, you would recognize as did the apostle John in his first Letter, “Everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.”

We might disagree about the definition of a civil or a sacramental marriage. We might not see eye to eye on the purpose of sexual activity in a same-sex relationship. But we can begin by simply getting to know the love that God has for each of us. We could share that love with you, and you with us — or any other church leader who would be willing to “come and see.” We believe that once you got to see and know our love, it would no longer make sense to call it “disordered” or to fire people who work for and serve the church while sharing that love. We believe that once you came to share in our love for one another, labeling it as a “cross” we had to bear, or treating it as less deserving of government protection, would make no more sense to you than it does to us.

Holy Father, “come and see” for yourself how God is made flesh in our liturgies and in our loves, as in any other Catholic community, and you will not have to ask: “Who am I to judge?” Because, again echoing John, you will speak of “what we have seen with our eyes . . . and touched with our hands” and proclaim “the eternal life . . . that was . . . made visible to us” so that we might “have fellowship” together and “our joy may be complete.”

– Jeff Vomund
The Washington Post
September 20, 2015

Related Off-site Links and Updates:

LGBT Catholics and the Pope's Visit
Gay Catholic Families Plan Pilgrimage to See Pope – Lisa Wangsness (The Boston Globe, September 13, 2015).
Gay, Celibate Man Is Official Face of LGBT Catholicism for Pope's Visit – David Gibson (Religion News Service, September 14, 2015).
The "Francis Effect": Putting Rhetoric Together with Reality on Eve of Pope's Visit – William D. Lindsey (Bilgrimage, September 17, 2015).
White House Invites LGBT Catholics and Advocates to Papal Ceremony – Michael K. Lavers (The Washington Blade, September 16, 2015).
Fired Teacher and Wife to Be at White House for Francis' Arrival – Chris Brennan (The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 21, 2015).
Sr. Jeannine Gramick, LGBT Ministry Pioneer, to Meet Pope Francis – Terry Weldon (Queering the Church, September 18, 2015).
Vatican Angered After White House Invites LGBT Activists To Pope's Welcome Ceremony – Rachel Witkin (The New Civil Rights Movement, September 19, 2015).
Conservatives (Not Vatican) Outraged at White House Guest List for Pope – David Gibson (National Catholic Reporter, September 21, 2015).
So What if Pope Francis Meets a Transgender Catholic at the White House? – Nathan Schneider (America, September 20, 2015)
Amid Mixed Messages and Controversy, LGBT Catholics Prepare for Pope’s Visit – Alex Kacala (Logo, September 19, 2015).
Gay U.S. Catholics Will Greet Pope with Rainbow Rosaries, Not Protests – Laila Kearney and Elly Park (Reuters via Religion News Service, September 20, 2015).
Gay Catholics' Message to Pope Francis Ahead of U.S. Visit – Anna Bressanin (BBC World News, September 22, 2015).
LGBT Catholics and Allies Will Welcome Pope Francis to the White House – Bob Shine (Bondings 2.0, September 22, 2015).
I Am Catholic and I Am Gay. This I Know for Sure – Kristen Ostendorf (The Huffington Post, September 22, 2015).
LGBT Advocates Call on Pope Francis to "Welcome Us Home" – Rebecca Ruiz (Mashable, September 23, 2015).
Outsiders Keep the Faith – Susan Milligan (U.S. News, September 23, 2015).
Pope Francis Isn't As Progressive on LGBTQ Issues As You Think – German Lopez (Vox, September 23, 2015).
LGBT Catholics Alarmed With Pope’s Remarks About "Unjust Discrimination" – Dominic Holden (BuzzFeed, September 24, 2015).
Pope Francis’ Visit is Ambiguous on LGBT Issues Thus Far – And It’s Not Over Yet – Bob Shine (Bondings 2.0, September 25, 2015.
What Pope Francis Really Said About (Gay) Marriage – and What He Did Not – Michelangelo Signorile (The Huffington Post, September 25, 2015).
Openly Gay Comedian Mo Rocca Reads at Papal Mass; Francis Remains Unclear on LGBT Front – Bob Shine (Bondings 2.0, September 26, 2015).
Openly Gay Reporter Mo Rocca's Starring Role in Pope's Mass Thrills LGBT Advocates – Daniel Marans (The Huffington Post, September 26, 2015).
Pope to Bishops: Don’t Blame Others for Gay Marriage and Family Problems – David Gibson (Religion News Service, September 27, 2015).
New Ways Ministry Welcomes Pope Francis to Philly with Catholic Gender Identity Workshop – Bob Shine (Bondings 2.0, September 27, 2015).
Here's Why a Gay Dad is Inviting Pope Francis to Dinner – Rob Watson (The Huffington Post, September 27, 2015).
At LGBT Picnic, a Pope's Words – If Not His Presence – Chris Brennan (Philadelphia Inquirer, September 27, 2015).
Papal Visit Prompts Calls for LGBT-Inclusive Church – Michael K. Lavers (The Washington Blade, September 27, 2015).
Before Departing USA, Pope Francis Offers His Strongest Words for New Approaches to Old Issues – Francis DeBerardo (Bondings 2.0, September 28, 2015).
On Plane Back to Rome, Pope Says Workers Have "Human Right" to Refuse Same-Sex Marriage Licenses – Alastair Jamieson (NBC News, September 28, 2015).
Pope's Visit: Mixed Messages for LGBT People – Kittredge Cherry (Jesus in Love Blog, September 27, 2015).

Ahead of the Pope's Visit, the Pundits Weigh In
Pope Francis’s Actions Speak Louder Than His Words – E.J. Dionne Jr. (The Washington Post, September 20, 2015).
Will Pope Francis Be Polite or Prophetic? – Ray McGovern (The Baltimore Sun, September 20, 2015).
Some American Catholics Really Don't Like Pope Francis. Here's Why – Amanda Erickson (The Washington Post, September 18, 2015).
On Fact-Free Flamboyance: George Will vs. Pope Francis – Anthony Annett (Commonweal, September 21, 2015).
No, Pope Francis Is Not a 'Progressive' or a 'Liberal' – He's a Priest – Emma Green (The Atlantic, September 22, 2015).
Why U.S. Bishops Aren't Embracing Pope Francis' Climate Push – Suzanne Goldenberg (Mother Jones, September 21, 2015).
A Moral Challenge for Pope Francis – Ray McGovern (Common Dreams, September 22, 2015).
Three Scenarios for Pope Francis' U.S. Visit – Massimo Faggioli (The Huffington Post, September 23, 2015).

The Junípero Serra Controversy
 Why Is the ‘Radical Pope’ About to Canonize a Priest Who Helped Enslave and Murder Native Americans? – Richard Kreitner (The Nation, September 18, 2015).
What Is Driving Pope Francis’ Canonization of Junípero Serra? – Jamie Manson (National Catholic Reporter, September 19, 2015).
Suzan Shown Harjo to Pope Francis: Don't Canonize Junípero Serra – Suzan Shown Harjo (Indian Country, September 21, 2015).
Native Groups Protest Pope Francis’ Canonization of Junípero Serra Over Role in California GenocideDemocracy Now! (September 23, 2015).
Native Americans Make Last-Ditch Plea Against Serra Canonization – Vinnie Rotondaro (National Catholic Reporter, September 23, 2015).
Pope Makes California Missionary a Saint – AFP via Yahoo! News (September 23, 2015).

Day 1 of the Pope's U.S. Visit

Pope Francis in the USA: Calling for Revolution of Tenderness, Pope Touches Down in Richest NationDemocracy Now! (September 23, 2015).

Day 2 of the Pope's U.S. Visit
Pope Francis Opens His U.S. Visit With Message of Mercy and Encounter – Bob Shine (Bondings 2.0, September 24, 2015).
Pope Francis Gets Political in White House Address – Nahal Toosi (Politico, September 23, 2015).
Pope Francis' Speech at the White HouseMillennial (September 23, 2015).
A Little Girl With a Message for the Pope – Andy Newman (New York Times, September 23, 2015).
Pope's Address to Bishops May Have Been His Most Important – Tom Roberts (National Catholic Reporter, September 24, 2015).
Francis Tells U.S. Bishops to be "Promoters of the Culture of Encounter" – Joshua J. McElwee (National Catholic Reporter, September 23, 2015).
Pope Francis to Bishops: Reject "Harsh and Divisive" Battles, Be Open to Others – David Gibson (Religion News Service, September 23, 2015).
Pope Francis' Speech to the Bishops of the United States of AmericaNew York Times (September 23, 2015).
Angry Conservatives Insist Pope Francis is a Fake Christian – David Horsey (Los Angeles Times, September 23, 2015).
Pope Will Dine with Homeless, Not Politicians After Addressing Congress – Stephen Collinson (KUTV, September 22, 2015).

Day 3 of the Pope's U.S. Visit
Francis, Citing Day and Merton, Pushes Congress to Pursue Common Good – Joshua J. McElwee (National Catholic Reporter, September 24, 2015).
Pope Calls for End to Death Penalty in Speech to Congress – Alana Horowitz Satlin (The Huffington Post, September 24, 2015).
Full Text of Pope Francis' Speech to CongressAmerica (September 24, 2015).
Day and Merton: The Catholic Radicals Francis Cited – Thomas C. Fox (National Catholic Reporter, September 24, 2015).
Why Pope Francis Cited Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton – Lily Rothman (Time, September 24, 2015).
Standing Before Congress, Pope Francis Calls Out the "Industry of Death": The Arms Trade, War Profiteering, and Even the "War on Terror" Itself – Phyllis Bennis and Manuel Perez-Rocha (Institute for Policy Studies, September 24, 2015).
Conservative Points in Pope's Speech Include Liberal "Chasers" – Pamela Miller (Religion Dispatches, September 24, 2015).
The Pope Handled His Congressional Critics With Perfection – Shawn Drury (Blue Nation Review, September 24, 2015).

Day 4 of the Pope's U.S. Visit
In UN Speech, Pope Francis Blasts "Selfish and Boundless Thirst for Power and Material Prosperity"Democracy Now! (September 25, 2015).
Pope Francis' Address to the United Nations General AssemblyHuffPost Religion (September 25, 2015).
Pope Prays for Peace in "Our Violent World" in Service with Faith Leaders at 9/11 Memorial – Maurice Timothy Reidy (America, September 25, 2015).

At 9/11 Site, Pope Prays with Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Buddhists and Hindus – Lauren Markoe (Religion News Service, September 25, 2015).
At Ground Zero, Francis Asks 9/11 Families to Be Instruments of Peace – Joshua J. McElwee (National Catholic Reporter, September 25, 2015).
Pope Goes Back to School, Meets Students and Community in Harlem – David Agren (Religion News Service via National Catholic Reporter, September 25, 2015).
At New York Mass, Francis Describes How to Be a Saint in the City – Joshua J. McElwee (National Catholic Reporter, September 25, 2015).
A Holy Father's Day in New York City – Matt Stout (Boston Herald, September 26, 2015).

Day 5 of the Pope's U.S. Visit
At Independence Hall, Francis Links Religious Liberty and Cultural Identity – Brian Roewe (National Catholic Reporter, September 26, 2015).
At Independence Hall, Pope Offers a Broad Vision of Religious Freedom – Jim Yardley and Daniel J. Wakin (New York Times, September 26, 2015).
Pope Francis in Philadelphia Mass Calls for Church to Place Greater Value on Women – Alastair Jamieson, Katie Primm, Kasie Hunt, Tracy Connor and Elizabeth Chuck (NBC News, September 26, 2015).

Pope Francis Watches Dancers from the Pennsylvania Ballet – Getty Images (September 26, 2015).
Pope Francis: "Let's Protect the Family" – David Chang, Jim Iovino and Josh Kleinbaum (NBC News, September 26, 2015).
In Philadelphia, Pope Francis Urges Laity to Strengthen Church – Agence France-Presse via NDTV (September 2015).

Day 6 of the Pope's U.S. Visit
Before Pope's Farewell Mass, Visits with Bishops and Inmates – Daniel J. Wakin (The New York Times, September 27, 2015).
Pope Francis Meets with Survivors of Sex Abuse – Carol Kuruvilla (The Huffington Post, September 27, 2015).
Pope Francis Speaks to Bishops on Gay Marriage and Families in Philadelphia – Jaweed Kaleem (The Huffington Post, September 27, 2015).
Pope Francis Wraps Up Joyful U.S. Visit with Big Open-Air Mass – Nicole Winfield and Rachel Zoll (Associated Press via Yahoo! News, September 27, 2015).
Francis Bids Farewell, Tells Catholics to Avoid "Perversion" of "Narrow" Faith – David Gibson (Religion News Service, September 27, 2015).
Francis' Last Message to America: Don't Be Afraid of New Things! – Joshua J. McElwee (National Catholic Reporter, September 27, 2015).
Pope Leaves U.S. After Moving 6-Day Visit – Antonia Blumberg (The Huffington Post, September 27, 2015).
Pope Uses Popularity to Chart New Direction for Church and U.S. – Rachel Zoll (Associated Press via Yahoo! News, September 28, 2015).
Pope Wades into U.S. Gay Marriage Debate After Historic Visit – Scott Malone (Reuters via Yahoo! News, September 28, 2015).
Aboard Papal Plane, the Pope Just Handed Kim Davis a Huge Win – Reuters via The Huffington Post (September 28, 2015).
On Plane Back to Rome, Pope Says Workers Have "Human Right" to Refuse Same-Sex Marriage Licenses – Alastair Jamieson (NBC News, September 28, 2015).
What the Pope Really Said About Kim Davis – Jack Jenkins (Think Progress, September 28, 2015).
En Route to Rome, Pope Francis Reaffirms Ban on Women's Ordination – Jamie Manson (National Catholic Reporter, September 28, 2015).

Voices Calling Francis and the Church to Go Further
A Letter to Pope Francis – Joan Chittister (Benetvision, September 19, 2015).
Francis Falters in Addressing Sex Abuse – Dennis Coday (National Catholic Reporter, September 23, 2015).
Abuse Victims Blast Pope’s Praise of Bishops – Barbara Blaine (SNAP, September 23, 2015).
Pope Francis' Gesture Towards Sex Abuse Victims Wasn't Nearly Enough -- Charles P. Pierce (Esquire, September 28, 2015).
Seven Arrested After Group Seeking Ordination of Female Priests Protests Pope Francis in Washington – Polly Mosendz (Newsweek, September 23, 2015).
Theologian: "Gender Insights Challenge Priesthood Theology" – Thomas C. Fox (National Catholic Reporter, September 19, 2015).
What a Catholic Mom Wants the Pope to Learn from Her Rabbi Daughter – Cindy Skrzycki (Forward, September 21, 2015).
Pope Francis’ Revolution Has Left Out Women – Lisa Miller (New York Magazine, September 23, 2015).
Five Minutes with Francis: What Women Want – NCR Staff (National Catholic Reporter, September 24, 2015).
A Church That Dreams of Rights for Women Can Be Great, Too – Jamie Manson (National Catholic Reporter, September 25, 2015).
Pope Francis: Apply the "Golden Rule" to Women in the Catholic Church – Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite (The Huffington Post, September 28, 2015).
Francis, the Perfect 19th-Century Pope – Maureen Dowd (The New York Times, September 26, 2015).
Onondaga Nation Members Felt Disrespected During Pope Francis Visit in NYC – Sarah Moses (, September 25, 2015).
Pope Francis' Careful Side-Step – Steven Newcomb (Indian Country, September 26, 2015).

9/30/15 UPDATE:
DignityUSA Responds to News of
Meeting Between Pope Francis and Kim Davis

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Quote (and Reality Check) of the Day – September 1, 2015
Quote (and Question) of the Day – January 22, 2015
Quote of the Day – October 31, 2014
LGBT Catholics to Pope Francis: Let Us "Work Together Towards Creating a Church Where All Families Know That We Are Truly Loved and Welcomed"
How the Pope's Recent Remarks Highlight a Major Discrepancy in Church Teaching
Why I Take Hope in Pope Francis' Statement on Gay Priests
On the Issue of Contraception, the Catholic Clerical Caste Does Not Speak for "the Church," Let Alone "Religion"
Progressive Perspectives on the Papacy (Part 1)
Progressive Perspectives on the Papacy (Part 2)
Progressive Perspectives on the Papacy (Part 3)
Progressive Perspectives on the Papacy (Part 4)
Progressive Perspectives on the Papacy (Part 5)
Beyond Papalism
Casanova-Inspired Reflections on Papal Power - at 30,000 ft.
Somewhere In Between
Beyond the Hierarchy: The Blossoming of Liberating Catholic Insights on Sexuality
Remembering and Reclaiming a Wise, Spacious, and Holy Understanding of Homosexuality