BY ANDY HUMM | It has been quite a week for anti-LGBTQ assaults from the international Catholic hierarchy. We’ll start the round-up of recent events right here in New York.
Cardinal Dolan V. Gay Arts:
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, an appointee of Pope Benedict Emeritus and a hardliner, softened a bit last year and finally allowed an Irish LGBTQ group to march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. His God did not smite him for it or those of us who march behind the Lavender & Green banner. We marched again this year without incident — not to mention with Irish Senator Aodhán Ó Riordáin, whose condemnation of Donald Trump as a “fascist” right after our suicidal election last November has garnered millions of hits online.
But this week, the Archdiocese got wind of the fact that the International Human Rights Arts Festival slated for St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Manhattan on Sunday, October 15 included two LGBTQ performance pieces among the nine scheduled: the group Maybe Burke presenting part of its cabaret act, “Accidental Trans Anthems,” and coming out stories performed by improvisational artists Alex Song, Michael Hartney, Kelsey Bailey, and Kelley Quinn. Dolan said the festival could go forward at St. Mary’s if the gay and transgender acts were nixed, showing no problem with Kathleen Turner’s monologue from “Red Hot Patriot” about the late irreverent columnist Molly Ivins, a trenchant and hilarious supporter of LGBTQ and abortion rights.
Tom Block, producer of the festival, said in a written release, “The idea that some of us would go forward while others were rejected is antithetical to our mission, our belief, and, frankly, our faith. Respect does not stop at the doorway to one or another segment of the population.”
The festival secured space at the Episcopal Church of St. Ann & the Holy Trinity on 157 Montague Street at Clinton Street in Brooklyn Heights. Show time is 7:30 p.m., and tickets are available here.
The festival’s release quoted an unnamed Catholic spokesperson saying, “We cannot have this kind of work in the Catholic Church.”
Gay City News called Joe Zwilling, the Archdiocese’s director of communications, for an elaboration of what his Church can and cannot tolerate, but did not get a reply.
For the record, his Church tolerated the abuse of children for decades before being shamed into action and sued for massive payouts. And his Church still “cannot have” anything as evil as women or openly gay priests. The closet and male supremacy remain the eighth and ninth Catholic sacraments. There are a couple of LGBTQ groups at some Catholic parishes in New York, but they are not entitled to the dignity of such things as same-sex weddings.
Jeff Stone, the secretary of Dignity/ NY, the LGBTQ Catholic group, said the Archdiocese “has a long history of unjustified exclusions of LGBT people from Church spaces. Dignity is a case in point,” banished from holding services at St. Francis Xavier, a Jesuit-run parish in Chelsea, in 1987. The group meets at St. John’s Episcopal Church in the West Village.
Stone said that his group wrote to Dolan when he was named archbishop in 2009, got a letter back expressing some interest in dialogue, but no meeting has ever taken place. But Stone isn’t giving up on his Church. He is heading to Munich-Dachau in November for the second gathering of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics, which brought 30 LGBTQ Catholic groups from around the world together in 2015 in Rome.
Father Bernárd Lynch, an out gay Catholic priest persecuted by the Archdiocese of New York for his gay rights and AIDS work in the 1970s and ‘80s, wrote in an email from Ireland, “The Catholic Church made us pariahs and spared no price and counted no cost to fight our every civil and human right [during the AIDS crisis]. The Church’s teachings, attitudes, and behaviours became another untreatable opportunistic infection that afflicted those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. The news regarding Cardinal Dolan’s rejection of this most recent event with Kathleen Turner and others over LGBTQ content is no different. They still hate us. They hate who we are and how we love. Living or dying, my Church simply cannot accept us as co-equals in God’s image. What a disgrace. Thirty years later, we have marriage both here, in the land of my birth, and in New York, the land of my spiritual birth. The Church institutionally still spells death to us. What kind of God do they believe in?”
Pope V. Transgender Redux:
Pope Francis, who last year compared “gender theory” (his term for being transgender) to “nuclear arms,” said this past week that advances in “biomedical technology” that makes gender confirmation easier will “risk dismantling the source of energy that fuels the alliance between men and women and renders them fertile.”
No compassion whatsoever for the transgender women facing violence and murder in epidemic proportions in the US and around the world came out of the Vatican. Nor was there any mention, of course, of the overpopulation that strains the earth’s resources, or that he insists on a Church led by men who are not supposed to have any sex for their whole lives.
Bless Animals, Not Humans:
Same-sex marriages got underway in Germany on October 1 and some of the more human Catholic bishops even acceded to some kind of blessing for the couples. But Munster Bishop Felix Genn prohibited a church blessing (not a marriage) for the out gay mayor of Emmericher, Peter Hinze, and his husband, which the local priest, Father Stefan Suhling, was prepared to provide.
A Munster diocese spokesperson the bishop was not “degrading” the men’s partnership, just trying not to confuse the faithful about what a sacramental marriage is.
Mayor Hinze was having none of it, saying that his Church was giving “the impression that we are second-class people” and noting that it blesses “dogs, cats, and motorcycles,” just not gay couples committed to each other for life.
Peace v. Pax:
In Washington State, Cheryl Enstad works as social worker at the fraudulently named PeaceHealth St. Joseph’s Medical Center, which refused to pay, under its insurance plan for Enstad, for her transgender son Pax’s transition-related medical care. The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the Center for violating the Affordable Care Act that mandates non-discrimination on the basis of gender identity, just one more decent thing that the Trump administration took steps in the past several weeks to undo.
Maybe Not So Liberal In Chicago:
The new archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Blase Cupich, is one of Francis’ boys and was talking a better game on gay people in July.
“We have always wanted to make sure that we start the conversation by saying that all people are of value and their lives should be respected and that we should respect them,” he said at that time. “That is why I think that the terms gay and lesbian, LGBT, all of those names that people appropriate to themselves, should be respected. People should be called the way that they want to be called rather than us coming up with terms that maybe we’re more comfortable with. So it begins with that.”
Cupich took some heat for that mildest of attempts at politeness and decency, which might explain why his Archdiocese was in court this past week demanding the right to fire Sandor Demkovich, the music director of St. Andrew the Apostle parish after he married his male partner — even though he had long been openly gay in his work. But making a commitment to your love is a cardinal sin in Cupich’s Church, where the mostly gay clergy is forced into the unmarried life (unless they are converted Anglican priests, who already have wives — though not, of course, husbands).
Cupich got summary judgement from federal Judge Edmond Chang, who deemed Demkovich’s post “ministerial” and exempt from the Illinois laws banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. Demkovich said his pastor boss encouraged him to get married, then fired him for it. That wasn’t very nice.
Unlike Allah, Trump’s Homophobia Does Not Rest on Friday:
Donald Trump, of course, is not sitting idle leaving the anti-LGBTQ culture wars to the Catholics. On Friday the 13th, the president, whose cover story before Christian audiences is that he is a Presbyterian, became the nation’s first sitting chief executive to speak to the virulently anti-LGBTQ Values Voters Summit. In a typically pandering speech, in which he promised that we’d all be saying “Merry Christmas” again this year, the president observed, “How times have changed. But you know what, now they're changing back again. Just remember that.”
Be afraid. And be warned.