Today, I Am Reborn a Non-Catholic

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To His Eminence: Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York

Today is Easter Sunday, the day in the Catholic calendar most devoted to the celebration of rebirth. Today, in this 48th year since my Confirmation into the Catholic Church, I choose to be reborn a non-Catholic. I am renouncing both my Baptism and Confirmation into the Church. You will find my 1965 Remembrance of Confirmation, performed by Bishop Fearns at St. Ignatius Loyola on Park Avenue, returned with this letter. A record of my Baptism should be in the records of the Church of the Blessed Sacrament on West 71st Street. Please remove me from your roster of adherents.

Why?

Today, on national television, you offered that gay couples are entitled to friendship, but you added that in the eyes of the Catholic Church, they were precluded from the happiness that comes from a loving, long-lasting romantic relationship. Here are the exact words you used in your exchange with the host of the program:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (HOST): And you know, especially this week – because it’s been at the top of the news – for many gay and lesbian Americans –– gay and lesbian Catholics, they feel unwelcome –– in the Church. And what do you say as a minister, as a pastor – to a gay couple that comes to you and say, “We love God. We love the Church. But we also love each other, and we –– want to raise a family in faith. What do you say to them?

DOLAN: Well, the first thing I’d say to them is, “I love you, too. And God loves you. And you are made in God’s image and likeness. And – and we – we want your happiness. But – and you’re entitled to friendship.” But we also know that God has told us that the way to happiness, that – especially when it comes to sexual love – that is intended only for a man and woman in marriage, where children can come about naturally. We gotta be – we gotta do better to see that our defense of marriage is not reduced to an attack on gay people. And I admit, we haven’t been too good at that.

And so once again, Your Eminence, you affirmed that the position of the Catholic Church is that marriage is intended only for a man and a woman. Fair enough. I would have expected nothing different, nothing less. But to add that gay couples are just entitled to friendship, and that anything more is precluded by God, Your Eminence, you are just wrong!

I am a gay man. I am in a 12-year relationship – a relationship that has endured much longer than 50% of the marriages in this country – a relationship which has seen its ups and downs, its fun and its frustrations, its honeymoon periods and its less than honeymoon periods. My honey, as I call my partner, and I have struggled to know one another, to appreciate and accept one another’s peculiarities, to talk candidly, to argue and to compromise with one another. We have learned to both embrace interdependence and safeguard independence. Along the way, where a lot of couples might have called it quits, we called a couples therapist and made weekly visits. And we are stronger for it. You better believe this is a friendship. And you better believe this is a whole lot more – regardless of whether you deny it. Regardless of whether you would deny us, and hundreds of thousands of couples like us, respectful inclusion in the institution that treats what we have together as a whole lot more than a friendship, it is. And it deserves to be honored as such. And Your Eminence, the happiness that you say was intended only for a man and women in marriage, God is granting that to us too.

There are other Churches that would welcome and honor what we have built together as more than a friendship. Even the new Pope Francis, while he was battling same-gender marriage laws in Argentina (a campaign he cast as a “war of God”), worked behind the scenes to start a conversation in favor of civil unions as an alternative – as a way to recognize that what loving, long-term gay couples have is more than friendship, and is entitled to be treated as more than friendship. You have never even hinted at such a generosity of spirit.

You are the President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. That makes you the highest-ranking Catholic cleric in the country. I accept that your pronouncements reflect the position of the Church in the United States. Your Eminence, your words on this Easter morning, on this day of rebirth, have given me the final bit of inspiration I have needed to be reborn. I leave the Church with no ill will. I leave because I am ill at heart with each new Church pronouncement of the limitations of God’s desires for me, for my happiness, and for the fullness of my experience as a human being, born in His image, just because I am gay.

Today, I am reborn a non-Catholic.

Respectfully,

Peter Alduino

cc: His Holiness, Pope Francis

Response:

Response from Cardinal Dolan (April 9 2013)

Source:

Cardinal Dolan To Gay Couples: You’re Only ‘Entitled To Friendship’

Cardinal Dolan Interviewed by George Stephanopoulos (VIDEO)

On Gay Unions, a Pragmatist Before He Was a Pope

Related Readings:

If the Church is Serious About Welcoming Gays… (NYT, Op-ed)

Humility v. Hubris: The Archbishop’s Choice

Equality Image

Marriage  Equality Image

division

Archbishop’s Image

Three days ago, San Francisco’s Catholic Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone posted, to his personal Facebook page, the above mockery of the marriage equality image – the most used profile image in Facebook history[i].  The scriptural reference reads:  “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division.”  In under 24 hours, over 200 angry comments had been posted in response.  The post was deleted after it received over 350 comments, not a single one of which was supportive.[ii]

Ross Murray, Director of News and Faith Initiatives at GLAAD[iii] writes: “The verse is a misappropriation of Jesus’ longer narrative, in which he calls out religious leaders who use their authority to hurt and condemn others…much like the situation we see today. It is especially disheartening to see this symbol and verse being used at a time when LGBT youth homelessness is so high. As Carl Siciliano of the Ali Forney Center has noted, many homeless LGBT youth have been kicked out of their homes because religious leaders have told parents that is the only thing to do.”

It is the middle of Holy Week in the liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church. The new Pope Francis said on the day the Archbishop posted his mockery , “Holy Week challenges us to step outside of ourselves so as to attend to the needs of others; those who long for a sympathetic ear, those in need of comfort or help.” Two days ago, the Pope visited a juvenile detention center in Rome and washed the feet of young offenders including women and Muslims. When asked why he had come to visit them, he responded it was to “help me be humble, as a bishop should be.”

Humility is not the strong suit of the bishop of San Francisco. It is rather hubris that he prefers to cloak himself in. He harbors particular spite towards gay men and women. He obviously considers the idea of legalizing same-gender marriage as repugnant and sacrilegious (see my earlier essay). That is his prerogative.

And yet, he is the archbishop in San Francisco. The city and the surrounding areas that fall within his archdiocese are filled with gay men and women, gay youth and same-gender families. And his default position is to preach division – indeed to sanction, if not condone division if, of all the utterances he could possibly draw from the Gospels, he offers: “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division.” It is some vile strain of animus that compels this man to focus so much of his energies on antagonizing and alienating the gay community and the people who love and care about them.

There is a new spirit of humility and humanity emanating from Rome. “Help one another. That is what Jesus teaches us. This is what I do. And I do it with my heart. I do it with my heart because it is my duty, as a priest and bishop I must be at your service.” This is what Pope Francis shared with the youngsters at the detention center two days ago.

Your Eminence, you were appointed by the very antagonistic Benedict XVI, and you are still towing his line. You now have permission to speak and act differently. The generosity of spirit being demonstrated by Pope Francis is giving you permission to speak and act on his desire that we all be embraced as children of God. Take off that ill-fitting cloth of division and spite. I would wager that the newer cloak of humility, humanity and service will fit you much better.

If not, then perhaps it is you who are ill-fitted for the role of bishop.


[ii] From SF Archbishop Drunk Driver

[iii] GLAAD’s Mission: GLAAD amplifies the voice of the LGBT community by empowering real people to share their stories, holding the media accountable for the words and images they present, and helping grassroots organizations communicate effectively. By ensuring that the stories of LGBT people are heard through the media, GLAAD promotes understanding, increases acceptance, and advances equality.

Archbishop Slanders While Pediatricians Endorse Same-Gender Marriage

Last week, the Archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone, issued such a slanderous critique of same-gender marriage and families that I have to wonder whether he was drinking again when he wrote it.

At the heart of his message: marriage is all about children and when same-gender couples are allowed to marry, their “children suffer.”

And he was not satisfied to stop there. He went on to claim that when a culture allows same-gender marriage, communities suffer, women suffer and men are dehumanized. All of this, of course, without a shed of support for what he is saying. Now, I firmly believe that we are all entitled to our own opinions, but we are not entitled to make up our own data. And as far as I can tell from reading the real data, Archbishop Cordileone is just making this shit up.

So, let’s look at the real data.

Last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), after a four-year review of studies on the matter, affirmed, to no one’s surprise, that “children thrive in families that are stable and that provide permanent security, and the way to do that is through marriage.” The AAP went on to state “if a child has two loving and capable parents who choose to create a permanent bond, it’s in the best interest of their child that legal institutions allow them to do so.”  As a result, and this is the main event, the AAP issued a policy statement announcing its “support of civil marriage for same-gender couples as the best way to guarantee benefits and security for their children.” The statement concludes, “scientific evidence affirms that children have similar developmental and emotional needs and receive similar parenting whether they are raised by parents of the same or different genders.” In other words, science has found no difference between children from homes with same-gender parents compared to straight parents.

So let’s go back to Archbishop Cordileone’s assertion, to his inflammatory claim that when a culture allows for the possibility of a marriage structure other than a male-female union, children suffer. It is inflammatory because there is no credible evidence to support his claim. Now, he might not like the reality that gay couples do and will raise children. His Catholic Charities might deny them services and his Catholic adoption agencies might refuse to work with them – that is the prerogative of his Church. But to slander these couples by claiming that their children suffer – that is just vitriol.

The Archbishop believes that marriage is reserved exclusively for bringing together male and female to make and raise the next generation. It sounds beautiful. But it is only a sliver of the world we live in today.

The Archbishop’s world-view ignores the existence of abandoned and orphaned children who are adopted and cared for and loved by tens of thousands of same-gender couples throughout Christendom. I grant the Archbishop his obvious point that “two men and two women can never join in one flesh in the unique way a husband and wife do” to create babies. No, in fact, same-gender couples have to go through onerous, tedious and very expensive machinations and procedures to have and welcome a child into their home. Same-gender couples have to be deliberate and determined in order to adopt. But your Eminence, they can and do love and care for their children every bit as much as a male-female couple does. And you know this. You are the Archbishop in San Francisco. You see thousands among your congregation who have created loving, caring and committed same-gender households and families.

You malign them with your nasty comments.

The real data supports that “children thrive in families that are stable and that provide permanent security, and the way to do that is through marriage.” I would suggest, Your Eminence, that you look in the mirror and see clearly that you and those like you who would deny the benefits of marriage to same-gender couples are more accurately the culprits causing children to suffer.

Sources:

American Association of Pediatrics Supports Same Gender Civil Marriage

American Academy of Pediatrics Backs Marriage Equality as ‘Best Interests’ of Kids

SF Archbishop Cordileone: Same-Sex Marriage “Dehumanizes” Men, Makes Children Suffer

Groups opposed to same sex marriage deny that homophobia determines their position

Your Holiness: Gay Families are a Part of the Whole of Humanity. Embrace Us Too.

His Holiness, Pope Francis

Apostolic Palace

Vatican City

Dear Pope Francis,

In your homily during your installation mass, you said before God and before the world, “let us never forget that authentic power is service, and that the pope too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service…He must be inspired by lowly, concrete and faithful service…and…he must open his arms to protect all of God’s people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison (cf. Mt 25:31-46). Only those who serve with love are able to protect!”

I am moved by your sentiments of inclusiveness, by your reaching your arms to wrap them around the “whole of humanity” and treat and protect all of us as God’s people. And I want to believe you. I especially want to believe that in the years ahead, as the head of the Catholic Church, you will act and speak in ways that honor your words.

No more unfounded objections to the desires of gay men and women to provide a good home for orphaned or abandoned children. Gay adoption does not “discriminate against children.”

No more demonization of gay men and women because we want to be treated as equal members of society and enjoy the rights of civil marriage (and all the secular legal rights that flow from it).

No more hyperbole. No more casting our desires for home and family as Satanic. No more adding fuel to the fire of homophobia and hatred by labeling us as the enemy in “a war of God.”

Your Holiness, your predecessor tacitly incited enough fear, if not contempt, of gay men and women when he stated, “policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself.”[i] By extension, that would mean that we who support those policies (read: gay men and women who ache and struggle for marriage equality) threaten the human race. Your Holiness, your predecessor’s words were pure calumny.

We are not the enemy. We are however tarred the enemy and treated as the enemy by bishops who refuse us the sacraments, by Catholic Charities that refuse us services, by Catholic schools that fire us for who we are or what we believe or how we vote.

I am taking you at your word to open your arms to protect all of God’s people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity. We, with our desires to marry the people we love and provide loving and caring homes for the weakest (children) are God’s people. We are a part of the whole of humanity. Please do not keep us apart. Please do not continue to allow individuals and institutions under the umbrella of the Catholic Church to keep us apart. Embrace us too.

Respectfully,

Peter Alduino

 

Sources:

Homily of the Holy Father Pope Francis, March 19, 2013, Saint Peter’s Square

[i] Pope Benedict: Gay Marriage Threatens The ‘Future Of Humanity Itself’

The Ill Logic of Cardinal Napier, Pedophile Apologist

When will this ill logic end? No sooner has the new pope been elected than one of his cardinals is making excuses for pedophile priests. Agence France-Press reports that Cardinal Wilfred Fox Napier, the Archbishop of Durban, South Africa, told the BBC on Saturday, “From my experience pedophilia is actually an illness – it is not a criminal condition.” Speaking about two priests who were abused as children and went on to become pedophiles, he said, “Don’t tell me that those people are criminally responsible like somebody who chooses to do something like that. I don’t think you can really take the position and say that person deserves to be punished when he was himself damaged.”

By that logic, a person who is raped as a child and goes on to become a serial rapist does not deserve to be punished. By that logic, a person who is traumatized as a child and goes on to develop a mental illness which propels him to open fire in a mall or a movie theater or a school does not deserve to be taken off the streets and incarcerated, even if the incarceration is in a facility for the mentally ill.

Agence France-Press also reports that this same cardinal stoked controversy when he refused to expel South African priests accused of child abuse after a scandal broke out a decade ago. That was already a full year after the first case of child abuse by priests and the ensuing cover-up by Cardinal Bernard Law became public in Boston. In the 11 years since, the activities of pedophile priests dating back decades have been exposed on five continents. So too have the activities of the bishops who have shuffled these predators off to other parishes or foisted them on other bishops in other countries.

Barbara Dorries, from the US-based Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, told the BBC: “The bishops and the cardinals have gone to great lengths to cover these crimes to enable the predators to move on, to not be arrested, to keep the secrets within the church.” She also stated: “If it is a disease that’s fine, but it’s also a crime and crimes are punished.” Fortunately, individual pedophile priests have been prosecuted and brought to justice for what it is – criminal activity. But, the bishops who aided and abetted their concealment have not.

Let us hope that Cardinal Napier is a disappearing breed of apologists for the criminal activity of the Church’s pedophile priests and their protectors. Mental illness does not excuse the crime of murder or diminish the penalty of removing the murderer from society. The mental illness of pedophilia does not excuse the crime of killing the prospects for an otherwise healthy emotional and spiritual life of a child. Its perpetrators might deserve treatment, but they do not deserve to be allowed to circulate freely in society.

(Sources: Agence France-Press)

Additional Reading:

Pope Francis was often quiet on Argentine sex abuse cases as archbishop

Election of the Pope

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March 13, 2013

5:40pm Rome time

CNN’s live feed camera is trained on the stove-pipe that extends above the roof of the Sistine Chapel. A seagull has just landed on top, right on the center of the metallic dish that shields the pipe from falling rain. Is this seagull a symbol of the Holy Spirit descending to illuminate the cardinal electors below?  It would be right about now that we’d see white smoke if a new pope has been elected after the first rounds of voting this evening. How ripe with symbolism if the white smoke were to emerge in this moment.

6pm Rome

The time for white smoke has passed.

The cardinals are now into the fourth round of voting on this first full day of their conclave.

Another seagull has displaced the first, and stays perched at the same spot on the shield atop the stove-pipe of the Sistine Chapel. The Holy Spirit is indeed making its presence known to the world as the live feed streams the image to TVs and video and computer screens around the planet. Despite the flight of dozens of other seagulls, our singular and symbolic messenger from God remains in place – his mission to illuminate not yet complete as the cardinals below continue to cast their ballots. I can only imagine: each cardinal, one by one, approaches an alter at the foot of Michelangelo’s immense fresco of the Last Judgment, and as he places his ballot in a gilded urn he professes out loud:  “I call as my witness Christ the Lord who will be my judge, that my vote is given to the one who before God I think should be elected.”

6:16pm

The seagull has flown off. Has the Holy Spirit departed? Is his work finished for the day?

6:18pm

He’s back. Even the Holy Spirit needs to take a pause in the action.

6:20pm

Again he is gone. Perhaps he returned to inspire one final elector who was equivocating.

6:25pm

The sun is beginning to set in Vatican City. The stove-pipe is lit with an orangish glow, perhaps a reflection from the roof’s terra cotta tiles. No seagull has returned. The work of the Holy Spirit is done. Now the world awaits the smoke and the message that it conveys. Habemus Papam?

7:06pm

Black smoke.

No, wait, wait. Oh my God, it’s white smoke. The black has been replaced by a very sure white smoke.

The bells in Saint Peter’s Square are peeling. PEELING.

White smoke is POURING out of the stove-pipe atop the Sistine Chapel.

7:20pm

Still, 14 minutes later, the smoke continues to pour out white and announce to the world, to Christendom and beyond, that a new pope, a new hope has been chosen to lead the Church.

8:12pm Rome time

“HABEMUS PAPAM”

A South American. An Argentinean. Francis I

8:30pm

He emerges. Stiff. Hesitant. Thousands of flashes burst from the Square below. Applause. Cheers. He is stunned. Only the slightest and briefest of waves. But now in perfect Italian, a warm, a sincere, a very personable greeting. A request for a pause for silence – that WE pray for him. A gracious nod to the man who preceded him. An invitation to join him in prayer aloud. And finally, a papal blessing.

And now the disappointment…CNN’s ticker tape informs me that Francis was second to Benedict XVI in vote count 8 years ago. He hails from the most conservative wing of the Church. Other news sources report that he staunchly opposes contraception, argues that gay adoptions discriminate against children, vilifies same sex-marriage as “a destructive attack on God’s plan,”[i] and labels the battle against gay marriage “a war of God.” Not my kind of Church. Not one where I’m likely to feel a warm welcome. But it’s been that way for a long time.

Oh well, what was I expecting? Something different? SOMEONE different? Yeah. A progressive. A man for the 21st century. A Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston. Naïve? Probably. Too naïve? It seems. Maybe I was just being hopeful. Maybe I was just harboring a bit of hopefulness that this Church inspire me in this 21st century. But this is not a Church for the 21st Century. It has never been a Church for the times. It has consistently stayed behind the times, keeping its adherents in line behind the times in equal parts by faith, by doctrine, and by demonization and damnation – these last devices inflicting great injury, emotional and physical, on the Church’s detractors. But that combination has always been enough to keep the Church alive and allow it to survive.

Today, the Church inhabits a very different and dynamic times. A great many of its people are irreverent and intelligent and unafraid. Demonization and damnation just no longer work – at least, not in the northern hemisphere.

From what I read and from what I hear in these first few hours after his election, Francis I is a man of humility, a man of compassion, a pastor, and a champion for the poor. He’s a Jesuit too, the most future-thinking and perhaps pragmatic order of the Catholic clergy.[ii] Case-in-point, he supports the use of condoms to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS. He has also said, despite his strong stand against marriage equality and gay adoption, that gay men and lesbians must be treated with “decency and respect and compassion” and that there must be no discrimination against them. Perhaps shockingly, while leading the public charge against same sex marriage in 2010, then Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio spoke out behind the scenes in a heated meeting of bishops and advocated a highly unorthodox solution: that the church in Argentina support the idea of civil unions for gay couples.[iii]

Perhaps there is a ray of hope.[iv]

That is, if the election wasn’t just an exercise in job security. You see, the cardinals of the Curia all lost their posts when Benedict XVI resigned. There are already some bloggers who suspect that these insiders aligned their votes with cardinals from the southern hemisphere to select a pope who will feel the need to rename and rely on them to navigate the inner workings of Curia.  Jobs protected. Influence safeguarded.

Hey, these are only men, and it was just a seagull!


Dear Sisters,

I write this letter to each one of you in the four Monasteries of Buenos Aires. The Argentine people must face, in the next few weeks, a situation whose result may gravely harm the family. It is the bill on matrimony of persons of the same sex.

The identity of the family, and its survival, are in jeopardy here: father, mother, and children. The life of so many children who will be discriminated beforehand due to the lack of human maturity that God willed them to have with a father and a mother is in jeopardy. A clear rejection of the law of God, engraved in our hearts, is in jeopardy.

I recall words of Saint Thérèse when she speaks of the infirmity of her childhood. She says that the envy of the Devil tried to extort her family after her older sister joined the Carmel. Here, the envy of the Devil, through which sin entered the world, is also present, and deceitfully intends to destroy the image of God: man and woman, who receive the mandate to grow, multiply, and conquer the earth. Let us not be naive: it is not a simple political struggle; it is an intention [which is] destructive of the plan of God. It is not a mere legislative project (this is a mere instrument), but rather a “move” of the father of lies [Satan] who wishes to confuse and deceive the children of God. (Emphasis added)

Jesus tells us that, in order to defend us from this lying accuser, he will send us the Spirit of Truth. Today, the Nation [patria], before this situation, needs the special assistance of the Holy Ghost that may place the light of Truth amid the shadows of error; it needs this Advocate who may defend us from the enchantment of so many sophisms with which this bill is being justified, and which confuse and deceive even people of good will.

That is why I turn to you and ask from you prayer and sacrifice, the two invincible weapons which Saint Thérèse confessed to have. Cry out to the Lord that he may send his Spirit to the Senators who are to place their votes. That they may not do it moved by error or by circumstantial matters, but rather according to what the natural law and the law of God tell them. Pray for them, for their families; that the Lord may visit, strengthen, and console them. Pray that they may do great good for the Nation.

This bill will be discussed in the Senate after July 13. Let us look towards Saint Joseph, to Mary, the Child, and let us ask with fervor that they will defend the Argentine family in this moment. Let us recall what God himself told his people in a time of great anguish: “this war is not yours, but God’s”. That they may succour, defend, and accompany us in this war of God.

Thank you for what you will do in this struggle for the Nation. And, please, I beg you, pray for me also. May Jesus bless you, and may the Blessed Virgin protect you.

Affectionately,

Card. Jorge Mario Bergoglio s.j., Archbishop of Buenos Aires